We Wish Rick Rubin Happy 53rd Birthday And Rate His Top 5 Records!
It's hard not to like a Rick Rubin record. By that, I mean, while you can remain unimpressed by 98% of what he's done musically over the past four decades, there are at least a handful of records where you really have to hand it to the guy. He's either incredibly brilliant or incredibly lucky, or both.
So as he celebrates his 53rd birthday, today we at The Shit celebrate our five favorite Rick Rubin records, in no particular order:
Jonny Polonsky - Hi, My Name Is Jonny (American)
Wait, what did Rick Rubin have to do with Chicago pop wunderkind Jonny Polonsky? To answer that question, we are tempted to respond "What hasn't he had to do with Polonsky?" For starters, Rick released Polonsky's home-recorded masterpiece on his Columbia-distributed American Recordings label. He has since gone on to employ Polonsky, who is quite the guitar slinger, on many Rubin projects including Neil Diamond, the Dixie Chicks, and Johnny fucking Cash.
What's so great about this record is that Jonny's musical prowess matches his youthful melodic exuberance and the results are spectacularly engaging. In a perfect world, "Love Lovely Love", "Truly Ugly And Dead Too", and "Uh-Oh" are huge radio hits and Polonsky is adored by millions.
The Cult - Electric (Sire)
Coming off of the wonderful "shoegaze meets Steppenwolf in an echo chanber" production of Love, the Cult's follow-up effort dispensed with the studio effects in favor of a no-frills production that, at times, serves only to reveal the band's weaknesses.
Even so, there is a celebratory swagger to songs like "Wild Flower", "Lil Devil" and "Love Removal Machine" that even Rubin's anti-production cannot neuter.
Sadly, given the proper studio treatment, songs like "Bad Fun" and "King Contrary Man" could have reached their fullest musical potential and, in doing so, reached greater heights than they and others did here. This, of course, makes the fact that Electric is the Cult album I listen to the most all the more ironic.
T La Rock and Jazzy Jay - "It's Yours" (Def Jam)
Rubin's first foray into production would also be his first foray into running a record label. releasing T La Rock's "It's Yours" on the newly-minted Def Jam label. The track itself is a stark reminder of rap's innocent, jubilant, and wonderfully minimal early days.
One can hear already hear Rubin's voice as a producer begin to take form and it's easy to see why his minimal approach works so well in a hip hop/rap setting. In other words, Rubin needs to get back in touch with his roots and get back in the rap game.
Jake Bugg - Shangri-La (Island)
In the case of an artist like Jake Bugg, nothing will ever compete with the immediacy and charm of his first album, co-written and co-produced by Iain Archer. If that album didn't exist, more folks would be able to appreciate the majesty of Bugg's second effort which, thanks to Rubin's production, masterfully ramps up the old-school vibe, not to mention the energy level.
ZZ Top - La Futura (American)
I didn't think the world needed another ZZ Top record. Since giving up the synths and drum machines of their commercially-successful "Eliminator" phase, the most famous Tejas trio of them all has given us many a great boogie record that has fallen on deaf ears.
With Rubin at the helm, however, the band has delivered a modern album that can stand shoulder to shoulder with their best 70's output.
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