, co-editor of CounterPunch
The start of every summer it’s the same. Jeffrey gets one of his lists going and we have to scratch our heads, trying to go back beyond the day before yesterday, remembering what we thought was great three decades ago or more. Twenty-five best albums. At first I read this as just vinyl, and though the Committee of Public Safety (total membership one, JSC) says no, CDs are okay, I’ve stuck mostly with vinyl.
The golden age of vinyl ran from 1958, when stereo started, to 1964 when various disasters terminated this pinnacle of recorded sound. From ’64, with LPs, they crammed more time in each side of the record for the “extended play” feature, which played hell with the sound quality. They discovered extensive multi-miking. By 1965 they’d gone to more and more microphones, and then by 1966-67 they’d went from tube to solid state electronics, mixing boards for 12 or more microphones, and it was all over. Tubes yielded a purer sound, much closer to the subtlety and overtones of live music. (All great things pass. The golden age of gas stoves peaked in l954, so my friends in Gas Stoves With Style in Eureka tell me. Cars? ’57 or so.) The final step backwards in recorded sound was in the early 1980s with the advent of digital sound and CDS
In honor of that, let’s put up an LP from Everest, a little hobby label organized by the Blelock instrument company, whose enterprises ended abruptly when the principals went to the joint for bilking Uncle Sam: Mahler’s First, conducted by Adrian Boult. Everest.
I’m one of the last to get my choices in, but I’ve been following the lists as they’ve poured into our mailbox, and have been astounded to note the absence of E. Presley. Even Dave Marsh passed him over. Not from my list, I tell you. Put him up there. “Elvis Presley“, RCA Victor, 1956, though I do love “Elvis, The Sun Sessions“, RCA, 1976, putting together the Sam Phillips cuts.
The man I think was the greatest and most versatile of all the rock kings was Little Richard, and I’d plunge for “Shut Up“, Rhino’s collection of rare tracks, ’51-’64, put out in 1988, which takes you from the blues/soul of “Directly from my heart to you” and “Maybe I’m right” (1953, minutes before the gas stove went down hill) to the Domino song, “Every Night Around This Time” (1962), sung when Little Richard was briefly on the lam from Oakwood Bible College and fetched up at Al Sound in New York, in a session with the Famous Upsetters, where he kept his name off the label. The other Little Richard song I’d rank with it would be “I Don’t Know What You’ve Got (But It’s Got Me)”, 1965, which Dave Vest introduced me to, on an LP I’ve never been able to find.
I kept thinking, Have to have Ray Charles and then came the news of his death, right before Howlin’ Wolf’s birthday. I don’t really know what was the “best” of Charles’ albums. He could sing anything, even at a Republican convention (’84). I like to play (Scott tube amplifier/ Recocut turn-table) “Ray Charles in Person” (Atlantic), the live recording of a concert he gave in Atlanta, May 28,’59, when the Fifties finished peaking and the car colors went from desert rose and turquoise into Vietnam era drab greens and tan metallics). A great performance of “What’d I Say” and “The Right Time”, with Marjorie Hendricks’ ferocious screams, caught by a single WAOK mike a hundred feet in front of the stage.
The trouble with LP lists is, they aren’t singles, and how can you have the 25 best singles? I’d change the list every day, even if it was the 1000 Best. I’ve spent time recently listening to the Question Marks singing “Another Soldier Gone”, a haunting doo-wop song from the Korean War off an amazing compilation of 40s and 50s stuff Michael Newman sent us, along with the funniest essay (his) in CounterPunch’s Politics of Anti-Semitism . Okay, Michael is weird. but he’s awfully smart and to prove it, I have photographs of him on his third dozen of oysters in at the New Orleans Jazzfest earlier this year.
Howling Wolf is spread across plenty of vinyl albums and CDs. The Chess remastered vinyl set is indifferent in quality. I think I’d pick “Howlin’ Wolf, I Am The Wolf”, which I have on the Cleo label, with bilingual notes in English and Dutch (“en de boze doordringende ogen in zijn massieve hoofd”. Yes, you’re right: “the angrily burning eyes in his massive head.” The recording catches Howlin’ Wolf’s harsh power and the howl he was apparently trying to copy from Jimmie Rodgers’ yodel, most eerily so in “Somebody Walkin’ In My House”, also called “Somebody in My Home” (Chess single, 1957). Yes, I guess we’ll put in Robert Johnson: King of the Delta Blues Singers (Columbia, 1961).
Aretha Franklin? Of course, but which one? How about “Spirit in the Dark“, Atlantic, 1970. And since we’re in among the ladies of song, Tammy Wynette, strangely overlooked by her admirer and erstwhile accompanyist, CounterPuncher Dave Vest. “D-I-V-O-R-C-E“, Epic, 1967. Moving east if you want to hear Stravinsky not sounding like movie music, get “The Firebird“, conducted by Valery Gergiev and the Mariensky orchestra (which used to be the Kirov and we all know what happened after HE got whacked), (Audio CD) and let’s round this out with Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances, conducted by Donald Johanos and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in 1992, very well transferred from a Vanguard vinyl lp to CD in the late 1990s by Analog Productions.
But you know, I’m beginning to flag. This Top 25 business is madness. Cover me, Jasper, I’m going to run for the woods, scattering decoys for the bloodhounds: John Coltrane, My Favorite Things, Atlantic, 1961; Roland Kirk, The Inflated Tear Atlantic, 1957 Thelonius Monk, Brilliant Corners, Riverside,1957. Jimmy Cliff’s soundtrack “The Harder They Come“. Randy Newman’s Good Old Boys, Reprise, 1974). The Chieftains, Claddagh Records, 1969, started by my friend Gareth Browne, and look where that particular phase of the Celtic re-re-revival took us. And what about Chris Strachwitz’s work for Arhoolie? Out of a vast trove I pick Clifton Chenier “Black Snake Blues”, Arhoolie, #1038. Stay with excavation, and try “Estrellas de Areito“, an amazing session of Cuban musicians from the 1970s, put out as a double CD by World Circuit/ Nonesuch, 1979.
No list of mine is going to omit The Temptations and Smokey Robinson, particularly after we heard Smokey in New Orelans this spring. He had the crowd in the palm of his hand for an hour and there wasn’t a woman in the crowd including my daughter Daisy who wouldn’t have abandoned all for an hour in his arms. A twofer: “The Temptations Sing Smokey”, Gordy, 1965. Leave it with Harry Smith’s three-record Anthology of American Folk Music, Folkways, 1952. That’s around 24 (don’t count too close), a double tribute to the duodecimalists, who fight on valiantly against the filthy metric tide. I’m out of here. Somebody has to set an example. Many thanks to Pierre Sprey for input on this, particularly on technical issues. Next year I vote for ten best ways to cook oxtail. Off-hand I can think of three.
Jeffrey St. Clair, co-editor of CounterPunch.
Obviously, this list ignores vast fields of music that I listen to nearly every day: Waylon, Merle, and Willie, the Stanley Brothers and Bill Monroe, Gram Parsons, CCR and Bob Seger, Smokey Robinson, Aretha, the Four Tops, and, most unforgiveably, any gospel whatsoever. There’s no hip-hop, either. I simply don’t know enough about rap to judge most of it. I realize that says a lot about my own tastes and almost nothing about the music. For me, American music is all about the blues and jazz–that kind of jazz, beginning with Jelly Roll Morton, Sidney Bechet and Louis Armstrong, which started as improvised urban blues played by blacks in the brothels of New Orleans. It proved much easier to select jazz albums than blues or R&B records, which, until the 60s, mainly produced singles. Like 5 million other American 6-year-olds in 1965, my first album was Meet The Beatles, presented to me by my grandmother Ruth, a child of the Virginia hill country who loved Jimmie Rodgers and the Delmore Brothers. My other grandmother, Freda, who hailed from Liverpool, despised the Fab Four, but cherished her Duke Ellington and Count Basie records, which she played on an elegant RCA stereo system that was the pride of her living room. My father grew up in a largely black neighborhood in Indianapolis and developed a taste for Leroy Carr, St. Louis Jimmy Oden (both did extended stints in Naptown) and Nat King Cole, whom David Vest claims Led Zeppelin mined (with power chords) mercilessly. My mother, raised on an Indiana farm, loved rockabilly and the western swing of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. Not a bad heritage. My rebellion wasn’t against my family’s taste in music–though I don’t know what they’d make of Sun Ra or Ornette Coleman. The first album I recall buying with my own money was Highway 61 Revisited, which features my favorite Dylan song, Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues. After 35-years of listening, I still have no idea what meaning is to be found in that account of a strange run to Mexico, if any. Natural Boogie by Hounddog Taylor and the Houserockers is the only album I’ve ever stolen, from my friend Kevin Zirkle, who was mistreating it and expressing a misguided preference for the slide work of J.B. Hutto. Zirkle got his revenge. A few months after we were locked in matrimony and while I was away fighting the Wizards of Armageddon in DC, Kimberly in a burst of humanitarianism decided to donate my vinyl collection to a veterinarian who had spent the greater part of the 70s in Afghanistan: bye-bye Junior Parker & T-Bone Walker, adieu Magic Sam & Freddie King, adios Booker T and Luther Allison…I still wince at the trauma. Cockburn, the Vizier of Vinyl, assures me this remains valid grounds for annulment, even after, uhm, 23 years of wedlock…at least in New Orleans and maybe Memphis. I try my best to retaliate by disappearing every Madonna and U2 cd I come across, but the equities will never be balanced. I confess to having Napstered one entire album, Metallica’s Live Shit, which I downloaded solely to goad the band and the music cops at the RIAA. Bring it on, Lars.
1. Louis Armstrong–Plays W.C. Handy (1954)
Gene Krupa described the feeling of playing with Louis Armstrong this way: “It was as if someone had turned the current on.” Yes, Armstrong went electric 25 years before Muddy Waters and 40 years before Bob Dylan. And he didn’t have to plug in to get that sizzling sound. He remains the definition of hot, an astonishing blend of speed, power and precision. In his prime, Armstrong was capable of hitting 300 consecutive Gs above high C. That’s just his trumpet playing. He also possessed one of the most distinctive voices ever recorded and probably invented scat-singing. Here in his best album of the 50s Armstrong uses the sophisticated blues compositions of the maestro from Memphis as a springboard for some of his most evocative improvisations. See especially the versions of St. Louis Blues and Yellow Dog Blues. Armstrong revolutionized the blues, first in New Orleans and then in Chicago, in his own bands as well as in his blistering solos on numerous Bessie Smith records. He almost singlehandedly turned a relatively simply form into a complex and existential art: jazz. In the 1960s, it became commonplace among certain white liberals and black academics to dismiss Armstrong as an Uncle Tom. This is heresy. Louis Armstrong is one of the few musicians of any stature, black or white, who spoke out publicly on the persistence of racism in America and the cowardice and complicity of politicians in both the north and south. In 1957, he called President Eisenhower “gutless” for his refusal to personally intervene when Gov. Orval Faubus used the National Guard to prevent 9 black students from enrolling in Little Rock Central High School. Ike’s staff responded by labeling Armstrong “an ingrate” for attacking the president. Louis didn’t back down. “The way they are treating my people in the South, the government can go to Hell.” In 1965, he denounced the Selma police for their vicious assault on civil rights marchers, saying of the cops, “They would beat Jesus if he was black and marched.” For me, Louis Armstrong stands head and shoulders above any other musician of 20th century. Or any other century, for that matter.
2. Thelonious Monk–Plays Ellington (1955)
Monk did to American music what Picasso did to European painting. Blew it all up and put it back together in ways no one, except this child of the North Carolina piedmont, had ever imagined. You might call it beebop, but Monk refuses be confined to any narrow genre. His idiosyncracies as a composer and player are a huge part of his genius and why, try as you might, his fractured, minimalist approach can’t be replicated. Naturally, that quality also made Monk hard as hell to play with. Miles Davis famously ordered Monk to “lay out” during his Bag’s Groove sessions. But here Monk goes solo on record for the first time, remolding 8 songs by America’s greatest composer, Duke Ellington. You can hear the old be turned into something new.
3. Sun Ra–Angels & Demons at Play / The Nubians of Plutonia (1956)
Music from Saturn, with stops in Chicago and Montgomery, Alabama. Sun Ra’s surreal piano and organ runs are more than matched by the weird sax phrases of John Gilmore–think Lester Young on mescaline. At their peak, those posers Pink Floyd never ventured out nearly as far as Sun Ra and the Arkestra did on a mere test drive. Parliament came closest, I guess, but even George and Bootsie couldn’t keep up this kind of pace.
4. Little Richard-The Georgia Peach: the Speciality Recordings (1957)
No doubt God arises many mornings wishing he was Little Richard circa 1956. Richard wakes up thanking God that he’s still The Man. So, grab someone close to you, squeeze tight, jack it all the way up and, as Springsteen says, drop the needle and play–or is that pray? Don’t matter, much. Richard goes both ways, so to speak.
5. Mongo Santamaria-Afro-Roots (1958)
Here for your listening and dancing pleasure are the broiling, erotically-charged beats of black Cuban music from the master percussionist Mongo Santamaria and his mesmerizing band, featuring Willie Bobo and Cal Tjader. Forgo the Buena Vista Social Club, this is the primo stuff, offering some of the deepest and funkiest grooves ever laid into vinyl. Santamaria’s “Afro-Blue” is a kind of mambo-boogaloo to plot a revolution by…or at least a seduction. Viva Mongo!
6. Big Maybelle-Blues, Candy and Big Maybelle (1958)
A fulsome, nuanced and utterly bewitching blues singer. Imagine Bessie Smith infused with a hint of rock and roll and a lot of hours priming her voice in a gospel choir. She’s big, bouncy and sexy. Be careful, though, Maybelle’s bite is often fatal.
7. Ornette Coleman-The Shape of Jazz to Come (1959)
Ornette hatched a new form of music –free jazz or harmolodics, as he dubbed it–in the early 60s and he’s still extending the frontiers. This album was the launching pad. Afterwards, there was no looking back. And no regrets, either.
8. Jimmy Reed-I’m Jimmy Reed (1959)
I can only understand about one out of every three words Jimmy Reed sings. But so what? The blues never grooved like this again. The credit shouldn’t all go to Reed, the Big Boss Man. The infectiousness of much of Reed’s music–he was one of the first black blues artists to find a white audience–derives from the crunching guitar work of Eddie Taylor, every bit as talented as luminaries like Albert King. But unlike King, Taylor never needed to make his point through protracted soloing.
9. Muddy Waters-Live at Newport (1960)
Born in a mudfloor shack on a Delta plantation; a lifelong illiterate; tutored in the blues by Son House and Robert Johnson; fled to Chicago; went electric; changed the world. Here America’s most powerful singer is propelled through a compact set by one America’s greatest bands. Now, honey, ain’t that a man?
10. Howlin’ Wolf-Moanin’ at Midnight (1962)
Where the blues gave birth to heavy metal. And even AC/DC never played it as hard. Wolf is the original Axis of Evil, all by his lonesome, awesome self. When Wolf was 50 years old and weighing close to 300 pounds, he would close out his shows by singing Smokestack Lightning while climbing to the top of the stage curtain, where he would unleash a final howl of triumph at the world of mere mortals below.
11. James Brown-Live at the Apollo (1962)
Perhaps only Miles Davis underwent as many important reinventions as James Brown: from R & B to rock, soul to funk, leading the pack at each post. But it’s hard to believe the Godfather ever expended as much energy as he did on this incredible night. Expended it on music, I mean.
12. Lightnin’ Hopkins-Soul Blues (1964)
There’s a story about a Texas millionaire who spent $50,000 on a custom-made guitar trying to emulate the sound Hopkins achieves from his $50 axe on this record. The tycoon never got close and wouldn’t have even if he’d gone down to the crossroads and sold his soul. He didn’t have Lightnin’s blazing fingers or his even more agile mind. Few have ever come close.
13. John Coltrane–Ascension (1965)
Almost unlistenable. Except you can’t stop listening for fear that the three-sax attack of Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, and Archie Shepp, along with McCoy Tyner on piano and Elvin Jones on drums, just might be leading you toward the cusp of a profound religious experience. Apply Occam’s Razor & you won’t be disappointed.
14. Bob Dylan-Bringing It All Back Home (1965)
Slightly overrated as a lyricist; grossly underrated as a blues singer. Although many would opt for Elvis, I nominate Dylan as the great white blues singer. He found his own way into the blues and didn’t try to mimic Charley Patton, Son House or Blind Willie McTell, a fool’s quest where so many other white singers have foundered. This album, Dylan’s answer to the Brit invasion, strikes an impeccable balance between sound and content. And it rocks, too.
15. BB King-Live at the Regal (1965)
Simply the best live album ever made.
16. John Lee Hooker-Real Folk Blues / More Real Folk Blues (1966)
John Lee probably recorded more records, under more pseudonyms, than any artist this side of Lightnin’ Hopkins, literally 1000s of cuts across more than 60 years in dozens of studios, coffee houses, garages, and even a great album taped in an attic. Real Folk Blues, recorded for Chess and backed by the Lafayette Leake on piano and Fred Below on drums, is one of JLH’s finest, darkest and most overlooked achievements — shamefully so. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Hooker finally got part of the acclaim he deserved as one of the four or five most important musicians of his time. But those albums are deeply marred by star turns from the likes of Carlos Santana and the preposterous Bonnie Raitt. This lp from the late sixties burns with rage about the spreading poison of racism in America and the deepening bloodbath in Vietnam, which Hooker correctly identified as manifestations of the same machinery of oppression. If his song “This Land is No One’s Land” doesn’t send chills up your spine, then you’re already stone cold. Boogie on, chillun and rest easy, John Lee.
17. Slim Harpo-Hip Shakin’: the Excello Recordings (1967)
Mick Jagger would’ve offered his left nut (and may have) to some Tent Show Queen in order to sing and play the harp like the Bayou-born Slim Harpo. He never comes close. But who cares? Let Slim scratch your back, any old time.
18. Miles Davis-A Tribute to Jack Johnson (1970)
At least 5–and maybe 8 albums–by Miles belong on this list, but over the past few years this one has steadily grown to become my favorite, eclipsing Walkin’, Kind of Blue and In a Silent Way. This album isn’t fusion, exactly. It’s more like a raucous collision between hard rock and sparse modal jazz. Miles always wanted to record with Hendrix, but the guitar god perished before they could agree on a date. (Though Miles’s collaborater Gil Evans later made a strange and beautiful recording of Hendrix songs). In a way, this album is as much a tribute to Hendrix as it is to the boxer Jack Johnson. But it’s hard to imagine that even Hendrix could’ve added much to these sessions. The two guitarists Miles works with here, John McLaughlin and the neglected Sonny Sharrock, are both technically more proficient than Hendrix and more inventive and disciplined players. And Hendrix never rocked any louder. This may be both the most innovative rock and jazz album ever recorded–top that.
19. Sly and the Family Stone-There’s a Riot Goin’ On (1971)
Sonic proof that the 60s, and the ecumenical utopianism of Sly’s Stand!, were over and an age of darkness was descending, from which we still haven’t emerged. Unfortunately, neither has Sly. We need him back. Now more than ever.
20. Clifton Chenier-Bogalusa Boogie (1975)
The king of zydeco and swamp blues presides over a scorching set of songs recorded in a single afternoon, most in one take. Clifton fronts a brilliant band as integrated as the music itself (the Stone Family of the Bayou?), featuring the fabulous John Hart on sax and a young Sonny Landreth on guitar. Now everybody: Ti Na Na, all the way home.
21. The Clash–London Calling (1979)
“When they knock down your front door, how you gonna come? With your hands on your head or on the trigger of your gun?” Still an open question.
22. Prince–Sign o’ the Times (1987)
Funk, Marsha Cusic says, is a class issue. Here the lineage goes from James Brown to Miles Davis to Sly Stone back to Miles forward to Stevie Wonder and on to Prince. This album stands as the final statement in the genre. So far.
23. Don Byron-Tuskeegee Experiments (1992)
The famous fraud Ken Burns perpetrated the myth that jazz expired in the early 1960s. The gifted young clarinetist Don Byron is just the latest to shatter this outlandish lie. This album, his first, is an hypnotic brew of funk, hip hop, and hard bop, interwoven with strands of Schumann, yes, that Schumann. Tuskeegee Experiments stands as one of the most dramatic leaps forward in improvised music since Miles Davis laid the groundwork for hiphop in On the Corner.
24. Otis Taylor-Respect the Dead (2002)
The blues lives, breathes and seethes in…yes…the mountains of Colorado.
25. Robert Bradley and Blackwater Surprise-New Ground (2002)
I guess Prince wasn’t the final word in funk, after all.
Bruce Jackson, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Samuel P. Capen Professor of American Culture at University at Buffalo, edits the web journal BuffaloReport.com. He is the author of “Wake Up Dead Man: Hard Labor and Southern Blues” and “Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me”:Narrative Poetry from Black Oral Traditon”.
When this began I thought we were doing those 12″-diameter round black things that you put on turntables and gently dropped an arm with a needle on and you could turn them over and play the second side of, but before I finished compiling my list I saw people posting 4.5″ silvery disks that did everything in places where we could see nothing. The category is now so big I’m exhausted thinking about the options. Here are 25, beginning with what may be the first LP to have had
1. Les Paul & Mary Ford : Les Paul’s New Sound vol. 2 (1951)
2. Chet Baker: Chet Baker Sings (1954)
3. Jackie Gleason: Music for Lovers Only (1955)
4. Clifford Brown: Study in Brown, (1955)
5. Victoria de los Angeles: Five Centuries of Spanish Songs (1955)
6. Mahalia Jackson: Newport (1958)
7. Frank Sinatra: Only the Lonely (1958)
8. Max Roach Trio Featuring the Legendary Hassan (1964)
9. Skip James Today! (1964)
10. Bob Dylan: Bringing It All Back Home (1965)
11. Leonard Cohen: Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967)
12. Jefferson Airplane: Surrealistic Pillow (1967)
13. Janis Joplin, Big Brother and the Holding Company: Cheap Thrills (1968)
14. Pink Floyd: A Saucerful of Secrets (1968)
15. Moody Blues: Days of Future Passed (1968)
16. Van Morrison: Astral Weeks, (1968)
17. Jacques Brel–Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris (1969)
18. Cat Stevens: Tea for the Tillerman (1970)
19. Carole King: Tapestry (1971)
20. Bruce Springsteen: Born to Run (1975)
21. Tom Waits, Small Change (1976)
22. Deep Purple, Perfect Strangers 1984
23. Dire Straits, Alchemy Live 1984
24. Jerry Jeff Walker: Great Gonzos 1991
25. Charlie Haden & Pat Metheny, Beyond the Missouri Sky 1997
Dave Marsh is co-editor of Rock & Rap Confidential and author of Two Hearts: the Definitive Biography of Bruce Springsteen.
This is ridiculously small for “greatest.” I can only say “favorites.” Records to which I return continually. (E.g, do I really think Tauhid is “better” than any John Coltrane recording? No, but Tauhid is the one I listen to more.) And also very unresearched, off the top of my head. Not because that’s what the project “deserves,” but because of short notice and no monetary incentive to sit down and really puzzle it out.
You should do singles though because you will fail to recognize many great pieces of music and artists, especially black artists and women artists, if you cite only albums. You will, for instance, have to live without “Bacon Fat” and “Greasy Chicken.”
These are in nothing like rank order:
1. Marvin Gaye, What’s Goin’ On?.
2. Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited
3. Miles Davis, In a Silent Way
4. Otis Redding, Dictionary of Soul
5. Bruce Springsteen, The River
6. Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions, The Young Mods’ Forgotten Story
7. Muddy Waters, The Best of Muddy Waters
8. James Brown Live at the Apollo
9. Dorothy Love Coates, The Best of Dorothy Love Coates and the Original Gospel Harmonettes
10. Sly and the Family Stone, Stand!
11. The Rolling Stones, Beggars Banquet
12. The Who, The Who Sell Out
13. Sam Cooke, Live at the Harlem Square Club
14. Pharaoh Sanders, Tauhid
15. Ted Hawkins, The Next Hundred Years
16. The MC5, Kick Out the Jams
17. The Temptations, The Temps Sing Smokey
18. Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
19. Magic Sam, West Side Soul
20. N.W.A, Straight Outta Compton,
21. Van Morrison, Moondance,
22. Jackson Browne, The Pretender
23. Iris Dement, The Way I Should
24. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band
25. Patty Griffin, Flaming Red
There are at least 15 possible reasons to hate my self in the morning, here.
Susan Davis teaches at the University of Illinois and is a contributor to CounterPunch’s new book on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced? (1967, MCA)
I still remember where I was when I first heard it. The top of my head lifted off.
Kindred Spirits: A Tribute to the Songs of Johnny Cash (2002, Lucky Dog/Sony)
A great cover album, in which 14 artists, including Hank Williams Jr., Travis Tritt, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan show they understand their man. one track to skip: Keb Mo’s cleaned up version of “Folsome Prison Blues.” Mr. Moore, you have some nerve.
Chulas Fronteras Tex Mex Classics (a compilation of traditional Tex-Mex and Norteno music.) (1976, rerelease by Arhoolie)
The soundtrack to Les Blank’s 1976 movie of the same name introduced but’s some of the great San Antonio and South border musicians to a big gringo audience.
Way before the Texas Tornadoes. If you can listen to Flaco without dancing, you may be dead. Jimenez is from a family of Texas Mexican accordion players. His early party albums made for his San Antonio audience proved accordions are not just for summer camp and polkas are well-played outside upstate New York. Blank’s film features charismatic Flaco in performance.
Dwight Yoakam, Guitars, Cadillacs, and Hillbilly Music. (1986, Warner Bros.)
“It won’t hurt when I fall off this barstool…” When the neighbor kids are bothering us, we turn up the volume.
Bruce Springsteen, The River (1980, Columbia)
Delbert McClinton, Nothing Personal (2001, New West).
Almost makes you wish you’d worked in Texas roadhouse bars for 40 years, but not quite. McClinton still plays country fair gigs, so see him live if you can.
Bob Dylan, Bringing It All Back Home.
He Did. But check out his more recent return British Isles and American folk music on “Good As I Been to You” (1992), and “World Gone Wrong” (1993).
Mike Bloomfield, Paul Butterfield, Buddy Miles, Otis Span and Muddy Waters: Fathers and Sons.(1972, MCA)
Incompetent, opportunistic white rockers meet the blues Godhead. On a relisten, it’s just awful. But even Duck Dunn’s right-on-the-beat drumming can’t ruin the joy of hearing Muddy Waters in fabulous voice, singing some of his biggest hits. There are much better Waters albums, but like an idiot I gave mine away to a vinyl collector.
June Carter Cash, Press On (1999, Risk Records)
If you think autoharps are for kindergarten teachers, or if you just need to sit down and have a good cry. This was her second to last album, looking toward death. The liner notes alone are worth the price, as are a few songs describing her New York “rock-and-roll years” when she opened for Elvis, before she met Cash. Beautiful versions of “Ring of Fire” and “Far Side Banks of Jordan.”
Ralph Stanley / Ralph Stanley (2002, Columbia)
Carter is dead, Ralph is in the Primitive Baptist church, super instrumentalists, including Norman Blake, are sitting in behind Stanley’s ballads and traditional songs. It’s not the 1950s Stanley Brothers sound, but it’s great.
Buddy Guy, Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues (1991, Silvertone)
I’ve always liked Buddy Guy since I saw him play folk festivals in the 1960s, refusing to de-electrifying or dress his band like folkies. Naturally, he would get the 1 a.m. concert slots, and he seemed acid raw. It’s hard to pick a best Buddy Guy album, but this one came along and brought back a lot of memories.
Little Feat, Waiting for Columbus (1977, Warner Bros.)
How we learned that “Juanita” rhymes with “torpedo.”
Ry Cooder, Chicken Skin Music (1976, Warner Bros.)
Cooder always ventured out beyond and back, into country, folk, soul, Hawaiian slack key and Caribbean. If you need extra proof that accordions can more than hold their own, Jimenez is on this one, too. nice Leadbelly covers.
Dr. John, Gumbo (1972, Atco)
Relatively young Dr. John plays a lot of traditional New Orleans Jazz on “Gumbo,” including “Junco Partner” and a great version of Professor Longhair’s “Tipitina.” Be careful if driving.
Professor Longhair, Crawfish Fiesta (1980, Alligator).
Late Longhair. Party music, in a partly-live party setting. Listening to this will make you realize that you can’t explain what rhythm is, but it sure is fun to wonder about. My favorite is an instrumental, “Willie Fugal’s Blues.”
Roscoe Holcomb, High Lonesome Sound (1961, 1964, 1974, compiled and rereleased by Smithsonian Folkways, 1998)
Foundational for Mike Seeger and lots of other good banjo players. For when you want the teenagers to leave you and the house to yourself.
Al Green, Still in Love with You (1972, Capitol)
People fight about which is the greatest Al Album, but it’s hard to top “For the Good Times.” No place for videos on this list, but if you want to see Green in action check out Bob Mugge’s “The Gospel According to Al Green.” Unless you’re prone to conversion experiences.
Gillian Welch, Revival (1996, Almo Sounds)
Welch has a great but completely cultivated Appalachian-sounding voice, and with her partner David Rawlings, writes pretty songs. But for the real thing check out…..
Hazel Dickens, Hard-hitting Songs for Hard-hit People (1980, Rounder)
A working-class feminist refresher course in old-time music, Kentucky and West Virginia style. “Busted” packs a new whallop sung by Hazel.
Van Morrison, Back on Top.(1999, Pointblank)
The Blazers, Puro Blazers. (2000, Rounder)
Puro East Los Angeles folk-roots-rock-cumbia.
Ron Jacobs is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is being republished by Verso, and a contributor to Serpents in the Garden, CP’s forthcoming book on music, art and sex.
In no particular order, here is my go at my favorite albums since 1950. Of course, this list changes almost daily, but what follows is a fairly representative listing of my perennial favorites.
Bonnie Raitt–Bonnie Raitt
This self-titled first album by this lady of the blues is a straightforward blues recording that features songs by Stephen Stills, Sippie Wallace, and Robert Johnson (among others). It was recorded in a garage on a four-track and features what I consider Raitt’s best band.
John Coltrane–My Favorite Things
A great example of everything Coltrane. A standard reworked and sonic walls of sheer ecstasy.
Grateful Dead-Europe ’72
This three-disc album is a little bit of everything that the Grateful Dead ever did. Cool versions of Hank Williams tunes and blues standards along with psychedelic blasts of lightning and thunder all mixed in with those songs that the Dead write that sound like they’ve always been around. Pigpen’s last blast before his premature death.
This is what poetry should be. This is what rock and roll should be.
Bob Dylan-John Wesley Harding
Apocalypse accompanied by a six-string and an awesome bunch of Nashville musicians. The lyrics to Armageddon are the lyrics on this album.
Miles Davis–In A Silent Way
Listening to this album is like smoking really good hashish. It relaxes the most high-strung person. I’ve used it to put crying babies to sleep.
Brother Jack McDuff-Down Home Style
This man can play the Hammond organ. The sounds here are funky and cry for hot sultry weather, a cold beer and greasy food for accompaniment.
Bruce Springsteen-The Wild, The Innocent, and The E Street Shuffle
Bruce and his band right before they went nationwide. The stories on this album are about New York City and its Jersey neighbors. The best pieces here are the rocker “Kitty’s Back” and the story-song “Incident On 57th Street,” but there is not a bad song on the disc. Besides, what other rock album can you hear a tuba to end one side and an autoharp to end the other?
The Beatles-The White Album
The Beatles could have never recorded another album and it wouldn’t have mattered. This one is too good. (I’m glad they continued for a couple more, though).
This album didn’t need a movie, although the film is fun to watch. Curtis and his crew sing beautifully about the ugly world of the dealer’s streets.
Sly and the Family Stone-Stand!
Sly Stone and his East Bay crew bring their infectious sound to the world of racism and the power of the people. The optimism obvious in some of the songs is tempered by the reality of “Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey.” Unfortunately, the optimism would be short-lived for Sly and the rest of us.
Yes, this is a greatest hits collection, but, hey, the second CD in this box kicks out the funk. From “Cloud Nine” to “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” to “Psychedelic Shack,” this CD is the perfect sound for your house party.
Nirvana-Nevermind-Kurt Cobain was just a punker that knew how to write. His infectious hooks and cryptic lyrics were just what the doctor ordered in the early 1990s. After seeing the band live at clubs and dorm parties in Olympia, WA., I wondered how the music would sound on CD. It sounds different, but it still kicks.
Joni’s music heads further down the jazzy road she first began exploring in “Court and Spark.” However, on this disc, she gets even more avant-garde. The title means “flight” and she sings a song about Amelia Earhart. There’s also a tune about that great trickster, coyote and a tribute to the bluesman Furry Lewis.
Gram Parsons/Emmylou Harris-Grievous Angel
This album would be on this list even if it only included the title song. Fortunately, it includes several other harmonious gems backed by a band that includes Elvis Presley’s best guitarist ever, James Burton.
The Clash-Supermarket Clash EP
This is when The Clash begin to incorporate ska and reggae beats into their music. The dub of “Bankrobber” is the highlight of the album. Unfortunately, it is not available on the CD remake of the EP, known as Super Black Market Clash.
Bob Marley and the Wailers-Live!
Marley and his Wailers are able to put down on vinyl the energy, music and emotion of their live show and they do it all in forty-five minutes. Irie!
Willie Nelson-Red Headed Stranger
Willie’s warbling voice finally gets a listen. This story of love gone wrong is classic country song stuff, but Willie’s telling is in a category of its own. His fingerpicking completes the effect.
Firesign Theatre-How Can You Be In Two Places at Once When You’re Not Anywhere At All?
The first side is “The People’s History of the United States” as comedy and the second side featuring Nick Danger, The Third Eye, is the best noir this side of Ralph Spoilsport Motors.
Chuck Berry-The Great 28
Oops, another greatest hits collection. Where else can you get such tunes as “Maybellene,” “Sweet Little Sixteen,” and “Johnny B. Goode,” all on the same disc?
Rolling Stones-Beggar’s Banquet
Back when Mick and the boys threw their lot in with the revolution. Hell, Brian Jones even made it onto this album some, along with Ry Cooder and Nicky Hopkins. My revolutionary buddies and I raised many a glass to the chorus of the Stones’ paean to working men and women, “Salt of the Earth.”
Seldom Scene-Old Train-
John Duffey was at least six feet tall and 200 pounds. He held the mandolin up near his chest and picked it in a style that respectfully went beyond Bill Monroe. This band hails from the DC area and I spent some of my best times in that area listening to them at the Birchmere or some festival somewhere in the mountains nearby. Their version of Hank Williams’ “Pan-American Highway” is a religious experience.
Hank Williams-Alone With His Guitar-
This CD of old acetates is Hank the Father in the raw. Just like he must have sounded back in the early days. Pure country guitar licks and that voice that rips out your heart and lays it next to his on the table by the six-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Jimi Hendrix/Otis Redding-Live at Monterey Pop
I will always remember the first time I heard this album. I was walking through Thomas Circle in Washington, DC after a night of partying with the Yippies and out of a top window came the sound of Jimi singing Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone.” I opened the door and went up the stairs to the apartment from whence the song came. I knew the occupants from hanging out in College Park, MD. They let me in and I listened to the entire album twice before they kicked me out. I still get a bit of that old flashback when I hear any thing from this short, incredible work by two of America’s greatest musicians.
Bill Kauffman is the author of Dispatches from the Muckdog
Gazette (Henry Holt/Picador)
1. The Beach Boys–Pet Sounds (1966)
Sad, lovely music by regionalists who made myth of the sands beneath their feet.
2. The Velvet Underground and Nico–The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967)
Yeah, I know, but I like it.
3. Mark Lindsay—Arizona and Other States of Mind (1970)
Raiders’ singer covers easy-listening pop tunes; hypnotic.
4. Gram Parsons–Grievous Angel (1974)
Parsons called it “Cosmic American Music.”
5. Nick Lowe–Pure Pop for Now People (1978)
That hungry little dachshund!
6. Graham Parker–Squeezing Out Sparks (1979)
The most pissed-off of the era’s Angry Young Men and a superb lyricist withal. This album, Parker’s masterwork, contains the stunning anti-abortion song “You Can’t Be Too Strong.”
7. The Clash–The Clash (1979)
The best punk album.
8. Neil Young–Live Rust (1979)
Play “Powderfinger” at 160 decibels and yowl along. Contra my favorite Confederate longhairs, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Southern men–hell, all of us–DO need Old Neil around: he’s an isolationist whose father wrote hockey novels for kids. Young’s latest, Greendale (2003), is also outstanding.
9. X–Los Angeles (1980)
L.A. punk was far superior to the Faberge eggs laid by the slumming rich kids and art students of Manhattan.
10. Iron City Houserockers–Have a Good Time (But Get Out Alive)
A working-class hero is something to be.
11. Human Switchboard–Who’s Landing in My Hangar? (1981)
In this town/Buildings forget their names…
12. Bruce Springsteen–Nebraska (1982)
Bruce at the abyss. Then he married a model and bought the mansion on the hill.
13. Dwight Twilley–Scuba Divers (1982)
Pop so lush it makes “A Summer Place” sound like John Cage.
14. Danny & Dusty–The Lost Weekend (1985)
Greatest drinking album ever made.
15. John Mellencamp–Scarecrow (1985)
A tad earnest, but it has heart. William Jennings Bryan rocks!
16. The Rainmakers–Rainmakers (1986)
Straight outta the State of Misery.
17. Bart Dentino and Kevin Huber–I Wish I Was a Dinosaur (1987)
Children’s music that is fun, innocent, never cloying; give these
guys a good distribution deal and they’d kick Raffi’s ass.
Alan Maas is the editor of Socialist Worker and an excellent writer on music.
1. Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie: Jazz at Massey Hall
You can find albums with a better collection of Bird’s compositions, but for the spirit of the bop revolution and sheer supersonic velocity, this is as good as they come.
2. Charles Mingus: Mingus Ah Um
Sharp angles, lurching rhythms, edgy, clashing harmonies, Mingus’ bass elbowing the loiterers along. Also totally infectious and unforgettable.
3. Miles Davis: Kind of Blue
It’s always on these lists for a reason. Miles Davis comes into the studio with the sketchiest outlines for five songs, and the band–John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb–pretty much records them without rehearsal in one take. So how could every last phrase be packed with beauty and meaning? QPTGAOAT (Quite Possibly The Greatest Album Of All Time).
4. Bob Dylan: The Times They Are A-Changin’
The songs on this album convey more in a few verses than a lot of books. Should be assigned listening in all modern American history classes, in place of those wretched textbooks. QPTGAOAT.
5. Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited
Midpoint in the greatest one-two-three punch in rock ‘n’ roll history. It’s a close call with Bringing It All Back Home and Blonde on Blonde, but I think this one is the most interesting musically.
6. Beatles: Revolver
As the darkness of Paul McCartney’s corrupt soul is revealed year by year, I’m less able to tolerate any Beatles album in totality, but I’m picking my favorite for old time’s sake–and because no one ever thought of albums the same way after.
7. Johnny Cash: Live at San Quentin
Debs said that as long as there was a criminal element, he was of it, and Johnny Cash played San Quentin. And Rocked.
8. Sly and the Family Stone: Stand!
Euphoric, irresistible, uplifting, hopeful…what else? Words fail, but that’s fine in this case.
9. John Lennon: Sometime in New York City
Lennon’s attempt to break the mold with music that was as topical as the daily newspaper–and unjustly dismissed as “too political” as a result.
10. Stevie Wonder: Innervisions
Stevie Wonder could have kept churning out the Motown-style pop hits, but he added another dimension, musically and lyrically, on albums like Innervisions with songs about the consequences of the 1960s dream deferred.
11. Bruce Springsteen: Born to Run
Ordinary lives and dreams, set to soaring music and intoxicated, word-crazy poetry. I’d never be able to pick between this one and its brooding sequel, Darkness on the Edge of Town, except that Born to Run will never be topped during the first warm days of spring. QPTGAOAT.
12. Peter Tosh: Equal Rights
A relentlessly political and angry manifesto from one of the less well-known giants of reggae and rival to Marley.
13. The Clash: The Clash
Razor-edged blasts at overblown rock pretension and cultural reaction–not to mention racist bigotry, corporate greed, government repression and everything else rotten in the state of capitalism. There were more great Clash albums to come, but it’s hard to remember what I liked about music before I heard “Complete Control.”
14. Neil Young: Rust Never Sleeps
When Neil is firing on all cylinders (which comes and goes), he’s a wonder–especially here, where you get acoustic grace on one side, and electric Crazy Horse-backed mayhem on the other.
15. Gang of Four: Entertainment!
Art-school Marxists expound on surplus value, alienation and historical materialism–with a stuttering, shrieking, transcendent guitar and jerky punk-funk beat to highlight the main points.
16. Archie Shepp: Trouble in Mind
This album of blues or blues-derived tunes from one of the great tenor saxophonists in jazz is a duo with pianist Horace Parlan, with all but one song set at an achingly slow tempo, the better to pack its punch.
17. Rickie Lee Jones: Pirates
Sure, a great voice, but the songwriting sets this album apart from your Sheryl Crows, Norah Joneses, etc.–jazz and soul-influenced music and great storytelling.
18. XTC: English Settlement
Months spent in the studio to produce these intensely crafted pop songs, which turn out to be about arms control, the rise of the National Front, racial tolerance and, uh, building preservation and Greek mythology…as well as snowmen.
19. X: More Fun in the New World
It should be remembered as one of the milestones of American songwriting, but it got filed under “Unlistenable (punk)” and forgotten. “The facts we hate will never hear us.” Sure feels that way sometimes. QPTGAOAT.
20. Prince: Sign ‘o’ the Times
A sprawling encyclopedia of modern popular music and an appropriately apocalyptic soundtrack for the Reagan era, served up by a regular force of nature.
21. Public Enemy: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
Passionate, unrepentant, laser-sharp politics, with a ferocious sound behind every line. I don’t know enough about hip-hop, but this album is a standout for me. QPTGAOAT.
22. Pixies: Doolittle
The indie rock tide’s been out for a hell of a long time, leaving this weird, noisy outburst at the high water mark, casting its shadow over what came after.
23. Nirvana: Nevermind
Alright, so maybe this tidal wave washed over the high water mark. A punk album gone multi-platinum, and overshadowed by the hype and tragedy that followed, but don’t forget what it was like when you first heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
24. Bruce Springsteen: The Ghost of Tom Joad
No popular musician that I can think of has ever told more compelling and fully drawn stories than this album–and they’re about the have-nots of society, whose stories never get told. This mostly acoustic album is as quiet as they get, but it grips like a vise.
25. Wilco and Billy Bragg (and Woody Guthrie): Mermaid Avenue
An excellent excuse to claim Woody Guthrie for the second half of the 20th century, and with a double album to boot. Woody left the lyrics behind–as entrancing as anything you’ll hear today–and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and Billy Bragg contributed the tunes.
Plus…a few latter-day candidates for squeezing onto the list with a smidgen more hindsight:
P.J. Harvey: Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea OutKast: Speakerboxxx/The Love Below Wilco: A Ghost Is Born (from the Department of I’ve Downloaded the Pre-Release MP3s of the Future of Rock and Roll and It’s Name Is…)
Ben Tripp is a screenwriter, cartoonist and writes political satire for CounterPunch. His new book, Square in the Nuts, will be published this summer.
Wilhelm Furtwangler–Bayreuth recording of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony
Also his version of Bruckner’s 8th
Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers With Thelonious Monk
Miles Davis– Bitches’ Brew
you can hear the ideas, the newness of it, even today… was tied with Herbie Hancock’s ‘Head Hunters’ but Miles got there first
three fingers, a million notes
John Barry– Thunderball
his best outburst, also the title song is so masculine, so muscular, it’s almost gay
Jimi Hendrix–Experience Hendrix
normally I dislike compilations but this one gets much of his best stuff in and leaves out most of the ‘wasted black guy with doin’ it for the money white guys behind him’ stuff, ie whatever the ‘classic rock’ stations will play
Frank Zappa–Freak Out
this album brilliantly transitions from tinkly pop ballads into the biggest, hairiest acid trip anybody ever had; also defined the American zeitgeist with such insight that it remains the definitive work on the subject
Herbert W. Zoozman–They Came In Outer Space
movie soundtrack, music and words– I did some of the voices, so I’m biased
Digital Underground–Sex Packets
the most fun ever had making a recording
Jefferson Airplane–Bless Its Pointed Little Head
one soul-crushing bong hit from one end to the other
Glenn Gould–The Goldberg Variations
1981 version pales the 1955
The Eagles–Hotel California
I know, I know, fuck you too, I was 10 years old and my beloved dyke children’s book illustrator friend Trina Schart Hyman sent it to me in the mail and it knocked my grimy, mismatched socks off
New York Dolls — New York Dolls
eponymous album– goes great with bourbon and smack
Violent Femmes–Violent Femmes
also eponymous– art school classic tied with Talking Heads’ ‘Stop Making Sense’, but the Femmes could actually play
Thelonious Monk — Straight, No Chaser
John Coltrane–Complete Africa Brass
oft overlooked but gigantic stuff
John Williams–Star Wars soundtrack
the actual movie version, not one of the 500 re-recordings
John Lennon and Paul McCartney had something to do with it
David Bowie–Ziggy Stardust
no idea if it has any merit, but this album got me laid many times, or maybe it was my immense schlong, and the album just happened to be on; in any case it pleases me
Max Steiner– King Kong
the first continuous movie score and one of the greatest
Ry Cooder–Paris, Texas
annoying tracks of dialogue from the movie cannot stop the sheer parched-earth minimal rawness of that slide guitar
try this one on heroin
George Hoffnung–Interplanetary Music Festival
I can’t remember which 1950’s recording of his concerts is best, but one of these is so funny I think I actually peed my pants
Prince — Purple Rain
again, got laid with this one, but not by Prince.. was tied with Depeche Mode’s ‘People Are People’ for the same reason… it was the 80’s, it was a desert, go to hell.
David Vest writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch and plays keyboards in the Paul De Lay Band. He and his band, The Willing Victims, just released a scorching new CD, Way Down Here. He is also a contributor to CP’s new book, Serpents in the Garden.
No dates, people. These are timeless.
John Lee Hooker — I’m John Lee Hooker
Stove and coal bucket on the cover, white sports coat on the back, and nothing but the truth inside.
Little Richard — Here’s Little Richard
Has any album ever had the impact this one had? Sure, you’d do better buying a compilation now, especially the fine “Specialty Sessions” box set, but this was the one people wore out and went on playing till all you heard was needle grind.
Mahalia Jackson — Great Getting Up Morning
Her greatest Columbia recording, and naturally the one they haven’t re-released. “Just to Behold His Face” and “Journey to the Sky” will knock you to your knees, whether you believe anything or not.
Five Blind Boys of Alabama — O Lord Stand By Me
One of two or three albums I couldn’t live without. If you haven’t heard Clarence Fountain in full high scream, you haven’t understood James Brown.
Earl Palmer — The World’s Greatest Drummer, Ever
Yes, it’s a compilation, bringing together 30 of the greatest tracks the legendary Palmer has played on, from “I’m Walkin'” to “La Bamba” and “Rockin’ Robin.”
Gene Vicent / Gene Vincent Rocks, the Blue Caps Roll /a Record Date
Eddie Cochran joins the Blue Caps to play bass and sing the bottom harmony parts for his pal Gene on Vincent’s last great album. All the latter-day fawning over Cliff Gallup, Vincent’s original guitarist, who’d rather have been playing square dances, seems misplaced when you hear the great Johnny Meeks rock out. And you get the definitive rock versions of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and “You Belong to Me.”
Bill Black’s Combo — Solid and Raunchy
One of the last great live bands to consistently put rock instrumentals of the charts. Simple but irresistible.
Jesse Winchester — Learn To Love It
Songs written from conscientious exile in Canada during the Vietnam War. “Tell Me Why You Like Roosevelt” is a masterpiece (and he TELLS you why: “Good god in heaven, that’s the poor man’s friend”).
Bob Dylan — Slow Train Coming
Sinead O’Connor is right, this is the one. I first heard this album in Florence, Italy, sitting in a bathtub. Two of my old band-mates, Barry Beckett and Ronnie Eades, shine, and you get some of Dylan’s best vocals.
Etta James — At Last
Best string arrangements ever heard on an R&B album? Damned close, if you ask me.
Mary Black — Babes in the Wood
Perhaps the most intelligent singer, doing songs worthy of her attention. I played this CD ten times through before I even paid attention. Black never oversings. The power held in reserve is brought out only when the song requires it. Great (also understated) guitar by produced Declan Synott, and piano player Pat Crowley is one of my favorites.
The Byrds — Turn Turn Turn
One album which doesn’t make us all look so stupid and sentimental for over-rating the Sixties.
Jimmy T99 Nelson — Rockin’ and Shoutin’ the Blues
Comeback of the (previous) century, and still going strong by all reports.
Thelonious Monk — Thelonious Monk Trio
Contains the neglected masterpiece, “Work,” and the actual genuine correct melody for “Blue Monk” which most horn players seem never to haveheard.
Dave Brubeck Quartet, Time Changes
The best, and of course the most neglected and hard-to-find, of Brubeck’s “time experiment” albums. Includes “The World’s Fair” in 13/4 and the long orchestral title piece, in which Brubeck seems to be channeling Sun Ra at times.
Modern Jazz Quartet, Django
John Lewis. Connie Kay. Milt Jackson. Percy Heath. The group that made civilization seem actually attainable now and then.
Eric Dolphy, Out There
One listen to the title track and you’ll know how far we are from anywhere.
Lafayette Leake, Easy Blues
Maybe I’m crazy, and I know how great Otis Spann was and how cool Joe Willie Perkins is, but this is the Chicago piano player I seem to like best.
Katie Webster, Two Fisted Mama
The greatest boogie-woogie piano player living? While she was alive, it may have been Saint Katie.
The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground and Nico
I can’t think of any reason why anyone should like this album, except that no one seems to be able to make a better one.
Leonard Cohen, Ten New Songs
The old master slid this one into the market like a thief in the night, in a generic looking cover with a complete absence of hype. Find me a better song than “Alexandra Leaving.”
Elisabeth Schwartzkopf, Strauss: Four Last Songs/12 Orchestral Songs
One of the greatest recorded vocal performances in any genre.
John Lewis, Bach’s Preludes and Fugues, v. 2
Not for everyone, he made sure of that.
Ornette Coleman, Skies of America
The “change of the century” and the “shape of things to come” in a titanic duel with the London Philharmonic. The musical equivalent of the Grand Canyon.
The Gospel At Colonus, featuring the Five Blind Boys of Alabama and The Soul Stirrers (and the incredible Sam Butler on guitar and vocals).
Just to break the rules, one soundtrack. Two versions of it were
released, the first was better. If anyone has the video, I want it,
Jesse Walker is managing editor of Reason and author of Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America, which has just been reprinted in paperback.
1. Beck: Odelay (1996)
The disc that proved country and hip hop are ultimately the same sort of music.
2. The Blind Boys of Alabama: Spirit of the Century (2000)
Gospel for hipsters, and for other folks too. The second time I saw these guys play was at a punk/jazz club in L.A. There was a man in the audience who kept yelling, “Praise Jesus!” “What an asshole,” I thought, “making fun of these guys like that.” Then I saw he was wearing a Christian T-shirt and I realized he was sincere.
3. William S. Burroughs: Dead City Radio (1990)
Burroughs was always a deadpan stand-up comic at heart.
4. John Cale: Paris 1919 (1973)
A quiet, cultured story cycle from the most consistently interesting veteran of the Velvet Underground.
5. Johnny Cash: American Recordings (1994)
If we ever make our way back to Rexroth’s “old, free America,” they’ll stop adorning posters with the glaring image of Uncle Sam and replace him with the face of Johnny Cash.
6. Miles Davis: Someday My Prince Will Come (1961)
Not just a great Miles Davis album: the title track gives us John Coltrane at his most perfect.
7. Bob Dylan: Bringing it All Back Home (1965)
Especially the electric half.
8. Steve Earle: El Corazon (1997)
Earle hit his peak in the mid to late ’90s, and this eclectic CD was the finest of the discs he recorded then.
9. Duke Ellington: Money Jungle (1962)
With Charles Mingus on bass and Max Roach on drums. Indispensable.
10. Firesign Theater: Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers (1971)
“The way we wanted to produce those records,” one of the Firesigns later said, “was as if radio had continued into the modern era with the full force of energy it had during its golden age.” That’s what this is: a Discordian radio drama from a parallel universe.
11. Aretha Franklin: Amazing Grace (1972)
First Aretha brought her gospel training to Muscle Shoals and created some of the century’s greatest pop music. Then she took her pop sensibility back to church and made this devastating live recording.
12. The Kinks: Muswell Hillbillies (1971)
It’s a concept album about urban renewal. Seriously. Probably my favorite entry on this list.
13. Merle Haggard and The Strangers: Pride in What I Am (1969)
There’s a lot of Haggard records that could go here, but this one does the best job of showcasing both his songwriting and his musical chops.
14. Charles Mingus: Mingus Ah Um (1959)
Bop gospel swing.
15. Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (1967)
Once I saw a movie where Fred Astaire was staggering and somehow dancing at the same time. That’s how Monk plays the piano.
16. Willie Nelson: Shotgun Willie (1973)
Everyone else says Red Headed Stranger is the masterpiece — and yeah, I like that one too — but this is the definitive document of outlaw country. The session band includes Waylon Jennings, Johnny Gimble, Doug Sahm, and Augie Meyers, and Jerry Wexler lent a hand in the studio.
17. Charlie Rich: Feel Like Going Home (1992)
It was two middle-of-the-road pop songs that made Charlie Rich a star, but his best work was rootsy, gritty stuff; it falls into that undefined space between jazz, blues, country, and soul. We’re not supposed to list greatest-hits collections, but this compilation includes enough songs that never charted that I think I can slip it in.
18. The Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977)
It’s got an anti-communist song and an anti-abortion song, and some say it’s partly responsible for the rise of Thatcher. Recommending it ought to get me barred from these CounterPunch commies’ next listmaking party.
19. Sir Douglas Quintet: 1+1+1=4 (1970)
Doug Sahm was a Lone Star sponge: If a style of music ever took root in Texas, he mastered it. These days this album comes on the same CD as the follow-up, The Return of Doug Saldana, which is as good a two-for-one special as anyone has a right to expect.
20. Sly and the Family Stone: Fresh (1973)
Funk’s high-water mark.
21. Patti Smith: Horses (1975)
22. Richard and Linda Thompson: Shoot Out the Lights (1981)
The breakup album. Only Blood on the Tracks tackles this topic with as much intelligence and power.
23. The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967)
It came out the same year as Sgt. Pepper, and it holds up much, much better.
24. Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys: For the Last Time (1974)
Wills belongs on the short list of great swing bandleaders, right next to Ellington and Basie. But his fiddle-based Texas music is usually classified as country instead — and yes, it’s that as well. This reunion with his old band (plus special guest Merle Haggard) was the last recording he ever made; it’s also one of the first records I remember hearing when I was a boy.
25. X: Los Angeles (1980)
Michael Donnelly is a forest activist and CounterPunch contributor living in Salem, Oregon.
Rolling Stones – Let It Bleed 1969
Get Yer Ya Yas Out is one of the best live albums of all time. And Beggar’s Banquet and Exile are just superb. But, with Gimme Shelter, Love in Vain, Let It Bleed, Midnight Rambler, Monkey Man and You Can’t Always Get What You Want on one album, I have to go with this one.
David Crosby – If I Could Only Remember My Name 1971
Crosby grabs up the entire CA music gang for this one: Jack Casady, David Freiberg, Jerry Garcia, David Geffen, Robert Hammer, Mickey Hart, Paul Kantner, Jorma Kaukonen, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, Joni Mitchell, Graham Nash, Grace Slick, Neil Young. Put it on Cowboy Movie and Spleef Out Against the Madness.
John Mayall – Turning Point 1969
Talk about great Live albums. I saw the tour back at Michigan State in ’69. I still listen to it at least once a month. Great concept also — no drums.
Joni Mitchell – Miles of Aisles 1974
Another great Live one, her best songs AND the LA Express. In my mind, when it comes to singer/songwriters, there’s Bob Dylan and Joni on top. The rest, great though they may be, are Number Three, at best.
Beatles – White Album 1968
The most diverse album in the history of rock. While My Guitar Gently Weeps is one of my favorite songs. I was playing basketball in Community College when it came out. Rocky Raccoon caused the first major cultural split on the team, which had eight black guys and two of us white guys. Until then, we all listened to Smokey, James Brown, Temptations, Curtis Mayfield…but the team split between half who loved Rocky Raccoon and half who absolutely would not let us play any of it. That alone broadened my musical horizon.
Blind Faith – Blind Faith 1969
Well, all right — what can you say: super album by super group.
Crosby, Stills and Nash – Crosby, Stills and Nash (first album) 1969
Stills does it all, playing everything – guitar, bass, keyboards, even writing some of the better songs. Top sing-along album of all time. The live Suite Judy Blue Eyes from Woodstock is my favorite live song, much better than the version here. I like the boys a lot, but they went downhill after their first one. Somehow the harmonies got too cute and sanitized with success. This one is rawer and far better, as a result.
Bob Seger – Against the Wind 1980
Finally, Seger made the Rock Hall of Fame this year. What took so long? My brother Mark was hooked on Bob the second he heard Heavy Music.
Paul Simon – Graceland 1986
Lasers in the jungle. Good as he always was, who knew he had this in him? The best song for song of any album.
Jackson Browne – Late For the Sky 1974
For Everyman, Late for the Sky and The Pretender – back to back to back. What a trilogy! hard to pick one over the others, but Fountain of Sorrow, To a Dancer and Before the Deluge are a stunning trio that each brought me through tough times. Play To a Dancer at my funeral, please.
I’ve always felt Browne’s career suffered due to his activism. I love him for it.
Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks 1975
Come writers and critics…Zimmie’s Graceland? Every song a beauty. Though I could pick most any other Dylan and be satisfied.
Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life 1976
I’ll never forget Fingertips. One of those summer teenager memories. Wonder had his own trilogy in the early Seventies: Innervisions, Fulfillingness’ First Finale and Songs. Hard to pick one. They all make me smile.
Smokey Robinson – Tracks of My Tears 1965
The first album I ever bought. The falsetto king is still my favorite singer and what a songwriter.
Bonnie Raitt – Nick of Time 1989
Nobody’s Girl. Another fine activist who saw her career suffer. She and long time bassist Hutch Hutchinson put it all together on this one. More polished than her grittier earlier stuff, but well worth it.
Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin I 1969
Good Times, Bad Times. 1969 was one hell of a year. My buddy Steve Spahr says, “Heavy metal is the sole genre of music that was over before it was even named. There’s Led Zeppelin and a host of imitators.” I concur.
The Who – Who’s Next 1971
The Who came to Flint in 1967 for a battle of the bands. The Who just rocked the place, and trashed some amps and set off smokebombs. We’d never seen such a thing — hard to believe in these MTV times. They became Flint favorites from then on.
Stephen Stills – Stephen Stills
Proves his rank as one of the top guitarists of all time with duos with Jimi AND Clapton, though the overrated Love the One You’re With first appears here. Overall, even better than ’68’s Super Session.
Little Anthony and the Imperials – Goin’ Out of My Head 1964
When I worked nights for GM during college, a group of us would sing these songs a cappella. About my only good memory of the shop.
Willie Nelson – Red Headed Stranger 1975
Willie, an American treasure. Fired up a fatty on the roof of the White House. That alone makes him Hall of Fame. Dispensed with the pretentious of country music on this one and produced a surprising string of top quality songs.
Marvin Gaye – What’s Goin’ On 1971
Maybe the best album ever. Certainly one of the best songs of all time.
Van Morrison – Hymns to the Silence 1991
Van the Man’s albums are usually spotty – great love song here … great gospel anthem there and some crap in between. Same thing here, but the closest to his Graceland.
Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms 1985
Mark and the fellas at the top of their game. Stands the test of time as well as any.
Joan Baez – Diamonds and Rust 1975
Angel-voiced Joan just owns Browne’s Fountain of Sorrow and Dylan’s Simple Twist of Fate after this one.
Dave Edmunds – Rockpile 1972
For years I searched for a copy of this great album. Finally I got a UK version as it’s gone from here due to copyright clashes. I can see why. Chuck Berry’s never been covered better. I Hear You Knockin’ with Dave playing ALL the instruments is a one of a kind Number One hit. Only Stills is more versatile.
Tom Tom Club – Tom Tom Club 1981
I owe my brother Patrick on this one. A T-Heads fanatic, he turned me on to Tom Tom Club and a great amount of listening pleasure.
Stuck in the 60s Album Picks
1. Jefferson Airplane — Surrealistic Pillow
2. Janis Joplin — Pearl
3. Grateful Dead — Workingman’s Dead
4. Beatles — Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band
5. Simon & Garfunkel — Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme
6. Paul Simon — Graceland
7. Bob Dylan — Highway 61 Revisited
8. Leonard Cohen — I’m Your Man
9. Phil Ochs — Pleasures of the Harbor
10. Procul Harum — Whiter Shade of Pale
11. Arlo Guthrie — Alice’s Restaurant
12. Linda Ronstadt– Different Drum
13. Carole King — Tapestry
14. The Fugs — The Belle of Avenue A
15. Jimi Hendrix– Band of Gypsies
16. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young — After The Storm
17. Creedence Clearwater Revival —Creedence
18. The Band – Music from The Big Pink
19. Rolling Stones —Through The Past Darkly
20. Joe Cocker —Mad Dogs and Englishmen
21. Billie Holliday — Lady Sings The Blues
22. Willie Nelson — On the Road Again
23. The Weavers — Reunion at Carnegie Hall
24. Otis Redding– The Dock of the Bay
25. Aretha Franklin — Lady Soul
Carl Estabrook teaches at the University of Illinois.
[I alphabetized the list by artist and was surprised to find them
concentrated at the beginning of the alphabet. Maybe I simply ran out of money as I worked my way down the trays… –CGE]
1. Mose Allison – Back Country Suite
2. Joan Baez – One Day at a Time
3. Beatles – Hey Jude
4. Ray Charles – Ray Charles Live
5. The Clash – London Calling
6. Van Cliburn – Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3
7. John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
8. Crosby, Stills and Nash – 4 Way Street
9. Alan Cuckston – Handel Harpsichord Suites
10. Sammy Davis – Golden Boy (cast album; sorry)
11. Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan
12. Ella Fitzgerald – Ella Sings the Jerome Kern Songbook
13. Stan Getz / Astrud Gilberto – Getz/Gilberto
14. Grateful Dead – Workingman’s Dead
15. Janis Joplin – Pearl
16. Lotte Lenya – Berlin Theatre Songs
17. Phil Ochs – There But for Fortune
18. Piaf – Piaf of Paris
19. Roches – The Roches
20. Frank Sinatra – In the Wee Small Hours
Thomas Gilmore is an activist in NYC and not a librarian in Georgia.
I came up with way too many, trimming it down wasn’t easy, and I still broke the rules 4 times. In roughly chronological order …
1. Johnny Cash – Sun Sessions
2. Bo Diddley – Bo Diddley
3. John Fahey – Blind Joe Death
4. Sun Ra – The Singles
5. John Coltrane – Meditations
6. Bob Dylan – Nashville Skyline
7. Byrds – Sweetheart of the Rodeo
8. Fairport Convention – Unhalfbricking
9. Dr John – Night Tripper (Gris Gris)
10. Capt Beefheart & Magic Band – Lick My Decals Off Baby
11. Townes Van Zandt – The Late Great Townes
12. Pentangle – Solomon’s Seal
13. Jimmy Cliff et al–The Harder They Come
14. Willie Nelson – Shotgun Willie
15. Flatlanders – More a Legend Than a Band
16. Lee Scratch Perry – Roast Fish Collie Weed & Corn Bread
17. The Unholy Modal Rounders – Have Moicy
18. Michael Hurley – Snockgrass
19. Fela Kuti – Zombie
20. The Fall – Grotesque
21. The Go Betweens – Before Hollywood
22. Robert Wyatt – Nothing Can Stop Us
23. The Mekons – Fear and Whiskey
24. The Handsome Family – Through the Trees
25. The Gories – Outta Here
Christine Karatnytsky is a librarian at the New York Public LIbrary for the Performing Arts.
1. The Allman Brothers: Live at the Fillmore East
2. The Beatles: Let it Be
3. James Brown: Live at the Apollo (’62/’67)
4. Captain Beefheart: Trout Mask Replica
5. The Clash (first album)
6. Joe Cocker: Mad Dogs and Englishmen
7. Brian Eno: Another Green World
8. Roky Erikson and the Aliens: Don’t Knock the Rok!
9. Fairport Convention: Unhalfbricking
10. Genesis: The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
11. Arlo Guthrie: Alice’s Restaurant
12. Son House: Delta Blues
13. Elmore James and John Brim: Whose Muddy Shoes
14. Bill Laswell: Invisible Design
15. MC5: Kick Out The Jams
16. Joni Mitchell: Miles of Aisles
17. Pink Floyd: Saucerful of Secrets
18. Master Musicians of Jajouka: Apocalypse Across The Sky
19. The Raincoats (first album)
20. Little Jimmy Scott: All The Way/Dream
21. Simon and Garfunkel: Bridge Over Troubled Water
22. The Slits: Cut
23. T Rex: Slider
24. Tabla Beat Science: Live in San Francisco at Stern Grove
25. Traffic: John Barleycorn Must Di
Saul Landau directs the Digital Media Arts program at Cal Poly Pomona University. His new book is The Business of America.
1. Miles Davis-Kind of Blue
2. B.B. King-I’m So Excited
3. Ritmo y Candela
5. Benny More-Que Bueno Baila Usted
6. Carlos Mejia Godoy-Guitarra Armada
7. Joseito Fernandez-Guantanamera
8. Silvio Rodriguez-Rabo de Nubes
9. Violeta Parra-Gracias a la Vida
10. Victor Jarra- Te Recuerdo Amanda
11. Cortijo-Maquina del Tiempo
12. Willie Colon/Ruben Blades-Siembra
13. Mercedes Sosa-Amercia en mi Voz
14. Jimi Hendrix- Are You experienced?
15. Country Joe and the Fish- Feel Like I’m Fixing to Die
16. Woody Gutherie-Dust Bowl Blues
17. Los Folklristas-La Maldicion de Malinche
18. Eddie Palmieri-Justicia
19. Patato, Changuito, Orestes-Ritmo y Candela;Rhythm at
20. Quetzal-Sing the Real
21. Orishas-A lo Cubano
22. NG La Banda-Echele Limon
23. Cassandra Wilson-New Moon Daughter
24. Susana Baca-Susana Baca
Ed Loera hails from Ligthnin’ Hopkins’ part of Texas, now doing time in Portland as a librarian.
01. Miles Davis~Sketches of Spain
02. Marvin Gaye~What’s Goin’ On?
03. John Lee Hooker~Plays and Sings the Blues
04. Bob Dylan~Bringin’ it all back home
05. T-Bone Walker~T-bone blues
06. Velvet Underground~White Light White Heat
07. John Coltrane~Blue Train
08. Lightnin Hopkins~S/T
09. The Clash~London Calling
10. Public Enemy~It takes a nation of millions..
11. Van Morrison~Astral Weeks
12. Bob Marley~Burnin’
13. REM~Lifes Rich Pagent
14. Big Star~Sister Lovers
15. The Pixies~Surfer Rosa
16. Uncle Tupelo~Anodyne
17. Townes Van Zandt~Live at the Old Quarter
18. Gram Parsons~Grevious Angel
19. Neil Young~Tonights the night
20. Lucinda Williams~Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
21. Johnny Cash~Live at Folsom Prison
22. The Prentenders~S/T
23. My Bloody Valentine~Loveless
24. Shivkumar Sharina~Call of The Valley
25. Master Musicians of Jojouka~ The Pipes of Pan at JoJouka
Susan Martinez writes about music for CounterPunch and RRC. She’s a contributor to CP’s new book, Serpents in the Garden: Liaisons with Culture and Sex.
1. Marvin Gaye – What’s Goin’ On?
2. Aretha Franklin – Lady Soul
3. Van Morrison – Astral Weeks
4. Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde
5. Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run
6. Baaba Maal and Mansour Seck – Djam Leeli
7. Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
8. Cuarteto Patria – A Una Coqueta
9. Ali Farka Toure – Niafunke
10. Prince – Sign O The Times
11. The Clash – London Calling
12. Al Green – Let’s Stay Together
13. Oumou Sangare – Ko Sira
14. Al DiMeola, John McLaughlin, Paco DeLucia – Friday Night in San
15. Moby – Play
16. Ted Hawkins – The Next Hundred Years
17. Toots and the Maytalls – Funky Kingston
18. Sierra Maestra – Dundunbanza
19. Patty Griffin – 1000 Kisses
20. Robert Bradley’s Blackwater Surprise – Time To Discover
21. Beau Jocque & The Zydeco Hi-Rollers – Pick Up On This!
22. Trilok Gurtu – The Beat of Love
23. Canray Fontenot – Louisiana Hot Sauce Creole Style
24. Otis Taylor – Respect the Dead
25. Righteous Brothers – Anthology 1962-1974
Phyllis Pollack is a music publicist and writer in LA.
I omitted any hiphop, so as to avoid any possible conflict of interests. Secondly, the thing that’s so weird about these lists is that arguably, some of the discs I picked are among the best albums ever released, and others I picked are more likely to start some arguments here. My list probably changes week to week anyway, minus some staple exceptions that will always be a permanent fixtures, like Exile. That one’s not going anywhere.
1. Rolling Stones–Exile On Mainstreet (1972)
2. Bob Dylan–Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
3. Chuck Berry–Chuck Berry Is On Top (1957)
4. David Bowie–Ziggy Stardust (1972)
5. Allman Brothers—Eat A Peach (1972)
6. Marvin Gaye—Whats Going On (1971)
7. Ozzy Osbourne–Blizzard Of Ozz (1980)
8. Lou Reed–Rock And Roll Animal (1974)
9. Rare Earth–Rare Earth In Concert (1971)
10. Al Green–Still In Love With You (1972)
11. Martha Reeve and The Vandellas–Dance Party (1965)
12. Bruce Springsteen–Born To Run (1975)
13. Bob Marley–Natty Dread (1975)
14. Aretha Franklin–I Never Loved A Man the Way I Love You (1967)
15. The Who–Whos Next (1971)
16. Led Zeppelin—-IV (1971)
17. Rod Stewart–Every Picture Tells A Story (1971)
18. Muddy Waters–Real Folk Blues (1967)
19. John Lennon–Walls And Bridges (1974)
20. Gram Parsons–Grievous Angel (1974)
21. Tina Turner–Private Dancer (1984)
22. James Brown–Please, Please, Please (1957)
23. Graham Nash–Songs For Beginners (1971)
24. Jimi Hendrix–Smash Hits (1969)
Douglas Valentine is the author of Strength of the Wolf and The Phoenix Program.
1. The Kinks, A. Muswell Hillbillies
2. Them (Featuring Here Comes The Night) and Van Morrison, Wavelength
3. Rolling Stones, Aftermath
4. Jeremy and the Satrys
5. John Lee Hooker, Free Beer and Chicken
6. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced
7. The Doors
8. The Best of Traffic
9. The Clash, Sandinista
10. Bob Marley and The Wailers, Uprising
11. Bob Seger, A. Stranger In Town, B. Night Moves
12. Bobby Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited
13. The Original Animals (and all their early albums)
14. Blues Project, Projections
15. Donovan, Sunshine Superman
16. Grateful Dead, Anthem to the Sun
17. Lou Reed, A. Transformer
18. Warren Zevon, Excitable Boy
19. Led Zepplin II.
20. Jethro Tull, Stand Up
21. Steve Miller Band, Anthology
22. Fleetwood Mac, Rumors
23. The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper
24. The Beach Boys, Made In The USA
25. Pogues, Hell’s Ditch
Kimberly Willson-St. Clair is a librarian in Portland.
1. U2–Achtung Baby (1991)
2. Bruce Springsteen–Born to Run (1975)
3. Prince — Purple Rain (1984)
4. Sting–Nothing Like the Sun (1987)
5. Fleetwood Mac–Rumors (1977)
6. Nina Simone–Baltimore (1978)
7. Miles Davis–Sketches of Spain (1959)
8. John Coltrane —My Favorite Things (1960)
9. Lucinda Williams–World Without Tears (2003)
10. Keith Richards–Talk is Cheap (1988)
11. Stevie Wonder–Talking Book (1972)
12. Keith Jarrett–Koln Concert (1975)
13. YoYo Ma–J.S. Bach: the 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites (1983)
14. Santana–Supernatural (1999)
15. Cassandra Wilson–Traveling Miles (1999)
16. Ry Cooder & V.M Bhatt–Meeting by the River (1993)
17. Patricia Kaas–Sexe + Forte (2003)
18. Otis Redding–Dock of the Bay (1968)
19. Moby–Play (1992)
20. Leonard Cohen–Ten New Songs (2001)
21, Natalie Merchant–Ophelia (1998)
22. Bob Dylan–Hard Rain (1976)
23. Joni Mitchell–Court and Spark (1974)
24. Tracy Chapman–New Beginning (1995)
25. Pretenders- Learning to Crawl (1984)