Jaybird gave me the idea for this post, yesterday. (Edit from Jaybird: I’ve modified the post time for this in order to make it Monday’s Essay because it’s *JUST* *THAT* *GOOD*. So this isn’t referring to “yesterday” yesterday.)
Lots of artists can make a good song. Some artists can make lots and lots of good songs. Very few artists wind up making truly stellar albums.
These are the albums that maybe you bought on LP, and again on cassette, and then again on CD. These are the albums where… if you’re flipping through the radio and you catch even the beginning of one song, you skip past it *even if it’s a great song*, because you know that it’s not the same as listening to the whole thing. These are the albums that remind you of when you plopped them in and listened to them over and over… and then did it again the following year, and the following year, and maybe yesterday.
These are the albums where you don’t skip a single track. These are the albums where you are affronted mightily when someone else *does* skip that single track (big fans of Synchronicity, you know what I’m talking about here. People who skip “Mother”, they’re wrong! I can’t listen to “Every Breath You Take” any more, or it’d be on my list).
These are the albums where if you grew up listening to them, you can’t bring yourself to buy the “Best Of” for the band, because you know some of those songs are going to be missing. Or, even better, you bought the Best Of Album and then went out and bought this album, too, even though 4/5ths of the songs were on the Best Of Album.
To keep this list short enough to be consumed, I stuck to three rules religiously.
One: I had to own it (sorry to those artists who I’ve inherited a love for, but not yet bothered to buy their whole album outright, or who I own most/all of their stuff but not in its original format – Led Zepplin and the Stones are two examples).
Two: it couldn’t be a compilation or “best of” album (which is obviously cheating). With one exception, I left all live recordings out of consideration because too often they also wind up violating the compilation rule. Band of Gypsys is required, and doesn’t violate the compilation rule. With one exception, I left off all EPs as being too short (In Search of Manny is long enough that I let it squeak in).
Three: no guilty pleasures. I had to honestly think the musician work was excellent either for its genre or on its own merits or both.
Here’s my first pass list. Now I really do have to get the Amazon Affiliate thing going; I’ll repair this post later. Your candidates in the comments!
- The Art of Noise – In Visible Silence
- Abbey Road – The Beatles
- Ben Harper – Burn to Shine
- Travelers & Thieves – Blues Traveler
- 13 – Blur
- Brother Sister – The Brand New Heavies
- Disintegration – The Cure
- The Head on the Door – The Cure
- Beautiful Freak – Eels
- Watermark – Enya
- The Real Thing – Faith No More
- You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby – Fatboy Slim
- Reach The Beach – The Fixx
- Jazzmatazz, Vol I – Guru
- Human’s Lib – Howard Jones
- The Swing – INXS
- Ritual De Lo Habitual – Jane’s Addiction
- Band of Gypsys – Jimi Hendrix
- Surfing With The Alien – Joe Satriani
- Whitechocolatespaceegg – Liz Phair
- Kiko – Los Lobos
- In Search of Manny – Luscious Jackson
- Business as Usual – Men At Work
- Ride the Lightening – Metallica
- Red Sails in the Sunset – Midnight Oil
- Hard Again – Muddy Waters
- Good For Your Soul – Oingo Boingo
- Dark Side Of The Moon – Pink Floyd
- Reggatta de Blanc – The Police
- Purple Rain – Prince
- Life’s Rich Pagent – R.E.M.
- Moving Pictures – Rush
- Scorpions – Love At First Sting
- Sublime – Sublime
- The Hurting – Tears for Fears
- The Invisible Band – Travis
- Midnight Marauders – A Tribe Called Quest
- The Unforgettable Fire – U2
- Van Halen – Van Halen
- Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes
- One Second – Yello
- Tres Hombres – ZZ Top