Posts Tagged ‘Albums’

Pitchfork People’s List

Pitchfork is running a poll called the People’s List where anyone can login and vote for at least 20 and as many as 100 of their favorite albums from 1996-2011.  I made my list mostly based upon albums from my own 2009 ranking of my 100 favorite albums of all time.  Numbers 1-52 retain the ranking from the earlier list while the additional albums are inserted more haphazardly.

I’m actually surprised at how many albums I had to fill in manually.  It makes me feel like a hipster to have musical tastes that are too obscure for Pitchfork.  Or maybe I’m too bland.   To be honest I’m no longer all to content with my ranking from three years ago.  I also feel like there are a lot of good albums out there that I haven’t listened to yet.

So take a moment to go Pitchfork Media and make your own People’s List.  Then come back here and post your list in the comments and let me know a few albums I really need to hear.

Meme: 15 Albums

Tagged for another music related-meme on Facebook by a different friend.

The rules: Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen albums you’ve heard that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes.

Should be easy, no?  I promise not to look at my list of 100 favorite albums list first.

  1. This Are Two Tone – Various
  2. The Ultimate Otis Redding
  3. Folk Song and Minstelry – Various
  4. Belafonte at Carnegie Hall
  5. May I Sing With Me – Yo La Tengo
  6. The Beatles (White Album)
  7. Cruel, Crazy Beautiful World – Johnny Clegg & Savuka
  8. Ágætis Byrjun – Sigur Rós
  9. Lincoln – They Might Be Giants
  10. Free to Be You & Me – Marlo Thomas & Friends
  11. Intersections – Maus
  12. Tanglewood Tree – Dave Carter and Tracey Grammer
  13. Channel 1 – Various
  14. Doolittle – The Pixies
  15. Rum, Sodomy & The Lash – The Pogues

There’s a little method to my madness.  In addition to a few of my all-time favorites that I keep coming back to I picked out some albums I remember introducing me to a new band, new sound, or new genre and thus changing my musical tastes.  At any rate I did this in much less than fifteen minutes so I’m sure it’s not representative.

Related Posts:

100 Favorite Albums of All-Time 10-1

Yikes! I’ve reached the top ten.  It should be noted that I actually considered 12 albums as being good enough to be number one, but only one could qualify.  Or you could look at as a 12-way tie.

Previously:

10. Hush by Yo Yo Ma and Bobby McFerrin (1992)

A world famous concert cellist and an innovative a capella vocalist  (who has done a lot more than “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”) collaborate on a children’s album and its brilliant.  There are a number of interpretations of classical pieces but my favorites are McFerrin originals such as “Stars,” “Grace,” and “Coyote.”

9. Belafonte at Carnegie Hall by Harry Belafonte (1959)

I was born to late to see Belafonte perform at his prime, but this recording captures his amazing voice and showmanship.  The show has three parts featuring Black American music, the Caribbean,  and folk songs from around the world with such highlights as “Jamaica Farewell,” “Shenandoah,” and “Matilda.”

8. Doolittle by Pixies (1989)

This album has kept me up all night and probably damaged my ear drums as I listened to it repeatedly with my headphones on many occasions over the years. I think it was a hand-me-down from my sister who didn’t like it. Highlights include “Debaser,” “Wave of Mutilation,” “Hey,” and “Gouge Away.”

7. If I Should Fall From the Grace of God by The Pogues (1988)

This was always one of the first albums I’d upgrade to new formats, mainly because I’d worn out tape and CD copies from repeat listenings.  Shane and the gang do their punky Celtic best on songs like “Fairytale of New York,” “Turkish Song of the Damned,” “Thousands Are Sailing,” and “Medley.”

6. Flood by They Might Be Giants (1990)

I think I’ve tried to explain the genius, artistry and symbolism of songs by TMBG to people who think they’re just funny ditties.  See what you think when listening to tracks like “Istanbul (Not Constantinople),” “Birdhouse in Your Soul,” “Road Movie To Berlin,” “Particle Man,” and “Your Racist Friend.”

5. Sacrebleu by Dimitri From Paris (1996)

A French house DJ mixes in all sorts of loungey music and soundtracks for a really cool effect.  Try out “Sacre Francais,” “Reveries,” “Une Very Stylish Fille,” and “Un World Mysteriouse” for starters.

4. BullsEye by The Kevin Hanson Trio (2001)

Saw Hanson solo at Club Passim and was impressed by his guitar virtuosity.  Got the album and was impressed by the imaginative lyrics and music of songs like “I Wish,” “Just Because,” and “Circus.”

3. Cry Cry Cry by Cry Cry Cry (1998)

Contemporary folk singer/performers Dar Williams, Richard Shindell, and Lucy Kaplansky collaborate on covers of songs by other contemporary artists such as”By Way of Sorrow,” “Cold Missouri Waters,” and “Shades of Gray.” Funny that none of their solo work made my list, but together they’re three times as good.

2. Rum, Sodomy and The Lash by  The Pogues (1985)

Pogues’ fans argue about which album is there best and I believe its this very raw, very powerful, and very good collection. It feature Cait O’Riordan’s only lead vocal performance on (ironically) “I’m A Man You Don’t Meet Everyday,” a beautifully haunting song. “Sally MacLennane,” and “A Pair of Brown Eyes” are a couple of other Pogues standards on this all around excellent album.

1.  Tanglewood Tree by Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer

The folk duo’s masterpiece includes  the brilliant lyrics and music of Dave Carter with Grammer on vocals and fiddle on songs such as “Tanglewood Tree,” “The Mountain,” and “Cowboy Singer.”  Ten years have gone by and I’m still wowed by this album.

Next week:  Some honorable mentions that did not crack the Top 100 although many were deserving.

100 Favorite Albums of All-Time 20-11

Previously:

20. Graceland by Paul Simon (1986)

Simon’s solo masterpiece is great for integrating “world music” and some of the most well-thought-out lyrics ever written.  Highlights include “Diamonds On The Soles of Her Shoes,” “Homeless,” “I Know What I Know,” and the title track.

19. Singalong by Pete Seeger (1980)

Pete Seeger and thousands of voices in Cambridge’s Sanders Theater sing the great folk songs of a generation.  Seeger is not really about recordings, but I find this recorded Pete at his best virtually bringing you the concert experience.  Favorites include “If I Had A Hammer,” “The Water is Wide,”  “Old Devil Time,” and many more.

18. London Calling by The Clash (1979)

This may be the first time that Pete Seeger and The Clash appear in a list next to one another, but they share a certain passion and do-it-yourself ethic, so why not.  I’m not the first one to extol the greatness of London Calling so I’ll just tell you my favorite songs are “Lost in the Supermarket,” “Rudie Can’t Fail,” “Guns of Brixton,” “The Right Profile,” the title song and the rest of the whole album.

17. I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One by Yo La Tengo (1997)

I resisted putting every single album by Yo La Tengo in this list, but if you don’t have any albums by this band please get this one.  You may also enjoy “Moby Octopad” (and its Mets’ references), “Sugarcube,” “Stockholm Syndrome,” “Shadows,” “Autumn Sweater,” and the rest.

16. So by Peter Gabriel (1986)

There are probably diehard Gabriel fans who roll their eyes at this pick but I say that any album with experimental sounds and clever lyrics that can still be a huge hit is worth remembering.  I like all the songs that got played all the time on the radio, and the one from that movie, and then there’s “This Is The Picture (Excellent Birds).”

15. Revolver by The Beatles (1966)

This is my favorite Beatles album and I’m never sure why.  Lots of studio experimentation pays off (not to mention drug experimentation), I guess.  Favorite songs include “I’m Only Sleeping,” “Got to Get You Into My Life,” and “Tomorrow Never Knows.”

14. Intersections by DJ Maus (2000)

DJ Maus is a drum & bass DJ we once danced to long ago in Montreal and this is one of her albums I picked up and have been entranced by ever since. Favorite tracks: “Plug,” “Phoneheads,” and “Amon Tobin.”

13. Ten Thousand Mornings by Peter Mulvey (2002)

This is the first and only album on this list that I was present for its recording, albeit briefly and accidentally.  Many musicians in Boston hone their skills by playing in the subways and Mulvey paid tribute to this by recording the entire album in Davis Sq station in Somerville.  It’s a great mix of cover songs, collaborations with other folkies, and roaring trains in the background.  Highlights include “Oliver’s Army,” “Comes Love” (with Erin McKeown), “Mama, You’ve Been On My Mind” (w/ Sean Staples), “The Ocean,” and “Two Janes.”

12. Lincoln by They Might Be Giants (1988)

The Brooklyn-based band pays tribute to their Massachusetts’ home town in the title.  More importantly upon hearing “Ana Ng” I was inspired to actually turn the radio dial and check out that modern rock station.  Other favorites from this album include “Kiss Me, Son of God,” “Cowtown,” and “Purple Toupee.”

11. Citizens Band by The Operators (2002)

Here’s yet another band of people I sort-of-know that broke up…wait a minute, they’ve reunited!  Anyhow, some great punk rock from Somerville.  Great tracks include “The Old Man Doesn’t Like It,” “Parasite Rex,” “Bottle,” and “Rock City.”

The top ten is next week.  I think my writing is getting crappier as the albums get better.

100 Favorite Albums of All-Time (30-21)

Previously:

30. Mermaid Avenue by Billy Bragg & Wilco (1998)

An English singer/songwriter/radical and a rock/alt-country band from Chicago join to record tunes for the lost songs of Woody Guthrie and produce a masterpiece.  Once again it proves the timelessness of great music.  Favorites include “Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key,” “Walt Whitman’s Niece,” and “I Guess I Planted.”

29. This Are Two Tone (1983)

I was about a decade late discovering the UK’s Two Tone ska revival, but as soon as I heard The Specials “Ghost Town” on my radio I wanted to hear more.  I went to my local record store who of course did not have anything by The Specials, but I decided to check the compilations’ area where I found this gem and my life was changed.  Other highlights include “Gangsters” and “Rudi, A Message To You” by The Specials and “Rankin’ Full Stop” by The Beat.

28. Nothing’s Shocking by Jane’s Addiction (1988)

Nirvana gets the credit for bringing so-called alternative music to the masses but Jane’s Addiction lead the way with this terrific album of funky hard rock.  Favorites include: “Jane Says,” “Ocean Size,” and “Mountain Song.”

27. It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back by Public Enemy (1988)

Hip hop at its best with a strong rhymes containing a serious social and political message over some densely-layered and funky samples.  Tracks that are still strong and relevant twenty years later include “Bring The Noise,” “Don’t Believe the Hype,” and “Rebel Without a Pause.”

26. Lifes Rich Pageant by R.E.M. (1986)

Another torch bearer carrying the underground music of the 1980′s to the mainstream of the 1990′s was R.E.M. who started out with very esoteric, experimental recordings early on and gradually became more radio friendly.  This album captures them striking a balance between the two extremes and includes some of the band’s best song such as “Fall On Me,” “The Flowers of Guatemala,” and “Swan Swan H.”

25. Shamrock Shake by Echolalia (1997)

This obscure album was recorded by a Williamsburg, VA -area Celtic folk/rock band who then vanished into the ether.  They are a band who follows the Celtic punk zeitgeist of the Pogues including a cover of “Boys from the County Hell,” but also their own material such as the topical “Serbian’s Wake,” but were best in their interpretations of timeless standards such as “The Ballad of St. Anne’s Reel.”

24. Reconstruction Site by The Weakerthans (2003)

This album was a gift from my brother-in-law that introduced me to a great Canadian rock band performing intelligent and chipper rock songs about death, depression and hating Winnipeg.  Highlights include the title track, “Plea From A Cat Named Virtute,” “Our Retired Explorer (Dines with Michel Foucault in Paris, 1961)” and “The Reasons.”

23. OK Computer by Radiohead (1997)

I think enough ink has been spilled explaining the greatness of OK Computer that I need not add to it, but here are my favorite songs from the album: “No Surprises,” “Karma Police,” “Airbag,” “Lucky,” and “Paranoid Android.”  What are yours?

22. Distillation by Erin McKeown (2000)

I attended the new artists showcase at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in 2000 and after a series of waifs singing about their sad lonely lives, Erin McKeown took the stage and had people singing, dancing and cheering for her two songs.  Later this album was played between sets of some other bands on the main stage and people were singing along to that!  Find out why by listening to catchy and clever tracks like “Queen of Quiet,” “Blackbirds,” and “Fast As I Can.”

21. The Stone Roses by The Stone Roses (1989)

This album was another discovery in a library back when I was in high school.  I listened to it for years and loved it before realizing that other people liked it too.  In fact New Musical Express named it the best British album of all-time in 2000. Not too shabby.  Highlights include: “Shoot You Down,” “I Am the Ressurrection,” “She Bangs the Drums,” and “I Wanna Be Adored.”

100 Favorite Albums of All-Time (40-31)

Previously:

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.

100 Favorite Albums of All-Time (50-41)

Part six of my top 100 albums of all time.

Previously:

50. The Trinity Session by The Cowboy Junkies (1988)

I’m sure that there are diehard Cowboy Junkies’ fans who scorn people like me who know the band only for this album, but it is an awesome album.  The slow, moody and bluesy tunes and the ethereal vocals of Margo Timmins carry me away.  Highlights include “Blue Moon Revisited,” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” and of course their cover of Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane.”

49. Vs. by  Mission of Burma (1982)

I first heard this album about 20 years after it was released and it really sounded like a brand-new recording.  Either Mission of Burma were 20 years ahead of themselves or bands today are just catching up to their sound.  This is a must-have for any fan of punk rock.  Favorite’s include “Einstein’s Day,” “Progress,”  and “Train.”

48. Trainspotting Motion Picture Soundtrack (1996)

The music from this film about heroin-users in Edinburgh makes for one of the best soundtracks ever with a good mix of electronic, punk, and Britpop.  Highlights include “For What You Dream Of” by Bedrock, “Born Slippy” by Underworld, and the lengthy instrumental “Trainspotting” by Primal Scream.

47. Emperor Tomato Ketchup by Stereolab (1996)

Another great album by the post-rock band from London.  Highlights include “Les Yper Sound,” “Metronomic Underground,” and “The Noise of Carpet.”

46. Songs For a Hurricane by Kris Delmhorst (2003)

Delmhorst is a singer-songwriter big on the Boston folk scene and one of our favorites to see in concert.  This album is her masterpiece (so far).  Highlights include “Juice & June,” “You’re No Train,” and “Hurricane.”

45. Blind Faith (1969)

This blues rock supergroup only released one, brilliant 6-track album and a tour before seperating, an almost Zen-like moment of perfection.  Favorite tracks include “Presence of the Lord,” “Can’t Find My Way Home,” and “Sea of Joy.”

44. And Then Nothing Turned Itself Out by Yo La Tengo (2000)

This band has it all – great tunes, Mets anecdote related name, and a blue-collar New Jersey work ethic.  I probably should’ve have put all of Yo La Tengo’s albums in this list since this band manages to maintain a distinctive sound while reinventing themselves with every album.  This album captures YLT in a slow, sprawling mood with highlights like “Last Days of Disco,” “Let’s Save Tony Orlando’s House,” and “You Can Have It All.”

43. OOOH! (Out of Our Heads) by The Mekons (2002)

This album is a tribute to the public library as I discovered this album and band by randomly checking it out one day.  The Mekons also join Mission of Burma as proof that aging is no deterrent to producing brilliant – if bizarre – punk/post-punk.  This is the first album in this list in which every single song is starred in my iTunes library, but highlights include “Bob Hope & Charity,” “Thee Old Trip to Jerusalem,” and “Only You and Your Ghost Will Know.”

42. Let’s Get Out of this Country by Camera Obscura (2006)

I’m a sucker for ethereal vocalists and Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Cambell singing over a jangly wall of sound gets me every time.  Favorites include “Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken,” “Razzle Dazzle Rose,” the title track and “I Need All the Friends I Can Get.”

41. Beggar’s Banquet by  The Rolling Stones (1968)

The Stones kicked off their five-year period of their best best work with a back-to-basics blues and roots music album which I consider their best ever.  Highlights include “No Expectations,” “Sympathy for the Devil,” and “Street Fighting Man.”  While this is the highest ranking Rolling Stones album in my list, these albums are also worth checking out – Aftermath, Sticky Fingers, and Exile on Main Street.

100 Favorite Albums of All-Time (60-51)

Part five of my top 100 albums of all time.

Previously:

60. The Remix Album…Diamonds Are Forever by Shirley Bassey (2000)

If this list of favorite albums confirms anything it’s that my musical interests are diverse.  I like electronic music.  I like loungey pop songs sung by a Welsh chanteuse.  And dang it, I like them mixed together.  The best thing about this album is how the remixes emphasize rather than overwhelm Bassey’s vocals.  Bassey’s famed for singing the theme songs to three James Bond films (Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, and Moonraker, all represented here) but I’m particularly fond of her take on “(Where Do I Begin) Love Story” and “Big Spender.”

59. Songs In The Attic by  Billy Joel (1981)

Billy Joel is a divisive figure.  Many people pan him as schmaltzy and derivative.  Millions more  love him.  I was in the later category from the age of 7 until my college days.  Glass Houses was the first non-kiddy album I ever owned (co-owned with my sister) and remains a sentimental favorite.  While I’m not that into Joel these days, Songs in the  Attic remains on my iPod.  It’s a collection of songs Joel recorded early in his career with session musicians re-recorded with his band after he became famous.  The energy of such songs as “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out On Broadway)” capture Joel at his best.

58. Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night by Stereolab (1999)

Stereolab’s music is hard to describe.  Electronic – lounge – fuzz – experimental – free jazz  – and all tres Euro.  Kind of like Shirley Bassey remixed but planned that way from the start.  This album is probably an enabler to my ability to enjoy dissonance.  Standout tracks include “Fuses,” “Italian Shoes Continuum,” and “Infinity Girl.”

57. Truth and Soul by Fishbone (1988)

This ska/funk/hardcore/et al band performed at the first “real” concert I ever attended supporting their excellent album Reality of My Surroundings in 1991.  This earlier album though is the strongest and most cohesive album Fishbone ever released.  It mixes a strong social message with a fun party vibe.  Highlights include “Bonin’ in the Boneyard,” “Change,” and the Curtis Mayfield cover “Freddie’s Dead.”

56. Homegenic by Björk (1997)

This is the second and highest ranked Björk album in this list although I was sorely tempted to include them all, not to mention her work with the Sugarcubes Life’s Too Good.  But Homogenic is Björk at her best – lush and rhythmic, emotional and experimental.  Favorite tracks include “Jóga,” “Bachelorette,” and “All is Full of Love.”

55. The Beatles [White Album] by The Beatles (1968)

The first two Beatles cassettes I bought were their 1962-66 compilation and The White Album  They were both double albums so I thought I was getting a good deal.  I also didn’t know what I was getting into.  The music on The White Album was nothing like The Beatles music I’d heard on the radio growing up.  This album is The Beatles at their most experimental, venturing into country, folk, blues, vaudeville, heavy metal, and whatever “Revolution No. 9″ is.  The sad side of this album is that it documents the band at a time of squabling and “artistic difference” with members of The Beatles playing with guest musicians more than with one another.  Still though, it’s all pretty good, intriguing stuff.  Favorites include “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” “Blackbird,” and “Long, Long, Long.”

54. Portable EFO Show by  Eddie From Ohio (1998)

Eddie from Ohio are always best in concert and this is the best of there many live albums capturing them at a time when I think they were at their peak.  I actually picked up this album at the concert when it was first released and the song banter on the album was still topical.  Highlights include “Cleo & Tony Medley,” “The Three Fine Daughters of Farmer Brown,” “This My Town,” and Eddie Hartness’ drum solo on “Very Short Fuse.”

53.  Last Splash by  The Breeders (1993)

The oscillating bass line of “Cannonball” provided the backing track to my Junior year of college.  Last Splash is 90′s indie rock as I want to remember it best.  Other highlights include “Divine Hammer,” “Drivin’ on 9,” and “Saints.”

52. Ágætis byrjun by Sigur Rós (1999)

Can music be both soothing and unsettling at the same time? Sigur Rós made it so.  I was late to the Sigur Rós bandwagon but after hearing this album I hopped on for the dreamy, ambient, and cinematic beauty of their music.  Highlights include “Svefn-g-englar,” “Starálfur,” and “Ný batterí,”

51. Crosby, Stills, & Nash by Crosby, Stills, & Nash (1969)

Like The Doors, Crosby, Stills & Nash are a band whose entire reputation relies on a brilliant debut album standing out like a diamond in the rough among their later smooth rock and hippie self-parody. Let’s ignore that though and enjoy the brilliant lyrics and beautiful harmonies of songs such as “You Don’t Have to Cry,” “Long Time Gone,” and “Wooden Ships.”


100 Favorite Albums of All-Time (70-61)

Part four of my top 100 albums of all time.

Previously:

70. Hot by Squirrel Nut Zippers (1996)

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.”

69. Fancy Ultra Fresh by the Freezepop (2004)

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.”

68. Christmas Day in the Morning by Revels (1990)

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.”

66. Mountain Radio by The Benders (2003)

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.

64. Vampire Weekend by Vampire Weekend (2008)

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.

61. Molinos by The Paperboys (1998)

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.”

100 Favorite Albums of All-Time (80-71)

Part three of my top 100 albums of all time.

Previously:

80. Other Voices, Other Rooms by Nanci Griffith (1993)

Another good example of the artist-as-interpreter with Griffith covering folk classics and obscure nuggets will the help of an all-star cast of collaborating musicians. Highlights include “From Clare to Here,” This Old Town,” and “Are You Tired of Me Darling?”

79. Profound Sounds by Josh Wink (1999)

I have a number of electronica discs in my collection with a lot of good tracks but it’s rare to find one as cohesive as an album as Profound Sounds.  The liner notes also include a nice tribute to the mix tape. Highlights include “K-Mart Shopping (Hi-Fi Mix)” by Nerio’s Dubwork Meets Kathy Lee,  “Vol 1″ by Care Company, and “D2″ by Johannes Heil & Heiko Laux.

78. Odelay by Beck (1996)

There those who foolishly thought Beck was a one-hit wonder after “Loser” were informed of their mistake by the hit “Where It’s At.”  Odelay also proved that Beck could make a great album.  In fact while this is the highest ranking Beck album in the top 100, I strongly considered putting some of his other albums in the list including Sea Change, Guero, and The Information.  Really, they’re all good. Highlights of Odelay include “Jack-Ass,” “High 5 (Rock the Catskills,” and “Minus.”

77. Songs from the Big Chair by Tears For Fears (1985)

This may be my guilty pleasure, but I’ve had a copy of this album pretty much since it was released so it gets a longevity award if nothing else.  In addition to the three singles everyone knows (“Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” “Shout,” and “Head Over Heals”), I’ve long been fond of the more avante-garde piece “Listen.”

76. Anthology of American Folk Music (1952)

This collection puts together many folk, blues, and country recordings from the 1920′s-30′s, a time when those genres hadn’t even been defined.  Influential of the folk revival of the 50′s & 60′s this anthology is great for studying American music and just plain fun to listen to.  Check out the Smithsonian Folkways Collection podcast (episodes 4-6) for more of the story behind the Anthology and then get a copy of  your very own.

75. The Divine Comedy by Milla (1994)

One would expect that a model-actress who records an album of songs she wrote as a teenager would create something unlistenable and self-indulgent. Lucky Milla Jovovich wrote mature, dreamy pop songs inspired by folk and Slavic traditioons that are well worth a listen. Highlights include “It’s Your Life,” “Gentleman Who Fell,” and “Reaching From Nowhere.”

74. The Resophonics by The Resophonics (2001)

The Somerville Bluegrass Boys first collection of excellent modern bluegrass music.  Their other albums are pretty good too as is anything Sean Staples works on. Highlights include “Willow Tree,” “Anna Lee,” and “Young Love.”

73. The Rhythm of the Saints by  Paul Simon (1990)

This album never got the appreciation of Graceland, but it’s almost as good. Simon’s well-crafted, impressionistic lyrics are accompanied by Brazilian and West African music.  The batucada drumming on the opening track was ear-opening for me as a youngster.  Highlights include “The Obvious Child,” “The Coast,” and “Born at the Right Time.”

72. Surfer Rosa by Pixies (1988)

Long before the Pixies became one of the best oldies bands touring about the world non-stop, they recorded one of the most influential rock albums of all time.  Includes some of the Pixes best songs such as  “Gigantic,” “Where is My Mind?,” and “Bone Machine.”

71. Violent Femmes by Violent Femmes (1982)

If you didn’t have a copy of this album in college, then your roommate did.  Either way you don’t need me to tell you why it’s great or list of the highlights.  You can probably recite the track listing from memory.

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