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2001 top albums

May 14, 2012

Tops of 2001 – The year’s best albums didn’t always capture the public’s fancy
Herald & Review (Decatur, IL) – Friday, February 1, 2002
Author: By TIM CAIN ; H&R Entertainment Editor
Who wants to hear what a bunch of old guys have to say, anyway?

Not the record-buying public, which generally rejected with a heretofore unseen vehemence new releases from music veterans last year. In its first week of release, the most recent solo album by Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger, “Goddess in the Doorway,” sold fewer than 1,000 copies.

You’d think more folks than that would have picked it up just by accident.

Elton John released an album that he described as his best in 20 years, and it vanished from the charts in less than three months’ time. Former Beatle Paul McCartney released his third straight excellent solo album , and its chart time didn’t exceed two months. Meanwhile, the “I Am Sam” soundtrack, which features versions of Beatles songs recorded by younger performers, sits in the Top 30 of Billboard’s album chart, and Billboard’s top album from 2001, the Beatles’ “1,” is still in the Top 100 after selling more than 8 million copies.

John’s and McCartney’s albums can both be found on my list of the Top Albums of 2001, along with some folks whose names are not exactly household favorites. Understand that the Beatles are still my favorite group, and memorable tunes and tight harmonies make me melt, and you might understand what some of the choices here sound like.

1. Adam Schmitt, “Demolition” – An album where each song is better than the previous, and the listener can marvel over how one man can interlock the guitars so precisely, not to mention play everything as well as he does. A welcome comeback from the Champaign-Urbana resident, whose 1991 effort, “World So Bright,” is one of the best things these ears have heard. And with any luck, the next one comes out before 2009.

2. Mary Chapin Carpenter, “Time*Sex*Love” – She clearly spent a lot of time over the past four years listening to the Beatles, because much of this sounds as if it came out of their middle period. Her ruminations on the title subjects are a pleasant return in this, her first collection of new material in five years.

3. “Josie and the Pussycats,” soundtrack – Like the movie or not, unplug your ears to hear these power pop masterpieces, sung by Kay Hanley, late of Letters to Cleo. Smart, upbeat pop rock.

4. Susan Werner, “New Non-Fiction” – Another great argument for artists simply striking out on their own and following their muses. In her most consistent album , Werner tackles Beatlepop, jazz, folk and other stylings, including an unexpected reading of Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin’ ” (best known to most listeners from Harry Nilsson’s version).

5. Swag, “Catchall” – Featuring members from Cheap Trick, Sixpence None the Richer, The Mavericks and Wilco, they’re kind of an alternative supergroup. This collection of material is a little pop, a little country and a lot of fun.

6. Tractors, “Fast Girl” – A number of country and country-rock acts changed labels this year, seeking artistic satisfaction and/or a fresh start. Unfortunately, this was a good, rocking album that got lost in the shuffle.

7. ELO, “Zoom” – A good release that had no place to go. What’s the market for a revived band that last charted 15 years ago? Next to nonexistent, unfortunately. Writer Jeff Lynne hasn’t lost his feel for catchy melodies, he’s just lost a receptive audience. Too bad.

8. Janet Jackson, “All For You” – Is there any question that she’s long since left brother Michael in the dust artistically? “Someone To Call My Lover” is the song that will define the summer of 2001 for many and is my pick for single of the year. Sexy and memorable.

9. Gillian Welch, “Time (The Revelator)” – The most interesting thing about Welch’s music is, for the most part, it could have been recorded a century ago as easily as now. This is more pop-rock than her two previous Americana-drenched efforts, but it remains impressive and encouraging that someone can have success recording these types of songs.

10. Lit, “Atomic” – If Elvis Costello and the Attractions had come along 20 years later, this might be the kind of record they’d make, for all the good and bad that statement entails. Is there anything startling original here? Not really, but there are solid melodies, witty lyrics and memorable songs.

11. Alicia Keys, “Songs in A Minor” – When some critics observe, “She’s not as good as people think she is,” my thought is, “Huh?” Every time this disc was in my player, someone would ask who it was, generally a good sign that the music is catching ears. If “Someone To Call My Lover” wouldn’t have been my single of the year, “Fallin’ ” would have been.

12. Elton John, “Songs From the West Coast” – While Elton calls this his best effort since his early career peaks, he seems to have conveniently forgotten that he knew how to rock and roll a little bit in the 1970s. Nevertheless, this is his most solid collection of melodies in years and is almost enough to make you forgive his last three or four years.

13. Paul McCartney, “Driving Rain” – Speaking of forgiveness, McCartney’s recent output is almost enough to atone for the dreck he pushed on us from the mid-1980s until 1997’s brilliant “Flaming Pie.” This isn’t in that album ‘s league, but at least he’s not mailing it in as he’s done previously. He and Elton can wrestle for the title of their generation’s greatest tunesmith.

14. Marina V, “Lift” – The Russian transplant to Central Illinois (since relocated to California in pursuit of further success) mixes a 1950s girl-group feel with Tori Amos-style vocals and spins in some Russian folk feel for a decidedly unique disc.

15. Aerosmith, “Just Push Play” – They just keep on putting out radio-ready product (we’ll dock them points for also pumping out commercial-ready product). At some point with this band, enough will become too much, and for some detractors they’re there already. Not for me.

right up there:

Butterfly Jones, “Napalm Springs”

Stevie Nicks, “Trouble in Paradise”

Bob Dylan, “Love and Theft”

Enuff Z’Nuff, “10”

Garbage, “beautifulgarbage”

“Moulin Rouge” soundtrack

Autoliner, “Be”

Bottle of Justus, “America Cries”


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