Saturday, June 4, 2011

The #67 Album of All-Time in the Rock Era: "Room for Squares" by John Mayer

John Mayer of course has gone on to become a superstar with music fans and widely acclaimed by critics, but this is the album (Room for Squares) that started it all.

The formula that decided the Top Albums of All-Time in the Rock Era needed to include methodology that would not show bias against current albums--reason being that if it was based solely on sales, an album that had been around 30 years would naturally tend to have more sales than one released two years ago.  It is that methodology that allows a fairly recent album such as the one here at #67 to make the list.  Many people have yet to discover it, but based on the four million who have (sales), it rates extremely high.  What this also tells me is that in another ten years' time, the album will go up the list as the sales figures begin to catch up and reflect the quality of the album.

Mayer's reputation began to build as he performed in Atlanta, Georgia.    A small label, Aware Records, originally signed him and released this album as an "Internet album".  Soon Aware signed a deal with Columbia Records giving Columbia the right to choose which Aware performers they would like to sign.  Columbia wanted John Mayer, to be sure, and the album was re-released.  First by word-of-mouth and later through three hit singles ("No Such Thing", "Why Georgia" and "Your Body is a Wonderland"), the album began to take off.  In a world where rap music and substandard writers were the order of the day, it was refreshing to hear someone of Mayer's talent come along.  The three songs mentioned above were played on both so-called popular music radio stations as well as on Adult Contemporary.

However, as is almost universally the case with these Top 100 Albums, the album is about much more than hit singles.  There isn't a bad song on the album, as the high Track Rating* can attest to.  "83", "3 x 5", "Love Song for No One" and "The Great Indoors" are all excellent tracks.   

Room for Squares peaked at #8 at the time of its release, but remained in the Top 40 for 79 weeks (1 1/2 years).  It has thus far sold 4 million copies and has a Track Rating* of 9.18.

Mayer won Best Male Vocal Performance for "Your Body Is a Wonderland" at the Grammy Awards and he was nominated for Best New Artist.  He was nominated for Best New Artist at the MTV Video Music Awards for the song "No Such Thing" and for Best Male Video for "Your Body Is a Wonderland" .  Mayer was also nominated for Favorite Male Pop Artist (which has been Rock for decades) Choice Music-Male Artist and Choice Music-Album at the Teen Choice Awards.

Room for Squares:
1.  "No Such Thing" (Mayer, Clay Cook) --3:51
2.  "Why Georgia" (Mayer) --4:28
3.  "My Stupid Mouth" (Mayer) --3:45
4.  "Your Body is a Wonderland" (Mayer) --4:08
5.  "Neon" (Mayer, Cook) --3:49
6.  "City Love" (Mayer) --4:00
7.  "83" (Mayer) --4:51
8.  "3 x 5" (Mayer) -- 4:48
9.  "Love Song For No One" (Mayer, Cook: --3:21
10.  "Back To You" (Mayer --4:01
11.  "Great Indoors" (Mayer) --3:36
12.  Not Myself" (Mayer" 3:36
13:  "St. Patrick's Day" (Mayer) --5:21

Mayer has quickly gained a reputation as being one of the top guitarists of his time.  He also played a Korg Triton synthesizer, omnichord, piano, vibraphone and percussion on the album.  David LaBruyere was the bassist while Nir Z played drums.  Brandon Bush played keyboards (Hammond organ, Wurlitzer electric piano, Rhodes piano and mellotron), John Alagia contributed percussion and Hammond organ.  Additional help came from backing vocalists Clay Cook and Doug Derryberry, Chris Fisher (congas), drummer Jerry Marotta and Carole Rabinowitz and Jon Catchings (cello) and David Angell and David Davidson (violin) and Kristin Wilkinson (viola) on "City Love".

Alagia produced, mixed and engineered the album.  Jack Joseph Puig and Jeff Juliano also mixed Room for Squares, while Scott Hull mastered the album.  Dan and Alex Fallon contributed artwork while Joshua Kessley was the photographer.

Room for Squares was recorded in 2000 at Loho Studios in New York City, Sunny Acre in Easton, Maryland, 33 & 1/3 Studios in Brooklyn, New York, Applehead Studios in Woodstock, New York and Media Mix Studios in Nashville, Tennessee.  The album was quietly released June 5, 2001, as mentioned, by Aware Records before being picked up by Columbia as the full weight of that giant in the recording business was put behind the project.

This album would rank much, much higher in my personal list, which I'm going to release following the revealing of all 100 albums.  Time will definitely do this album justice.  It may not climb as high as I feel it should, but it will climb.

For now, Room for Squares is #67 All-Time.

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