I bet Amy’s list would have looked almost exactly the same 15 years ago, which says something about how often she explores new music. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
My easy pick for the best album of 1993 is August and Everything After, the debut release by Counting Crows. I’ve talked about doing a theme week (or two) on great debut albums, and this one would surely be near the top of that list as well.
The California-based band had formed just a couple of years before this album’s release, and sparked a bidding war among major labels who heard their demo tapes. They landed T Bone Burnett as producer and knocked out this collection of literate folk rock tunes. The album sold more than 7 million copies in the U.S. and placed three singles on the Hot 100 (including ‘Mr. Jones,’ which reached #5).
The concept was half an album of upbeat songs and half an album of slow ballads. What they ended up with was a Goldilocks selection without anything that was “just right.” The first half was annoying and off-putting while the second half put me to sleep.
My choice for Counting Crows’ best album is a close contest between their 1993 debut August and Everything After and their fourth release, 2002’s Hard Candy. Forced to choose, I would likely side with Hard Candy.
Today’s random SOTD, ‘Carriage,’ is a big reason why. This is a beautiful and poignant song that plays to Adam Duritz’s strengths as a lyricist and vocalist and gives the band plenty of space to fill a rather sparse song with moments of musical grace.
Our next Montauk Madness Round Four matchup is a bit unexpected. It’s not a big surprise to see Bob Dylan here, but this is rare air for Counting Crows, who happen to enjoy quite a bit of popularity among my meager readership.
Dylan made it here by dispatching Miranda Lambert, Eminem and R.E.M. Even though I voted for him all three times, the losses of Lambert and R.E.M. hurt me. I wish they’d had an easier path. Counting Crows took out Morrissey, David Bowie and Ben Folds Five. I picked them in the first two rounds before siding with Ben Folds Five, but even that was a close call.