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Monday, January 28, 2013

100 Most Influential Albums, An Ongoing Project

This is an ongoing list of the 100 most influential albums, from where I sit least ways. Rolling Stone is always putting out these lists and suddenly they have begun to appear on "Face Book" as well. Who compiles these lists? Your guess is as good as mine. All I know is that rarely do I have more than 10 to 15 of these knuckleheads picks. Usually they are loaded with "Look how cool am I" obscure bullshit that I doubt they have ever listened to.
So, in no particular order, here is my "100 most influential"...influential in what, you might ask? Influential in enjoyment. Agree/Disagree, make suggestions, argue selections, or make your own god damned list.

1) Robert Johnson - The Complete Recordings. Where any self respecting rock and roller needs to start. Without him, there ain't shit.

2) Buddy Guy - Stone Crazy. Buddy sounds more like Jimi Hendrix than Jimi. A modern day virtuoso

3) Albert King - Live Wire/Blues Power. Live at the Fillmore West. If you dig Stevie Ray then you HAVE to listen to Albert to figure out where Stevie got his chops!

4) Muddy Waters - Fathers and Sons. Double Album. One album studio, one album live. Backed with mostly white boys, it is nonetheless a stellar cast. Duck Dunn, Steve Cropper,  Paul Butterfield, Sam Lay, Otis Spann. Amazing!

5) Muddy Waters -  Live. My personal favorite Muddy album.

6) Wes Montgomery - A Day in the Life. One of those quintessential albums for a rainy Sunday morning. Wes, his guitar and some really sweet renditions of Beatles songs.

6) Rory Gallagher - Irish Tour 1974. Double album, bought it in college used record store in Lawrence, Kansas. "As the Crow Flies" is worth the price of admission~Rory playing slide on his national steel. When asked how it feels to be the greatest guitar player in the world, Jimi Hendrix replied "I don't know, ask Rory Gallagher".

7) Hank Williams - 14 of  Hank's All-Time Best. Along with Robert Johnson above, you must own this album if you, indeed, are into rock n' roll.

8) Frank Zappa - Hot Rats. One of, I am sure, many Zappa albums which will appear. This one is so very special. Frank's foray into the Jazz/Fusion world with every cut a tasty treat and Captain Beefheart on vocals on the "Hot Rats" cut. "Floozies in the lobby love the way I smell....Hot Rats, Hot Catz, Hot Zitz" etc, etc.....awesomeness!

9) Grateful Dead - Workingman's Dead. A true awakening for this boy. Jerry's pedal steel guitar is a thing of beauty. The album that ushered in the era of California cowboy country, for me anyway. Without this and others like it, forget about at least 1/2 of the acts who hit the stage in fabled Austin, TX.

10) Quicksilver Messenger Service - Happy Trails.  Side One contains "Who Do You Love" suite, a classic live performance if ever there was one. Has to be heard to be believed. Side Two starts with Mona ( a Bo Diddly tune) and flows effortlessly through the entire side ending up with "Happy Trails". Classic early San Francisco rock.

11) The Doors - The Doors. The 1st and in my opinion, still the best of their recordings. A sore hole, indeed, in your collection if this is missing. The full "Light My Fire", the classic "The End" not to mention a great rendition of Willie Dixon's "Back Door Man".

12) Firesign Theatre - How Can You Be in Two Places at Once when you're Not Anywhere at all. No law saying all the albums have to be music. This comedy troupe came before Monty Python and took you on a psychedelic ride through Side 1 and Side 2 (or in the case of one album "This Side" and "The Other Side"). Should only be listened to after ingesting psycho-tropic drugs and putting on those giant studio grade headphones. "We're all Bozo's on this bus". yup.

13) Johnny Winter - Johnny Winter. Johnny's 1st major label album (Columbia). He starts off with "Leland, Mississippi" continuing on with "Be Careful with a Fool". His blistering, crisp guitar leads burning a whole in the vinyl. His backing band had Tommy Shannon on bass (later bassist for Stevie Ray) with sit in performers Willie Dixon and Walter Shakey Horton.

14) Johnny Winter - The Progressive Blues Experiment. An independent label release, earlier than the above "The Progressive Blues Experiment" went where few white boys dared to tread. Give a listen:

15) ZZ Top - Rio Grande Mud. The only ZZ Top album I ever owned. This is the one before "La Grange". After listening to this all the way through time and again I figured it was about all I needed. "Francine just turned 13, she's my angelic teenage queen".....whoa shit.

16) Spooky Tooth - Spooky Two. Once upon a time, many years ago, there lived a long haired red headed dude who played Spooky Tooth "Spooky Two" nearly everyday. When he wasn't playing it, he was thinking about it. "Waiting for the wind" is all you need.

17) Blind Willie Johnson  - Sweeter as the Years go by. Just about every guitar player who has picked up a bottle neck or an old soup bone slide owes a tip of the hat to this giant of the gospel blues. His heart belonged to Jesus, but his ass was mired deep into the blues.

19) Gram Parsons - GP. Beautiful duets with Emmylou Harris, this album delivers all that California Country had to offer. An epiphany for me. You can see why Keith Richards loved to hang out with him, Gram was sweet righteousness.

20) BR5-49 - Live From Robert's. The bands name alone makes them worthy of recognition, but the way these guys play "Hillbilly Country" is simply criminal. There was a time in the early 90's when they regularly hit the dance halls in NYC and I was there every time...and lovin' it! 

21) Mott the Hoople - Mott the Hoople. Covering songs from The Kinks to Doug Sahm to Sonny & Cher and finishing with originals from Mick Ralphs and Ian Hunter, Mott's debut album is, in my opinion, hard to beat and a "desert island disc" if ever there was one. M.C. Escher's drawing of "Reptiles" on the cover is totally engrossing when stoned~beware!

22) Alice Cooper - Love it to Death. The album (their 3rd) which brought them into mainstream rock making their songs perfect for free form FM radio. From first to last this album is a triumph and another "desert islander". "I'm Eighteen" is the big hit off this collection, but may be the weakest tune therein. The songs flow seamlessly and the final cut I always used as my sign off when I hosted a show in high school.

23) Humble Pie - Rock On. Their last album with young Peter Frampton. When I think of the word "classic album", I think of this one. Absolutely every song is a big winner! English blues rock at its finest.

24) Deep Purple - Fireball. They've put out a boatload of albums but this one is the only I have ever owned. The Godfathers of speed metal!

25) Climax Blues Band - FM Live. Recorded live at the Academy of Music in NYC and simulcast on then free form rock giant WNEW FM, this 2 record set from The Climax Blues Band is a great live album and a soaring tribute to this little known band. They brought the house down that night!

That's the top 25 thus far.....more to come on it's own page!

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