Monday, March 2, 2009

25 Albums

This week I list my top 25 albums of all time, as commanded by a few of my Facebook friends. As you will see, I spent way too much time on it.

I opted for a chronological order of the albums as they made their impressions on me, thereby avoiding a futile attempt to rank them against each other. I only mention one album per band to avoid having to choose between equally loved efforts, and to cover as much ground as possible. In most cases I chose the album that first charmed me, even if I later preferred other albums. I had to delete albums by bands like Minor Threat, Negativland, etc., knowing in my heart they didn't affect me quite to the extreme that those by REO or Cheech and Chong did. Scroll down to the bottom if you'd like to start at #1, but either way works.

One final note, Abba somehow didn't make the list. Just slide "Super Trooper" in somewhere around Journey and Kiss.

25. Rufus Wainwright -- "Want One" - A CD that will forever be associated with a very pleasant five years I spent in Ashland, OR.

"I just wanna be my dad/With a slight sprinkling of my mother/Work at the family store/Take orders from the counter."

24. Sun Volt--"Trace" - I listen to it every road trip, and I take a lot of them.

"Walkin' down Main Street/Gettin' to know the concrete/Searching for a purpose/On a neon sign."

23. Joni Mitchell -- "Blue" - The Bob Dylan of the West Coast.

"We don't need a piece of paper from the city hall/Keeping us tried and true."

22. The Smiths -- "Louder than Bombs" - The Smiths got me through my short-lived 9 to 5 life.

"I was looking for a job/And then I found a job/And heaven knows I'm miserable now."

21. Cake -- "Motorcade of Generosity" - The best in irony rock, enjoyed all the more for its shoestring production.

"You've got your grand piano/And you don't even play piano/I'm the one who plays piano."

20. Camper Van Beethoven -- "Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart" - No band has ever sounded this unique and this melodic at the same time.

"And this here's a government experiment/And we're drivin' like hell/To get some cowboys some acid/And to stay in motels."

19. Bob Dylan -- "Blood on the Tracks" - The most gifted songwriter I've ever heard.

"Jewels and binoculars/Hang from the head of a mule/But these visions of Johanna/Make it all seem so cruel."

18. Gin Blossoms -- "New Miserable Experience" - Hard to imagine a more pleasing, or more heartbreaking, pop rock record.

"But what the hell did you expect to find?/Aphrodite, on a barstool/By your side?"

17. Dead Hot Workshop -- "River Otis" - All the melody and pain of the Tempe music scene wrapped in six lovingly written, powerfully performed and gorgeously produced songs.

"But the rich will be dead and gone/Their bones will be scattered all over my lawn/And all their trials and carryin' on/Will go when I cut the grass."

16. Minutemen -- "Double Nickel on the Dime" - King of the punk concept albums, and hookier than you might expect.

"Don't use shower/Don't use shower."

15. Talking Heads -- "Naked" - How do you write a Talking Heads song? Tell me. I've been listening to them for 25 years and I still don't know.

"If this is paradise/I wish I had a lawn mover."

14. Replacements -- "Pleased to Meet Me" - Loved for their shot-to-the-foot business strategy, remembered for their songs.

"If you were a pill/I'd take a handful at my will/And I'd knock you back with something sweet as rum."

13. Husker Du -- "Warehouse: Songs and Stories" - Melodic love songs sung over surreally distorted guitars with punk attitude and punctuated by majorly cool screams. Where did Nirvana ever come up with it?

"It was his aluminum/That attracted her to him/And quite a day there did unfold/Turning garbage into gold."

12. R.E.M. -- "Life's Rich Pageant" - Their "Brian Adams record" was my perfect introduction to a world where a rock singer didn't need to be 6' 6", sport ass-length blond hair, and grab his crotch every ten seconds.

"The whiskey is water/The water is wine."

11. Violent Femmes -- "Violent Femmes" - This was the record that brought new wavers and metalheads together where I grew up.

"Ten is for everything, everything, everything, everything."

10. Led Zeppelin -- "II" - Plant was window dressing for the best gtr/bass/drum combo ever.

"We all know what your name is/So you better lay your money down."

9. Rush -- "Moving Pictures" - Try to tell an adolescent bass player in the Midwest that Geddy Lee isn't God. See how far it gets you.

"Catch the spit."

8. Van Halen -- "I" - Ah, the metal years finally arrive, and I find my inner male.


7. REO Speedwagon -- "Hi Infidelity" - See #4.

"Well in your letter/You said you didn't love me/You said you're gonna leave me/But you coulda said it better."

6. Journey -- "Escape" - See #4.

"Those crazy nights/I do remember/In my youth."

5. Kiss -- "Destroyer" - At ten, I had no defense against Gene Simmons, and I offered none.

"God of Thunder/And rock 'n' ro-o-oll."

4. Grease Soundtrack - I grew up with two women in the 70s-80s. It was bound to happen.

"You know that ain't no shit/When we're gettin' lottsa tit."

3. Village People -- "Macho Man" - My first album I purchased with my own money, along with "In the Navy." And this record is deeper (no jokes, please) than the title track.

"Hey, hey, hey-hey-hey!"

2. Cheech and Chong -- Los Cochinos - As a five years old, I was clueless to the drug references, but I still found something completely hysterical about the funny voices and noises.

"Oh, feely me boney bellose dominoes fobisku sellus all his dominoes."

1. Jim Croce--Greatest Hits - I used to beg my dad to play it.

"Every time I try to tell you/The words just come out wrong/So I have to say I love you/In a song."

Yours in laying down the law,


Buy Ghost Notes

Buy Songs from Memory

Buy Stuck Outside of Phoenix


K said...

Your blog has me embarrassed to admit some music nonfacts about me. I didn't really appreciate the brilliant writings of Bob Dylan until my daughter enlightened me, and he was during my time and WAY after her time. She's a huge fan and opened my mind to what a prolific songwriter he is.

The other is...The Village People. Who knew there was something deeper than being, well...The Village People :-) Total pun intended but, hey...somebody had to do it.

Art Edwards said...

After revealing those 25, there's no cause for anyone else to ever be embarrassed again.

People tend to have Dylan moments. You walk around for part of your life wondering what all the fuss is about, then one day it hits you and you're like, "Whoa." The voice gets in the way, I think, but then again his voice(s) are now one of my favorites aspects of him. A magical guy.

And the Village People simply kicked ass when I was a kid. To me, it was obvious how cool they were. That part of Hote was pulled right from me.

Mark Ord said...

Purely out of interest, why does River Otis trump any other Dead Hot release? It's the one that I reach for the least (not by that much, mainly because the variety on the other releases), so it always interests me when people rate it higher than other records.

Funnily enough, my top 3 'must have albums' consist of one on your list, one not on your list but by a band you know very intimately, and another one by a band one your list - all of which has remained a constant top 3 over the last 13 odd years.

Art Edwards said...

Hey, Mark! Great question.

As I made my list, I found myself most interested in the first record that blew me away by a band. Even though my first Dead Hot record was a self-titled cassette, River Otis trumped that earliest effort for production quality, performance, songwriting...

On a deeper level, the album resonates with the conflict between the joy of being involved in the Tempe scene and the pain of knowing it was going away, people passing on, etc. I hear all of that in every word Brent sings.

Then it ends with a great rocker with its own forboding undercurrent.

Just my take.


James Lorenz said...

Here I was thinking it was just Hote's opinion. lol
I was wondering where that came from.