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The Great Albums

Updated 7 days ago

Music
Society & Culture
Personal Journals
Music Commentary
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Two indie rock musicians, Bill Lambusta and Brian Erickson, dive into the fandom of great rock and pop music and how it connects to their lives through the lens of the medium they care for most, the album. Episodes frequently include guest contributions from musicians, podcasters, and journalists and always culminate in a track by track review.

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Two indie rock musicians, Bill Lambusta and Brian Erickson, dive into the fandom of great rock and pop music and how it connects to their lives through the lens of the medium they care for most, the album. Episodes frequently include guest contributions from musicians, podcasters, and journalists and always culminate in a track by track review.

iTunes Ratings

551 Ratings
Average Ratings
395
65
35
21
35

Ahhh man... you didn’t do The Chronic?!

By BrandyLikeTheAlcohol - Nov 15 2019
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The Chronic needs to be done

Great show!

By AllenS! - May 06 2019
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One of my favorite podcasts! So in-depth and knowledgeable!

iTunes Ratings

551 Ratings
Average Ratings
395
65
35
21
35

Ahhh man... you didn’t do The Chronic?!

By BrandyLikeTheAlcohol - Nov 15 2019
Read more
The Chronic needs to be done

Great show!

By AllenS! - May 06 2019
Read more
One of my favorite podcasts! So in-depth and knowledgeable!
Cover image of The Great Albums

The Great Albums

Latest release on Dec 30, 2019

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 7 days ago

Rank #1: The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds

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If we're talking about great albums of music, it's hard to escape the influence of The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds (1966, Capitol). Part of a group of LPs that helped usher in the "age of the albums" (c. 1964-2007), The Beach Boys' 11th studio album in under 4 years heralded a sea change in music fandom and criticism. Eschewing their "fun in the sun" image, band leader Brian Wilson attempted to create something personal and beautiful and musically dense amidst the culture and technology of the mid 60s. Bill and Brian break down this masterpiece of art track by track as they try to share what makes this album great.

Jun 22 2015

2hr 6mins

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Rank #2: Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV (w/ guest Danny Coleman)

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In our first installment of Massive Albums November 2017, Rock on Radio's Danny Coleman (coaradio.com) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Led Zeppelin IV (1971, Atlantic). Danny talks about his cool older cousin gifting him this album on his 12th birthday and his life being forever changed. Bill, Brian, and Danny then get into John Bonham's influence on Danny as a drummer, Zep vs. the Who, polyrhythms, John Paul Jones' bass keeping the band together, AM/FM radio and music fandom, how Led Zeppelin kind of does in fact have a great live album, Robert Plant's lyricism (and nerdiness), how Jimmy Page is often overlooked as a great producer, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!

Nov 06 2017

2hr 3mins

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Rank #3: Pearl Jam - Vitalogy (w/ guest Steven Hyden)

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Bill and Brian are joined by rock journalist and music critic Steven Hyden (Pitchfork, Uproxx, Grantland, A.V Club) to talk about Pearl Jam's divisive third album Vitalogy (1994, Epic). Written on tour and recorded piecemeal and haphazardly, the band started to showcase its eclectic nature by featuring some noise collages and a more "punk" sound. Especially influenced by singer Eddie Vedder's trouble dealing with fame and the suicide of one of their closest peers Kurt Cobain, the album took on a darker, grittier tone that, although dismissed at the time, has become revered by Pearl Jam die hards. Steven talks about how Pearl Jam and their "feud" with Nirvana figures into his book, Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me, and how Nirvana helped shape his views on Pearl Jam and this album upon its release. Then Bill, Brian, and Steven discuss Dave Abbruzzese's excellent drumming and why his guns and sport cars got him dismissed from the band, how Eddie Vedder can be too good of a singer, how powerful the band is on "Corduroy," how using early takes both helped and hindered the album, PJ's penchant for trilogies, Vedder's ability to successfully write from a female perspective, how Pearl Jam has become the last huge rock act that has sustained its career, Vitalogy's similarities to Rust Never Sleeps, the importance of viewing this album as a whole, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track! Be sure to check out Steven's book, available at all fine book establishments, including at the following link! http://www.amazon.com/Your-Favorite-Band-Killing-Rivalries/dp/0316259152/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1463490702&sr=1-1&keywords=steven+hyden

May 23 2016

2hr 1min

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Rank #4: Radiohead - OK Computer

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It's finally happening! As we reach the penultimate episode to be part of our weekly releases, Bill and Brian take the time to talk about what's great about Radiohead's OK Computer (1997, Parlophone/Capitol). Bill spends a little time talking about what happens when fans say things like they can't get into an artist or album and how it can be perceived. Then we get to the track by track review, focusing on what we enjoy in the tunes!

Jun 24 2019

1hr 52mins

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Rank #5: Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon (w/ guest Andrew James)

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Massive Album November continues as Brian and Bill welcome podcaster Andrew James (rowthree.com) to talk about Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon (1974, Harvest). Although their 8th studio album, the band finally 'broke through' in a big, bad way with Dark Side, spending 741 weeks (that's nearly 15 years) on the Billboard charts! Andrew talks about unlocking the magic of the Floyd thanks to the confluence of a friend's parents being out of town, some "gummy bears," and a sublime saxophone. Then Bill, Brian, and Andrew discuss how cool VH1/s Classic Albums program is, madness, the universal themes of the album, synthesizers, how annoying it is that Roger Waters is just better than everyone at everything (except singing), 7/8 time signatures, David Gilmore's gorgeous vocal tones, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!

Nov 21 2016

1hr 56mins

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Rank #6: The Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream (w/ guest James Anderson)

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Bill and Brian are joined by podcaster James Anderson of Unabashedly Obsessed (unabashedlyobsessed.com) to talk about the Smashing Pumpkins breakthrough album Siamese Dream (1993, Virgin). James tells the story of playing N64 in a friend's basement, being blown away hearing the Pumpkins for first time, and how it led to purchasing the album at Walmart, a circumstance that forever shaped how he listened to the album. Bill, Brian, and James then get into the band's evolution through the years, how Billy Corgan wishes he could resequence the album, D'Arcy Wretzky and James Iha's lack of involvement in the recording, Jimmy Chamberlain's kick ass drumming and natural tones, Butch Vig's big guitar sounds and love of acoustic tracks, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!

Oct 09 2017

2hr 14mins

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Rank #7: Pixies - Doolittle (w/ guest John Petrick)

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Bill and Brian welcome drummer John Petrick of the Stewart Dolly (thestewartdolly.bandcamp.com) to the podcast to discuss the Pixies sophomore full length release Doolittle (1989, 4AD). The band formed around the core of primary songwriter Black Francis and guitarist Joey Santiago after the two met at the University of Massachusetts Amherst before bassist Kim Deal and drummer Dave Lovering solidified the lineup. Signed to British indie label 4AD, the band took off with college radio and have since maintained their legacy as one of THE most important alternative bands. John shares how he discovered the band through looking up Weezer on allmusic.com. Bill, Brian, and John discuss Black Francis' name, whether or not his character in the songs reveals who he is in life, Joey Santiago's noisey guitars, Brian not knowing anything about superhero names, the monolithic nature of the album, how to learn to play bass using the Kim Deal method, how Black Francis' voice cracking during a particular song is John's favorite moment on the album, Ennio Morricone, a surprising amount about how the band is like the Beatles in many ways, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!

Jul 04 2016

1hr 55mins

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Rank #8: U2 - The Joshua Tree

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This week, Bill and Brian go sans guest to talk about U2's super-massive-megadon hit The Joshua Tree (1987, Island). Recorded after the band had spent years touring the US, alternately falling in love with its ideals and becoming outspoken critics of its international policies, and wanting to create something bigger and better than anything they had done before, U2 released this album to massive sales and critical praise. Brian and Bill talk about their personal connections with the music, how the album got made, and a track by track analysis of each song. Along the way, we discuss religion and secularism, Euler's number, how addiction has touched our lives, the legality of immigration, how music can spur community in the face of tragedy, and more!

Aug 03 2015

1hr 51mins

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Rank #9: AC/DC - Back in Black

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Bill and Brian make the best of an odd situation in which a guest was supposed to come on to be our gritty Australian rock and roll connoisseur but ended up not joining us. So we tackle AC/DC's legendary Back in Black (1980, Atlantic). After years of working their way to the top of the Australian charts, the band, founded by brothers Angus and Malcolm Young, broke through to an international audience with 1979's Highway to Hell. Tragically, after a night of heavy drinking, charismatic frontman Bon Scott passed away during the winter of 1980. Choosing to carry on, the band brought in singer Brian Johnson who helped them reach even greater heights of success and critical acclaim. Brian and Bill talk about AC/DC's presence in their younger days, Bill while listening to the radio and Brian while broadcasting on the radio. They also discuss the influence of producer Mutt Lange, Brian Johnson's back story, the band's unique ways of honoring Bon Scott, how the band made it's distinctive sound, Angus' killer leads, the chart topping-ness of the album and its singles, what Max Weinberg might think of Phil Rudd, a bit about if there is any misogyny on the album, and as always a track by track review!

Aug 29 2016

1hr 59mins

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Rank #10: Dave Matthews Band - Before These Crowded Streets (w/ guest Matt Pischl)

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Musician Matt Pischl stops by to help Bill and Brian talk about what makes Dave Matthews Band's Before These Crowded Streets (1998, RCA) great. Formed when a shy songwriter approached the local musicians he admired to collaborate, the band has gone on to become a popular concert attraction and bestselling group. Matt tells us how playing the saxophone all throughout elementary and high school led to his ear taking note of Leroi Moore's contributions to DMB's unique sound and eventually transitioning to guitar as his own main instrument. The guys talk about the band's image as a stoner jam band, the portion of their fanbase that is just bros, Steve Lillywhite's influence on the band's sound and development, the impressive musicianship throughout, cool guest contributions (Bela Fleck, Alanis Morissette, the Cronos Quartet), happy hippie music, cutting songs for the single version, Matthews' carpe diem lyrics, and a track by track review!

Mar 07 2016

1hr 58mins

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Rank #11: Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique (w/ guest Dan LeRoy)

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Dan LeRoy, the man who literally wrote the book on Paul's Boutique (both the 33 1/3 entry and a follow up For Whom the Cowbell Tolls), joins Bill and Brian to talk about the Beastie Boys and their 1989 sophomore album. Dan talks about discovering the band as an early adopter of rap and then loving this album in his college days. Dan also shares his experience of writing his books and working through the many samples present on this album. Dan, Brian, and Bill discuss the Dust Brothers and Matt Dike's influence on the album, the maturation of the band, the importance of (or lack thereof) a hit single, Adam Yauch guiding "A Year and a Day," Mike Diamond disavowing how important their contributions are, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!

Feb 20 2017

2hr 10mins

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Rank #12: Counting Crows - August and Everything After (w/ guest Frank Lettieri)

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Musician Frank Lettieri (dustofdays.bandcamp.com) joins Bill and Brian as we finally set to tackling Counting Crows' August and Everything After (1993, Geffen). Frank talks about having this album gifted to him as a part of a long tradition of uncles introducing nephews to cool music. Then Bill, Brian, and Frank discuss what one of the engineers on the album shared about the equipment used to record the album, the importance of the band's SNL performance in January of 1994, Adam Duritz's exquisite cafe poetry, how producer T-Bone Burnett influenced the overall sound of the recording, the underrated rhythm section of Steve Bowman and Matt Malley, Charlie Gillingham as a Benmont Tench-esque secret weapon, David Bryson's memorable guitar hooks, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!

May 22 2017

2hr 1min

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Rank #13: Foo Fighters - Self Titled (w/ guest Jim Hanke)

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Bill welcomes podcaster/music guru Jim Hanke from the Vinyl Emergency podcast (soundcloud.com/vinylemergency) to talk about Foo Fighters' self titled debut album (1995, Capitol/Roswell). Following the tragic suicide of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, the band's drummer, Dave Grohl, was left with no band and an uncertain future. Instead of taking offers from Tom Petty to join the Heartbreakers, Grohl decided to take his future into his own hands and front his own group. Jim talks about his podcast, forgives Bill for not really owning vinyl, and discovering the Foos on Eddie Vedder's Self- Pollution pirate radio broadcast in early 1995. Bill and Jim also discuss the album's "indie" aesthetic, the influence of Nirvana on how the album is perceived, how Foo Fighters maybe haven't really ever put out a front to back great album, how Dave Growl has become the official spokesman of rock 'n' roll, how studio noise draws us in, the band's attitude toward and humor in music videos, William Goldsmith's heavy drumming, the album working in groups of 3, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!

May 16 2016

2hr 12mins

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Rank #14: The Cure - Disintegration (w/ guest Jack Sullivan)

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Bill and Brian welcome Jack Sullivan as a guest to talk about the Cure's Disintegration (1989, Elektra/Asylum). Released after a series of songs that helped the band break into the mainstream, principal songwriter and poorly-applied-makeup enthusiast Robert Smith wanted to create a great album that solidifed how the band was perceived amongst both fans and critics. Written and recorded shortly before Smith's 30th birthday, a sense of doom and gloom dominated the album's new wave/alternative music and the lyrical content. Bill, Brian, and Jack discuss how this album became a soundtrack to breakups, 80s schlock, how Robert Smith spends his day to day life, how Jack would resequence the album, the metaphorical impact of Christmas, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!

Sep 14 2015

2hr 3mins

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Rank #15: Gin Blossoms - New Miserable Experience

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Bill and Brian delight in sharing their admiration for what may be a sometimes overlooked gem from the early 90s, the Gin Blossoms' New Miserable Experience (1992. A&M). Known as a hardworking band that loves the rigors of touring, the Tempe, AZ natives spent years toiling in obscurity, even spending over a year promoting this album, before they finally broke through to the mainstream with their third single "Hey Jealousy." The success was unfortunately timed, however, as founding member and principal songwriter Doug Hopkins, who had been dismissed from the band for drug and alcohol related issues before the album was even released, committed suicide shortly after his song ascended the charts. In this episode, Bill discusses how he started his deep dive into the band's catalog and began to see them as more than just a 90s nostalgia act after catching a performance at Six Flags Great Adventure. Bill and Brian also talk about how terrible Deep Blue Something really is, the canonization of NME, how alcoholism has touched our lives, when bass players should pull the root note 8th notes out of their bag of tricks, what BPMs are considered mid-tempo, the difference between overdrive and distortion, soloing off key, how long it takes to write a song, which Buddy Holly-esque pre-rock'n'roll melody is the best on the album, how life isn't over at the age of 29, and a track by track review!

Apr 18 2016

1hr 57mins

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Rank #16: Nirvana - In Utero (w/ guest Tyler Plazio)

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Bill and Brian are joined by musician/singer-songwriter Tyler Plazio from Soldiers of Suburbia (soldiersofsuburbiaband.com) to talk about Nirvana's In Utero (1993, DGC). A couple years after the enormous success of their major label debut, Nevermind, the band and frontman Kurt Cobain felt pressure to craft a worthy follow up that also represented their artistic vision. They hired producer Steve Albini, kept recording time to a minimum, and attempted to maintain their punk ideals with a noisy and concise album. Tyler talks about discovering the band as a young guitar player after a bandmate told him to cover "Smells Like Teen Spirit." He also reveals how In Utero was a bit of a grower for him but is now one of his favorite albums. Bill, Brian, and Tryle also discuss Krist Novoselic's vision for the album, Dave Grohl's awesome drumming, Cobain's views on gender, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!

Jan 09 2017

1hr 55mins

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Rank #17: Metallica - Master of Puppets (w/ guest Doug Robertson)

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Bill and Brian are joined by educator and author Doug Robertson (aka the Weird Teacher, @theweirdteacher) to talk about what makes Metallica's Master of Puppets (1986, Elektra) great. Metallica, forebears of thrash metal and icons within the metal genre, spent a few years in the underground building a rabid fanbase before finally breaking through with their major label debut (which did so without the help of radio airplay or any music videos). Doug shares how listening to Metallica for the first time forced his body to experience puberty within a matter of seconds as a high school freshman. He then became a ravenous fan, taking in their back catalog and falling in love with each album in turn. Brian, Bill, and Doug discuss Nu metal, growing with fast and loud music, Metallica's musicality, Winger, Lars Ulrich's drumming skills (and maybe lack thereof), how Hetfield's lyrics are smarter than you may think, a whole bunch of really cool guitar things, Dave Mustaine, which song on the album is actually a sonata, a bunch about Cliff Burton's life (and death), and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!

Aug 08 2016

2hr 14mins

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Rank #18: Billy Joel - The Stranger (w/ guest Matt Fernicola)

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Massive Albums November rolls (and rocks) on into week 3 as Bill and Brian welcome multi-talented multi-instrumentalist Matt Fernicola (Foes of Fern, Avery Mandeville and the Man Devils, the Burns, and many more) to talk about Billy Joel's the Stranger (1977, Columbia). Listener be warned: much to our delight Fern, a Berklee College of Music alum, really dives deep into music theory when describing how Joel's classical training help define his unique pop sound. Also, we compare and contrast the lyrical styles of Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel, talk about Brian's priest singing some Billy Joel mid-mass, Liberty Devitto's timely (and possibly apocryphal) stick throwing, Phil Ramone getting the producer nod over George Martin, and much more are we make our way through the album track by track!

Nov 20 2017

1hr 51mins

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Rank #19: Creedence Clearwater Revival - Willy and the Poor Boys (w/ guest Adam Weiner)

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Musician Adam Weiner (lowcutconnie.com) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Creedence Clearwater Revival's Willy and the Poor Boys. Adam talks about the ubiquity of CCR and how it led him to discover some other great music. Then Bill, Brian, and Adam discuss Philly accents, Flannery O'Conner and the Southern Gothic, how a song's overuse can affect how we listen to it, who sung it better (CCR or the Beach Boys?), Lead Belly and his influence on this album, the influence of Chuck Berry and Roy Orbison, Barack Obama's official playlist, and more as we make our way through the album track by track! Low Cut Connie's Dirty Pictures (part 1) available for pre-order now! https://www.hellomerch.com/collections/low-cut-connie/products/dirty-pictures-part-1-cd

Apr 17 2017

1hr 48mins

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Rank #20: Prince - Purple Rain (w/ guest Bill Ackerman)

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Podcaster Bill Ackerman (nowplayingnetwork.net/supportingcharacters) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Prince's multimedia spectacular, Purple Rain (1984, Warner Bros.). Bill talks about falling in love with this music as it saturated the airwaves in his youth, and then revealing that access to this film and album would have been denied to him if it not for a precocious baby sitter willing to collude with him. The Bills and Brian discuss the Minneapolis scene, First Avenue, the Revolution, Wendy & Lisa, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!

Mar 06 2017

2hr 2mins

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