Now we are hitting those albums that matter the most to me. It should be no surprise that the Beatles show up, more than once.
25. Bill Cosby: Why Is There Air? (1965)
Answer: “To blow up volleyball, basketballs.” It’s how I could ‘”see” Lombard Street in San Francisco a couple decades before visiting it in person. I learned that “traffic tickets are like savings bonds; the longer you keep them, the greater they mature.”
24. Paul Butterfield Blues Band: East West (1966)
The band with Michael Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop. Features a Monkees song (‘Mary, Mary’) and the classic jazz tune ‘The Work Song’.
23. Sly & The Family Stone: Stand (1969)
If I can’t put the greatest hits on the list, this is the album: ‘I Want to Take You Higher’, ‘Sing a Simple Song,’ ‘Everyday People,’ ‘You Can Make It If You Try’, and the title track, plus some interesting non-singles tracks, too.
22. Neil Young: After The Gold Rush (1970)
‘When You Dance, I Can Really Love’ was my song to the college girlfriend. Has a bunch of other good stuff too.
21. Led Zeppelin: I (1969)
I’m sure I mentioned how the day I first heard this album is seared in my memory. It was literally mind altering.
20. George Harrison: All Things Must Pass (1970)
If I were to guess, in the day, which ex-Beatles album I would most enjoy, I would have picked John, or maybe Paul. Yet it was George’s triple album I played the most. OK, not so much that third LP jam, but the first two for sure. ‘What Is Life’, ‘Wah Wah’, and a lot more. BTW, my high school prom theme was the title of the album.
19. The Sound of Music movie soundtrack (1965)
I love this from the beginning – the nuns singing together, to the melancholy ‘Edelweiss’.
18. Supremes: Sing Holland-Dozier-Holland (1967)
A peculiarly-titled album in that most of their songs at that period were being written and produced by H-D-H. Besides the hits, the standout track is ‘Remove This Doubt’, later covered by Elvis Costello.
17. Lovin’ Spoonful: Daydream (1966)
Bought this when I got a bunch of Beatles albums early on, and it’s been a touchstone since. My 1998 visit to Savannah was ‘Jug Band Music’. The 1980 Democratic primary was ‘It’s Not Time Now’, with Jerry Brown singing, “I can’t seem to get a word in edgewise anyhow.” Lots more.
16. Rolling Stones: Let It Bleed (1969)
From the glorious Merry Clayton vocals on ‘Gimme Shelter’ to the chorale on ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’, it’s the most consistent Stones album. And the US and UK versions are the same, which was NOT always the case in the past.
15. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: Deja Vu (1970)
Among other things, appreciated the near-democratic nature of the album: two songs each by the four, one by Stills-Young, and ‘Woodstock’ by Joni Mitchell.
14. Judy Collins: Wildflowers (1967)
Songs in Latin and French, plus the hit ‘Both Sides Now.’ But it is ‘Albatross’ that is the key song for me.
13. The Who: Tommy (1968)
I remember listening to this first rock opera when my father walked by, overheard, “We forsake you, gonna rape you,” and gave me that “What is that boy listening to?” look.
12. Beatles: A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
In the midst of the insanity of Beatlemania touring, Lennon & McCartney came up with seven great songs for the movie, plus six others for the album; my favorite from the latter group is ‘I’ll Be Back.’
11. Elton John: Elton John (1970)
His second album with classics such as ‘Your Song,’ ‘Take Me to the Pilot’, and ‘Border Song’.
10. Cream: Disraeli Gears (1967)
Interesting: ALSO the second album. ‘Strange Brew’, ‘Tales of Brave Ulysses’, ‘We’re Going Wrong’. Not to mention the shared vocals by Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton on ‘Sunshine of Your Love,’ which also features that ‘Blue Moon’ guitar riff.
9. The Band: The Band (1969)
ANOTHER second album. Slice of Americana from four Canadians, and one guy from Arkansas. ‘Rag Mama Rag’, ‘Up on Cripple Creek’ and much more.
8. Pete Seeger: Live at Carnegie Hall (1963)
Wrote about it HERE.
7. Woodstock movie soundtrack (1970)
It’s not just the litany of groups, some of which I’d never heard before, such as Santana. It’s even all the dialogue about the “brown acid,” the “kosher bacon,” and Max Yasgur getting a roar of applause just for saying, “I’m a farmer.” Saw the film twice in a row at the movie theater when it was first released, and I’m sure that had an effect on my appreciation of the triple LP.
6. Beatles: Rubber Soul (1965)
Ten common songs on the US and UK versions, and I like both collections.
5. Simon And Garfunkel: Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)
It was the duo in disintegration; ‘So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright’ was only tangentially about the architect. I wrote about “The Boxer’ and the title song on Art Garfunkel’s 70th birthday.
4. Jesus Christ Superstar (1970)
The source of a lot of theological discussions in my circle of friends. You don’t have to agree with it to appreciate the songwriting, and vocals.
3. Beach Boys: Pet Sounds (1966)
Speaking of religion, this album contains probably my favorite pop tune of all time, ‘God Only Knows.’ But it’s pretty much perfect from beginning to end. Paul McCartney gave copies to all his children as an example of great music.
2. West Side Story movie soundtrack (1961)
Seeing this movie was transformational. But it wasn’t just the story, it was the music. Quintet, the Tonight reprise, where the Jets and Sharks are preparing for the Rumble, Maria and Tony for their date, and Anita for her “private little mix” with Bernardo after the fight. Leonard Bernstein was right to get Stephen Sondheim to change one lyric of ‘Gee, Officer Krupke.’. Our family just saw the Albany High School production of the play, and my daughter is entranced by ‘America.’
1. The Beatles: Revolver (1966)
Still, this is my favorite album. From a kiddie song (‘Yellow Submarine’) to painful songs about loss (“Eleanor Rigby’, ‘For No One’), a most eclectic album, enriched by the three Lennon songs that had been purloined to make the US album Yesterday and Today . For my feelings about the last two songs on the album, read here.
That was fun; thanks to SamuraiFrog for the idea. But I won’t do the 1970s any time soon; too many to select from – the singer-songwriters from the early period, the mid-decade disco era, and the punk rock at the end, not to mention a LOT of Stevie Wonder. I think I’ll do, over time, the 1950s, 1990s, 1980s and eventually the 1970s. Maybe by then I’ll have enough 21st century albums to try that period.