Favorite Albums of All Time: 40-31

Having listened to every album on the Rolling Stone list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, I’m making my own list.  This list will be only 250 albums, although I had to make some tough cuts.  The list includes a mix of works of musical genius with the pure nostalgia of some albums I’ve loved throughout my life.  As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts about these albums and what your favorite albums are. I will continue the countdown every other Wednesday throughout 2022.

250-241 200-191 150-141 100-91 50-41
240-231 190-181 140-131 90-81
230-221 180-171 130-121 80-71
220-211 170-161 120-111 70-61
210-201 160-151 110-101 60-51


Artist: John Coltrane
Title: A Love Supreme
Year:  1964
Favorite Tracks: It’s all one suite.

The First Time I Heard This Album …: early 90s

Thoughts: As a musical suite and an expression of spirituality, A Love Supreme comes as close to perfection as humanly possible.

Bonus Sounds: I’ve enjoyed many of Coltrane’s recordings, including Blue Train (1958), Giant Steps (1960), My Favorite Things (1961) and Duke Ellington & John Coltrane (1963).


Artist: The Dismemberment Plan 
Title: Emergency & I
Year: 1999
Favorite Tracks:

  • What Do You Want Me to Say?
  • Spider in the Snow
  • You Are Invited
  • Girl O’Clock

The First Time I Heard This Album …: circa 2003

Thoughts: I found out about The Dismemberment Plan because I knew guitarist and lead vocalist Travis Morrison in college.  Basically I was wondering whatever happened to him and found out, hey, he’s in this legendary Washington indie rock band I’ve never heard of before.  Turns out, they were really good!

Bonus Sounds: I saw The Dismemberment Plan in concert when they reunited in 2013.


Artist: Sinéad O’Connor
Title: I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got
Year: 1990
Favorite Tracks:

  • I Am Stretched on Your Grave
  • Three Babies
  • The Emperor’s New Clothes
  • Black Boys on Mopeds
  • Nothing Compares 2 U
  • The Last Day of Our Acquaintance

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1990

Thoughts: Despite her shaved head and radical for Reagan/Bush America opinions, Sinéad O’Connor managed to become a star loved by the cool alternative kids and their Boomer parents (especially if those parents were Irish-American). O’Connor’s dynamic voice powers an eclectic mix of song styles on her most famous album.

Bonus Sounds: I’m also fond of O’Connor’s debut album The Lion and the Cobra (1987).


Artist: Prince and the Revolution
Title: 1999
Year: 1982
Favorite Tracks:

  • 1999
  • Little Red Corvette
  • Delirious
  • D.M.S.R.
  • Free
  • All the Critics Love U in New York
  • International Lover

The First Time I Heard This Album …: mid-80s

Thoughts: Prince and the Revolution exploded onto the scene with this album in 1982. I still remember hearing Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” for the first time on Casey Kasem’s “America’s Top 40.” Prince was probably too raunchy for me, and while three singles got a lot of airplay the rest of this album was and probably is to sexy for radio. It remains an amazing collection by an artist at the top of his game.

Bonus Sounds: There’s one more album from Prince and the Revolution to come, but the late, great Prince Rogers Nelson is responsible for so much great music that you could start with just about anything and hear something amazing.


Artist: Robert Johnson
Title: The Complete Recordings
Year: 1936-1937/1990
Favorite Tracks:

  • Sweet Home Chicago
  • When You Got a Good Friend
  • Come On in My Kitchen
  • 32-20 Blues
  • They’re Red Hot
  • Cross Road Blues
  • Walkin’ Blues
  • Last Fair Deal Gone Down
  • From Four Until Late
  • Traveling Riverside Blues
  • Love in Vain

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1990

Thoughts: Disabuse yourself of the myths.  Robert Johnson did not sell his soul to the devil at the crossroads.  Blues men accompanying themselves on guitar were not the standard in the 1920s-40s (in fact women singing with bands were the Blues hitmakers).  Rock & roll did not evolve from Robert Johnson, but he was adopted by British R&B enthusiasts after his music was re-released in the 1960s.  The truth is, Robert Johnson was a talented guitarist who recorded a couple of dozen songs in the mid-30s and the sound of those tunes reverberates through the ages.

Bonus Sounds: This album collects all of Johnson’s known recordings, but had he lived longer he would have participated in the series of Carnegie Hall concerts of 1938-1939 known as From Spirituals to Swing.


Artist: Charles Mingus
Title: Mingus Ah Um 
Year: 1959
Favorite Tracks:

  • Better Git It in Your Soul
  • Goodbye Pork Pie Hat
  • Boogie Stop Shuffle
  • Fables of Faubus

The First Time I Heard This Album …: early 1990s

Thoughts: I can’t remember who introduced me to Charles Mingus’ work, but I started listening to his music in my college years and it really changed my understanding of what jazz could be. This album draws inspiration from Duke Ellington while incorporating the bop styles of the 1950s (or the “modern jazz”) that Chuck Berry has no kick about). Mingus and his band play the tunes fast and slow and it’s all inspired and gets in your soul

Bonus Sounds: You probably can’t go wrong with Mingus, but I’ve enjoyed The Clown (1957) and Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus (1964).


Artist: Camera Obscura
Title: Let’s Get Out of this Country
Year:  2006
Favorite Tracks:

  • Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken
  • Tears for Affairs
  • Let’s Get Out of This Country
  • Country Mile
  • I Need All the Friends I Can Get
  • Razzle Dazzle Rose

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2006

Thoughts: Scottish band Camera Obscura emerged from the twee pop scene of the Oughts.  The sweet voice of Tracyanne Campbell floats above a bed of sonically-dense baroque pop.  It’s exquisite.

Bonus Sounds: Campbell continues to record in the duo Tracyanne & Danny.


Artist: Tom Waits
Title: Rain Dogs
Year: 1985
Favorite Tracks:

  • Clap Hands
  • Jockey Full of Bourbon
  • Hang Down Your Head
  • Time
  • Downtown Train
  • Anywhere I Lay My Head

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 199-something

Thoughts: Waits’ most famous album has his voice in a fully-developed growl over hallucinogenic carnival music.  One of the great albums of the 1980s.

Bonus Sounds: I have a particular fondness for the amusicality of Tom Waits and Keith Richards singing the standard “Shenandoah.”


Artist: The Breeders
Title Last Splash
Year: 1993
Favorite Tracks:

  • Cannonball
  • Roi
  • I Just Wanna Get Along
  • Divine Hammer
  • Saints
  • Drivin’ on 9

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1993

Thoughts: The Breeders originally was a side project for Pixies’ bassist Kim Deal, but this album became omnipresent in 1993.  One could not walk through a dormitory on my college campus without hearing “Cannonball” playing from someone’s stereo.

Bonus Sounds: The Breeders have made some great music from their debut album Pod (1990) to their most recent release All Nerve (2018), which reunited the same lineup that made Last Splash.


Artist: Mission of Burma
Title: Vs
Year: 1982
Favorite Tracks:

  • Secrets
  • New Nails
  • Dead Pool
  • Learn How
  • Einstein’s Day
  • That’s How I Escaped My Certain Fate
  • Progress

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2004

Thoughts: The Boston post-punk band released just one full-length studio album in the 1980s but it is a practically perfect one.

Bonus Sounds: Mission of Burma’s debut release Signals, Calls, and Marches (1981) was a terrific 20 minutes of post-punk brilliance.  It has grown longer in re-releases with added tracks that pretty much have promoted it from an EP to an LP.