75 Percent Less Fat*: No. 50

Since The 200 wrapped up, I thought it was time to turn my attention to my favorite albums, if for no other reason than to once again out myself as a supreme dinosaur.

This time, I’m going to limit the number of entries to 50, but each installment will feature a single album, with some commentary from me and a few You Tube links. For the record, I am not a music critic, nor am I a musician. (I took one year of piano lessons. I sucked). I can’t talk about time signatures or chord progressions or syncopation. In other words, I’m wholly unqualified to be doing this.* Eh, that’s never stopped me before.

I’ll simply write about what I like, and why I like it.

We’ll kick things off with a native Hoosier, South Bend’s Ted Leo. The album choice is his 2003 release, Hearts of Oak.

Ted really hits all my high notes. His music has obvious strong ties to punk even if it can’t really be pigeonholed that way. He’s a literate and highly political fellow, which I appreciate in a songwriter.  And the disc’s songs are brimming with Irishness, which never appealed to my late Irish-American parents, but is welcomed by me. Hell, the cover features Ted and his band in Rx soccer jerseys.

Highlights here are Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone (You Tube), a tribute to pioneering ska act the Specials; Ballad of the Sin Eater (You Tube), which always reminds me of the great Warren Zevon in its global cynicism; and I’m a Ghost (You Tube).

By the way, No. 50 was probably the most difficult choice in the entire list. I did an informal listing of in my favorite albums, and the first 49 came quite naturally, if not necessarily in the proper order. This position was one that had several contenders, and my choice for the Ted Leo disc was a tight call between Heart of Oak and his follow-up, Shake the Sheets.


*In my defense, I suspect the vast majority of music critics share this trait, but they try to disguise it with prose more dense and difficult to claw through than the Amazon Basin.


Important Information:

Name: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, Hearts of Oak

Released: 2003

Record Company: Lookout!

Running Time: 54:39

Track Listing:

  1. Building Skyscrapers In The Basement
  2. Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone
  3. I’m A Ghost
  4. The High Party
  5. Hearts of Oak
  6. The Ballad of The Sin Father
  7. Dead Voices
  8. The Anointed One
  9. Bridges, Squares
  10. Tell Balgeary, Balgury Is Dead
  11. 2nd Ave, 11 AM
  12. First to Finish, Last to Start
  13. The Crane Takes Flight

*The big asterisk. The headline for this series borrows its name from a Chris Mars’ solo album after leaving The Replacements. Alas, there will be a Mats album on the list, but the drummer turned everything’s fine effort didn’t make the cut.

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