Sorry, We're Closed

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Some Sort of Placeholder

Haven't written much lately. But to possibly start some conversation, here's a list I did awhile ago of my 40 favorite albums.

There are a few missing plates from this dinette set--The Cryan' Shames' A Scratch in the Sky, Pet Sounds, Repercussion by the dB's, Dylan's Bringing it All Back Home, Skylarking by XTC--but I'm pretty comfortable with this list.

In alphabetical order:

*The Beach Boys, Friends, 1968. Anyone who doubts the healing power of music can start here.

*With the Beatles, 1963. Awe-inspring in its energy, songcraft, and performance.

*The Beatles, A Hard Day's Night, 1964. Sees them at some sort of peak; 13 fabulous original songs, not a clunker among 'em.

*The Beatles, Revolver, 1966. Just the greatest record by the greatest band.

*The Beatles (White Album), 1968. Sprawling and flawed as hell, but amazing nonetheless.

*Bee Gees 1st, 1967. Baroque pop perfection. The confidence and vision are still astounding.

*Big Star, #1 Record, 1972. A nearly perfect pop-rock album.

*The Byrds, Younger Than Yesterday, 1967. In early 1967 the Byrds were the only act that could look the Beatles in the eye without having to blink.

*The Byrds, The Notorious Byrd Brothers, 1968. While crumbling, the band left one last magical artifact.

*Can, Soundtracks, 1970. It has "Mother Sky," and the rest of it is almost as great.

*Sheila Chandra, ABoneCroneDrone, 1996. Nobody has ever figured out how to make a more psychedelic sound than Sheila Chandra and Steve Coe.

*Charlatans UK, Some Friendly, 1990. Takes familiar ingredients and makes something new and vital.

*Elvis Costello & the Attractions, Get Happy!! 1980. Nothing has ever sounded like this.

*Elvis Costello & the Attractions, Imperial Bedroom, 1982. Some of his best songs are here, and certainly his best production and arrangement.

*Miles Davis, In a Silent Way, 1969. The sound of great musicians exploring the very concepts they hold so dear.

*Nick Drake, Bryter Layter, 1970. Any one of his three albums could have gone on this list; tomorrow my pick might change.

*Green (1st album), 1985. The best album to come from my favorite city in the world. All hail Jeff Lescher.

*Herbie Hancock, Blow-Up (soundtrack), 1967. Sure, it's swinging and cool, but it also features lovely shards of melody and great playing by musicians stretching themselves into all directions.

*Juanes, Mi Sangre, 2004. He's the last rock star the world will ever need. Witty, talented, and a hell of a musician.

*John Lennon, Imagine, 1971. The groom stripped bare by his bachelors, even. As harrowing in its own way as Plastic Ono Band.

*The Kinks, Face to Face, 1966. I wish they'd have had better production, but that's my only regret.

*Love, Forever Changes, 1967. As a last will and testament, it's pretty damn convincing. Some of the most beautiful arrangements ever.

*Orange Juice, You Can't Hide Your Love Forever, 1982. If punk had only led to this one album, it would have been worth it.

*The Patron Saints, Fohhoh Bohob, 1969. Homemade folk-psych that exists in its own glorious universe.

*Pink Floyd, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, 1967. Syd Barrett laid it all out for us, going so far out he couldn’t come back.

*Pink Floyd, Meddle, 1971. Could be the best album of the 1970s. “Echoes” is beyond words.

*Public Image Limited, The Flowers of Romance, 1981. Nobody else I know likes this album, but I don't give a damn.

*R.E.M., Murmur, 1983. This is the American post-punk album; it has a mood all its own and continues to beguile.

*Terry Riley, A Rainbow in Curved Air, 1969. Swirling, adventurous, mind bending, full-on psychedelic. Somewhere between rock and roll, Indian music, and modern classical.

*Sade, Love Deluxe, 1992. Nothing has ever sounded like this, part II.

*Santana, Abraxas, 1970. The template by which all future genre-bending experiments should be matched.

*Seefeel, Quique, 1993. As weird as My Bloody Valentine and, for my money, more interesting.

*Spacemen 3, Recurring, 1991. An aural trip. Believe me, I know.

*Squeeze, East Side Story, 1980. At this time, they were the best songwriters with the best songs, best singing, and best playing.

*Steely Dan, Countdown to Ecstasy, 1973. For various reasons, their most human record; the songs and performance are stunners.

*Thievery Corporation, The Outernational Sound, 2004. They're great DJs because they care about songs more than they care about beat-matching or other such b.s. They could have had at least one more CD on this list.

*Trizo 50, 1974. Incomparable American power-pop/glam/60s-inspired homemade rock.

*Various Artists, Excursions in Ambience, Volume 1, 1993. This nearly flawless album opened my mind to new ways of hearing music.

*The Velvet Underground (3rd album), 1969. Either mix of this superb album works its magic.

*Zeitgeist, Translate Slowly, 1995. Lo-fi production, hi-quality songs, superb band dynamic.


Anonymous Joyce said...

Of course, being a 45/AM radio kinda gal, I'm not familiar with a lot of these. But I wiki'ed the Kinks album..Ray Davies wrote "Dandy"???? If nothing else, your blogs educate and broaden my horizons, Stu!

6:21 PM, May 15, 2009

Blogger Amy said...

Excellent idea for a music blog post. :) I will start on my own list thankyouverymuch.

You also reminded me of a few cds I need to download again (because the discs I have are either lost or scratched beyond playability).

12:22 PM, May 18, 2009

Blogger Bob Purse said...

As always, I'm just astonished at the variety and sheer breadth (sp?) of your taste, knowledge and interest. A few of these artists I've never heard of, and at least a few of them I've only heard of through you.

Given the number of albums in my collection, it's also amazing that I've not heard more of these!

I don't see my favorite here, which genuinely surprises me, but of the relative few albums that I've heard all the way through on this list, I can't disagree with the idea that they're, in the words of Thurl Ravenscroft, "great"

12:11 PM, May 24, 2009

Blogger Richard said...

Well first that was a beautiful eulogy! Somehow I suspect a few of these choices came from a closet colection neatly organized in Richerr Park? You love good song craft and "pop" because you are such a great muscian and can deeply apreciate and play(!) this music! I of lessor talent gravitate toward rock/blues/punk/alt a bit more. My youth was 60's and kind of tuned out during the 70's only to tune back in college in the 80's. My lovely wife reinspired my Beatles passion. I remember making myself sing the high parts (Paul) as my voice was changing so I wouldn't lose the ability to do his brilliant vocals..esp harmonies. Much of that music inspired ocassionly defeated life choices for me! Growing up with such great song writing made me feel like I couldn't match that greatness so I didn't try. I did TM, experimented with drugs, did a primal like therapy in LA, went to art school..all in the service of the self dicovery that I thought my musical hero's were doing! Eventually I came to the conclusion that everything truely brilliant is exposing your soul to help others see some light in the shadow world we pass through. These artists are just exposing us to something they have found that was luminous even in it's darkness at times!
So there are really just parts of the night sky that inspired me and probably just happen to match up to what was doing at the time that are not up for consideration here. From the 60's Brian Jones, Stepenwolf, Donovan, The Who, Cream and really all the boys that went to John Mayal university, Led Zepelin, Jeff Beck and the amazing 1st album of his lead singer Rod Stewart, Dave Mason, Traffic, Delaney and Bonnie, Jimi Hendrix is a life study, Janice almost defines my little open your soul to shone your light concept, CSNY ruled took all that Birds vibe, their friend Joni Mitchell made me cry befor that cool and kind of painted impressionistic inner worlds with her wierd tunings and dolcimer and that lilting voice, James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, the Temps, Big Pink was like listening to some post civil war hippies who's spirits showed up in the basement of a house in up state New York, the New Orleans Memphis swamper crews Dr John, Rita Coolridge, Leon Russell, Booker T, Sam Cooke, Joe Cocker comes in here, probably the amazing underrated Alvin Lee, just watch Circus Circus and see how amazing Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull were, Frank Zappa made albums that were so layered perplexing and funny then he would reach down times, CTA's first album put the horn back in rock, Grand Funk put the spiritual in the hook. None of these on the list? Ok your rule was albums but we could pick the classic album from these?

8:25 AM, May 25, 2009

Blogger John said...

Whoa, thanks for reminding me about that Zeitgeist album, loved it back in the day.

8:16 AM, June 12, 2009


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