Monday, March 10, 2014

The Magical Mystery Listening Tour: Day 49

With this batch, I passed the halfway mark through the "E" albums!

The Allman Brothers Band - A&R Studios, NYC 8/26/71
Eels - Electro-Shock Blues
Eels - Electro-Shock Blues Show
Mansun - Eleven EP (Six)
Genesis - Empire Pool, Wembley, London 4/15/75
Genesis - Empire Theater, Liverpool, 4/19/75
Pete Townshend - Empty Glass
Blur - End of a Century
Eels - End Times
XTC - English Settlement
R.E.M. - Eponymous

Circling back to a show I missed on my first pass, this batch of albums is started off by a storming live set by the Allman Brothers Band recorded live for radio in 1971 when they were at the height of their powers. It's one of the great live albums that never was but should have been. The first of three Eels albums in this batch is their second album, which is also my favorite, Electro-Shock Blues. It's a very bleak yet uplifting album written and recorded in the wake of Mark Everett losing his sister to suicide and his mother to cancer in less than two years. Electro-Shock Blues Show is a live album from the accompanying tour and is excellent, while End Times is a melancholy reflection on a relationship with problems that eventually falls apart; it was written and recorded while he was going through his divorce from his wife. A couple of singles by two bands with great B-sides are in here: Mansun's "Six" single has some great songs on the flipside, whereas Blur's "End of a Century" single has lousy ones, although "Rednecks" is funny as a joke song, intentionally so. Two shows from Genesis' tour supporting their classic The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway album include an incomplete concert from London and a complete concert from Liverpool that is very good although Peter Gabriel's voice shows signs of strain toward the end of the show. Pete Townshend's first solo album contains several songs written and rejected for The Who, but they're all the better for it (apart from the title track). One of the great solo albums by anyone from a major band. XTC's English Settlement is a defining album in their career and is stuffed with its share of classics, such as Runaways, Senses Working Overtime, Ball and Chain, No Thugs in Our House, Jason and the Argonauts, and Snowman. I also love Yacht Dance, with some deft and gorgeous classical guitar playing by Dave Gregory. Wrapping up this batch is R.E.M.'s final album on I.R.S. Records before they jumped to Warner Brothers and it's their first compilation. It's essential mainly in order to have the original single-only version of "Radio Free Europe" and the movie soundtrack-only song "Romance," although overall it's still a nice compilation as far as those go.

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