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Showing posts from April, 2006

105. Phish - Billy Breathes (1996)

Change. Sometimes, we dread it. Other times, it’s warmly welcomed. And still other times, it’s just flat-out confusing. I like to believe that some things stay constant. For example, if a record is good in 1996, it’s good in 2006, right? That’s where change comes in.

Witness: Billy Breathes. When it came out I was a sophomore in college, and it sounded pretty sweet to my ear. My roommate had played earlier Phish discs like Rift and Hoist ad nauseum, but Billy Breathes seemed like something else altogether. For one, it was cohesive, a whole album experience, rather than just a random collection of songs. And I wasn’t the only one won over. I recall a reading a review at the time in which the critic compared the album to The Beatles’ Abbey Road!

If asked for a review having not heard the album in approximately 8 years, I would have told you that it’s the only essential Phish album, given it an “A”, and declared it a viable candidate the top ten of 1996.

But I gave the CD a spin …

104. Morrissey - Ringleader Of The Tormentors (2006)

For several years now Morrissey's music has straddled the divide between comedy and tragedy. His songs tells us about girlfriends in comas and hairdressers on fire, implore us to hang a D.J., and speak of bludgeoning people in their beds. But somehow they are never completely depressing. Even the gloomiest Morrissey song is good for some comfort, or a laugh.

That's good because lately Moz is concerned with mortality. Nearly every song on his new album mentions death in one form or another. But, dashing ghoul that he is, Morrissey knows exactly how to avoid bumming us out. Sometimes it's a line, sometimes it's a note, but he always rescues himself from pity, self or other.

You Have Killed Me is a catchy mash note to Rome, with a flair for the dramatic: "Yes, I walk around - somehow / But you have killed me." I'll Never Be Anybody's Hero Now could be a dirge, but the money line "My one true love is under the ground" is delivered with ring…