Favorite Albums of All Time: 200-191


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.


200

ArtistThe Kinks
Title: Something Else by The Kinks
Year: 1968
Favorite Tracks:

  • Death of a Clown
  • Harry Rag
  • Love Me Till the Sun Shines
  • Waterloo Sunset

The First Time I Heard This Album …: The Rolling Stone 500 was the first time I listened to these songs in entirety.

Thoughts: This album marks the transition of The Kinks from a British Invasion rock band to a band that writes wry, introspective, and observational songs about every day people. The Kinks aren’t folk rock but their music is informed by the folk tradition, and this album also reflects that odd music hall revival that coincided with psychedelic rock in England.

Bonus Sounds:  “Waterloo Sunset” is a nice song, isn’t it?  Here are some covers by David Bowie and Cathy Dennis.


199

Artist: Aretha Franklin
Title: Lady Soul
Year: 1968
Favorite Tracks:

  • Chain of Fools
  • People Get Ready
  • (You Make Me Feel) Like A Natural Woman
  • (Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone
  • Good to Me As I Am To You
  • Ain’t No Way

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Sometime in the early Oughts, I borrowed this album from the library

Thoughts: It’s hard to believe this is not a greatest hits compilation because it has so many of Aretha’s classic bangers.  But that’s what makes it a GREAT album.

Bonus Sounds: I somehow talked my way down to only one Aretha Franklin album on this list but  Young, Gifted, and Black, Amazing Grace, and I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (and many more) are all worth a listen.


198

Artist: Elvis Costello
Title: My Aim Is True 
Year: 1977
Favorite Tracks:

  • No Dancing
  • Alison
  • (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes
  • Less Than Zero
  • Mystery Dance
  • Watching the Detectives

The First Time I Heard This Album …:  Early Oughts when I was exploring old punk and new wave recordings.

Thoughts: This debut album features Elvis Costello at his rawest, channeling an early Rock & Roll sound into the new punk rock/new wave paradigm. So many of the tracks from this album remain in rotation almost fifty years, to the point that Costello’s earliest work almost overshadows the rest of his oeuvre.

Bonus Sounds: There are several other recordings by Costello worth listening to. I also read his memoir Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink several years ago and found out he is better at writing songs than books, but it had some interesting moments.


197

Artist: Beck
Title: Guero
Year: 2005
Favorite Tracks:

  • E-Pro
  • Qué Onda Guero
  • Girl
  • Hell Yes
  • Go It Alone
  • Rental Car
  • Emergency Exit

The First Time I Heard This Album …: When it first came out in 2005.

Thoughts: This album came at the end of a great decade of peak Beck music from the mid-90s to the mid-00s, but it remains one of his best.

Bonus Sounds: One of Beck’s most creative albums was Song Reader, a collection of sheet music.  In 2013, I was part of Beck’s Song Reader Performed Live, were over 150 musicians, performance artists, and dancers (including burlesque dancers) brought the song to life.  I was part of a 50-voice chorus who sang on several songs, most notably “The Wolf Is On the Hill” (Note: this link is NSFW, because, burlesque dancers).


196

Artist: Modest Mouse
Title: Moon And Antarctica
Year:  2000
Favorite Tracks:

  • 3rd Planet
  • Gravity Rides Everything
  • Tiny Cities Made of Ashes
  • A Different City
  • Wild Pack of Family Dogs
  • I Came As a Rat

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Around 2005, I was looking for new music and got this album on the recommendation of … someone.

Thoughts:  This is a great example of where indie/alternative rock was going in new directions in the early to mid Oughts.  This albums got weird sounds and creative lyrics, but Modest Mouse never forgets to make an enjoyable tune.

Bonus Sounds: This album surprisingly didn’t include any singles, but the next album released in 2004 included the bands most memorable track, “Float On.


195

Artist: Fountains of Wayne
Title: Welcome Interstate Managers
Year: 2003
Favorite Tracks:

  • Mexican Wine
  • Stacy’s Mom
  • No Better Place
  • Valley Winter Song
  • All Kinds of Time
  • Hung Up On You

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Sometime around 2003.

Thoughts: When I first learned of Fountains of Wayne, I was surprised that there was a band that appealed to both young hipsters as well as old dudes who usually only listen to 70s rock.  I guess the band’s power pop sounds has a timeless appeal.  And I find their anthems of New York City Tri-State Area ennui to be relatable.

Bonus Sounds: There are only so many slot in my favorite 250, so I could only choose one Fountains of Wayne album, a great slight to Utopia Parkway.  But do check out the collection that includes “Red Dragon Tattoo” among many other greats.


194

Artist3RDEYEGIRL
Title: PLECTRUMELECTRUM
Year: 2014
Favorite Tracks:

  • PRETZELBODYLOGIC
  • PLECTRUMELECTRUM
  • FIXURLIFEUP
  • ANOTHERLOVE
  • FUNKNROLL

The First Time I Heard This Album …: When it was released in 2014 simultaneously with the Prince album Art Official Age.

Thoughts: “Girl with a guitar is twelve times better than another crazy band of boys/Trying to be a star/When you’re just another brick in a misogynistic wall of noise.” 3RDEYEGIRL is the trio of Hannah Welton, Donna Grantis, and Ida Kristine Nielsen who served as Prince’s backing band from 2014 until his death.  Their one album with Prince rocks hard!  And it features a cameo from Lizzo.

Bonus Sounds: “FUNKNROLL” is a song so good that Prince also recorded a version for his own album.


193

Artist:  The Who
Title: Who’s Next
Year: 1971
Favorite Tracks:

  • Baba O’Riley
  • The Song is Over
  • Behind Blue Eyes
  • Won’t Get Fooled Again

The First Time I Heard This Album …: High school, sometime in the late 80s.

Thoughts: I’m surprised to end up including an album from The Who on the list since they’re not a band that has ever interested me much.  But the Rolling Stone 500 project made me realize that a lot of the songs by The Who that I really do like happen to be on this album.

Bonus Sounds: I think The Who is a band who were probably far more electrifying in live concert performance than on their albums. Do I’ll recommend listening to Live at Leeds for the closet experience to enjoying the band in concert during their prime.


192

Artist: The Velvet Underground
Title: The Velvet Underground 
Year: 1969
Favorite Tracks:

  • What Goes On
  • Pale Blue Eyes
  • Beginning To See The Light
  • The Murder Mystery
  • After Hours

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Last year, Rolling Stone 500

Thoughts: After all these years I’m still kind of surprised that The Velvet Underground can do melodic ballads. There’s a lot of great music on this album that sounds different from the great music on their other albums. There’s also “The Murder Mystery” an esoteric track with different songs being sung and poems recited simultaneously in a harmonic way. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard of anything like that before! I kind of wish Moe Tucker sang lead on more songs.

Bonus Sounds: Another band for whom it’s hard to pick just one album, especially with classics like White Light/White Heat and Loaded in contention.


191

Artist: The Ramones
Title: Rocket to Russia
Year: 1977
Favorite Tracks:

  • Cretin Hop
  • Rockaway Beach
  • Sheena Is A Punk Rocker
  • We’re A Happy Family
  • Teenage Lobotomy

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Last year, Rolling Stone 500

Thoughts: The title Rocket to Russia, seems all to topical now.  The Ramones third album contains some of their most memorable tunes, including my all-time favorite “Sheena is a Punk Rocker.”  It’ll always remind me of when I first discovered The Ramones in the late 80s and realized that I, too, could be a punk rocker.

Bonus Sounds: The title of this album sounds more political than The Ramones’ music typically is, but one of their most political songs ever, “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg” from 1986, is another of my all-time favorites.

 

 

Favorite Albums of All Time: 240-231


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.

240

Artist: “Weird Al” Yankovic
Title: Straight Outta Lynwood
Year: 2006
Favorite Tracks:

  • White & Nerdy
  • Canadian Idiot
  • Polkarama!
  • Confessions Part III
  • Trapped in the Drive-Thru
  • Don’t Download This Song

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Surprisingly not until 2017 when I did Music Discovery for Weird Al.

Thoughts: Weird Al has persisted as one of the great song parodists for five decades by always keeping with music of the time and by being a talented musician.  And he has a quirky sense of humor that transcends generations. I had several Weird Al albums under consideration for this list and determined that I should widdle it down to just one.  It came to the conclusion that Straight Outta Lynwood was Yankovic’s most perfect album with no real dead spots, which was surprising since it wasn’t one I listened to when it first came out.  A bit of trivia I learned recently that I’ll share with anyone else who has limited knowledge of Southern California geography: Lynwood is right next to Compton.

Bonus Sounds:

  • “Weird Al” Yankovic in 3-D (1984) was my first of Al’s albums and one I played to death while driving my mother and sister crazy. It includes the classic Michael Jackson parody “Eat It” but also some great originals like “Buy Me a Condo” in which a reggae man goes yuppie.
  • Off the Deep End (1992) was a hit of my college years with Al going grunge on “Smells Like Nirvana.” I, however, stayed around for Al’s original take on sensitive, acoustic love songs ” You Don’t Love Me Anymore.”
  • Mandatory Fun (2014) came out big with eight music videos released in eight days upon release.  After having fallen away from Weird Al and being reunited with him twice before, I knew that I was truly a Weird Al fan for life.  Mandatory Fun includes up to the minute parodies like “Tacky” and “Word Crimes” that may have stood the test of time better than the originals.
  • If you’ve read this far about Weird Al, check out my reviews of his cult movie UHF and seeing him in concert at the Apollo Theater in 2018.

239

Artist: Taylor Swift
TitleRed
Year: Original recording (2012), Taylor’s Version (2021)
Favorite Tracks:

  • State of Grace
  • I Knew You Were Trouble
  • All Too Well
  • 22
  • We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
  • Nothing’s New

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Listening to Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums last year.

Thoughts: I don’t think a year or so I would have considered that Taylor Swift would have an album on my all-time favorite album list.  But the more I’ve heard of Swift’s music the more I’ve come to appreciate her songwriting and artistry. I can honestly understand the excitement of this album’s rerecorded release last fall.

Bonus Sounds: The only other Swift album I’ve listened to completely is 1989, which contains some of her biggest hits like “Shake it Off” and “Blank Space.”  I expect there will be more Taylor Swift in my future.


238

Artist: Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet
Title: Dim the Lights, Chill the Ham 
Year: 1991
Favorite Tracks:

  • I Know a Guy Named Larry
  • Aunt’s Invasion
  • In My Room
  • Who Painted Whistler’s Mother
  • Siesta Cinema

The First Time I Heard This Album …: I got this album when I was a Freshman in college in 1991.

Thoughts: Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet were a band from Toronto active in the early 1990s who played instrumental music in what is often described as a surf music style. While the songs have no lyrics, the amusing titles are incredibly evocative.  Just goes to show you that the early 90s was not all about Grunge.  I used to play this while I was studying in college, so I credit my good grades to this band of esoteric Canadians.

Bonus Sounds: Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet are most famous for their tune “Having an Average Weekend” which was used as the theme song for The Kids in the Hall. A lot of the tracks on Dim the Lights, Chill the Ham appear as interstitial music on the show as well.


237

 

Artist: Christy Moore
Title: Voyage
Year: 1989
Favorite Tracks:

  • Mystic Lipstick
  • The Voyage
  • The Deportees Club
  • Missing You
  • Musha, God Help Her

The First Time I Heard This Album …: A co-worker who also appreciated Irish folk music gave me two albums by Christy Moore as a birthday gift in the mid-oughts.

Thoughts: Christy Moore is known for traditional Irish music and folk music, dating back to the 1960s with the band Planxty.  This album is unusual in that it is mostly interpretations of pop songs by other artists with electronic instrumentation supplementing the more traditional instruments.  This could sound cheezy in a very 80s way but here it works atmospherically supporting Moore’s voice.  What is cheezy, in a good way, is the title track which is the perfect metaphor for a marriage.  I also love the cover of Elvis Costello’s “The Deportees Club.”  Costello is a guest artist on the album as well as Sinead O’Connor and Mary Black.

Bonus Sounds: There’s another Christy Moore album coming up in this list, but beyond that I’ve only owned the compilation The Christy Moore Collection 1981–1991 and the concert recording Live at the Point.  Probably should dive into the Planxty and Moving Hearts stuff in the future.


236

Artist: Leonard Cohen
Title: You Want It Darker
Year: 2016
Favorite Tracks:

  • You Want It Darker
  • Treaty
  • Leaving the Table
  • Steer Your Way

The First Time I Heard This Album …: I listened to and reviewed You Want It Darker right around the time of its release in October 2016.

Thoughts: I want to say that Leonard Cohen went out on a high note, but his voice is nevermore earth-shakingly deep as it sounds here.  You Want It Darker was released just 17 days before Cohen died on November 7, 2016 and it shows that he was the master of his art right up to his final days.

Bonus Sounds: You really can’t go wrong with Leonard Cohen, an artist who kept reinventing himself over 6 decades. I have another Cohen album coming up in this list but there are several more that I could’ve added, including:

  • Songs of Love and Hate (1971)
  • I’m Your Man (1988)
  • The Future (1992)

I’d also recommend checking out his live recordings. I had the privilege to see Leonard Cohen in concert and he was a consummate professional in performance.


235

Artist: The Benders
TitleMountain Radio
Year: 2003
Favorite Tracks:

  • The Great Tear of Josie and Ed
  • The Road Home
  • Double Yellow
  • Cheers to the First Snow
  • Shovel Full of Dreams
  • Liquor Is Your Best Friend

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Probably after I bought the album at a Club Passim concert.

Thoughts: This is the first of a couple of albums on the list by the Somerville bluegrass boys.  They weren’t all boys and they weren’t all from Somerville but that’s where they seemed to congregate.  Anyhow, there were a number of bands with fluid lineups in the late 90s/early 00s that I followed that played new takes on old-time music and bluegrass and most of them seemed to involve Sean Staples. The Benders seems to be a common name for bands and thus hard to locate the right one in a search engine but Mountain Radio is on Spotify should you wish to check it out.

Bonus Sounds: This Boston-area folk music scene started a kind of collective that played tunes from the American songbook around the table in the style of an Irish pub session, which was appropriately called Session Americana and they still perform today.


234

Artist: Young Fathers
Title: Cocoa Sugar
Year: 2018
Favorite Tracks:

  • Fee Fi
  • In My View
  • Turn
  • Tremelo
  • Wow
  • Wire
  • Toy

The First Time I Heard This Album …: I listened to and reviewed this album shortly after its release in March 2018.

Thoughts: The Scottish trio Young Fathers are one of the most delightfully genre-undefinable bands of the past decades. The sound is a mix of rap, electronic music, soul, and psychedelia.  Cocoa Sugar is the band’s third and most recent album.  If they continue their upward swing, their next album should be quite good.

Bonus Sounds: I’ve written a lot about Young Fathers over the years on this blog.  Stand out songs from earlier in their catalog include “Low” (2014) and “Shame” (2015).


233

Artist: X-Ray Spex
Title: Germfree Adolescents
Year: 1978
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Warrior in Woolworths”
  • “Let’s Submerge”
  • “I Can’t Do Anything”
  • “Identity”
  • “The Day the World Turned Day-Glo”

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Another late in life discovery of the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums project.

Thoughts: Poly Styrene cheerfully embraces the slacker ethos over raging guitars and soaring saxes.  This was the only X-Ray Spex album, meaning that there’s nothing out there that sounds like this.

Bonus Sounds: A documentary released last year, Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliche, will be playing at a theater near me soon, so I hope to see it and post a review for you.


232

Artist: Wire
Title: Pink Flag
Year: 1977
Favorite Tracks:

  • Three Girl Rhumba
  • Ex Lion Tamer
  • Pink Flag
  • 106 Beats
  • Mannequin

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Another album revealed to me the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums project.

Thoughts: The debut album from Wire came out during the heyday of punk, but it seems to fit in perfectly with the alternative rock 90s.  Perhaps that’s why Wire had such a long career.

 


231

Artist: The Kinks
Title: The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society
Year: 1969
Favorite Tracks:

  • The Village Green Preservation Society
  • Picture Book
  • Big Sky
  • Sitting by the Riverside
  • Village Green
  • Phenomenal Cat
  • All of My Friends Were There

The First Time I Heard This Album …: I’ve loved the title track for a long time but I only listened to the album in its entirety last year.

Thoughts: This collection of baroque pop and folk rock tunes offers a paean to the pastoral life of the countryside, something that even a thoroughly urban person like me can appreciate.

Bonus Sounds: One of these days I’m going to have to do a Music Discovery and listen to all of The Kinks’ albums in order.  But my first experience with The Kinks goes all the way back to 1982 with the song “Come Dancing” which I think has some of the same nostalgic longing for a simpler time as this album.

Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 390-381


Last September, Rolling Stone magazine released their most recent list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, which includes a greater variety of artists and genres than previous lists. Looking through the list, there were many albums I’d never listened to before and a few I’d never even heard of. In fact, counting it up, I found that I’d only listened to 140 of the albums, although I’d heard songs from many more. So I’ve decided my project for 2021 is to listen to 10 albums each week and write up some thoughts about each one.

Previous Posts:


Artist: Pixies
Album: Surfer Rosa
Year: 1988
Label: 1988
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: So many times
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Bone Machine”
  • “Broken Face”
  • “Gigantic”
  • “Where is My Mind?”
  • “Cactus”

Thoughts: Pixies weren’t on my radar in 1988, but when I discovered them in the 1990s, I went back to this album and it became one of my all-time favorites (#72 on my 2009 list). I could list every track on the album as a favorite, but “Gigantic” and “Where is My Mind?” are two of the greatest songs ever.


Artist: Mariah Carey
Album: The Emancipation of Mimi
Year: 2005
Label: Island
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: No
Favorite Tracks: None

Thoughts: I remember Mariah Carey as ever present in the 1990s and not liking how squeaky her voice got on the high notes. But by the 2000s she was off my radar (except for a hilarious cameo in You Don’t Mess With the Zohan), so I didn’t expect to recognize any of these songs. It’s a straightforward R&B/dance pop album with hip hop guest artists and only a little squeakiness. I keep saying this, and I don’t mean it in a derogatory way, that this kind of music is not my thing, but I’m sure it’s perfectly fine.


Artist: Aretha Franklin
Album: Young, Gifted and Black
Year: 1972
Label: Atlantic
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Day Dreaming”
  • “Rock Steady”
  • “Young, Gifted, and Black”
  • “All the King’s Horses”
  • “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)”
  • “Border Song (Holy Moses)”

Thoughts: Aretha Franklin’s music is such a gift to the world and I should listen to it more. A lot of the songs on this album are covers (Nina Simone, Otis Redding, The Beatles, Elton John) but she redefines them and makes them her own as much as her original works.


Artist: Radiohead
Album: In Rainbows
Year: 2007
Label: XL
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Yes
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “All I Need”
  • “Reckoner”
  • “House of Cards”

Thoughts: I remember when this album came out and it was for sale online on a pay-your-own price model. It felt like the wave of the future. It wasn’t. iTunes soon became dominant only to be shoved aside for streaming. I’ve always liked this album but didn’t think it was considered among Radiohead’s great albums so I’m pleasantly surprised. The band has only released two new albums in the intervening 14 years and they’re both ok, but not great, so it turns out that In Rainbows was the last Radiohead album to date worth getting really excited about. We’ll get to discuss Radiohead three more times as we work through the list.


Artist: J Dilla
Album: Donuts
Year: 2006
Label: Stones Throw
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: No
Would I Listen to this Album Again?:
Favorite Tracks: All of them

Thoughts: If you’ve been reading my RS 500 posts for a while, you’ll probably not be surprised that I am not at all familiar with J Dilla. The album was recorded as Detroit producer J Dilla contended with a blood disease and lupus and was released on his 32nd birthday. Tragically, he died three days later. It’s a hip hop album with no rap, a collection of short and largely instrumental tracks that mix together samples in creative ways. It’s yet another treat of this project to be introduced to this influential album.


Artist: The Ramones
Album: Rocket to Russia
Year: 1977
Label: Sire
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Cretin Hop”
  • “Rockaway Beach”
  • “Sheena is a Punk Rocker”
  • “We’re a Happy Family”
  • “Teenage Lobotomy”

Thoughts: Some time in the late 80s, probably inspired by reading Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, I checked the compilation album Ramones Mania out of the library. It was nothing like any music I’d ever liked before, and it redefined my understanding of what punk music actually was, and I loved it. I remember feeling the need to keep the fact that I liked the Ramones secret and the first time I told another kid “I kind of like The Ramones,” and he said “Oh yeah, The Ramones are awesome!” it was such a relief. Anyhow, a lot of the songs from this album were on Ramones Mania, including my all-time favorite Ramones song “Sheena is a Punk Rocker.” It’s a great record of 1977, the peak year for punk rock.


Artist: The Kinks
Album: The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society
Year: 1969
Label: Reprise
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “The Village Green Preservation Society”
  • “Picture Book”
  • “Sitting by the Riverside”
  • “All of My Friends Were There”

Thoughts: This is the second of two albums by The Kinks and it is reaffirming that I should spend more time listening to The Kinks in the future. At the same time that rock & roll was embracing the counter-culture and change, The Kinks release a thematic album about the simplicity of old-fashioned English villages. This is not entirely contrary as the counter culture embraced a “back to the land” movement and Paul McCartney would soon move to a farm to create his first solo album. But the music on this album is both of its time, with touches of baroque pop and psychedelia, as well as entirely it’s own thing.


Artist: Massive Attack
Album: Mezzanine
Year: 1998
Label: Circa/Virgin
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: No
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Angel”
  • “Teardrop”

Thoughts: I had a vague awareness that a 90s band named Massive Attack exists but just assumed that they were another grunge/hard rock band. I was wrong. They are a triphop and electronica band, more Portishead than Bush. I even recognize the song “Teardrop,” which I swear I heard in a movie soundtrack but can’t confirm that. The album starts strong but then peters out into repetitive blandness so I probably won’t be relistening to it anytime soon.


Artist: Tame Impala
Album: Currents
Year: 2015
Label: Interscope
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Let It Happen”

Thoughts: Tame Impala (Australian producer Kevin Parker) is one of those artists I’ve heard about for years but never gave that much thought to. The lead track “Let It Happen” is definitely familiar to my ears. I appreciated the dense soundscapes of the songs but overall I find the music of Tame Impala to be fairly dull. Which is probably why I never paid much attention to it.


Artist: Lynyrd Skynyrd
Album: (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd)
Year: 1973
Label: MCA
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Tuesday’s Gone”
  • “Mississipi Kid”

Thoughts: During my high school years I went through a 2-year classic rock phase where I listened to music from the 1960s and early 1970s exclusively. I dove into everything, including some fairly obscure bands, but I could not abide Southern Rock and would race to change the dial whenever it came on. Obviously, a lot of great rock music comes from the South (where the genre was born) but I specifically didn’t like bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers Band who announced their macho Southern heritage in their music and used Confederate symbols in their iconography. I am, however, listening to every album on this list with an open mind. I did find myself enjoying the bluesy soul of “Tuesday’s Gone” and “Mississippi Kid,” but the hits “Gimme Three Steps” and “Free Bird” just feel frozen in Klassik Rawk Self-parody, despite my efforts.


Running List of Albums I’d Listen to Again

  • 500. Arcade Fire, Funeral
  • 498. Suicide, Suicide
  • 497. Various Artists, The Indestructible Beat of Soweto
  • 494. The Ronettes, Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes
  • 489. A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector from Phil Spector and Various Artists, Back to Mono (1958-1969)
  • 487. Black Flag, Damaged
  • 485, Richard and Linda Thompson, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight
  • 483, Muddy Waters, The Anthology
  • 482, The Pharcyde, Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde
  • 481, Belle and Sebastian, If You’re Feeling Sinister
  • 478, The Kinks, Something Else by the Kinks
  • 477, Howlin’ Wolf, Moanin’ in the Moonlight
  • 469, Manu Chao, Clandestino
  • 465, King Sunny Adé, The Best of the Classic Years
  • 464, The Isley Brothers, 3 + 3
  • 462, The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Gilded Palace of Sin
  • 459, Kid Cudi, Man on the Moon: The End of the Day
  • 457, Sinéad O’Connor, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got
  • 456, Al Green, Greatest Hits
  • 455, Bo Diddley, Bo Diddley/Go Bo Diddley
  • 453, Nine Inch Nails, Pretty Hate Machine
  • 452, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Anthology
  • 451, Roberta Flack, First Take
  • 448, Otis Redding, Dictionary of Soul
  • 446, Alice Coltrane, Journey in Satchidanada
  • 444, Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine
  • 443, David Bowie, Scary Monsters
  • 440, Loretta Lynn, Coal Miner’s Daughter
  • 439, James Brown, Sex Machine
  • 438, Blur, Parklife
  • 437, Primal Scream, Screamadelica
  • 435, Pet Shop Boys, Actually
  • 433, LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver
  • 431, Los Lobos, How Will the Wolf Survive?
  • 430, Elvis Costello, My Aim Is True
  • 429, The Four Tops, Reach Out
  • 428, Hüsker Dü, New Day Rising
  • 427, Al Green, Call Me
  • 426, Lucinda Williams, Lucinda Williams
  • 425, Paul Simon, Paul Simon
  • 424, Beck, Odelay
  • 423, Yo La Tengo, I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One
  • 422, Marvin Gaye, Let’s Get It On
  • 421, M.I.A., Arular
  • 417, Ornette Coleman, The Shape of Jazz to Come
  • 416, The Roots, Things Fall Apart
  • 415, The Meters, Looka Py Py
  • 414, Chic, Risqué
  • 413, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Cosmo’s Factory
  • 412, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Going to a Go Go
  • 409, Grateful Dead, Workingman’s Dead
  • 408, Motörhead, Ace of Spades
  • 406, Magnetic Fields, 69 Love Songs
  • 405, Various, Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era
  • 403, Ghostface Killah, Supreme Clientele
  • 402, Fela Kuti and Africa 70, Expensive Shit
  • 401, Blondie, Blondie
  • 400, The Go-Go’s, Beauty and the Beat
  • 398, The Raincoats, The Raincoats
  • 397, Billie Eilish, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
  • 395, D’Angelo and the Vanguard, Black Messiah
  • 392, Ike and Tina Turner, Proud Mary: The Best of Ike and Tina Turner
  • 390, Pixies, Surfer Rosa
  • 388, Aretha Franklin, Young, Gifted and Black
  • 387, Radiohead, In Rainbows
  • 386, J Dilla, Donuts
  • 385, Ramones, Rocket to Russia
  • 384, The Kinks, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society

Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 480-471


Last September, Rolling Stone magazine released their most recent list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, which includes a greater variety of artists and genres than previous lists. Looking through the list, there were many albums I’d never listened to before and a few I’d never even heard of. In fact, counting it up, I found that I’d only listened to 140 of the albums, although I’d heard songs from many more. So I’ve decided my project for 2021 is to listen to 10 albums each week and write up some thoughts about each one.

Previous Posts:


Artist:  Miranda Lambert
Album: The Weight of These Wings
Year: 2016
Label: eRCA Nashville
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: No
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • Runnin’ Just in Case
  • Highway Vagabond
  • Good Ol’ Days

Thoughts: I’m not a huge fan of contemporary country, but this album exceeded my expectations. While country underlies every track, the collection explores a great variety of genres. The songs and lyrics are well-crafted and tell the story of Lambert moving on from her recent divorce.  I think at 24 tracks the album goes on a bit long and would’ve been more effective if trimmed down to a single album.


Artist: Selena
Album: Amor Prohibido
Year: 1994
Label: EMA Latin
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Only by name
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Probably not
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Fotos Y Recuerdos”
  • “Bidi Bid Bom Bom”
  • “Tus Desprecios”

Thoughts: Texas Tejano musician Selena was already a legend before a murderer ended her life far to early at the age of 23. As much as I’ve heard about her success and tragedy, I never before heard any of her music, to my knowledge. I was surprised by the chintzy synths, although Selena’s voice transcends the production values. I have to admit that while Selena’s artistry is not something that engages me that nonetheless I can recognize her talent and understand why she is loved by so many.  The album also includes a cover of “Back on the Chain Gang” by the Pretenders, retitled as “Fotos Y Recuerdos,” which I like a lot better than the original.


Artist: The Kinks
AlbumSomething Else by the Kings
Year: 1968
Label: Oye
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes (“Waterloo Sunset” to be specific)
Would I Listen to this Album Again?:  Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Death of a Clown”
  • “Harry Rag”
  • “Love Me Till the Sun Shines”
  • “Waterloo Sunset”

Thoughts: The Kinks are one of those bands I’ve long felt I need to pay more attention to, and they’ve been on my short list for a Music Discovery for some time.  This album marks the transition of The Kinks from a British Invasion rock band to a band that writes wry, introspective, and observational songs about every day people. The Kinks aren’t folk rock but their music is informed by the folk tradition, and this album also reflects that odd music hall revival that coincided with psychedelic rock in England.


Artist: Howlin’ Wolf
Album: Moanin’ in the Moonlight
Year: 1959
Label: Chess
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Smokestack’ Lightnin'”
  • “All Night Boogie (All Night Long)”
  • “Evil (Is Going On)”

Thoughts: I’ve been critical of the RS 500’s inclusion of compilation albums on this list, and expect I will continue to harp on this issue as I work my way through the list, but here’s an instance where I think that they got it right.  Much like fellow Chess blues artist Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf’s only appearance on the RS 500 is a collection of singles from the 1950s.  The difference here is that Moanin’ in the Moonlight was released in 1959 while Howlin’ Wolf was still at his artistic peak.  Howlin’ Wolf and his production crew likely had input on song selection and sequencing.  And as the LP was just becoming commercially viable at this time, it certainly brought Howlin’ Wolf’s music to the attention of new audiences, including the many blues and blues rock artists of the 60s and 70s who would draw on his influence.  So yes, this is how a compilation album can indeed be a greatest album of all time!


Artist: Sparks
AlbumKimono My House
Year: Island
Label: 1974
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Vaguely
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Talent is an Asset”

Thoughts: I only learned of Sparks last spring when a friend recommended their most recent album A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip. I liked the album, although not enough to review it on its own, and was surprised that a band that sounded so contemporary went back to the 1960s. This 1974 album was their breakout record and influenced artists from Morrisey to Björk. It doesn’t resonate with me though as it is very prog rock and sounds like Rush performing Rocky Horror.


Artist: Sheryl Crow
AlbumSheryl Crow
Year: 1996
Label: A&M
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Unfortunately
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: No
Favorite Tracks: None

Thoughts: When Sheryl Crow’s first few singles hit the airwaves I always went through a phase where first I would think, this is kinda good, but after repeated hearings would like the song less and less.  Eventually I grew to just dislike everything by Sheryl Crow.  I’m trying to listen to every album on this list with an open mind, but I’m not at all surprised that I still don’t like the music of Sheryl Crow.


Artist: Big Star
Album: #1 Record
Year: 1972
Label: Ardent
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: By reputation
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Maybe, one day
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Thirteen”

Thoughts: Big Star and its band leader Alex Chilton are revered among rock music enthusiasts but I’ve never been able to get the appeal.  It’s not that Big Star is bad, far from it, I just don’t hear it as so amazingly great. They feel to me more like a great bar band than the icons who inspired R.E.M. and The Replacements.


Artist: Daddy Yankee
Album: Barrio Fino
Year: 2004
Label: V.I. Music
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: No
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Maybe
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Like You”
  • “Salud y Vida”

Thoughts: I like the sound of reggaetón, which I typically experience as beats from a passing car or coming over the speakers at the corner store. This is the first time I’ve ever sat down and listened to a reggaetón album, and I liked it just fine.  Daddy Yankee, of course, practically invented the genre of reggaetón so naturally he deserves a spot on this list even if it isn’t something I’d listen to all the time.


Artist: SZA
AlbumCtrl
Year: 2017
Label: RCA
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: No
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Not likely
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Wavy (Interlude) (feat. James Fauntleroy)”
  • “Normal Girl”

Thoughts: SZA is another contemporary artist I’m not at all familiar with.  The downtempo style of hip-hop and R&B doesn’t really appeal to me, but nevertheless this album is not bad.


Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Album: Surrealistic Pillow
Year: 1967
Label: RCA
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Somebody to Love”
  • “White Rabbit”

Thoughts: One can argue about what albums deserve inclusion on this current version Rolling Stone 500 and how they should be ranked, but the nice thing about it is that they’ve made a conscious effort to include a greater variety of genres, artists of different backgrounds, and across different eras.  The appearance of Jefferson Airplane here is a reminder of the old Rolling Stone which was fixated on promoting the late 60s San Francisco scene as the epitome of all that is good in rock music. The album includes the two songs that everyone knows Jefferson Airplane for, and a lot of mediocrity.  In fact, the rest of the album sounds more like a folk rock album than psychedelia so it definitely captures the band in transition.


Running List of Albums I’d Listen to Again

  • 500. Arcade Fire, Funeral
  • 498. Suicide, Suicide
  • 497. Various Artists, The Indestructible Beat of Soweto
  • 494. The Ronettes, Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes
  • 489. A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector from Phil Spector and Various Artists, Back to Mono (1958-1969)
  • 487. Black Flag, Damaged
  • 485, Richard and Linda Thompson, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight
  • 483, Muddy Waters, The Anthology
  • 482, The Pharcyde, Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde
  • 481, Belle and Sebastian, If You’re Feeling Sinister
  • 478, The Kinks, Something Else by the Kinks
  • 477, Howlin’ Wolf, Moanin’ in the Moonlight