Normally I use this blog to rag on things I hate...today I'm changing things up a bit and praising some of my all time faves....Today its some of my favorite music...the records that should be a part of any collection. Obviously, this is just a small sample as there are so many essential records that it would be impossible to name them all in one post. But here they are in no particular order:
Black Sabbath Heaven and Hell: Say what ya want about Ozzy, this record with Dio is their most complete album. Never did the band sound heavier than they did here. Every track is killer. Children of the Sea, Neon Knights, Die Young, and the title track...all amazing.
Kiss Destroyer: One of the records that changed my life. My pick for best Kiss record ever. Sure Detroit Rock City is tired now but 30 years ago? Wow. You can have Rock and Roll All Nite, to me, Shout it Out Loud is the Kiss anthem.
Judas Priest British Steel: Maybe the greatest metal record ever. Took a fringe band and made them superstars. If you get the chance to watch VH1 Classic's Behind the Album (or whatever they call it) on this check it out. Breakin' the Law, Grinder, the Rage...this is the record that made Priest Metal Gods.
David Bowie Hunky Dory: Ziggy Stardust was my fave as a kid but as I've aged this record has surpassed it. One of the great records of all time. Sure everyone knows Changes but the true standouts are Quicksand, Queen Bitch (a tribute to Lou Reed) and Andy Warhol. You can't go wrong with any Bowie record that features Mick Ronson. God rest his soul.
Ac/Dc Highway to Hell: Quite honestly, every Ac/Dc record up to and including Back in Black are must haves. I choose Highway to Hell because of the title track. Rock doesn't get any better than that and considering the fate that awaited Bon Scott its prophetic as well. Its been nearly 30 years since Back in Black (to me its their last great record...they've had decent songs since but the albums to me were failures) and while I'm tired of hearing it (thanks radio) you have to admire how after losing their great singer they rebounded with such a powerful record. No band (well, maybe Deep Purple) ever sounded so good after changing lead singers. To me, Angus and Malcolm Young are up there with Lennon/McCartney and Jagger/Richards. The Youngs have rock in their DNA.
Bruce Springsteen Born to Run/Darkness on the Edge of Town: Its impossible for me to pick between these two records. They are like heads and tails on a coin. BtR is an amazing story...in danger of being dropped by his label Springsteen shoots for the stars and scores a breakthrough hit. The Wings for Wheels doc in the BtR 30th anniversary is must viewing. BtR is where Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and Phil Spector intersect. One of the 5 best rock records ever. Darkness is a scary record...this is the record where Springsteen's youthful idealism met with reality. The songs are dark, the characters are broken down and hanging on by a thread....but they are still hangin' on. So many fist pumping anthems on this record..Badlands, Promised Land, Prove it All Night...but its the angry songs that rip at your heart...Something in the Night and Adam Raised a Cain (best song about fathers and sons EVER). Look for a 30th anniversary release of Darkness later this year.
Guns n Roses Appetite for Destruction: Once Axl stopped teasing his hair the message was clear, the age of the hair band was over. Sure it took Nirvana to put the final nail in the coffin but it was GnR that dug the hole. They didn't wanna look pretty..they wanted to rock. Shame they didn't put out anymore records as good as this one but then they wouldn't be so easily compared to the next band....
The Sex Pistols Never Mind the Bollocks: One record, one U.S. tour and then they broke up...only to reunite 20 years later for a cash grab. One of the most influential records ever. Raw, angry, fun. Plus you gotta love the whole Sid and Nancy story.
The Ramones....pick any.
The Clash London Calling: If heaven has a bar (and it better have several) Joe Strummer is downing shots and having a pint with Jesus.
Cheap Trick: I love Cheap Trick. I think they are one of the great American bands but on record, they are often hit or miss. Sure you could get the live record from Japan or you could get the box set which is what I suggest. While their albums were hit and miss, they always had several good tunes on 'em. When you listen to the box set you realize "wow, these guys are amazing."
James McMurtry Where'd You Hide the Body: His third, and final, major label release is where everything came together. Excellent production from Don Dixon. He's never rocked harder than he did on this record. Rachel's Song, about a mother who leaves her kid to be raised by his father, is one of the best tunes he's ever written and it includes one of my favorite lyrics ever "I probably oughta quit my drinkin' but I don't believe I will." Of course that's rivaled by Levelland's "...makes you wonder why they stopped here..wagon must of lost a wheel or they lacked ambition one." I use that line to describe why people decided to settle here in my home town.
John Mellencamp:The Lonesome Jubilee: Paper in Fire, Check it Out...the former Johnny Cougar ws never better than this.
The Rolling Stones: Check out anything from the Mick Taylor era...From 1968-1972 they really were the world's greatest rock and roll band.
The Beatles: C'mon you're kidding right? They are all great...I love Rubber Soul most of all.
Bob Dylan Blood on the Tracks: This record from 1974 (I think it was 1974, I'm too lazy to look it up) was his first comeback record...oddly enough his 1989 release Oh Mercy was also a comeback record and the two of them are my fave Dylan records. Blood on the Tracks is a heartbreaking record and I'm a sucker for depressing songs. Tangled Up in Blue and You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go...if they don't move you, ya ain't got no soul.
Richard Thompson Shoot Out the Lights: To be correct its a Richard and Linda Thompson record...this is what it sounds like when a marriage falls apart. No one was surprised when they divorced after this record.
Squeeze East Side Story:Glenn Tillbrook and Chris Difford remind me a lot of Cheap Trick..wrote great songs but never found major commecrcial success. East Side Story is one of the great records of the 80's. Brilliant songs, great production from Elvis Costello and the best song ever about cheating, Tempted.
Gin Blossms New Miserable Experience: Go ahead...laugh all you want. This is one great record and one of the best of the 90's. Doug Wilson knew how to write great songs about drinking and depression which is fitting since he was a drunk who grew depressed after he was kicked out of the band he formed resulting in his suicide. Without him, the band was never able to recapture the magic and thats why they are now playing Popcorn Festivals.
Black Crowes Shake Your Money Maker: One of the all time great debut records. Sure they may be retro...they may not be original but they rock...and they rock hard. Each subsequent record took them closer to being a jam band (with Amorica being the record that made them one officially). This is just a straight up in your face rock record.
Van Halen Van Halen I/Van Halen II: Go ahead...I dare you to not play air guitar to these tunes. Take a great frontman, a guitar god and you have the recipe for fun. Thats what these records are pure flat out joy from start to finish. As Diamond Dave says Van Halen wrote the sonundtrack for our lives.
And these my friends are just a few of my favorite records...just imagine if we had the space and time to cover them all.