Monday, August 9, 2010

Vintage Troublemaker: Top Fifty Albums - 10-6

Top Fifty Albums

By Phantom Troublemaker

Welcome back! I feel that the top ten albums deserve more space than the rest. What remains to be seen is whether or not I’ll actually use that space. I’ve been surprised at times how my brain has reacted to some of these albums. I hope this has entertained you as much as it has me. If not, why the Hell did you read this far?

10. Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) – Wu-Tang Clan

When I ran a Video Game Exchange, I had an Assistant Manager named Antonio. Not only was this guy one of the best employees I’ve ever had, he introduced me to all kinds of good hip-hop. I had heard buzz about Wu-Tang, but never checked them out because back in ’94, new rap groups were hitting at a rate of about one per minute and you can guess how many of those were any good. Antonio told me I needed to check them out and I remember going to the store and being told the album was sold out. I think that is the only time that has ever happened to me. (Granted, there have been plenty of times I’ve gone to buy something and it wasn’t there, but that’s usually a case of “We don’t carry that and I’ve never heard of it, you loser.” , not “there is such a huge demand for that item that we sold every single copy we had.” Especially almost a year after it came out. Does that even happen anymore?) So I actually had to drive around to several places to find a copy. I don’t remember where I got it, I just remember being blown away when I put it in.
The only other hip-hop album that hit me like this one was the first Cypress Hill. That and 36 Chambers both got several weeks of continuous play in my car. I know that me and dan d. were into Wu-Tang big time after we heard them, but I can’t remember if anybody else in our crew was or not. We both had sorry-ass home-made subwoofers in our trunks that dan d. had made and put in, but they actually kicked pretty hard. We must have looked really stupid riding around listening to (INSERT NSFW TRACK TITLE HERE), all low in our seats. I apologize to any brothers who saw us.
This album began the legacy that is Wu-Tang. RZA’s amazing work on soundtracks, Ghostface Killah’s unparalleled flow, Method Man’s outstanding solo albums and collaborations with Redman and of course Ol’ Dirty Bastard, who was once described as the poet laureate of our time and left this world far too soon. We miss you, Big Baby Jesus. Nobody is dirty and stinkin’ like you were. *Side note – Find the track Bitches that ODB did with Insane Clown Posse. I don’t care how you feel about ICP, that song is the shit.*
This is another album that broadened a genre into the mainstream. Unfortunately, the imitators aren’t half as talented and they just don’t get it. Wu-Tang is a corporation run by very sharp intellectuals. It was always intended to become a huge financial empire. At no point did anybody in Wu-Tang celebrate stupidity or laziness as virtues. Even poor ODB wasn’t stupid, just crazy.
-Favorite track – Protect Ya’ Neck

9. Ain’t Life Grand – Super X-13
Okay, so remember that guy Shane who was in Gargantua? This was his other band, the one he was in before that. This is the second and final album from Shane Morton, Timmy James and Kelly Sanford. Even though the first Super X album popped my local band cherry, this one is so polished and outrageous it’s the one that ended up on the list. This truly is one of my favorite bands. I can’t really claim Shane as anything more than an acquaintance now, but back when Super X was still playing, I didn’t know the guy at all. I remember the first time I ever saw them play was one night I was roaming Heaven in the Masquerade. Early on, Super X would play in costumes of some sort, on a stage full of props and possibly even guys roaming around in monster suits. This show saw them in a mad scientist’s laboratory, and I think some kind of gorilla or something came out to wreck shit at some point. As cool as I thought the stage set was (It was more intricate than you are imagining, trust me, I helped unload it) I was really blown away by the music and the crazy-ass guy singing, playing bass and doing the best David Lee Roth impersonation you could expect from somebody holding a guitar. I said before that he is the best front man I have seen live, and that is not hyperbole. Anybody who goes to one of this guy’s shows and doesn’t totally rock-out at some point must be a corpse.
I also remember the second time I saw them play. I was roaming that night, too, as well as doing load out. We were by the lift waiting for the band to start breaking down their set (I think this was a city night) when we realized that the band was nowhere to be found. About an hour passed (we usually loaded out within fifteen minutes of a band finishing) and I was pretty pissed-off when finally I found Shane, stumbling around in his Devil costume. I told him we were ready to load out and he needed to get the rest of his guys together. I don’t remember what he said, but it was the start of my association with Shane’s laid-back guy charisma. He knows exactly what to say and when to say it to whom. I’m not saying he’s playing you, because he really is a nice guy from my experience, but silver-tongued would definitely apply here. Whatever he said calmed me down and I remember thinking “Oh, well, that’s reasonable,” and then patiently waiting another hour and a half before we got those guys out of there. I wonder if Shane even remembers that.
At some point after I started going to Shane’s shop, Black Cat, to get tattooed by Richard, I convinced Shane to let me introduce them, Michael Buffer-style at the next show. WCW was huge at the time, so he thought it was a great idea. I was awesome.
The last time I remember seeing Super X-13 play was at the Masquerade – I’m not sure I ever saw them anywhere else – and they had dropped the costumes and sets and were wearing suits. I had a feeling the end was near. I’m not sure that was actually their last show, but it is the last one I remember. At least, until they did a reunion show a couple of years ago. I was so stoked that my (soon-to-be) wife was going to get to see this band that I thought so much of. She had already seen Gargantua on one of our first dates and liked them, but she really liked Super X (sorry, Richard). In fact, the first CD I made her was a compilation of Gargantua and Super X-13, now that I think about it. That may just be what bagged her in the first place. Thanks, guys!
-Favorite track – Everybody Loves Me

8. Paul’s Boutique – Beastie Boys
I, like many other people, did not like this album at first. That is because back in 1989 when it came out, I was stupid. I remember Hey Ladies getting a lot of play on MTV, and not really getting that video. But then, once I got into high school in 1990 my horizons expanded a little bit, I started to appreciate this awesome album that could never be made today. I think my buddy Scott was the one that told me I should give it another chance, and he was right. I can’t even believe there was a time when I thought Licensed to Ill was better than this album. I still love that one, but come on, its pretty retarded. I really don’t have too much to relate to Paul’s Boutique since I only started liking it about a year before their next album came out – and I’m not going to talk about that one. Yet.
-Favorite track – The Sounds of Science

7. Static Age – Misfits
My favorite punk band ever. It pisses me off to no end when people talk about punk rock and go on and on about the shitty, talent-free Sex Pistols who are only famous for having a dead junkie for a bassist and a movie about said dead junkie starring a whore playing another whore, and the Misfits are never even mentioned.
I’m not trying to say that the Misfits were the most important punk band ever or anything, but I feel like they don’t ever get any respect. Maybe it’s because of all the bullshit that went on between Jerry Only and Danzig – I don’t know. I do know, however, that the Misfits remain one of the most entertaining bands I have seen. Even sans-Danzig (not that I ever saw them with Danzig. I was, like, 6 back then).
I have gotten to see them twice, although I only really got to enjoy the second time. I was, um… distracted… the first time. This is a really embarrassing story and something I regret to this day. It involves alcohol and boobs, so that’s really all you need to know for now.
What you do need to know is that this album contains the best recordings of the classic Misfits songs we all know and love. If you are one of those folks that likes all the scratches, level changes and general indecipherability of a demo tape by a bunch of 17 year old punkers in a garage then this may not be the collection for you. Believe me, there are plenty of those kinds of recordings by the Misfits available.
I would actually recommend the coffin-shaped box set to just about anybody, but I didn’t put that here because I’m not very likely to listen to that whole thing at once. It does have every Danzig-era Misfits song on it except for two, as far as I know. But for my purposes here, Static Age is number 7.
-Favorite song – Hybrid Moments

6. Attack of the Killer B’s – Anthrax
Anthrax is my favorite metal band ever. These guys made metal accessible by being big nerds and writing about nerdy things like comic books and Stephen King novels. Or at least Scott Ian is a big nerd. When I myself was a young Troublemaker, Anthrax showed me it was possible to rock the fuck out while reading a book. They said, “Hey, man, we like Judge Dredd and Randall Flagg, too. As a matter of fact, some of our best ass-kicking is inspired by ‘em!”
If you are familiar with Anthrax, then Killer B’s may seem like an odd choice for this entry, but it is the Anthrax album I listen to the most. As you may have noticed, I like albums that vary a bit in style and substance - maybe it’s a short attention span, maybe I just like variety - but this is a great display of range that you don’t often see from these guys. From a few covers – Kiss’ Parasite to name one - to Bring the Noise (do I even need to give a back story on that one?) to Anthrax’s first-ever ballad – the hilarious Dallabnikcufecin – to a couple of live tracks and a song about Jim Jones (!), this is truly an eclectic offering from America’s favorite band named after a deadly airborne virus!
A couple of notes – this was the first compact disc I ever bought and I have never seen Anthrax play live. The first means nothing and the second makes me feel really lame. Oh, and any true metal-head should at the very least also own the 2-disc “greatest hits” compilation, called – appropriately enough – Anthrology: No-hit Wonders”.
-Favorite song – Bring The Noise

Well, that’s it for this week. Next week the list will return with the final five, listed one each day with my number one favorite album of all time listed on Friday, which is, purely by coincidence, my sister’s birthday. Ooh, the suspense is killing me!

Here's the best quality video I could find of what was undoubtedly Anthrax's biggest hit. It makes me kind of sad that this is the best I could do:

Until next time, stay creepy

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