My top 107 albums

Close-up image of vintage player pickup and black long-play record.Time for something fun given the serious nature of our nation’s current events.

Over on Facebook, there was a recent meme asking to list your Top 10 records. For many music fans, this is nearly impossible.

So, I’m taking a stab at my Top 107 instead.

Some ground rules:

  • I tried to avoid greatest hits albums, but a few were too good to pass up.
  • Rather than quibble with the best album by an artist, sometimes I suggest others too
  • Add yours to the comments!

Here goes….loosely grouped by genre but in no particular order.

  1. The Clash, London Calling. Between this and Sandinista, a super-nova of creativity and experimentation made in a 2-year period.
  2. The Clash, Sandinista
  3. Buzzcocks, Singles Going Steady
  4. Stranglers, IV
  5. Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks
  6. Damned, Machine Gun Etiquette
  7. The Jam, Sound Effects
  8. Gang of Four, Entertainment! Punk. Funk. Political. Not easily ignored.
  9. Joy Division, Closer. Toss-up with Unknown Pleasures.
  10. The Fall, Hex Enduction Hour. Or choose from many others.
  11. New Order, Movement.
  12. Kate Bush, Hounds of Love
  13. Talking Heads, Fear of Music
  14. Comsat Angels, Waiting for a Miracle
  15. U2, War. Or Joshua Tree or Boy. Take your pick.
  16. Ultravox, Vienna
  17. Mission of Burma, Vs.
  18. Mission of Burma, Signals, Calls and Marches
  19. Joe Jackson, Look Sharp!
  20. The Cure, Disintegration
  21. The The, Soul Mining. One guy, one bedroom.
  22. Ramones, Ramones
  23. Ramones, Rocket to Russia
  24. Magazine, Real Life
  25. Elvis Costello, This Year’s Model
  26. Dream Syndicate, Medicine Show
  27. Violent Femmes, Violent Femmes
  28. Echo & The Bunnymen, Heaven Up Here. Or several others through Ocean Rain. Take your pick.
  29. Miles Davis, Kind of Blue.  Duh. The more you know about how this was recorded, the more brilliant it seems.
  30. John Coltrane, Giant Steps
  31. John Coltrane, My Favorite Things
  32. Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, Keystone 3. Art with the Marsalis brothers at the pinnacle of his comeback / bebop renaissance
  33. Art Blakey, Free for All. Manic energy.
  34. Charles Mingus, Mingus Ah Um
  35. Dave Holland Quintet, Prime Directive. Or many others.
  36. Ella Fitzgerald. Where to start?
  37. Wayne Shorter, Adam’s Apple
  38. The Bad Plus, For All I Care. Jazz covers of rock songs, amazing use of atonality, mismatched keys, varied tempos. Their work with Joshua Redman also tremendous.
  39. The Specials, The Specials
  40. Burning Spear, Man in the Hills. And others.
  41. Bob Marley, Kaya
  42. Bob Marley, Exodus
  43. Peter Tosh, Equal Rights
  44. UB40, Signing Off
  45. Antonin Dvorak, Symphony #9 / New World
  46. Arvo Part, Passio. And many others.
  47. Henryk Gorecki, Symphony #3, Opus 36, Dawn Upshaw version. Pure, beautiful anguish.
  48. Eroica Trio, Pasion. Exactly as it says; passionate classical string trio. the opposite of dull.
  49. J.S. Bach / Glenn Gould, Goldberg Variations. Gould’s tour de force.
  50. Hilliard Ensemble. Where to start?
  51. The Band, Music from Big Pink. Or greatest hits.
  52. The Blasters, The Blasters
  53. Brandi Carlile, The Story
  54. Bryan Ferry, Boys & Girls
  55. Bryan Ferry, Bete Noir
  56. Roxy Music, Flesh and Blood
  57. Coldplay, Parachutes
  58. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, So Far
  59. Damien Jurado, Caught in the Trees
  60. David Bowie, Station to Station. Or many others from the 70’s.
  61. David Gray, White Ladder
  62. Dire Straits, Communique. Or Dire Straits. Or others.
  63. The Doors, LA Woman
  64. Explosions in the Sky, The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place
  65. Fela Kuti, Unnecessary Begging
  66. Fever Ray, Fever Ray. Recorded deep in the woods of Sweden, in solitude. Otherworldly.
  67. Fleet Foxes, Sun Giant. Harmonies that would make CSNY proud.
  68. Florence & The Machine, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. How is she not a bigger star?
  69. Gnarls Barkley, St. Elsewhere
  70. Indigo Girls, Indigo Girls
  71. James Brown, 20 All-Time Greatest Hits. Or sift through 30 other records from the nuggets.
  72. Japan, Gentlemen Take Polaroids
  73. Jason Isbell, Something More Than Free. Or Southeastern, take your pick. His best might be to come.
  74. Jose Gonzalez, In Our Nature
  75. Massive Attack, Mezzanine
  76. Midlake, The Trials of Van Occupanther. Probably because the song Roscoe is so frickin’ good.
  77. Midnight Oil, Diesel and Dust. Or several others around that time.
  78. Peter Gabriel, So
  79. Philip Glass, Koyaanisqatsi
  80. Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon.
  81. PJ Harvey, Let England Shake. Amazing that my favorite album is the one she made around Year 20 of her career.
  82. Portishead, Dummy. Ahead of its time.
  83. R.E.M, Reckoning. Or many others.
  84. Santana, Greatest Hits. Or one of first three albums.
  85. The Smiths, The Smiths. Or several others.
  86. Steely Dan, The Royal Scam. Cynical, dark, fits our times.  Oh yeah, and impeccable musicianship. Or, Aja, Pretzel Logic.
  87. Stevie Wonder, Innervisions. Or, Songs in the Key of Life.
  88. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Or, Damn the Torpedoes.
  89. The Wipers, The Circle
  90. Chris Isaak, Heart Shaped World
  91. Rolling Stones, Let It Bleed. Or, Sticky Fingers.
  92. Sinead O’Connor, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got. Reminds me that musicians are often the best political activists.
  93. The Tragically Hip, Fully Completely. Or, Up to Here.
  94. Lucinda Williams, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. Or, Sweet Old World.
  95. Wilco, Wilco
  96. Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
  97. K.D. Lang, Ingenue
  98. Neko Case, Middle Cyclone. Or, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, or Blacklisted.
  99. Alabama Shakes, Boys & Girls
  100. Allison Moorer, The Duel
  101. Howlin’ Wolf, Real Folk Blues
  102. Neil Young, Harvest
  103. Joni Mitchell, Court & Spark
  104. Allman Brothers, Idlewild South
  105. Jimi Hendrix Experience, Smash Hits
  106. The Who, Quadrophenia. The studio double set.
  107. The Who, Who’s Next

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