Hello everyone, and welcome to another edition of Rapid Fire Reviews, a series in which I give some brief thoughts on albums I’ve listened to recently. We got five more records to get through today, so let’s dive right in!
BLACK SABBATH – SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH
I had actually bought this album as a Christmas gift for my older brother, but I finally decided to give it a listen for myself. After all, I’m a huge Sabbath fan: particularly (well, only really) Ozzy-era Sabbath. And, for what it is, this album delivers. Some of Black Sabbath’s best hits are included here, namely the title track, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath,” and “Killing Yourself to Live.” The latter of these two is easily the highlight of the album. “Who Are You?” is also a great track, complete with nice synthesizer touches and some terrific Ozzy vocals. Overall, this album is a welcome addition to any metal fan’s collection. The legendary quartet sound great here, even if it may not be quite as good as earlier efforts such as their debut or Master of Reality.
NEW ORDER – LOW-LIFE
Anybody who knows my taste in music knows that New Order is one of my all-time favorite groups, and this album is a perfect microcosm of everything that makes them so great. Love damnably catchy songs? Check out “Love Vigilantes,” “The Perfect Kiss,” and “Sub-culture.” Want epic pieces of grandeur that keep building and building? Check out “Sunrise” and “Elegia.” Want a song with kind of hilarious lyrics that still manages to be endlessly charming? Check out “Face Up.” This is a brilliant album, and I dare anybody to try to get these songs out of their head. Oh, by the way, the 8-minute version of “The Perfect Kiss” featured on Substance is even better.
CREAM – FRESH CREAM
Cream is often hailed as the very first rock supergroup, and they definitely lived up to that expectation with their debut record. Even though it was released in 1966, it still sounds magnificent today. Eric Clapton’s bluesy guitars are like candy to the ears, Jack Bruce’s voice is wonderful, and Ginger Baker’s drumming is marvelous, especially on the drum solo in “Toad.” Every song on this record is worth a listen, but the most essential are “I Feel Free,” “NSU,” “Sleepy Time Time,” “Spoonful,” “I’m So Glad,” and “Toad.” I own their next album, Disraeli Gears, on vinyl, but after listening to this record I may be tempted to pick it up as well. Folks, I implore: if you like bluesy-psychedelic rock at all, you gotta give this album a listen. One of the best debut albums ever recorded, and a gem from the 60s, this album is definitely the cream of the crop.
VAN MORRISON – MOONDANCE
Man, talk about a hell of a voice, Van the Man has got quite the pipes. The instrumentals featured on this album compliment Van’s voice perfectly, and the amalgamation of a bunch of different genres makes this album seem fresh with each additional listen. Rock and roll, jazz, folk, soul, R&B, they’re all at work here, and Van’s execution makes these genres synchronize beautifully. His voice is especially moving on the title track, “Moondance,” ”Crazy Love,” “Caravan,” “Into the Mystic,” and “Brand New Day.” I read that “Into the Mystic” is one of the songs doctors listen to the most while performing surgeries due to its relaxing vibe, but if I were cutting someone open, and, all of the sudden, one of Van’s thunderous growls blasted through the speakers, I’d probably end up getting sued for malpractice. Nevertheless, Van’s vocals and some masterful backing tunes make this album worth a listen.
KENDRICK LAMAR – TO PIMP A BUTTERFLY
Man, I’ve been missing out over the last few years. As I’ve indicated in other articles, my knowledge in the world of hip-hop is a bit slim, but it doesn’t take a rap genius to realize that this is one of the finest hip-hop albums ever recorded. Extremely smart lyrics, an impetuous flow/syllable control, omnipresent themes, catchy choruses and beats, and a multitude of hits: what else could you ask for? “King Kunta,” “Insitutionalized,” “The Blacker the Berry,” “These Walls,” “Hood Politics,” “How Much a Dollar Cost,” and “Mortal Man” are my personal favorite tracks from this album. I really loved Kendrick’s slam poem that’s gradually built upon throughout the album, culminating in the epic 12 minute finale featuring a simulated conversation between Kendrick and Tupac. The segues between songs are also a nice touch, and never does the album seem to drag or get boring, despite its 79 minute length. Kendrick’s storytelling is great too, especially in “How Much A Dollar Cost.” Who am I kidding, you’ve all heard at least something from this album, and I recommend that you give it a full listen.
Wow, what a terrific bunch of albums! This edition was a lot more positive than the first one, and I can safely say that there’s a lot to enjoy from each album I looked at today. And I hope that, if you’re looking for some new tunes, you try out some of these records for yourself. Thank you all so much for reading, and make sure you check out all the other content on Mid-American Culture, as well as our weekly playlist.