Friday, December 25, 2009

Top Ten Albums

Usually people take late December and earliest January to make 'best of' lists of the past year's stuff: political events, book, movies, music, inventions, discoveries, whatever.

Since I am hopelessly out of touch regarding current events here is an appraisal of the top ten albums of all-time.

If you want last year's movies check my sister's blog:

1. Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles

No surprise here, and not without good reason: every track sounds ground-breaking compared to earlier efforts. Many like Revolver more, but this ain't their list.

2. Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys

The album that inspired 'Sgt. Peppers' was Brian Wilson's pet project (not where the title comes from, though) with usual incredible harmonies, this time paired with great soundscapes.

3. Highway 61 Revisited by Bob Dylan

Not my personal favorite Dylan (that would be Blood on the Tracks). Yet I am always lightly stunned when I put it on again and am hit by the snare that launches 'Like a Rolling Stone'.

4. What's Going On by Marvin Gaye

Politically conscious, great music. A league apart from his other work, and from Motown records in general, this album was seminal, and still flows and jives with incredible clarity.

5. Kind of Blue by Miles Davis

You can't say it was the big bang of jazz, that honor goes to Louis Armstrong. But this album might be the formation of the Milky Way. The new direction it paved would mark all other albums as pre- or post- Blue.

6. Live at the Apollo by James Brown

Best live album and best of James Brown. I've yet to hear any other album, on either regard, that can beat this one.

7. The Velvet Underground and Nico

The second-most important album from 1967, and arguably more important. While the banana album was barely received on it's release it has gone on to pave the way for the likes of many a hard-rocking or experimental band.

8. London Calling by The Clash

The best punk album ever, hands-down. The versatility, passion and effort on each track slam you into a new way of thinking about punk: sometimes the artists can play their instruments, and sing songs with meanings.

9. Astral Weeks by Van Morrison

A truly unique album. I've yet to hear anything comparable with this odd masterpiece of storytelling and almost free jazz recording. Morrsion is passionate and open, far from polished.

10. Are You Experienced? by The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Not the best Hendrix, perhaps (that might be Electric Ladyland) but impressive in that it showcases Jimi's prodigious abilities in shorter songs, without having to extend his playing to fifteen minute jam sessions. More tightly wound than usual, but a nice package.

Runner's up, not nearly as carefully planned:

11. Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd

12. Innervisions by Stevie Wonder

13. Led Zeppelin IV (ZOSO) by Led Zeppelin

14. Purple Rain by Prince

15. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by David Bowie

16. Let It Bleed by the Rolling Stones

17. John Lennon by The Plastic Ono Band

18. Thriller by Michael Jackson

19. Blue by Joni Mitchell

20. Who's Next by The Who

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its inductees for the year:

ABBA - As I said before, no fighting this one.

Jimmy Cliff - Yay! I just got 'The Harder They Come' and it is a great album. Deserved for this contribution alone.


The Hollies - Well, at least Nash will now be a double inductee like Crosby, Stills, and Young.

Genesis - Huh. Oh well.

Next Year's dream list: Gram Parsons, Kraftwerk, Roxy Music, Jeff Buckley, Jethro Tull.