Part four of my top 100 albums of all time.
- 100 Favorite Albums of All-Time 100-91.
- 100 Favorite Albums of All-Time 90-81.
- 100 Favorite Albums of All-Time 80-71.
The swing revival was a fun addition to the Nineties’ music scene, and SNZ stand out as a band that went beyond just covering old standards but adding their own clever quirkiness to make the music fresh and new. Bonus points are awarded for naming the band after a Cambridge, MA confectionery. I’m also entranced by Katherine Whalen’s sultry, expressive voice. Favorite tracks include “Hell,” “Put a Lid On It,” and “Twilight.”
By coincidence this is another band that revived a music genre – this time 80’s synthpop – and are named after a snack, and are based in Boston. They write sweet and clever songs about love and science and best of all you can dance to it. Highlights include “Bike Thief,” “Parlez-vous Freezepop,” and “Outer Space.”
The Christmas Revels are an annual holiday tradition in Cambridge, MA where old time songs of yule and many other folk songs from around the world are revived. I have all their albums and they’re all great, but this one stands out as one I want to listen to even in July. Highlights include “The Gower Wassail,” “The Jolly Old Hawk,” and “The Christ Child Lullaby.”
67. ONoffON by Mission of Burma (2004)
Not many bands can break-up and come back together 20 years later with an album just as good as their earlier material but that’s just what Boston-based post-punk band Mission of Burma did with this ONoffON. Highlights include “Max Ernst’s Dream,” “The Setup,” and “Falling.”
Yet another Boston band reviving an older music style – this time string band music played with a punk attitude (similar style & with overlapping membership to The Resophonics who have an album at #74 on this chart). Standout tracks include “Cheers to the First Snow,” “The Road Home,” and “Double Yellow.”
65. Wattstax (1972)
This is the soundtrack to the brilliant documentary/concert film set around the Wattstax concert at Los Angeles Coliseum in 1972. Musically this is a microcosm of the best in blues, gospel, soul and funk in the early 1970’s. Performers include The Staple Singers, Albert King, Carla Thomas, Little Milton, a beautiful church-based recording by The Emotions, and culminating in an electrifying performance by Isaac Hayes at his baddest. As an added bonus the introductions by Jesse Jackson and other stage banter are familiar from sampling by rap artists like Public Enemy.
After hearing the African pop melodies mixed with frat boy ethos of “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” I looked forward to Vampire Weekend’s debut album with great anticipation, something I hadn’t done in a long time. It was worth it for the joy of hearing tracks like “Mansard Roof,” “A-Punk,” and “Campus.” This is also the most recent album on the entire list.
63. The Carl Stalling Project (1990)
Carl Stalling worked with Warner Bros. from the 1930’s – 1950’s scoring the soundtracks from the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartons. This album strips (most of) the dialogue from the cartoons to allow the listener to enjoy Stalling’s innovative, rapidly-changing music. Stalling preceded the “mash-up generation” by about three generations by dropping musical references to classical pieces and popular songs of the day into his compositions. Worth checking out for “Porky in Wackyland / Dough for the Do-Do” where the music tells a story more fascinating than the actual cartoons.
62. The Doors by The Doors (1967)
The Doors are greatly overrated band in many respects, but there first album is a masterpiece of psychedelic blues from start to finish. Two songs that stand out are covers of Willie Dixon’s “Back Door Man” and Bertolt Brech’s “Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)”. Standout original tracks include “Break On Through (To The Other Side)” and “Soul Kitchen.” Too bad that the Doors for the rest of their career recorded only about a half-dozen songs I find worth listening to.
The Paperboys are a versatile band of Celtic/bluegrass/world beat musicians lead by Canadian-Mexican Tom Landa. This is the best of their many great recordings with highlights like “Waste Some Time,” the title track, and “After the First Time.”