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Showing posts from March, 2009

213. U2: No Line On the Horizon (2009)

If you think about it, it must kind of suck to be a massively successful band with a decades-long career.

See, when a band achieves a high level of acclaim built on a beloved signature sound, they are pretty much bound to it forever. If the band makes a record that in some way defies expectations, they risk alienating their buying public. However if the band doesn't alter its sound enough, they risk being considered stale or boring or repetitive.

Basically, the band becomes its own competition.

U2 has been struggling against itself for years, basically since the commercial and critical success of The Joshua Tree in 1987. By that time they'd already crafted a signature sound (chugging rhythm, open, ringing guitar, passionate vocals, and soul-searching lyrics), but songs like With Or Without You and Where the Streets Have No Name cemented it in our hearts and minds forever.

Since then, any U2 product that hasn't sounded pretty much exactly like those songs has been branded as &…

212. The Monkees: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones Ltd. (1967)

After the triumph that was Headquarters, there was bound to be a letdown. The popular version of the story tells us that Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones Ltd represented the record company retaking control, but that's not necessarily the case. While not nearly as DYI as its predecessor, this album is still more of a cohesive Monkees product than anything that would come after.

That said, it's a hodgepodge of an album, without any unified sound or direction. There are touches of lounge music, straight-ahead '60s pop, country rock, and burgeoning psychedelica.

The Classics

Pisces... features no less than three stone cold Monkees classics. First is Words, another gem from Boyce & Hart (the songwriters who steered the band's first and second albums). Mickey Dolenz takes lead vocals, with Peter Tork backing him up with some strong talk-singing. The lyrics concern a poor fellow who has been taken in by a fork-tongued woman. Next up is What Am I Doin' Hanging &#…