Essential Music

Help fight a young Doper’s musical ignorance!

There is so much good (and bad) music out there, and many artists just have too many albums to listen to and obtain them all. So I’d like the highly regarded opinions of the Music-Loving Dopers out there: What are your “Must Have” albums (CDs)? Like, if you had to choose, say 3 albums by the Beatles, what would you choose? How abou Dylan? Or the Rolling Stones?

Which ones are not so monumental? (You know the ones: two good songs and the rest not so hot, and not worth spending my hard-earned cash on.)

What recent music out there is worth paying attention to? (I absolutely love the Wallflowers and Dave Matthews Band)
(among many others)

I realize that taste is very subjective, but I’d like to get the opinions of anyone who cares to answer.

here’s a “T” for that “abou” in there.

IMO you can’t go wrong with Green Day. I have everyone one of their cd’s. I’ve never heard a bad song from them. Actually slightly off topic I got to see them live over the summer. Can you say un-fucking-believable? They played a truly awesome live show and to top it off when they left the stage the sat it on fire. Hehe the funny part was Stone Temple Pilots had to take the stage after that and well they didn’t perform as good as Green Day. Anyways another good band, I think anyways, is A Perfect Circle. Their new CD is pretty damned good I think. Well that is just my opinion.

I love music, so let me give you MHO… My favorite CDs of all are:

  1. Jill Scott, Who is Jill Scott?
  2. Cowboy Junkies, Lay It Down (if you like Dave, you’ll love CJ)
  3. Joni Mitchell, Blue
  4. D’Angelo, Voodoo
  5. Erykah Badu, Mama’s Gun
  6. Fiona Apple, When the Pawn…
  7. Blonde on Blonde
  8. Prince - Purple Rain
  9. Janet Jackson, Janet
  10. The Wallflowers, Breach
  11. Wilco, AM
  12. Radiohead, OK Computer
  13. Emmylou Harris, Red Dirt Girl or Wrecking Ball
  14. This is Jazz Vol 17: Billie Holliday

Top 3 Beatles

  1. Abbey Road
  2. Revolver
  3. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band

Top 3 Bob Dylan

  1. Blonde on Blonde
  2. The Times, They Are A-Changin’
  3. Blood on the Tracks
    Okay, that’s for starters. I own all these CDs and they kick ass. So there. :slight_smile:

I’m kind of sick of ABBEY ROAD, so I’d say the three must-have Beatles albums are (in order)

  3. SGT. PEPPER (I’m sick of this one, too, but it’s pretty hard to ignore as a cultural artifact)

I’d say the three must-have Dylans are


I’ve always thought THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGING is rather weak, aside from the title song. A better early-period Dylan would be THE FREEWHEELIN’ BOB DYLAN, which includes the classics “Hard Rain,” “Masters of War,” “Girl from the North Country,” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” as well as the ubiquitous “Blowin’ in the Wind.” Hell, maybe FREEWHEELIN’ should be my number three instead of BLONDE ON BLONDE.

Rolling Stones:


I could cheat and include a “Best of” collection here, 'cause my all-time favorite Stones tune, “Dandelion,” was released as a single and only made it onto “Best of” albums.

Nothing against Green Day Tiki, but this summer check out Rammstein when they come around. They don’t stop at setting the stage on fire. They set THEMSELVES ON FIRE…and looking so sexy doing it. So…so…sexy…

What? We’re talking about music?

Oh. All genres or just pop?

I think that everyone should own two Depeche Modes:
101 and Music For The Masses

Also, The Immaculate Collection by Madonna has all those Madonna songs that you don’t want to admit you love, but sing along to on the radio. It’s a great one for driving.

The Barenaked Ladies had some good albums before they totally sold out to the man…Gordon, their first, is the best.

For Classical, everyone should have the Four Seasons by Vivaldi, it’s good after dinner music. Also, Rhapsody in Blue is an essential instrumental piece.

My favorite Beatles is The White Album
Essential for getting in my pants, though, is to own Sehnsucht by Rammstein AND know all the words. Or wasn’t getting in my pants your goal?

My Top 3 Beatles:

  1. Revolver
  2. Rubber Soul
  3. A Hard Day’s Night

My top 10 favorite (rock/pop/soul) albums at the moment:

  1. The Clash - The Clash
  2. Husker Du - Warehouse: Songs And Stories
  3. R.E.M. - Murmur
  4. The Go-Betweens - 16 Lovers Lane
  5. Otis Redding - Otis!
  6. The Replacements - Pleased To Meet Me
  7. Revolver
  8. Prince - Sign ‘O’ The Times
  9. Sly & The Family Stone - Anthology
  10. The Pogues - Rum, Sodomy & The Lash

My top 5 favorite albums are:

  1. '67-'70 – The Beatles
  2. Machine Head – Deep Purple
  3. High Tides and Green Grass – Rolling Stones
  4. Boston – Boston
  5. This Is Spinal Tap – Spinal Tap

Right now these are my most listened to. I also listen to a lot of the Ventures and Weird Al Yankovic, but not enough of any 1 album to list here.

No particular order:

Girlfriend by Matthew Sweet
Debut by Bjork
Weezer self titled
Portishead self titled.
King by Belly
Anything by the Police/Radiohead/Beck

Greatest Beatles album: Rubbersoul

Damn. Been trying ever since I read the OP to pick out 3 essential Dylan albums, and I’m convinced you can’t do it in less than four. My picks:

The Times They Are A-Changin’ (1963)
Bringing It All Back Home (1965)
Blood on the Tracks (1974)
Oh, Mercy (1989)

Oh, and rounding out my top ten:
Astral Weeks, Van Morrison
The Velvet Underground and Nico
Sweetheart of the Rodeo
, The Byrds
Grievous Angel, Gram Parsons
Darkness on the Edge of Town, Bruce Springsteen
… and, of course, the White Album.

I realize this is a woefully inadequate list (no Stones and, worse yet, no Neil Young) but it’s the best I can do in my semi-drunken state at the moment.

Wow, FP…if you’re picking THE TIMES THE ARE A-CHANGING and OH, MERCY as two of the top four essential Dylan albums, you gotta be just plain schnockered.

Go to your favorite local book store. Pick up a copy of Rolling Stone, Album guide. Not that they are perfect(far from it) but they will keep you from making gross errors, and, are a fun read. I always get the latest copy.

BTW, Uke, is right. The two Dylan albums he castigates get 4 stars. There are 10 that get 5 stars.

Any George Clinton and P-Funk you can find is required.

The Who - Quadrophenia is far superior to Tommy (My opinion, you could be wrong).

Paul Simon - Graceland

Sting - Bring on the Night (Killer Live stuff, Branford Marsalis is a stud)

Buena Vista Social Club - Oppression Sux!

Listen to things you would never consider. I loved Public Enemy in It Takes A Nation Of Millions… I never would have listened unless a friend shoved it down my throat, now it is in my alarm clock (yikes!!!).

As far as the Beatles, let it go, there is too much to absorb to focus on the fab 4. The Stones offer some truly monumental talent, but picking three is like asking me which child I like best. Try everything!!!

There are two ways to discover what you really think is essential.

  1. Changing to a new format. When you switched from LP’s to CD’s, what were the first albums you “upgraded?” This may come up again as there are two new formats out: Super Audio Compact Disc (SACD) and DVD-Audio.

  2. Your collection is lost or stolen. What are the first albums you replace?

The first CD I ever bought was Sgt. Pepper’s.

Grateful Dead stuff
Pink Floyd stuff
Hot Tuna stuff
I agree with “The Four Seasons” by Vivaldi
Beethoven & Mozart stuff
Led Zepp/Who/Allman Bros./Hendrix/Van Halen
Some new age music is quite good.
There was a recent thread along this line (to lazy to look it up right now) and while I suggested listening to the radio as a good way to be introduced to new music, someone else pointed out that radio was too commercial and that napster and such was a better way to go.

So, Dichotomous, some of it just comes down to personal taste. So trust your ears and your taste and happy hunting.

Well, I gotta vote for “The Times” because of the title song, as well as some of my favorites, “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll,” “With God On Our Side,” “Only A Pawn in Their Game,” and “Ballad of Hollis Brown.” Truly kick-ass. But “Freewheelin” is great too (I love “Masters of War” and “Don’t Think Twice”) so it shall replace “Blood on the Tracks” on my list.

However, Dich, if you only buy one, please let it be “Blonde on Blonde.” It’s a masterpiece: “Visions of Johanna,” “I Want You,” “4th Time Around,” “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands,” and my most favorite Bob song of all, “Just Like A Woman.” His music on this album is heartbreaking, in a way, yet still hopeful. He loses some of the folkiness, but what he gains in depth and lyrical beauty makes up for it.

And I’m kicking myself for leaving out “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” Breathtaking. Everything she does on the CD - the producing, the arranging, the lyrics, her voice, her raps, and the overall flow - leaves me wanting to listen again and again. The messages and lyrics are mostly universal - things we can all relate to in some way - yet deeply personal at the same time. It’s wonderful, especially “To Zion,” “Everything is Everything,” “Every Ghetto, Every City,” and “The Sweetest Thing” (hidden track). Hell, every song on the album is great. It’s empowering, it’s visionary, and it makes me want to change the world.

I suggest downloading some MP3’s first. See if you like all this before you buy CDs. Also, if you go to, they have 30-50 sec. song samples.

But trust me on the Cowboy Junkies, especially since you’re a Dave fan.

Blondie, Parallel Lines. Absolute must.

I have over 1,000 cd’s/tapes/records and have attended hundreds of live shows. I enjoy evey genre of music (with the possible exception of opera), own dozens of rock books, and am something of a rock nerd. That having been said, asking other people to reccomend music to you is tough unless you are very specific about the NOISE you like to hear. I don’t mean genres, but noises. Strumming acoustic guitars, distortion, heavy percussions, piano, etc. If someone said to me I like Neil “God” Young, that isn’t as helpful as “I love how solitary/quiet “Needle and the Damage Done” is!” See my point. Ok, dead horse beaten.

One of the most under rated bands of all times in my estimation is early Fariport Convention. The first 5 or so albums are all worth owning. The first one to buy is “What We Did On Our Holidays” circa 1969. I did not know humans could make such a perfect sound. Electric/brittish folk-rock with masterful guitarist Richard Thompson and angelic vocals by Sandy Denny. It sounds VERY different than todays pop/rock, but give it time to sink in and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

P.S. RS Record Guide is a very good starting place, but don’t let them make you think that because critics don’t like it that it ain’t worth owning. I happen to like heavy metal, thank you very much.

Jarbaby said

Aw, man, I had 'em all but this one. Sorry!

PepperJett said

My mind is open, as long as the music’s good. I did give a hint when I named DMB and the Wallflowers.
I’m also curious to see what types of music the posters here like.

Soccerhooligan, do you recommend a “top 3” among the Pink Floyd stuff? And I agree with you on the “How to tell they’re essential” criteria.


Ah, my pal Dichotomous from the ‘ice’ post. Didn’t recognize the name at first. One other suggestion. If you like DMB, you’d likely very much enjoy Rusted Root’s “When I Woke” album. Great stuff. Amazing live band. Pink Floyd tops for people looking to get into them are

  1. Dark Side of the Moon
  2. Wish You Were Here
  3. A Collection of Great dance Songs (a sort of best-of).

i second rusted roots “when i woke” as a great album, excellent percussion stuff.
my top three pink floyds would be, in no particular order:

  1. the wall
  2. division bell
  3. animals/ummagumma

no collection is complete without led zeppelin.

or creedance.

or some grateful dead.

the beatles, in my opinion, are as overrated as christianity and twice as useless. i just dont see why everyone thinks they are as great as they say they are, and my collection would be more than complete with either the red or the blue double cd (i think they are a best of kind of thing). a couple songs are good, but six albums in the top 11? give me a break.

jimi hendrix - electric ladyland is good, as is have you ever been experienced (i think is the exact title).

jethro tull - thick as a brick or aqualung

queen - greatest hits has a ton of good songs

tom petty, the who, george clinton, bob dylan, eric clapton, janis joplin, velvet underground, they might be giants, reverend horton heat, miles davis, ella fitzgerald…all these are musts
as far as classical, my current picks for must have would be:

mozart - le nozze de figaro
handel - messiah
the soundtrack to immortal beloved
prokofiev - peter and the wolf
dvorak (there slash marks over the r and a) - #9
john williams plays vivaldo concertos
the best of rachmaninoff
anyway, that is just my opinion, of what i could think of, on the essentials…as you people like to say, YMMV