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100 Greatest Albums

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100 Greatest Albums Project (Entire List)

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I embarked on this project during the year 2014.  I used Rolling Stone's Top 500 Albums list as a guide (below; as updated in 2012).  Not long into the project, I learned of another list (see Acclaimed Music) that is perhaps more revered than this list.  Too stubborn to turn back, I decided to finish the RS list, and to double-back in 2015 filling in the albums I hadn't already covered.  You can continue to follow the project by using the 2015 list (here).

100: The Zombies - Odessey and Oracle (1968)

099: Sly & the Family Stone - There's a Riot Goin' On (1971)

098: Elvis Costello & the Attractions - This Year's Model (1978)

097: Bob Dylan - The Freewheelin` Bob Dylan (1963)

096: The Who - Tommy (1969)

095: Miles Davis - Bitches Brew (1970)

094: Hank Williams - 40 Greatest Hits

093: Prince - Sign 'o' the Times (1987)

092: Buddy Holly - Lives

091: Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)

090: Stevie Wonder - Talking Book (1972)

089: Dusty Springfield - Dusty in Memphis (1969)

088: Johnny Cash - At Folsom Prison (1968)

087: Pink Floyd - The Wall (1979)

086: Bruce Springsteen - Born in the U.S.A (1984)

085: Aretha Franklin - Lady Soul (1968)

084: Aretha Franklin - I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967)

083: The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Axis - Bold as Love (1967)

082: Neil Young - Harvest (1972)

081: The Clash - The Clash (1977)

080: John Lennon - Imagine (1971)

079: Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II (1969)

078: Otis Redding - Otis Blue - Otis Redding Sings Soul (1965)

077: AC/DC - Back in Black (1980)

076: Prince and the Revolution - Purple Rain (1984)

075: James Brown - Star Time (1991)

074: Neil Young - After the Gold Rush (1970)

073: Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti (1975)

072: Curtis Mayfield - Superfly (1972)

071: Paul Simon - Graceland (1985)

070: Billy Joel - The Stranger (1977)

069: Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV (1971)

068: Michael Jackson - Off the Wall (1979)

067: Radiohead - Kid A (2000)

066: Van Morrison - Moondance (1970)

065: Phil Spector - Back to Mono (1958-1969)

064: The Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers (1971)

063: U2 - Achtung Baby (1991)

062: Guns N' Roses - Appetite for Destruction (1987)

061: Sly & The Family Stone - Greatest Hits (1970)

060: Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - Trout Mask Replica (1969)

059: Creedence Clearwater Revival - Chronicle: 20 Greatest Hits (1976)

058: The Rolling Stones - Beggars Banquet (1968)

057: Stevie Wonder - Songs in the Key of Life (1976)

056: Elvis Presley - Elvis Presley (1956)

055: The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland (1968)

054: Ray Charles - The Birth of Soul (The Complete Atlantic Rhythm and Blues Recordings, 1952 - 1959)

053: The Beatles - Meet the Beatles! (1964)

052: Al Green - Greatest Hits (1975)

051: Simon and Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)

050: Little Richard - Here's Little Richard (1957)

049: The Allman Brothers Band - The Allman Brothers Band at Fillmore East (1971)

048: Public Enemy - It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)

047: John Coltrane - A Love Supreme (1965)

046: Bob Marley and the Wailers - Legend (1984)

045: The Band - The Band (1969)

044: Patti Smith - Horses (1975)

043: Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)

042: The Doors - The Doors (1967)

041: The Sex Pistols - Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977)

040: Love - Forever Changes (1967)

039: The Beatles - Please Please Me (1963)

038: Muddy Waters - The Anthology (1947-1972)

037: Eagles - Hotel California (1976)

036: Carole King - Tapestry (1971)

035: David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)

034: The Band - Music from Big Pink (1968)

033: Ramones - Ramones (1976)

032: The Rolling Stones - Let It Bleed (1969)

031: Bob Dylan - Bringing It All Back Home (1965)

030: Joni Mitchell - Blue (1971)

029: Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin (1969)

028: The Who - Who's Next (1971)

027: U2 - The Joshua Tree (1987)

026: Fleetwood Mac - Rumours (1977)

025: James Brown - Live at the Apollo (1963)

024: Stevie Wonder - Innervisions (1973)

023: John Lennon - Plastic Ono Band (1970)

022: Robert Johnson - The Complete Recordings

021: Chuck Berry - The Great Twenty-Eight

020: Michael Jackson - Thriller (1982)

019: Van Morrison - Astral Weeks (1968)

018: Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run (1975)

017: Nirvana - Nevermind (1991)

016: Bob Dylan - Blood on the Tracks (1974)

015: The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Are You Experienced? (1967)

014: The Beatles - Abbey Road (1969)

013: The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)

012: Miles Davis - Kind of Blue (1959)

011: Elvis Presley - The Sun Sessions

010: The Beatles - The Beatles (The White Album) (1968)

009: Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde (1966)

008: The Clash - London Calling (1979)

007: The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main St (1972)

006: Marvin Gaye - What's Going On (1971)

005: The Beatles - Rubber Soul (1965)

004: Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited (1965)

003: The Beatles - Revolver (1966)

002: The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds (1966)

001: The Beatles - Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

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Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Albums of All Time

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So we made it through December, and all of those year-end TOP lists. Yes, I know, I even mentioned one right here on this blog...

It's interesting to look at what someone in a position of authority has declared is the best of human creation for a given year.  They're invariably incomplete, but yet we're drawn to them.  When I look beyond what is omitted, I find so many things that I had completely missed (like Vampire Weekend's album last year, or Unknown Mortal Orchestra from the Paste list).

I've always had a conflicted relationship with these kinds of lists--and, more generally, popularity. Most times, when a piece of art (say, an album, movie, TV show, or novel) reaches a certain level of mass appeal, I defiantly push back and silently declare:

Well, just because it is very, very popular doesn't mean I'll like it. I have VERY sophisticated taste.

I actually do love Adele, in spite of the mass reversal of acclaim.  But you get my point.

And then, often many months later, I'll cave in and more often than not love it.

What's that all about?  I've shared this with friends, and have learned that I'm not the only one...Why do we do this?  Do you?

33 1/3 Series

For Christmas, my love gave me four books that I had asked for (all from the 33 1/3 Series):

    • Book 40: Court and Spark Joni Mitchell (1974) written by Sean Nelson
    • Book 42: Songs in the Key of Life Stevie Wonder (1976) written by Zeth Lundy
    • Book 51: Pink Moon Nick Drake (1972) written by Amanda Petrusich
    • Book 63: XO Elliott Smith (1998) written by Mathew Lemay

I finished Court and Spark the day after Christmas.  The book was so wonderfully written, and gave me so much perspective that I would have never achieved otherwise.

I am a huge Joni Mitchell fan.  Going back to my first semester at Berklee College of Music, my new friend Audie Metcalf foisted her admiration of Joni upon me.  She was dumbfounded that I wasn't familiar with Joni's work, especially the albums from her golden era:

So, being a good friend, I listened through them and Blue has remained one of my favorite records of all time (and the final track, "The Last Time I Saw Richard" remains one of my favorite songs of all time, though I can't explain why).  For some reason, I never really gave Court and Spark much of a listen until now...maybe in life we're just not ready for something, and just need to live a little more before we can really appreciate it.  Or maybe it's a testament to just how good these little books are, and how good this record is.  Either way, I've been listening to it non-stop ever since...

I started Book 42 "Songs in the Key of Life" last night, and half way through I am already appreciating another one of my all-time favorite records on a whole new level.

This inspired me to look at a definitive list of best albums of all time.  But where to turn?  Maybe it's not very imaginative on my part, but I landed on Rolling Stone's list, because, really, who is more of an authority on music since the dawn of Rock & Roll?

The Mission

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm working on recording my third album, "Held Momentarily".  To breathe continued inspiration into that process, and for further music education,  I've decided to work my way through the top 100 albums from this list during the next year.

I'll listen to two albums each week, listening at least 3 times through for each record, and then post my thoughts here on this ole blog.

I'll try to read a 33 1/3 book for any albums that have published books in the series.

First up:

100) Odyssey And Oracle - The Zombies

99) There's A Riot Goin' On - Sly & The Family Stone

I've never listened to either record before...ever.

I know.

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