Top ten favorite albums

Mods: This is a poll, but it’s about music… please move to MPSIMS if that’s more appropriate.

Share your ten favorite albums! Not necessarily the albums you consider the most important or influential-- if you’re about to be shipwrecked on a deserted island and can only grab ten discs, what would they be? No ordering necessary.

Here are mine:

The Beatles: s/t (The White Album)
Big Star: Radio City
Bush: Razorblade Suitcase
Everclear: Sparkle and Fade
Guided by Voices: Under the Bushes Under the Stars
The Jam: The Gift
The Kinks: The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society
Radiohead: OK Computer
Sleater-Kinney: The Woods
XTC: English Settlement

I could probably do my 100 Favorite Albums a lot easier. Here are my top 10 for the moment:

  1. Gang Of Four - Entertainment!
  2. The Clash - The Clash
  3. Husker Du - Zen Arcade
  4. The Beatles - Revolver
  5. The Jesus & Mary Chain - Psychocandy
  6. Prince - Sign O’ The Times
  7. XTC - Skylarking
  8. The Replacements - Tim
  9. R.E.M. - Murmur
  10. The Go-Betweens - 16 Lovers Lane

Hmm, subject to change on random whim, but:

Joy Division - Closer
Velvet Underground - Live 1969
Pixies - Doolittle
Massive Attack - Protection
The Smiths - Hatful of Hollow
Cocteau Twins - Treasure
Boards of Canada - Music has the Right to Children
Husker Du - Candy Apple Gray
My Bloody Valentine - Loveless
REM - Reckoning

Ask me tomorrow and they’ll be different, but here goes:

The Tubes
The Beatles- Abbey Road
Ten Years After - A Space In Time
Dave Edmunds - Rockpile
Kate Bush - The Whole Story
The Guess Who - So Long Bannatyne
Max Webster - High Class In Borrowed Shoes
Golden Earring - Moontan
Frank Zappa - Tinseltown Rebellion
Steely Dan - Aja

It’s damn near impossible to name only ten, and if you asked me tomorrow I’d probably name another ten albums. But I tried to cover a lot of bases and chose a variety:

Poe - Haunted
Sublime - 40 Oz. to Freedom
Aimee Mann - Lost In Space
Fleetwood Mac - Fleetwood Mac
Stevie Wonder - Innervisions
Dr. Dre - The Chronic
The Cure - Disintegration
Johnny Cash - Live at Folsom Prison
Radiohead - OK Computer
Green Day - American Idiot

  1. The Magnetic Fields - 69 Love Songs - I can honestly say with full conviction that Stephin Merritt is the greatest living songwriter and that these are his best songs. This album brings together everything that I love about music - weird arrangements and instruments, incredible lyrics and strange subject matter, atypical voices, and ENORMOUS pop hooks - in one place. And those things very rarely exist in the same place together, much less with such perfect panache. I cannot put my love of this record into words; it is everything to me. It’s why I try to make music. It’s how I met my wife. It is the blueprint for a better musical future to come for humanity.

  2. The Microphones - The Glow pt. 2 and Mount Eerie - I insist that these two records are a double album released a year apart moreso than two seperate albums, and that’s why I group them together. I don’t know what it is about Phil Elvrum’s music that touches me the way that it does, but man, does it. Right when I thought I was at that age of jadedness and level of stubbornness that precludes that sort of adolescent fanaticism about an artist, I went completely monkey-crazy over Elvrum in the way that I haven’t felt about a band since I was about fourteen. I indiscriminately love everything that the guy does, but these two records mean more to me than anything else from him. The songwriting is just so gorgeous, but the sprawling and bizarre arrangements really create an entirely foreign, untouched aural world for me; it’s something close to Lord Dunsany’s vistas, something absolutely magical and unreal. When Phil talks to death, it’s me at 23 having an anxiety attack and fighting for my breath and facing down the Lovecraftian horror that is human mortality. When everything comes in over the fingerpicked guitar on “I want wind to blow,” it feels like the sun rising in time-lapsed film.

  3. Husker Du - New Day Rising - I think that the secret to understanding and loving Husker Du is to understand that they were very much an “Americana” band - closer in tone and aesthetic to early R.E.M. than the hardcore bands that they were (still rightfully) lumped in with. I just love everything about their records in a way that’s hard for me to explain, but the aforementioned comes the closest to nailing what it is that makes them so special to me. “New Day Rising” is the record where it just all comes together for them - the incredibly emotional songwriting that comes up against their biggest choruses and hooks, all wrapped in their most aggressive productin, all thundering drums and buzzsaw guitars.

  4. Harry Nilsson - Nilsson Schmilsson - I love Nilsson a lot, so it’s hard to narrow it down to a particular record, but Schmilsson was my intro to the guy and remains the best encapsulation of why I love him and what he’s all about. There’s the pomp and pageantry of music hall Nilsson next to the Fifth Beatle pop magestry, next to the melodrama and kookiness that are always present with the guy. Just everything that makes me love him is here in spades, and it’s the one that I always find myself coming back to after I listen to “1941” to death (because that’s the best song he ever wrote, period).

  5. T-Rex - *The Slider *- There is no question that this is their greatest record, and it’s the one that I’m just addicted to and connect to time and time again. Marc is out of control as the wide-eyed Spaceball Ricochet-playing star bearded space elf, and the SONGS - the HOOKS! He only ever wrote two songs over and over (the ballad and the rocker), and they’re both here in their absolutely greatest incarnations. Something not oft-mentioned is how this album seems to be a gigantic love letter to “rock and roll,” with its shuffling rhythms, Chuck Berry riffs, and whiny Frankie Valli backing vocals on literally every song - even the stoopid songs like “Rock On” are so freaking melancholy and gorgeous that I feel like I’m hearing a gigantic, teary farewell to the sock hops and drive ins; American Graffiti as rock record. And oh my gosh, “Rabbit Fighter!”

  6. Scott Walker - Scott 4 - Man, it’s just the one that I love the most. It’s Scott at his most operatic and theatrical, but before he really spilled over into the intentional inaccessibility of Tilt and The Drift, both of which I love but purely in an intellectual sense. Scott 4 is the one that I just always come back to - it’s the perfection of Scott’s taking the singer-songwriter persona to its most Brechtian, if not Wagnerian, extreme. But who gives a shit about any of that when we’re talking about an album with “The world’s strongest man” and “Duchess” on it, two of the greatest ballads ever written!?

  7. Prince - Sign o’ the Times - I’m a big Prince fan, and this is the one. It’s also a great example of an album that simultaneously manages to be the big obvious critical choice while truly being the artist’s best work. But more than anything, and moreso than any other prince record, it’s just end-to-end killer songwriting. There’s not a dud on here, and its contains most of my favorite Prince songs. Forget singles - “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker,” “Adore,” “Slow Love,” “It,” “Starfish and Coffee” - almost every song on here was ignored by radio, but it’s his best work - his most mature, artful, and still viciously hooky songwriting.

  8. The Beach Boys - Sunflower - Kind of a weird choice, but it’s the one that I just love to pieces. The songwriting is so streamlined that each track almost sounds like four or five promising ideas that ended up grafted together; even bridges have better hooks and melodies than previous BB choruses. But my gosh, the choruses on this record are just so huge - by the time you hit the end of “The whole world,” you’ve heard more and better hooks than anything you’ve heard in your life up to that point. More than ever, the Beach Boys sound like a capital-b Band than “The Brian Wilson Show,” so Dennis and Carl actually get a chance to slip some killer moments in there. “Forever” might just be the saddest song ever created when taken in context of its creator’s personal life, but man, how completely and absurdly gorgeous is “Deirdre?!” Truly my favorite Beach Boys record, a sort of melancholy sendoff to the innocence and ambition of the younger band, the sixties, the whole thing.

  9. Talking Heads - Fear of Music - It’s like this; these are David Byrne’s best songs, but then sonically it’s also the band’s most interesting moment. There is nothing to lose! “Air” is one of my favorites, but everytihng else on here is just completely solid and killer. The songwriting is amazing, and then you have these polyrhythmic, funky, afrocentric, tweaky, hacker, post-punky songs bringing it all together. This is the album that people are talking about when they heap praise on Remain in Light, but that’s ok, because the real fans know what’s up, just like us Smiths fans that know Strangeways is the joint and us Pixies fans that understand that *Bossanova *is by far their finest moment. Join our team.

  10. Beat Happening - Black Candy - Always my favorite record by one of my eternal favorite bands, Calvin Johnson just did it right with this record from start to finish. Before this Neo-Preciousness, before irony, before the Neu Sincerity took over, Beat Happening just understood something about retreating to childlike wussiness and wallowing in twee. Moreso, they understood that to do so was merely pointless posturing to get laid (hear me, Butterglory!) if you weren’t writing the best pop songs you’d always wanted to hear. There’s a little bit of 1950’s b-movies, a little garage, summer camp, bonfires, and a little surf hiding in there, but mostly there’s just that perfect Calvin Johnson world of out-of-tune vocals, jangling guitars, and tapping snare drums. I think that “cast a shadow” might be the greatest pop song that will ever be written. If I could pick a record to live in when I die, I’d go to Black Candy heaven where it’s halloween on The Wonder Years all the time, and my wife would be waiting for me as a preteen girl I’d be afraid to talk to.

Hmmm…what they said…tough to keep at 10, and also ‘this is for right now’.

The Beatles - Abbey Road
Traveling Wilbury’s - Vol 1
Boz Scaggs - My Time
Bob Dylan - Desire
Little Feat - Waiting for Columbus
Marshall Tucker - Anthology *
Van Morrison - Magic Time
Rolling Stones - 40 Licks
NGDB - Will the Circle be Unbroken Vol 2
Finally, some kind of Soul mix w/ The Temps, Will Downing, Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes, Stevie, O’Jays, etc.

*I don’t own it, but it’s such a good compilation of their songs, it’s all I could think of for just one choice.

Whew, i could have kept going on these.

The Flaming Lips - Soft Bulletin
Pavement - Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
Calexico - Feast of Wire
Sigur Ros - Agaetis Byrjun
The Silver Jews - Bright Flight
Sufjan Stevens - Illinoise
Beirut - Gulag Orkester
The Books - The Lemon of Pink
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists - The Tyranny of Distance
The Notwist - Neon Golden

[li]Black Sabbath- Paranoid[/li][li]Emerson, Lake and Palmer- Brain Salad Surgery[/li][li]Genesis- A Trick of the Tail[/li][li]Led Zeppelin- Led Zeppelin I[/li][li]Metallica- Master of Puppets[/li][li]Motley Crue- Shout at the Devil[/li][li]Pink Floyd- Dark Side of the Moon[/li][li]Rush- Moving Pictures[/li][li]Staind- Break the Cycle[/li][li]Yes- Close to the Edge[/li][/ol]

This was a hard list to make. I wanted to have one album from my favorite artists, but there are so many good ones I could still choose. If I had other Metallica albums, for example, that would shut out the other good bands that I like.

To look at this semi-objectively, the albums in my iPod with the most plays are more or less

Atlantic Rhythm & Blues 1947-1975
Beatles, Rubber Soul
Big Star, #1 Record
The Gourds, Heavy Ornamentals
New Pornographers, Twin Cinema
The Decemberists, Picaresque
Leo Kottke, 6- and 12-String Guitar
Randy Newman, Good Old Boys
The Kinks, The Kink Kronikles
Hank Williams, Original Singles Collection
The Pogues, Rom Sodomy & The Lash

Skews a little heavily toward the recent and the big sets, but that’s as good as any other list I’d come up with.

Let’s see…my basic Desert Island Discs list at this moment consists of:

Live In New York - Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
Live at Carnegie Hall - Renaissance
Live at the Fillmore East - Allman Brothers
(I’m seeing a pattern here.)
Beggar’s Banquet - Rolling Stones
Waiting For Columbus - Little Feat
Time Out - Dave Brubeck Quartet
Rumours - Fleetwood Mac
Shoot Out The Lights - Richard and Linda Thompson
Astral Weeks - Van Morrison
Hearts of Stone - Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes

And about a thousand tied at #11!

The Fool Circle - Nazareth
Broadsword and the Beast - Jethro Tull
Songs From the Wood - Jethro Tull
Live Bullet - Bob Seger
2XS - Nazareth
Toys in the Attic - Aerosmith
Violent Femmes - Violent Femmes
Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables - Dead Kennedy’s
Appetite for Destruction - Guns ‘n’ Roses
Blizzard of Ozz - Ozzy

Not necessarily in that order

The Small Faces – Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake
Kraftwerk – Computerwelt (oh the irony)
The Soft Machine – Volume Two
The Beatles – Magical Mystery
Weather Report – Black Market
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Green River
Frank Zappa – Hot Rats
Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon
Ween – The Mollusk
Dire Straits – Love Over Gold

Joni Mitchell- Court & Spark
Love- Forever Changes
Marvin Gaye- Here My Dear
Sundays- Reading, Writing & Arithmetic
Steely Dan- The Royal Scam
Sly Stone- There’s a Riot Goin On
King Crimson- Red
Phil Spector’s Christmas Album
Carole King- Tapestry
Van Morrison- Moondance

To run down my favorite type of music, I’ll go with:

German Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Czech Jesus Chirst Superstar (the live 2CD set)
Tokoyo Evita
Czech Evita
Austria CATS
German Song & Dance
German Starlight Express (2CD live set)
Swedish Phantom of the Opera
Korean Phantom of the Opera
German Sunset Boulevard

Off the top of my head, in no particular order, and subject to change:

Flash and the Pan – Lights in the Night
Pink Floyd – Atom Heart Mother
Lambert Hendricks and Ross – Everybody’s Bopping
Lyle Lovett and His Large Band – Live in Texas
The Who – Live at Leeds
Beatles – The White Album
Allman Brothers Band Live at Filmore East
Bonzo Dog Band – Tadpoles
Joan Brill – Encores
Soft Machine – Third

In no particular order, and there’s probably a good chance that the next time I make a list like this it’ll be different, but:

Abbey Road - The Beatles
Machine Head - Deep Purple
Running on Empty - Jackson Browne
A New World Record - Electric Light Orchestra
The Doors - The Doors
Who’s Next - The Who
Quadrophenia - The Who
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars - David Bowie
Overnight Sensation - Frank Zappa
Eye in the Sky - Alan Parson’s Project.

mmm…I reckon I’ll sneak in some compilations…
Pixies - Death To The Pixies
Dead Can Dance - Aion
Cocteau Twins - Victorialand
Shelleyan Orphan - Century Flower
The Cure - Standing On A Beach
Joy Division - Substance
Bauhaus - Mask
My Bloody Valentine - Isn’t Anything
Billy Bragg - Victim of Geography
Tori Amos - Little Earthquakes

What’s Going On - Marvin Gaye
Cee-Lo Green And His Perfect Imperfections - Ceelo Green
Africa - Toto
Aja - Steely Dan
Body and Soul - Joe Jackson
Barbra - Barbra Streisand
Ella and Basie! - Ella Fitzgerald - Count Basie
Afternoon of an Elf - Errol Garner
Vol. 2 Hard Knock Life - Jay Z
The Miseducation of Lauren Hill - Lauren Hill

In no particular order and subject to change 10 minutes from now:

The Cure - Disintegration
Dead Can Dance - Within the Realm of a Dying Sun
Miles Davis - Kind of Blue
John Coltraine - Blue Train
Within Temptation - The Silent Force
Nightwish - Once
Delerium - Karma
The Who - Who’s Next
Queensryche - Operation: Mindcrime
Mozart - Requiem

Oi… That was tough. I’ve got at least 5 more that I would like on my “short list”. Of course, if I were to do my “Top 15,” I would still have another 5 I would like on my “short list” :wink: