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Friday, Oct 19, 2012
Being good isn’t always easy, no matter how hard we try. When the 103rd Most Acclaimed Album of All Time started sweet talking to us, well... Can you get away again tonight for a little Dusty Springfield?

Klinger: Well, here’s a pleasant little surprise for us, Mendelsohn. I’d be willing to bet that when average music fans are asked to consider the most important artists of all time, Dusty Springfield isn’t a name that’s likely to leap to mind. And yet here we are just out of the Great List’s top 100 and here comes her 1969 excursion into soul music, Dusty in Memphis. Of course, most sentient humans are familiar with the album’s primary hit, “Son of a Preacher Man”, but this is also an album that runs deep with great music. At that time, Memphis was pretty near the center of the universe, from the geniuses at Stax to Willie Mitchell over at Hi Records to American Sound Studios, where this album was recorded under the guidance of the masterminds Jerry Wexler, Arif Mardin, and Tom Dowd (when you see these three names on the liner notes, it’s generally a very good sign).


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Friday, Oct 12, 2012
The 102nd most acclaimed album of all time knew all the right people, took all the right pills. Counterbalance gives it a listen to see if it was all just wasted time.

Mendelsohn: The only thing I really know about the Eagles I learned from watching episodes of Yacht Rock, a poorly produced web series that was popular back in 2006 for a minute, that detailed the lives and adventures of makers of smooth, smooth music. Yacht Rock, specifically the episode “FM”, taught me that the Eagles were a bunch of meatheads who wrote smooth music and beat up Steely Dan for their lunch money. I took all of this as fact, because honestly, I didn’t really want to know anything more about the Eagles than is required of me. Well, now we’ve come to the point where I have to learn about the Eagles, and I have to tell you, I’m severely disappointed that Steely Dan and the Eagles were actually friends in real life. I’m also severely disappointed by Hotel California. Not the song, I sort of like that, but the rest of the album feels like slogging through a swamp of smooth music and soft ballads. Not nearly as bad as slogging through a real swamp, but not how I want to spend my Saturday afternoon. The one exception I will make is for “Life in the Fast Lane” I don’t care if it’s an overplayed AOR radio staple. I love it and have no problem with Joe Walsh. The rest of the Eagles can go lay an egg. Your turn.


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Friday, Oct 5, 2012
Counterbalance leaves the Top 100 with an album that everyone knows about, from the Queen of England to the hounds of hell. The black math of the Great List gives us Jack and Meg's 2003 bellwether at #101.

Klinger: It seems fitting somehow that we come out of the Great List’s top 100 albums of all time with a release from this century, and it makes sense that the 101st most acclaimed album of all time is from the White Stripes (especially since we’re almost out of Radiohead albums). Here’s why I say this: I’m of the opinion that, when the grand Ken Burns narrative of Rock ‘n’ Roll is written, Jack White might well be hailed as our last rock star. In this Web 2.0 age, it strikes me as highly unlikely that anyone else will be able to build up the sort of mystique that was his stock in trade as he and Meg were breaking big. Were they married? Were they siblings? Why all the red and white? Did he really only use steam-powered amps and quill pens to make his music? These questions would now all be shut down in a matter of hours with the access to social media that people have access to, but back then it led to a great deal of speculation.


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Friday, Sep 28, 2012
Counterbalance rounds out the top 100 of Acclaimed Music's ranking of the most-acclaimed albums of all time by settling down in the Valley and hanging its wild years on a nail that it drove through its wife’s forehead. Tom Waits’ 1983 landmark is next. Never could stand that dog...

Mendelsohn: Not having spent a lot of time with Tom Waits, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I dropped the needle on Swordfishtrombones for the first time a couple months back. The first thing that crossed my mind was, “Oh no, it’s Captain Beefheart redux.” After taking a week or two to fight off the fear and apprehension I gave it another try, absolutely sure I was going to hate each and every moment of this record. You want to know something, Klinger? It never happened. I only really hate the first three minutes and thirty seconds, after which I start to enjoy myself. But it’s not until Waits actually starts to sing in “Shore Leave” that I relax and let his odd approach to rock expand inside my brain.


This is a bit of an oddball record, vacillating between sparse avant rock and lush, slightly off-kilter arrangements, and as it stands today, Swordfishtrombones rounds out the Top 100 on the Great List. Fill in the blanks for me, Klinger. Is Swordfishtrombones deserving of its spot in the rock ‘n’ roll canon and the distinct honor of being the bookend to the Top 100?


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Friday, Sep 21, 2012
The 99th most acclaimed album of all time has got a bike. You can ride it if you like. It’s got a basket, a bell and things to make it look good. Syd Barrett & Co. 1967 debut is this week’s Counterbalance.

Klinger: I do not, as a rule, care for the music of Pink Floyd. I find their spacy noodlings tiresome, their concepts leaden, and their fixation on the many shades of Roger Waters’ alienation to be a complete drag. When last we discussed Pink Floyd, when Dark Side of the Moon showed up on the Great List, I believe I may have started to come around on that album, but I’ve since come to realize that that was a low-grade case of Stockholm Syndrome, and I have sought the appropriate professional help in the intervening months. (Thank you Dr. Steinfarb and the helpful staff at Tri-State Deprogramming Services!)


And yet I state without reservation that Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Pink Floyd’s 1967 debut album, is an absolutely terrific record. I’d heard bits and pieces of it over the years, but my overriding disdain for the Floyd kept me from ever really digging in. These past couple weeks, though, I have enjoyed this album tremendously. It’s such a perfect evocation of post-mod, early-psychedelic Swinging London that I can’t help but be swept away by it. Obviously it’s all down to the fragile genius of Syd Barrett, but I can’t help there might be more to it than that. Any thoughts there, Mendelsohn?


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