Top Ten lists are as common as asphalt roads. They are everywhere and have been worn down to mere rubble, as many times as they have been driven over. So I decided to drop one off and go with a Top Nine. Just to be different.
And now to start things off, I give you the list of the top nine albums that I have listened to so many times, that if CDs and MP3s had grooves, I would have worn deep cuts in them. And back in the day, with the LP and cassette, I did wear out some after being played so much and so often. These albums also have some significant part of my life, where they just make me feel good and take me back to that time and place burned into memory.
- Rush: Hemispheres
I started buying albums late in the game. Sure I had my share of Disney 78’s and some 45’s here and there, but LPs were put off till I was 14. I missed out on some good albums, but in 1978, there was Rush’s Hemispheres, which I found on sale for $3.99. Upon first listen, it was so cool to have all of side 1 be a single song, broken up into multiple segments. But turning the record over, I found “The Trees” a song whose lyrics and message cemented my interest in politics. Even today, I steer people towards this album for it’s expert songs and thought-provoking messages.
- Guns N’ Roses: Appetite For Destruction
I hated this album when it first came out in the middle of 1987. My ex-wife’s nephew had this album and it was all I could do to avoid hearing anything from it. Fast forward 10 years, when I re-discovered this album on an Original Master Recording Gold CD. My hate went away instantly. This remains one of the records I turn to when I need to release some aggression. Songs like “Out Ta Get Me” and “It’s So Easy” get me in a mood that makes me wish I had those 10 “hate” years back.
- Stone Temple Pilots: Purple
In 1992, STP hit the scene with “Core”, which is a great album. But when a sophomore release exceeds all of your expectations, then it takes its place in your “best of” list. Lyrics like “If you die before me, ask if you can bring a friend” may be cleverly cheesy, they tend to stick with you, as do the hits “Big Empty” and “Interstate Love Song.” If you haven’t heard this album in years, put it back in your iPod and maybe you’ll find yourself getting tickets to this year’s reunion tour.
- Radiohead: OK Computer
Other than “Creep”, the mainstream audience may have written off Thom Yorke and Co. as an odd band that had even odder songs. But it’s hard to ignore this album from 1997, even if you find it hard to get into it upon the first few listens. Give it another 10 or more spins and you’ll be humming “Karma Police” in your sleep. For me, this album inspires me to be creative and think very much outside the box.
- Elton John: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
I heard my first Elton John song on the radio in 1970. “Your Song” was pretty mellow, and the piano was subtle, but it stuck to me enough to want to hear more. It wasn’t until two years after it’s 1975 release that I discovered “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, with it’s 11 minute opening opus, “Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding”, not to mention “Benny and the Jets” being an oft-hummed tune. Even if you are not familiar with song titles like “Harmony” or “Grey Seal”, the tune will be familiar.
- Red Hot Chili Peppers: Blood Sugar Sex Magik
1992 was a powerful year in music and “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” stands as the album no one could avoid. “Give It Away” was trumped many times over by “Under The Bridge”, making Red Hot Chili Peppers a household name. I was already a fan, but this album guaranteed me following them for the foreseeable future. And who can’t enjoy a naughty little ditty like “Sir Psycho Sexy” with it’s “lady cop… trying to cop a feel” story line.
- The Beatles: Revolver
I have never really liked a lot of the early Beatles songs. I was always more into their experimental stage their last 4 years of recording. At the start of this stage, normally referred to as the ‘drug years’, “Revolver” kicked things off with “Taxman”, a slam against Brittan. And from that tune until “Tomorrow Never Knows”, it became one of the first albums that was good from start to finish. I’m surprised more people are not familiar with it when I talk about my favorite Fab Four release.
- Mad Season: Above
I’m sure there’s several of you out there that are saying, “Mad Season?? Isn’t that a Matchbox Twenty album??” But while it would be another year before Rob Thomas and his band mates would break out on the scene, a super group comprised of Layne Staley (Alice In Chains), Mike McCreedy (Pearl Jam), Barrett Martin and Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees) made a big noise with their only release “Above”. In the 13 years that I’ve owned this album, it has been played more than any other rock album I own. And with the guitar talent of Mike McCreedy on songs like “November Hotel”, it’s hard not to get into this entire album, which is meant to be played all the way through.
- Depeche Mode: Violator
My first experience with Depeche Mode was being on the 405 in Los Angeles on August 6, 1985 and hearing “People Are People” on the radio. From that 4 minute moment, they have been one of my favorite bands. And even after seeing them live eight times, my all-time favorite is, without question, 1990’s “Violator.” And you have to admit that no matter how many times you hear “Enjoy The Silence”, you never get tired of it. I know I never do.
So Many More
Picking a top list of anything for me is hard. And especially with music, one of my greatest loves in life. (along with writing) Then to try narrowing it down to the top nine is like asking me to pick between food or water. I will do another post soon with my honorable mentions, or those albums that just missed the cut off.
So what do you think of my list? Any suggestions? Rants? What The Fuck’s? Any favorites you have that I might like? Comment away.