For a few years, some of my friends and I have been sharing music. Sometimes we review that music and share our comments with the rest of the group – but that doesn’t always happen.
This week marks four-years since my friends and I started playing this game. I don’t know if Tim was aware of that when he made his suggestion, but he chose a band from this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, and I thought that was as good of a theme as any, so I did the same.
Bon Jovi – New Jersey (1988)
It’s no secret that Bon Jovi is one of Tim’s favorite bands. Some people see them as only an 80’s hairband (and some of us wish they’d stick with that), but they’ve been playing for nearly 40 years and are still going strong. Very few bands can say that.
This is Bon Jovi’s fourth album. It has it all: ballads, face-melting guitar rock, and heart-felt introspection. But overall, it has that Bon Jovi story telling element that Tim loves.
It has a few mega hits (like most of their 80’s albums): Lay Your Hands on Me, Bad Medicine, and I’ll Be There for You. But Tim’s favorite is Born to be My Baby.
And I might agree. It’s a really strong song. Also, there’s a run on the synthesizer (it’s also in Wild is the Wind) that reminds me of Weird Al’s Dare to be Stupid, which came out three years earlier. And I’m okay with that. If you liked it, you should check out the acoustic bonus track.
But there are some other great songs that aren’t singles, like Homebound Train and Blood on Blood. Actually, Blood on Blood feels like an Americana Country song being played by an ’80s hair/glam band. I really liked it. I think Bob Seger could do a killer cover of this song. Speaking of covers, the bonus track cover of Thin Lizzy’s The Boys are Back in Town is pretty good. Not as good as the original, but almost.
I didn’t really love Living in Sin, I’ll be There for You, or 99 in the Shade, but this is a pretty strong album overall. I’d give it a 3.25/5.
S. Carey – Hundred Acres (2018)
Chris, on the other hand, feels like Radiohead was snubbed a place in the Hall of Fame, so he didn’t continue that theme. Instead, he shared an album from a guy my wife listens to sometimes.
Sean Carey is the drummer for Bon Iver. Between breaks with that band, he decided to make some stuff on his own, and released his first solo album in 2010. His second album, Range of Light, was among Chris’s favorites of 2014. It was a chill, somewhat experimental folk pop recording. My wife discovered him around that time and so I listened to that album on her computer. You might expect he’d continue down a road of experimentation, but this new album is (in Chris’s words) “much more straight forward, much more melodic, and intensely beautiful.” Some of Chris’s favorite tunes include Rose Petals, True North, Hundred Acres, and More I See.
Now, it’s not true that Chris only likes subdued music or that if there’s a song that is subdued, he’ll like it (although I think that’s more true if it’s from a band that doesn’t really do that). Chris seems to like music that make him feel something and is cathartic in some way (and, you know, is done well). I get why he likes S. Carey.
No song really pops out, and I don’t think they’re meant to. However, there are little moments of musicianship that stand out to me: some of the guitar work on Hideout, or some of the drums on Yellowstone. Beautiful, yes, but unfortunately it fades to the background. Even when I was doing nothing but trying to listen to this album, it wasn’t doing much to keep my attention. 3.1/5
Daniele Gottardo – Non-Termperato (2014)
Spencer also decided to buck the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame theme Tim set up. Instead he shared an interesting classical/rock fusion album. Not classic rock, but a rock band and orchestra arranged together. It’s kind of like my parents (although my dad is more of an oldies guy than classic rock – and this album is more prog than any other kind of rock). Spencer said “Italian Gottardo has quite the knack for really seamlessly integrating the two in his arrangements for this instrumental album. At times it seems sound-track-ish only in that film tracks often quickly (and smoothly) go from orchestra strings to screaming stratocasters, but this has quite a bit more variation than a typical sound-track in my opinion.”
Gottardo gives a song-by-song rundown of this album on his website. I highly recommend you check that out. Although, to be honest, even as versed as I am in music theory, there were some things I didn’t understand.
Of all of these songs, Daydream feels the most classic rock – because a huge element of classic rock was psychedelia and Daydream has a lot of psychedelic elements, while still being something I might hear a classical symphony orchestra play. I also really liked Two Sketches, which is (like the name implies) actually two short songs, Sandra and Bed Bug. Both were good, but Sandra was better. I liked the folksy feel.
The only tunes I didn’t really care for were at the end. I get that La Terza Età (The Third Age) was supposed to be a common ground between youth and old age, but it just felt aimless and discordant (although the latter was probably intentional). I didn’t really get what he was going for with Caligula, even after reading his blurb about it on this website. There were elements of it I liked, but the whole was not as impressive to me.
But I think this album was strong overall. I’m unfamiliar with Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Match Girl (just wait – it’ll be Disney’s next big hit), but I can tell just by listening the evolution of the story. The song is very programmatic. And just like a HCA story, it doesn’t really end on a happy note. I did like this one better than the two based on the Grimm Brothers’ story of Hänsel und Grethel. Also, I was bothered that those two weren’t next to one another. I went back and played them in sequence and I think they should have been put on the album back-to-back. 3.2/5
Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms (1985)
Here’s another inductee from this year. I can’t believe we haven’t shared Dire Straits, but we haven’t. I was going to share some Moody Blues, but there was just so much to share, I had a little analysis paralysis. When I thought about Dire Straits, the choice was easy. This is their fifth album, and one of the world’s best-selling albums of all time. It’s spent a ton of time at No. 1, been certified platinum multiple times, won a couple of Grammy Awards (and others).
When I was in high school (and first discovered these guys for myself), I didn’t realize they were British. I also didn’t realize that Sting (you know, from The Police) was singing on Money for Nothing. Also, I didn’t see the music video for Money for Nothing until MTV wasn’t really playing music videos anymore, so I didn’t get why it was so influential at the time. But now that I’m older and can appreciate the limited technology of the time, that music video is great (and so ’80s).
And it’s even better when you realize that its kind of the embodiment of everything Dire Straits was trying to criticize. I guess it’s a credit to their management that they’d ask Dire Straits to make a music video (Mark Knopfler apparently was really against the idea of music videos in general) for a song slamming MTV so they can play it on MTV.
You’ve probably heard the first three songs (they are the best known from this album), but the whole album is good. I’d also suggest Ride Across the River. It’s a kind of New Wave, Latin American, almost reggae tune. And it’s great. I think it’s about Central America during the Cold War and the multiple, decades-long civil wars there, but I’m not sure. I know the title track (another one I’d recommend) is about the crisis between Argentina and the UK in the South Atlantic.
Mark Knopfler is a great guitarist and songwriter, and a pretty alright singer. Not only does he do various kinds of rock, but he does Country (you can hear it on The Man’s Too Strong) and film scores, too. Like New Jersey, this album has a little of something for everyone.
If my friends ever get back to me about what they thought of this album, I’ll post what they had to say here. Feel free to share your comments about any of these albums, or share an album from a Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductee, down below.