40. Rubber Soul by The Beatles (1966)
Picking Beatles’ albums for this list is challenging. How do I leave any out? Rubber Soul is among the Beatles’ most innovative and sophisticated works with a number of great songs, so I can’t leave it off the list. Favorite tracks include: “Norwegian Wood,” “The Word,” and “I’m Looking Through You.”
39. Escondida by Jolie Holland (2004)
Got this CD as a gift (thanks Camille) and was bowled over by Holland’s timeless voice and the crazy percussion on “Mad Tom of Bedlam.” Wow! Other highlights include “Sascha,” “Amen,” and “Damn Shame.”
38. Live Noise by Moxy Fruvous (1998)
Moxy Früvous was one of those bands were never quite the same on studio albums as they were in concert. This live collection captures the band’s on-stage banter and improvised songs as well as their greatest hits. “The Drinking Song,” “Michigan Militia,” and “Johnny Saucep’n” are among the musical highlights.
37. The Roches by The Roches (1979)
Another public library discovery, the debut album of the Roche sisters captures their beautiful harmonies and witty & insightful lyrics. I never liked any of their later work, but it’s easy to love an album that begins with the autobiographical theme song “We.” Other standouts are “Hammond Song,” “Mr. Sellack,” and “The Troubles.”
36. When I Go by Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer (1998)
The first of three masterful albums for this folk duo. Carter’s dream-inspired lyrics and Grammer’s haunting fiddle made for music both fresh and old-fashioned at the same time as in the title track. Some other memorable tunes include “The River, Where She Sleeps,” “Lancelot,” and “Kate and the Ghost of Lost Love.”
35. 3 Feet High and Rising by De La Soul (1989)
I’d probably listen to more rap music if De La Soul’s mix of clever wordplay, eclectic sampling, and inspired mixing were the standard. Hip tracks include “Say No Go,” “Plug Tunin’,” and “Jenifa Taught Me.”
34. Theorems and Compositions of the Last Action Rocker by Hum Machine (2003)
This Wisconsin rock band falls in the category of “bands with a guy I sort of know who seem to have vanished from the internet” (see Johnny Most). Good thing I still have this rocking album. Favorites include “Twisted Niche,” “Bring it on Pepeon,” and “Mechanical Devices.”
33. Viva by The Velveteens (1998)
Speaking of obscure bands, The Velveteens are a ska punk band from the College of William & Mary that I saw play once at Homecoming and liked enough to pick up their album before they vanished from the face of the earth. Memorable pieces include “Wasted With the Cooper,” “Port Authority,” and “Yak Farm.”
32. Live at Tir na nÓg by Vinal Avenue String Band (1999)
This folk/bluegrass/old time band featured Kris Delmhorst, Sean Staples (later of The Resphonics and The Benders), and Ry Cavanaugh and played a weekly gig at the tiny Tir na nÓg pub in Somerville. I was a regular patron on those nights and while the band and the pub are no more, this recording survives. The Gillian Welch cover “Tear My Stillhouse Down,” “Tir na nÓg,” and “Front Porch Song” lead off the highlights of this album.
31. Channel 1 – A Compilation Of Output Recordings (2000)
Twisted Village is a record store in Harvard Square that specializes in all manner of music with no commercial potential. Not having much knowledge of what to pick up there I decided I couldn’t go wrong with a compilation and scored this beauty. The album contains some great electronic music – some tracks are for dancing, some are for meditating. “Calamine” by Four Tet, “High-On Tech” by Sonovac, and a cover of James Brown’s “Superbad” by LB are among the many strong tracks.