Elton John’s Madman Across the Water is my seventh favorite album of 1971, though it would be more accurate to say the first side of Madman Across the Water made the list. When ‘Tiny Dancer,’ ‘Levon’ and ‘Madman Across the Water’ are three of your first four songs, you can pretty much hang up your hat and call it a day.
The other tracks — ‘Razor Face,’ ‘Indian Sunset,’ ‘Holiday Inn,’ ‘Rotten Peaches,’ ‘All the Nasties’ and ‘Goodbye’ — are all solid, if not up to the level of the opening classics.
My #8 album of 1971 is Don McLean’s American Pie, the singer-songwriter’s sophomore effort, which hit #1 on the Billboard 200 and featured two hits in the iconic title track and ‘Vincent,’ McLean’s ode to Vincent Van Gogh.
This album could earn a spot on this list for those two songs alone, but the rest of its lineup features one achingly gentle acoustic gem after another.
I’ve featured only one Who song on this blog over the past ten years — ‘The Kids are Alright,’ a song I truly love. But as I noted way back then (Song of the Day #81, if you can believe it!), I’m not much of a Who fan in general.
I also mentioned in that post that I am a fan of the band’s fifth studio album, 1971’s Who’s Next. Enough to put it at #9 on my list of best albums from that year.
It’s time for the latest installment of my Decades series, wherein I highlight the albums of a specific year in the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s. I last wrapped up the ‘zeroes’ by hitting 1970, 1980, 1990 and (earlier this year) 2000. Before that I did the ‘twos,’ starting with my birth year — 1972 — and jumping ahead from there.
Now I turn to the ‘ones’ and kick things off with 1971. As usual, I will count down my own favorite albums from that year before spending a couple of weeks on widely acclaimed albums of the year with which I am unfamiliar.
Rei Momo, released in 1989, was David Byrne’s first proper solo album, coming on the heels of Talking Heads’ final album, 1988’s Naked.
Byrne had always explored Afro/Caribbean sounds with Talking Heads (Naked being a great example) but he doubled down on the concept on this album. Every Rei Momo track features a different musical style, which is noted in the track list: cumbia, orisa, salsa, merengue, bomba, rumba, all that good stuff. Today’s SOTD is an example of ‘cha cha cha.’
My daughters have recently rediscovered the 2006 Dixie Chicks album Taking the Long Way, so I’ve heard today’s random SOTD a lot lately. It’s the lead-off track to that fine album, which won five Grammys including Album of the Year.
This song, about leaving a small town to explore the world, reminds me of some of Miranda Lambert’s best work (at least thematically). It has the added element of responding to the controversy over lead singer Natalie Maines’ comments, spoken overseas, about then-president George W. Bush.
My second week of ‘What the Kids are Listening to’ ends as the first week began, with a Drake song. ‘I’m Upset’ is the second single from Drake’s Scorpion and his fifth song in the top 16 of the latest Billboard Hot 100 chart.
This is a better video than song. Directed by Canadian filmmaker Karena Evans, who also helmed the great videos for ‘God’s Plan‘ and ‘Nice For What,’ the short film revisits the cast of the Canadian teen drama Degrassi at a high school reunion.