I know what you're thinking: we're almost halfway through the list and still no Billy Ray Cyrus? Hard to believe, but true. That list would be CroutonBoy's Top 533,718 albums of all time, somewhere near the bottom.
Thankfully, this is the top 100, and we're at #60 with....
#60 - The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
The Flaming Lips have put out a lot of
incredibly weird uniquely interesting albums (Soft Bulletin, Transmissions from the Satellite Heart, etc.) but this is their most fun. First of all, it's thematically based on a Japanese girl who uses karate to fight off "evil-natured robots." Cool, right? It's like Quentin Tarantino meets Isaac Asimov. For all it's weirdness, the music is some of their most accessible. "Do You Realize?" is gorgeous. One of my favorites of the last few years...instant classic. Favorite Song = "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1"
#59 - Jimmy Cliff - The Harder They Come
Wow. An excellent collection of reggae tracks, not just from Jimmy but from contributors like Toots & the Maytals ("Pressure Drop") and the Melodians ("Rivers of Babylon"). If you're even remotely interested in reggae beyond Bob Marley you have to have this in your collection. Favorite Song = "You Can Get It if You Really Want"
#58 - Aretha Franklin - I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You
In my opinion, the most-talented singer with the greatest voice in popular music. The fact that it includes "Respect," one of the seminal songs in rock history, is beside the point to me...it's almost a distraction. Listen to her sing "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man" and "Save Me" and you understand how "soul" came to be used as an adjective for this kind of music. It give me goosebumps. Favorite Song = "I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You"
#57 - Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy
Deciding between Led Zeppelin albums for this list was like choosing which of your children could go on the life raft with you. There just wasn't room for all of them aboard, but this one made the cut, and not just because of the creepy Monty Python erotica cover art. This was the second Zeppelin album I ever bought (they basically hand out Zeppelin IV with every CD player, don't they?) and went into heavy rotation in college when I got hooked on an endless cycle of "The Rain Song" and "No Quarter." It's amazing that they never let their grandiosity sound bloated, like most of their followers did. Favorite Song = "Over the Hills and Far Away"
#56 - U2 - War
The first of many albums p-man is going to give me grief about. I like U2. I don't love, them...I like them. I certainly don't fawn over them like everyone else (including Coldplay) seems to, and except for a handful of catchy tracks their new stuff is too consciously cinematic and calculatingly commercial for my taste. In fact, except for The Joshua Tree, this is their only album I can listen to all the way through, but what a great listen. It's strident and forceful, and as grandstanding as the lyrics can be it's the muscular music behind them that brings me back. Favorite Song = "Refugee"
#55 - Ladysmith Black Mambazo - Shaka Zulu
You may recognize Ladysmith Black Mambazo from their contribution to Paul Simon's Graceland album. This album makes me think of peaceful evenings at the dawn of time, before our species got hooked on microwave dinners and ring-tones. Beautiful, airy music, sung mostly without instruments and in Zulu, but it transcends musical styles and languages and evokes a deep spirituality. It's also been really handy at impressing first dates...more seductive than you might think, gentlemen. Favorite Song = "Hello My Baby"
#54 - Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run
I live across the river from Springsteenia, a strange land where people still wear acid-washed jeans and Bruce is revered as if he brought stone tablets down from Mt. Sinai. They skitter out of their holes, blinking at the sun, to trade bootleg tapes of his shows. Which is silly, because he plays a million shows a year, half of them in Jersey. But if there's one show that I would be willing to see in a giant stadium with 100,000 screaming Garden State residents it's the Boss. He actually lives up to the hype, and his boldest statement is this album. The opening of "Thunder Road" could be the best ever written. "The screen door slams...Mary's dress waves. Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays." You can see yourself there, can't you? I can. Favorite Song = "Thunder Road" (duh)
#53 - Elastica - Elastica
I can't believe how much I love this album. When I bought it I thought it was going to be just another alternative disk with one catchy single and a lot of filler (i.e. Blind Melon) but it's spectacularly addictive. The songs all shoot by fast, with tons of hooks and guitar riffs that slash the air around you. It's got all the attitude of early Blondie or the Clash, with fresh sexiness. Favorite Song = "Car Song"
#52 - Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
Look, I know that everyone has Pink Floyd posters on their walls in college. What you don't know is that I covered my walls with Pink Floyd posters. I looked for obscure ones to cover that patch above the bathroom door. I watched The Wall endlessly and memorized all the lyrics to "Time," "Us and Them", and "Money" like it was Walt Whitman. A funny thing happened when I got older, though; I realized that this was their best album. Not as overblown or over-played as their bigger albums, it's full of extended moody soundscapes--and fewer tricks like ticking clocks or crying babies. RIP, Syd. Favorite Song = "Wish You Were Here"
#51 - Def Leppard - Hysteria
This was the first album I ever completely obsessed over, dissecting every layered guitar and one-armed drum beat. I remember getting in intense discussions with classmates about each song and what it meant. When they came to Spokane (how did they even know where that was?) I was in the top row, almost weeping with joy that I was seeing my heroes as little specks on their flourescent stage. Two years later songs were still charting...and uber-single "Pour Some Sugar on Me" was one of the weakest ones. It breaks my heart that they are lumped in with other hair-bands of the 80s, because they were the alpha and the omega of that sound...the rest were just posers. Favorite Song = "Run Riot"
Isn't this fun? I'm all tingly writing about these guys. And we're FINALLY at the halfway point.