Welcome to Robert's Record Corner.
Who’s up for some GenXsplaining? Robert Reid gives historical context to the best, and not quite the best, albums
ever made in this ongoing video series shot around the world. Records are rated on a 0-to-5 scale of SANDWICHES. Stay hungry.
The Beatles’ so-called “White Album” turned 50 recently. We know this because everyone in the world was talking about. The New Yorker even dared to claim it could be “the greatest record ever.” This is funny, considering it’s not even the best Beatles album NOR is it the best album of 1968… nor the best of the last two months of 1968… nor the best album with a white album cover of last two months of 1968! Yes, “Dear Prudence” is gorgeous. The album has many find moments. But a better, more timely, more important work is the Rolling Stones’ Beggars Banquet, released two weeks later. It’s folky/acoustic fury sprung from the angst of a year that saw assassinations (MLK, RFK), political unrest, the Tet Offensive, the rise of Nixon. (Compare with “Obla-di, Obla-da.”) If you don’t believe me, listen. This was the year Keith Richards first used open tunings, and the Stones signed on producer Jimmy Miller who would lead the Fab Five to their string of best work: Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street. While the Beatles were offering faux country, faux music hall, faux blues – all quite hummably, for sure – the Stones became the Stones, the “greatest rock’n’roll band in the world.” They did that by ignoring the Beatles. And surpassing them. The Beatles’ fate was set. They would not last two more years. Beggars Banquet: FIVE SANDWICHES. White Album: 3.8 SANDWICHES. Alas. The video was shot on a horse farm in Temecula, California. Watch it here.
RANKING THE ROLLING STONES SAX SOLOS
The Stones have been one of rock's safe sanctuaries for the controversial instrument. Though rock'n'roll's roots have been linked to the sax since Ike Turner and the Kings of Rhythm recorded "Rocket 88" – a sax-heavy song sung and written by a saxophonist in 1951. For the Stones, the worst of their 16 sax solos may surprise you. It's their most famous one. (Spoiler: "Brown Sugar"– it really is the worst.)
A SURPRISE FIND GAVE ME NEW WAY TO COMMUNICATE WITH MY LATE DAD
My latest episode of Robert's Record Corner follows a surprise discovery made in Tulsa recently. My late dad's big Frank Sinatra record collection WASN'T lost in the Tulsa flood of 1985 after all. I picked out a few choice records to bring back for my (small) Sinatra collection -- then went shopping. And I found the greatest Sinatra record of all, his 1970 failure "Watertown." It's amazing enough to replace OKLAHOMA SOONERS football as a way I "talk" with my dad. Watertown: FOUR SANDWICHES.
Why the Stones' SATANIC MAJESTIES is better than SGT PEPPER'S
Everyone says the Beatles' SGT PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND is the best rock album of all time. Meanwhile, the Rolling Stones' THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST is generally considered their worst album. (Keith Richards calls BOTH "a load of sh*t.") After the Stones got this psychedelic experimentation out of their system they certainly went on to their best five years, with "Jumping Jack Flash," BEGGAR'S BANQUET, "Honky Tonk Women," LET IT BLEED, STICKY FINGERS, EXILE ON MAIN STREET (which IS the best rock album of all time). But relistening to SATANIC, which turns 50 this month, and looking back at the original reviews of both albums, it's easy to make the case the Stones' maligned album is BETTER than SGT PEPPER'S -- at least as a psychedelic record in the great year of psychedelic rock. And I dare anyone to claim a song on SGT PEPPER'S (other than "A Day in the Life") is better than the Stones' obscure single "She's Like a Rainbow." As psychedelic records, Sgt Peppers: THREE SANDWICHES, Satanic: 4.5 SANDIWCHES. As albums, Sgt Peppers: FIVE SANDWICHES, Satanic: 2.5 SANDWICHES. This video is shot in the Empty Quarter desert of the United Arab Emirates. It features GIFs.
The Worthiness of Soviet Rock
Episode 007: Robert's Record Corner visits St Petersburg, Russia to talk about -- and buy -- some Soviet rock from the '70s and '80s! I studied Russian during the Cold War–era, largely because you weren't supposed to. And 25 years ago, I finally got to live and study in St Petersburg and Moscow. One of my fondest souvenirs I brought back was a handful of Soviet rock records from the 1980s. I recently went back to St Petersburg to find more. And met a former drummer at a vinyl shop who remembers when rock'n'roll was illegal and locals pressed Elvis and Little Richard records on X-RAYS on the sly. There's value to Soviet rock, I've learned. In the West, we celebrate punk rock for its (sometimes studied) defiance. But what about bands who could get imprisoned -- or, as I learned, worse -- for simply singing things like "I want change." Slava Soviet rock! Long live Soviet rock! Hope you enjoy it.
The History of YES told with Pipe Cleaners
On Robert's Record Corner, Robert Reid weighs in on the prog rock band Yes' recent induction to the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame. Does a band with 19 members in 49 years, a penchant for breaking up, and at least one 22-minute song about "War and Peace," really deserve such an honor? Warning: the video features a gerbil and Jackson Browne.
Stephen Malkmus goes electronic
Episode 011: Stephen Malkmus, former leader of '90s alt-rock band Pavement, debuted some surprising new music last Saturday at the new location of Portland's PICA. No Stoner jams, no Jicks, no physical guitars. Instead it was just Stephen, some Bowie-circa-1977 synths and loops, and some vocal lines about Larry and a certain canary. I like the direction. I give it FOUR SANDWICHES out of five. Here's my review. Incidentally the show — headlined by actor/singer Ann Magnuson and New York art-rock band Bongwater – was a kick-off to the new location of the excellent Portland Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA) in east Portland's Eliot neighborhood. There was video art and tamales. You should go there sometime.
4 Things You Didn't know about David Bowie!!
The "Bowie Corridor" is Robert's Record Corner term for the three-day period between David Bowie's birthday (January 8) and the anniversary of his death (January 10). To celebrate in 2018, Robert Reid tells four things you most likely don't know about David Bowie. Ziggy rode the Trans-Siberian? He punked a bad Stones song, and did old-time songs with Cher in the mid '70s?
Perfect MINECRAFT soundtrack: Beck's "Colors"
Episode 008: After four years, Beck's new album is out. It's a lot of fun, but it brings up a LOT of questions. First, is it intended as a MINECRAFT soundtrack? Also, the weird packaging. I spent much of this week's review trying to decode it. And MIGHT have found a way to suss out its meaning. (Probably not.) Sonically, the album is an all-out explosion of pop. Which is unsurprising as Beck worked with Adele's producer Greg Kurstin on the 39 minute, 39 second album. Beck says he wanted something "uplifting" that's "neither retro nor modern." I like it, but find it to be not uplifting, and both retro and modern. Something like how a future civilization's might depict the sound of our late '80s/early '90s for their nostalgic soundtracks. Songs seems fresh yet link to clear past influences. "Dear Life," many say, is like Elliott Smith doing the Beatles, then wrapping up with the Beach Boys' hymn "Our Prayer." "No Distraction" reminds me of the Fixx, "I'm So Free" is Nirvana redux. So it's Beck as always. Anyone mistaking this pop candyscape as a joyous album haven't read the lyrics. MY RATING: I give Beck's "Colors" 3.5 SANDWICHES out of FIVE. Hope you enjoy the video.
The Rolling Stones Test: Mono vs Stereo
Episode 001: Robert's Record Corner is an iPhone production featuring Robert Reid playing a record he's interested in and talking about it. This time -- the first of perhaps a series of DOZENS of videos -- takes on mono/stereo versions of the Rolling Stones' 1967 album "Between the Buttons." It features "special guest" Charlie Watts. In a way.
Bob Dylan does Sinatra: Is that OK?
For Robert's Record Show episode #00002, Robert Reid tackles the new TRIPLE album by Bob Dylan "Triplicate." It has 30 songs, 29 of which Frank Sinatra did. That's quite a statement, AND it follows TWO albums of Frank Sinatra covers in the last two years. What is Bob Dylan up to? Whatever it is, he's probably right and we're probably wrong for doubting it. This is an iPhone production. I offer Dylan’s latest 3.7 SANDWICHES.
Are We Snubbing "Weird Al"? Particularly Billy Corgan? Unfair!
Episode 009: Billy Corgan off the Smashing Pumpkins is in a huff that his '90s grunge band hasn't been nominated for the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame. He's forgetting bigger snubs, like Mary Well or Kraftwerk. Or WEIRD AL. No comedy musical act has been bigger. He's had hit singles in four decades and sold well over 12 million records. He parodied rock music in real time, beginning with MTV. And everyone loves him. He's been eligible for years, and fans have collected 9000 signatures to get him in. Billy helped me jump on the weirdwagon. We all should. And we probably should ignore Billy until he stops going on that fake-news site InfoW*rs too.