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.
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.