Back in the mid-1990s, about a year after I graduated from college, I started reviewing rock ‘n’ roll albums, for really no one else but myself. I showed my parents some of the reviews at the time and they got a kick out of them. Some of these write-ups may have eventually found their way on Amazon as CD reviews. But for the most part, for more than twenty-five years, these reviews have remained in a binder, within a box, stored in a closet or attic depending on where I’ve lived.
It’s time to release them to the world.
That’s because these reviews on many excellent CDs by historic artists are insightful and thorough, with some youthful rock-n-roll-loving passion mixed in. In all, I counted forty-nine extensive reviews that I printed out on a dot matrix printer back in the day and still have in my possession. I hope they inspire you to listen to some good music.
My own quick, long-ago memory of 1977 by Ash:
I picked up this great CD in the mid-1990s when I worked as a music manager at Barnes & Noble.
‘1977’ Ash (1996) Reprise
The gritty and desolate cover of 1977 is at odds with Ash’s loud and lively songs, high-volume pieces that improve upon the British punk movement of the ’70s.
While Ash are a fairly stripped-down, three-chord-powered band, they add effects to their songs, such as the Millennium Falcon hurling through space in the song “Lose Control,” fighting noises in “Kung Fu,” and keyboard work in the songs “Innocent Smile” and “Darkside Lightside.” These clever sounds enrich the songs and, for good measure, string arrangements are blended in at times.
This British party band is led by Tim Wheeler, who writes, sings, and plays guitar. Wheeler has romantic notions, as in the tune “Gone the Dream,” but mostly he likes to rock out in headbanging tunes such as “I’d Give You Anything.”
This CD is mostly a constant power rush of guitars fighting for space, soft lyrics sometimes lost within. On “Oh Yeah,” Wheeler reminisces about a past summer fling, something long over but still fresh in his mind. The last three songs on “1977” go to another level and are more serious and catchy.
Ash stand out in a musical genre that can often sound retreaded. They are young and brash but make songs with depth and maturity. Like their British peers, Oasis, Ash record music at high decibel levels while remaining tastefully melodic and in control.
Note: The “sick party” at the tail end of the CD nearly ruins a killer listening experience. Don’t listen to it. Now that I said that, of course you will.
Albums are rated on a scale of 1 through 10.
When a 10 rating is given, it implies the epitome of rock and roll perfection. The elements of the record, such as melody, mood, originality, sound quality, technical proficiency, musical arrangement, riffs, singing, and overall concept are top-of-the-line and the best in the business. I sense that most rock fans could appreciate a 10 record, and I would very much recommend owning it.
The numbers 8 and 9 represent a supremely strong album, one with only a few flaws or one questionable song. Simply stated, an 8 or 9 rating means the record is phenomenal. I would highly recommend any album of this caliber.
The rating of 7 once again implies a very good recording, but elements such as lackluster effort, originality, lame lyrical content, or monotony in sound come into play. An album that rates 7 could have earned a higher rating if the artist had done a few more things right in the overall scheme. Still recommendable.
The number 6 leans toward the average, especially when the artist has put out much better past material. The 6 rating is a good rating, but owning the record might mean you have to be a true fan of the artist.
6=reasonably good or just adequately good
Anything below 6:
Sorry, not in my collection of CDs!
Photo by Sal Nudo of a fantastic illustration that I don’t have the photo credit for.