Under Construction. The printed edition of Nothing Has Been Done Before contains only a Select Discography. Here I’ve expanded it to include nearly every album, song, or performance mentioned in the book, along with some notes and music or video not already included in the A/V pages.
AC/DC. Let There Be Rock. ATCO SD 36-151, 1977. The album and song paid homage by the Drive-By Truckers’ “Let There Be Rock” on Southern Rock Opera. Tchaikovsky gets “the news” from Beethoven, by way of Chuck Berry, and rock ‘n’ roll is born. Every band–every great band–creates its own version of rock ‘n’ roll history, a version that makes room for itself.
Against Me! New Wave. Sire 101304-2, 2007. From their earliest albums (Reinventing Axl Rose, 2002; As the Eternal Cowboy, 2003) to their most recent–especially 2014’s remarkable Transgender Dysphoria Blues–Against Me! have never given in to dishonesty. More musically adventurous than any of their punk neighbors, the band has always threaded protest songs like “The Politics of Starving” with Springsteen-esque tales of desperation like “We Laugh at Danger (And Break All the Rules),” which sounds like the Pogues pumped full of vitamins. On “Sink, Florida, Sink,” from As the Eternal Cowboy, Laura Jane Grace’s voice has something of Jonathan Richman’s ironic delivery at the start, then breaks, finds a little soul, and in the chorus opens up into a spiritual cry. New Wave unleashes the pop hooks that had always been active in Against Me!’s songs without softening any worthwhile edge. Grace’s voice wasn’t really going to allow it; all you have to hear is “Thrash Unreal” to understand that. “White People for Peace” (below) is discussed in Ch. 10 of Nothing Has Been Done Before. Grace came out as a trans woman in 2012 and spent the following years transitioning, a journey documented in her blunt memoir Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout (2016) but captured just as well, maybe even better, in the three-minute gems on Transgender Dysphoria Blues like the title song, or “True Trans Soul Rebel,” “FUCKMYLIFE666,” and “Black Me Out.”
Agalloch. Ashes Against the Grain. The End TE070, 2006. I can’t think of a black-metal band that so fluently and richly combines patented trademarks of the genre with such a powerful sense of history. Balancing pastoral folk with tree trunks of distorted guitar, the Portland, Oregon band makes its stand on Ashes Against the Grain. If it’s possible in this genre, they seem to be enjoying themselves here. Founder and vocalist John Haughm even allows himself an “Ooh!” on the damn-near poppy “Falling Snow.” A remastered version of the album was released in 2016, the same year the band broke up, and to my ears, it’s too bright compared to the original master ten years earlier.
Akron/Family. Akron/Family. Young God YG28, 2005. The missing link between Iron & Wine’s hushed pastoralism and Sufjan Stevens’ broader musical palette, this sometimes engrossing, sometimes pretentious album retreats from the city in which it was made, or tries to remake it. The latter is more interesting. The vinyl version contains two songs not on the CD (or online versions, e.g. Spotify): “Dylan pt. 1” and “Positive Vibration Force.”
Alabama Shakes. Boys & Girls. ATO ATO0142, 2012. Unabashedly retro in its sound–perfectly executed in recording and spirit, like the rush of drama in “I Found You.” Brittany Howard’s voice never tries to impress you with its power. The band is less sonically reverential on the 2015 follow-up Sound and Color; “Gimme All Your Love” will stop your heart. See also: Howard’s side project Thunderbitch (self-titled, 2015), particularly “Let Me Do What I Do Best.”
Alvin, Dave. Blackjack David. Hightone HCD 8091, 1998. Heavy on atmospherics–by which I mean air, not electronics–and leaning on the former Blasters frontman’s warm bass voice, it never gets past the tradition. See also Public Domain: Songs from the Wild Land (2000).
Anti-Flag. The Terror State. Fat Wreck Chords FAT643-2, 2003. See also: Mobilize (2002) and For Blood and Empire (2006).
Archers of Loaf. Curse of the Loaf: Live at Cat’s Cradle. ARRA Records ARRA 002-1, 2015. The live album culled from What Did You Expect?
Archers of Loaf. Vee Vee. Alias A-064, 1995. Two minutes and thirty-eight seconds into the first song, “Step Into the Light,” Eric Bachmann finally croaks, “Step into the light/So tired of being in the dark and all alone,” and a madman starts screaming down the hall. This is Archers’ version of gospel music, possibly, and it’s beautiful in a shabby way. The remastered reissue (Merge, 2012) includes great singles like “Telepathic Traffic” and “Mutes in the Steeple,” the surf noir of “Mark Price P.I.,” and an unrecognizable cover of John Coltrane’s “Equinox.”
Archers of Loaf. Vs. the Greatest of All Time. Alias A-070, 1994.
Archers of Loaf. What Did You Expect? Directed by Gorman Bechard. Connecticut: What Were We Thinking, 2012. Eric Bachmann talks about the band’s name, which he initially hated: “What I like now is…just the idea that really good rock music transcends the innate stupidity of the genre, ’cause the name essentially is a way to make fun of how stupid all band names are. But meaning…hell, I don’t know if it means anything.” Guitarist Eric Johnson recalls how the name made a list of Top Ten Worst Band Names. “It made me so upset,” he says, “because we’re never number one in anything.”
Bambaataa, Afrika, w/Zulu Nation, Cosmic Force/Soulsonic Force. “Zulu Nation Throw Down.” Paul Winley Records 12×33-8, 1980. See also: Planet Rock (1982).
Banhart, Devendra. Oh Me Oh My…The Way The Day Goes By The Sun Is Setting Dogs Are Dreaming Lovesongs Of The Christmas Spirit. Young God YG20, 2002. See also: The Black Babies (2003) and Rejoicing in the Hands (2004).
Beach House. Bloom. Sub Pop SP 965, 2012. Midway through a body of work that sounds like a battle against difference, Beach House here makes their careful defense for the utopia of youthful innocence sound like something you might (and should) enjoy. Previous records were so careful that the pep in “Wild” seems obscene. Beach House delivers the “new adult” message of pop from a different podium than, say, Katy Perry on “Teenage Dream,” but the band’s music still holds on more than it lets go. If I talk about the conservative impulse in indie rock, this is what I mean.
The Beastie Boys. To the 5 Boroughs. Capitol 7243 5 84571 1 7, 2004. A return to form without much to say.
Beyoncé. Dangerously in Love. Columbia CK 86386, 2003. “Crazy in Love” is all you need, really, but check “Baby Boy,” a fantastic recombination of dancehall and R&B.
Big Daddy Kane. It’s a Big Daddy Thing. Cold Chillin’/Reprise 9 25941-2, 1989.
Biggie Smalls (as The Notorious B.I.G.). Ready to Die. Bad Boy Entertainment 78612-73000-2, 1994.
Bill Carney’s Jug Addicts. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Bill-Carneys-Jug-Addicts-295204180509222/
The Black Angels. Passover. Light in the Attic LITA 018, 2006. The Austin, TX band may have taken their name from the Velvet Underground’s “The Black Angel’s Death Song” but here they sound just as possessed by Jim Morrison and early Black Sabbath (see “Manipulation”). Their album art should win awards.
The Black Swans. “You’ll Never See My Face in Kansas City” split single. (See Malefactors of Great Wealth).
Blow, Kurtis. Kurtis Blow. Mercury SRM-1-3854, 1980. Includes “The Breaks,” one of Blow’s gold records. The other is “Christmas Rappin'” from 1979, and these two years–1979/1980–are really the watershed moment for rap, the time period in which its event became public. “Rapper’s Delight” was released in 1979, followed by Bambaataa’s first singles and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s “Freedom” in 1980. Blow’s 1986 album Kingdom Blow opens with Bob Dylan rapping briefly on a song called “Street Rock.”
Blow Up Hollywood. Diaries of Private Henry Hill. Self-released, 2006. After two deeply atmospheric albums combining neoclassical and electronica with limp “alternative rock,” suddenly the band releases this grounded, Beatles and Beach Boys-influenced album. It’s a confounding album not without its missteps, like “Chance,” but even these have a power because of their narrative focus. Diaries of Private Henry Hill is the most diverse sounding antiwar album of the 2000s. “WMD” was included on Body of War: Songs That Inspired an Iraq War Veteran, an album that accompanied the documentary Body of War which follows the life of Tomas Young, twenty-four years old when he was shot through the spine and paralyzed in Iraq in April 2004. In a letter to President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney a year and a half before he died in November 2014, Young wrote, “My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come.”
Boogie Down Productions (KRS-One). Live Hardcore Worldwide. Vibe 1425-2-J, 1991. Full throttle performances of songs that appeared on previous albums like Criminal Minded (1987), By All Means Necessary (1988), Ghetto Music (1989), and Edutainment (1990), all albums deserving of their own entries. But for me, as a white teenager living in a semi-rural town outside of Cleveland, Ohio, Live Hardcore Worldwide brought to life the noisy, democratic, relentless culture of rap shows and the connection between the artists and their audiences. Half of this audience blows whistles throughout the songs, like in a football match. Alien sirens and machine gun samples ricochet across the audience. Near the end, DJ Kenny Parker (I think it’s him) says of the next song, “I’ll make a deal with you: If the jam is hype, we rock. If it’s wack, we step off.” They jump into “Self-Destruction,” the single released by KRS-One’s Stop the Violence Movement in 1989, so it’s kind of a set-up. The song was a huge hit. Still, that “deal” isn’t something you’d ever expect a band to make onstage, and you can believe that BDP’s commitment to the audience was strong enough that if the song flopped, they would have split.
Bright Eyes (Conor Oberst). “When the President Talks to God.” Download. Saddle Creek, 2005. See also Motion Sickness: Live Recordings. Team Love Records TL-06, 2005.
Brother D and the Collective Effort. “How We Gonna Make the Black Nation Rise?” B-side of “Dib-Be-Dib-Be-Dize.” Clapper CL-0001, 1980. Reissued in 1982 by Islands Records and again in 1985 by 4th & Broadway.
Campbell, Isobel and Mark Lanegan. Sunday at Devil Dirt. Fontana International FONINT8636, 2008.
Cantrell, Blu. So Blu. Arista 07822-14703-2, 2001.
Carolina Chocolate Drops. Genuine Negro Jig. Nonesuch 516995-2, 2010.
Cash, Johnny. American Recordings. American Recordings 9 45520-2, 1994.
C-Murder. Trapped in Crime. Priority/TRU P2 50083, 2000. “Down for My Niggaz” is sampled on Kanye West’s Yeezus track on “Blood on the Leaves,” but it was a Top 10 hit in 2000. The album epitomizes post-2Pac gangsta rap but here and there its musicality leaps out, like on “Concrete Jungle” which, like “Down for My Niggaz,” features Snoop Dogg.
CocoRosie. Le Maison de Mon Rêve. Touch and Go TG253, 2004. “The House of My Dream” sounds like it could be in any American suburb as opposed to Paris, where the American sisters Bianca and Sierra Cassidy recorded the album. And that’s fine, really. Lumped in with the freak-folk movement, CocoRosie creates an innocent world that relies less on the American folk and blues tradition than it does the tradition of kids experimenting with every instrument left behind in their grandparents’ garage, including drum machines. “Jesus Loves Me” is insufferable. The more the band explored R&B and rap elements on albums like Grey Oceans (2010) and Tales of a GrassWidow (2013), the more interesting it became, the more it lived up to its “cosmopolitan” billing.
Cocteau Twins. Heaven or Las Vegas. Capitol/4AD CDP 7 93669 2, 1990.
College. Secret Diary. Futur FUTUR001, 2008 (France).
The Coup. Pick a Bigger Weapon. Epitaph 86720-2, 2006.
D’Angelo. Black Messiah. RCA 88875-05655-2, 2014.
Danger Mouse. The Gray Album. Self-released, 2004.
Depeche Mode. Speak and Spell. Sire M5S 3642, 1981.
Dixie Chicks. The Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing. Directed by Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck. Cabin Creek Films: 2006.
Dixie Chicks. Home. Open Wide/Monument/Columbia CK 86840, 2002. The promise of the group was that country and bluegrass roots could co-exist with contemporary pop country, and Home is the closest the band got to realizing that. It made America seem like an okay place to be. “Long Time Gone” indicts the country radio that would soon ostracize the Chicks, and those subsequent events have perhaps obscured the spirit and technique of this album, from the harmonies and Emily Robison’s banjo on “White Trash Wedding” to everything in “Tortured, Tangled Hearts” and the instrumental “Lil’ Jack Slade.”
Dixie Chicks. Taking the Long Way. Open Wide/Columbia 82876 80739 2, 2006. Having discovered that country and bluegrass roots cannot co-exist with contemporary pop country when politics enters the mix, the band makes a pop alt-country album. Flat production and generic arrangements can’t hide the melodic strengths in songs like “Everybody Knows.” Here, America no longer exists: it’s just the mob waiting outside their house and the quiet interior of their private lives, and never the twain shall meet. Can you blame them? They haven’t made an album since.
DJ Kool Herc.
Drake, Nick. Pink Moon. Hannibal Records HNCD 4436, 1992. Originally released in 1972.
Dr. Dre. The Chronic. Interscope/Death Row P2 57128, 1992.
Drive-By Truckers. Southern Rock Opera. Lost Highway D 244542, 2002. Originally released in 2001. Don’t let the titles of their previous albums, Gangstabilly (1998) and Pizza Deliverance (1999), scare you off. The former includes “The Living Bubba” and its hook: “I can’t die ’cause I got another show to do.” It took the band awhile to find its footing after the departure of Jason Isbell, but recent albums English Oceans (2014) and American Band (2016) dig the deep marks.
Dylan, Bob. Golden Vanity. Wanted Man WMM 002, 1992 (bootleg).
Dylan, Bob. “Love and Theft.“ Columbia CK 85975, 2001.
Dylan, Bob. No Direction Home. DVD. Directed by Martin Scorsese. Hollywood: Paramount, 2005.
Dylan, Bob. The Other Side of the Mirror: Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival. DVD. Directed by Murray Lerner. New York: Sony Legacy, 2007.
Dylan, Bob. Time Out of Mind. Columbia CK 68556, 1997.
Earle, Steve. Jerusalem. Artemis 751147-2, 2002.
Electric Youth. Innerworld. Secretly Canadian SC319, 2014.
Elliott, Missy. Miss E…So Addictive. Elektra 62639-2, 2001.
Eminem. Encore. Interscope/Shady/Aftermath B0003771-72, 2004.
Eric B. and Rakim. Paid in Full. 4th & Broadway BWAY 4005, 1987.
The Fairfield Four. Standing on the Rock. Ace CDCHD 449, 1993. Reissue of recordings from 1950-1953.
Fall Out Boy. From Under the Cork Tree. Island/Decaydance/Fueled by Ramen B0004140-02. 2005.
Flo Rida. Wild Ones. Poe Boy Entertainment/Atlantic 526672-2, 2012.
Franti, Michael and Spearhead. Everyone Deserves Music. Boo Boo Music/iMusic 80119-01135-2, 2003.
Future Punx. This Is Post-Wave. Dull Tools. 2015.
Giddens, Rhiannon. “Cry No More.” YouTube.com. See also Tomorrow Is My Turn (2015).
Goodbye Tomorrow. Journey Through the Mind of a Non-Believer. Rostrum Records, 2015.
Goodbye Tomorrow. “100K.” Rostrum Records, 2015.
Grandmaster Flash. The Message. Sugar Hill SH 268, 1982.
Green Day. American Idiot. Reprise Records 9362-48777-2, 2004.
Guided By Voices. Alien Lanes. Matador OLE 123-2, 1995.
Hill, Lauryn. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Ruffhouse/Columbia CK 69035, 1998.
Hurray for the Riff-Raff. Small Town Heroes. ATO Records ATO0212, 2014.
Interpol. Turn on the Bright Lights. Matador OLE 545-2, 2002.
Iron & Wine. The Creek Drank the Cradle. Sub Pop SPCD 600, 2002.
Iron & Wine. Our Endless Numbered Days. Sub Pop SPCD 630, 2004.
Jay-Z. The Blueprint. Roc-A-Fella 314 586 396-2, 2001.
J. Cole. 2014 Forest Hills Drive. Dreamville/Roc Nation/Columbia 88875044122, 2014.
Jepsen, Carly Rae. Kiss. 604/School Boy/Interscope B0017363-02, 2012.
Johnny and Jack. “Uncle John’s Bongos b/w Let My Heart Be Broken.” 7-inch. Decca 31289, 1961.
Kavinsky. OutRun. Record Makers REC86, 2013 (France).
Keith, Toby. Unleashed. DreamWorks 0044-50254-2 IN02, 2002.
Kool Moe Dee. Kool Moe Dee. Jive/Rooftop 1025-1-JX, 1987.
Kraftwerk. The Man Machine. Capitol R-134034, 1978.
Kweli, Talib. Eardrum. Blacksmith/Warner Bros. 277244-2, 2007.
Kweli, Talib. Quality. Rawkus 088 113 048-2, 2002.
Lamar, Kendrick. To Pimp a Butterfly. Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope AFTMB002295802CD, 2015.
Lanegan, Mark (see Isobel Campbell).
Lazerhawk. Redline. Rosso Corsa RCR001, 2010.
LCD Soundsystem. LCD Soundsystem. Capitol CDP 0946 3 32307 2 9, 2005.
The Lowest Pair. The Sacred Heart Sessions. Team Love Records TL-79, 2015.
Lupe Fiasco. Lupe Fiasco’s Food and Liquor. Atlantic 94535-2, 2006.
Malefactors of Great Wealth. “You’ll Never See My Face in Kansas City.” 7″ split single w/The Black Swans. Self-released.
Maroon 5. V. 222/Interscope B0021526-02, 2014.
Mega Drive. 198X AD. Subterra SUB004, 2014 (Digital).
MF Doom. Operation Doomsday. Fondle ‘Em FE-86 CD, 1999.
Miami Nights 1984. Turbulence. Rossa Corsa RCR008, 2012 (Canada).
The Milk Carton Kids. The Ash & Clay. Anti- 87238-2, 2013.
Monaé, Janelle. The ArchAndroid. Bad Boy Entertainment/Wondaland 512256-2, 2010.
Monaé, Janelle. The Electric Lady. Bad Boy Entertainment/Wondaland 536210-2, 2013.
Nas. Stillmatic. Columbia CK 85736, 2001.
Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats. Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats. Stax STX-37215-02, 2015.
Newsom, Joanna. The Milk-Eyed Mender. Drag City DC263CD, 2004.
NOFX. “Idiot Son of an Asshole.” The War on Errorism. Enhanced CD. Fat Wreck Chords FAT 657-2, 2003.
N.W.A. Straight Outta Compton. Ruthless/Priority 5-014474-053429, 1988.
Oberst, Conor (see Bright Eyes).
OK Go. Oh No. Capitol CDP 7243 5 78800 2 2, 2005.
Outkast. ATLiens. LaFace 73008-26029-2, 1996. I should have listed this album or Aquemini (1998) in the book; they better reveal the Afrofuturist element.
Panic at the Disco. Pretty. Odd. Decaydance/Fueled by Ramen 2-430524, 2008.
Paris. Sonic Jihad. Guerilla Funk Radio GF-1005-2, 2003.
Parliament. The Mothership Connection. Casablanca NBLP 7022, 1975.
Passion Pit. Gossamer. Columbia 88725 41651 1, 2012.
Pavement. Crooked Rain Crooked Rain. Matador/Atlantic OLE 079-2, 1994.
Pearl Jam. Pearl Jam. J Records 82876 71467 2, 2006.
Perry, Katy. Prism. Capitol B001921502, 2013.
Perry, Katy. The Prismatic World Tour. Directed by Katy Perry. Streaming. Eagle Rock Entertainment, 2015.
Perry, Katy. “Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show.” February 1, 2015. NFL/YouTube, September 13, 2016.
Perry, Katy. Teenage Dream. Capitol 509996 84601 2 9, 2010.
Prince. Art Official Age. NPG Records/Warner Bros. 545612-2, 2014.
Prince. “Black Sweat” (video). Directed by Sanaa Hamri. 2006.
Psyche. Insomnia Theatre. Malignant Productions PSY 08, 1985.
Public Enemy. It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. Def Jam/Columbia CK 44303, 1988.
Rage Against the Machine. The Battle of Los Angeles. Epic EK 69630, 1999.
Run the Jewels. Run the Jewels. Fool’s Gold FGRLP006-CD, 2013
Scott-Heron, Gil. Small Talk at 125th and Lenox. Flying Dutchman/RCA 07863, 66611-2, 1993. Originally released in 1970.
Sebadoh. Gimme Indie Rock! 7″/EP. Homestead HMS 165-7, 1991.
Shakur, Tupac (a.k.a 2Pac). Me Against the World. Interscope 92399-2, 1995.
Sia. 1000 Forms of Fear. Monkey Puzzle Records/RCA 88843-07404-2, 2014.
Simone, Nina. Pastel Blues. Philips PHS 600-187, 1965. The live album that contains her version of “Strange Fruit.” See also In Concert (1964) for “Mississippi Goddam.”
Slowdive. Just for a Day. Creation CRELP 094, 1991.
Sounds Like a Revolution. Directed by Summer Love and Jane Michener. Deltatime Productions and Guerilla Funk Film Works, 2010. http://doc.soundslikearevolution.com/.
Springsteen, Bruce. Nebraska. Columbia CK 38358, 1990. Originally released in 1982.
Springsteen, Bruce. The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story. Box set liner notes. Columbia 88697 76525 2, 2010.
Springsteen, Bruce. Wrecking Ball. Columbia 88691 94254 2, 2012.
Springsteen, Bruce, with the Seeger Sessions Band. Live in Dublin. Columbia 88697108762, 2007.
Stevens, Sufjan. Seven Swans. Sounds Familyre SF 013, 2004.
The Strokes. Is This It. RCA 07863 68101-2, 2001.
Superchunk. Here’s Where the Strings Come In. Merge MRG090 CD, 1995.
Swift, Taylor. 1989. Big Machine BMRBD0550A, 2014.
System of a Down. Steal This Album! American/Columbia CK 87062, 2002.
3 Doors Down. The Better Life. Republic 012 153 920-2, 2000.
Timberlake, Justin. Futuresex/Lovesounds. Jive 82876-87068-2, 2006.
Various artists. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (soundtrack). Lost Highway 088 170-069-2, 2000.
Various artists. Drive (soundtrack). Lakeshore Records LKS342322, 2011.
Vetiver. Vetiver. Dicristina Stair Builders STEP02, 2004.
Vulfpeck. Thrill of the Arts. Vulf Records VULF1202-CD, 2015.
Waits, Tom. Real Gone. Anti- 86678-2, 2004.
Washington, Kamasi. The Epic. Brainfeeder BFCD050, 2015.
Welch, Gillian. Time (the Revelator). Acony ACNY-0103, 2001.
West, Kanye. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Roc-A-Fella Records B0014695-02, 2010.
West, Kanye. Yeezus. Def Jam B0018653-02, 2013.
The White Stripes. White Blood Cells. Sympathy for the Record Industry SFTRI 660, 2001.
Wrens, The. The Meadowlands. Absolutely Kosher AK009, 2003.
Young, Neil. Living with War. Reprise 44335-2, 2006.