These are in no particular order. Also, these aren’t necessarily what I listen to the most. My music tastes change every three months or so.
First, the honorable mentions:
Brand New — The God And Devil Are Raging Inside Me
Various Artists — Song of The Hills: Instrumental Appalachian Classics
Bob Wayne — Outlaw Carnie
Kris Kristofferson — 16 Biggest Hits
And Brahms was the greatest classical composer. Charles Schultz actually thought so too, but he made Schroeder idolize Beethoven because he’s more well known. Look up his fourth symphony. It reminds me of the video game Fable.
1. The Beach Boys — Pet Sounds
I wrote about this previously on ROK.
When I first got this album at the age of 23, I listened to it 40 times in the first 48 hours. It was what I had been looking for in the Beatles for ten years but could never find. It is absolutely the single greatest album ever. I don’t know how there aren’t more people who have obsessed over Brian Wilson like I have.
Here it is in 8-bit version, just because the original is easy enough to find. By no means equal to the original, but it’s a fun alternative.
For more Beach Boys, I would recommend Sunflower, Surf’s Up, and Holland.
2. Lynyrd Skynyrd — The Complete Muscle Shoals Album
Within a few months, I went from completely hating Lynyrd Skynyrd to turning into a die hard fan. This was as radical as going from a militant atheist to an Independent Baptist.
Before they hit it big, over-produced their records, and played up the cringe-worthy southern pandering, Lynyrd Skynyrd produced an unreleased double album in northwestern Alabama. About half the tracks have drummer Rickey Medlocke, who was far better than Bob Burns and Artimus Pyle. He also wrote and sang six of the tracks, which are easily among the best the band ever did. There’s a lot of interesting history with the album, which I won’t go into here.
There are two songs in particular worth pointing out.
An early version of “Freebird.” There’s no slide guitar and organ, which I think was a positive omission. The ballad section naturally flows into the solo. The solo doesn’t take seven minutes. It has a beginning, middle and end, like a story. The whole song is much more organic and doesn’t feel like radio fodder. And you have Medlocke killing it on drums.
The second is Medlocke’s own “The Seasons.” If that doesn’t make you put away your (somewhat justified) Lynyrd Skynyrd hatred, I don’t know what will.
It’s also worth noting that, whatever flaws they had in their famous years, they had one of the best rock n roll piano players ever, Billy Powell, who is easily equal to Freddie Mercury and Jerry Lee Lewis. (Elton John and Billy Joel are painfully over-rated.) Billy Powell alone makes their later music worth listening to. On this album, though, he only appears on two tracks.
3. The Rolling Stones — Let It Bleed
Closing out the decade in December 1969 with an album commentating on the failure of the optimism. Lyrics are about rape and murder in the streets, casual cocaine use (instead of LSD), and how, ultimately, you can’t always get what you want. This album defined the decade. I included a long thing about it at the end of my first book.
The soundtrack from season five of Archer. Normally when a tv show puts out an album, they halfway do it because they know the fans won’t care. However, the people behind Archer pulled out the stops and made one of the greatest collections of rockabilly covers possible.
I hate how they ended it though. They finish with Drivin & Cryin’s “Straight to Hell” (my theme song) and then have various characters from the show say, “Holy shit snacks.” Which, first of all, was never a funny line in the show. But more than that, you have this heavy song ending a fairly heavy album, and you end it with something that juvenile.
5. Mick Jagger — Goddess In The Doorway
What is there to say? If you ever thought Mick Jagger was just an idiot singer living off his bandmates’ talents, here’s the proof otherwise. Yes, a few songs are busts, but they are easily compensated by other tracks like “Visions of Paradise”, “God Gave Me Everything I Want”, and “Don’t Call Me Up”. This is the album Jagger was always supposed to make. There’s an aged maturity in it that his baby boomer fans would never let him express with the Rolling Stones. In the process, he created something far better than anything the Rolling Stones ever produced. It’s almost spiritual, in an extremely loose definition of the word.
An all-star cast of guests include Bono, Pete Townshend, Lenny Kravitz, Rob Thomas, and other people whom I should probably care about. Actually the only one of those I care about is Pete Townshend. I don’t really dislike U2, but they are massively over-rated and somewhat annoying. After Hillary lost, Bono put out a statement that they are delaying their upcoming album Songs of Experience to reflect the surprise. A few years ago they released Songs of Innocence, and within three years they go to Experience? How pretentious is that? And a political election in a country you don’t live in goes the way you weren’t expecting, so you have to put the world on hold to brood over your emotions?
But enough about people I dislike (because hatred and resentment requires actual emotions, and I refuse to waste those on U2). One day in the near future, Mick Jagger will die, and all the millennials on Facebook will pretend to be fans. And then I’m going to throw a chair.