Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Other 100: 81-85

81. Thin Lizzy- Jailbreak

This feels like the most difficult choice so far. There was no fear over which Thin Lizzy record might be on a usual Top 100. I'm sure none of their output gets any respect, just like the band themselves. It's difficult for me to choose just one. Some of my favorite Lizzy tunes appear on the records before and after "Jailbreak," but I give "Jailbreak" the nod for being the most consistent. Like "All The Young Dudes," I just never tire of "The Boys Are Back In Town," the song that made Thin Lizzy, but also the song that too often breaks Thin Lizzy. Nowhere is their two-guitar attack more perfect than on tracks like "Emerald" and "The Cowboy Song." And on "Running Back," Phil Lynott bares his soul, in the simplest and most heartbreaking way. It's always been a wonder to me, how Thin Lizzy doesn't touch more people.

82. The Rascals-Time/Peace

I believe this is the first compilation I have listed, though I could be wrong. This was another difficult choice. The first five Young Rascals records are some of my most played, but choosing just one leaves me without some true necessities. Prior to the now legendary Hall Of Fame induction speech given by Little Steven Van Zandt, The Rascals were often relegated to "singles band" status. But man, what amazing singles they were! Every one of them stirring up a perfect summertime moment and a reason to sing along. "Time/Peace" is just about perfect. My only complaint is that it was released before "People Got To Be Free" was released. If that song was included, I might just be happy having only this one record with me forever.

83. The Drifters' Golden Hits

What I just said about The Rascals above, can almost apply to The Drifters, except The Drifters records were more uneven, so a compilation is a no-brainer. Talk about perfect singles and summer and memories and singing and....damn! This record might have gotten the most spins of any other record in my household growing up. My grandfather loved it. My father loved it. And now, of course, I love it.

84. Queen II-

Freddie Mercury and the gang might have taken on the world with 1975's "A Night At The Opera," but it was in 1974, where Queen really made their mark. Not one, but two records were released that year, the amazing "Sheer Heart Attack," and before it, the record that contains one of my Top 5 "sides" of all time, "Queen II." When asked, I always cite "Queen II" as my favorite Queen record, though I really believe the three records that followed are better records. It's because of Side Two, or as it's listed, "Side Black" that this record edges the others out ever-so slightly. A side-long suite, if you will, of bombast, pomp and insanity, with everything and kitchen sink. The hooks and riffs are relentless. Freddie's vocals, Brian May's guitar wizardry, John Deacon's rock solid subtleties and Roger Taylor's unique drumming, all define the band right here on one side of music. I don't care if Side White is weak. Side Black makes up for it in spades.

85. Elton John-Tumbleweed Connection

Is it possible Elton John peaked 47 years ago? I always say, Elton John and Rod Stewart released some of the greatest music of all time before 1975 and some of the worst music of all time after 1975, though Elton did have plenty of great songs here and there, right up to the forgotten gem that is 2004's "Peachtree Road." And the reason I love "Peachtree Road" so much is because it reminds of "Tumbleweed Connection." It's rootsy and it's soulful. Elton and Bernie Taupin created a sound on "Tumbleweed" and they never returned. It's a country record in both feel and substance, yet it sounds nothing like any country music record before it. Every song is a classic and none of feels overplayed like so many of EJ's hits. My fave Elton, by far.

















Shriner said...

Oh, man -- we could include compilations? I must have missed that memo. Once everybody is done with their 100, then I'll list my compilation albums that would have otherwise been on the list in places of some others (probably). That said, moving on with my next 5 non-compilation albums full of PowerPop classics

81) Material Issue -- International Pop Overthrow. An album so good an entire 19 volume (so far) PowerPop series -- and live music celebrations -- has been released coopting that name. An album full of love and heartbreak. Jim Ellison was a great song writer gone way too soon. "VALERIE LOVES ME!" Indeed.

82) Matthew Sweet -- Girlfriend. I think this has been mentioned before by others, so I'm slotting it here as well. It's another one of those albums that just *fires* out of the gate and Robert Quine and Richard Lloyd shine on guitar. Sweet's best album? Probably. "I've Been Waiting"? A Stone Cold Classic single. Why is it not on my top 100? Frankly, I think it's too long -- too much of a good thing? I dunno, but that's how I've always felt after playing it. Maybe it starts out *so* strong and just can't hold it for a full 60+. But not too long to be on my second 100.

83) Weezer -- The Blue Album. I was late to this album. I thought (at the time) that "Undone -- the Sweater Song" was OK, but nothing special. Then I heard "Buddy Holly" and I thought maybe there was something there. I probably actually bought the album 5 years after that and was blown away by it as a whole. I think the last 3 songs: "In The Garage", "Holiday" and "Only In Dreams" are probably one of the best trio of songs to close out an album out there. It's almost all killer, no filler. I have a love/hate relationship with the band's albums after this one -- but I love this one.

84) Utopia -- Utopia. This one was a harder one for me as I wanted a Utopia album in this set of 100. There are Utopia songs on other records that I absolutely love -- and "Adventures In Utopia" was a close second for this pick. As well as "POV" -- a super strong album to bookend the band's discography. So why "Utopia"? Well, it's longer than the others so there's more of it (which goes against what I said about Girlfriend above), but the 15 songs on it run 50 minutes -- this is chock full of 3 minute classic pop tunes. At the time, it felt like the most Beatle-ish thing they did -- discounting the pastiche of "Deface the Music". "Say Yeah" feels like the most brilliant throw-away song ever. A big swing for a "hit album" and it knocked it out of the park for me.

85) Third Eye Blind -- Third Eye Blind. Less PowerPop and more "Rock". It has monster singles on it: Semi-Charmed Life, Jumper, How's It Going to Be -- and my personal favorite non-single song that leads off the album "'Losing a Whole Year". This is a really solid album from a band with a spotty career. Similar to Weezer in that it's a lot of songs that start quiet and then get louder (not a bad thing in moderation and works well here.) Their comeback album (Dopamine) is really solid as well.

Man, compilations. I will say as I was putting together my list II would have put "The Offspring's Greatest Hits" way up near the top of this second 100 as that's all I need from the Offspring. ALL I NEED. ;-)

Michael Giltz said...


Sal, I’ll see your Time/Peace (def on my First 100) and Drifters sets and raise you five more.

Have greatest hits sets become a relic of the past? No matter how many times I tell casual music listeners, when they decide to “check out” an artist, nine times out of ten they just say, “Alexa, play me Miles Davis.” That is no way to find out if you might like their music. Some have classic albums that deserve to be heard in full (and we all know it makes a difference to hear those songs presented in that order). But even if it’s a singles artist or someone who could be well represented by a thoughtful collection of tracks sequenced in just the right order to make an artistic case for someone or simply create a great 40 minutes of music, chances are saying “Alexa, play me Hall & Oates” is not gonna surprise or engage the way it should. So here are five pretty obvious greatest hits sets, ones that made these artists crucially important and demonstrate what an important, vanishing art it is. Maybe these albums would appear on lists somewhere, but I feel the entire idea of Greatest Hits albums is an endangered species.

Dionne Warwick – The Dionne Warwick Collection: Her All-Time Greatest Hits (Rhino) – I’m might never have cared much for Dionne Warwick if a friend hadn’t given me this PARTICULAR Rhino CD that focused on her work with Bacharach/David. I’d heard her late period stuff (“Keep smiling! Keep shining! Knowing you can always count on me! For sure!”) and wasn’t intrigued. Who would be? And later two volume sets contained so much filler or were just so expansive that they didn’t incite repeat playing. But here was a killer single CD, almost too long but filled with so many terrific singles that I played it over and over and gained great respect for Warwick at her peak and of course Bacharach/David. It defines for me what a greatest hits set can do: prune away the extraneous and present the absolute best of an artist.

Bob Marley – Natural Mystic: The Legend Lives On I guess Bob Marley’s Legend would make the obvious lists, unless folks plunked for one of his albums. That hits set is brilliantly programmed and did catch a fire, offering up a catchy but still somewhat politically potent profile of Marley that cemented his place in popular culture. If he’d lived, Marley would have done that with more music but his early passing and that brilliant Greatest Hits set made him omnipresent. Is it sacrilege to say I actually enjoy Legend more than his great albums? And Natural Mystic is the follow-up to Legend that leans more on a spiritual side. It too is brilliantly programmed and works on its own terms. But it’s also so rich that when you listen to Legend and it, you just know you have to keep exploring Marley’s music. It’s the sort of hits set that makes you hunger to hear more, rather than Warwick’s which gives you almost all you need.

Michael Giltz said...

81-85 con't

Alison Krauss – Baby, Now That I’ve Found You I’m sure any list focused on bluegrass or country might well include this blockbuster album. How could they not? It’s the greatest hits album that inexplicably took off like a rocket. It happens: an artist plugs along, releases hit songs and then puts out a greatest hits set that makes them a superstar seemingly out of nowhere. I mean, the Eagles were exploding with “One Of These Nights” going quadruple platinum but their greatest hits set is on an entirely different level. Ditto on a smaller scale for Krauss, whose lovely voice and great taste is on superlative display here. Yes, she has a number of good albums but it’s hard to argue against how well paced and beguiling this one has proven.

Simon & Garfunkel – Greatest Hits It’s the greatest of the Greatest Hits albums, a perverse, strange, remarkable and remarkably influential album. It SHOULD be on the first 100 of course. But with Paul Simon’s brilliant consistency in studio albums from Bookends to Graceland, I think it might be passed over in favor of those two and Bridge Over Troubled Waters or solo albums like There Goes Rhymin’ Simon and Still Crazy. I am obsessed with it: why didn’t they just do the live album containing live performances of their best songs the way they started this project? Why do they smother the intro to one of the greatest singles of all time with fake applause as if it were live? How’d they have the guts to NOT include four Top 40 hits, especially since they only had 13 at the time? And after dumping four hit songs from their greatest hits set, they include five album tracks, including PART of a song that works perfectly here on its own?

Hank Williams – 40 Greatest Hits I saw the classic film The Last Picture Show in the movie theaters during a re-release. Obsessed with film and music, a song playing on the radio at the beginning caught my ear and I waited for the music credits to figure out what it was. (Why does IMDB never include the music credits? Why does NO ONE ever include music credits online?) Oh, “Why Don’t You Love Me” by Hank Williams? Ok, so I immediately head to Tower Records and thank god I chose a two CD set with an ugly yellow cover that almost turned me away. It was called “40 Greatest Hits” and is as essential to me as anything. It makes a terrific case for Williams, with all the hit singles it needs, a dash of the religious stuff and no filler. One CD wouldn’t be enough to do justice to this towering figure. Three CDs would be a boxed set you keep on the shelf and refer to every once in a while like an encyclopedia. Two CDs that are bursting with great tunes and about 50 minutes long each and one just as good as the other? Perfect driving CDs and the perfect way to drill the essence of Hank Williams into my skull.

Sal Nunziato said...

"Sal, I’ll see your Time/Peace (def on my First 100)..."

If it's on your first 100, then it should be on The Other 100, because it's all about what is NOT on THEIR first 100.

Shriner said...

"If it's on your first 100, then it should be on The Other 100, because it's all about what is NOT on THEIR first 100."

I now need to rethink my "Other 100" after posting 85 albums. :-/

I have been approaching this as "my personal Top 100 contains probably these X classic albums ("Revolver", "Sticky Fingers", "DSOTM") and these Y albums I could not do without (like "Get The Knack" or "Welcome To My Nightmare", Rhino's "Lovin' Spoonful Anthology"), but my "Other 100" contains the next 100 albums after that." I hate to think I missed the point all along, but maybe I did.

It's a bit too late to throw away the next 15 I have coming up, though so I'm sticking with my perception. I feel like after #100, I need to write an essay about "my first 100". I should start working on a draft of that...

Sal Nunziato said...

From the original post:
"I want to see your list of best albums of all time that no one includes."

After a solid 20 text volley, we decided that the best approach was not for me to find 100 records that don't appear on the usual "100 Best Albums Of All Time" lists in Rolling Stone twice a year, or any of the other music rags. That list could end up being an unlistenable collection of oddball selections and ultra-hip choices that quite frankly, wouldn't be any fun at all.

One can assume that most have "Revolver," "Blonde On Blonde," "What's Going On?," etc., in our Top 100. But if fate would actually place us on a desert island with electrical power and a stereo, and a climate controlled storage area to keep these vinyl gems safe, what 100 records, in addition to that first 100, would absolutely need to be there?

I chose my 100 based on one thing. Heavy rotation. I won't claim any of these records are better than the usual Top 100, though some might very well be. For my purposes, these records are just as important, and in many cases, they get played as often, if not more, than anything else in my collection."

I'm up to #85 and no Revolver, or Pet Sounds or Blonde On Blonde or Marquee Moon. This was always about the "other" list.

Anonymous said...

Jailbreak was all I had in my collection up to finding Burning Wood. (our Houston Public Library got in a copy of the reissue of the first album!) I think Jailbreak's the outlier; the albums before and after are a little more lyrical musically. Jailbreak is tougher than the rest. It's a little surprising to me that Sal cites the twin guitars but hasn't heard Wishbone Ash, the "other" band that gets credit for dual guitar leads.

Delaney & Bonnie - D&B Together
Bettie Serveert - Private Suit
Renaissance - s/t (the Keith Relf version)
Serena Manneesh - No. 2 Abyss in B Minor
Kinks - Arthur

Sal Nunziato said...

"Sal cites the twin guitars but hasn't heard Wishbone Ash, the "other" band that gets credit for dual guitar leads."

Sal has heard some Wishbone Ash. Argus, for sure. Maybe another early record on Decca. Sal just wasn't as taken by what he heard, and doesn't remember much of it.

Chris Collins said...

Love the "greatest hits" theme today. And Time/Peace would definitely be on my list. ("How Can I Be Sure"!!). Although, Sorry to Shriner but there are few bands I hate more than Third Eye Blind. I saw them live on a date once and wished myself dead the entire time. ("Wait! this band does THIS song too??? I hate THIS song almost more than the last song!!").

Bruce Springsteen- "Tracks"- Disc one is filled with story-songs that would have been the career of most other artists. They were throwaways for Bruce. "Thundercrack", "Zero and Blind Terry", "So Young and In Love". The list goes on and on. ALL of those songs should have been on the radio. And that's not even the best part. Steven Van Zandt says that Disc 2 of Tracks (The "River Outtakes") is his favorite Bruce Springsteen album ever. He may be right. It's my most listened to, anyway. Each song is a pop masterpiece. All of them. Disc 2 is as good as The Ramones greatest hits. It's a perfect album. Disc 3, the "USA" outtakes is great, but not at the same level. And Disc 4 works best as a curiosity. But there are a few gems there. ("Sad Eyes", for one). But this is an essential album. Of outtakes. Go figure.

Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack- This one MIGHT be on a top 100 list. I dunno. But it's just about every great disco song in one album. It's a killer.

Roy Orbison- "A Black and White Night"- the celebrated show with Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Elvis Costello and others backing him up. A great performance of great songs.

Traveling Wilburys- Vol 1. - Why not? An incredibly fun album that I still listen to all the time. Too many high points to mention, but Roy's "Not Alone Anymore" is (almost) up there with his weepers of old, and Bob's "Tweeter and the Monkey Man" is a fantastic song which doubles as a bitchy Springsteen take down. For no reason at all. Still great fun.

Bruce Springsteen- "Live from NYC"- from the first Reunion Tour with the E Street Band. His best live album. From the best live band of all time.

Michael Giltz said...

Don't worry, Sal, "Time/Peace" will be on my list. In order to shine a spotlight on as many albums as possible, I (mostly) skipped albums if someone else already trumpeted them. I'll have a list at the end of the all the albums I heartily seconded on your list and the lists of others. An extended "Me too!" which includes "Time/Peace." And now I need to go back and re-listen to CD2 of Tracks, apparently! Thanks Chris Collins.

itsok2beright said...

Thin Lizzy and Queen, now you're talking. The problem with Queen, is for some reason, with rare exception, most of these 'best of' lists do not include any Queen album. Once in a while, I'll see A Night at the Opera. Though, I would have at least four of their albums with me on that deserted island.

As to the extremely under-rated Thin Lizzy, your comments are always spot on. I might choose a different album of theirs, but it's not easy to choose which one.

My next 5:
Prince; he has to be on the list, but with so much to choose from, I'm copping out and bringing in a greatest hits, The Very Best of Prince.
Queen, II; I am completely with you on this one. When I am in the mood to hear The March of The Black Queen, I have to go find a quiet place and listen to this whole album straight thru. If I get interrupted in between, I feel like a missed the middle of a movie, and have to start over again.
Queen, Sheer Heart Attack; Tenement Funster, enough said.
Queensryche, Rage For Order; A little out of my ordinary, but also an album that stops me when a song pops up on my shuffle.
Rainbow, Long Live Rock and Roll; Just some great 70's RnR. Dio, Blackmore and Powell, now that's a supergroup lineup that can stand up to any other.