This week rounds out the bottom 50 of the list, ushering us into the true greats. With the albums this week, it is hard to imagine it getting better. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
There are two other things I'm obsessed with at the moment that I wanted to share with you. Rectify, from the Sundance Channel, is an amazing show. The first season (a scant 6 episodes) is available on Netflix streaming. The pace of this show is slower than anything I remember, with characters more complex and compelling than usually offered up. Season 2 is happening now. I'm caught up...and now waiting week to week for glacial development and satiation.
Also on Netflix, I recently watched a documentary called Tiny, about the Tiny House movement. I'm not entirely sure why, but I am now obsessed with the idea of building a tiny home--leading me to buy the book The Big Tiny by Dee Williams, and devouring it in just over a day. Of course, you can't build a tiny house in the NYC area...but the wheels are turning. Mid-life crisis?? Perhaps.
52: Al Green -- Greatest Hits (1975)
I will forego my usual complaint about how Greatest Hits shouldn't be on the list of greatest albums of all time.
This one should.
Al Green's Let's Stay Together came into my consciousness, once again, via cinema--this time Pulp Fiction. This greatest hits compilation was re-released the next year: 1995. I remember loving it--listening to it incessantly my first year at Berklee.
I can't pull the best tracks out of this record--they're all, uhmm, great. Mr. Green wrote or co-wrote every track, with the one exception being The Temptations' I Can't Get Next To You. Al Green is the whole package. One of the greats.
51: Simon & Garfunkel -- Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)
Another album I was obsessed with my first year at Berklee? Simon & Garfunkel's Greatest Hits.
I never explored any of their other work (which, upon reflection, is unlike me). So, I had never heard this record--although much of it is on that compilation.
I watched a really great documentary (actually two films combined) on this album via Qello. You can watch both on Qello here, or watch just the first part at youtubez.
I was struck, watching this, by how central music was culturally at the time. How much was going on in the world--and how music seemed to be right there, providing a salve for progress and healing. Does music still do this? Has music been relegated to backdrops for commercials? Do artists seek the same kind of expression? For instance, when 9/11 happened...can you think of an artist whose expression helped us all cope and synthesize this new reality?
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Bridge Over Troubled Water is another one of those songs that has been overplayed. Yet, unlike Elton John's Candle In The Wind (any many, many others) this one still gives me chills. Art Garfunkel's got a beautiful voice--I don't know if I ever really noticed that before this week. Also, I love the bombastic production here.
El Candor Pasa (If I Could) is a great second track--hinting at Paul Simon's cultural borrowing to come. I'm not crazy about Paul Simon--and I can't really put a finger on why that is. He's a great writer--maybe even one of the best. He's a good singer and accomplished guitarist. Yet, I'm not drawn to him as a musical hero.
So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright is a wonderful song that I had never heard before--maybe my favorite here. I love its breezy Brazilian jazz vibe. I also love the idea of writing a love song to an architect--especially this particular one.
There are some tracks that I'm not crazy about (Keep The Customer Satisfied, Baby Driver, Why Don't You Write Me). Going even further against my usual gripe about compilations on this list--I do wonder how Rolling Stone drew the line for including some greatest hits and not others. Simon & Garfunkel had a wonderful greatest hits compilation (with several of the best songs on this album PLUS The Sounds of Silence, Mrs. Robinson, The 59th Street Bridge, Scarborough Fair, America and Homeward Bound).
I'm just sayin'.
Al Green's Greatest Hits is one of my favorites of all time. I am grateful to have been reminded of its greatness this week.
I had forgotten how much I loved Simon & Garfunkel's Greatest Hits all those years ago (almost 20, I'm still young dammit). If not for the great So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright and The Only Living Boy In New York, I would say skip this album and go to the compilation...but the strength of these two songs, even with the few songs I could do without, is enough to push this album into my favorites of all time.
50: Little Richard -- Here's Little Richard (1957) 49: The Allman Brothers Band -- At Fillmore East (1971)