I asked. You answered. While the rest of New York City suffers from hyperpyrexia, I'll be blowing a steady breeze of cool from this blog for the next few weeks as I countdown my top 100 albums of all-time.
First some ground rules for this have been set:
One album per artist.That rule doesn't work for me. Disregard.
- No greatest hits packages, compilations, or boxed sets.
- No artists that would make me look hip or cool. Interestingly, my liking these albums makes the artists look hip and cool, so that shouldn't be a problem.
- I must own the LP, CD, or cassette tape of every one of these entries. No mp3 (unless I also have the album)
- I have the right to disregard any of the above if it suits my purpose.
You'll see almost immediately that my favorite rule is the last one. Hey, it's my list...if you don't like it you can go listen to your Air Supply LPs for all I care...
Here we go....
#100 - The Kinks - Kink Kronikles
I hate greatest hits packages. It's cheating. I admit it. And right off the bat I'm cheating (and I'll cheat again later, although not much). I considered using Paige's workaround by putting together multiple albums as a single entry as if they were one album, and this would been a great place to do it. Between Something Else, Village Green Preservation Society, Arthur, and Lola vs. the Powerman the Kinks put together four remarkable albums back to back. Ray Davies perfectly encapsulates so many little moments in suburban life through effortlessly tuneful pop songs on all of them that I couldn't pick just one. This collection brings together the best of that period (including some awesome b-sides, like "She's Got Everything"). This was my starting point--I dare you not to want more after listening to it. Favorite Song = "Apeman"
#99 - Led Zeppelin - Zeppelin III
Dung-da-da-dadung dadung-da-da-dadung AAAAA AAA AAAAAAAAAH AH! More so than any of their other albums, this one gets better to me as I get older. There's no over-mythologized songs like "Stairway to Heaven," just some chest-thumping rockers and blues dripping with a dirty grunge that just makes you want to chew on leather while you're listening to it. Favorite Song = "Immigrant Song"
#98 - Seal - Seal
When I had my first real job after college, I worked in an office run by a guy who looked and sounded just like Garth Brooks. He had stacks of country CDs and a portable stereo in his office, and we'd be subjected to all the Brooks & Dunn and Travis Tritt we could handle. One day he asked an intern for music recommendations, and she told him to get this album. For the next month it was all he played. We used to congregate in his office to listen to it, just nodding our heads at the richly textured rhythms. And "Crazy" is still an awesome, awesome song, even 15 years later. Favorite Song = "Crazy"
#97 - Soul Asylum - Let Your Dim Light Shine
This album gets a bad rap because the lyrics are so overwrought and silly. That's why I DIG this disk, man. A two-headed president? Why not? "She spins and pulls her pants down?" Nice image, that. "My time has neither come nor gone / it just slips out when I yawn." I would have written those lyrics when I was 17. It's the sound of a great band that dipped their fingers in the cheese and liked the taste too much; it's their Dream Police, their Blondes Have More Fun. But the melodies are catchy and energetic, and it reminds me of summers in Minneapolis, going to street festivals and eating deep-fried cheese-curds. See, it all comes back to cheese.... Favorite Song = "Just Like Anyone"
#96 - The Replacements - Tim
I missed most of the great college radio bands of the late 80s like REM and Husker Du when they were at their peak. "College Radio" in Spokane usually included three-fers from Lynyrd Skynyrd. But when I moved to Minneapolis in 1992 I got sucked into the music scene almost immediately, and was force-fed a steady dose of Gear Daddies, Trip Shakespeare, and these guys. Some of their albums sound like they're two seconds away from falling head first into the drum kit, but this one has all that energy with more focus. And I start humming "Waitress in the Sky" every. single. time. I fly. Favorite Song = "Waitress in the Sky"
#95 - Santana - Abraxus
It plays like a woozy samba through the streets of Tijuana or Caracas. Everyone knows the two big hits, "Black Magic Woman" and "Oyo Como Va", but the rest of the album is all conga and timbale grooves overlayed with that distinctive guitar that seems to echo from some dark Latin alleyway, and just as solid. If I close my eyes and imagine myself staggering down moonlit streets with tequila-soaked friends (which I do more often than I should) this is the soundtrack that goes with it. Favorite Song = "Mother's Daughter"
#94 - Badly Drawn Boy - About a Boy Soundtrack
The movie was good, but the soundtrack, written and performed completely by Badly Drawn Boy, has a rackish, jaunty feel that evokes a lot of the innocence of growing up. At least to me. It's got a few instrumental interludes which I could do without, but the rest of the peppy tunes will stick in your mind and have you humming them as you bounce down the street. Favorite Song = "A Peak You Reach"
#93 - ZZ Top - Eliminator
The Bearded Ones were my bread and butter during the heyday of MTV, far more so than that dancing freak with the sequined glove. I wanted that double-Z key-chain sooooo bad when I was in junior high. The rest of the album doesn't have the glistening, synthesized sheen of the MTV hits, leaving a muscular crunch that begs you turn it up to 11 and boogie. Favorite Song = "Got Me Under Pressure"
#92 - Wilco - Summer Teeth
There's little I could add to the discussion of Wilco and the rest of Uncle Tupelo's progeny that hasn't been said already. It doesn't have the alt-country trappings of their earlier albums, and hints at the conscious experimentation of their later albums, resulting in a bouncy, patio-lounging disk for those who need something more intelligent and sophisticated than Jimmy Buffett. Favorite Song = "Nothing'severgonnastandinmyway (Again)"
#91 - Stevie Wonder - Songs in the Key of Life
Stevie Wonder shows up on a lot of "best of" lists, and rightfully so. Usually people throw out Talking Book and Innervisions as the go to albums, but I love how sprawling and personal this album is. So much emotion is infused into every song, both in the lyrics and the singing, and I find something for almost any mood on it. "Isn't She Lovely" is easily the most joyful expression of parenthood I've ever heard, and "Sir Duke", with it's opening horn salvo, is as fun a song as you'll hear in your lifetime. Favorite Song = "Sir Duke"
We're just getting started....they get much better from here on in (I feel like Rick Deez). Stay tuned for 90-81 in the days ahead...