Hello everybody. Today, I thought I’d continue the Rapid Fire Reviews series and take a look at some more albums I’ve listened to recently. So, let’s get started.
Big Black – Atomizer
Let’s get this series of albums rolling with an absolute doozy. Big Black, for those unfamiliar with the group, was a band from the ’80s featuring influential recording engineer and guitarist Steve Albini, who most notably produced In Utero by Nirvana. This band is unlike any other I’ve ever listened to, with their fast-paced playing, harsh guitars, and dark lyrics resembling hardcore punk, but also with drum machines commonly found in electronic music. What results is sort of like a precursor to industrial rock acts like Ministry and Nine Inch Nails, but those bands aren’t as extreme as this. Take, for instance, “Passing Complexion,” which has some nice fuzzy bass and a distinct metal clanging sound (that I guess is guitars? I have no idea what that is). Add to these insane instrumentals some screamed vocals describing race and you have one…well…insane, but awesome, track.
Another off-the-rails song on this album is “Kerosene,” which describes a person growing so bored that he decides to set himself on fire. Like I said, this album is a doozy. Some more great tracks on this album are “Bazooka Joe” and “Strange Things.” While I can certainly see a lot of people not liking this one, I myself enjoyed it. And I look forward to giving their second album, Songs About Fucking, a listen. Again, Big Black is probably not for everybody.
Van Morrison – Saint Dominic’s Preview
Ever since I first listened to Moondance for the second edition of Rapid Fire Reviews, Van Morrison has been one of the artists I’ve listened to the most. There’s just something so lovable about the way he seamlessly blends genres and ties them all together with his wonderful voice and songwriting. And this album is certainly no exception, with Van delivering some more great tracks on this one. “Jackie Wilson Said” is an incredibly catchy song that may leave you with an earworm, “Listen to the Lion” features the same folk instrumentals and stream-of-consciousness lyrics that made Astral Weeks my all-time favorite record of his, and “Gypsy” features some great tempo changes in a catchy R&B-style package. And, finally, the title track, “Saint Dominic’s Preview,” is also brilliant.
Neu! – Neu! ’75
Neu!’s debut album has long been a personal favorite of mine, but I only recently decided to give their subsequent releases a listen. Neu! 2 had some cool tracks, but came off as a bit bland compared to their first album. Neu! ’75, however, was just as good as their debut, and it seems as if they decided to make the songs more straightforward and less avant-garde. A good example of this is “Isi,” a five-minute long instrumental piece featuring beautiful piano sections and Klaus Dinger’s sublime drumming. Seriously, Dinger may be one of the all-time great rock drummers. Another great track is “Hero,” which actually features lyrics. The guitar and vocals in that song feel like a precursor to punk music, and they serve as a nice change in pace for the album. Overall, this album is pretty solid.
The Band – Northern Lights – Southern Cross
The Band’s first three albums are all legendary, but after Stage Fright, they fell into a bit of a slump, releasing two merely ok albums in the four following years. In 1975, however, they returned to their former glory by releasing another great album, Northern Lights – Southern Cross. This album features a bunch of great songs, including “Acadian Driftwood,” “It Makes No Difference,” and “Ophelia,” which would become some of the Band’s most famous tracks, as well as underrated gems like “Jupiter Hollow,” which has a fantastical and magical feel to it, and “Rags and Bones,” which has Richard Manuel delivering a great, soulful vocal performance. Garth Hudson is also brilliant on this album, especially on the layered keyboards and synths on “Jupiter Hollow.” Is it as good as Music From Big Pink or their eponymous second album? Maybe not, but it may be as good as Stage Fright, and is still a great album.
This batch of albums was great – all four releases have things to enjoy and are all solid albums. Thank you all so much for reading, and make sure you check out all the other content here on the site, as well as our weekly playlist. See you all next week!
Check out the previous installments in the series here:
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