The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan by Bob Dylan (1963)
The picture on the sleeve is a comforting image, a message of love that translates to any language. Dylan didn’t want to be a savior or a spokesperson for his generation, although his songs were important to many and used as protest music.
Best tracks: Blowin’ in the Wind, Girl From the North Country, Masters of War, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right, Bob Dylan’s Dream, Talking World War III Blues.
Rubber Soul by The Beatles (1965)
Probably my favorite Beatles album (as of writing) with some great melodies. There are Beatles hits (Drive My Car) which are simplistic entertainment and make you forget the world, and then there are affecting songs such as Norwegian Wood, Nowhere Man, Think For Yourself and In My Life, which are about life and touch your soul. Rubber Soul thankfully has many of the latter category. The Word and What Goes On annoy me for the choruses, other than that I have no complaints.
Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys (1966)
The title Pet Sounds was derived from the last track which ends with a dog barking. God Only Knows and Wouldn’t It Be Nice are the recognizable hits, but it’s the ambitious writing that really stands out for me. The lyrics are universal and timeless, and make you think about your own life. In terms of the production, Brian Wilson used Phil Spector’s wall of sound session musicians and tried something new.
Let It Bleed by The Rolling Stones (1969)
The two classics (Gimmie Shelter & You Can’t Always Get What You Want) that bookend Let It Bleed don’t fit that well with the blues rock which the bulk of the album consists of.
Still, an entertaining listen. There’s a feeling different tracks highlight a different instrument, for example the harmonica-driven Midnight Rambler. An album with a lasting value and worth many plays.
There’s a Riot Goin’ On by Sly & The Family Stone (1971)
Short on hits (Familiy Affair stands out), rich on funk. You could listen to tons of times. I initially felt this is a good album, but a victim of excessive acclaim. On further inspection, I get what is so great about it. The yodeling on Spaced Cowboy is super annoying though. It’s pretty obvious Prince was influenced by their music, especially in terms of the vocals.
Machine Head by Deep Purple (1972)
One of the great albums of the 1970s. Machine Head was the group’s commercial peak. You can just feel the relentless energy which is sustained for the 37 minute duration. These guys have a lot of talent as a unit and there’s no filler. The riffs are iconic, especially on Smoke on the Water, Maybe I’m a Leo, Pictures of Home, and Space Truckin’. Highway Star is maybe most famous for Ian Gillan’s vocal performance. The 1997 remastered edition includes the blues b-side When A Blind Man Cries. The lyrics of Smoke on the Water were inspired by a devastating fire at a Swiss casino during the making of the album, the black smoke hovering over a nearby lake.
Quadrophenia by The Who (1973)
At roughly 82 minutes it’s ambitious and there’s a lot to digest. Even after several plays I’m not sure where I stand. Not seen the film yet, which could change how I perceive the album.
Was already familiar with the closer Love Reign O’er Me, which was covered by Peal Jam for the Adam Sandler film Reign Over Me (2007).
Favorites tracks: Quadrophenia, Cut My Hair, The Dirty Jobs, Is It in My Head, I’ve Had Enough, Sea and Sand, Love Reign O’er Me
Raw Power by Iggy and The Stooges (1973)
Laid the template for punk rock. Has been called “savagely bombastic”. Perhaps the first record that could truly be called punk. Yet the songs have a beauty and complexity that make it more than that.
Best tracks: Search and Destroy, Gimme Danger, Raw Power, I Need Somebody, Shake Appeal
What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits by The Doobie Brothers (1974)
Not instantly accessible and less commercial than The Captain and Me (1973). Black Water has the catchiest chorus, while Road Angel is strong for the guitar work. Some of these songs, such as Eyes of Silver, want to be hits, but don’t quite get there. That is part of the charm and right now is my favorite album by the band.
The quality dips a bit in the middle with the trio of songs, You Just Can’t Stop It , Tell Me What You Want, and Down in the Track.
Another Park Another Sunday and Daughters of the Sea are a step up. As with other Doobie Brothers LPs, the lyrics are probably the least interesting aspect. Not a perfect record, but more potent than the Doobie albums that would follow. Despite the lack of big hits, it has become one of the biggest sellers of the 1970s (2 million copies).
Marquee Moon by Television (1977)
Art Punk / Post-Punk. Exceptional guitar playing with some great riffs and jazzy solos. An album you could listen to over and over and not tire of. The vocal reminded me of Chrissie Hynde, even though Tom Verlaine obviously is male. Did Johnny Jewel (born John Padgett) of Chromatics fame take his name from the stand alone single “Little Johnny Jewel”?
The Wall by Pink Floyd (1979)
A thought-provoking work with a handful of classic songs. I love the writing on this LP. Considered among the best double albums. The only weakness I noticed was some repetition of the instrumental sections, but that is hardly a flaw, as it gives the album a cohesiveness. The Trial sounds like it belongs in a West End stage musical.
Best tracks: Another Brick in the Wall Part 2, Hey You, Comfortably Numb, Run Like Hell.
Computerworld by Kraftwerk (1981)
You can view the band as historians or cultural commentators. Futuristic music that anticipated today’s computer society. The synth work on this album is fantastic. By building their own equipment together with a sound engineer, Kraftwerk created new sounds. They were among the first successful acts to popularize electronic music. An influential band with other artists sampling their material.
The Stone Roses by The Stone Roses (1989)
An important album that means a lot to those who grew up with it. Bass, guitar and drums form the basis of the jangle pop/Madchester sound and complement each other well. My favorite could be She Bangs the Drums for the sheer musicianship.
I can imagine anthemic songs such as Made Of Stone and I Wanna Be Adored getting played in huge stadiums with the crowd singing along. The iconic opening lyric “I don’t have to sell my soul, he’s already in me” could be interpreted in different ways, including a gay reference, and a theological claim, the devil is already within, hence he has no need to sell his soul.
Just for a Day by Slowdive (1991)
While it could be argued Slowdive’s best songs are on later albums, Just For a Day is the record by them I gravitate towards the most for the feeling it gives me. Atmospheric shoegaze you can get lost in. For the heart rather than the intellect. The openers Spanish Air and Celi’s Dream pull you in with their beauty and bring back memories of The Cure’s 1989 album Disintegration and the ethereal production of 1980s Cocteau Twins. Catch The Breeze is noisier. Ballad of Sister Sue and Erik’s Song are very melancholic. The overall production impresses, while the dual vocal is less distinctive. There aren’t any big hits, and no really weak moments. All of a similar quality. A cohesive set, albeit if I’m hypercritical a bit samey.
(What’s the Story) Morning Glory? by Oasis (1995)
Without being an expert, Morning Glory is possibly the pinnacle of the Britpop era. The run from tracks 2-5 (Roll With It, Wonderwall, Don’t Look Back in Anger & Hey Now!) is incredible, and also has one of rock’s best closing tracks in Champagne Supernova. The lyrics have aged well considering it’s 23 years old.
Elephant by The White Stripes (2003)
Garage Rock Revival. The White Stripes’ fourth album and arguably their peak. If you want guitar riffs, this is a modern band to seek out. Includes mostly rock with the occasional slower diversion. Seven Nation Army is a modern classic. Tracks 2-10, 12, 14 are very good.
Other new-to-me loved albums. In no particular order:
Songs From a Room by Leonard Cohen (1969)
Various Positions by Leonard Cohen (1984)
Feats Don’t Fail Me Now by Little Feat (1974)
Portishead by Portishead (1997)
Toulouse Street by The Doobie Brothers (1972)
The Captain and Me by The Doobie Brothers (1974)
Help! by The Beatles (1965)
Revolver by The Beatles (1966)
Magical Mystery Tour by The Beatles (1967)
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles (1967)
White Album by The Beatles (1968)
Let It Be by The Beatles (1970)
Highway 61 Revisited by Bob Dylan (1965)
Modern Times by Bob Dylan (2006)
Rage of Eden by Ultravox (1981)
Radio-Activity by Kraftwerk (1975)
The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd (1973)
Another Green World by Brian Eno (1975)
Ten by Pearl Jam (1991)
Author! Author! by Scars (1981)
Exodus by Bob Marley & The Wailers (1977)
John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band by John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band (1970)
The Velvet Underground by The Velvet Underground (1969)
Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin (1969)
Led Zeppelin II by Led Zeppelin (1969)
Led Zeppelin III by Led Zeppelin (1970)
Led Zeppelin IV by Led Zeppelin (1971)
Physical Graffiti by Led Zeppelin (1975)
Rising by Rainbow (1976)
The Doors by The Doors (1967)
Waiting for the Sun by The Doors (1968)
L.A. Woman by The Doors (1971)
Tommy by The Who (1969)
Can’t Buy a Thrill by Steely Dan (1972)
The Nightfly by Donald Fagen (1982)
Transformer by Lou Reed (1972)
Beggars Banquet by The Rolling Stones (1968)
Exile on Main St. by The Rolling Stones (1972)
Wheels of Fire by Cream (1968)
Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette (1995)
Souvlaki by Slowdive (1993)
Pygmalion by Slowdive (1995)
United by Phoenix (2000)
De Stijl by The White Stripes (2000)
White Blood Cells by The White Stripes (2001)
Dear Catastrophe Waitress by Belle and Sebastian (2003)
Hip by Steppeulvene (1967)
Kysser himlen farvel by Lars H.U.G. (1987)
*Led Zeppelin, The Velvet Underground, Cream, and The Doors will be blogged about in detail in the upcoming months
In this post, I’m only including releases prior to the 2010’s. What do you think? As always comments are welcome