October 22, 2020

And . . . Five of My Favorite Albums

By Chaplain Mike

Mr. Dunn has thrown down the gauntlet. Nothing sparks a good discussion more than “Top ______” lists. And for those of us who are baby boomers, there’s nothing we love discussing more than music.

I recently went to reunion of friends who graduated from 8th grade together — that’s right, 8th grade. We had all moved into a new housing development in the Chicago suburbs at about the same time, went through the middle school years together walking around the streets of our subdivision, hanging around the pool, going to dances, dealing with adolescent angst, and most of all, listening to music. When we got together earlier this summer, we could still sing the lyrics of our favorite songs and remember which records related to each experience we recalled.

Our generation has lived life to a soundtrack. Ask me what I think about something, and I’ll try to give you an answer. Ask me how I feel, and I’ll sing you a song.

Before I list five of my favorite albums, let me mention a few “DUH” selections that represent picks most critics would make when selecting the best or most influential albums:

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (The Beatles). The record that institutionalized “the album” as an art form. With a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, Sgt. Pepper holds your attention from its opening curtain until that final, unforgettable orchestral chord of “A Day in the Life.” Many critics pick Revolver as the best album of all time, but to me it’s all surf n’ turf when it comes to Beatles’ records. Lobster or filet mignon? Yes, please.
  • Blonde on Blonde (Bob Dylan). Picking a favorite Dylan album is like choosing a best Beatles album. I could name a dozen others. This one, recorded at a manic pace at the height of Dylan’s early popularity, represents well.
  • Pet Sounds (The Beach Boys). On every critic’s top albums list, Brian Wilson’s tortured genius is creatively and evocatively expressed in this exquisite music.
  • Thriller (Michael Jackson). Number One for thirty-seven weeks, seven Top Ten singles, eight Grammys. ‘Nuff said. King of pop had the king of albums in the 80’s. Jeff doesn’t like it, but you gotta give it up when a record gets that kind of attention. Seems kind of tame today, but it was way cutting-edge then.

There are perhaps dozens of other “duh” selections that could be listed here, from The Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Hendrix, to BS&T, CSN&Y, Carole King, and Simon & Garfunkel, to Pink Floyd and Fleetwood Mac, to The Clash, U2, R.E.M., and Springsteen, and other artists.

Now, five of the Chaplain’s personal favorites…

I will follow Jeff’s example and list one album from the “contemporary Christian” genré.

  • Love Broke Through (Phil Keaggy). Keaggy is not only one of the best rock guitarists ever, bar none, but this album showed early on that he is also a fine songwriter who can put a solid, thematically-consistent album of excellent and devout material together. His art song arrangement of C.S. Lewis’s penitent “As the Ruin Falls” is a high point for me, as well as all-time crowd favorite, “Time,” with its scorching dueling guitar and organ licks.

My favorite music is that made by singer-songwriters, folks who tell stories and paint pictures that take me into other lives, other worlds, and other times. I love songs that make me dream and think and sigh with longing.

  • Blue (Joni Mitchell). Perhaps the most intimate record ever made, Mitchell’s intensely personal and intricately creative art songs of love and loss provide an atmosphere of smoky cafes, bedroom conversations, and long, lonely nights.

My vote for outstanding instrumental album goes to:

  • Still Life (Talking) (Pat Metheny). To my ear, this is a pitch-perfect blend of jazz, rock, folk, and world music, a mixture of acoustic, electronic, and wordless vocal textures that soars and exults in unbounded freedom, led by Metheny’s amazing improvisational guitar playing.

For my fourth pick, I will choose an album from more recent days.

  • Sky Blue Sky (Wilco). One of the most talented, earthy, and original bands in the world gave us this subdued and subversive record that grows on me more every time I hear it. “Impossible Germany” is absolute perfection.

The final selection, in my view, represents not only musical and lyrical genius, but also so many trends and issues that have marked the past generation: civil rights, apartheid, globalization, drugs, broken families, the aging of the baby boom generation and the loss of the American dream, all stirred together in a simmering pot of jambalaya, served up with tasty South African rhythms and ethereal harmonies from 50’s vocal groups.

  • Graceland (Paul Simon). Simon’s masterpiece, which prompted controversy and criticism because of his travels to South Africa to work with musicians while the country was still under apartheid rule, is remarkable for the way it combines so many incongruities and diverse elements into a coherent whole to communicate a vision of personal/social isolation and redemption that continues to reward repeated listening to this day.

And, as the author of Hebrews would say, what shall I say of Cream and Steely Dan, Nick Drake, James Taylor, Mark Knopfler, and Dave Matthews, Neil Young’s solo albums, and Johnny Cash, especially at the end of his career? Music of which the world is not worthy.

Thanks for the challenge, Jeff! This was fun.

Readers, your turn…


  1. Chappie….if you’re a Mark Knopfler fan, have you caught up with “On the Road Running” with EmmyLou Harris ?? Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but I think their voices work very well together, and the lyrics are (not surprisingly) excellent, also.

  2. Top 5 (not in any particular order):

    1. Queen – Night At The Opera. An eargasm.
    2. Bob Seger – Live Bullet. Hey, I’m from Detroit.
    3. Peter Frampton – Comes Alive. I love the musicianship, the flow, the interesting covers.
    4. Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon or The Wall – can’t decide. But I prefer listening to Wish You Were Here.
    5. Marc Cohn – Marc Cohn. Beautiful, deep Americana that requires headphones to catch all the subtle nuances.
    6. U2 – Achtung Baby. Hated it at first. Now I see it’s clearly their best.
    7. Bruce Springsteen – The River. I couldn’t stand Bruce. I listened to this 3 times and finally “got it”.

    Sorry, I have a hard time counting to 5 – good thing I’m not holding the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.


      I get into arguments about this one quite often… it seems like everyone like Joshua Tree the best… as much as I like that album… Achtung Baby has a sound that they never quite got to previously, and haven’t quite replicated since… definitely one of my favorites…

      • I think that The Joshua Tree was the capstone to “Phase I” of U2’s run — kind of where their journey through their first few albums was leading them, more away from their Irish roots and more directly towards a synthesis with American blues and other American music forms. It was a great record, no doubt.

        Achtung Baby was impressive not only because of its tremendous consistency of quality, but also because it was a clean break with the direction they had taken with The Joshua Tree/Rattle&Hum. After a hiatus of a few years, they took a completely new direction, away from overtly American influences and back to Europe, most emphatically, in the aftermath of the revolution of ’89. The themes explored in Achtung were continued in Zooropa, but not with nearly the same consistency. And then the albums started coming much less frequently. I think their best *after* Achtung was probably Atomic Bomb, but that wasn’t terribly close to what they achieved on Achtung. As between Achtung and Joshua, it’s pretty close, I think. I remember Joshua was described as “the Sgt. Pepper of its generation” when it was released (in Rolling Stone, I think).

  3. Pink Floyd- Meddle not as polished as some cause they were experimenting, but still excellent

    Gram Parsons – Gilded Palace of Sin (the great country rock experiment with Chris Hillman etc, And he gave EmmyLou a good boost early in her career)

    Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers yeah, not Exile on Main Street but a darn good selection of tunes

    Moody Blues – A question of Balance stripped of some of the heavier fillers, this was a good album

    Lou Reed – Rock and Roll Animal – the ripping guitar intro of Sweet Jane just resonate power

    and anything by Dan Fogelberg, harmonies and complexities abound. So thats six, ah well.

  4. I find it odd that Sgt. Pepper always gets listed before Abbey Road… as ground breaking as Sgt. Pepper’s may have been… I think Abbey Road is, overall, an even better album…

  5. Chaplain Mike, I like your caption on Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” album.

    I am so in love with her…

  6. 5. Demon Days by Gorillaz–Gorillaz defy categorization. Part Brit-pop, part hip hop, even part classic rock at times. Plastic Beach is almost as good. The two go great together when listened to in succession.

    4. Caedmon’s Call self titled–40 Acres is a close second. I chose the self-titled one because its raw honesty was so different than anything else I had ever heard. 40 Acres felt like a well-polished version of the self-titled album, and, while I think the songs might be better, the grit of the self-titled album makes it more memorable. You gotta love anything involving Derek Webb.

    3. Nevermind by Nirvana–No explanation needed.

    2. X & Y by Coldplay–Coldplay has surpassed U2 for the title of “best rock band alive.” Their two best songs, “Clocks” and “The Scientist,” are both on A Rush of Blood to the Head, but it’s a steep drop-off from there in that album. X & Y has SO many good songs. There isn’t a bad track. The first time I listened to it I thought the mega-hit “Fix You” was the worst song on the album.

    1. Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness by Smashing Pumpkins–The pinnacle of 90s alternative rock. So many good songs. Progressive but accessible. “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” was the anthem of my generation. After my first listen, I thought, “Nothing in this genre will ever surpass this album.” I think the judgment held up.

    • I’d argue Coldplay can’t beat U2 for “best rock band alive” because Coldplay has yet to write a single rock song.

      And I love Coldplay too.

      But they will never write a song with a hook.

  7. These lists are making me feel young. Really, really young.

    Best Christian albums ever: Indelible Grace III and IV and Fernando Ortega’s Shadow of Your Wings: Hymns and Sacred Songs. Oh, and shame on all of you for not mentioning Keith Green! The 08′ greatest hits is a must own.

    • The Ministry Years v.1 and v.2 — 74 songs, 4 CDs, darn near everything he ever recorded after accepting Christ, and not one bad song in the lot. If I’d had 10 picks instead of 5, the whole megillah would be on it.

    • Keith Green was very important to me in my early ministry. If we were strictly talking artists here, he’d be on my list. Albums? “So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt?” was pretty good.

    • Nothing from Delirious?

  8. product of the 90’s here! Albums that have affected me the most. Sorry, I rarely ever listen to Christian music unless it is Hymns or John Micheal Talbot type music

    1. August & everthing After – Counting Crows ( wore it out – words meant so much to me in faith & love of a teenager )
    2 Nevermind – Nirvana ( any White kids of the 90’s has to have it )
    3. OK Computer – Radiohead ( great album for those perplexed by modern life – I listened to this the most after I was layed-off & out of work for a month
    4. Bob Dylan greatest hits – ( dylan blew my mind!)
    5. John Coltrane greatest hits – ( Coltrane blew my mind )
    the 2000’s have really depressed me when it comes to music other than Arcade fire , Coldplay, & a few others from England – Music has be a real disapointment so far. peace

  9. 1. Revolver – Beatles. And I agree, I could be talked into Abbey Road, Sgt. Peppers, or even Rubber Soul at this spot. But for pure music, I’ll take Revolver.
    2. August and Everything After – Counting Crows. The soundtrack to my high school/early college life. This debut album was arguably the pinnacle for the band, but it was such a great contrast to the grunge rock of the time.
    3. Orange Blossoms – J.J. Grey & Mofro . Cannot think of another album I enjoy listening to more than this one. It’s clever, fun, and rough around the edges in all the right ways.
    4. Amos Lee – Amos Lee. Another debut by a soulful, bluesy, singer-songwriter from Philly. His light, flexible tenor voice is money.
    5. Learning to Breathe – Switchfoot. This is Switchfoot before they went mainstream. Easily my favorite of their studio albums. I remember buying this on a complete whim, listening to “Dare You to Move” for the first time, and feeling like I discovered gold.

    • Love JJ Grey and Mofro…I have all their albums and listen over and over. Their latest is really good, too.

    • Props on the Switchfoot pick. I’m more of a New Way to Be Human guy, but that album rocks too. Kind of jumped off the bandwagon after Oh Gravity. They started spinning their wheels in my opinion. All the more reason to admire their early albums.

  10. 1) Marbles (Marillion) – From the blistering opener “Invisible Man” to the haunting finale of “Neverland”, this is a perfect album. Passion, despair, anger, and love: it’s all there. I was fortunate to see them perform almost the entire album on one of their rare visits to American in 2004.

    2) Clutching at Straws (Marillion) – Marillion 17 years before Marbles, and the last to feature Fish as vocalist. This one was recorded by a band coming apart at the seams, and the desperation oozes out of the grooves. Fish’s lyrics about loss, striving, and grasping (hence the title) were never more poignant.

    3) Little Earthquakes (Tori Amos) – Tori Amos’s record company tried to make here an 80’s pop star. The result was the disastrous Y Kant Tori Read. Fortunately her record company gave her another shot, and she opened a vein and produced this album. I remember the first time I listened to this one; I just sat stunned and speechless for a few minutes, trying to comprehend what I had just heard. Just a piano and a woman baring her soul.

    4) Chess (Danish Touring Cast) – Chess is finally starting to get the recognition it deserves with the recent 2008 Royal Albert Hall (Josh Groban / Idina Menzel / Adam Pascal) DVD/CD release. But I bough the original London cast recording when it came out in 1984, and wore out the album and CD copies I owned. I’ve no doubt I can sing every part in this musical from beginning to end. The Royal Albert Hall recording is good, but the Danish Touring Cast recording is still the best realization of this soon to be classic musical.

    5) Before the Frost (Black Crowes) – What do you get when you take a band that’s been on the road for over 20 years, is steeped in influences from the Stones to the Allman Brothers to country to bluegrass to Americana, put them in Levon Helm’s barn to record a double album of new music live in front of a small audience of fans. You get Before the Frost. This is the album the Crowes were born to make. I got to see them live last year, and it was, without a doubt, the best concert I’ve ever attended. It was just two hours of virtuoso jamming.

    Honorable Mentions

    Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath) – Dio, Iommi, and Butler at the top of their game, and brought to life by Martin Birch’s crisp and clean production.

    The Number of the Beast (Iron Maiden) – The ultimate Heavy Metal album; let no one tell you differently. Their first with new vocalist Bruce Dickinson. The playing, the songwriting, the production; it all came together here. I haven’t tired of it after 27 years.

    Appetite for Destruction (Guns n’ Roses) – my nominee for the ultimate rock & roll album. It doesn’t get any more raw, dirty, and nasty than this. I’ll make special note that I was a fan 2 years before “Sweet Child ‘o Mine” broke and everyone else “discovered” them. They unfortunately never produced another album as good.

    Floodland (Sisters of Mercy) – The album that defined Goth. No, Andrew Eldritch can’t really sing, but no matter. He’s got a way with lyrics and uses music to create a mood. For listening to late at night with the lights off. The high point is the Jim Steinman co-written and produced “This Corrosion”

  11. conanthepunctual says

    (in no particular order)

    1. White Heart – Freedom
    (The Choir’s Wide-Eyed Wonder being a close second)

    2. Van Morrison – Astral Weeks

    3. Sons of Sylvia – Revelation

    4. Beatles – White Album

    5. Harry Connick, Jr. – She

  12. I’m gonna try to keep this to five. It’ll be hard though. These are in no order:

    Hotel California- Eagles
    Just love the whole album. Especially the last song on the album The Last Resort.

    Born in the USA -Springsteen
    Can’t think of a bad song on the whole album.

    Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy- Elton John
    Although Elton John had many,many “Top 40” hits, much of his album work was better than his hits. I can list other John albums that I enjoy, but this one came to my mind first.

    Songs in the Attic- Billy Joel
    I’m from NY, ‘nough said.

    Rumors- Fleetwood Mac
    Just a well put together album with a wide variety of styles

    Special Mention
    We Shall Overcome-Springsteen
    I was in the hospital for an extended period of time when this came out. Whenever I had a procedure that required me to be awake, I would play this CD. I’m sure that some of the staff would’ve liked to make the CD disappear for the amount of times I played it.

  13. 1. Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks
    2. Leonard Cohen – I’m Your Man
    3. Van Morrison – Moondance
    4. Nick Cave – Boatman’s Call
    5. Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
    6. Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On
    7. Charles Mingus – Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus
    8. Jennifer Warnes – Famous Blue Raincoat
    9. Steely Dan – Aja
    10. Yoyo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone

    • Sorry I left Marvin Gaye out. “What’s Going On?” was the best album in all the great Motown tradition. If I did a top 20 of individual songs, at least half would be Motown classics.

      I love the Jennifer Warnes pick, too. “Song of Bernadette” makes me cry.

  14. I don’t know what the other four would be (I haven’t given the topic very much thought), but Takk by Sigur Rós easily tops my list. I find it both energizing and relaxing, and unlike most albums, it never gets old. Absolutely beautiful music.

    • Fabulous! I never ever find any other SR fans!! I find to be partial to ágætis byrjun (mostly b/c of olsen olsen, starálfur, and svefn-g-englar) but my all time favorite SR song can be found on the ( ) disc, Vaka.

      I read somewhere that jonsi isn’t even saying real icelandic in Vaka. that he was just sort of saying “gobbledigook” and making his voice melodic to the music.

      i love it – i could (and have!) gotten lost in their music. It’s brought me to to some high highs and been a comfort in the lower lows. Sometimes (most of the time) it is the same song with me on the journey.

      Their music is just incredible. Glad to find another SR fan on the interwebz. 🙂

  15. I’m glad to see The Allman Brothers at the Fillmore East made your top five cut. Very under-rated, imho. Great, quintessentially American music. (I’m thinking of the expanded, double CD set.)

  16. Jonathan J. says

    1. Sinatra: Live at the Sands
    The Chairman at his finest.

    2. Red-Headed Stranger by Willie Nelson
    The story of love, lost, revenge, sin, and redemption. It breaks my heart everytime.

    3, Kind of Blue by Miles Davis
    A master at his craft.

    4. Man Comes Around/Unchained/Solitary Man by Johnny Cash
    No musician embodies the pilgrim journey more so than Mr. Cash.

    5. The Golden Age of Wireless/Blinded by Science by Thomas Dolby
    This man needs a Broadway show! His steam-punk visuals continue to enchant.

    • If you like Kind of Blue you should check out Tomas Stanko trio’s Suspended Night – he is like a Polish Miles Davis 🙂

  17. “Love Broke Through” is an excellent choice. “Town to Town” deserves mention, too. A lot of this music is as dead as ancient Greek. The copyrights are now owned by secular record labels who have no interest in re-releasing. A whole generation of evangelicals have passed who never heard of Larry Norman, Randy Matthews, Rez Band, The Way, Chuck Girard, Servant, Barnabas, Jerusalem, or Daniel Amos. iTunes has saved a lot of the best of Christian music from oblivion.

    “How the West Was One”, which is a double-record live Second Chapter of Acts album, which also has a live version of Phil Keaggy performing “Love Broke Through”.

    Dang. I feel like my dad reminiscing about the “Good Ol’ Days”. It isn’t simply that Christian music is different; it just lacks a sense of creativity and adventure. Perhaps these pioneers sowed the seeds of CCM’s destruction by turning it into a viable market.

    Go through the vinyl at your local thrift store. Once in a while, vintage CCM shows up.

    • It was before commercialization. It was all about the freshness of making music for the Lord. A lot of it was silly, childish, and pretentious. But the Spirit was in it. I remember when Keith Green gave away albums for free, and 2nd Chapter of Acts gave free concerts. I still recall the spring-fresh simplicity of the first Maranatha! Praise Album, before they turned the franchise into Christian muzak. One of my favorite bands from that era was The Way, and their self-titled album still reverberates deep in my soul, though I haven’t heard it for years (no turntable!). We heard Lamb, and Paul Clark, and 2nd Chapter of Acts, and Keaggy, cued up Larry Norman, Honeytree, and John Fischer on our turntables. I had long hair, wore flannel shirts and patched jeans, donned a wooden cross around my neck, and wrote testimony songs. It was as though Jesus was the benevolent Pied Piper, leading us to life, and we were singing and dancing all the way as we followed.

      • one more Mike says

        Get a USB turntable. You can digitize your vinyl collection (convert to iTunes) so you’ll have all your “old stuff” preserved and readily accessible. It’s labor intensive, but worth it. I think I paid $100 for mine. I’m going to digitize my Bob Marley collection this weekend. I get to relive the 70’s, and it will run the wife out of the house. Bonus!!

      • Man, does this bring back memories!! I could have written this!

      • Speaking of Second Chapter of Acts, Annie Herring is still making wonderful music, but it’s only available from her web site, as far as I can find. I had a nice conversation with her after a concert in October of 2008. She shares your opinion of the CCM world today …and mine.

  18. I beg to differ, Chaplain Mike. Best live album for me is “Waiting for Columbus” by Little Feat. Allman Bros were one of my favorite bands as a teen and young man, though.

    Other top 5 choices, in no particular order:

    “Slow Turning” John Hiatt
    “Stealing Fire” Bruce Cockburn
    “Tunnel of Love” Bruce Springsteen
    “Good Evening” Marshall Crenshaw

  19. I own practically the entire Bruce Cockburn discography; “In the Falling Dark” and “Further Adventures Of” are excellent examples. So hard to choose. A new Cockburn release is coming next March. Can’t wait!

    Its not a classic yet, but Steve Bell’s “Mystics and Romantics” will be. Same for Jacob Moon’s “The Loop”. They are a ray of hope that Christian music isn’t entirely dead.

  20. Graceland: yes. Good call there, CM. That album and Sting’s Blue Turtles and Nothing Like the Sun were the captstone on my post-collegiate life. I’ve been mostly bored with popular music since…

  21. 1. The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper
    2. Dylan – Blood on the Tracks
    3. Jethro Tull – Aqualung
    4. The Moody Blues – Every Good Boy Deserves Favor
    5. The Who – Who’s Next

    Johnny Cash’s Live at Folsom should be in there somewhere, along with JT’s Sweet Baby James.
    I don’t much care for Simon, but I think Garfunkel was the best male vocalist of the era.

  22. I mentioned several favorite albums on the other thread. But I can’t really do a top five. However, at the top of the list is:

    All Things Must Pass-George Harrison. At the time this came out, I was still smarting from the breakup of the Beatles. It was the end of an era. But this really soothed my sores. Harrison was pretty much a suppressed talent in the Beatles days, and he really exploded on this album. From the very first song, “I’ll Have You Anytime,” I was hooked. It has some amazing songs.

    Crosby, Stills, and Nash The first album, though they got better as it went along.

    Moody Blues- Days of Future Passed. This concept album had me awestruck, and not just because of their two hits from the album, “Tuesday Afternoon” and “Nights in White Satin.”

    John Denver- Rocky Mountain High, though An Evening with John Denver and Windsong follow close behind.

    Second Chapter of Acts- The Roar of Love. I just can’t get over this album.

    And there are many, many more.

    • All Things Must Pass was my big 8-track purchase. Let’s see, how many songs clicked to the next track right in the middle?

      • Ooooh, don’t get me started on 8-track. It was notorious for that. It clicked in the middle of Iron Butterfly’s classic In-a-Gadda-da-Vida.

      • So, doesn’t anyone remember 4-track? 1962 Chevy Biscayne (Sea Foam Green), 3-speed column shift. Lay one of those cartdiges on there and soak up some Sergio Mendez & Brazil ’66 on the early morning cruise back to Camp Pendleton. Yea, I was square then, too. :>)

  23. “Rust Never Sleeps” – a Neil Young album born out of a jam session with Devo.

    Hasn’t anyone mentioned The Ramones yet? If so, I must have missed it.

  24. “Stop Making Sense” – Talking Heads.

    • Great album–and a pretty good concert movie, too. I remember seeing it at the Fine Arts Theatre in Chicago back in the 80’s when I was a Wheaton student.

    • I wondered when someone was going to mention David Byrne and friends. Perhaps the most cerebral, and certainly one of the most talented groups in rock. Did you hear Dave Matthews Band do “Burning Down the House” at the start of the Saints football game tonight?

      • “Naked” is definitely my favorite Talking Heads album. You get Byrne’s surreal lyrics with several West African musicians on guitar and drums — what could be better.

  25. david carlson says

    Thriller was the quintessential MTV album – it’s all about the video, because lets be honest, the music isnt that great – but paired with the vids – magic

  26. “Grand Illusion” – Styx
    “My Aim is True” – Elvis Costello
    “Hounds of Love” – Kate Bush
    “The Cars” – by The Cars
    “Running on Empty” – Jackson Browne
    “Boston” – Boston
    “Alive” – Peter Frampton
    “Metallica” – Metallica

    • I love “Running on Empty.” So evocative of life on the road.

      • david carlson says

        my Uncle, a musician in Chicago chasing his dream for 50 years, hates that Album – he thinks the whining on The Road and Running on Empty are the narcissistic, petulant wanderings of someone who is so “burdened” by success, compared to the hundreds of thousands of musicians who toil their lives and never so much as get a record deal

  27. Me again. I’ve heard so much about Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys, and to my shame, I’ve never heard it. But your glowing reviews made me order me a CD, and I will listen to it for the first time.

  28. Paul Jimenez says

    London Calling- The Clash
    Favorite band of all time.

  29. Okay, early faves would include:
    “Who Are You” – The Who
    “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” – The Beatles
    “Horrendous Disc” and “Alarma” – Daniel Amos
    “Welcome to Paradise” – Randy Stonehill

    newer stuff:
    “Second Hand” – Mark Heard
    “Chase the Buffalo” – Pierce Pettis
    “Universal United House of Prayer” – Buddy Miller
    “Killing Floor” – Vigilantes of Love

  30. All this talk about Pet Sounds got me thinking about a wonderful (fiction) book in which Brian Wilson is a major character: Glimpses by Lewis Shiner. I’m thinking that most of the commenters here will really enjoy this book. It’s one of the few I re-read every few years. You can download a PDF copy for free at Shiner’s web site.

  31. Springsteen- Darkness on the Edge of Town

    E.L.O.- Out of the Blue

    Switchfoot- Learning to Breathe

    R Mullins- A Liturgy, A Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band

    U2- The Joshua Tree

  32. SearchingAnglican says

    Chaplain Mike –

    I think my admiration and appreciation for you and your good taste momentarily went through the roof with your Wilco mention….I can’t decide if that album or Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is my all-time favoirte Wilco album, and nothing is like seeing Jeff live (and no, we’re not on a first-name basis…only in my mind).

    Other Top Favorites:

    1. Carol King – Tapestry
    2. Indigo Girls – Swamp Ophelia
    3. Van Morrison – Moondance
    4. John Cougar Mellencamp (before the name change/rebranding) – Uh Huh…not the best of his albums, but the one that meant the most to me as I was awakening to the world of rock n roll. Scarecrow is a much better album but not the emotional appeal
    5. Rumors – Fleetwood Mac
    6. U2 – Achtung Baby

    Honorable Mention:

    • Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is amazing. But I love “Impossible Germany” so much that I went with Sky Blue Sky.

      • I’m in agreement. Impossible Germany is a song I could listen to for hours on end. The tone of the guitar makes me weep. If you download but one song from what you read here, get Impossible Germany.

        If two songs, get Don’t, This Way from the 77s.

        If three, get Wayfaring Stranger by Neko Case.

        If four…wow. You really can’t recommend just one…

  33. 1 – Boston, the first self-titled album. This record single-handedly killed the Disco era much like Nirvana’s Nevermind single-handedly killed the LA Hairband era. Boston doesn’t get the credit for what they did like Nirvana gets credit for killing off Hairband metal.

    2- Rush, Moving Pictures (and the live Exit Stage Left) – both of these albums get some play everyday whether it is in the car, at home, or in the mp3 player while working out at the gym. Something about the lyrics in Limelight on Moving Pictures and also the live guitar solo of La Villa Strangiato from Exit Stage Left (in the “A Lerxst in Wonderland” section) move me.

    3 – Yes – Fragile – so classic

    4- Queenscryche – Empire – The first time I heard this CD, I was hooked. From “Best I Can” to the stellar ending of “Anybody Listening?” It rocked from end to end. In fact, the worst song on the Cd is the most famous, Silent Lucidity

    5- Led Zeppelin -Led Zeppelin IV – Every song on this album, classic


    Other mentions

    U2, the Joshua Tree
    Fleetwood Mac – Rumors
    Styx – The Grand Illusion
    Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon
    Ratt – Out of The Cellar (an unknown Tawny Kitaen on the cover)
    ZZ Top – Elimator

  34. david carlson says

    It may just be me, but I like a number of “other” recordings of Big Stars

    Jackson Browne – Saturate before Using, Late for the Sky – great albums – Song for Adam is crazy good. “though Adam was a friend of mine, I did not know him well….”

    Fleetwood Mac – Bare Trees – Sentimental Lady is one of the greatest pop songs of the 70’s

    Springsteens – Darkness on the Edge of Town – Racing in the Streets, Candy’s Room, Adam raised a Cain –

    Dylan – Blood on the Tracks – It sounds like stories of a Husband and Wife – Shelter from the Storm is a great song –

    ’Twas in another lifetime, one of toil and blood
    When blackness was a virtue and the road was full of mud
    I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form
    “Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

    • I love “For Adam”. That last line, “Well I’m not the one to say I know, but I’m hoping he was wrong.”

      So many of his songs are about loss. “Speak of Missing Persons”, “For a Dancer” with its wistful line, “And somewhere in between the time you arrive, and the time you go, may lie a reason you were alive but you’ll never know.” They never fail to touch me. To make me think about the meaning and purpose of life and my answers differ depending on what’s going on. “Further on” with its image of angels watching over us as we wonder on our journey is hopelessly sentimental and yet beautiful in its music.

  35. Other artists that I feel need a mention here are Tom Paxton “Ain’t that News” but all of his are good, Phil Ochs “Phil Ochs in Concert” is my favorite. “Love Me, I’m a Liberal” never fails to challenge me (it’s a remember not to stop being liberal just when it affects me personally) is my favorite, although I pretty much believe that “There But for Fortune” should be and I have tried to make sure it is, the anthem for the life I live.

    And of course, Weird Al Yankovich. Every field needs its jokers and he is definitely the one for pop music!

  36. Most of the stuff I listen to is Christian, but my list is a bit different from most. Two of the groups I listen to are First Nations (a.k.a. Native American) groups.

    Keith Green, either No Compromise or So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt.

    Rich Mullins, A Liturgy, a Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band.

    Robin Mark, Revival in Belfast.

    Broken Walls, Rise Up Mighty Warrior or Ride the Wind.

    Rain Song, Rising Sun.

    Broken Walls in particular is a groundbreaking group, in that they were one of the very first groups to break out of the white domination of “How One Should Worship,” and begin worshipping and praising God using native instrumentation and musical styles.

  37. Chaplain Mike, you mentioned Paul Simon’s Graceland a while ago. I’m in agreement that Paul Simon is one of the most awesome songwriters of all time. Truly inspired. And his Bridge over Troubled Water brings me to tears every time.

  38. Blood, Sweat & Tears – “Blood, Sweat & Tears”

    Boston – “Boston”

    Fleetwood Mac – “Rumors”

    Doobie Brothers – “Stampede”

    Bach – “Brandenburg Concertos”


    • I was very close to putting the second Blood, Sweat and Tears album on my list. It was unique in its day, and well-crafted. “God Bless the Child” is superb.

  39. Christopher Lake says

    Wow, I miss checking into IM for a few days, and I come back to find two posts, and hundreds of comments, about one of my very fave topics– MUSIC! 🙂

    I am a music freak. There has not been a conscious moment in my life, that I am aware of, when I did not love music. Seriously. The first song that really grabbed me, at five years old, was “Sultans of Swing,” by Dire Straits. From there, it was Kiss. Then, Jethro Tull and Alice Cooper. (My parents were quite liberal in allowing me to listen to these bands, especially by Alabama standards of that time!)

    As I grew, my tastes broadened. At eight, I became obsessed with The Beatles. From elementary to middle school, I was a heavy metal kid. In high school, I discovered punk, hip-hop, jazz, and Frank Sintra. In college, classical music, classic country, and Goth/post-punk were my new loves! At 37, I still love and appreciate all of these genres. (This is thanks to a late, beloved friend, Sherman Riggs, who managed a record store in my hometown and exposed a shy, insecure teenager to an entire cultural world outside of small-town Alabama.)

    In light of this eclecticism, it is incredibly hard for me to choose just five favorite albums. Instead, I will pick five albums, of different genres, that have made a lasting impact on me.

    1. Van Morrison– Astral Weeks (My single favorite album of semi-structured popular music from the rock era. Poetry and emotion unparalleled.)

    2. John Coltrane– My Favorite Things (Miles Davis’ “KInd of Blue” and “Bitches’ Brew” were actually my intro’s to jazz, but Coltrane sold me on it. The title track is a world of beauty and mystery unto its own. Timeless.)

    3. Sex Pistols– Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols (When I first heard it, in 1987, at 14 years ola, it instantly made so much of what I was listening to at the time seem lifeless and irrelevant. I still break into an adrenaline-fueled sweat listening to it. The Clash were better songwriters, but for pure power, the Pistols can’t be beaten.)

    4. Gustav Mahler– 9th Symphony, as performed by the Vienna Philharmonic, conducted by Bruno Walter, in 1938 (!!!) (This recording is incomparable. Recorded on the eve of the Nazi invasion, it is an impossibly beautiful and heartbreaking testament to life and loss, both in terms of the original composition and this particular performance. It will tear you up… but by all means, hear it.)

    5. Earth, Wind, and Fire– Gratitude (I LOVE the Allman Brothers’ “Live at Fillmore East,” but for my money, THIS is the best live album ever recorded. At least in terms of rock/funk/jazz. This one makes me break into a sweat too. It also makes this white guy shake his butt, lol!)

    • Christopher Lake says

      That should have been “14 years *old*,” obviously, for when I first heard the Sex Pistols… but somehow, I do like “ola!” 🙂