Favorite Albums of All Time: 20-11


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 40-31
230-221 180-171 130-121 80-71 30-21
220-211 170-161 120-111 70-61
210-201 160-151 110-101 60-51

20

Artist: The Avalanches
Title: Since I Left You
Year: 2000
Favorite Tracks:

  • Since I Left You
  • Two Hearts in 3/4 Time
  • Flight Tonight
  • Electricity
  • Frontier Psychiatrist
  • ETOH

The First Time I Heard This Album …: early 2000s

Thoughts: This is by far the best album I serendipitously discovered by randomly checking it out from the library.  The Avalanches groundbreaking debut is a masterpiece of “plunderphonics,” dance music, and disco that still sounds fresh today. Also, just watch the totally bonkers “Frontier Psychiatrist” video.

Bonus Sounds: Fans of The Avalanches waited a long time for a second album, Wild Flowers, which came out in 2016.  This was followed by We Will Always Love You in 2020.


19

Artist: Marvin Gaye
Title: What’s Going On
Year: 1971
Favorite Tracks:

  • What’s Going On
  • Flying High (In the Friendly Sky)
  • God is Love
  • Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)

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

Thoughts: Marvin Gaye’s magnum opus was recognized by Rolling Stone as the number one album of all time in 2020. The song cycle of socially conscious soul and R&B remains (sadly) relevant.

Bonus Sounds: My first encounter with Marvin Gaye was his 1982 album Midnight Love, the last release before his death, which includes the classic “Sexual Healing.”


18

Artist: Stereolab 
Title: Emperor Tomato Ketchup
Year :1996
Favorite Tracks:

  • Metronomic Underground
  • Cybele’s Reverie,
  • Les Yper-Sound
  • The Noise of Carpet
  • Emperor Tomato Ketchup
  • Anonymous Collective

The First Time I Heard This Album …: circa 2004

Thoughts: A co-worker introduced me to Stereolab and boy howdy, I’m glad he did!  This album is a standout collection of a career of catchy and experimental art rock tracks with electronic loops and samples.

Bonus Sounds: My Stereolab Music Discovery has it all.


17

Artist: The Pogues
Title: Rum, Sodomy and The Lash
Year: 1985
Favorite Tracks:

  • The Old Main Drag
  • The Wild Cats of Kilkenny
  • I’m A Man You Don’t Meet Every Day
  • A Pair of Brown Eyes
  • Sally MacLennane
  • Dirty Old Town
  • The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1991

Thoughts: The Pogues at the their most musically raw, albeit produced by Elvis Costello, while performing story songs that get at the aching heart of humanity. The album also features bassist Cait O’Riordan’s only lead vocal on “I’m A Man You Don’t Meet Every Day.”

Bonus Sounds: The Pogues peaked in the mid-to-late 80s but Peace and Love (1989), Hell’s Ditch (1990), and even Pogue Mahone (1996) have some good tracks.


16

Artist: The Stone Roses
Title: The Stone Roses 
Year: 1989
Favorite Tracks:

  • I Wanna Be Adored
  • She Bangs the Drums
  • Waterfall
  • (Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister
  • Shoot You Down
  • I Am the Resurrection

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1990

Thoughts: One of the first “alternative” albums I listened to after going through my high school Classic Rock phase.  The psychedelic sound drew me in and the chiming guitars, harmonies, and anthemic song structure keeps me listening.

Bonus Sounds: The Stone Roses released only one other album that wasn’t as good as their debut, but there’s a lot of good music to be found from the late 80s/early 90s Madchester sound by bands such as Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, the Charlatans, and James.


15

Artist: Radiohead
Title: OK Computer
Year:  1997
Favorite Tracks:

  • Paranoid Android
  • Exit Music (For a Film)
  • Let Down
  • Karma Police
  • No Surprises

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2003

Thoughts:  I was late to this album but it quickly became an all time favorite and Radiohead one of my favorite bands of the Nineties and Oughts.

Bonus Sounds: Pablo Honey (1993), The Bends (1995),  Kid A (2000), Hail to the Thief (2003),  and In Rainbows (2007) are all part of Radiohead’s excellent discography.


14

Artist: R.E.M.
Title: Lifes Rich Pageant
Year: 1986
Favorite Tracks:

  • Begin the Begin
  • Fall On Me
  • Underneath the Bunker
  • The Flowers of Guatemala
  • I Believe
  • Swan Swan H
  • Superman

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1989

Thoughts: R.E.M. at the peak of their “College Rock” sound before moving onto different styles and greater commercial success.  The vocals are clearer for ever which is important because the lyrics are more topical and political.  But the strengths are still melodies and jangling guitars.

Bonus Sounds: R.E.M.’s run of Chronic Town E.P (1982), Murmur (1983), Reckoning (1984), Fables of the Reconstruction (1985),  Lifes Rich Pageant (1986), Document (1987), and Green (1988) remains one of the great opening strings of any band (and, hey, some people think their early 90s albums are good too).


13

Artist: Björk
Title : Homogenic
Year: 1997
Favorite Tracks:

  • Hunter
  • Joga
  • Bachelorette
  • 5 Years
  • All is Full of Love

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

Thoughts: Björk’s third album is the peak of her most accessible period despite it being undoubtedly strange art rock made danceable with electronic sounds.

Bonus Sounds: My favorite Björk albums are her 90s releases Debut (1993), Post (1995), and Homogenic (1997), but she continues to make extremely creative and artistic music including this year’s Fossora.


12

Artist: Prince and The Revolution
Title: Purple Rain
Year:  1984
Favorite Tracks:

  • Let’s Go Crazy
  • Computer Blue
  • When Doves Cry
  • I Would Die 4 U
  • Purple Rain

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1984

Thoughts: Prince rose to be the biggest thing in the world with a hit movie and a hit soundtrack that contains some his most memorable songs.  I remember listening to this as a kid and being creeped out by the backmasking on “Darling Nikki.”  But a lot of the rest of the album was a lot of fun and these songs remain my soundtrack of the Summer of 1984.

Bonus Sounds: OK, I’m going to make the announcement here, because there is so much of Prince’s music I haven’t even heard: in 2023 I plan to listen to every album Prince and his various band’s and projects ever released.  Watch this space for the full reviews.


11

Artist: Fishbone
Title: Truth and Soul
Year: 1988
Favorite Tracks:

  • Freddie’s Dead
  • Ma & Pa
  • Deep Inside
  • Bonin’ in the Boneyard
  • One Day
  • Subliminal Fascism
  • Ghetto Soundwave
  • Change

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1991

Thoughts: This ska/funk/hardcore/et al band performed at the first “real” concert I ever attended in 1991. This album is the strongest and most cohesive album Fishbone ever released. It mixes a strong social message with a fun party vibe.

Bonus Sounds: Fishbone (1985), In Your Face (1986), and The Reality of My Surroundings (1991)  are all great.  After that, they got a bit too weird.

Favorite Albums of All Time: 30-21


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 40-31
230-221 180-171 130-121 80-71
220-211 170-161 120-111 70-61
210-201 160-151 110-101 60-51

30

Artist: Amy Winehouse
Title: Back to Black
Year: 2006
Favorite Tracks:

  • Rehab
  • You Know I’m No Good
  • Just Friends
  • Back To Black
  • Tears Dry on Their Own

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2006 or 2007

Thoughts: It’s a shame that tabloid headlines and her early death overshadow Amy Winehouse’s massive talent.  She was the cornerstone of a soul revival in the Oughts along with the likes of Adele, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and Joss Stone and this album is a testament to that era.

Bonus Sounds:  The documentary Amy leans toward exploitative but contains footage of Winehouse developing her talent as well as how she was destroyed by the celebrity media complex.  It also includes the sweetest scene of her spending time with her idol Tony Bennet.


29

Artist: Harry Belafonte
Title: Belafonte at Carnegie Hall 
Year: 1959
Favorite Tracks:

  • Cotton Fields
  • John Henry
  • The Marching Saints
  • Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)
  • Jamaica Farewell
  • Mama Look a Boo Boo
  • Hava Nageela
  • Cu Cu Ru Cu Cu Paloma
  • Shennandoah
  • Matilda

The First Time I Heard This Album …: late 1980s

Thoughts: When I was growing up we had a collection of LPs and 45s from various relatives, and one treasure of my late Aunt Barbara was the Harry Belafonte collection.  This concert performance recorded in April 1959 features Belafonte’s interpretations of African American songs, Carribean calypso, and traditional folk tunes from around the world.

Bonus Sounds: The blockbuster Calypso (1956) was the first LP to sell over a million copies and kicked off a global calypso craze.  Not bad for someone who took up singing as a side gig when he couldn’t get acting parts.


28

Artist: Sigur Rós 
Title: Ágætis byrjun
Year: 1999
Favorite Tracks:

  • Svefn-g-englar
  • Starálfur
  • Ný batterí
  • Hjartað hamast (bamm bamm bamm)
  • Olsen Olsen

The First Time I Heard This Album …: circa 2005

Thoughts: The first album I ever heard by Sigur Rós remains the best.  The sweeping orchestral arrangements are cinematic in scope.  While I don’t understand the lyrics, many of which are in a language made up by Sigur Rós frontman Jonsi called Hopelandic, they still speak to me.  The title track is extra special since it was playing in the delivery room when my younger child was born and means “A Good Beginning.”

Bonus Sounds: I have a Music Discovery on Sigur Rós’ albums through 2016 and highly recommend their concert film Heima.


27

Artist: Janelle Monáe
Title: Dirty Computer
Year:  2018
Favorite Tracks:

  • Crazy, Classic, Life
  • Django Jane
  • Pynk
  • Make Me Feel
  • I Got the Juice
  • So Afraid
  • Americans

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2018

Thoughts: Monáe’s masterpiece, so far, hit big in 2018 and is surprisingly only her third full-length album.  It’s Monáe’s most personal album and challenges the fears of our troubled times while celebrating women, Blackness, sexuality, gender identity, and even American identity.

Bonus Sounds: I wrote my very first Music Discovery about Janelle Monáe as well as a concert review from the Dirty Computer tour.


26

Artist: The Specials 
Title: The Specials
Year: 1980
Favorite Tracks:

  • Gangsters
  • A Message To You, Rudy
  • Nite Klub
  • Concrete Jungle
  • Too Much Too Young
  • Little Bitch

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

Thoughts: The debut album from the Two Tone ska band The Specials contains many of the band’s greatest songs and established the new genre of U.K. Ska.

Bonus Sounds: The band’s follow-up album More Specials (1980) took a strange turn into “Muzak” inspired music but is still interesting, while their more recent reunion album Encore (2019) is also pretty good.


25

Artist: The Rolling Stones
Title: Beggars Banquet
Year: 1968
Favorite Tracks:

  • Sympathy For the Devil
  • No Expectations
  • Parachute Woman
  • Street Fighting Man
  • Prodigal Son
  • Stray Cat Blues
  • Factory Girl
  • Salt of the Earth

The First Time I Heard This Album …: late 80s

Thoughts: The Rolling Stones were always best as a Blues band, and their best album sees them embracing roots music to create a rock & roll classic. While the Stones have never been an overtly political band, a lot of the songs on this album come from the perspective of working class people, which also makes it interesting.

Bonus Sounds: This is the third Stones’ album on my list so I’ll just reiterate that Out of Our Heads (1965), Aftermath (1966), Let It Bleed (1969), Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! (1970), Sticky Fingers (1971),  Exile on Main St. (1972), and Blue & Lonesome (2016) are all worth a listen


24

Artist: Stevie Wonder
Title: Talking Book 
Year: 1972
Favorite Tracks:

  • You Are the Sunshine of My Life
  • Superstition
  • Big Brother
  • Lookin’ For Another Pure Love
  • I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Late 80s

Thoughts: This album has a timeless quality, it sounds like it could’ve been released this year. It must’ve been revelatory when people first heard it in 1972. Wonder experiments with numerous keyboards, synthesizers, and drums, continuing as a one-man band on many tracks, but also has numerous guest artists including Jim Gilstrap, Lani Groves, David Sandborn, Deniece Williams, Ray Parker, Jr., and Jeff Beck. Also, “Superstition” is one of the all-time great songs. It never fails to amaze me.

Bonus Sounds: This is the fourth of four Stevie Wonder albums on this list, more than any other artist, so you know you can grab any Stevie Wonder album from the 60s or 70s and you can’t go wrong!


23

Artist: Talking Heads
Title: Remain in Light
Year: 1980
Favorite Tracks:

  • Crosseyed and Painless
  • The Great Curve
  • Once in a Lifetime
  • Houses in Motion
  • Listening Wind

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Late 80s

Thoughts: Talking Heads incorporated Afrobeat sounds into their New Wave and art rock creating one of the seminal albums of the 1980s (as well as one of the defining music videos of the early MTV era).

Bonus Sounds: Beninese superstar Angélique Kidjo created an excellent cover of this entire album!


22

Artist: Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer
Title: Tanglewood Tree
Year: 2000
Favorite Tracks:

  • Happytown (All Right With Me)
  • Tanglewood Tree
  • The Mountain
  • Hey Conductor
  • Crocodile Man
  • Cat-Eye Willie Claims His Lover
  • Cowboy Singer

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2000

Thoughts: When I ranked my favorite albums of all time in 2009, this was the number one album! It may seem like a demotion but really any of my top 25 could be number one and I have to rank them somehow.  The late Dave Carter wrote the mystical lyrics on this album while their partner Tracy Grammer provides harmony and fiddle.

Bonus Sounds: Two of the three albums released by Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer before Carter’s death made my Top 250, but the duo’s final album Drum Hat Buddha is also excellent.


21

Artist: Johnny Clegg & Savuka
Title: Cruel, Crazy, Beautiful World
Year:  1989
Favorite Tracks:

  • One (Hu)’ Man One Vote
  • Cruel, Crazy, Beautiful World
  • Jericho
  • Dela (I Know Why the Dog Howls at the Moon)
  • It’s An Illusion
  • Woman Be My Country
  • Warsaw 1941

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1990

Thoughts:  They say the best music ever is what you were listening to when you were 17.  When I was 17, I was lucky enough to be listening to Johnny Clegg & Savuka.  The racially integrated band formed in South Africa during Apartheid and the music blended Western and African sounds with many lyrics in Zulu.  The album is politically charged yet hopeful.

Bonus Sounds: Before Savuka, there was Juluka, a band formed by Johnny Clegg and Sipho Mchunu that was one of the first multi-racial acts under apartheid and released several albums between 1979 and 1984.  I’m also fond of the 1993 Johnny Clegg and Savuka album Heat, Dust and Dreams which reflects on the exciting times after the release of Nelson Mandela and end of apartheid.


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

40

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).


39

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.


38

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).


37

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.


36

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.


35

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).


34

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.


33

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.”


32

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.


31

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.


 

Favorite Albums of All Time: 50-41


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
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

50

ArtistThe Revels
Title:The Christmas Revels: Celebrating 50 Years! 
Year: 2020
Favorite Tracks:

  • Masters in This Hall
  • Esa Noche Yo Baila
  • Les cloches du hameau
  • Hanerot Halalu
  • Traveler’s Prayer
  • What You Gonna Call That Pretty Little Baby
  • Lord of the Dance
  • Les veuves de la coulee
  • Shadrach
  • Pretty Home
  • I Will Bow and Be Simple
  • Dona Nobis Pacem
  • Children, Go Where I Send Thee
  • In Dulci Jubilo
  • The Sussex Mummer’s Carol

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2020

Thoughts: The Revels celebrates the midwinter solstice every year with performances at Sanders Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts  as well as various spring and summer productions and other Revels communities in at least 8 other cities.  There are at least 26 Revels recordings, and I love them all, but this is a good starter album with live recordings from the first 50 years of Revels

Bonus Sounds: A little self-promotion here, because I’m on The Christmas Revels: Music from the George and Dragon Inn recorded at Sanders Theatre in 2021 (although you’ll have to pick my voice out from the chorus).


49

Artist: My Bloody Valentine
Title:Loveless 
Year: 1991
Favorite Tracks:

  • Only Shallow
  • When You Sleep
  • Sometimes
  • What You Want

The First Time I Heard This Album …: mid-2000s?

Thoughts: I came to My Bloody Valentine late, although in my defense this was still their most recent album at the time I first came to it. The Dublin-based act pioneered the shoegaze genre and wowed the world with this nearly perfect album.

Bonus Sounds: My Bloody Valentine’s other two albums – Isn’t Anything (1988) and m b v (2013) – are worth checking out.


48

Artist: David Bowie
Title: Hunky Dory
Year: 1971
Favorite Tracks:

  • Changes
  • Oh! You Pretty Things
  • Life on Mars?
  • Song for Bob Dylan
  • Queen Bitch

The First Time I Heard This Album …: October 2016

Thoughts: The album where Bowie defined his classic style contains tributes to Andy Warhol and Bob Dylan, as well as references to literature, occultism

Bonus Sounds: Sophia Anne Caruso’s cover of “Life On Mars?” from the David Bowie musical Lazarus is just, wow!


47

Artist: Sly & the Family Stone
Title: Stand!
Year: 1969
Favorite Tracks:

  • Stand!
  • I Want to Take You Higher
  • Sing A Simple Song
  • Everyday People
  • Sex Machine

The First Time I Heard This Album …: mid-90s?

Thoughts: The groundbreaking band featured an interracial lineup of men & women playing instruments and singing. Released before the summer of 1969 when the band played both the Harlem Cultural Festival and Woodstock, this album contains many of the band’s most memorable tracks.

Bonus Sounds: I typically wouldn’t recommend compilation albums, but Greatest Hits (1970) is a necessity because it contains the non-album singles “Hot Fun in the Summertime”, “Everybody Is a Star”, and “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).”


46

Artist: U2
Title: Achtung Baby
Year: 1991
Favorite Tracks: All of them!

The First Time I Heard This Album …: November 1991 when someone in my dorm was playing it loudly

Thoughts: It’s unusual for a band to completely reinvent themselves especially when they were already on top of the world.  But that’s what U2 did in 1991 when they traded in their earnest, political post-punk sound for more introspective songs in an electronic/industrial style.  This was the album that really won me over to U2.

Bonus Sounds: Two years prior to Achtung Baby, U2 released the part live/part studio album Rattle and Hum that included the soulful “Angel of Harlem” and the blues number with B.B. King “When Love Came To Town.”  A completely different sound from what U2 would make next but still two of my favorite songs of theirs.


45

Artist: Ramones
Title: Ramones 
Year: 1976
Favorite Tracks:

  • Blitzkrieg Bop
  • Beat on the Brat
  • I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend
  • Now I Want To Sniff Some Glue
  • 53rd and 3rd
  • Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World

The First Time I Heard This Album …: late 80s?

Thoughts: The Ramones debut album is 14 tracks of pure raging pop music in 30 minutes! Imagine great rock and roll that’s also considerate of your time.

Bonus Sounds: The band’s later albums were not as perfect as Ramones and Rocket to Russia (1977) but the Ramones continued to churn out great singles with “I Wanna Be Sedated” (1978), “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” (1979), “Howling at the Moon (Sha-La-La)” (1984), and “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg” (1985) among my favorites


44

Artist: Kate Bush
TitleHounds of Love
Year: 1985
Favorite Tracks:

  • Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)
  • Hounds of Love
  • The Big Sky
  • Cloudbusting
  • Waking the Witch
  • Jig of Life

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1995

Thoughts: Kate Bush’s masterpiece contains some of her most accessible music to date while still being highly experimental.  It was a huge hit in her native UK and beloved among the USA’s cool, alternative kids.  And now it has a Generation Z fandom thanks to some kids fighting monsters in Indiana.

Bonus Sounds: Want more Kate Bush?  Check out my Music Discovery!


43

Artist: Lizzo
Title: Cuz I Love You
Year: 2019
Favorite Tracks:

  • Cuz I Love You
  • Like A Girl
  • Juice
  • Tempo (feat. Missy Elliot)
  • Exactly How I Feel (feat. Gucci Mane)

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2019

Thoughts: I’ve been greatly pleased by the whole Lizzo phenomenon of the past few years.  Lizzo has defined “bad bitch” as someone who exudes positivity, acceptance, and radical self-love.  Sounds really nice actually.  Cuz I Love You was Lizzo’s breakout LP and it’s just full of bangers

Bonus Sounds: Lizzo’s most recent album Special is pretty great too.


42

Artist: Moxy Früvous
Title: Live Noise 
Year: 1998
Favorite Tracks:

  • Michigan Militia
  • King of Spain
  • Johnny Saucep’n
  • My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors
  • Video Bargainville
  • Psycho Killer
  • The Drinking Song

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1998

Thoughts: Moxy Früvous got their start busking on the streets of Toronto and their interaction with the audience, humorous stories, and improvisation never translated well to their studio recordings.  This live album demonstrates why the band had a devoted following among both folkies and the nerd culture in the 90s and early 2000s.

Bonus Sounds: That being said, Moxy Früvous did release a lot of quality music on their studio albums, especially Wood (1995) and You Will Go To The Moon (1997).


41

Artist: The Weakerthans
Title: Reconstruction Site
Year: 2003
Favorite Tracks:

  • (Manifest)
  • The Reasons
  • Reconstruction Site
  • Psalm for the Elks Lodge Last Call
  • Plea From a Cat Named Virtute
  • Our Retired Explorer (Dines with Michel Foucault in Paris, 1961)
  • One Great City!

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2003

Thoughts: My brother-in-law sent us this album as a gift from Canada and I remember my wife putting this album on one sunny Saturday morning.  As soon as I heard a song from the point of view of a housecat, I was enamored.  The Winnipeg band has a quirky, humorous approach to songwriting with a straightforward folky delivery that puts them somewhere between They Might Be Giants and The Mountain Goats.

Bonus Sounds: The Weakerthans went “on hiatus” in 2014 but band leader John K. Samson continues to record solo work including 2016’s Winter Wheat.

Favorite Albums of All Time: 60-51


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
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

Artist: Pete Seeger
Title: Singalong
Year:  1980
Favorite Tracks:

  • Lonesome Valley
  • Amazing Grace
  • Old Time Religion (Filksong)
  • Abiyoyo
  • Cristo Ya Nacio
  • Homestead Strike Song
  • The Young Woman Who Swallowed a Lie
  • If I Had A Hammer
  • The Water Is Wide
  • Old Devil Time

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

Thoughts: Pete Seeger wanted to record a demonstration album for song leaders, so naturally he chose to record it in Cambridge, Massachusetts where people join a sing-a-long in full harmony at the drop of a hat.  Recorded at Sanders Theatre (where I’ve also performed) the audience sings like angels, although if I recall correctly, Pete seeded the audience with a prepared choir.  Nevertheless, this is folk music as an experience rather than performance.

Bonus Sounds: Pete Seeger’s “folk music is for everyone” tradition has been kept alive by Bruce Springsteen and his We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions recording.


59

Artist: Various
Title:Trainspotting Motion Picture Soundtrack
Year: 1996
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Lust for Life” – Iggy Pop
  • “Deep Blue Day” – Brian Eno
  • “Temptation” – New Order
  • “Perfect Day” – Lou Reed
  • “Mile End” – Pulp
  • “For What You Dream Of” – Bedrock featuring KYO
  • “A Final Hit” – Leftfield
  • “Born Slippy (Nuxx)” – Underworld

The First Time I Heard This Album …: I saw the movie in 1997, but picked up the album when I was visiting Scotland in 1998

Thoughts: Some soundtracks feel as if they emerge whole cloth from the movie they’re associated with, and none more so than Trainspotting. The music perfectly captures the aimless lives of young, working class Scots who attempt to fill their emptiness with heroin and violence. Surprisingly, most of the songs were previously released and yet somehow form a seamless collection of Britpop, techno, and 70s glam/punk

Bonus Sounds: The initial soundtrack was so popular it prompted a second soundtrack with additional songs from the movie, remixes, and some songs that inspired the movie.


58

Artist: The Flaming Lips
Title: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
Year:  2002
Favorite Tracks:

  • Fight Test
  • Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1
  • Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell
  • Are You a Hypnotist??
  • Do You Realize??

The First Time I Heard This Album …: I want to say 2005?  I think it was in a Pitchfork list of the best albums of the first five years of the century.

Thoughts: I knew of The Flaming Lips as the “She Don’t Use Jelly” band so this album surprised me with its spacey electronic sounds and ruminative lyrics.  The sort-of concept album about a Japanese girl fighting evil robots has been adapted into a musical.

Bonus Sounds: The Flaming Lips continue to release imaginative new music of varying quality including standouts like The Terror (2013) and American Head (2020).


57

Artist: The New Pornographers
Title: Challengers 
Year: 2007
Favorite Tracks:

  • My Rights Versus Yours
  • Challengers
  • Myriad Harbor
  • Unguided
  • Go Places
  • Mutiny, I Promise You

The First Time I Heard This Album …:Late 2000s, maybe a year or two after release?

Thoughts: This is peak Pornographers, featuring big bold sounds and provocative lyrics.  The title track is one of my all time favorite tunes.

Bonus Sounds: I did an in depth review of The New Pornographers in a Music Discovery in 2016.


56

Artist: Yo-Yo Ma and Bobby McFerrin
Title: Hush
Year:  1992
Favorite Tracks:

  • Grace
  • Double Mandolin Concerto in G, RV 532: Andante
  • Stars
  • Musette for keyboard in D Major (AMN II/22; doubtful), BWV Anh. 126
  • Coyote
  • Hoedown!
  • Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1068: Air

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1992

Thoughts: Yo-Yo Ma is a celebrated cellist.  Bobby McFerrin is creative vocalist who is unfairly tagged as a one-hit wonder for “Don’t Worry Be Happy” (a song I nevertheless still love), but made an impressive variety of music with his voice and body.  Together they introduce children to classical music.  I knew a lot of big kids who loved this album too, back when I was in college.

Bonus Sounds: Bobby McFerrin’s Medicine Music (1990) is an excellent example of his solo work.  Yo-Yo Ma has excellent collaborations on Appalachia Waltz (1996) with Edgar Meyer and Mark O’Connor and The Goat Rodeo Sessions (2011) with Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile, among many others.


55

Artist: Stevie Wonder
Title:Songs in the Key of Life
Year:  1976
Favorite Tracks:

  • Love’s in Need of Love Today
  • Sir Duke
  • I Wish
  • Knock Me Off My Feet
  • Isn’t She Lovely
  • As
  • Easy Goin’ Evening (My Mama’s Call)

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Late 80s

Thoughts: A sprawling album of 21 tracks, many of them over 5 minutes long, that originally was released as a two LPs with a bonus EP. It’s reminiscent of the Beatles’ “white album” both in the exploration of musical styles and the thought that maybe this could be trimmed down to a solid single album, but which tracks would you cut? Nevermind, splendor in the surplus of sound.

Bonus Sounds: More Stevie coming up in this list since he is a classic album producing machine!


54

Artist: Crosby, Stills, & Nash
Title:Crosby, Stills, & Nash
Year:  1969
Favorite Tracks:

  • Suite: Judy Blue Eyes
  • Guinnevere
  • You Don’t Have to Cry
  • Pre-Road Downs
  • Long Time Gone
  • 49 Bye-Byes

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Late 80s

Thoughts: One of the first rock supergroups brought together David Crosby of The Byrds, Stephen Stills of Buffalo Springfield, and Graham Nash of The Hollies.  Soon they would be one of the first bands playing arena tours as well. Before the band devolved into in-fighting, substance abuse, and various solo albums and side projects, they created this terrific collection of beautiful harmonies and thoughtful songwriting of the flower power era.

Bonus Sounds: A year later, Neil Young joined the firm and they recorded another excellent album called Déjà Vu.


53

Artist: The Beatles
Title: Rubber Soul
Year: 1965
Favorite Tracks:

  • Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
  • Nowhere Man
  • Think for Yourself
  • The Word
  • Girl
  • I’m Looking Through You
  • In My Life
  • If I Needed Someone

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Late 80s

Thoughts: It kind of boggles the mind that in the years 1963-1965, the Beatles averaged two new albums per year plus singles and eps, toured the world, and made two movies. And yet their 6th album, released at the end of 1965, shows no sign of exhaustion and decline. Instead the band were beginning their transition to a studio band with inventive new song stylings and production. One demerit for ending this album with “Run For Your Life,” a hateful stalker song.

Bonus Sounds: I was somehow able to winnow down The Beatles to three albums on this list (one more to come) even though they’re all great in their own ways.  The Beatles’ solo careers are more of a mixed bag.  Check out my Music Discovery on the first decade of the Beatles’ solo work for more of my thoughts on that.


52

Artist: Tom Waits
Title: Franks Wild Years
Year:  1987
Favorite Tracks:

  • Hang on St. Christopher
  • Straight to the Top (Rhumba)
  • Temptation
  • Innocent When You Dream (Barroom)
  • Yesterday Is Here
  • Way Down in the Hole
  • Cold Cold Ground
  • Innocent When You Dream (78)

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Late 80s

Thoughts: I heard “Innocent When You Dream” on some random compilation I checked out from the library at a youthful age.  Later I got this entire album which sounds like something primal and yet entirely new at the same time.  The songs written by Waits and his wife Kathleen Brennan support a play of the same name which I’ve never seen.

Bonus Sounds: More Tom Waits to come, but in the meantime check out my Tom Waits Music Discovery.


51

Artist: They Might Be Giants
Title:  Lincoln 
Year:1988
Favorite Tracks:

  • Ana Ng
  • Purple Toupee
  • Where Your Eyes Don’t Go
  • Pencil Rain
  • The World’s Address
  • They’ll Need a Crane
  • Shoehorn with Teeth
  • Kiss Me, Son of God

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Around 1990

Thoughts: They Might Be Giants’ second album was my introduction to the band and I was won over by the catchy hooks and clever lyrics.  Named for John Flansburgh and John Linnell’s hometown of Lincoln, Massachusetts, the songs at first appear comedic but on reflection contain a profound sadness.

Bonus Sounds: Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns is a documentary about the band and their loyal fanbase that’s worth watching.

Favorite Albums of All Time: 70-61


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
240-231 190-181 140-131 90-81
230-221 180-171 130-121 80-71
220-211 170-161 120-111
210-201 160-151 110-101

70

Artist: Various
Title: Hamilton: An American Musical (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Year: 2015
Favorite Tracks:

  • Alexander Hamilton
  • My Shot
  • The Story of Tonight
  • Right Hand Man
  • Helpless
  • Wait For It
  • Guns & Ships
  • Dear Theodosia
  • Cabinet Battle #1
  • The Room Where It Happened
  • One Last Time
  • It’s Quiet Uptown

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2015

Thoughts: I never thought too highly of Alexander Hamilton the person (I’m a bit of an Aaron Burr buff) but I was transfixed by this musical that combines Broadway musical traditions with hip hop with American history.  I especially like how Hamilton’s story is adapted to that of the immigrant striver relating the story to modern day Black and Latin American people who don’t often get to see people who look like themselves in American history.

Bonus Sounds: Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical In The Heights was adapted into an excellent movie with a great soundtrack.


69

Artist: Billy Bragg & Wilco
Title: Mermaid Avenue
Year:  1998
Favorite Tracks:

  • Walt Whitman’s Niece
  • California Stars
  • Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key
  • Ingrid Bergman
  • Christ for President
  • I Guess I Planted
  • The Unwelcome Guest

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

Thoughts:  Billy Bragg is a folk/punk musicians and leftist activist from England whose music I like but I still need to listen to more of.  Wilco are a band from Chicago beloved by NPR hipsters whose music never interested me much.  But when they came together to put lyrics written by Woody Guthrie to music, it was magic.

Bonus Sounds:  The next step is to listen to actual recordings by Woody Guthrie.  Smithsonian Folkways has you covered.

Speaking of Folkways…


68

Artist: Various
Title: Anthology of American Folk Music
Year: 1952
Favorite Tracks:

  • “The House Carpenter” (1930) – Clarence Ashley
  • “The Butcher’s Boy” (1928) – Buell Kazee
  • “King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O” (1928) – Chubby Parker
  • “John Hardy Was a Desperate Little Man” (1930) – The Carter Family
  • “White House Blues” (1926) – Charlie Poole w/ North Carolina Ramblers
  • “Frankie” (1928) – Mississippi John Hurt
  • “When That Great Ship Went Down” (1927) – William and Versey Smith
  • Mississippi Boweavil Blues” (1929) – Charlie Patton (under the pseudonym “The Masked Marvel”)
  • “Sail Away Lady” (1926) – Uncle Bunt Stephens
  • “Wake Up Jacob” (1929) – Prince Albert Hunt’s Texas Ramblers
  • “Indian War Whoop” (1928) – Floyd Ming and his Pep-Steppers
  • “Saut Crapaud” (1929) – Columbus Fruge
  • “Moonshiner’s Dance Part One” (1927) – Frank Cloutier and the Victoria Cafe Orchestra
  • “John the Revelator” (1930) – Blind Willie Johnson
  • “Bob Lee Junior Blues” (1927) – The Memphis Jug Band
  • “Poor Boy Blues” (1929) – Ramblin’ Thomas
  • “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” (1928) – Blind Lemon Jefferson
  • “Way Down the Old Plank Road” (1926) – Uncle Dave Macon
  • “Fishing Blues” (1928) Henry Thomas
  • “Black Jack David” — Carter Family
  • “How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?” (1929) — Blind Alfred Reed

The First Time I Heard This Album …: When I first got an iPod, around 2005 or so, I listened to a history of Folkways Records which prompted me to get this collection

Thoughts:

Experimental filmmaker Harry Smith pulled together this anthology in 1952 with selections from his collection of old 78 rpm records and it ended up becoming a major influence of the Folk Revival of the 50s and 60s.  Smith’s temerity in calling it “Anthology” instead of “An Anthology” and subsequent popularity skewed the real history of American folk music.  Nevertheless, as a compilation of recorded music enjoyed by ordinary Americans from 1927 to 1932, it is an excellent time capsule.  Selections include folk songs with roots in England, Scotland, and Ireland still enjoyed by rural Americans, Black American folk music (including blues and gospel), and old time music from a time when country and bluegrass are emerging.

The Internet Archive has the entire collection available to stream, including a fourth collection of folk songs chosen by Harry Smith that didn’t get a release until 2000.

Bonus Sounds:

There’s a 112 songs here, you want more?


67

Artist: Fugazi
Title: 13 Songs
Year: 1990
Favorite Tracks:

  • Waiting Room
  • Bulldog Front
  • Bad Mouth
  • Burning
  • Give Me The Cure
  • Burning Too
  • Promises

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1991, because everyone in my Freshman dorm seemed to have this album

Thoughts: Speaking of leftist activism in music, the Washington, D.C. post-hardcore band took the DIY ethos to the limits making their shows as accessible as possible to all their fans.  Their debut album (actually a compilation of tracks from previously released EPs) was highly influential on the sound of the burgeoning alternative rock explosion.

Bonus Sounds:

Ian MacKaye of Fugazi maintains an archive of live performance recordings available for fans to download.


66

Artist: Cry Cry Cry
Title: Cry Cry Cry
Year: 1998
Favorite Tracks:

  • Fall On Me
  • Cold Missouri Waters
  • The Kid
  • Shades of Gray
  • By Way of Sorrow

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1998

Thoughts: Richard Shindell, Lucy Kaplansky, and Dar Williams united to form a folk supergroup, recording this one album of cover songs.  They also had a very successful tour and I managed to see them twice on that tour including their end of tour performance at Sanders Theatre just after New Year’s in 2000.

Bonus Sounds: Richard Shindell’s album Courier appeared earlier in this list, but my favorite Dar Williams’ albums are Mortal City (1996) and End of the  Summer (1997), and favorite Lucy Kaplansky album is Ten Year Night (1999).

Coincidentally, Cry Cry Cry was named after a song by …


65

Artist: Johnny Cash
Title: At Folsom Prison
Year: 1968
Favorite Tracks:

  • Folsom Prison Blues
  • I Still Miss Someone
  • 25 Minutes To Go
  • The Long Black Veil
  • Flushed from the Bathroom of Your Heart
  • Jackson
  • Green, Green Grass of Home”

The First Time I Heard This Album …: early 2000s

Thoughts: I came to this late  due to a general disinterest in country music, not knowing that Johnny Cash is really good country.  Not only was Cash a good musician, he was a good person when it came to following Christ’s teaching of visiting people in prison.  This album recorded in a prison contains songs about prison, by prisoners, and most importantly, to entertain prisoners. The enthusiastic response of the audience of imprisoned men complements the perfect performances of these songs by Cash along with June Carter, Carl Perkins, and the Tennessee Three. You can feel the disappointment when the prisoners are dismissed at the end.

Bonus Sounds: Johnny Cash had a late career resurgence with the American Recordings series which included interpretations of songs by decidedly non-country artists such as Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus.”


64

Artist: The Beat
TitleI Just Can’t Stop It 
Year:1980
Favorite Tracks:

  • Mirror in the Bathroom
  • Twist & Crawl
  • The Tears of a Clown
  • Ranking Full Stop
  • Big Shot

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1990s

Thoughts: Known as The English Beat in the USA, the band emerged from the  UK two-tone ska scene with a debut album that mixed ska with New Wave.  It was a new sound for a new decade and remains one of the best albums of the 80s.

Bonus Sounds:


63

Artist: Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins
Title: Rabbit Fur Coat
Year: 2005
Favorite Tracks:

  • Rise Up With Fists!!
  • The Charging Sky
  • You Are What You Love
  • Rabbit Fur Coat
  • Handle With Care
  • Born Secular

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2005

Thoughts: A debut album for Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley of sorts collaborating with Chandra and Leigh Watson, also making their debut.  The pop/alt-country sound with a gospel tinge contains impressive harmonies and thoughtful lyrics.

Bonus Sounds: Jenny Lewis has continued to release great music including 2014’s “Just One of the Guys.


62

Artist: Janelle Monáe
Title:The ArchAndroid
Year: 2010
Favorite Tracks:

  • Locked Inside
  • Cold War
  • Tightrope
  • Come Alive (War of the Roses)
  • 57821

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2012

Thoughts:  Monáe’s first full-length album continues her on-going science fiction dystopia about a messiasiac android. Musically, it’s a tour de force jumping among genres from song to song and even within songs. Funk, soul, new wave, afrobeat, psychedelia, and even punk rock are in the mix.

Bonus Sounds: There’s more Janelle Monáe to come in this list, but until then you can also read my Music Discovery on her work from 2016 or read her recently-released sci-fi story collection The Memory Librarian.


61

Artist: Adele
Title:21 
Year: 2011
Favorite Tracks:

  • Rolling in the Deep
  • Rumour Has It
  • Set Fire To The Rain
  • I’ll Be Waiting
  • Someone Like You

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2011

Thoughts: The first time I heard “Rolling in the Deep” it blew me away and I’ve been following Adele ever since (along with most of the rest of the world).  The weary wisdom of Adele’s voice belies her youthful age at the time it was recorded.

Bonus Sounds: Adele is still pretty young even though she’s now a veteran artists continuing to release great works like last year’s 30.

Favorite Albums of All Time: 80-71


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
240-231 190-181 140-131 90-81
230-221 180-171 130-121
220-211 170-161 120-111
210-201 160-151 110-101

80

Artist: Various
Title: This Are Two Tone
Year: 1983
Favorite Tracks:

  • The Specials – “Gangsters”
  • The Selecter – “On My Radio”
  • The (English) Beat – “Tears of a Clown”
  • The Specials – “A Message To You, Rudy”
  • The (English) Beat – “Ranking Full Stop”
  • The Specials – “Stereotype”
  • The Specials – “Do Nothing”
  • Rhoda Dakar with The Specials – “The Boiler”
  • The Specials – “Ghost Town”

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1990

Thoughts: I was listening to the “Modern Rock” radio station and heard “Ghost Town” by The Specials and HAD TO HAVE that song.  The thing is that my suburban Connecticut home town’s record stores had limited selections.  I looked everywhere I could think of in the store where I might find The Specials. Finally, I did a last ditch look in the compilations section where I found This Are Two Tone.  Even though the songs were ~10 years old at this time, it is no exaggeration when I say that this album CHANGED MY LIFE!

Bonus Sounds: 2 Tone Records didn’t release many albums as bands like The Beat and Madness moved on to other labels, but a stunning three albums from the label will be on my list.  One great song that’s not on any of these albums is “Nelson Mandela” by The Special A.K.A.


79

Artist: The Go-Go’s
Title:Beauty and the Beat
Year:  1981
Favorite Tracks:

  • Our Lips Are Sealed
  • How Much More
  • Tonite
  • This Town
  • We Got the Beat
  • You Can’t Walk In Your Sleep (If You Can’t Sleep)
  • Skidmarks On My Heart

The First Time I Heard This Album …: early 80s, although it was my sister’s album

Thoughts: The most successful all-woman rock band of all time released this perfect collection of pop punk gems in 1981.  It seems to get better with each passing year.

Bonus Sounds: The Go-Go’s album discography is small but strong! Their 80s follow-up albums Vacation (1982) and Talk Show (1984) also have a lot of great tracks and Belinda Carlisle’s early solo work is also quite good.


78

Artist: Kris Delmhorst 
Title: Songs For a Hurricane
Year:  2003
Favorite Tracks:

  • Waiting Under the Waves
  • East of the Mountains
  • Bobby Lee
  • Juice & June (NOT to be confused with Juice & Gin)
  • Hummingbird
  • Hurricane
  • Short Work
  • Mingalay

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2003

Thoughts: Kris Delmhorst was already one of my favorite artists in the Boston folk scene, but this remarkable album saw her further incorporating old-time/Americana influences into music with a contemporary sensibility.  Since most of the songs work on meteorological themes, you could even say it’s a concept album.

Bonus Sounds: This is Kris Delmhorst’s 4th appearance in my countdown (two of her solo albums, one as member of a group, and one compilation).  I’d also recommend the 2005 album Redbird, the eponymous debut of a trio featuring Delmhorst with with Peter Mulvey and Jeffrey Foucault.


77

Artist: Jolie Holland 
Title: Escondida
Year:  2004
Favorite Tracks:

  • Sascha
  • Old Fashioned Morphine
  • Amen
  • Mad Tom of Bedlam
  • Darlin Ukelele
  • Damn Shame

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2004

Thoughts: A friend gave us this album and the Americana/alt-country/folk rock/je ne sais quoi sound blew my mind.  Jolie Holland was originally a member of The Be-Good Tanyas before going solo and it has the same old timey-goes-modern vibe with an extra kick.

Bonus Sounds: Despite loving Escondida, I never got any of the Holland’s other albums!  I need to address that.


76

Artist: R.E.M. 
TitleMurmur
Year:1983
Favorite Tracks:

  • Radio Free Europe
  • Pilgrimage
  • Talk About the Passion
  • Moral Kiosk
  • Perfect Circle
  • Sitting Still
  • We Walk

The First Time I Heard This Album …: late 1980s

Thoughts: R.E.M. were already top ten artists by the time I learned of them, but I enjoyed going back to their debut album.  I can’t imagine what it was like for listeners trying make sense of Murmur in 1983. It’s too melodic for punk, too folk for New Wave, and too cryptic for pop. Despite not being of its time, the songs on Murmur have a timeless quality.

Bonus Sounds: There is one more R.E.M. album coming up, but I like everything the band released in the 1980s, and even have a soft spot for 1998’s Up.


75

Artist: Pixies
Title: Surfer Rosa
Year:  1988
Favorite Tracks:

  • Bone Machine
  • Gigantic
  • River Euphrates
  • Cactus
  • Oh My Golly!
  • Vamos
  • I’m Amazed

The First Time I Heard This Album …: late 80s

Thoughts: I kind of went backwards with the Pixies from Bossanova to Doolittle to Surfer Rosa.  It took me some time to become accustomed to the harder-edged sound of their debut album, but over a gazillion plays it became an all-time favorite.

Bonus Sounds: More Pixies to come!  The band’s post-80s releases are spotty, but I do like Frank Black’s second solo album Teenager of the Year.


74

Artist: The Muppets
Title: The Muppet Movie: Original Soundtrack Recording
Year: 1978
Favorite Tracks:

  • Rainbow Connection
  • Movin’ Right Along
  • I Hope That Somethin’ Better Comes Along
  • I’m Going To Go Back There Someday

The First Time I Heard This Album …: College, early 90s, but I knew the songs for much longer

Thoughts: Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher went hard in making the original songs from a movie about puppets road tripping across America some of the most memorable in Hollywood history.

Bonus Sounds:  The Muppets have a considerably lengthy discography including soundtracks from their tv shows and movies, Christmas albums, and various compilations.  I remember liking John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together (1979) as a kid but it’s been a long time since I’ve given it a listen.


73

Artist: Nirvana
Title: Nevermind 
Year: 1991
Favorite Tracks:

  • Smells Like Teen Spirit
  • In Bloom
  • Come As You Are
  • Lithium
  • Endless, Nameless

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1991

Thoughts: My opinion of Nevermind is colored by the fact that I was 17-years-old and a freshman at college when the album was released and seemingly changed the music industry overnight. Despite the nostalgia I might have for this album, I actually never owned a physical copy of the album, I just listened to it in other peoples’ dorm rooms. Thirty years later, this album still sounds fresh and different to me. Which is strange, because Nirvan were drawing on influences going back decades earlier and have inspired infinite soundalike bands since.

Bonus Sounds: Nirvana’s three original studio albums and the groundbreaking MTV Unplugged in New York live album are all worth a listen.


72

Artist: Portishead 
Title: Dummy
Year:  1994
Favorite Tracks:

  • Sour Times
  • Strangers
  • Wandering Star
  • Numb
  • Glory Box

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Early 2000s

Thoughts:

Probably a perfect album.  Portishead combines a lot of things that were going on at the time in the 90s – hip-hop rhythms, creative samples, and ambience galore.  The music could be described as “chill-out” if only the tension were not constantly be ratcheting up.  The alluring vocals of Beth Gibbons carry the songs into an effervescent place.

Bonus Sounds: Portishead has three studio albums but I’ve only listened to this one.  I guess it’s about time to check out the other ones.  In the meantime, enjoy “6 Underground” by fellow trip hop artists Sneaker Pimps.


71

Artist: The Beach Boys 
Title: Pet Sounds
Year: 1966
Favorite Tracks:

  • Wouldn’t It Be Nice
  • Sloop John B.
  • God Only Knows
  • I Know There’s An Answer
  • I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times
  • Caroline, No
  • Hang On To Your Ego

The First Time I Heard This Album …: early 2000s

Thoughts: The Beach Boys, a band known for fun songs about surfing and fast cars, put out this album with mature and introspective lyrics and more complex musicality in 1966. It proved to be a stepping stone in the evolution of Rock to a more artistic form of music and the dawn of the Album Era. It took a long time for me to warm up to the Beach Boys were actually really good, serious artists (I grew up in the time of “Kokomo” after all) but this album really won me over.

Bonus Sounds: Good Vibrations.

 

Favorite Albums of All Time: 90-81


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
240-231 190-181 140-131
230-221 180-171 130-121
220-211 170-161 120-111
210-201 160-151 110-101

 

90

Artist: The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem
Title: A Spontaneous Performance Recording 
Year: 1961
Favorite Tracks:

  • The Moonshiner
  • The Whistling Gypsy
  • Brennan on the Moor
  • Tim Finnegan’s Wake
  • Haul Away Joe
  • Young Roddy McCorley

The First Time I Heard This Album …: childhood

Thoughts: The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem were the icons of the Irish folk music revival and part of the soundtrack of my youth.  This album captures an unadorned concert performance with the energy of an audience singing along.

Bonus Sounds: I saw the Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem in various permutations as a group or a duo as a kid with my parents (as well as seeing Liam Clancy solo as an adult) so the concert recordings resonate with me best.  Recorded Live in Ireland (1965) is an excellent companion to A Spontaneous Performance Recording and includes the ultimate pub singalong tune “The Wild Rover.” 


89

Artist: Debo Band
Title: Debo Band
Year: 2012
Favorite Tracks:

  • Akale Wube
  • Ney Ney Weleba
  • Asha Gedawo
  • And Lay

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2012

Thoughts: The Boston-based band plays jazz-inflected contemporary Ethiopian music.  I remember the Debo Band being the hit of many local dance parties about a decade ago.

Bonus Sounds: I wasn’t aware of this but the Debo Band released a second album in 2016 called Ere Gobez. Otherwise they do not appear to have been active since then.


88

Artist:Beyoncé
Title: Lemonade
Year: 2016
Favorite Tracks:

  • HOLD UP
  • SORRY
  • 6 INCH
  • FREEDOM
  • FORMATION

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2016

Thoughts: I was certainly aware of Beyoncé before 2016, but Lemonade made stand up and take notice.  The musically eclectic album is a statement on Black feminism in the era of Black Lives Matter and a tribute to Black history and culture.

Bonus Sounds: It’s hard to believe that Beyoncé didn’t follow up Lemonade until just a few weeks.  Renaissance is an exuberant party album.


87

Artist: Parliament
Title: Mothership Connection
Year:  1975
Favorite Tracks:

  • P-Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up)
  • Mothership Connection (Star Child)
  • Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2016

Thoughts: The Mothership, an icon of George Clinton’s P-Funk collaborative, debuted with this album. The album is the pinnacle of Afro-Futurist funk with a collection of party tunes that celebrate the Black community and funk itself.

Bonus Sounds: Parliament’s discography is not as strong as Funkadelic’s but I do love Chocolate City (1975).


86

Artist: Paul Simon
Title: The Rhythm of the Saints
Year: 1990
Favorite Tracks:

  • The Obvious Child
  • Can’t Run But
  • The Coast
  • She Moves On
  • Born at the Right Time
  • Spirit Voices

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1990

Thoughts: This was Simon’s long-awaited follow-up to Graceland.  Whereas the previous album incorporated South African styles of music, The Rhythm of the Saints draws upon musical Afro-Brazilian and West African musical traditions. The album particularly emphasizes percussion which is what made me fall in love with it as a kid, and why I still love it now.

Bonus Sounds:  There’s another solo album from Paul Simon coming up on the list (I bet you can guess which one!) but Simon continues to create interesting new music.  As recently as 2016 he released Stranger to Stranger which included the great track “The Werewolf.”


85

Artist: Courtney Barnett 
Title: Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
Year: 2015
Favorite Tracks:

  • Pedestrian at Best
  • Small Poppies
  • Depreston
  • Kim’s Caravan

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2015

Thoughts: Australian singer/songwriter/musician delivers witty lyrics with a deadpan voice and a punk rock rage.

Bonus Sounds: Barnett’s follow-up albums Tell Me How You Really Feel and Things Take Time, Take Time are also worth a listen.


84

Artist: Stevie Wonder
Title: Innervisions
Year: 1973
Favorite Tracks:

  • Living for the City
  • Higher Ground
  • All In Love Is Fair
  • He’s Misstra Know-It-All

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Late 80s

Thoughts:A jazzier sound for Stevie Wonder with some funk sound as well.  “Living for the City” and “Higher Ground” are examples of Wonder at his best, and “He’s Misstra Know-It-All” is a critique of a corrupt President that became all-too-relevant again in recent years.

Bonus Sounds: There’s so much Stevie Wonder to love as in my music discovery of his peak years.


83

Artist: Beck 
Title: Odelay
Year: 1996
Favorite Tracks:

  • Devil’s Haircut
  • Hotwax
  • The New Pollution
  • Novacane
  • Jack-Ass
  • Where It’s At
  • Minus
  • High 5 (Rock the Catskills)

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1996

Thoughts: Not content to be a one-hit wonder with the quirky “Loser,” Beck made a statement with his first of many great albums in the late 90s/early 00s.

Bonus Sounds:  All of Beck’s albums from Odelay to Guero (which appeared earlier in this countdown) are excellent but I’m particularly fond of Mutations (1998), which shows more of Beck’s folk rock side.


82

Artist: Peter Mulvey 
Title: Ten Thousand Mornings
Year: 2002
Favorite Tracks:

  • Stranded in a Limousine
  • Inner City Blues
  • Comes Love
  • Running Up the Stairs
  • Oliver’s Army
  • Rain and Snow
  • The Ocean

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2002

Thoughts: A lot of Boston-area musicians practice new songs by busking in the MBTA subway system.  Among them was Peter Mulvey a folk singer/songwriter who got his start in the biz in Boston back in the 90s.  In tribute, Mulvey recorded this album of cover songs live at various subway stations. This may be the only album I was present for the creation of since I saw Mulvey at Davis Square station in Somerville and he told me he was recording an album.

Bonus Sounds: Mulvey has released great albums from 1992 to earlier this month, but my favorites include Glencree (1998), The Trouble with Poets (2000), Kitchen Radio (2004), and The Knuckleball Suite (2006).


81

Artist: The Pogues 
Title: If I Should Fall From Grace With God
Year: 1988
Favorite Tracks:

  • If I Should Fall From Grace With God
  • Turkish Song of the Damned
  • Fairytale of New York
  • Thousands Are Sailing
  • Fiesta
  • Medley: The Recruiting Sergeant/The Rocky Road to Dublin/The Galway Races
  • Streets of Sorrow/Birmingham Six
  • The Broad Majestic Shannon

The First Time I Heard This Album …:  1988 or 89?

Thoughts: Remember Columbia House?  The catalog description for this album said “The Clancy Brothers meet Sex Pistols” and that was something I had to hear.  In the ensuing decades, Celtic Rock has become so ubiquitous it’s hard to recall how groundbreaking it was to hear fiddles and flutes with electric guitars and punk rock attitude.  But The Pogues have always done it the best.

Bonus Sounds: There’s more Pogues to come, but in the meantime you may want to watch the documentary Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan.

Favorite Albums of All Time: 100-91


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
240-231 190-181 140-131
230-221 180-171 130-121
220-211 170-161 120-111
210-201 160-151 110-101

 

100

Artist: Joy Division
Title:Unknown Pleasures
Year: 1979
Favorite Tracks:

  • Disorder
  • New Dawn Fades
  • She’s Lost Control
  • Shadowplay
  • Interzone

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Last year, although I think I’ve heard it in dribs & drabs going back to my college days

Thoughts: Before it was t-shirt, the cover of Unknown Pleasures contained one of the great albums of the Punk Rock era.  The album sounds like it could’ve been recorded by an indie band within the past decade, which is sign of either how far ahead of the time Joy Division was or how rock music has been frozen stylistically for some time

Bonus Sounds: Joy Division released only two albums and their follow-up from 1980, Closer, is also excellent.


99

Artist: Stevie Wonder
Title: Fulfillingness’ First Finale 
Year: 1974
Favorite Tracks:

  • Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away
  • Boogie On Reggae Woman
  • You Haven’t Done Nothin’
  • It Ain’t No Use
  • They Won’t Go When I Go
  • Please Don’t Go

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2016

Thoughts: A somber and less-optimistic album for Stevie Wonder, both musically and lyrically, compared with its predecessors. A strong gospel influence runs through the album alongside funk, soul, and jazz improvisation.

Bonus Sounds:  There’s more Stevie Wonder to come in this countdown, but don’t sleep on Stevie’s early 70s albums Where I’m Coming From (1971) and Music of My Mind (1972).


98

Artist: RUN-DMC
Title: Raising Hell
Year: 1986
Favorite Tracks:

  • Peter Piper
  • It’s Tricky
  • Walk This Way
  • Raising Hell
  • Proud to be Black

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1986

Thoughts: This was the first rap album I ever owned and it’s still one of my favorites.  The funny thing is that I never heard of Aerosmith before their collaboration with RUN-DMC on “Walk this Way.”

Bonus Sounds: RUN-DMC’s eponymous debut album from 1983 is also a milestone of hip hop.


97

Artist: Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
Title: 100 Days, 100 Nights
Year:  2007
Favorite Tracks:

  • 100 Days, 100 Nights
  • Let Them Knock
  • Humble Me
  • Keep on Looking
  • Answer Me

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Early 2010s

Thoughts: Sharon Jones’ confident voice brings retro-soul sounds into the present.

Bonus Sounds: Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings shined like a bright star in their brief career before Jones’ death in 2016.  Check out my thoughts on their discography here.


96

Artist: David Bowie
Title: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars
Year: 1972
Favorite Tracks:

  • Five Years
  • Moonage Daydream
  • Starman
  • Lady Stardust
  • Ziggy Stardust
  • Suffragette City

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2016

Thoughts: This concept album offers a lot to chew on regarding  aliens, fictional rock stars, and impending doom.  Musically it’s a compilation of rock and roll styles bridging rockabilly to punk rock.  Another classic.

Bonus Sounds: There’s more Bowie to come although his discography is full of treasures.  Check out On Bowie by Rob Sheffield for a fan’s experience with Bowie’s music


95

Artist: Weezer
Title: Weezer
Year: 1994
Favorite Tracks:

  • My Name Is Jonas
  • The World Has Turned and Left Me Here
  • Buddy Holly
  • Undone – The Sweater Song
  • Say It Ain’t So
  • In the Garage
  • Only in Dreams

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1994

Thoughts: Weezer’s debut came toward the end of the peak of the alternative rock era and featured songs and lyrics that the nerds among us could relate to set to quasi-metal guitar riffs.  It still sounds fresh today.

Bonus Sounds: Weezer is notoriously hated for not being as good as they once were, but I’ve enjoyed listening to Pinkerton (1996), Weezer (Green Album) (2001), and Maladroit (2002).


94

Artist: St. Vincent
Title: St. Vincent
Year:  2014
Favorite Tracks:

  • Birth in Reverse
  • Huey Newton
  • Digital Witness
  • I Prefer Your Love
  • Severed Crossed Fingers

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2014

Thoughts: Annie Clark had released some great music prior to this eponymous album, but it really blue me away with it’s crunching guitars, catchy riffs, and esoteric lyrics.

Bonus Sounds: Actor (2009) and Strange Mercy (2011) are also excellent albums.


93

Artist: The Halluci Nation
Title:We Are the Halluci Nation
Year: 2016
Favorite Tracks:

  • R.E.D.
  • The Virus
  • Sila
  • Maima Koopi
  • How I Feel

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2016

Thoughts: The Halluci Nation, originally known as A Tribe Called Red, mix indigenous pow wow music with hip hop beats. This concept album is strong social justice statement on the effects of colonization on aboriginal peoples.

Bonus Sounds: A Tribe Called Red (2012), Nation II Nation (2013), and One More Saturday Night (2021) are also excellent collections


92

Artist: The B‐52’s
Title:The B‐52’s
Year:1979
Favorite Tracks:

  • Planet Claire
  • 52 Girls
  • Dance This Mess Around
  • Rock Lobster

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

Thoughts: I first listened to this album after The B-52s more commercial success with Cosmic Thing and it was mindblowing just how weird it was.  But it’s brilliantly weird.

Bonus Sounds: The B-52s’ follow-up album Wild Planet (1980) and of course, Cosmic Thing (1989), are also classic albums.


91

Artist: The Operators 
TitleCitizens Band
Year:2002
Favorite Tracks:

  • Bottle
  • Rock City
  • Running Late
  • The Tarpit
  • The Old Man Doesn’t Like It
  • Xxer
  • Parasite Rex
  • Victoria

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2002

Thoughts: This is another of my more obscure choices.  The members of the Operators were friends of a friend who participated in musical collective called Handstand Command based in Somerville, MA.  In fact, I was on an adult kickball team with one of The Operators. Anyway, I really loved this melodic postpunk collection and wish I’d picked up another one of their albums while I’d had the chance.

Bonus Sounds: I got nothin’!

Favorite Albums of All Time: 120-111


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
240-231 190-181 140-131
230-221 180-171 130-121
220-211 170-161
210-201 160-151

 

120

Artist: Derek and the Dominos
Title: Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs
Year: 1970
Favorite Tracks:

  • I Looked Away
  • Bell Bottom Blues
  • Key to the Highway
  • Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?
  • Little Wing
  • Layla

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Late 80s Classic Rock phase

Thoughts:  Recent events have once again shown that Eric Clapton is an asshole.  Perhaps in 1970 he wasn’t an asshole but it’s very likely that he was.  In fact the whole impetus behind the songwriting on this album, Clapton wanting to steal away his best friend’s wife, is kind of an asshole thing to do.  So it’s with regret that I still find myself love the blues rock on this album.  But it’s not just Clapton, there’s a whole band of talented musicians here including Bobby Whitlock who shares songwriting and lead vocals duties as well as Duane Allman on guitars.

Bonus Sounds: Derek & the Dominos were more of a project than a band, so they only released a single album. But they had an appearance on The Johnny Cash Show which is pretty cool.


119

By The cover art can be obtained from Columbia Records., Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=933489

Artist: Leonard Cohen
Title: Songs of Leonard Cohen  
Year: 1967
Favorite Tracks:

  • Suzanne
  • Sisters of Mercy
  • So Long, Marianne
  • Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye

The First Time I Heard This Album …: circa 2000?

Thoughts: Leonard Cohen charted a different course from other singer-songwriters who made impressive debut albums and had their songs covered by umpteen different artists.  As he got older, and his voice got deeper, his own recordings got even better right up until his death.

Bonus Sounds: Cohen’s last release before his death, You Want it Darker appeared earlier in this list, but I’d also considered including his 1988 release I’m Your Man and 1992’s The Future, but you really can’t go wrong with Cohen from any era.


118

By May be found at the following website: Amazon, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=64678266

Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Sticky Fingers
Year: 1971
Favorite Tracks:

  • Brown Sugar
  • Sway
  • Wild Horses
  • Can’t You Hear Me Knocking
  • You Gotta Move
  • I Got the Blues
  • Dead Flowers
  • Moonlight Mile

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Late 80s Classic Rock phase

Thoughts:

The opening track and #1 single is best enjoyed if you don’t listen to the lyrics too closely (which I think most people have done over time).  But the rest of the album brings about much less conflicted enjoyment with some great Blues rock (“Sway,” “You Gotta Move”), Mick Jagger’s most soulful vocals (“I Got the Blues”), country rock (“Wild Horses,” “Dead Flowers”), Latin jazz fusion (“Can’t You Hear Me Knocking”), and the most thrilling to song to listen to while walking a long a moonlit beach when you’re a 15-year-old camping with your family on Assateague Island and can’t fall asleep (“Moonlight Mile”).

Bonus Sounds: This is the second of three Rolling Stones’ albums to make this list, but some other albums I’d recommend include Out of Our Heads (1965), Aftermath (1966), Let It Bleed (1969), and Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! (1970).


117

By https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=461539374654&set=a.56890239654.63538.5229624654, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29571619

Artist: The Decemberists
Title: The King Is Dead
Year: 2011
Favorite Tracks:

  • Calamity Song
  • Rox in the Box
  • Down By the Water
  • June Hymn
  • This Is Why We Fight

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Around the time of release in 2011.

Thoughts: The joke at the time of release was that The King Is Dead was the best R.E.M. album in 20 years.  While guest artist Peter Buck adds a familiar jangle to a few tracks, the album is also The Decemberists at their peak.  I’ve always imagined that if Edward Gorey were reincarnated as a band it would sound like The Decemberists.

Bonus Sounds: The King is Dead was the fourth in a string of the four best albums by The Decemberists, preceded by Picaresque (2005),  The Crane Wife (2006), and The Hazards of Love (2009).


116

This is the cover art for Nothing's Shocking by the artist Jane's Addiction. The cover art copyright is believed to belong to the label, Warner Bros., or the graphic artist(s).

Artist: Jane’s Addiction
Title: Nothing’s Shocking
Year: 1988
Favorite Tracks:

  • Ocean Size
  • Had a Dad
  • Summertime Rolls
  • Mountain Song

The First Time I Heard This Album …:around 1989

Thoughts: My sister went away to college and when she came back for summer break she played this album for me.  I had no context for this music that kind of sounded like heavy metal but wasn’t metal.  Soon we’d be calling it alternative rock.  I immediately liked the folky “Jane Says.”  It took me longer to adapt to the harder stuff.

Bonus Sounds: Jane’s Addiction’s eponymous live debut album is even more raw in its sound and concludes with the mind-bending “Chip Away.


115

By Derived from a scan of the album cover (creator of this digital version is irrelevant as the copyright in all equivalent images is still held by the same party). Copyright held by the record company or the artist. Claimed as fair use regardless., Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2557540

Artist: Christy Moore
Title: Ride On 
Year: 1983
Favorite Tracks:

  • The City of Chicago
  • Ride On
  • Lisdoonvarna
  • The Dying Soldier
  • Back Home In Derry

The First Time I Heard This Album …: circa 2002

Thoughts: Christy Moore is one of the most influential figures in contemporary Irish folk music and this album is his most solid collection.  It features some memorable original tunes and brilliant interpretations of the works of others, including the definitive version of the title track by Jimmy McCarthy and “Back Home in Derry” written by Bobby Sands.

Bonus Sounds: One of my favorite songs by Moore is the whimsical “The Reel in the Flickering Light,” about a magical dance party of animals and insects.


114

Artist:Erasure 
Title: The Innocents
Year:1988
Favorite Tracks:

  • A Little Respect
  • Ship of Fools
  • Chains of Love
  • River Deep, Mountain High

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

Thoughts: My high school had a small but vocal circle of Erasure fans.  I was slow on the uptake but grew to like their hits.  This album came out during the heart of my teenage years and has several of Erasure’s most iconic tracks.  I remember learning that Andy Bell was openly gay, and while this sounds kind of stupid, I realized that the love songs he was singing were addressed to another man and that made me think of gay people in less stereotypical way than I had been.

Bonus Sounds: The Innocents was part of a string of excellent albums by Erasure that I highly recommend including The Circus (1987), Wild! (1989), and Chorus (1991). And the duo’s early single “Oh L’amour” is a synthpop classic.


113

By https://downtownboys.bandcamp.com/album/cost-of-living, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=70774456

Artist: Downtown Boys
Title: Cost of Living   
Year:2017
Favorite Tracks:

  • A Wall
  • Somos Chulas (No Somos Pendejas)
  • Lips that Bite
  • Clara Rancia

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2017

Thoughts: Back in 2017, the rise of the authoritarian right to the White House prompted many people to quip that at least we’d get a new era of great punk music out of it.  It didn’t quite happen that way, but we did get this great collection from the Downtown Boys, a bilingual, socialist band from Providence, R.I.

Bonus Sounds: The Downtown Boys 2015 release Full Communism is also great, including the single “Wave of History.”


112

Artist: Mourning [A] BLKstar
Title: The Cycle 
Year:2020
Favorite Tracks:

  • If I Can I May
  • Sense of an Ending
  • Mist :: Missed
  • So Young So
  • Be

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Summer of 2020.

Thoughts: Mourning [A] BLKstar is “a multi-generational, gender and genre non-conforming amalgam of Black Culture dedicated to servicing the stories and songs of the apocalyptic diaspora” based out of Cleveland. The music is beautiful of every genre of Black American music you can imagine and then some.  This was my favorite album of 2020 and so emblematic of that troubled year, but it still holds up today.

Bonus Sounds: I only just discovered that Mourning [A] BLKstar released a new album this year called Celestial Bodies, so I’m going to have to listen to that and let you know what I think!


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By The cover art can be obtained from Matador Records., Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54367058

Artist: Algiers 
Title: The Underside of Power 
Year: 2017
Favorite Tracks:

  • Walk Like a Panther
  • Cry of the Martyrs
  • The Underside of Power
  • Death March
  • Cleveland

The First Time I Heard This Album …: October 2017

Thoughts: Atlanta’s Algiers is a band that brings the Southern Gothic feel to its blend of post-punk rock, soul, and gospel.  Their 2017 release is politically-charged response to our present-day dystopia but with hope for the future.

 Bonus Sounds:  The eponymous debut album from Algiers is also excellent including the song “Irony. Utility. Pretext.”