Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Five Decades, Five Hundred Albums

At long last, it's complete, as promised.  From 1960 through 2009, I've done my best to include what I think were the best albums released over the last five decades.  Every genre is included.  While I do not necessarily own each and every one of these albums, I have listened to all of them.

A note here.  Obviously there aren't nearly as many '60s albums, as there are '70s, '80s, '90s & '00s.  In light of the fact that prior to 1967, the majority of LPs released were not up to par, I felt it only fair to include more entries from those four decades.

I make no apologies for the order of preference - you are free to disagree.  Nor will I make any apologies for not including certain albums that heretofore have been considered "classics" within the rock critic community; i.e. "The White Album", "Physical Graffiti", and "Dark Side of the Moon."  The reader will also realize pretty quickly my fondness for certain jazz artists that I feel have contributed in some small way to pop music.  And while I do admire Blues as a genre, with the exception of Robert Cray, few artists released albums worthy of inclusion here.

Regarding the order, after you get passed the first 100 or so albums, most of the entries were very close in quality.  Please don't feel offended if you see an album at, say, number 450, that you thought should've been, say, 250.  Sometimes, a lot of this comes down luck of the draw.  For instance, "Tapestry" was one of the better records of the '70s, but because its particular year was quite exceptional, it gets bumped down as far as it does.

And finally, if you don't like many of the entries, sue me.  It's a free country!


1. The Rolling Stones: Exile on Main Street (1972)
2. The Indestructible Beat of Soweto (1986)
3. David Murray: Shakill's Warrior (1991)
4. The Grateful Dead: Live / Dead (1969)
5. Miles Davis: A Tribute to Jack Johnson (1971)
6. M.I.A.: Kala (2007)
7. The Clash: London Calling (1980)
8. The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
9. Bruce Springsteen: Born in the U.S.A. (1984)
10. Derek & the Dominos: Layla (1970)
11. Bob Dylan/The Band: The Basement Tapes (1975)
12. Kanye West: Late Registration (2005)
13. Al Green: Call Me (1973)
14. Lucinda Williams: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (1998)
15. Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Rust Never Sleeps (1979)
16. Freedy Johnston: Can You Fly (1992)
17. Bob Dylan: Blonde on Blonde (1966)
18. Moby: Play (1999)
19. Arcade Fire: Neon Bible (2007)
20. Lucinda Williams: Lucinda Williams (1988)
21. Iris DeMent: My Life (1994)
22. The Beatles: Rubber Soul (1965)
23. DeBarge: In a Special Way (1983)
24. Arto Lindsay: Mundo Civilizado (1997)
25. DJ Shadow: Endtroducing . . . DJ Shadow (1996)
26. Bob Dylan: “Love and Theft” (2001)
27. The Band: Music From Big Pink (1968)
28. Television: Marquee Moon (1977)
29. John Coltrane: A Love Supreme (1964)
30. The Mekons: Fear & Whiskey (1985)
31. Tricky: Maxinquaye (1995)
32. The Rolling Stones: Some Girls (1978)
33. Franco & Rochereau: Omona Wapi (1985)
34. X: Wild Gift (1981)
35. Steely Dan: Pretzel Logic (1974)
36. Ornette Coleman: Of Human Feelings (1982)
37. Prince: Sign 'O' the Times (1987)
38. Liz Phair: Exile in Guyville (1993)
39. Drive-By Truckers: Brighter Than Creation’s Dark (2008)
40. Eno: Another Green World (1976)
41. Wussy: Funeral Dress (2005)
42. Ray Charles: Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music (1962)
43. L.L. Cool J: Mama Said Knock You Out (1990)
44. The Mekons: The Mekons Rock 'n' Roll (1989)
45. Jimi Hendrix: Are You Experienced? (1967)
46. Fugees: The Score (1996)
47. Guitar Paradise of East Africa (1991)
48. Elvis Costello and the Attractions: Trust (1981)
49. Marshall Crenshaw: Field Day (1983)
50. Graham Parker & the Rumour: Squeezing Out Sparks (1979)
51. Nick Lowe: Pure Pop for Now People (1978)
52. Paul Simon: Paul Simon (1972)
53. Aretha Franklin: Lady Soul (1968)
54. Public Enemy: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)
55. Randy Newman: 12 Songs (1970)
56. The Robert Cray Band: Strong Persuader (1986)
57. The Moldy Peaches: The Moldy Peaches (2001)
58. Kanye West: The College Dropout (2004)
59. Nirvana: In Utero (1993)
60. Joe Cocker: Joe Cocker! (1969)
61. Neil Young: Tonight's the Night (1975)
62. Mzwakhe Mbuli: Resistance Is Defence (1992)
63. Luna: Penthouse (1995)
64. Latin Playboys: Latin Playboys (1994)
65. King Sunny Adé and His African Beats: Juju Music (1982)
66. Sly & the Family Stone: There's a Riot Goin' On (1971)
67. Sonic Youth: A Thousand Leaves (1998)
68. Brad Paisley: American Saturday Night (2009)
69. Jimmy Cliff et al.: The Harder They Come (1973)
70. Bob Dylan: Modern Times (2006)
71. Laurie Anderson: Strange Angels (1989)
72. Sonny Rollins: G-Man (1987)
73. Bob Dylan: Bringin' It All Back Home (1965)
74. Talking Heads: Remain in Light (1980)
75. The Magnetic Fields: 69 Love Songs (1999)
76. The New York Dolls: In Too Much Too Soon (1974)
77. Orchestra Baobab: Specialists in All Styles (2002)
78. The Beatles: Revolver (1966)
79. The Replacements: Let It Be (1984)
80. Amy Rigby: Diary of a Mod Housewife (1996)
81. P.J. Harvey: Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea (2000)
82. Aretha Franklin: Who's Zoomin' Who? (1985)
83. Beastie Boys: Licensed to Ill (1986)
84. Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols (1977)
85. Sleater-Kinney: Dig Me Out (1997)
86. The Mekons: OOOH! (2002)
87. The Wild Tchoupitoulas: The Wild Tchoupitoulas (1976)
88. Billy Bragg & Wilco: Mermaid Avenue (1998)
89. Liz Phair: Liz Phair (2003)
90. Fleetwood Mac: Rumours (1977)
91. John Prine: In Spite of Ourselves (1999)
92. Culture: Two Sevens Clash (1987)
93. Youssou N’Dour: Egypt (2004)
94. Aretha Franklin: I Never Loved A Man (1967)
95. Beck: Mellow Gold (1994)
96. Creedence Clearwater Revival: Willy and the Poor Boys (1969)
97. Bob Dylan: Highway '61 Revisited (1965)
98. Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane: At Carnegie Hall (2005)
98. English Beat: Wha'ppen? (1981)
99. Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band: Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band (1976)
100. DJ Shadow: The Private Press (2002)
101. Archers of Loaf: Vee Vee (1995)
102. Marshall Crenshaw: Marshall Crenshaw (1982)
103. The Rolling Stones: Out of Our Heads (1965)
104. Laurie Anderson: United States Live (1984)
105. Joni Mitchell: For the Roses (1972)
106. The Rolling Stones: Beggar's Banquet (1968)
107. James Blood Ulmer: Odyssey (1983)
108. Gogol Bordello: Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike (2005)
109. Tom Waits: Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards (2006)
110. Nirvana: Nevermind (1991)
111. Patti Smith: Horses (1975)
112. Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story (1971)
113. Sonic Youth: Daydream Nation (1988)
114. The Wailers: Burnin' (1974)
115. Van Morrison: Moondance (1970)
116. Yo La Tengo: I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One (1997)
117. The Go-Betweens: Oceans Apart (2005)
118. The Clash: The Clash (1979)
119. Talking Heads: More Songs About Buildings and Food (1978)
120. Leonard Cohen: Live in London (2009)
121. Prince: Dirty Mind (1980)
122. PJ Harvey: Rid of Me (1993)
123. The New York Dolls: The New York Dolls (1973)
124. Ghostface Killah: Fishscale (2006)
125. The Go-Betweens: The Friends of Rachel Worth (2000)
126. Neil Young: Freedom (1989)
127. L7: Bricks Are Heavy (1992)
128. Pixies: Bossanova (1990)
129. Bonnie Raitt: Give It Up (1972)
130. Todd Snider: East Nashville Skyline (2004)
131. Blondie: Parallel Lines (1978)
132. Cornershop: When I Was Born for the 7th Time (1997)
133. The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
134. De La Soul: Buhloone Mindstate (1993)
135. Rosanne Cash: Black Cadillac (2006)
136. Fluffy: Black Eye (1996)
137. Gram Parsons: Grievous Angel (1974)
138. OutKast: Stankonia (2000)
139. Kimya Dawson: I’m Sorry That Sometimes I’m Mean (2002)
140. Miles Davis: Bitches Brew (1969)
141. Hüsker Dü: Flip Your Wig (1985)
142. James Carter: The Real Quietstorm (1995)
143. Sleater-Kinney: The Woods (2005)
144. John Prine: Sweet Revenge (1973)
145. Cornershop: Handcream for a Generation (2002)
146. Buffalo Springfield: Buffalo Springfield (1966)
147. Kate & Anna McGarrigle: Dancer with Bruised Knees (1977)
148. George Clinton: Computer Games (1982)
149. Van Morrison: Astral Weeks (1968)
150. Rilo Kiley: More Adventurous (2004)
151. Loudon Wainwright III: Hide, Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project (2009)
152. Gang of Four: Solid Gold (1981)
153. Bonnie Raitt: Home Plate (1975)
154. Wussy: Left for Dead (2007)
155. Tricky: Blowback (2001)
156. Lauryn Hill: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
157. Lou Reed: New Sensations (1984)
158. Lucinda Williams: Sweet Old World (1992)
159. The Coup: Party Music (2001)
160. Todd Snider: The Devil You Know (2006)
161. Neil Young: After the Gold Rush (1970)
162. Old 97's: Fight Songs (1999)
163. Ornette Coleman: In All Languages (1987)
164. Buck 65: Talkin' Honky Blues (2003)
165. Otis Redding: Otis Blue (1965)
166. Linton Kwesi Johnson: Tings an' Times (1991)
167. Pere Ubu: Dub Housing (1979)
168. Orchestra Baobab: Made in Dakar (2008)
169. Ramones: Ramones (1976)
170. Remmy Ongala & Orchestre Super Matimila: Songs for the Poor Man (1989)
171. TV On The Radio: Dear Science (2008)
172. M.I.A.: Arular (2005)
173. Sonic Youth: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star (1984)
174. The Blasters: Non Fiction (1983)
175. The Pogues: Rum Sodomy & the Lash (1986)
176. The Who: Who's Next (1971)
177. Aretha Franklin: Young, Gifted and Black (1972)
178. Bob Marley & the Wailers: Natty Dread (1975)
179. OutKast: Speakerboxx/The Love Below (2003)
180. Pere Ubu: The Tenement Year (1988)
181. The Beatles: Abbey Road (1969)
182. Old 97’s: Satellite Rides (2001)
183. The Rolling Stones: Flowers (1967)
184. Bob Dylan: Under the Red Sky (1990)
185. English Beat: Special Beat Service (1982)
186. Graham Parker: Howlin Wind (1976)
187. Youssou N’Dour: Nothing’s in Vain (2002)
188. Conor Oberst: Conor Oberst (2008)
189. James Brown: Sex Machine (1970)
190. Jimmie Dale Gilmore: Spinning Around the Sun (1993)
191. John Lennon: Imagine (1971)
192. Joni Mitchell: Court and Spark (1974)
193. Gogol Bordello: Super Taranta! (2007)
194. Liz Phair: Whitechocolatespaceegg (1998)
195. Los Lobos: How Will the Wolf Survive? (1984)
196. Jon Langford: All the Fame of Lofty Deeds (2004)
197. Jimi Hendrix: Electric Ladyland (1968)
198. Lou Reed: Legendary Hearts (1983)
199. Amy Rigby: Little Fugitives (2005)
200. The Klezmatics: Wonder Wheel: Lyrics by Woody Guthrie (2006)
201. Neil Young: Comes a Time (1978)
202. Paul Simon: Graceland (1986)
203. The Wrens: The Meadowlands (2003)
204. Pavement: Slanted and Enchanted (1992)
205. Nirvana: MTV Unplugged in New York (1994)
206. The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds (1966)
207. Pavement: Wowee Zowee (1995)
208. Lucinda Williams: World Without Tears (2003)
209. K’naan: The Dusty Foot Philosopher (2008)
210. Le Tigre: Le Tigre (1999)
211. Jungle Brothers: Done by the Forces of Nature (1989)
212. Pete Townshend: Empty Glass (1980)
213. Ramones: Rocket to Russia (1977)
214. Rosanne Cash: Interiors (1991)
215. Sonic Youth: Sister (1987)
216. The Apples in Stereo: New Magnetic Wonder (2007)
217. The Sonny Sharrock Band: Highlife (1991)
218. Stevie Wonder: Innervisions (1973)
219. The Hold Steady: Separation Sunday (2005)
220. The Beautiful South: Blue Is the Colour (1996)
221. The Clash: Sandinista! (1981)
222. The Replacements: Tim (1985)
223. The Mountain Goats: We Shall All Be Released (2004)
224. Les Amazones de Guinee: Wamato (2008)
225. Van Morrison: Into the Music (1979)
226. Beastie Boys: Paul's Boutique (1989)
227. Bob Dylan: Blood on the Tracks (1975)
228. The Flying Burrito Brothers: Gilded Palace of Sin (1969)
229. Fountains of Wayne: Traffic and Weather (2007)
230. The Notorious B.I.G.: Life After Death (1997)
231. Heartbeat of Soweto (1988)
232. Creedence Clearwater Revival: Cosmo's Factory (1970)
233. Nellie McKay: Normal as Blueberry Pie: A Tribute To Doris Day (2009)
234. Sonic Youth: Rather Ripped (2006)
235. Bob Dylan: John Wesley Harding (1968)
236. Elvis Costello and the Attractions: This Year’s Model (1978)
237. The Go-Betweens: Tallulah (1987)
238. Rilo Kiley: Under the Backlight (2007)
239. George Clinton: You Shouldn't-Nuf Bit Fish (1983)
240. Loudon Wainwright III: Career Moves (1993)
241. The Mountain Goats: Tallahassee (2002)
242. Raphael Saadiq: The Way I See It (2008)
243. Lynyrd Skynyrd: Pronounced Leh-nerd Skeh-nerd (1973)
244. Ike & Tina Turner: River Deep Mountain High (1966)
245. Madonna: I'm Breathless (1990)
246. Johnny Cash: American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002)
247. King Sunny Adé and His African Beats: Aura (1984)
248. The Beach Boys: Wild Honey (1967)
249. Hüsker Dü: Candy Apple Grey (1986)
250. Lily Allen: It’s Not Me, It’s You (2009)
251. Holy Modal Rounders: Too Much Fun (1999)
252. Manfred Mann's Earth Band: Manfred Mann's Earth Band (1972)
253. Nick Lowe: Labour of Lust (1979)
254. Ornette Coleman and Prime Time: Virgin Beauty (1988)
255. Parliament: Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome (1977)
256. Sonic Youth: NYC Ghosts and Flowers (2000)
257. Pavement: Brighten the Corners (1997)
258. Peter Stampfel: You Must Remember This . . . (1995)
259. Professor Longhair: Crawfish Fiesta (1980)
260. R.E.M.: Out of Time (1991)
261. Randy Newman: Good Old Boys (1974)
262. Maria Muldaur: Heart of Mine: Love Songs of Bob Dylan (2006)
263. Randy Newman: Harps and Angels (2008)
264. Richard & Linda Thompson: Shoot Out the Lights (1982)
265. The Rolling Stones: Tattoo You (1981)
266. Scritti Politti: Cupid & Psyche ’85 (1985)
267. Sleater-Kinney: Call the Doctor (1996)
268. Sonic Youth: Dirty (1992)
269. Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life (1976)
270. Sleater-Kinney: One Beat (2002)
271. The Coup: Steal This Album (1998)
272. Les Savy Fav: Let's Stay Friends (2007)
273. The Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers (1971)
274. Ambitious Lovers: Greed (1988)
275. James Carter: Gardenias for Lady Day (2003)
276. OutKast: Idlewild (2006)
277. Pavement: Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (1994)
278. Aretha Franklin: Spirit in the Dark (1970)
279. Big Star: Radio City (1974)
280. Bonnie Raitt: Luck of the Draw (1991)
281. Amy Rigby: Til the Wheels Fall Off (2003)
282. Bruce Springsteen: Tunnel of Love (1987)
283. The Who: Tommy (1969)
284. Ray Charles: Genius Loves Company (2004)
285. De La Soul: 3 Feet High and Rising (1989)
286. Elvis Costello and the Attractions: Blood and Chocolate (1986)
287. Fleetwood Mac: Fleetwood Mac (1975)
288. Our New Orleans: A Benefit Album for the Gulf Coast (2005)
289. Dr. John: Right Place, Right Time (2006)
290. The Byrds: Sweetheart of the Rodeo (1968)
291. Funkadelic: One Nation Under a Groove (1978)
292. Hole: Live Through This (1994)
293. James Carter: Conversin' With the Elders (1996)
294. Warren Zevon: The Wind (2003)
295. Gang of Four: Entertainment! (1980)
296. John Prine: Lost Dogs and Mixed Blessings (1995)
297. Joni Mitchell: Blue (1971)
298. Lynyrd Skynyrd: Street Survivors (1977)
299. Michael Jackson: Off the Wall (1979)
300. Miles Davis: Agharta (1976)
301. Balkan Beat Box: Nu Med (2007)
302. P.M. Dawn: The Bliss Album . . . ? (1993)
303. Prince and the Revolution: Purple Rain (1984)
304. R.E.M.: Murmur (1983)
305. Kid Creole and the Coconuts: Wise Guy (1982)
306. Lou Reed: Ecstasy (2000)
307. Ornette Coleman: Sound Grammar (2006)
308. Amadou & Mariam: Dimanche a Bamako (2005)
309. The Rolling Stones: Aftermath (1966)
310. Latin Playboys: Dose (1999)
311. PJ Harvey: Is This Desire? (1998)
312. Bright Eyes: Cassadaga (2007)
313. Psychedelic Furs: Talk Talk Talk (1981)
314. Talking Heads: Little Creatures (1985)
315. The White Stripes: White Blood Cells (2001)
316. The Roots: Rising Down (2008)
317. The Roches: A Dove (1992)
318. Alberta Hunter: Amtrak Blues (1980)
319. Andy Fairweather Low: Spider Jiving (1974)
320. Arthur Blythe: Lenox Avenue Breakdown (1979)
321. Black Uhuru: Anthem (1984)
322. Joanna Newsom: The Milk-Eyed Mender (2004)
323. The Rolling Stones: Let It Bleed (1969)
324. The Chills: Submarine Bells (1990)
325. The Songs of Jimmie Rodgers--A Tribute Album (1997)
326. The Wailers: Catch a Fire (1972)
327. David Bowie: Station to Station (1976)
328. Donald Fagen: The Nightfly (1982)
329. Elvis Costello: My Aim Is True (1977)
330. Feelies: Time for a Witness (1991)
331. Iris DeMent: The Way I Should (1996)
332. Lost in the Stars: The Music of Kurt Weill (1985)
333. Pink: Mizzundaztood (2001)
334. Black Uhuru: Red (1981)
335. John Lennon: Plastic Ono Band (1970)
336. Joy of Cooking: Joy of Cooking (1971)
337. Kid Creole and the Coconuts: Doppelganger (1983)
338. John Trudell: AKA Graffiti Man (1992)
339. Steve Earle: Jerusalem (2002)
340. M People: Elegant Slumming (1994)
341. Mary Lou Lord: Got No Shadow (1998)
342. PJ Harvey: To Bring You My Love (1965)
343. Johnny Cash: At Folsom Prison (1968)
344. Public Enemy: Fear of a Black Planet (1990)
345. Randy Newman: Bad Love (1999)
346. Steely Dan: Katy Lied (1975)
347. Amy Allison: No Frills Friend (2003)
348. The Waco Brothers: Electric Waco Chair (2000)
349. Steve Earle: Guitar Town (1986)
350. The Neville Brothers: Yellow Moon (1989)
351. Bruce Springsteen: Born to Run (1975)
352. Aretha Franklin: Soul '69 (1969)
353. Archers of Loaf: Icky Mettle (1993)
354. Wire: Pink Flag (1978)
355. Steely Dan: Can't Buy a Thrill (1972)
356. Sly & Robbie: Rhythm Killers (1987)
357. Caetano Velosa: A Foreign Sound (2004)
358. Al Green: Livin' for You (1973)
359. Mahlathini & Mahotella Queens: Paris-Soweto (1988)
360. Burning Spear: Marcus Garvey (1976)
361. Camper Van Beethoven: Camper Van Beethoven (1986)
362. Eric Clapton: 461 Ocean Boulevard (1974)
363. Folkways: A Vision Shared--A Tribute to Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly (1988)
364. Ice-T: O.G.: Original Gangster (1991)
365. John Lennon/Yoko Ono: Double Fantasy (1980)
366. Lou Reed: New York (1989)
367. Marvin Gaye: Midnight Love (1982)
368. Ornette Coleman: Dancing in Your Head (1977)
369. Mary J. Blige: Share My World (1997)
370. Pet Shop Boys: Very (1993)
371. Steely Dan: Countdown to Ecstasy (1973)
372. Linton Kwesi Johnson: Making History (1984)
373. Los Lobos: Colossal Head (1996)
374. P.M. Dawn: Dearest Christian, I'm So Very Sorry for Bringing You Here (1998)
375. Courtney Love: America’s Sweetheart (2004)
376. Stevie Wonder: Talking Book (1972)
377. Sugar: File Under: Easy Listening (1994)
378. The B-52's: The B-52's (1979)
379. The Strokes: Is This It? (2001)
380. Sonic Youth: Goo (1990)
381. The Jesus and Mary Chain: Psychocandy (1985)
382. Q-Tip: Amplified (1999)
383. The Mahavishnu Orchestra: The Inner Mounting Flame (1971)
384. ABC: The Lexicon of Love (1982)
385. Al Green: The Belle Album (1977)
386. Aretha Franklin: A Rose Is Still a Rose (1998)
387. Arto Lindsay/Ambitious Lovers: Envy (1984)
388. Bob Dylan / The Band: Before the Flood (1974)
389. Chic: Real People (1980)
390. The Grateful Dead: Aoxomoxoa (1969)
391. Digable Planets: Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space) (1993)
392. The Libertines: Up the Bracket (2003)
393. Freedy Johnston: Never Home (1997)
394. Joe Ely: Honky Tonk Masquerade (1978)
395. The New Pornographers: Twin Cinema (2005)
396. Papa Wemba: Emotion (1995)
397. The Blasters: Hard Line (1985)
398. Michelle Shocked: Short Sharp Shocked (1988)
399. Cheb I Sabbah: La Kahena (2005)
400. The Sonny Sharrock Band: Seize the Rainbow (1987)
401. Tom Verlaine: Dreamtime (1981)
402. Beats International: Let Them Eat Bingo (1990)
403. Lily Allen: Alright, Still (2007)
404. Sufjan Stevens: Illinois (2005)
405. The Goats: Tricks of the Shade (1992)
406. Yo La Tengo: Electr-O-Pura (1995)
407. The Vibrators: Pure Mania (1978)
408. Willie Nelson & Asleep at the Wheel: Willie and the Wheel (2009)
409. The Velvet Underground: Loaded (1970)
410. Graham Parker: Heat Treatment (1976)
411. John Prine: John Prine (1971)
412. Ani DiFranco: Knuckle Down (2005)
413. The Streets: The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living (2006)
414. Mississippi John Hurt: Last Sessions (1972)
415. Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers: Jonathan Sings! (1983)
416. Pere Ubu: Cloudland (1989)
417. P.M. Dawn: Of the Heart, of the Soul and of the Cross: The Utopian Experience (1991)
418. The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy: Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury (1992)
419. The Grateful Dead: Workingman's Dead (1970)
420. The Housemartins: The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death (1987)
421. The Blasters: The Blasters (1981)
422. Frank London’s Klezmer Brass Allstars: Carnival Conspiracy (2006)
423. The Who: Quadrophenia (1973)
424. The White Stripes: Icky Thump (2007)
425. Toots & the Maytals: Funky Kingston (1975)
426. Victoria Williams: Loose (1994)
427. Willie Nelson: Spirit (1996)
428. Bill Withers: Still Bill (1972)
429. Bob Dylan: Time Out of Mind (1997)
430. Kate & Anna McGarrigle: The McGarrigle Hour (1998)
431. Minutemen: 3-Way Tie for Last (1985)
432. Muddy Waters: Hard Again (1977)
433. Roxy Music: Siren (1975)
434. The Allman Brothers: Brothers and Sisters (1973)
435. Tom Verlaine: Tom Verlaine (1979)
436. The Roches: The Roches (1979)
437. Buddy Guy: Sweet Tea (2001)
438. They Might Be Giants: They Might Be Giants (1986)
439. Tom Waits: Swordfishtrombones (1983)
440. Beck: Odelay (1996)
441. Bonnie Raitt: Bonnie Raitt (1971)
442. The Band: The Band (1969)
443. Kasey Chambers: Barricades and Brickwalls (2002)
444. Eno: Here Come the Warm Jets (1974)
445. Hurricane Zouk (1988)
446. John McLaughlin: Devotion (1970)
447. Keith Whitley: I Wonder Do You Think of Me (1989)
448. Kate and Anna McGarrigle: Kate and Anna McGarrigle (1976)
449. Mekons: Curse of the Mekons (1991)
450. Prince: 1999 (1982)
451. Lil Wayne: Da Drought 3 (2007)
452. Public Image Ltd.: Second Edition (1980)
453. Steve Earle and the Del McCoury Band: The Mountain (1999)
454. The Beautiful South: 0898 Beautiful South (1992)
455. Thomas Mapfumo: Ndangariro (1984)
456. Tom Verlaine: Flash Light (1987)
457. UB 40: Rat in the Kitchen (1986)
458. Warren Zevon: Excitable Boy (1978)
459. Al Green: Al Green Gets Next to You (1971)
460. X: More Fun in the New World (1983)
461. Belle and Sebastian: The Boy With the Arab Strap (1998)
462. John Prine: Common Sense (1975)
463. The Pretenders: The Pretenders (1979)
464. Jon Hassell/Brian Eno: Fourth World Vol. 1: Possible Musics (1980)
465. Kate & Anna McGarrigle: Love Over and Over (1983)
466. Drive-By Truckers: Decoration Day (2003)
467. Belle and Sebastian: The Life Pursuit (2006)
468. Mother Earth: Make a Joyful Noise (1969)
469. Living Colour: Time's Up (1990)
470. Lynyrd Skynyrd: Second Helping (1974)
471. Michael Jackson: Thriller (1982)
472. The Robert Cray Band: I Was Warned (1992)
473. Van Morrison: His Band & the Street Choir (1970)
474. Willie Nelson: Stardust (1978)
475. Ani DiFranco: Dilate (1996)
476. Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman: Song X (1986)
477. Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
478. Rank and File: Sundown (1982)
479. The Pretenders: Learning to Crawl (1984)
480. The Go-Betweens: 16 Lovers Lane (1988)
481. The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground (1969)
482. Robert Forster: The Evangelist (2008)
483. Talking Heads: Speaking in Tongues (1983)
484. The Modern Lovers: The Modern Lovers (1976)
485. The dB's: Like This (1984)
486. Pulp: Different Class (1996)
487. Patti Smith: Dream of Life (1988)
488. Pulnoc: City of Hysteria (1991)
489. Curtis Mayfield: Superfly (1972)
490. Richard Hell and the Voidoids: Blank Generation (1977)
491. The Housemartins: London 0, Hull 4 (1986)
492. The Insect Trust: Hoboken Saturday Night (1970)
493. Jimi Hendrix: The Cry of Love (1971)
494. Dusty Springfield: Dusty in Memphis (1969)
495. Tom Waits: Mule Variations (1999)
496. B.B. King: Live in Cook County Jail (1971)
497. Ramones: Too Tough to Die (1984)
498. Hayes Carll: Trouble in Mind (2008)
499. Carole King: Tapestry (1971)
500. Merle Haggard: If I Could Only Fly (2000)



And that's all folks...

Saturday, August 07, 2010

A Fond Farewell.



It was February 1983. I was working in lower Manhattan and it was a Friday – payday, my favorite day. As I was want to do, I cashed my check and headed down to J&R Music World to pick up a few records. On my way I stopped at a news stand and noticed the cover of The Village Voice. There was a feature titled, “Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome.” I picked it up, turned to the feature column, and that was the first time I had ever read anything by Robert Christgau.

It was the annual Pazz & Jop critics’ poll, and Christgau was the self-appointed “Dean” of the critics, writing about the past year in music. What I remember most about that column was how I couldn’t seem to put it down. The writing was mesmerizing. I had read other critics before – my current favorite had been Wayne Robbins of Newsday – but seldom had I seen such a socio-political take on what I had always perceived as basically an entertainment industry. Christgau wasn’t so much talking about the music as he was talking about what it meant socially and sometimes politically. He could see past the mere album tracks and get at the heart of what drove the music, and more importantly perhaps what the music might be driving back. In a sense he was more a music sociologist than a mere music critic.

I soon learned he wrote a monthly column called The Consumer Guide, in which he would write reviews of various records he had listened to. Each month I would pick up a copy of The Village Voice and read his reviews, each one entertaining and instructional at the same time. There were two themes that I came to accept about his writing that have been a constant: One, he considered all genres, with the exception of metal to be equally important and vital to pop music; and secondly, he could be brutally honest. If a record was bad, he had no qualms about saying so. He had always felt it his duty to speak his mind, regardless of whom it might upset.

And make no mistake about it, Christgau pissed off a lot of artists. When he panned a Lou Reed album in the ‘70s, Reed went after him on one of his later songs. In typical Christgau fashion, he took it in stride, giving the record a C plus, which probably only pissed Reed off more. Ironically throughout the ‘80s, Reed released a number of albums that garnered considerable praise from Christgau, including The Blue Mask and Legendary Hearts, acknowledged by many critics to be among his finest recordings.

Month after month and year after year I religiously read Christgau, in the process expanding both my record collection and my understanding of popular music. Though formally a rock critic, he was the least complimentary of rock music, preferring genres such as funk, new wave, world music, reggae, alt-country, jazz and rap, which would later go on to be known as hip hop. I credit him for expanding my horizons beyond the typical middle-class white suburban humdrum lifestyle that many of my friends had found themselves trapped in. The ‘80s was a treasure trove of musical delights from the likes of Kid Creole & the Coconuts, George Clinton, Hüsker Dü, Prince, Grandmaster Flash, Tom Verlaine, Tom Waits, Ornette Coleman, James Blood Ulmer, Lucinda Williams, the Mekons, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, R.E.M., Black Uhuru, Laurie Anderson, Madonna, Public Enemy, Sonic Youth, John Prine and more. Eclectic would be a word in a half. It was controlled chaos and I was lapping it up like a starving puppy dog.

And throughout all the many months and years of writing reviews, which included three books on the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, Christgau never wavered or lost his edge. Well into his 60s he remained the industry’s most authentic and consistent critic with no one fit to dust his record collection let alone hold a candle to him. Not even being fired from the Voice in 2006 deterred him. He continued to publish his work on MSN, Blender, Spin and Rolling Stone in the same manner with which he had become acclaimed at the Voice.

But as they say all good things must eventually come to an end. On July 1, 2010, Christgau announced in the introduction to his Consumer Guide column that the July 2010 installment would be his last on MSN.

“Barring miracles unlikely to ensue, this is the final edition of Christgau's Consumer Guide, which MSN has decided no longer suits its editorial purposes. The CG has generally required a seven-days-a-week time commitment over the 41 years I've written it, and I'm grateful to MSN for paying me what the work was worth over the three-and-a-half years I published it here. But though I always enjoyed the work, work it was, and I've long been aware there were other things I could be doing with my ears. So while I have every intention of keeping up with popular music as it evolves, being less encyclopedic about it will come as a relief as well as a loss.”

Whether this means that Christgau is hanging up his typewriter or just cutting back from his workload remains to be seen. Writing consistently honest and provocative music reviews for over four decades can take its toll on anybody, and if there was ever anyone who earned his retirement more it would be Christgau. He probably would think it overly sentimental to say this, but better to go out on top with one’s reputation unscathed than to trudge along, eking out a living and selling out to the very industry that gave you your start.

And that’s why I think we may have seen the last of Robert Christgau, at least so far as doing monthly reviews are concerned. Though he may occasionally reappear on NPR and do the odd review or two for Rolling Stone, this is likely to be the end of the line for this giant, and I for one will miss him greatly. At 68 he had reached the zenith of his profession and though he continued to piss off artists whose albums he found, shall we say, wanting, no one could doubt his integrity. If it’s true that you call ‘em as you see ‘em, than Robert Christgau was truly a diamond in the rough who had no peers.

There's no adequate way to express or calculate what impact the retirement of Robert Christgau will have on popular music. The industry has lost a legend, and I suspect we will not see his kind for a long time, if at all. In deed with the changes that are currently going on in the music industry – the rise of the MP3 player and iTunes – the CD itself may be all but instinct in a few years. The need for a critic to review an album at that point will most likely be moot.

There's a scene from the end of the movie Patton that seems a fitting analogy to what has transpired here. The general's own words sum it up best. “There’s only way for a professional soldier to die; that’s from the last bullet from the last gun from the last battle of the last war.” Robert Christgau has not died, but what he did for a living, whether any of us knew it or not, or even whether any of us liked it or not, was rapidly dying before him and us. Perhaps this was his way of bowing out gracefully while he still had some control of his destiny. We may never know.

What we do know is this: he left us a lifetime of reviews that will survive him and future generations of music fans. And I suspect that when we look back over the last four decades of rock and roll, we will be the wiser and richer for having known him and for allowing him, in some small capacity, to expand and enlarge our world and make it a bit less predicable.  I will miss his wit, his humor (biting though it may have been), his thoroughness, his honesty, but most of all I will miss the diversity he brought to a craft that far too often settled for the familiar and safe, and which rarely, if ever, pushed the envelope passed the confines of the tried and tested.  Christgau was nothing if unorthodox. 

Over the many years, the artists may have changed, but Christgau was always there to catalogue it all for us.  It's hard to imagine what this industry would've been like had he not been here, and now we get the chance to find out.  You could say we took him for granted, but I suspect at the end of the day we will all miss him.

Farewell, Robert, and thank you.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Four Decades, Four Hundred Albums

I've been thinking about this list now for quite some time. I compiled the list from top album lists I had compiled going back years. I have listened to all of these albums and own most of them in either record, CD or MP3 format.

When this decade is done in 11 months I will update it and rename it Five Decades, Five Hundred Albums.


The Rolling Stones: Exile on Main Street (1972)
The Indestructible Beat of Soweto (1986)
David Murray: Shakill's Warrior (1991)
The Grateful Dead: Live / Dead (1969)
Miles Davis: A Tribute to Jack Johnson (1971)
The Clash: London Calling (1980)
The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
Bruce Springsteen: Born in the U.S.A. (1984)
Derek & the Dominos: Layla (1970)
Bob Dylan/The Band: The Basement Tapes (1975)
Al Green: Call Me (1973)
Lucinda Williams: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (1998)
Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Rust Never Sleeps (1979)
Freedy Johnston: Can You Fly (1992)
Bob Dylan: Blonde on Blonde (1966)
Moby: Play (1999)
Lucinda Williams: Lucinda Williams (1988)
Iris DeMent: My Life (1994)
The Beatles: Rubber Soul (1965)
DeBarge: In a Special Way (1983)
Arto Lindsay: Mundo Civilizado (1997)
DJ Shadow: Endtroducing . . . DJ Shadow (1996)
The Band: Music From Big Pink (1968)
Television: Marquee Moon (1977)
John Coltrane: A Love Supreme (1964)
The Mekons: Fear & Whiskey (1985)
The Rolling Stones: Some Girls (1978)
Tricky: Maxinquaye (1995)
X: Wild Gift (1981)
Steely Dan: Pretzel Logic (1974)
Ornette Coleman: Of Human Feelings (1982)
Prince: Sign 'O' the Times (1987)
Liz Phair: Exile in Guyville (1993)
Eno: Another Green World (1976)
Ray Charles: Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music (1962)
L.L. Cool J: Mama Said Knock You Out (1990)
The Mekons: The Mekons Rock 'n' Roll (1989)
Franco & Rochereau: Omona Wapi (1985)
Jimi Hendrix: Are You Experienced? (1967)
Fugees: The Score (1996)
Guitar Paradise of East Africa (1991)
Elvis Costello and the Attractions: Trust (1981)
Marshall Crenshaw: Field Day (1983)
Graham Parker & the Rumour: Squeezing Out Sparks (1979)
Nick Lowe: Pure Pop for Now People (1978)
Paul Simon: Paul Simon (1972)
Aretha Franklin: Lady Soul (1968)
Public Enemy: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)
Randy Newman: 12 Songs (1970)
The Robert Cray Band: Strong Persuader (1986)
Nirvana: In Utero (1993)
Joe Cocker: Joe Cocker! (1969)
Neil Young: Tonight's the Night (1975)
Mzwakhe Mbuli: Resistance Is Defence (1992)
Luna: Penthouse (1995)
Latin Playboys: Latin Playboys (1994)
King Sunny Adé and His African Beats: Juju Music (1982)
Jimmy Cliff et al.: The Harder They Come (1973)
Laurie Anderson: Strange Angels (1989)
Red Hot and Blue (1990)
Sly & the Family Stone: There's a Riot Goin' On (1971)
Sonic Youth: A Thousand Leaves (1998)
Sonny Rollins: G-Man (1987)
Bob Dylan: Bringin' It All Back Home (1965)
Talking Heads: Remain in Light (1980)
The Magnetic Fields: 69 Love Songs (1999)
The New York Dolls: In Too Much Too Soon (1974)
The Beatles: Revolver (1966)
The Replacements: Let It Be (1984)
Amy Rigby: Diary of a Mod Housewife (1996)
Aretha Franklin: Who's Zoomin' Who? (1985)
Beastie Boys: Lisenced to Ill (1986)
Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols (1977)
Sleater-Kinney: Dig Me Out (1997)
The Wild Tchoupitoulas: The Wild Tchoupitoulas (1976)
Billy Bragg & Wilco: Mermaid Avenue (1998)
Fleetwood Mac: Rumours (1977)
John Prine: In Spite of Ourselves (1999)
Culture: Two Sevens Clash (1987)
Aretha Franklin: I Never Loved A Man (1967)
Beck: Mellow Gold (1994)
Creedence Clearwater Revival: Willy and the Poor Boys (1969)
Bob Dylan: Highway '61 Revisited (1966)
Archers of Loaf: Vee Vee (1995)
Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band: Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band (1976)
English Beat: Wha'ppen? (1981)
Marshall Crenshaw: Marshall Crenshaw (1982)
The Rolling Stones: Out of Our Heads (1965)
Laurie Anderson: United States Live (1984)
Joni Mitchell: For the Roses (1972)
The Rolling Stones: Beggar's Banquet (1968)
James Blood Ulmer: Odyssey (1983)
Nirvana: Nevermind (1991)
Patti Smith: Horses (1975)
Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story (1971)
Sonic Youth: Daydream Nation (1988)
The Wailers: Burnin' (1974)
Van Morrison: Moondance (1970)
Yo La Tengo: I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One (1997)
The Clash: The Clash (1979)
Talking Heads: More Songs About Buildings and Food (1978)
Prince: Dirty Mind (1980)
PJ Harvey: Rid of Me (1993)
The New York Dolls: The New York Dolls (1973)
Neil Young: Freedom (1989)
L7: Bricks Are Heavy (1992)
Pixies: Bossanova (1990)
Bonnie Raitt: Give It Up (1972)
Blondie: Parallel Lines (1978)
Cornershop: When I Was Born for the 7th Time (1997)
The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
De La Soul: Buhloone Mindstate (1993)
Fluffy: Black Eye (1996)
Gram Parsons: Grievous Angel (1974)
Miles Davis: Bitches Brew (1969)
Hüsker Dü: Flip Your Wig (1985)
James Carter: The Real Quietstorm (1995)
John Prine: Sweet Revenge (1973)
Buffalo Springfield: Buffalo Springfield (1966)
Kate & Anna McGarrigle: Dancer with Bruised Knees (1977)
George Clinton: Computer Games (1982)
Van Morrison: Astral Weeks (1968)
Gang of Four: Solid Gold (1981)
Bonnie Raitt: Home Plate (1975)
Lauryn Hill: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
Lou Reed: New Sensations (1984)
Lucinda Williams: Sweet Old World (1992)
Neil Young: After the Gold Rush (1970)
Old 97's: Fight Songs (1999)
Ornette Coleman: In All Languages (1987)
Otis Redding: Otis Blue (1965)
Linton Kwesi Johnson: Tings an' Times (1991)
Pere Ubu: Dub Housing (1979)
Ramones: Ramones (1976)
Remmy Ongala & Orchestre Super Matimila: Songs for the Poor Man (1989)
Sonic Youth: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star (1984)
The Blasters: Non Fiction (1983)
The Pogues: Rum Sodomy & the Lash (1986)
The Who: Who's Next (1971)
Aretha Franklin: Young, Gifted and Black (1972)
Bob Marley & the Wailers: Natty Dread (1975)
Pere Ubu: The Tenement Year (1988)
The Beatles: Abbey Road (1969)
The Rolling Stones: Flowers (1967)
Tom Robinson: Sector 27 (1980)
Bob Dylan: Under the Red Sky (1990)
English Beat: Special Beat Service (1982)
Graham Parker: Howlin Wind (1976)
James Brown: Sex Machine (1970)
Jimmie Dale Gilmore: Spinning Around the Sun (1993)
John Lennon: Imagine (1971)
Joni Mitchell: Court and Spark (1974)
Liz Phair: Whitechocolatespaceegg (1998)
Los Lobos: How Will the Wolf Survive? (1984)
Jimi Hendrix: Electric Ladyland (1968)
Lou Reed: Legendary Hearts (1983)
Neil Young: Comes a Time (1978)
Paul Simon: Graceland (1986)
Pavement: Slanted and Enchanted (1992)
Nirvana: MTV Unplugged in New York (1994)
The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds (1966)
Pavement: Wowee Zowee (1995)
Le Tigre: Le Tigre (1999)
Jungle Brothers: Done by the Forces of Nature (1989)
Pete Townshend: Empty Glass (1980)
Ramones: Rocket to Russia (1977)
Rosanne Cash: Interiors (1991)
Sonic Youth: Sister (1987)
The Sonny Sharrock Band: Highlife (1991)
Stevie Wonder: Innervisions (1973)
The Beautiful South: Blue Is the Colour (1996)
The Clash: Sandinista! (1981)
The Replacements: Tim (1985)
Van Morrison: Into the Music (1979)
Beastie Boys: Paul's Boutique (1989)
Bob Dylan: Blood on the Tracks (1975)
The Flying Burrito Brothers: Gilded Palace of Sin (1974)
The Notorious B.I.G.: Life After Death (1997)
Heartbeat of Soweto (1988)
Creedence Clearwater Revival: Cosmo's Factory (1970)
Bob Dylan: John Wesley Harding (1968)
Elvis Costello and the Attractions: This Year’s Model (1978)
The Go-Betweens: Tallulah (1987)
George Clinton: You Shouldn't-Nuf Bit Fish (1983)
Loudon Wainwright III: Career Moves (1993)
Lynyrd Skynyrd: Pronounced Leh-nerd Skeh-nerd (1973)
Ike & Tina Turner: River Deep Mountain High (1966)
Madonna: I'm Breathless (1990)
King Sunny Adé and His African Beats: Aura (1984)
The Beach Boys: Wild Honey (1967)
Hüsker Dü: Candy Apple Grey (1986)
Holy Modal Rounders: Too Much Fun (1999)
Manfred Mann's Earth Band: Manfred Mann's Earth Band (1972)
Nick Lowe: Labour of Lust (1979)
Ornette Coleman and Prime Time: Virgin Beauty (1988)
Parliament: Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome (1977)
Pavement: Brighten the Corners (1997)
Peter Stampfel: You Must Remember This . . . (1995)
Professor Longhair: Crawfish Fiesta (1980)
R.E.M.: Out of Time (1991)
Randy Newman: Good Old Boys (1974)
Richard & Linda Thompson: Shoot Out the Lights (1982)
The Rolling Stones: Tattoo You (1981)
Scritti Politti: Cupid & Psyche ’85 (1985)
Sleater-Kinney: Call the Doctor (1996)
Sonic Youth: Dirty (1992)
Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life (1976)
The Coup: Steal This Album (1998)
The Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers (1971)
Ambitious Lovers: Greed (1998)
Pavement: Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (1994)
Aretha Franklin: Spirit in the Dark (1970)
Big Star: Radio City (1974)
Bonnie Raitt: Luck of the Draw (1991)
Bruce Springsteen: Tunnel of Love (1987)
The Who: Tommy (1969)
De La Soul: 3 Feet High and Rising (1989)
Elvis Costello and the Attractions: Blood and Chocolate (1986)
Fleetwood Mac: Fleetwood Mac (1975)
The Byrds: Sweetheart of the Rodeo (1968)
Funkadelic: One Nation Under a Groove (1978)
Hole: Live Through This (1994)
James Carter: Conversin' With the Elders (1996)
Gang of Four: Entertainment! (1980)
John Prine: Lost Dogs and Mixed Blessings (1995)
Joni Mitchell: Blue (1971)
Lynyrd Skynyrd: Street Survivors (1977)
Michael Jackson: Off the Wall (1979)
Miles Davis: Agharta (1976)
P.M. Dawn: The Bliss Album . . . ? (1993)
Prince and the Revolution: Purple Rain (1984)
R.E.M.: Murmur (1983)
Kid Creole and the Coconuts: Wise Guy (1982)
The Rolling Stones: Aftermath (1966)
Latin Playboys: Dose (1999)
PJ Harvey: Is This Desire? (1998)
Psychedelic Furs: Talk Talk Talk (1981)
Neil Young: Time Fades Away (1973)
Talking Heads: Little Creatures (1985)
The Roches: A Dove (1992)
Alberta Hunter: Amtrak Blues (1980)
Andy Fairweather Low: Spider Jiving (1974)
Arthur Blythe: Lenox Avenue Breakdown (1979)
Black Uhuru: Anthem (1984)
The Rolling Stones: Let It Bleed (1969)
The Chills: Submarine Bells (1990)
The Songs of Jimmie Rodgers--A Tribute Album (1997)
The Wailers: Catch a Fire (1972)
David Bowie: Station to Station (1976)
Donald Fagen: The Nightfly (1982)
Elvis Costello: My Aim Is True (1977)
Feelies: The Time for a Witness (1991)
Iris DeMent: The Way I Should (1996)
Lost in the Stars: The Music of Kurt Weill (1985)
Black Uhuru: Red (1981)
John Lennon: Plastic Ono Band (1970)
Joy of Cooking: Joy of Cooking (1971)
Kid Creole and the Coconuts: Doppelganger (1983)
John Trudell: AKA Graffiti Man (1992)
M People: Elegant Slumming (1994)
Mary Lou Lord: Got No Shadow (1998)
PJ Harvey: To Bring You My Love (1965)
Johnny Cash: At Folsom Prison (1968)
Public Enemy: Fear of a Black Planet (1990)
Randy Newman: Bad Love (1999)
Steely Dan: Katy Lied (1975)
Steve Earle: Guitar Town (1986)
The Neville Brothers: Yellow Moon (1989)
Bruce Springsteen: Born to Run (1975)
Aretha Franklin: Soul '69 (1969)
Archers of Loaf: Icky Mettle (1993)
Wire: Pink Flag (1978)
Steely Dan: Can't Buy a Thrill (1972)
Sly & Robbie: Rhythm Killers (1987)
Al Green: Livin' for You (1973)
Mahlathini & Mahotella Queens: Paris-Soweto (1988)
Burning Spear: Marcus Garvey (1976)
Camper Van Beethoven: Camper Van Beethoven (1986)
Eric Clapton: 461 Ocean Boulevard (1974)
Folkways: A Vision Shared--A Tribute to Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly (1988)
Ice-T: O.G.: Original Gangster (1991)
John Lennon/Yoko Ono: Double Fantasy (1980)
Lou Reed: New York (1989)
Marvin Gaye: Midnight Love (1982)
Ornette Coleman: Dancing in Your Head (1977)
Mary J. Blige: Share My World (1997)
Pablo Moses: In the Future (1983)
Pet Shop Boys: Very (1993)
Steely Dan: Countdown to Ecstasy (1973)
Linton Kwesi Johnson: Making History (1984)
Los Lobos: Colossal Head (1996)
P.M. Dawn: Dearest Christian, I'm So Very Sorry for Bringing You Here (1998)
Stevie Wonder: Talking Book (1972)
Sugar: File Under: Easy Listening (1994)
The B-52's: The B-52's (1979)
The Kinks: The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society (1968)
Sonic Youth: Goo (1990)
The Jesus and Mary Chain: Psychocandy (1985)
Q-Tip: Amplified (1999)
The Mahavishnu Orchestra: The Inner Mounting Flame (1971)
ABC: The Lexicon of Love (1982)
Al Green: The Belle Album (1977)
Aretha Franklin: A Rose Is Still a Rose (1998)
Arto Lindsay/Ambitious Lovers: Envy (1984)
Bob Dylan / The Band: Before the Flood (1974)
Chic: Real People (1980)
The Grateful Dead: Aoxomoxoa (1969)
Digable Planets: Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space) (1993)
Freedy Johnston: Never Home (1997)
Joe Ely: Honky Tonk Masquerade (1978)
Papa Wemba: Emotion (1995)
The Blasters: Hard Line (1985)
Michelle Shocked: Short Sharp Shocked (1988)
The Sonny Sharrock Band: Seize the Rainbow (1987)
Tom Verlaine: Dreamtime (1981)
Beats International: Let Them Eat Bingo (1990)
The Goats: Tricks of the Shade (1992)
Yo La Tengo: Electr-O-Pura (1995)
The Vibrators: Pure Mania (1978)
The Velvet Underground: Loaded (1970)
Graham Parker: Heat Treatment (1976)
John Prine: John Prine (1971)
Mississippi John Hurt: Last Sessions (1972)
Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers: Jonathan Sings! (1983)
Pere Ubu: Cloudland (1989)
P.M. Dawn: Of the Heart, of the Soul and of the Cross: The Utopian Experience (1991)
The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy: Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury (1992)
The Grateful Dead: Workingman's Dead (1970)
The Housemartins: The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death (1987)
The Blasters: The Blasters (1981)
The Who: Quadrophenia (1973)
Toots & the Maytals: Funky Kingston (1975)
Victoria Williams: Loose (1994)
Willie Nelson: Spirit (1996)
Bill Withers: Still Bill (1972)
Bob Dylan: Time Out of Mind (1997)
Kate & Anna McGarrigle: The McGarrigle Hour (1998)
Minutemen: 3-Way Tie for Last (1985)
Muddy Waters: Hard Again (1977)
Roxy Music: Siren (1975)
The Allman Brothers: Brothers and Sisters (1973)
Tom Verlaine: Tom Verlaine (1979)
The Roches: The Roches (1979)
They Might Be Giants: They Might Be Giants (1986)
Beck: Odelay (1996)
Bonnie Raitt: Bonnie Raitt (1971)
The Band: The Band (1969)
Eno: Here Come the Warm Jets (1974)
Hurricane Zouk (1988)
John McLaughlin: Devotion (1970)
Keith Whitley: I Wonder Do You Think of Me (1989)
Kate and Anna McGarrigle: Kate and Anna McGarrigle (1976)
Mekons: Curse of the Mekons (1991)
Prince: 1999 (1982)
Public Image Ltd.: Second Edition (1980)
Steve Earle and the Del McCoury Band: The Mountain (1999)
The Beautiful South: 0898 Beautiful South (1992)
Thomas Mapfumo: Ndangariro (1984)
Tom Verlaine: Flash Light (1987)
UB 40: Rat in the Kitchen (1986)
Warren Zevon: Excitable Boy (1978)
Al Green: Al Green Gets Next to You (1971)
X: More Fun in the New World (1983)
Belle and Sebastian: The Boy With the Arab Strap (1998)
John Prine: Common Sense (1975)
The Pretenders: The Pretenders (1979)
Jon Hassell/Brian Eno: Fourth World Vol. 1: Possible Musics (1980)
Kate & Anna McGarrigle: Love Over and Over (1983)
Mother Earth: Make a Joyful Noise (1969)
Living Colour: Time's Up (1990)
Lynyrd Skynyrd: Second Helping (1974)
Michael Jackson: Thriller (1982)
The Robert Cray Band: I Was Warned (1992)
Van Morrison: His Band & the Street Choir (1970)
Willie Nelson: Stardust (1978)
Ani DiFranco: Dilate (1996)
Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman: Song X (1986)
Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
Rank and File: Sundown (1982)
The Pretenders: Learning to Crawl (1984)
The Go-Betweens: 16 Lovers Lane (1988)
The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground (1969)
The Robert Cray Band: Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (1988)
Talking Heads: Speaking in Tongues (1983)
The Modern Lovers: The Modern Lovers (1976)
The dB's: Like This (1984)
Pulp: Different Class (1996)
Patti Smith: Dream of Life (1988)
Pulnoc: City of Hysteria (1991)
Curtis Mayfield: Superfly (1972)
Richard Hell and the Voidoids: Blank Generation (1977)
The Housemartins: London 0, Hull 4 (1986)
The Insect Trust: Hoboken Saturday Night (1970)
Jimi Hendrix: The Cry of Love (1971)
Dusty Springfield: Dusty in Memphis (1969)
Tom Waits: Swordfishtrombones (1983)
B.B. King: Live in Cook County Jail (1971)
Ramones: Too Tough to Die (1984)
Otis Redding: Love Man (1969)
Carole King: Tapestry (1971)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Day The Music Died

He was only 22 years old when he stepped onto a Beechcraft Bonanza airplane that was going to take him and his fellow performers, J.P. Richardson and Ritchie Valens, to Fargo, North Dakota, to play their next gig on the Winter Dance Party Tour of 1959. Despite reports of a snow storm, all believed that the flight would be uneventful. The flight took off at 12:05 A.M., February 3. Several hours later, the wreckage was discovered by the plane’s owner some eight miles from the airport. All on board had perished in the crash, including the 22 year old whose name was Charles Hardin Holley – AKA Buddy Holly.

While relatively short in its length – just under two years - the career of Buddy Holly was exceptional. He was among the most gifted and influential singer/songwriters, not only of the 1950s, but of all time. Between August 1957 and August 1958 Holly and his band the Crickets charted seven top 40 hits, including “That’ll Be The Day,” “Maybe Baby,” “Oh Boy,” and “Peggy Sue.”

Holly was an innovator who wrote his own material and was among the first to exploit such advanced studio techniques as double-tracking. He pioneered and popularized the now-standard rock-band lineup of two guitars, bass and drums. In his final months, he even began experimenting with orchestration. Though Holly lacked the animal attraction of Elvis Presley, he nonetheless was an engaging, charismatic figure with his trademark horn-rimmed glasses and vocal hiccup. His creative self-reliance and energetic, inspired craftsmanship predated the coming wave of rock and rollers in the '60s. Holly was a profound influence on the Beatles and Hollies (both of whom derived their names from his). Even the Rolling Stones had their first major British hit with Holly’s “Not Fade Away.” Had he lived, he would’ve been 72 years old, and undoubtedly would’ve been one of the few legends of the ‘50s who could’ve successfully transitioned into the ‘60s, perhaps even the ‘70s, such was the timeless nature of his music.

For my part what has impressed me most is how relevant Holly remains, even during periods and fads that pushed the musical envelope; i.e. the techno faze of the ‘80s. While so many of his contemporaries faded into the woodwork, Holly’s music endured, not because of its complexity and flamboyance; but because of its simplicity and unpretentiousness. It was vulnerable without being corny; catchy without being trendy; innocent without being naive. Check out Marshall Crenshaw, circa 1982 & ’83, for example. Few artists have survived so intact as Buddy Holly. Fifty years later, he sounds as fresh and as significant as he did the day he stepped onto that plane. That he was taken from us way too early was the ultimate injustice; that he would’ve made a significant contribution to rock and roll for years to come is obvious.

What he has left us with is an incredible, if somewhat short, catalogue of masterpieces; sadly, that will have to do. Rest in peace, Buddy!




Monday, January 26, 2009

Top 100 Albums of the 20th Century

Well, the 20th century only if you conclude the first six decades didn't count. From an old list I had compiled about seven years ago. Enjoy!

The Rolling Stones: Exile on Main Street (Rolling Stones ‘72)
"The Indestructible Beat of Soweto" (Shanachie ‘86)
The Grateful Dead: Live/Dead (Warner Bros. '69)
David Murray Quartet: Shakill’s Warrior (DIW/Columbia ‘91)
Joe Cocker: Joe Cocker! (A&M ‘69)
Neil Young: Rust Never Sleeps (Reprise ‘79)
The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Capitol ‘67)
The Clash: London Calling (Epic ‘80)
Randy Newman: 12 Songs (Reprise ‘70)
"Lucinda Williams" (Rough Trade ‘88)
Bruce Springsteen: Born in the USA (Columbia ‘84)
Bob Dylan: Blonde on Blonde (Columbia ‘66)
Al Green: Call Me (Hi ‘73)
Fugees: The Score (Ruffhouse/Columbia ‘96)
Derek & The Dominos: Layla (Atco ‘70)
Miles Davis: A Tribute to Jack Johnson (Columbia ‘71)
Lucinda Williams: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (Mercury ‘98)
Iris Dement: My Life (Warner Bros. ‘94)
Bob Dylan / The Band: The Basement Tapes (Columbia ‘75)
Sly & The Family Stone: There’s a Riot Goin’ On (Epic ‘71)
James Carter: The Real Quietstorm (Atlantic Jazz ‘95)
Jimi Hendrix: Are You Experienced? (Reprise ‘67)
Ornette Coleman: Of Human Feelings (Antilles ‘82)
Tricky: Maxinquaye (Island '95)
Steely Dan: Pretzel Logic (ABC ‘74)
Talking Heads: Remain in Light (Sire ‘80)
Television: Marquee Moon (Elektra '77)
DeBarge: In a Special Way (Gordy ‘83)
Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story (Mercury ‘71)
The Beatles: Abbey Road (Capitol ‘69)
Prince: Sign o’ the Times (Paisley Park ‘87)
The Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols! (Warner Bros. ‘77)
L.L. Cool J: Mama Said Knock You Out (Def Jam ‘90)
"Paul Simon" (Columbia ‘72)
Bob Marley & The Wailers: Natty Dread (Island ‘75)
The New York Dolls: In Too Much Too Soon (Mercury ‘74)
The Band: Music From Big Pink (Capitol ‘68)
Dusty Springfield: Dusty in Memphis (Atlantic ‘69)
Graham Parker & The Rumour: Squeezing Out Sparks (Arista ‘79)
Liz Phair: Exile in Guyville (Matador ‘93)
Beck: Mellow Gold (DGC ‘94)
Sonic Youth: Dirty (DGC ‘92)
Aretha Franklin: I Never Loved A Man (Atlantic ‘67)
Nick Lowe: Pure Pop for Now People (Columbia ‘78)
The English Beat: Special Beat Service (I.R.S. ‘82)
Sonny Rollins: G-Man (Milestone ‘87)
Creedence Clearwater Revival: Willy and the Poor Boys (Fantasy ‘69)
Randy Newman: Good Old Boys (Reprise '74)
The Robert Cray Band: Strong Persuader (Mercury ‘86)
The Magnetic Fields: 69 Love Songs (Merge '99)
Fleetwood Mac: Rumours (Warner Bros. ‘77)
Rosanne Cash: Interiors (Columbia ‘90)
Billy Bragg & Wilco: Mermaid Avenue (Elektra ‘98)
Kid Creole & The Coconuts: Wise Guy (Sire/ZE ‘82)
The Who: Who’s Next? (MCA ‘71)
The Roches: A Dove (MCA ‘92)
"Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band" (RCA Victor ‘76)
Stevie Wonder: Innervisions (Tamla ‘73)
Neil Young: After the Gold Rush (Reprise ‘70)
Joni Mitchell: Blue (Reprise ‘71)
P.J. Harvey: To Bring You My Love (Island ‘95)
David Bowie: Station To Station (RCA Victor ‘76)
John Prine: Sweet Revenge (Atlantic ‘73)
"The Wild Tchoupitoulas" (Island ‘76)
The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds (Capitol ‘66)
P.M. Dawn: The Bliss Album ...? (Gee Street ‘93)
Joni Mitchell: Court and Spark (Asylum ‘74)
Public Enemy: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (Def Jam ‘87)
Van Morrison: Moondance (Warner Bros. ‘70)
Nirvana: In Utero (DGC ‘93)
Ray Charles: Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music (Dunhill ‘62)
X: Wild Gift (Slash ‘81)
Amy Rigby: Diary of a Mod Housewife (Koch ‘96)
Bonnie Raitt: Give It Up (Warner Bros. ‘72)
Marshall Crenshaw: Field Day (Warner Bros. ‘83)
Elvis Costello: Trust (Columbia ‘81)
The Rolling Stones: Beggar's Banquet (London ‘68)
Pere Ubu: Dub Housing (Chrysalis ‘79)
Blondie: Parallel Lines (Chrysalis ‘78)
The Flying Burrito Brothers: Gilded Palace of Sin (A&M ‘69)
Lynyrd Skynyrd: Street Survivors (MCA ‘77)
The Mekons: Fear and Whiskey (Sin import ‘85)
Beastie Boys: Licensed to Ill (Def Jam ‘86)
Toots & The Maytals: Funky Kingston (Island ‘75)
Eno: Another Green World (Island ‘76)
Jimmy Cliff, et al: The Soundtrack to "The Harder They Come" (Mango ‘73)
Aretha Franklin: Who's Zoomin' Who? (Arista '85)
Arto Lindsay: Mundo Civilizado (Bar/None ‘97)
Bonnie Raitt: Luck of the Draw (Capitol ‘91)
The Pogues: Rum, Sodomy and the Lash (MCA ‘86)
Culture: Two Sevens Clash (Shanachie ‘87)
B.B. King: Live in Cook County Jail (MCA ‘71) Italic
Lou Reed: New Sensations (RCA Victor ‘84)
The Neville Brothers: Yellow Moon (EMI-America ‘89)
Patti Smith: Horses (Arista ‘75)
The Blasters: Non Fiction (Slash ‘83)
M People: Elegant Slumming (Epic ‘94)
Black Uhuru: Anthem (Island ‘84)
The Ramones: Rocket to Russia (Sire ‘77)
Michael Jackson: Off the Wall (Epic '79)


Top 10 Albums of the ‘60s

The Grateful Dead: Live/Dead
Joe Cocker: Joe Cocker!
The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Bob Dylan: Blonde on Blonde
Jimi Hendrix: Are You Experienced?
Aretha Franklin: I Never Loved a Man
The Band: Music From Big Pink
The Rolling Stones: Beggar’s Banquet
"The Velvet Underground & Nico"
Ray Charles: Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music

Top Artist(s) of the ‘60s
Ray Charles
Johnny Cash

Top 10 Albums of the ‘70s

The Rolling Stones: Exile on Main Street
Neil Young: Rust Never Sleeps
Randy Newman: 12 Songs
Al Green: Call Me
Derek & The Dominos: Layla
Miles Davis: A Tribute to Jack Johnson
Sly & The Family Stone: There’s a Riot Goin’ On
Steely Dan: Pretzel Logic
Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story
The Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols!

Top Artist(s) of the ‘70s
Linda Ronstadt
Elton John

Top 10 Albums of the ‘80s

"The Indestructible Beat of Soweto"
The Clash: London Calling
"Lucinda Williams"
Bruce Springsteen: Born in the USA
Ornette Coleman: Of Human Feelings
Talking Heads: Remain in Light
DeBarge: In a Special Way
Prince: Sign o’ the Times
Aretha Franklin: Who’s Zoomin’ Who?
The Mekons: Fear and Whiskey

Top Artist(s) of the ‘80s
Madonna
Prince

Top 10 Albums of the ‘90s

David Murray: Shakill’s Warrior
Fugees: The Score
Lucinda Williams: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
Iris Dement: My Life
James Carter: The Real Quietstorm
Tricky: Maxinquaye
Liz Phair: Exile in Guyville
Bob Dylan: Time Out of Mind
P.J. Harvey: To Bring You My Love
P.M. Dawn: The Bliss Album ...?

Top Artist(s) of the 90's
P.M. Dawn
P.J. Harvey

Friday, January 23, 2009

OK, as promised: 2007’s Top Albums

1. Arcade Fire: Neon Bible (Merge)
2. M.I.A.: Kala (Interscope)
3. Gogol Bordello: Super Taranta! (Side One Dummy)
4. The Apples in Stereo: New Magnetic Wonder (Yep Roc)
5. Lil Wayne: Da Drought 3 (Purloined Datadisc)
6. Fountains of Wayne: Traffic and Weather (Virgin)
7. Balkan Beat Box: Nu Med (JDub)
8. Les Savy Fav: Let's Stay Friends (Frenchkiss)
9. African Pearls 1: Rumba on the River (Syllart)
10. Authenticité: The Sylliphone Years (Stern's Africa)
11. Rilo Kiley: Under the Backlight (Warner Bros.)
12. Wussy: Left for Dead (Shake It)
13. Youssou N'Dour: Rokku Mi Rakka (Give and Take) (Nonesuch)
14. Lily Allen: Alright, Still (Capitol)
15. Los Campesinos!: Sticking Fingers Into Sockets (Arts & Crafts)
16. Modest Mouse: We Were Dead Before the Ship Ever Sank (Epic)
17. Bright Eyes: Cassadaga (Saddle Creek)
18. White Stripes: Icky Thump (Warner Bros.)
19. Miranda Lambert: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Sony/BMG Nashville)
20. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah: Some Loud Thunder (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah)
21. Kanye West: Graduation (Roc-A-Fella)
22. Brakes: The Beatific Visions (Rough Trade)
23. Jill Scott: The Real Thing (Hidden Beach)
24. Lori McKenna: Unglamorous (Warner Bros.)
25. Nellie McKay: Obligatory Villagers (Hungry Mouse)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

2008’s Top Albums. Yes, I realize I never got around to fininshing 2007's list; I'll get to it some day. For now, call this the first of my very own Dean's Lists (as it were).

1. TV on the Radio: Dear Science (Interscope)
2. Orchestra Baobab: Made in Dakar (Nonesuch)
3. Drive-By Truckers: Brighter Than Creation’s Dark (New West)
4. Coner Oberst: Coner Oberst (Merge)
5. K’naan: The Dusty Foot Philosopher (iM Culture)
6. Les Amazones de Guinee: Wamato (Stern’s Africa)
7. The Roots: Rising Down (Def Jam)
8. Girl Talk: Feed the Animals (Illegal Art)
9. Robert Forster: The Evangelist (Yep Roc)
10. Raphael Saadiq: The Way I See It (Columbia)
11. Randy Newman: Harps and Angels (Nonesuch)
12. Los Campesinos!: Hold On Now, Youngster… (Arts & Crafts)
13. Hayes Carll: Trouble in Mind (Lost Highway)
14. The Magnetic Fields: Distortion (Nonesuch)
15. LiL Wayne: Tha Carter III (Cash Money)
16. Love Is All: A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At Night (What’s Your Rupture)
17. James McMurtry: Just Us Kids (Lightning Rod)
18. Santogold: Santogold (Downtown)
19. Kate Nash: Made of Bricks (Interscope)
20. Nas: Nas (Def Jam)
21. The Raveonettes: Lust Lust Lust (Vice)
22. Old 97’s: Blame It On Gravity (New West)
23. Jesus H. Christ and the Four Hornsmen of the Apocalypse: Happier Than Me (jesushchristrocks.com)
24. Taj Mahal: Maestro (Heads Up)
25. Vampire Weekend: Vampire Weekend (XL)