Favorite Albums Wrestle-Off #1

In order to properly evaluate albums, the first thing I have to do is create a rubric. (What a fun word). I'm thinking that the criteria for hip-hop albums will be slightly different than the one for gospel albums, but not entirely dissimilar. After all, I'll be comparing albums within genre by the same artist, so it'll be inherently fair. Anyway, to review, this is going to culminate in a list of my 10 favorite albums...for now. The list I proposed last time was the following:
    Dare Iz A Darkside - Redman De La Soul Is Dead - De La Soul Songs In The Key of Life - Stevie Wonder Love Alive 1 - Walter Hawkins Resurrection - Common (Sense) Mama's Gun - Erykah Badu Amerikkka's Most Wanted - Ice Cube It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back - Public Enemy Black Star - Mos Def and Talib Kweli Benny Carter Meets Oscar Peterson - Benny Carter and Oscar Peterson
Of those, I said that three are mortal locks: Mama's Gun, Nation of Millions, and of course, Songs In The Key Of Life. It's the other 7 that are giving me trouble. For one thing, I made that list three weeks ago and I'm not sure about several of those picks. But at least two of them are in competition to be my favorite album by that artist/group, let alone to be in my all-time top 10. So without further ado, let's get it on... For my money, the late 70's was the apex for gospel music as a genre. It was still in its most pure, undiluted form, but within that, there were some innovations. At the forefront of those innovations were the Hawkins brothers, Edwin and Walter. (Walter was also at the forefront of the pageboy-for-men innovation, but we ain't gon' talk about that.) Edwin had received a good deal of flak for his restyling of "Oh Happy Day" into a pop hit in the early 70's. Nevertheless, the rearrangement of traditional gospel songs was a central feature in Hawkins recordings. (We used to have a lot of Walter Hawkins records, so I can break that down further if need be.) Love Alive
    Song selection: 10 Old School Reinterpretation: 9 Tramaine-goes-off Song: 10 Get-down song: 10 Replay Value: 10 Congregation Participation: 10 Sequencing: 10
Total: 69 Love Alive 2
    Song selection: 8 Old School Reinterpretation: 10 Tramaine-goes-off Song: 10 Get-Down song: 10 Replay Value: 9 Congregation Participation: 9 Sequencing: 8
Total: 64 Love Alive and Love Alive 2, if they had been released as a double album, would probably be perfect. As it is, it's almost like listening to the same album with different selections. Even then, Love Alive 2 would be the weaker disc, but their overall combined strength would make any weaknesses negligible. The biggest difference between the two is in song selection. Simply put, LA 2 has a couple weak songs on there. I'm Going Away is just not that good. It's not a bad song, and within the context of the album, it's not so bad, but it's definitely the weak link. Come By Here, Good Lord is not that great either. The second area where LA 2 comes up short is in sequencing. Song order is an extremely underrated element of musical performance. Whether in the studio or in concert, sequencing determines the mood and helps to create the a rising or descending effect for the audience. Love Alive 2 seems too disjointed. On top of that, the last song is one of the somewhat lackluster. Having said all that, LA 2 is definitely a great album, and very likely in my top 20. It can't beat Love Alive, though. The permanent list so far: Songs In The Key of Life - Stevie Wonder Mama's Gun - Erykah Badu It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back - Public Enemy Love Alive - Walter Hawkins next time: De La Soul Is Dead vs. Buhloone Mind State