Wednesday, December 31, 2014

National Recording LPs

I’ve been looking over the National Recording Registry, lately. Many of the recordings you can’t get access to, due to their scarcity, etc. So, to be more honest, I’ve been looking over their selection of LPs.

Most of the time they get it right, but I do have some quarrels with the list. I’ve divvied all of their LPs into ones I agree with, disagree (and why), and haven’t heard. Some LPs are difficult to find, too…

I have not included classical LPs, as I’m not qualified to judge one rendition over another, with a couple of slight-ish exceptions. Nor did I include spoken word LPs, except comedy albums. Sorry to Dylan Thomas’ ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’. Likewise I had to exclude anthologies, with all due apologies to Harry Smith. It is organized by year of induction.



Dance Mania – Tito Puente, 1958. Great album, deserved pick.
Kind of Blue – Miles Davis, 1959. Essential.
The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan – Bob Dylan, 1963. Essential.


Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert – Benny Goodman, 1938. Essential.
Brilliant Corners – Thelonious Monk, 1956. Great album, I understand the pick.
Mingus Ah Um – Charlie Mingus, 1959. Essential. I’d also hear the argument for ‘The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady’.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles, 1967. Essential.
At Folsom Prison – Johnny Cash, 1968. Essential.
What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye, 1971. Essential.
Tapestry – Carole King, 1971. Essential.
Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen, 1971. Essential.


Songs By Tom Lehrer – Tom Lehrer, 1953. Great album. Still funny all these years later.
Drums of Passion – Michael Babatunde Olatunji, 1960. Essential.
Live at the Apollo – James Brown, 1963. Essential.
Pet Sounds – The Beach Boys, 1966. Essential.
At Fillmore East – Allman Brothers, 1971. Essential.
Nevermind – Nirvana, 1991. Essential.


Show Boat – Original cast, 1932. Deserved pick.
Time Out – Dave Brubeck Quartet, 1959. Essential.
Live at the Regal – B.B. King, 1965. Essential.
Are You Experienced? – The Jimi Hendrix Experience, 1967. Essential.
Will the Circle Be Unbroken – The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, 1972. Understandable choice.
Songs in the Key of Life – Stevie Wonder, 1972. Essential.


The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart – Bob Newhart, 1960. Essential.
We Shall Overcome – Pete Seeger, 1963. Essential.
The Velvet Underground and Nico – The Velvet Underground and Nico, 1967. Essential.
Burnin’ – The Wailers, 1973. Arguments could be made, but I agree.
Graceland – Paul Simon, 1986. Essential.


My Fair Lady – Original Broadway cast, 1956. I prefer the London cast, but okay.
Freight Train and Other North Carolina Folk Songs and Tunes – Elizabeth Cotton, 1959. Essential.
You’ll Sing a Song and I’ll Sing a Song – Ella Jenkins, 1966. I get why this is on here, and I'll allow it, but blegch.
Music from the Morning of the World. Great album.
For the Roses – Joni Mitchell, 1972. I understand why they picked this, over ‘Blue’ and ‘Court and Spark’. Not my choice, but not irreconcilable.
Head Hunters – Herbie Hancock, 1973. Essential.
Thriller – Michael Jackson, 1982. Essential.


West Side Story – Original Broadway Cast, 1957. Essential.
2000 Years with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks – Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks, 1961. Great album, deserving choice.


The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings – Bill Evans Trio, 1961. Essential.
I Started Out as a Child – Bill Cosby, 1964. Arguments could be made.
Today! – Mississippi John Hurt, 1966. Great album.
The Band – The Band, 1969. Essential.
Red-Headed Stranger – Willie Nelson, 1975. Essential.
Horses – Patti Smith, 1975. Essential.


Talking Union – The Almanac Singers, 1941. I think ‘Songs for John Doe’ is better, but I totally understand this choice.
The Music from Peter Gunn – Henry Mancini, 1958. Essential. ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ notwithstanding.
Trout Mask Replica – Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band, 1969. Essential.
Aja – Steely Dan, 1977. Essential.
3 Feet High and Rising – De La Soul, 1989. I understand this. I’d prefer A Tribe Called Quest, but it’s a very reasonable pick.


A Charlie Brown Christmas – Vince Guaraldi Trio, 1965. Good pick.
Forever Changes – Love, 1967. Essential.
Mothership Connection – Parliament, 1975. Arguments could be made.
Purple Rain – Prince, 1984. Essential.


South Pacific – Original Cast Recording, 1949. Essential. One of the better Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals.
Descargas: Cuban Jam Sessions in Miniature – Cachao, 1957. Sure. I get this.
The Shape of Jazz to Come – Ornette Coleman, 1959. Essential.
Cheap Thrills – Big Brother and the Holding Company, 1968. Essential.
The Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd, 1973. Essential.
Ramones – Ramones, 1976. Essential.
Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack – The Bee Gees, et al., 1977. Lots of filler, but I get it.


A Night of Birdland – Art Blakey, 1954. ‘Moanin’’ is more famous, but this had the virtuosity to merit inclusion.
Celia and Johnny – Celia Cruz and Johnny Pacheco, 1974. Essential.
Heart Like a Wheel – Linda Ronstadt, 1974. Essential.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – Original Broadway Cast, 1979. Essential.
The Joshua Tree – U2, 1987, Essential.


Songs for Young Lovers – Frank Sinatra, 1954. Not Sinatra’s best. Why not ‘In the Wee Small Hours’?
Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook – Ella Fitzgerald, 1956. I love Ella, but she mangles these tunes, and slows what should be jazzy numbers way down. Why not ‘Ella and Louis Again’?
The New York Taxi Driver – Tony Schwartz, 1959. Nope.
Judy at Carnegie Hall – Judy Garland, 1961. I get why it’s on there, but I’ve never been a fan.
Giant Steps – John Coltrane, 1959. Magnificent, but not Coltrane’s best. They really should have put in ‘A Love Supreme’.
Fear of a Black Planet – Public Enemy, 1990. Not their best. How do you not include ‘It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back’?
Tubby the Tuba – Victor Jory, 1946. This is so dumb. Like, I get why it’s in there, but jeez…
We’re Only In It for the Money – Frank Zappa, 1968. Should have been ‘Freak Out!’. Although, admittedly, this is more ‘listener-friendly’.
Don’t Crush that Dwarf, Hand me the Pliers – Firesign Theater, 1970. I just don’t find this funny.
Daydream Nation – Sonic Youth, 1988. I’ve tried to like this album many times…
Live in Japan – Sarah Vaughan, 1973. Tried and tried…
The Who Sings My Generation – The Who, 1966. The definition of ‘uninspired’. ‘The Who Sell Out’, ‘Live at Leeds’, ‘Tommy’, ‘Who’s Next’: any of these would have been a better choice.
Soul Folk in Action – The Staple Singers, 1968. I really only found this to be about average, as conscience-laden soul goes. Perhaps I’m being overly harsh, but only one or two tracks stuck out.
Blind Joe Death – John Fahey, 1959. ‘The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death’ is better.
Barton Hall Concert at Cornell University – Grateful Dead, 1977. Nope. If you want a live album do ‘Live/Dead’ or ‘Europe 72’. It’s not bad, but it’s not their best, by a long-shot.
Sounds of Silence – Simon and Garfunkel, 1966. Pick, like, any other album. The title track is great, but ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ or ‘Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme’ are way better. Even ‘Bookends’ is better.
The Wild Tchoupitoulas – The Wild Tchoupitoulas, 1976. Tried to like.
The First Family – Vaughn Meader, 1962. Important, just not that funny. Of all my ‘disagrees’ this is the most tenable for inclusion.
Carnegie Hall Concert with Buck Owens and His Buckaroos – Buck Owens, 1966. Not a fan of Owens.
Shaft – Isaac Hayes, 1971. I get it, but this album, on retrospect, is too much filler around a hit single.
Only Visiting This Planet – Larry Norman, 1972. Do we really want to enshrine the birth of Christian rock?

Haven’t Heard

1.      The Cradle Will Rock: Original Broadway Cast
2.      Precious Lord: Thomas Dorsey et al.
3.      Oklahoma!: Original Broadway Cast
4.      Winds in Hi-Fi: Eastman Wind Ensemble
5.      Live at Yankee Stadium: Fania All-Stars
6.      Guys & Dolls: Original Broadway Cast
7.      Switched-On Bach: Wendy Carlos
8.      Tuskegee Institute Choir Sings Spirituals: Tuskegee Institute Choir
9.      Peace Be Still: James Cleveland
10.  The Eighty-Six Years of Eubie Blake: Eubie Blake
11.  A Festival of Lessons and Carols as Sung on Christmas Eve in King's College Chapel, Cambridge: King’s College Choir
12.  Gypsy: Original Broadway Cast
13.  Azucar Pa’ Ti: Eddie Palmieri
14.  The Continental Harmony: Gregg Smith Singers
15.  Old Time Music at Clarence Ashley’s: Clarence Ashley
16.  Hoodoo Man Blues: Junior Wells
17.  The Audience with Betty Carter: Betty Carter
18.  The Texas Sharecropper and Songster: Mance Lipscombe

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