Monday, October 20, 2014

The Joy of Lists-Big Time Favorites

This is my second foray into lists of music. These differ from the first list in that these albums are more well known. It came to my attention that, although these song collections are staples to me, they may not be for everyone. After all, I am a bit older than some of my readers. So, maybe you'll find these a welcome surprise.

Keep in mind, as I said in my first posting on lists, I am a product of all things Sixties: protests, sex-drugs-and-rock-and-roll, rainbow colored VW mini-vans...well you have the picture. Soooooo, without further ado (although I'm not sure we've had any initial ado), here are my favorite 20 Albums, well known to folks of my ilk:

20. Frampton Comes Alive - Peter Frampton

This album, at one time, was the best selling albums of all time. Incredible riffs, good songs, terrific use of the guitar mouth piece. Now, don't get me wrong. By endorsing this album I am not recommending any other Peter Frampton albums. I have not found them as delicious.

19. Tapestry - Carol King

Another super seller, this was the album that introduced Carol King to the world, who at just that moment, was on tour with James Taylor. In fact, James Taylor had just released one of Carol's songs, 'You've Got A Friend' as a single. But Tapestry was an album I played and played and played. Earthy songs that spoke of broken love, to happy songs that extolled the joys of friendship, to wise songs that told stories. Loved every one.

18. Who's Next - The Who

Let's just get this out of the way. I love The Who. From their performance at Woodstock, to their Rock Operas, from their penchant to destroy musical instruments, to the soaring vocals of Roger Daltry, I loved it all. But, Who's Next, in my opinion was their best. We're talking, 'Won't Get Fooled Again', 'Baba O'Reilly', 'Behind Blue Eyes' (this one was the ring tone on my phone for a number of years). If you've never heard this album, give it a listen as soon as possible.

17. Sticky Fingers - Rolling Stones

This is one of two Stones albums on this list. This is the Stones at the height of their powers. Bad boy rock, the original cover featured a pair of pants on the cover and a zipper you could pull down (succeeding reprints of the album did away with the functioning zipper). Terrific songs, terrific instrumentation, terrific writing by Keith Richards and of course terrific singing by Mick Jagger. My, my, my.

16. Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd

A few years back Rolling Stone magazine said that this twenty-five year old album was still selling 100,000 copies a year. I realized I wasn't surprised. I have owned several copies myself. Roger Waters writing and the unique musicianship of the songs on this album mesmerize me. To this day, if a song from this album is played on the radio, I am impelled to crank it up. 

15. The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys - Traffic

Steve Winwood, in his many incarnations (Solo, Blind Faith, Spencer Davis Group, etc) has made a butt load of outstanding music--shoot he's won a Grammy or two, but in my opinion, High Heeled Boys was the best. The title song was too long to be played by most of the radio stations at the time but the more adventurous stations played it and for me everything stopped when it came on. Good stuff.

14. Eliminator - ZZ Top

For three guys the members of ZZ Top made a lot of noise. Eliminator had most of their famous songs - 'Legs', 'Sharp Dressed Man', 'Gimme All Your Lovin',. These guys were outrageous and still are. Distinctive sound, driving leads, throaty singing, party music at its best.

13. Aqualung - Jethro Tull

The definitive Tull Album, Aqualung features most of the well know songs by this British Invasion band. Ian Anderson's rock flute is at its distinctive best. The title song sings about a a weird homeless person with breathing problems. My favorite is 'Locomotive Breath'. I used to do this song in a band I had once upon a time. Very, very tasty ear candy.

12. Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen

Now here's a toughee. I have every Bruce Springsteen album and love them all. Sooo, I picked Born to Run, not just because it holds some of Springsteen's best stuff but for sentimental reasons. My first year of teaching, my students gave me this album for a birthday present. "Born to Run' had long been the encore song for Springsteen concerts but this album also contains 'Jungleland', 'Thunder Road', 'East Avenue Freezeout' and a bunch more wonderful songs. You can't go wrong getting this beauty.

11. Abbey Road - The Beatles

The last studio album the Beatles made before they broke up is one of two Beatles albums on this list. It is a work of genius. Unique songs from Lennon and McCartney that sound just as good today as the day I unwrapped the vinyl. Give it a listen. You won't be disappointed.

10. Blood on the Tracks - Bob Dylan

Blood came out when I was in college and just blew me away. Every song was a winner and spoke of a man who wrote from his heart with intelligence and soul. As far as I'm concerned it is the best thing he's ever done and this includes the wonderful Highway 61 Revisited. I reach for this CD whenever I am on long trips so I can smile while I drive.

9. Change in Latitudes/Changes in Attitudes - Jimmy Buffett

Monster album for Buffett. Caught my notice a million years ago and I've been a Buffett fan ever since (just went to see him last Fall). The Title song is wonderful but the killer is 'Margaritaville'. I have sang this song in bars a dozen times and made a fool of myself, but the truth is I'd do it again tonight. 

8. Tea for the Tillerman - Cat Stevens

For me it was a toss up between two of Cat's albums; this and Teaser and the Firecat. Both are sure-fire winners if you're looking for a dose of Cat Stevens. We're talking, 'Moonshadow', 'Morning has Broken', 'Hard World', 'Father and Son', oh my God wonderful stuff. And there are a whole lot more. Oh yeah, Cat was this year installed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and he did 'Peace Train.'

7. Let it Bleed - The Rolling Stones

My second Stones pick, this one includes one of my favorite songs of all time, 'Gimme Shelter'. I love that song. If it's on and you are talking just be aware I'm not listening to you at all. Once again, Mick Jagger proves he was worthy of being picked by Rolling Stone magazine as the best Rock and Roll singer of all time.

6. Legend - Bob Marley

This is the only compilation album on this list, but it needed to be here. Featured in the Will Smith movie of the same name, several tracks are played throughout the movie. We're talking 'Jammin', 'Exodus', 'No Woman, No Cry'. Shoot this one has 'I Shot The Sheriff'. And it's true, he did not shoot the deputy.

5. Moondance - Van Morrison

Arguably, Van the Man's most famous album. A bit jazzy, a bit Celtic, a bit rock and roll, it obviously contains the title song but gee whiz, it has so much more. I love the sound of his voice and the instrumentation choices he made. A great, great album.

4. Hotel California - The Eagles

Contains two of the best Eagles songs ever written plus a lot of other gems. The title song is wonderfully weird and then there's 'Life in the Fast Lane'. Some would argue the album containing 'Desperado' is their best and you can't go wrong giving that one a listen as well. but Hotel California is tasty.

3. Layla and Other Love Songs - Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton and Duane Almann playing guitar on the same album. I have seen Eric Clapton a skillion times and when he kicks into the opening riff of 'Layla' I am on my feet. A double album full of amazing songs, this beauty is one of go to albums.

2. Sozo - Led Zepplin

Oh my God, what a great collection of Led songs. Robert Plant's vocals are simply mezmerizing. Don't get me wrong, I love just about every Led Zepplin album but this one has 'Stairway to Heaven' which seals the deal.

1. Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles

What can I say? I believe this work of art is perhaps the most perfect album ever made. So many gems on it from the title song to "When I'm Sixty Four' to "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' to 'A Day in the Life' it is a masterpiece.

As I was compiling this list I realized it was too short so I'm going to add the titles of other wonderful albums that deserve a listen. If you are of an age that you haven't heard some of them give them a listen:

Green River - Credence Clearwater Revival
Rumours - Fleetwood Mac
Crosby, Stills, and Nash's first album
American Beauty - The Grateful Dead
Sweet Baby James - James Taylor
Madman Across the Water - Elton John
The Pearl - Janis Joplin
Kind of Blue - Miles Davis
Blind Faith - Blind Faith

And there's so many more that I better just stop her lest I overwhelm. No doubt you have heard of many of these and may even own a few, but it sure felt good listing them here. Enjoy! 

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