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The Great Albums

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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The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds

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.

2hr 6mins

22 Jun 2015

Rank #1

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Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV (w/ guest Danny Coleman)

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!

2hr 3mins

6 Nov 2017

Rank #2

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The Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream (w/ guest James Anderson)

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!

2hr 14mins

9 Oct 2017

Rank #3

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

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!

1hr 56mins

21 Nov 2016

Rank #4

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Metallica - Master of Puppets (w/ guest Doug Robertson)

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!

2hr 14mins

8 Aug 2016

Rank #5

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U2 - The Joshua Tree

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!

1hr 51mins

3 Aug 2015

Rank #6

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Counting Crows - August and Everything After (w/ guest Frank Lettieri)

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!

2hr 1min

22 May 2017

Rank #7

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Fleetwood Mac - Rumours

Bill and Brian continue the Massive Month of Massive Albums That We Also Call Massivember by talking about Fleetwood Mac's Rumours (1977, Warner Bros.) The band's second album with its most well known lineup (and 11th overall!), found them flourishing under the leadership of guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and the mystical voice of Stevie Nicks. The band reached new heights, selling 40 million copies of this album worldwide, drawing inspiration from their recent breakups, within and without the band, and internal struggles. Bill and Brian do their best to explain the long and winding road that is the story of Fleetwood Mac and how it ended in the sound and production of this album. Along the way we share some of our own break up stories and how they led to better lives, what it would sound like if Bono and the Edge joined the Rolling Stones, Lindsey Buckingham's chops, what the band lacks on their 2003 album Say You Will, "easy listening," the Goo Goo Dolls, and as always a track by track review!

1hr 47mins

23 Nov 2015

Rank #8

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Third Eye Blind - Self Titled (w/ guest Mike Prince)

Brian and Bill welcome music biz insider Mike Prince (he works in licensing music for Disney) to discuss Third Eye Blind's self titled debut (1997, Elektra). Masterminded by singer/lyricist Stephan Jenkins, 3EB took off with massive success filed by their infections pop hooks and catchy melodies. Benefiting from a great chemistry with guitarist and co-songwriter Kevin Cadogan, Jenkins famously ousted Cadogan from the band, leading them into a creative and commercial lull. Strangely, the band has lived on, outliving their 90s rock brethren and remaining a vital influence through till today. Mike talks about purchasing CD singles of the band's early hits before finally discovering the album as an art form while listening to a friend's copy on vacation in Las Vegas. Bill, Brian, and Mike discuss how a younger generation is spreading the word about this album, Kevin Cadogan's role in the band and the business dealings that leads to his dismissal, Arion Salazar's cool bass grooves, Brad Hargreaves' pay day, the non-pop oriented tracks on the album, what the heck harmonics are, the influence of Oasis and MTV's the Real World, where the album dips into a "winter" vibe, how the last 3 songs solidify the band's legacy, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!

2hr 19mins

5 Sep 2016

Rank #9

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Pearl Jam - Vitalogy (w/ guest Steven Hyden)

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

2hr 1min

23 May 2016

Rank #10

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Billy Joel - The Stranger (w/ guest Matt Fernicola)

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!

1hr 51mins

20 Nov 2017

Rank #11

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Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique (w/ guest Dan LeRoy)

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!

2hr 10mins

20 Feb 2017

Rank #12

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David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (w/ guest Savannah Pope)

Savannah Pope, singer for LA based glam rock outfit SpaceCream (spacecreamband.com), joins Bill and Brian via the magic of Skype to discuss David Bowie's seminal glam album the Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972, RCA). What more needs to be said about Bowie that hasn't been done in the months since his death in January? He was an iconic artist that defined glam rock for many. On this episode, Savannah shares how she discovered Bowie as a teenager at reform school and helps us define exactly what glam rock is. Bill, Brian, and Savannah discuss the many phases of Bowie's career, what androgyny means creatively, the rock opera behind the music, Bowie's relationship with sanity, strange connections to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and John Williams, the meaning of the word "creature," mellotron, and as always a track by track review!

1hr 47mins

4 Apr 2016

Rank #13

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The Cure - Disintegration (w/ guest Jack Sullivan)

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!

2hr 3mins

14 Sep 2015

Rank #14

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Dave Matthews Band - Before These Crowded Streets (w/ guest Matt Pischl)

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!

1hr 58mins

7 Mar 2016

Rank #15

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The Beatles - Part I

Bill and Brian have finally decided to do it! Here it is, us talking about the Beatles. But how could we do just a single album? Where would we start? Every album they put out could be featured on the podcast, so now they will be. This is part 1 of 4 in which we discuss every single Beatles album (UK versions). In this episode we discuss Please Please Me, With the Beatles, and A Hard Day's Night. We are joined by several guests (and will continue to be as we make our way through all the albums) including musician Chris Nova of Ruby Bones (ruby bones.bandcamp.com), musician Ben Resnick from We're Ghosts Now (wereghostsnow.com), journalist Ed Magdziak from youdontknowjersey.com, musician Brian Stabile of Casino Sundae (casinosundae.bandcamp.com), and singer/songwriter Jesse Elliot (jesseelliot.com).

1hr 11mins

5 Dec 2016

Rank #16

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Nirvana - In Utero (w/ guest Tyler Plazio)

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!

1hr 55mins

9 Jan 2017

Rank #17

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Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Damn the Torpedoes (w/ guest Chad Stocker)

Bill and Brian are joined by musician Chad Stocker (the High Strung, the Mythics) to discuss Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' Damn the Torpedoes (1979, Backstreet/MCA). Chad talks about how his love of documentaries turns him into a fan of whatever their subject is - in this case, the 2007 Peter Bogdanovich film Runnin' Down a Dream. Bill, Brian, and Chad discuss Jimmy Iovine taking charge as the producer, his clashes with drummer Stan Lynch, the curse of consistency, Mike Campbell's deceptively amazing guitar leads, Ron Blair's diverse bass playing, Benmont Tench's skill on keys, Petty's battles with his label, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!

1hr 50mins

24 Apr 2017

Rank #18

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Pixies - Doolittle (w/ guest John Petrick)

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!

1hr 55mins

4 Jul 2016

Rank #19

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The Beatles - The White Album (w/ guest Mick Chorba)

Musician Mick Chorba () joins Bill and Brian to discuss the iconic White Album (Apple, 1968) by the Beatles. It's our first episode dedicated to a single Beatles album! Yeah, it's taken us awhile to get there, but we did.

2hr 10mins

26 Nov 2018

Rank #20