The Essential Music Library: Rock

The Essential Music Library project is an attempt to get the many musical minds of the SDMB to sit down and discuss what works are absolutely necessary for a well-stocked musical library. There will be roughly 20 threads detailing a variety of genres so that we can get the depth that would be missing from a single-threaded discussion and the breadth necessary to cover what’s out there.

This thread’s topic is rock, ranging from Elvis up till 1980 or so. Talk to us about everything from the early days to the height of the Beatles’s popularity to the heyday of prog.

Previous threads: Project Planning | Classical

Beatles - Rubber Soul, White Album, Revolver
Led Zeppelin - II, IV, Houses of the Holy
Jimi Hendrix - Are You Experienced
The Clash - London Calling
Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here
Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
The Doors - self-titled
Pearl Jam - Vs.
Steely Dan - Aja
Minutemen - Double Nickels on the Dime
Billy Joel - The Stranger
Ben Folds Five - Whatever and Ever, Amen
At the Drive-In - In Casino Out
Rush - A Farewell to Kings
Santana - Abraxas
The Who - Who’s Next
Jimmy Eat World - Bleed American (this album was renamed “Jimmy Eat World” after 9/11)
Pixies - Doolittle, Surfer Rosa
Metallica - Master Of Puppets
Rage Against the Machine - Evil Empire, self-titled
Queen - A Night at the Opera
Sublime - 40 oz to Freedom

I’ll probably think of more but that seems like a good start.

Sorry, in my excitement I missed the 1980s limit. :smack:

Elvis played the blues. It was just called rock because Elvis was white. Rock as we know it today sprouted from surfer music.

Rock Styles through the days:

Surfer (Dick Dale, Beach Boys, Link Ray, etc.)
Pop (Beatles, etc.)
Glam Rock (David Bowie, Queen, etc.) – Beginning Punk/Metal (Iggy Pop, Led Zeppelin, etc.)
80’s Punk (Talking Heads, The Ramones, etc.)
Metal (Metallica, etc.)

Chuck Berry - Best of
Buddy Holly- Best of
Gene Vincent - Best of
Eddie Cochran - Best of
Jerry Lee Lewis - Best of
Little Richard - Best of

These are the true originators of rock. They each had several top hits and influenced the next wave - Vincent (Be Bop a Lula, Say Mama, Bluejean Bop, etc.) and Eddie Cochran (Summertime Blues, C’mon Everybody, 20 Fight Rock) were more famous in the UK than the US - MacCartney played 20 Flight Rock to audition for John Lennon to join the Quarrymen. Trying to pick a specific album makes no sense - these guys came from the singles era. Other folks - Richie Valens with La Bamba and Diana, and Carl Perkins, etc. - also great with great singles.

Beach Boys - greatest hits, Pet Sounds
Cream - Disraeli Gears
Yardbirds - Over Under Sideways Down, Best of (for their singles like For Your Love and Heart Full of Soul)
Jeff Beck Group - Truth, Beck-Ola
T. Rex - Electric Warrior
The Kinks - Village Green Preservation Society - and whatever album has You Really Got me and All Day and All of the Night
Beatles - Everything - let’s not kid ourselves.
Stones - 12x5 (is that the one with Satisfaction on it?), Beggar’s Banquet, Let it Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main St, Some Girls, Tattoo You
Hendrix - Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold as Love, Electric Ladyland
Pink Floyd - Dark Side, Wish You Were Here, Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Phil Spector - best of (his girl group Wall of Sound work)
Aerosmith - first 4 albums - Featuring Dream On, Get Your Wings, Toys in the Attic, Rocks
Doobie Brothers - whatever had China Grove and Listen to the Music on it
UFO - Strangers in the Night
Ted Nugent - first album, Free for All
Van Halen 1 and 2
The Who - so many it isn’t funny - most if not all of their stuff.

There are so many more I feel like I haven’t come close to scratching the surface. Start with the early rock stuff and take it from there…

This is wrong on so many levels it boggles the mind. But since it is off topic - defining the genre of Rock might’ve been better discussed in the original Project Planning thread - I will just say “ummm, no.” and leave it at that.

Yeah, me too.

I tend to agree with WordMan: Everything. At the very least, throw in Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper’s, and a representative of their earlier work.
Also, from their solo years: Lennon’s Imagine and/or the Lennon Collection; McCartney’s Ram and Band on the Run; Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, and Starr’s Ringo! or Blast From Your Past.

The original albums with those songs have too much filler to be essential, but I’d definitely include a Greatest Hits collection with those songs (and many more) on it. I’d also include Face to Face, Something Else, Arthur, Lola vs. Powerman and the Moneygoround, and Celluloid Heroes (the Best Of the RCA years). Plus when we get up to the 80s we’ll have to throw in something from then, too.

The Moody Blues: Days of Future Passed and one or two of their other, more typical albums (In Search of the Lost Chord or To Our Children’s Children’s Children or Seveth Sojourn).

David Bowie: Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, and maybe some other stuff too.

Simon & Garfunkel: Greatest Hits or Bridge Over Troubled Water. Plus something from Paul Simon’s 70s output. Or are they more Pop or Folk? And what about Bob Dylan, and The Byrds, and Crosby Stills Nash & Young, and some of the 70s singer-songwriters?

Queen: I’ll second A Night At the Opera and add at least one of the Greatest Hits discs available.

Fleetwood Mac: Rumours

The Eagles: Hotel California

I am just going to spend my time reading everyone else’s posts and :smack:'ing myself in the head. I can’t believe I didn’t mention Bowie or the other folks listed here - for Bowie - you’d have to add Hunky Dory, Aladdin Sane, Diamond Dogs at least one of the Berlin Albums - I vote Heroes - and Young Americans.

Or Free and Bad Company - lots of good stuff there.

Argh. I gotta get back to work - I wish I had my CD collection close by…

And ultrafilter - again, thanks. One idea: Re-list the full set of genres you are going to work on in the OP of each thread like this. I wanted to delve into the Ramones, Sex Pistols and Elvis Costello, until I went back and checked and reminded myself you had a “Punk/Post Punk” category…just a thought.

Chuck Berry: The Great 28. Remastered, very good. And if you’ve never heard Havana Moon… well, it’s reggae, decades early. Man was a genius.

Ray Charles: There is a recent Rhino Greatest Hits that was surprisingly good.

Rolling Stones: I’d vote for the Hot Rocks compliation, myself.

Who: Live At The Isle of Wight. Most of their good stuff, including all of Tommy.

Black Sabbath: The Ozzy Osbourne Years Box Set

Speaking of Rhino, we should salt this with some of their yearly or genre compilations, because there’s a lot of… if not important, then weird and significant stuff that was one-hit-wondered. I wouldn’t want to listen to a Herman’s Hermits album, but we need some of that.

Woodstock: 4 CD Box Set pretty much covers that era, though. If you want to limit it to the movie, fine.

Need some Dylan, and maybe some Kingston Trio, for roots.

This Is Spinal Tap.
Here, go look through this for a bit.

Addition: The specific Beach Boys Greatest Hits needed is ‘Endless Summer’.

Soundtrack: The Big Chill

Eh, I don’t see any harm in the overlap. Anything we list from the late 70s here has a good chance of showing up in the punk or metal threads anyway, so what’s the point in trying to avoid it?

I’ll throw in some picks a little later.

Maybe we should go through the Beatles album by album?
Please Please Me - lots of catchy pop and proto-rock. Great album. Possibly essential.
With The Beatles - Some good songs but not spectacular. Not essential.
A Hard Days Night - same deal as With the Beatles. Not essential
Beatles For Sale - A few good songs. Not essential.
Help! - A few good songs (frankly I don’t like “Yesterday” and that leaves “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” as the only remarkable song on the album.) Not essential.
Rubber Soul - “Norwegian Wood” “Drive My Car” “Michelle” “Girl” “You Won’t See Me” and the best Beatles song of them all (and one of the best rock songs ever) “In My Life”. Absolutely essential.
Revolver - “Tax Man” “Eleanor Rigby” “And Your Bird Can Sing” “Love You Too” “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Definitely essential.
Sgt. Pepper - The title track and “A Day in the Life” are two really great songs, but beyond that I don’t see what’s so great about this album. Good, but not essential.
Magical Mystery Tour - Title track, “Penny Lane,” “All YOu need is love” “I am the Walrus” “Strawberry Fields” and some other good songs. Possibly essential.
White Album - Lots of classic songs, along with a few duds, but probably the Beatles third best album overall. Essential.
Abbey Road - A good album but not specatacular. Possibly essential if only for the last 4 songs.
Let It Be - Get Back is about all it’s got going for it. (I really dislike the title track.) Not essential.

Certainly the Beatles are one of, if not THE greatest rock band of all, but their entire catalog is not essential (unless we unfairly contort the definition of “essential” to cover all their material just because of their monumental importance to rock.)

Qwertyasdfg, I’m going to insist on either Abbey Road or Sgt. Pepper’s, to show what the Beatles could do on the album level. (The Beatles, after all, played a key role in turning the focus in rock from the single to the album.) Abbey Road is the better album musically, with side 2 especially adding up to way more than the sum of its parts, but Sgt. Pepper has greater cultural/historical significance.

And I think there needs to be some representative of their earlier stuff; Please Please Me would do, or the “red album” or even Past Masters Vol. 1.

Sgt. Pepper is essential as an entire album. That’s how it broke people’s minds, as the first (?) concept album.

Oh, bloody hell. Nobody’s mentioned Is God.

So… Cream of Clapton or Crossroads?

Frampton Comes Alive, of course, too.

I hate replying to myself, but we need some Dead, and we need some more folk.
Peter, Paul, and Mommy for the Folk? God, I hate that album, but…

And what concert for the Dead? Clearly not any actual album.

70s Punk:
Rhino Says
I agree, generally. Though it might need some Germs. I didn’t see any Germs
Here, boxed sets. Worth prodding through. I’m trying to figure out what’s needed from Do-Wop.

I think this is at the heart of the debate over what makes an essential album (and I think we have to debate essentials at an album level, not an artist level, or a song level because those are just too hard.) Is it the historical significance (ie “the first concept album”, “first punk album,” etc) or strictly the musical value that makes an album essential.

I think it’s clear that albums should be judged by quality not influence. After all, the influence and historical significance of an album are imposed on an album from the outside, and not controlled by the artist. At the end of the day, nobody throws on an album on for its historical signifcance.

That said, Sgt. Pepper just doesn’t do it for me.

Sage Rat wrote:

Interesting assertions. I can’t say much about the influence of surf music, though this sounds contentious, but I can speak to the categorization of Elvis.

I assume you would agree that it would be a mistake to start the ‘essential’ Rock ‘n’ Roll library with Elvis. It would be, in fact, about as silly as starting the dictionary with the letter ‘E.’

There is a controversy over what exactly the first Rock record is, and of course the question is really about the essence of Rock ‘n’ Roll itself. Here are some prevailing notions:

[li] Rock ‘n’ Roll is whatever Alan Freed called Rock ‘n’ Roll (it was he who started the whole thing, after all, using the term as a euphemism for what was once called ‘race records’)[/li][li] Rock ‘n’ Roll is music of the kind that Alan Freed called “Rock ‘n’ Roll” (he recognized a lot more than just race records by the time he died, so the definition could extend forward into new forms, or backwards since the stuff he was talking about had been around a good while)[/li][li] Rock ‘n’ Roll is the kind of stuff that was being called Rock ‘n’ Roll when the music became mainstream (this would include Pat Boone)[/li][li] Rock ‘n’ Roll is a blend of R&B and Country and Western (this was a later development in the genre, but people place a lot of importance on it). Part of the difficulty of this theory is that the mutual influence between hillbilly and race records goes pretty far back – just look at Leadbelly. [/li][li] Rock ‘n’ Roll is just another name for R&B (consistent with the Alan Freed theory, at least for the early fifties, though white acts like Bill Haley & The Comets got into it pretty quickly). I saw an interview with Fats Domino that was done sometime in the mid-fifties. The guy asked him, “How long have you been playing Rock ‘n’ Roll?” Fats said, “I don’t know about Rock ‘n’ Roll. I play R&B, and I’ve been doing it for twelve years.” Indeed, the sounds that Alan Freed labeled Rock ‘n’ Roll had been going on for at least a decade. Admittedly, not all of it had recieved the R&B label. Labels can be tricky. Much of it was sold as Jazz or Blues. And especially with the advent of Doo Wop, you got a sound which was very like the music of The Mills Brothers and The Ink Spots from the 1930’s – and both of those groups had roots in the Barbershop Quartet scene. [/li][li] Rock ‘n’ Roll is music made with the electric guitar (this theory seems to be what people are thinking when they suggest Les Paul and Mary Ford’s How High the Moon as the first Rock record.)[/li][/ul]

As to Elvis specifically, yes he was often singing R&B or Blues tunes, but if you compare his versions to the ones he was covering, you’ll find that he was generally delivering a much more ‘country’ or ‘white’ sound. Just some examples for comparison:

[li] Crying in the Chapel - Sonny Til and the Orioles[/li][li] One Night of Sin - Smiley Lewis (The usual version you hear from Elvis renders it as One Night with You, but he also did it with the original lyrics)[/li][li] Such a Night - The Drifters (Clyde McPhatter)[/li] A Fool Such as I - The Robins[/ul]

Well… I do, actually. Throw certain albums on for their historical significance. Or at least, that’s why I listen to them the first time.

What I was saying, though, is that Pepper isn’t important because of the songs on the album, but as the complete album. Certain songs are not as good as others, but between Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper, I’d have to choose Sgt. Pepper as the better album, even with weaker songs. And, of course, it was incredibly influential. It’s even better when you listen to it after Pet Sounds, too. You get the real sense of competition between the two bands.