Mini Album Reviews, Part 2

Mini Album Reviews is a collection of random thoughts on albums that I’ve listened to in the past week. It started out as a Facebook thing, but I decided to move it here and keep it updated besides the full-fledged posts.

Queen – The Game

thegame

People call this the beginning of the end within Queen’s discography just because it sounds a little bit more funky (disco! oh no! the horror!). Whatever. All I hear is yet another eclectic set of well-written and well-performed tunes. The album cover has a deceptively New-Wave look, but in reality the band still cannot find it in them to settle upon one single genre; and this is exactly what we love about them in the first place. From balladry, to funk, to 50s rock ‘n’ roll, to music hall and to hard rock, it’s all here. Consistency is once again abandoned in favor of diversity and fun. And it’s so nice to hear John Deacon get a little more spotlight with his bass lines, easily the most underrated Queen member. An essential listen for any Queen fan.

Lou Reed – Street Hassle

street

Lou Reed’s post-Velvet Underground 70s output seems to be equally diverse and chaotic. The bad albums from that decade are the ones where his interest and passion are lacking (Sally Can’t Dance, Rock and Roll Heart, Lou Reed), while the good ones find him pushing strongly into a direction, whether it’s glam rock (Transformer), rock opera (Berlin), guitar wailing (Rock n Roll Animal) or accessible pop (Coney Island Baby). And Street Hassle definitely belongs in the second category. The arrival of punk gave him an edge and as a result the album is much angrier and spiteful than any of his previous stuff. Rarely is it clear to whom exactly are those feelings directed at, but what matters is that he sounded relevant again with highlights such as the unapologetic Dirt, Real Good Time Together with its wall-of-noise, or the street-poetry epic that is the title track.

Raekwon – Only Built 4 Cuban Linx

Only+Built+4+Cuban+Linx

There is one moment on this album that always blows my mind – right as Rainy Dayz starts, the picture is set with the protagonist’s woman nearly mourning the fact that he’s changed, the fact that he’s gone insane. Then, enhanced by the dramatic strings, Ghostface comes in: “On rainy days I sit back and count ways on how to get rich, son”. One could read this on paper and easily dismiss it as superficial materialism, but hearing it together with everything else that’s going on in the song creates a whole new dimension. It becomes a do-or-die situation, more scary than arrogant. Throughout the album, Rae and Ghost seem to be living each line as they rap it and the final effect is nothing less than powerful. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t understand a big percent of the slang, and their world is miles away from mine. But their conviction shines through, enough to make anybody resonate.

Black Sabbath – Master of Reality

Master+of+Reality+PNG

Much has been written about this record’s influence on subsequent metal sub-genres, but what is truly impressive is just how well it holds up after all this time. Master of Reality still sounds heavy and dangerous, holding nothing back. The combination of down-tuned guitar riffs on one hand and Christian/hippie themes as to move away from the Satanic image on the other makes for a totally unique juxtaposition. It also makes it my favorite Sabbath album, no mean feat considering that the first 6 could all qualify for the title. And how crazy it is to realize that they put out 5 consistently great albums within the course of 4 years, while today we have to wait the same amount for a single album from certain artists (*cough* Adele *cough*).

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22 replies

  1. Very diverse taste. I love them all as

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Game was my Intro to Queen back at the time of its release and to this day is still my fav! Love how as you say they fused different styles of Rock…
    Sabbath you really can’t go wrong with the first 4 albums! Masters though I really like the production end as well as the songs…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is a great way to fire-off your thoughts on many albums, without getting bogged down in a longer review. I’ve got a couple of albums I want to talk about, but without spending 3,000+ words. I may steal your format.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Also, let me also say: I really dig the great variety of albums represented here. THE GAME is a great record and has some of Queen’s best-known singles! I can’t imagine hating it. Also, MASTER OF REALITY if my #1 favorite Sabbath album, great choice.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nice reviews. Lou Reed’s solo career was disappointing to me, after the Velvets, but “Street Hassle” is a definite highlight. Bruce Springsteen’s uncredited monologue at the end of the title track had me doing an aural double-take after the first listen!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Some quick thoughts: The Game is a wildly underated album – “Prime Jive” is one of my favorite Queen songs. I own a lot of Lou Reed, but not this one. Shame on me. Master Of Reality was the first Sabbath album I bought. I remember playing “After Forever” for my devoutly Catholic grandmother. Nice choices, Ovidiu.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Only familiar with the Queen album, but you nailed it: “in reality the band still cannot find it in them to settle upon one single genre; and this is exactly what we love about them in the first place.” Yes.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Smashing post, Ovidiu. Master Of Reality is quite possibly my favourite Sabbath album … the first four are especially brilliant. As for … Cuban Linx, that’s top 10 hip hop shenanigans for sure.

    Not familiar with the others, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great blog! Love Lou Reed and street hassle. Very underated album. Bowie loved it and played it a lot before going on stage on thew 79 tour.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Street Hassle good album. Good choice. CB

    Liked by 1 person

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