My 500 Favorite Albums of All Time: Day 4 – #301-350

Due to my back issues, I’ve become an unfortunate expert at navigating the insurance worlds of medical, long-term disability and waivers. The greatest weakness we have in the healthcare system of the USA is insurance. Their bottom line is to make money, but the question is should we be profiting from people’s health in a legalized betting and Ponzi scheme?

Everytime my wife’s employer changes medical insurance providers, I will always get hassled for having a pain pump, though one of those companies approved its implantation back in 2012. Whenever we become “new” insured, I have my pain doc’s payments slowed until they realize I have a pre-existing condition. So, we go through this about every three years when the school corporation decides its time to save money.

Perhaps my favorite battle is not with Social Security, it is with the company with whom I have long-term disability insurance. I took out this insurance when I was still healthy and changed school corporations to the one from whom I retired. Every four to five years they want documentation to prove that my condition warrants the insurance payments since I had turned down their scrawny bid at taking a lump sum payment when I first applied for the benefit. It seems now that they believe I could work at a sedentary job where I sit for six straight hours. Hell, I can’t even sit for 15 minutes without having to change positions to another chair, the bed, couch, etc.

Plus, if I were to “work,” I would need to take more pain medicine and more muscle relaxers. More of them would lead to more drowsiness and incidences of passing out during work. I’m sure the insurance company would love a lawsuit if I were to get into an automobile accident that included bodily injury or worse to an outside party when attorneys discover that I was forced to go back to some job because the insurance company did not want to pay out on an insurance that will only last five more years. Additionally, I do not believe a prospective employer would love having an employee who was stoned on the job from pain medicines that I would need to survive.

Yes, I would LOVE to be able to work and contribute to society. Unfortunately, that’s not going to be my lot in life any longer. Now, I am just a guy who takes an inordinate amount of time to write a blog about music a couple times per week (FYI: I began writing this entry at 9:45 am. I will put the publishing time at the end of this blog to give you an idea as to how long this will take).

Okay, I do look somewhat normal, albeit with much added weight to my frame. I do attempt to live a normal life but that “normal” life pays a toll on my body. If I go to a concert, I will be down (sleeping) for the next 24-36 hours. Same thing if I do something with my grandchildren. If those little rascals come over, I will play for 15 minutes then lay down for an hour. Lord help me if we travel for a family weekend or a weekend with friends. Did that last weekend, and I have been down ever since we got home Sunday, sans the two spent trading in books and albums at Half-Price books.

I go to bed exhausted and in pain, and I get up, at my very best, in the same amount of pain and just a little less exhausted. But, that is rare, as it only occurs a couple times a year. My usual morning is waking up as if I had run a marathon and played six hours of basketball than beaten with a baseball bat. And, it’s worse in the evening. The days of waking up refreshed and ready to tackle another day are at least 15 years in my rearview mirror, if not longer.

So, instead of sliding further down this dark rabbit hole, how about I get to the stuff you came for, the countdown. After the last entry, we stopped at number 351, so we will pick up there. Thanks for letting me vent a little. Peace and love to you all!

350. Isaac Hayes – Hot Buttered Soul (1969). Nothing like a psychedelic soul experience filtered through a jam band mentality.

349. Elvis Costello & the Attractions – Armed Forces (1979). In the late-70s, you had the E Street Band, the Heartbreakers and the Silver Bullet Band as a few of the great backup bands. This record proves that the Attractions deserve to be mentioned in the same breath.

348. Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975). This album just might be the Floyd’s most personal artistic statement, which is all summed up in the transcendent “Wish You Were Here.”

347. Kanye West – The College Dropout (2004). In 2004, I had trouble going anywhere without hearing a cut from Ye’s debut. Whether I was at home, at track practice or in school, “Jesus Walks” was everywhere.

346. Counting Crows – August & Everything After (1993). I love Counting Crows small homage to Van Morrison commercial output in the early-70s.

345. Rage Against the Machine – Evil Empire (1996). When Rage was on in the 90s, they just might have been the best hard rock band in the world. Not as strong of an album in their cannon, but it’s better than most of their competitor’s best.

344. John Hiatt – Bring the Family (1987). This beautifully quiet and subdued album represents one of the first “adult”-themed albums in my collection. The subtleties of family life are brought to life in rock for one of the first times.

343. Boz Scaggs – Silk Degrees (1976). What an album! Did Boz invent Yacht Rock on this one or simply bring the first coherent musical offering of the genre? Either way, thank God that Scaggs got the blueprint correct.

342. Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (1977). In the world of dramatic pop rock statements, there but two artists at the top: Queen and Meat Loaf. The latter earns his status on this little rock opera about a modern day Peter Pan-type of character. And few artists had the voice to bring songwriter Jim Steinman’s vision to life as Meat did. This album may be underrated in this countdown.

341. Fleetwood Mac – Fleetwood Mac (1975). The Mac was the UK’s ultimate journeymen blues rock band who had the uncanny luck of surviving a revolving door at the lead guitar position. When the latest lead guitarist Bob Welch left, the namesake rhythm section of the band picked a couple of SoCal folkies in Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. Then, the band became the biggest in the world.

340. The Kinks – Something Else (1967). During 1967, rock & roll completed its transition to rock as musicians across the genres all began to tackle complex topics in their lyrics and made music to listen to rather to dance to. The Kinks decided to become the voice of the British commoner, which contributed to the band having reduced success in the States. Still, this album is excellent and just might be ground zero for Paul Weller’s career AND all of Britpop. Now, that’s a legacy!

339. Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (1971). Back in the late-60s, George Clinton had some trouble marketing his version of funk under the moniker The Parliaments. Plus, the man was taking acid, so he downplayed the horn section of Parliament and cranked up the guitars to become Funkadelic. Therefore, Funkadelic was initially the rock side of Clinton’s personality and Parliament the funk side. Just listen to the fantastic guitar work of the late Eddie Hazel to grasp that maybe the greatest guitarist was in funk and rock bands.

338. Sade – Diamond Life (1984). Model-turned-singer Sade burst onto the scene at the end of new wave. But, her brand of Euro-influenced sophistipop and soul became the sound across the decades. And it all started humbly enough on this album.

337. Bruce Springsteen – The Ghost of Tom Joad (1995). So, The Boss began the 90s by giving The E Street Band their walking papers. He recorded two simultaneously released lackluster albums with session players. Next up was a return to his Nebraska solo days and regained his superstar status in the process.

336. Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball (2012). Springsteen had a solid creative period in The Aughts, so he carried that momentum into the Twenty-Teens and released his finest, most urgent album of the 21st century. The album title simply states his mission statement.

335. The Black Keys – Brothers (2010). This guitar and drum duo picks up where The White Stripes left off. The Keys, though, shoot for the blues rock comfort zone, while the Stripes were almost aping Zeppelin. But, when The Keys are on, as they are on this LP, they are one of the better bands on the planet.

334. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002). What is it about bands who are facing trouble from their labels, simply continue to follow their muse and release a killer set on another label? It happens all of the time. And Wilco did it just at a time when the band was about to blow up, artistically, internally and commercially. This album is a band against the world statement.

333. Jane’s Addiction – Ritual De Lo Habitual (1990). Jane’s Addiction hit their peak on the band’s second and last studio album during their first go-around.

332. Robbie Robertson – Robbie Robertson (1987). After 11 or so years since The Band broke up after performing their farewell concert dubbed The Last Waltz, lead songwriter Robbie Robertson suddenly reappears to begin a solo career that seemed a little out of step with the times in the Eighties. Still, the album was hauntingly great and seemed to foretell the coming of Tracy Chapman and Cowboy Junkies.

331. Parliament – Mothership Connection (1975). Clinton brought the funk AND the horns on this funky freak out. Just a brilliant mix of sci-fi, funk, rock and craziness.

330. MC5 – Kick Out the Jams (1969). In the late-60s, Detroit brought not only Motown, Parliament/Funkadelic and Bob Seger, it was the actual birthplace of a rock sound that would come to be called punk in another half a decade. The Stooges were the heart and soul of the sound, but MC5 brought the militant stance.

329. The Who – Tommy (1969). Arguably the first and perhaps the greatest rock opera, The Who took their mod-influenced rock to a whole new level on this set.

328. Crosby, Stills & Nash – Crosby, Stills & Nash (1969). Take a member from each of the following bands and what do you get? The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and The Hollies. Well, it wasn’t rock. It was barbershop quartet-type harmonies filtered through folk and rock that jumpstarted the whole singer/songwriter movement of the 70s.

327. The B-52’s – The B-52’s (1979). This kitschy debut by the FIRST band out of Athens, Georgia, is a party album delight. With a deadpan lead vocalist and two otherworldly female backup vocalists bring the humor and sarcasm to some danceable garage rock. They were the right band at just the right time to have an impact.

326. Ramones – Road to Ruin (1978). Would still be a classic album if it only had “I Wanna Be Sedated.” But, the track list is so much deeper with some influential first wave American punk rock.

325. Paul Simon – Still Crazy After All These Years (1975). Simon’s music only grows in stature as I get older and understand its complexity and insightful lyrics.

324. U2 – War (1983). Arguably, Generation X’s first mega-popular band rose to fame on the grand statement of this album. And, at the time, many thought War would become the band’s ultimate artistic statement. Now, we all know how that turned out.

323. TLC – CrazySexyCool (1994). TLC’s sophomore album announced to the world that TLC was no longer three teenaged girls but three women ready to tackle adult themes in the music and their lives. Can you imagine how revered this trio would be had Left Eye had lived? By the way, “Waterfalls” may be the best Prince single of the 90s, since that’s who I initially thought it was upon its release.

322. Beastie Boys – Check Your Head (1992). Just when everyone was about to count out Beastie Boys as a one-trick pony, the Boys rediscover their punk roots and instruments, purchase a damaged analog microphone and proceed to make their indelible mark on hip hop history. It’s the Beasties ability to look back and ahead simultaneously that made their output in the 90s so exciting and vital.

321. Paul Weller – 22 Dreams (2008). In the 70s, Weller was busy marrying R&B and other mod sounds with early Who and the punk of the day while in The Jam. Then, in the 80s, he took an abruptly detour into jazzy 70s soul and current hip hop Europop with The Style Council. When he arrived in the 90s as the Modfather, the father of all things Britpop, Weller was ready to grow up and honor ALL of his influences, which included the prog rock of Traffic. As Weller entered his third decade of recording, he finally produced a double album of some of the best British rock since Ray Davies’ heyday in the late-60s.

320. The White Stripes – Elephant (2003). This album is something of a Led Zeppelin IV for the Millennials. If you haven’t heard the “Black Dog” of the new century in “Seven Nation Army,” then you have been prepping for Armageddon.

319. St. Vincent – MASSEDUCATION (2017). So, if you miss Talking Heads as I do, and LCD Soundsystem is not your cup of tea, then let me offer St. Vincent as your next alternative. As a matter of fact, Annie Clark is so good as a TH disciple that she recorded an album with former lead-Head David Byrne. Still, this may just be her finest moment.

318. Mayer Hawthorne – A Strange Arrangement (2009). Hawthorne was a hip hop DJ who wanted to create some early-70s soul music to use in a hip hop setting because he couldn’t afford samples. When some record executives got wind of how good these songs were with his vocals, Hawthorne was convinced to release the material. John Mayer tweeted that this album was the “album of the year” after he listened to it.

317. Soundgarden – Superunknown (1994). Part of Seattle’s grunge scene’s Big Four (with Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains being the other three), Soundgarden was the first to be signed and the last to hit big with the public. The band’s sound was massive but wouldn’t have worked without Chris Cornell’s untouchable vocals.

316. LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out (1990). So, we’re not supposed to call this a comeback, but LL was coming off a pretty weak album and with hip hip’s notoriously short shelf-life, why wouldn’t believe this to be a comeback. And what a comeback! LL predicted the turn in rap music toward a harder, more street sound. Brilliant, just simply brilliant.

315. George Clinton – Computer Games (1982). “Atomic Dog” is all I need to say!

314. Alice Cooper – School’s Out (1972). This album was my entry into the world of rock music. And, it’s the perfect album for a tweener to enter rock with as it contains the ultimate holiday song in “School’s Out.” It’s no wonder that kids my age were so quick to jump on the KISS bandwagon after this album.

313. Electric Light Orchestra – Eldorado (1974). ELO has been so underrated with the Boomers constantly bitching about Jeff Lynne’s Beatles fixation. But even John Lennon himself was a fan of the band. This just happens to be one of their better releases.

312. The Who – The Who Sell Out (1967). The Who honored the pirate radio movement in British radio by recording an album that sounded like a pirate radio show, complete with advertisements. What a brilliant concept album!

311. The Kinks – Face to Face (1966). This album gave us just an inkling as to what direction leader Ray Davies was moving. He was becoming the voice of the UK version of the common man.

310. Heart – Dreamboat Annie (1976). File this under “Could Only Happen in the USA During the 70s.” Two young women are infatuated with Led Zeppelin. One is a guitar genius while the other is a better Robert Plant-type singer than the man himself. They travel to Canada to find musicians to help them. The band creates a female version of Led Zeppelin, and the rest is history. Oh, and the album gave us “Magic Man” too.

309. De La Soul – 3 Feet High and Rising (1989). By the late-80s, hip hop was moving from the party anthems of Kurtis Blow and Run-DMC to gangsta rap of N.W.A. But, a few knuckleheads in NYC began to thumb through albums of what we now call Yacht Rock artists to sample. The outcome is this off-beat hip hop album that puts the funk back into the samples of Steely Dan and Hall & Oates. This album was so different from anything else at the time.

308. Pearl Jam – Vs. (1993). Pearl Jam struck platinum right away with their grunge classic Ten. So, in order to attempt to temper fan’s anticipation, the band followed lead singer Eddie Vedder’s vision to go back to their punk roots in order to create their sophomore album. Lord knowns the boys thought the public would reject the album, but it only loved the band more fervently.

307. Paul Weller – True Meaning (2018). Once again, the Modfather follows up a challenging album with one whose songs come right from his R&B wheelhouse. This is Paul Weller at his best.

306. Taylor Swift – 1989 (2014). This is the moment when country star Taylor Swift shed her skin to reveal a true rock visionary tunesmith. After 1989, Swift was no longer trapped in a corner as a country artist and could follow her muse in which ever direction she desired.

305. Mika – Life in Cartoon Motion (2007). When Mika burst onto the scene, the hype machine was claiming he was stepping into Freddie Mercury’s shoes as the heir to the whole over-the-top rock star. At least, for an album, that was true. “Lollipop” is an excellent pop song.

304. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Change of Season (1990). After a lackluster 1988 Arista Records debut landed like a balloon losing its air, the duo quietly made an album that hearkened back to their Abandoned Luncheonette days. It was nice to hear the boys pushing off all the 80s production trappings and making an album like they did in the 70s.

303. Paul McCartney & Wings – Band on the Run (1973). This is Paul at his rocking best.

302. The Stooges – Fun House (1970). If the Sex Pistols didn’t learn everything they did from this album, then the boys must have been listening to the other two Stooges albums.

301. James Brown – Live at the Apollo (1963). One of the greatest live albums ever recorded only because they caught the Godfather of Soul at his very best.

(End time: 4:40 PM)

My 500 Favorite Albums of All Time, Day 3 – #351-400

Here is something new for my writing madness. This week, my wife and I are watching Grandchild 4 for a transition week before she begins her daycare life. Under the circumstances, I am attempting to write this while she sits in a little vibrating chair. Still, I don’t think this situation will last very long.

Of course, I was correct. Apparently, the little munchkin needed to be rocked to see for her morning nap. Maybe her Pop Pop needs one as well? Not really, so I will press on with this entry.

And, then this entry was delayed for the rest of the week because one of my long time friends scored some tickets for Jackson Browne in the middle of the week. We followed that terrific concert with an unbelievable Billy Joel show in the Notre Dame Stadium up in South Bend, Indiana. Even though we were an American football field away from the stage and near the top row in the stadium, my wife, two of her college friends and I all really thought Joel and his band were outstanding. Originally, we were all going to see Billy Joel at Notre Dame back in June of 2020, but the pandemic delayed the concert for three years before we got it in. And, it was worth the wait!

Lately, I have been wondering why, when I was in middle school, did I ever transition from collecting baseball and basketball cards (many of which I still own), to collecting albums? Probably the foremost reason is that I really did not set out to create a collection. Innocuously, I started by buying an 8-track tape here, an album there, here a 7-inch, there a cassette, here an album, there an album, until I began to gather three things from an album purchase.

The first thing I got from albums was the most obvious: the music. The music, and especially the lyrics, helped me survive an especially awkward time in my life. Not only were my hormones were beginning to blast full tilt through my veins and clouded my brain until it only seemed to be receiving signals from one place, the nether region in my pants. The music spoke to the hormone-rave that was in extreme mode, while the lyrics attempted to make sense of these changes.

The second part was the fact that each album had a cover whose artwork made the album collectable, much like a sports trading card. Now, you were able to teach yourself a little modern art appreciation class every so often as you accumulated albums.

Next, I discovered this thing that resided inside most album covers, and even at times ON the cover itself, a wealth of information collectively known as the liner notes. This information included song lyrics and songwriter information, release date, musician list with their instruments, some possible historical facts about the artist AND possibly an essay written by a rock journalist or publicist detailing the creative process and lyrical meanings of the album in my hands.

So far, I had some music, an art collectable and a brief batch of album information usually found in a fanzine. But, the thing that cemented the album in my life is how the whole package helped me deal with what was to me the completely out of leftfield separation and eventual divorce of my parents. If I did not have access to these albums, I probably would have needed much more psychotherapy. These albums became a way to help me overcome the shock and depression I felt about that shakeup in my family. Along with my participation in sports, rock music helped survive that crazy moment in my life. I will never to fully thank the artists who helped me survive over the years, except by maintaining my collection while living long enough to describe the love I have for their music in this blog.

So, without any further adieu, let’s dive further into my countdown of my 500 favorite albums. Peace!

400. Raphael Saadiq – Stone Rollin’ (2011). Saadiq got his big break by playing in Prince’s band on the Purple One’s 1986 European Tour, followed by a stint in 90s New Jack Swingers Tony! Toni! Tone! On this solo set, Saadiq masters all of influences and combines on this album that shows its influences as well as feeling both timeless and of its time.

399. M.I.A. – Kala (2007). Sri Lanka’s biggest musical export, M.I.A.’s career peaked on her terrific sophomore album that made her sound as street as any American ghetto resident. Plus, anytime you combine a Clash sample with cash register and gunshot sound effects, you’ve piqued my interest.

398. U2 – Rattle and Hum (1988). It seemed to me that U2 were on an every other album is a classic run in the 80s. The terrific Boy was followed by the sluggish October. Then we got the stellar War followed by the push the boundaries The Unforgettable Fire. So, how did the boys follow up their first classic album, The Joshua Tree? With the sprawling and somewhat pretentious Rattle and Rum experience. Still, there are enough winners on the album for it to remain on my chart for 30+ years.

397. The Jam – All Mods Con (1978). Over the course of The Jam’s first two albums, the band was attempting to amalgamate all of their influences (The Who, The Kinks, Motown, 70s soul and punk rock) into one locked in sound. This is the album on which Paul Weller and the boys did just that, inadvertently created the blueprint for The Smiths, Stone Roses and the Britpop movement of the Nineties.

396. Kings of Leon – Only by the Night (2008). When this band debuted during my older son’s high school years, he and I both thought Kings of Leon would become a pretty solid rock band. Well, in reality, it took the boys another couple of albums before they hit paydirt on this one. With singles like “Sex on Fire” and “Use Somebody,” Only by the Night became a big seller. Unfortunately, the boys really couldn’t write a batch of songs as strong as those found on this LP.

395. The Replacements – Don’t Tell a Soul (1989). When 1989 rolled around, everyone who listened to college rock radio at the time were waiting patiently for The Replacements to get their drinking under control and produce a clean-sounding brand of their Stones-meets- Ramones-via-Springsteen sound to become the world’ biggest band. Fortunately, for us, the band delivered the album wanted by fans, packed with loads of great songs. Sadly, the public decided they’d rather pluck down their hard earned money on a third-rate hair metal band’s album or concert. The Replacements remain in college rock circles as something on the level of The Kinks during their British Invasion heyday.

394. The Style Council – Internationalists (1985). “You don’t have to take this crap!” just may be the greatest opening line of any rock song of the Eighties (“Walls Come Tumbling Down”). And, yet, it was written by the voice of UK Generation X Paul Weller and formed by his band The Style Council. This is Weller at his fiercest in his lyrics while sticking to the Europop-influence modern rock/jazz/Motown/soul mix that made the band more popular back in Europe and reaching cult status here in the states.

393. R.E.M. – Fables of the Reconstruction (1985). On the band’s third album, the boys were tired from five straight years of touring, recording alternating back and forth between the two choices to aide their career. Therefore, the decision to record this album in England, caused the band to become depressed and collectively wrote dark music with dark lyrics to reflect the band’s darkness concerning the recording circumstances. Despite the darkness, this album has a few bright tunes and a consistency that only will grow stronger of the next decade.

392. Billy Joel – An Innocent Man (1983). This one’s Joel’s biggest selling LP, while containing the most hit songs on an album in his illustrious career. It’s as if Billy captured the zeitgeist of the moment when pop music was equally influenced by the sophisticated pop of early Beatles and Motown on An Innocent Man. This album is best known for the huge hit “Uptown Girl,” but don’t overlook the excellent “I Go to Extremes.”

391. Talking Heads – The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads (1982). Forget the excellent live soundtrack recording of the band’s fantastic concert film Stop Making Sense (1984). That’s because 1982’s double-LP The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads is the band’s finest live document as it song list takes the listener chronologically through the band’s live performances during their career.

390. Hootie & the Blowfish – Cracked Rearview Mirror (1994). For the years 1994 and 1995, Hootie was the biggest band on MTV and in the States. They were riding a huge crest of a sound that is part R.E.M., part Wallflowers and part Gin Blossoms to create a tasty jangly guitar sound which made an Americana sound more palatable than most bands of the era.

389. Devo – Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo (1978). What a perfect album to satirize everything about Western culture that continues to resonate, perhaps even more so now. Devo was so far ahead of their competitors that subsequent artists are trying to catch up to these Akron, Ohio visionaries. Side one remains one of the greatest sides of all time.

388. Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures (1979). Release during a year stuffed with great albums, Joy Division debuted a sound that had a long-lasting influence to this very day, post punk. Tragically, lead singer Ian Curtis would commit suicide on the eve of the band’s first American tour and the release of their sophomore album in 1980. The remaining formed New Order.

387. The Clash – Combat Rock (1982). By 1982, The Clash were ready to officially become rock royalty. Unfortunately, co-leaders Joe Strummer and Mick Jones had vastly different music visions for the seminal band. Jones was ready to have the band dive headfirst into hip hop music, while Strummer, being slightly more of a rocker, wanted the band to get back to its roots in punk. And drummer extraordinaire Topper Headon was losing his battle with heroin at the time, so the band enlisted their competent but less broadly talented original drummer Terry Chimes (or Tory Crimes). So, essentially, The Clash were dead we they were out on tour the summer of 1982 and 1983.

386. Prince – Controversy (1981). In retrospect, Controversy appears to be a dress rehearsal for his second masterpiece, which would be released in 1982 and known as 1999. 1981 will be the last year in which Prince will be anonymous.

385. The J. Geils Band – Love Stinks (1980). Can you believe that it took the Geils Band the better part of a decade to finally match their commercial popularity to their critical acclaim. Songs from this album just seemed to have been played everywhere all of the time.

384. Fountains of Wayne – Utopia Parkway (1999). Long before “Stacey’s Mom” dominated the airways, Fountains of Wayne were critical darlings of the fourth wave of power pop music. FoW are the finest power poppers of the late Twentieth Century.

383. Metallica – Master of Puppets (1986). In all honesty, I am not much of a metal fan. However, when it comes to Metallica, you simply have to admire the members’ individual musical and songwriting talents. Metallica is my favorite metal band of any era.

382. Midnight Oil – Diesel and Dust (1988). The Eighties were a time for bands with grand visions, big lyrics about societal issues and rock anthem music. And few put it all together like Aussies Midnight Oil. These guys were speaking about the environment and anti-capitalist views set to some of the more muscular non-metal rock music of the time. Many were expecting this album to explode like U2’s The Joshua Tree, but, unfortunately, that wasn’t in the cards.

381. Bee Gees – Main Course (1975). The Brothers Gibb got the a new lease on their career with this album as they embraced the dance music (disco) and other Miami urban sounds. This was one of the more miraculous comebacks before Tina Turner announced that her retirement was over.

380. Cheap Trick – Cheap Trick (1977). There were actually some excellent albums released in 1977, Cheap Trick’s self-titled debut. This album is so eclectic that you can hear guitar parts that influence grunge here, new wave there, punk, hair metal and power pop, sometimes within the same cut.

379. Funkadelic – One Nation Under a Groove (1978). Back in 1978, when I competed in a national track meet out in Colorado, the disco that was set up each night played this album’s title song. Nowadays, kids will probably recognize various popular songs with this one being sampled.

378. Janet Jackson – Control (1986). By 1986, Janet Jackson was ready to come out of the long shadows of her brothers, the members and former members of the Jackson 5/The Jacksons, including her brother Michael. Instead of following her father’s commands as her manager, she fired him, got a new manager who put her in touch with two of music hottest producers former members of The Time, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The collaboration between Janet and Jam & Lewis went on to become very creative and lucrative. This album was the trio’s opening salvo.

377. The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead (1986). England’s biggest alternative jangle band released arguably their best albumin 1986 that became both a creative and commercial peak.

376. Daft Punk – Home Work (1997). Electronic dance music was beginning to exert its muscles, enter a French duo who dressed as two rockin’ robots. What made Daft Punk’s sound so unique was their commitment to the time constraints of pop singles.

375. LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver (2007). Just when I was truly missing new music from Talking Heads, along comes this New York conglomeration of musicians who could mix EDM with polyrhythms from the continent of Africa with rock and pop traditions. For a brief moment, LCD helped me get a Heads fix.

374. Adele – 25 (2015). A decade or so ago, Adele dropped her sophomore album, the now classic 21. Then, she went on a brief hiatus, only to reappear in 2015 with her second biggest album of all time. Adele just may be the Barbra Streisand and Whitney Houston of her generation.

373. Jenny Lewis – On the Line (2019). The former child actress, Jenny Lewis dove head first into the music industry a couple of decades ago. Ms. Lewis found a niche in the Americana sound until she began to write in a female Tom Petty realm which only endeared her music more to my ears.

372. Halsey – Hopeless Fountain Kingdom (2017). What I love about the music of Halsey is how she continues to push the boundaries and influences of basic teen female pop/dance music by incorporating darker, Goth-like tones and lyrics.

371. Nas – Illmatic (1994). When Nas released this album, he was being hailed as a new messiah for East Coast and, specifically, New York hip hop scene. This album remains a classic, no matter the genre placement.

370. A Tribe Called Quest – Midnight Marauders (1993). A Tribe Called Quest followed up their brilliant The Low End Theory with this classic album that is steeped in the early-90s jazz-influenced hip hop grooves. ATCQ has got to be considered one of the ten greatest rap artists ever.

369. Michael Jackson – Off the Wall (1979). Listen up youngins! This album was released in a year in which new wave, power pop, punk, metal, hard rock and other genres were battling for supremacy. In the midst of all this confusion, Jackson releases his first ADULT album which provided Jackson with the blueprint to follow on all of his Eighties albums.

368. Pink Floyd – Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967). This was not an album like the Floyd made in the 70s. No songs concerning mental breakdowns or treatises on human psychoses. No, these songs are actually about drug trips and everything else you thought Pink would actually experience. After that album, their former lead singer, Syd Barrett, developed mental health issues and left the band only to be replaced by the great David Gilmore.

367. Rush – 2112 (1967). What happens when a great underground prog-rock band from Canada drops an album whose concept and lyrics were influenced by the works of Ayn Rand, specifically her book Anthem? We get a society of libertarians who don’t fully understand the truth behind the Constitution and government. All of which is unfortunate, because Rush created one helluva album that should help the listener to discern between the strengths and failures of such a philosophy taking over a society. We may actually fully understand 2112 over the next decade if he refuse to learn anything new and keep history in perspective.

366. Cream – Disraeli Guns (1967). Does this album signal the beginning of hard rock? If it does, that one great album to be considered gone zero. This album is exhibit one for Eric Clapton’s god-like comparisons.

365. Roxy Music – Siren (1975). Here is my personal gateway into the world of Roxy Music. What can I say? I dig my rock dressed up glammy.

364. Prince & the Revolution – Parade (1986). In the post-Purple Rain world of Prince, you can tell which album you are listening to because of the music influences in which Prince was obviously indulging himself. For Parade, the whole project reeks of the influence of France, where the accompanying film Under a Cherry Moon was being produced.

363. The Notorious B.I.G. – Ready to Die (1994). Let the arguments begin! Which was the greatest MC? Was it Rakim? Kurtis Blow? Tupac, Biggie, Em, Jay-Z? Nas? Biz Markie? Hell, I don’t know. But, I do know that Ready to Die rocks!

362. The Black Crowes – Shake Your Moneymaker (1990). At the moment in time when The Black Crowes burst upon the scene, rock was in trouble. Guns N’ Roses were terrorizing the world. AC/DC was stalled creatively. Iron Maiden and Metallica were bringing consistently, but they were just a tad too metal, so the Crowes filled a void rather nicely. “Hard to Tell” is an excellent cover song!

361. Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Let’s Face It (1997). This just might be the best Clash album of the Nineties. Another shame that a band who bottled lightning once could never deliver again. This is such a fun, energetic album that is worth revisiting every year.

360. Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls (2013). Just as I was wishing for some good old Muscle Shoals-based R&B rock & roll, I discovered Alabama Shakes. Lead singer Brittney Howard is the band’s focal point, but the rhythm section is the secret weapon.

359. Gnarls Barkley – St. Elsewhere (2006). When a rap artist (Ceelo Green) and a renegade producer (Danger Mouse) come together, you expect a hip hop project. Instead, we were blessed with this alternative take on R&B and pop that continues to resonate today.

358. Coldplay – Viva la Vida, Or Death and All of His Friends (2009). This just might be my favorite Coldplay album since it doesn’t completely rely on Chris Martin’s piano.

357. The Cure – Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (1987). By 1987, The Cure had been stars in the UK and Europe for nearly a decade, while big sales and fame had alluded them. That is until this album, behind the single “Just like Heaven.” Many people thought lead singer/songwriter Robert Smith was gay, until you read his lyrics. Then it was obvious.

356. D’Angelo – Brown Sugar (1995). D’Angelo’s debut let the listeners know that he loved and was immersed in the music of Marvin Gaye and Prince. But, you could also pick up sounds that were his own. You just knew this guy had the goods to become one of the all-timers.

355. R.E.M. – Monster (1995). After messing around with textures in their music for years, R.E.M. finally decided to make music that actually fits into their raucous live shows. Plus, the boys wanted to answer the call put out by the bands from the Seattle grunge scene. So, Monster is the proof that R.E.M. IS a rock band.

354. Ice Cube – AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted (1990). Ice Cube got tired of the games being played by N.W.A’s management, so the man packed up his written rhymes to go solo. And, he was the first to strike both on his own. AND, he was successful.

353. Tina Turner – Private Dancer (1984). The comeback story of Tina Turner surrounding this album is simply the icing on the cake. That’s because the album is THAT good. Tina was singing for her life, literally. And, fortunately, she was handed some excellent material.

352. David Bowie – Station to Station (1976). In the mid-70s, Bowie spent his time in NYC and Philly soaking up the music of the local R&B scenes. Then he took what he heard in those clubs and filtered it through his art rock and glam layers to create some new pop that would influence some of the New Romantics and other new wave subsets.

351. The Flying Burrito Brothers – The Gilded Palace of Sin (1969). Gram Parsons had been partying with the members of the Stones when he wrote “Wild Horses.” The Stones made a classic out of this slice of Americana music, as it is called today. Parsons gathered up a band of country and rock hotshots to create The Flying Burrito Brothers. They created the blueprint that Linda Ronstadt and Eagles initially used to kickstart their successful careers.

My 500 Favorite Albums of All Time, Day 2 – 401-450

I know. The momentum was broken. I get it! I wrote an entry followed by several days off. What can I say? Family duties called. Babysitting here, a family wedding there, a weekend in Southern Indiana with the extended family, a broken down body right now. That’s how it goes with chronic pain and life. You attempt to live a regular life, though in a greatly compromised manner (i.e. no drinking so you don’t have drug interactions; go to bed while everyone else is partying, etc.). Then you wake up on Monday morning, feeling as if you ran a marathon, played basketball all day the following day, then allowed a baseball team to beat you relentlessly with their bats. It’s an awesome life. I may appear to look somewhat normal, but it’s much worse than I try to let on.

So, enough of the sniveling. Let’s talk about one of the things outside of my family that brings me joy and that’s music. In this list, I purposely left off any and all albums from the current decade mainly because I now prefer to let an album simmer for a couple of years before I begin to honestly rank it. You see, some albums are designed to sound great in the context of the now, while others are constructed with legs. When you are younger, you can immediately and instinctively know which category to place an album. Nowadays, what sounded good one day, now sounds crappy the next. It’s because of that reason, I was not ready to include albums from the 2020s in on my list, even though I am nearly ready to crown Olivia Rodrigo’s Sour album for a fairly high ranking in this list. I seem to keep popping the album on my turntable. What can I say? I dig great pop music.

An interesting side note is that I actually own most of these albums on vinyl. At one time or another, I probably had many of the unowned albums on CD but decided to get rid of them during my massive purge. Now, I am slowly adding vinyl versions of these albums to my collection, though the number of those I don’t own is less than 175 of the titles on this list.

With that said, let’s delve into the next fifty albums on my list.

450. Stevie Wonder – Hotter Than July (1980). Back in the day, Stevie was the man, just on the downside of his creative peak. This album was praised in the day and kind of forgotten now.

449. The Smiths – Meat Is Murder (1985). The Smiths were the darlings of college radio back in the mid-80s. The US release of this one includes their seminal “How Soon Is Now.”

448. Earth, Wind & Fire – That’s the Way of the World (1975). Some bands become despite a wealth of talent, while others have so much ability oozing out of their bodies that it’s absolutely ridiculous. Earth, Wind & Fire is the latter, and they are hot on this album.

447. Genesis – Genesis (1983). Many people prefer the early prog-rock version of Genesis with Peter Gabriel in the lead singer spot, and there is a strong case to be made for that lineup. But, many of us lean toward the tightness and pop influence of the songs of the Phil Collins-led trio version, with this self-titled album arguably being their best.

446. Faith No More – The Real Thing (1989). I will yell this from the mountain tops, “Why wasn’t FNM the biggest band in the world?” They mixed together EVERYTHING that was great about music in the late-80s, alternative, metal, rap, into a compelling and unique sound.

445. Squeeze – East Side Story (1981). Behind Elvis Costello, the duo of Chris Difford and Glenn Tillbrook were the greatest songwriters of the new wave era. This album stands along The Beatles’ late-60s output, Elvis’ first five albums, and Paul Weller’s career as the best examples of excellent British pop.

444. Iggy & the Stooges – Raw Power (1973). This is a great glammed up version of the sound punk. You just cannot oversell how important The Stooges were to modern music.

443. Roxy Music – Stranded (1973). The Glam gods of the UK released a bunch of classics all by 1975, and Stranded was one of the first of their more outstanding releases.

442. Donna Summer – Bad Girls (1979). Disco was all about the 12″ dance single, but Donna Summer, the Queen of Disco, made one of the genres more enduring and well-paced artistic statements of the era.

441. R.E.M. – Green (1988). When college rock darlings R.E.M. abandoned the indie world and signed with Warner Brothers, fans all over worried about the band selling out. No way! The boys from Athens, Georgia, fought to keep their artistic integrity and vision intact even as they moved into U2-sized popularity.

440. David Bowie – “Heroes” (1977). So, by the mid-70s, Bowie was a big critical star without much of the financial footing but the trappings of a cocaine addiction. So, he retreated to Berlin with former Roxy Music “tape manipulator” Brian Eno to take in the influences of Kraftwerk to create his long-standing classic trilogy of which this album is the best.

439. The Clash – The Clash (1977). When the dust finally settled on the London punk scene of 1977 and 1978, The Jam ended up the big stars in the UK, the Pistols were the best singles band and The Clash were on their way to becoming a new version of The Who. The Clash remains the best album of the punk era – UK division.

438. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts – I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll (1981). For second quarter of college in 1981-82, this album was ubiquitous. It caught the zeitgeist of the new MTV generation.

437. Hüsker Dü – Zen Arcade (1984). Arguably the greatest hardcore band of the 80s, these Minnesotans brought punk together with a song cycle about how much teen life in the Reagan-era suck in the form of a rock opera of sorts. Green Day couldn’t have made their rock operas without this album, and Nirvana would have not had a HUGE influence on their wound with this band.

436. Taylor Dayne – Can’t Fight Fate (1989). Dayne popped onto the scene as this tiny woman with hair as big as her and a voice of a powerhouse. Her sophomore album represents the moment when the songs, the voice and the look all came together. Unfortunately, Ms. Dayne seems to have played something of a John the Baptist to Mariah Carey’s JC. Personally, I prefer Dayne’s voice since she has a Tina Turner vibe.

435. Def Leppard – Hysteria (1987). This album was highly anticipated by the public, and despite the circumstances, Def Leppard delivered. While their 80s albums are all great works, they may have been more of a studio band than a live one.

434. Foo Fighters – The Colour and the Shape (1997). The Foos did not have a sophomore slump as this great album proves. How could it fail when it contained “My Hero.”

433. Crowded House – Crowded House (1986). When 1986 rolled around, MTV was huge, new wave was on passé and Beatles-influenced pop rock songs were not in vogue. But, when those songs are as good as what Crowded House created, then all bets are off. I feel like the success that Crowded House experienced got Squeeze off their collective asses and back into the game.

432. The Pretenders – Learning to Crawl (1984). When the mid-80s hit, many artists were moving into the 30s and 40s and having families. Their hedonistic days were waning. Chrissie Hynde rose to the occasion to bring a timeless voice to the concerns of growing up as a rock star on this album.

431. Stevie Nicks – Bella Donna (1981). Stevie Nicks was the breakout solo star of supergroup Fleetwood Mac. Plus, she showed the world how to have it all ways by maintaining a stellar solo career while remaining a contributing member of one of the greatest bands of all time.

430. Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Rust Never Sleeps (1979). Neil Young has a habit of going into auto-drive for a few albums, then, out of the blue, dropping a classic album that reminds people the greatness of his muse. Rust Never Sleeps was such an example and became my entry drug into the Neil catalog.

429. Fugees – The Score (1996). Rap supergroup Fugees furthered the language of hip hop to include the sounds of Seventies soul. The three members of the group all had hit solo albums in the aftermath of this album, none as big as the multi-talented Lauryn Hill.

428. Prince – Prince (1979). No matter how hard Warner Brothers tried, Prince was NOT going to be pigeonholed as a black artist. And, this sophomore disc shows the man beginning to spread his wings as an artist. “I Wanna Be Your Lover” is excellent on the dancefloor to this day, but “Why You Want to Treat Me So Bad” is the song that shows the breadth of his musical ambitions.

427. Billy Joel – The Stranger (1977). Joel is the quintessential tale of the struggling artist who finally hits it big then freaks out by the ramifications of stardom. This album is when the man became the star. I still love to listen to the tales on this album because the characters in his songs are so vivid.

426. AC/DC – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (1976). What can you say about a band who was so big at the time that they could re-release an album from earlier in their career that never sold much then it becomes one of the biggest-selling albums of 1981 in the States? It was a classic before its time, that’s what you say.

425. Santana – Supernatural (1999). Sometimes an album is released at the perfect time to become a cultural phenomenon. But, it rarely happens to a deserving artist making something of a dramatic comeback. Santana followed Tina Turner with this album.

424. The Flamin’ Groovies – Shake Some Action (1976). In 1983, a friend came up to me holding a cassette while telling me this was the greatest rock album of all time. I took a look at the artist and did not recognize The Flamin’ Groovies. But, I respected this guy’s opinion, so I popped the cassette in my tape player and was blown away. How could this band have escaped me? It showed me that both Creem and Rolling Stone overlooked many bands.

423. Foo Fighters – Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace (2007). This the album in which all of the Foos’ visions came together into one terrific statement.

422. Cheap Trick – In Color (1977). This is the album that started my Cheap Trick obsession. No wonder. It’s brilliant! The songs all truly come alive in concerts.

421. Paramore – Paramore (2013). Man, I truly love power pop! Especially when the band has a voice like Hayley Williams’.

420. Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand (2004). One day back when my older son was in college, I was complaining by the lack of Eighties-influences on artists. That’s when he came home with a bundle of burnt CDs by the likes of Jimmy Eat World, The Killers, Interpol, Bloc Party and Franz Ferdinand. That single gesture prolonged my cutting edge musical tastes.

419. The Notorious B.I.G. – Life After Death (1997). I’m not sure if Biggie is the GOAT rapper, I do know he made two fantastic albums during his tragically short life. All I need to say is “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems.”

418. Steely Dan – Aja (1977). Let’s be honest. Steely Dan could have only happened in the Seventies. And, thank God they did! This album is just pure West Coast studio perfection. It was on my turntable when I was 14 and continues to find its way back to it now that I’m 59.

417. Chic – Chic (1977). C’mon people! Chic was WAY much more than disco. This was a band who influenced so much of the Eighties its no longer funny. Their first three bands are flat-out classics.

416. Cheap Trick – Dream Police (1979). This album was in the can and ready to go when At Budokan began life as the biggest selling import of all time on its way to becoming one of the greatest live albums of all time and a cultural phenomenon at the time. When the band finally unleashed this monster on the public, Cheap Trick cemented themselves as one of the greatest American bands of all time.

415. Cheap Trick – Heaven Tonight (1978). In 1978, Cheap Trick’s brand of The Beatles-meets-The Who was fresh and welcomed by punks, new wavers and rockers alike. So, why did this album take so long to take off? Anything that has the song “Surrender” should go platinum immediately.

414. Foreigner – (1981). Many of the big AOR bands felt punk and new wave artists breathing down their necks. So, Foreigner, in response, tentatively made an album heavily influenced by these new sounds in 1979 called Head Games. The band quickly learned from their mistakes on that album, streamlined the band’s lineup, tightened their songs and played to their strengths of Lou Gramm’s vocals and Mick Jones’ guitars and let loose a monster album on us. 4 was the album of the last six months of the year.

413. Duran Duran – Rio (1981). It seemed as though everything was happening at once. Foreigner, Queen and Billy Squier were all taking AOR into the future, while new wavers like Duran Duran began flexing their mighty muscles by combining the fury of the Sex Pistols with the sophisticated funk of Chic and the cool of Roxy Music to position themselves as The Beatles of the Eighties. Rio is their classic album for the ages.

412. The Psychedelic Furs – Forever Now (1982). What is about Todd Rundgren that helps bands find their sounds and pushes them to greater heights? He did it with Grand Funk, Patty Smith, Shaun Cassidy and The Tubes before and XTC and The Pursuit of Happiness afterwards. Thank God he helped The Furs because they never sounded tighter.

411. Bobby Brown – Don’t Be Cruel (1988). Just when you began to wonder what the kids would do to soul and dance music once rap influenced, Bobby Brown gave us the answer on this LP. The former member of New Edition came out with a sound called New Jack Swing that dominated the charts into the Nineties. And this was Ground Zero for it all.

410. AC/DC – Highway to Hell (1979). This is when AC/DC ascended to the throne as Kings of Hard Rock. Arguably, the band has maintained their rule unabated to this day. Unfortunately, this album was first lead singer Bon Scott’s last as he died early in 1980.

409. R.E.M. – New Adventures in Hi-Fi (1996). Here is the biggest alternative band ever coming to their first crossroads as this album marks drummer Bill Berry’s swansong with the band. Even though this album was predominantly recorded during soundchecks on their Monster Tour, it still shows a band at the sonic top of their game. But, the cracks were beginning to show.

408. Echo & the Bunnymen – Ocean Rain (1984). Don’t let Eighties radio weekends fool you. Not every new wave song was about shiny, happy people and situations. Some of the best songs, were dark odes to the underbelly of love and society. And, Echo were the best at it. Plus, they were the perfect gateway, along with The Cure, into the goth world of Bauhaus and others.

407. Drive-By Truckers – Southern Rock Opera (2001). How do southern musicians ever square there region of the country in which they grew up with the perceptions of educated Americans. This album deals with the whole question in a fresh unique lyrics set to some fine Southern-fried rock right out of the Lynyrd Skynyrd playbook.

406. Adele – 19 (2008). After Amy Winehouse’s out-of-left-field success, record companies were scouring the world in search of the next Amy. Out of the influx of signings of big voices with unique sounds came a young lady with a beautiful face and a more beautiful voice named Adele. Little did we anticipate that this woman would quickly blossom as a vocalist and songwriter. This is her above-average debut.

405. Harry Styles – Fine Line (2019). Who knew that one of those guys in One Direction was a Seventies singer-songwriter at heart? Harry has become the breakaway solo star from the boy band based upon his songwriting skills that blend Seventies west coast rock with current sounds. Is Harry the next Justin Timberlake? Time will tell.

404. Paul Weller – Sonik Kicks (2012). I cannot emphasize enough that you should listen to Paul Weller. Just go chronologically. By the time you reach this classic Weller LP, you will be hooked. This is Weller just busting his guitar strings with his trademark passion and energy still intact as he enters his 50s.

403. The Bangles – Different Light (1986). Yes, the band sounds polished with compared with their debut All Over the Place. But, the songs are tighter, the harmonies are still there and the production is shinier. Plus, when Prince gives you a song like “Maniac Monday,” all you have to do is to get out of the way of yourself and create. And, that’s what The Bangles did.

402. Terrence Trent D’Arby – Introducing the Hardline According to Terrence Trent D’Arby (1987). Back in the late-Eighties, music was all shined up with digital recordings and synthesizers everywhere. Then, D’Arby came along as if he were Otis Redding and reminded us about the freshness of Seventies southern-fried soul.

401. Metallica – …And Justice for All (1988). The metal band of the Eighties made one of the most overblown thrash albums ever that has some of the craziest guitars ever recorded. This album is just big in all the right ways and for all the right reasons.

An Act of Insanity: My 500 Favorite Albums of All Time – Day 1, #451-500

When I finished my last series of blog entries, I was at a lost as to what to cover this summer. But, then it hit me. I had made lists of my 100 favorite albums from the Sixties, Seventies, Eighties, Nineties, Aughts and Twenty-Teens respectively. Why don’t I use those charts to create a new list of my 500 Favorite Albums?

Initially, I went dark to spend a week compiling this list. First, I needed to get Grandchild-3’s birthday party out of the way. We followed that with a family weekend vacation with our two sons and their families. What I should have anticipated was the fact that if one of those little rascals has a cough, then we will ALL end up with that cough from one degree or another. Which means that everyone of us, all ten men, women and children ended up with a cough and/or sinus infection. Unfortunately, I was the last to come down with this virus. Fortunately (and knock on wood), I suffered the least amount of time with this stupid infection. Currently, I seem to be on the mend after a couple days of this, while the malaise continues for the fourth day, the cough appears to be diminishing.

If you have been a semi-regular reader of this blog, you probably have noticed that my musical tastes tend to rest in the late-Seventies through the Eighties, with some Nineties artists sprinkled into the mix. And, of course, that observation bears out with some data that I gathered from my list.

The two things I narrowed my focus toward were the number of albums from each decade as well as which artist(s) had the greatest number of albums on that list. The former category gave me little to surprise, as you can see below (I have ranked the decades by the larger number of albums on the final chart to fewer albums.

  1. Eighties – 151 albums out of 500
  2. Seventies – 131 albums out of 500
  3. Nineties – 91 albums out of 500
  4. Sixties – 49 albums out of 500
  5. Aughts – 43 albums out of 500
  6. Twenty-Teens – 34 albums out of 500
  7. Fifties – 1 album out of 500

No surprise there, right? Not at all. But, what I discovered next was something a little more shocking to me. I have maintained for the better part of three or four decades that my favorite artists are, in order, Prince, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, R.E.M., Cheap Trick, Queen, Daryl Hall & John Oates and Paul Weller. Those eight have jockeyed from time to time but this has been pretty much settled for the last 15 to 20 years. Yet, when I did my analysis upon finalizing my list, I discovered something quite unexpected. Here are my Top 10 artists in my 500 favorite albums list.

  1. Paul Weller – 14 LPs (8 solo, 3 with The Jam and 3 with The Style Council
  2. Prince – 11 LPs
  3. R.E.M. – 10 LPs
  4. Bruce Springsteen – 9 LPs
  5. Daryl Hall – 8 LPs (1 solo, 7 with Daryl Hall & John Oates)
  6. Paul McCartney – 8 LPs (2 solo, 6 with The Beatles)
  7. Bob Mould – 7 LPs (2 solo, 4 with Hüsker Dü, 1 with Sugar)
  8. Daryl Hall & John Oates – 7 LPs
  9. David Bowie – 7 LPs
  10. George Harrison – 7 LPs (1 solo, 6 with The Beatles)
  11. John Lennon – 7 LPs (1 solo, 6 with The Beatles)
  12. Tom Petty – 7 LPs (3 solo, 4 with The Heartbreakers)

I knew that I had held Paul Weller in high regard, but, now, it seems as though he might actually be my favorite artist of all since I continue to have albums from various eras of his little-known career here in the States on my turntable. The results of the rest did not really surprise me until I got to Bob Mould. Once again, this man’s work has been criminally under appreciated, especially the band with which he started Hüsker Dü. Maybe I simply need to recognize those two gentlemen as two of my favorite artists of all time.

With that said, let’s kick off this countdown with the lowest ranked 50 albums on my list. Once again, this ranking is for fun, is solely MY opinion, not a ranking of which albums are the best (though I AM arrogant enough to actually believe in my list more than Rolling Stone‘s lists they have created over the past 35 years or so). I know that I have left off historically significant albums which I love for those innovations and their cohesive statements. However, I did not love them enough to bump these albums out of the way for their inclusions. Finally, I did not consider greatest hits or other compilation albums. While many of those albums are fantastic (like Earth, Wind & Fire, KC & the Sunshine Band or Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoff’s, which are ALL essential), they are not the traditional album as a statement as define in the mid- to late-Sixties as a set of songs written and/or recorded by an artist as a cohesive artistic statement to be digested whole.

With that all said, let’s get a-rocking!

500. Styx – The Grand Illusion (1977). I believe this album was handed out to incoming high school students in the fall of 1977.

499. Jackson Browne – The Pretender (1976). If you want to know how one suicide devastates a family, this album will teach you all about it in a beautifully sensitive manner.

498. The Cars – Candy-O (1979). Many of the people with whom I went to high school thought this band was punk at the time. Oh, to grow up sheltered in rural Indiana…

497. Echo & the Bunnymen – Crocodiles (1980). Think of this as the post-punk world finally meets up with The Doors, which just might make this band the Reece’s Cup of the rock world.

496. Phish – A Live One (1995). The best of the second generation jam bands release this live album at the height of their concert powers.

495. Foo Fighters – Foo Fighters (1995). Rock’s nicest star and poster child of the ADHD generation, flies on his own upon the death of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. Is Grohl the LAST rock star on earth?

494. Hüsker Dü – Candy Apple Grey (1986). If you love Nirvana, there are two Eighties bands who invented their sound, and Bob Mould’s Hüsker Dü was the first one.

493. New Order – Brotherhood (1985). From the ashes of post-punk gods Joy Division came synthpop wünderkinds New Order to push the punks and post-punks on the dance floors.

492. The Verve – Urban Hymns (1997). The Verve rode a transcendent song to success with an album full of terrific Britpop sounds.

491. The Kinks – Low Budget (1979). This forgotten gem paints a grim picture of the world economically speaking in 1979. Yet, songwriter and singer Ray Davies never loses his sense of humor while making his wry observations of middle class life.

490. Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) (1983). A synthpop album that played like a guitar rock album. Brilliant!

489. The Jam – In the City (1978). If you love the fire and fury of the Sex Pistols or The Clash combined with the energy of early Who songs live and the English working and middle class observations of The Kinks, then The Jam were for you. This album HAS got to be where Green Day cut their teeth.

488. The Cure – Pornography (1982). When you go back to compare the sinister sounds of this album with the day-glow pop rock of the New Wave crowd, you could see where the Pink Floyd comparisons of the day came from.

487. Parliament – Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome (1977). Who knew you could mix LSD, cocaine, dark forces, science, rock and funk into one delightfully weird dancefloor concoction?

486. Led Zeppelin – In Through the Out Door (1979). If you listen to this album within the context of Zep’s catalog, you’d think they were slipping. But, if you went to it as your first Zep album, then you have a Seventies band actually feeling threatened by punk and post-punk to begin to nudge their sound into the Eighties.

485. Earth, Wind & Fire – I Am (1979). Really? Did one of the world’s greatest funk bands really need David Foster to produce them? They did get one hell of a sexy ballad in the process, but Foster nearly made the band a bland vehicle for his schmaltz. Fortunately, Maurice White still packed a punch as a songwriter too.

484. 10,000 Maniacs – In My Tribe (1987). Natalie Merchant’s original band is a forgotten band that took the jangly sound of R.E.M. to a poetry reading and came out with some brilliant post-punk folk rock.

483. Tom Tom Club – Tom Tom Club (1981). In 1980, Talking Heads created a brilliant album called Remain in Light, arguably their masterpiece. Then, the following year, the band took a break and did some solo work. The husband/wife rhythm section of drummer Chris Frantz and bassist Tina Weynouth put together an ace band of funkateers and other nuts to play a loosened version of the Heads’ Afrocentric beats onto the dance charts.

482. Squeeze – Argybargy (1980). Hello Squeeze! I hear you guys have the newest Lennon/McCartney songwriting heirs. This is a delicious set of Beatles-esque music that sounds timeless.

481. Elvis Costello & the Attractions – Imperial Bedroom (1982). After a brilliant run of terrific angry young man power pop rock based music, Elvis was beginning to feel artistically constrained by the first three years of music recorded in his career, so he finally responded with this gorgeously dark set of orchestrated songs full of heartache and angst.

480. The Runaways – The Runaways (1976). In the year the Bicentennial, no one had seen a group of teenaged girls as a self-contained band of songwriting musicians playing glam- and metal-infused punk rock. Then The Runaways changed everything…forever.

479. The Human League – Dare (1981). The album arguably represents a high point in the world of synthpop.

478. Steve Miller Band – Fly like an Eagle (1976). By 1976, Sixties blues rockers were attempting to update their sound. But no one was as successful at this than the Steve Miller Band as they incorporated the synthesizer to make the first foray into space blues arms race that ZZ Top will perfect seven years later.

477. Roadmaster – Sweet Music (1977). Indianapolis’ most successful rock act in the pre-John Mellencamp years indeed make some sweet music on this album. Unfortunately, they were just a step behind the Journeys, REOs and Styxes of the world as far as timing was concerned. Yet, they left behind this fantastic slab of 70s AOR.

476. Billy Idol – Rebel Yell (1983). Just when rock music needed a touch of dance rhythms mixed with a metal guitar and a metal look, along come the former lead singer of the pop punk band Generation X to provide the sound, the look and the snarl.

475. Talking Heads – Little Creatures (1985). After creating one of the more influential albums of the Eighties (Remain in Light), followed by a funk-inspired new wave album (Speaking in Tongues), the Heads reached back to their stripped down beginnings of their CBGBs days to find a sound to accompany their adult-theme lyrics. The whole juxtaposition was compelling.

474. The Style Council – The Cost of Loving (1987). Released during a stellar year of music, TSC sounded as if they were beginning to run out of creative steam. Yet, they still took their brand of sophisti-pop to new heights over the course of this Eurocentric album.

473. Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral (1994). A terrific song-cycle of the perils of rock stardom and the star’s descent into depression and addiction. This is the REAL version of Alice Cooper Goes to Hell schlock-fest from the 70s.

472. Depeche Mode – Music for the Masses (1987). This is the beginning of Depeche Mode’s ascent to rock’s commercial throne. The band never sold out; the audience simply caught up.

471. Nine Inch Nails – Pretty Hate Machine (1989). I remember hearing  cuts from this album on a local alternative radio station in Southwest Ohio and thinking that Trent Reznor was the first person of my generation to question all forms of authority in rock music. And, that’s what briefly made him a voice of a generation, a title he walked away from.

470. Blink-182 – Enema of the State (1999). While the original punk scene in Seventies NYC was art-based and the original London punk scene was economically-based, by the Nineties, punk bands were becoming caricatures. Blink-182 is the best example of the latter, only they were talented enough to pull off the images of being the jesters of pop punk.

469. The Church – Starfish (1988). This album contains all of the sounds of Eighties alternative rock: jangly guitars, poetic lyrics, melancholy vocals, dark textures all with a hopeful undercurrent. That’s why this album continues to resonate to this day.

468. Neneh Cherry – Raw like Sushi (1989). It HAD to happen, but it was not expected to happen so quickly. What is that? A terrific dance pop record that is based on the current hip hop sounds, beats and scratches. This is the sound of the future right then.

467. Madonna – Ray of Light (1998). By 1998, Madonna had transitioned from a twenty-something sexpot to thirty-something provocateur to earth goddess MILF. And, this album helps make the transition complete.

466. Various Artists – A Very Special Christmas (1987). In the early days of rock & roll, popular artists recorded Christmas songs in order to annually cash in on the holiday season. By the end of the Seventies, the process had become passé. But, then uber-producer Jimmy Iovine, in an effort to raise funds for the Special Olympics, brought the idea by allowing many of the biggest stars of the day to breath some new life into old Christmas standards, and even allow Run-DMC to create a new one for Generation X. And, the rest is history.

465. Fine Young Cannibals – The Raw & the Cooked (1989). When the English Beat were put on ice for the end of the Eighties, the band’s two guitarists grabbed a modern day Sam Cooke and released a modern soul album in 1986. The band then followed that one up with a classic mix of soul, hip hop, dance and pop for a timeless hit that has unfairly been forgotten over the years.

464. The Police – Outlandos d’Amour (1978). The trio took a softened reggae beat, a flexible jazzy bass and some prog rock guitar textures and mixed them all together with some trendy punk rage and playing speed to create a new sound known as The Police. All I need to say is “Roxanne.”

463. Public Enemy – It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988). You know, things for the inner city black person still has not changed. This album, from the rhymes to the beats to the samples all scream anger. While Ice-T and N.W.A both brought the West Coast ghetto to life, NYC was not represented until PE came along to knock the doors down with their brand of a wall of sound (or was it a wall of samples?).

462. David Bowie – Young Americans (1975). On this album, Bowie toned down the artistic pretentions and went for the hits by doing, of all things, a soul album.

461. Paul Simon – There Goes Rhymin’ Paul Simon (1973). Simon’s sophomore solo album since jettisoning Art Garfunkel three years earlier has the beginning of Simon’s explorations into the music of other countries that will come to fruition a baker’s dozen of years later. Simon establishes himself as a creative force on this album.

460. Cowboy Junkies – The Trinity Sessions (1988). At the time of this album’s release, Cowboy Junkies were being hailed as some sort of folkish/countryish/Americana-ish Velvet Underground. That notion was only reinforced by their cover the Underground’s “Sweet Jane.” A beautifully haunting album.

459. Roxy Music – Country Life (1974). The whole New Romantic movement of the early-Eighties in the UK was based upon this era of Roxy. Perhaps, Roxy was the biggest influence on the post punk era this side of David Bowie.

458. Aerosmith – Toys in the Attic (1975). You couldn’t go through my neighborhood in the mid-Seventies without some teenager blaring this album out of their window as the sunbathed, worked on their cars or, in my case, taking 500 shots in various spots on my driveway basketball court.

457. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Southern Accents (1985). At the time, Tom was battling some inner demons as well as a new found stardom, so there was immense pressure on him to produce a successful album. But when drugs become involved, the second-guessing begins. So, we got an album full of a hodgepodge of sounds that Petty intended to go in wholeheartedly. Instead we got a quilt look of the work he was doing at the time. If he had only stuck with his original vision of a look at the life of a modern Southern man, we might have gotten a true American classic. But, we might not have ever heard “Don’t Come Around Here No More.”

456. Hüsker Dü – Warehouse: Songs and Stories (1987). By 1987, the band was imploding. So the trio’s two songwriters, Bob Mould and Grant Hart went on individual creative benders to create their second double album in three years. It was quite a statement in diversity and a nice way to put an end to the band.

455. The Bangles – Everything (1989). Here we go again. A band experiencing inner turmoil, brushes off the pressure and creates a scattershot album of songs that show the individual personalities but lack the cohesiveness that made these women so endearing. What a great band!

454. The Replacements – Pleased to Meet Me (1987). The Replacements were one of the great American bands of the Eighties. But they were constantly shooting themselves in their feet, usually by drinking themselves into oblivion during performances (Exhibit A: their 1986 SNL performance). For this album, they fired their original guitarist (due to his alcoholism) and replaced him with a more professional gunslinger who aided the band in making the most rock-oriented and professional sounding album up to this point. The song “Alex Chilton” is an ode to Big Star’s enigmatic leader.

453. Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born Soundtrack (2018). Lady Gaga was perfect in this role. And, this soundtrack is awfully good.

452. Hole – Live Through This (1994). Rumor is that Courtney Love got help writing the songs on this album from hubby Kurt Cobain. Who cares because this is a classic rock album.

451. Elvis Costello with Burt Bacharach – Painted from Memory (1998). What’s a musical genius like Elvis do for an encore? Write an album’s worth of songs with another musical genius in the form of Burt Bacharach. Elvis roughed up Bacharach’s sound while Burt gave Costello a burst of sophistication. This album is so much better than I expected. Beautiful, simply beautiful.

My 100 Favorite Albums of the 2010s

The previous decade was an interesting one. While streaming remained the most popular method for consuming music, the vinyl version of albums slowly started to be fancied by hipster millennials and older folks like me to eventually regain its status as the physical means by which people listened to music. Through the efforts of Record Store Day, which began in April of 2008 and gained momentum throughout the 2010s, independent records stores slowly regained a foothold in the music consumer’s mind.

Honestly, I had always preferred the vinyl record, but as the Eighties wore on and turned into the Nineties, I boxed up my albums and began a CD collection which eventually numbered in the 1200-range. But, I knew loved the CD in which I loved its vinyl counterpart. First, the CD was too small to read the liner notes even with my old person glasses. Second, the artwork was reduced down to small squares in which needed less detail and bolder artist names and album titles. Suddenly, the album artwork was reduced to a small consumer advertisement.. Finally, even when I had an extraordinary high fidelity stereo system, my CDs sounded flat and as if it were in a box when compared to the warm, full sound emanating from my vinyl records.

By 2018, I made the huge decision to reduce my music collection without touching my vinyl. I began a purge of my CDs, knowing full well that I may never own some of these pieces on vinyl. Not surprising, I did keep around 50 CDs, mostly my R.E.M. special 25th anniversary editions, as well as all of my Prince and Paul Weller/The Style Council/The Jam compilations and Weller solo discs that I do not have on vinyl…yet! Additionally, I kept my Christmas compilation CDs, only because I have all of the A Very Special Christmas releases, as well as some rare compilations that are not found intact on streaming services. But, the rest were traded for vinyl at the local independent record stores.

So, now that I have focused my collection back onto vinyl, I find my listening habits to be so much more satisfying. With that said, let’s take a look at my 100 favorite albums of the previous decade.

100. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit (2015)

99. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs (2010)

98. Katy Perry – Teenage Dream (2010)

97. Mark Ronson – Uptown Special (2015)

96. Cee-Lo Green – The Lady Killer (2010)

95. Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music (2014)

94. Sade – Soldier of Love (2010)

93. Paul Simon – So Beautiful or So What (2011)

92. Vampire Weekend – Contra (2010)

91. The Black Keys – Turn Blue (2014)

90. Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch the Throne (2011)

89. Vampire Weekend – Father of the Bride (2019)

88. Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee Part II (2011)

87. Taylor Swift – Lover (2019)

86. Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide to Earth (2016)

85. The Regrettes – Feel Your Feelings Fool (2017)

84. Tame Impala – Lonerism (2012)

83. Carly Rae Jepson – Emotion (2015)

82. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening (2010)

81. Kesha – Rainbow (2017)

80. The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships (2018)

79. Harry Styles – Harry Styles (2017)

78. Weezer – Weezer (a.k.a. The Teal Album) (2019)

77. Drive-By Truckers – The Big To-Do (2010)

76. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange (2012)

75. Solange – A Seat at the Table (2016)

74. Bruce Springsteen – High Hopes (2014)

73. The 1975 – The 1975 (2013)

72. David Byrne & St. Vincent – Love This Giant (2012)

71. Bob Mould – Silver Age (2012)

70. Kendrick Lamar & Various Artists – Black Panther soundtrack (2018)

69. Mavis Staples – You Are Not Alone (2010)

68. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy (2011)

67. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels III (2016)

66. Weezer – Weezer (a.k.a. The White Album) (2016)

65. Lana Del Rey – Born to Die (2012)

64. SZA – CTRL (2017)

63. A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It from Here…Thank You 4 Your Service (2016)

62. St. Vincent – St. Vincent (2014)

61. Leon Bridges – Good Thing (2018)

60. Lin-Manuel Miranda & Cast – Hamilton: The Original Broadway Cast Recording (2015)

59. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings – I Learned the Hard Way (2010)

58. The Regrettes – How Do You Love? (2019)

57. Gotye – Making Mirrors (2011)

56. Lorde – Melodrama (2017)

55. Ariana Grande – Sweetener (2018)

54. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires in the City (2013)

53. Janelle Monáe – The ArchAndroid (2010)

52. The Monkees – Good Times! (2016)

51. Alabama Shakes – Sound and Color (2015)

50. Mayer Hawthorne – How Do You Do (2011)

49. Fitz & the Tantrums – Fitz & the Tantrums (2016)

48. Ariana Grande – thank u, next (2019)

47. Cheap Trick – Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello (2016)

46. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels II (2014)

45. Lady Gaga – Joanne (2016)

44. Dua Lipa – Dua Lipa (2017)

43. Paramore – After Laughter (2017)

42. Janelle Monáe – The Electric Lady (2013)

41. Fitz & the Tantrums – More Than Just a Dream (2013)

40. Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (2019)

39. Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour (2018)

38. Chris Stapleton – Traveller (2015)

37. fun. – Some Nights (2012)

36. Lizzo – Cuz I Love You (2019)

35. The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream (2014)

34. Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born Soundtrack (2018)

33. Paramore – Paramore (2013)

32. Harry Styles – Fine Line (2019)

31. Paul Weller – Sonik Kicks (2012)

30. Raphael Saadiq – Stone Rollin’ (2011)

29. Adele – 25 (2015)

28. Jenny Lewis – On the Line (2019)

27. Halsey – Hopeless Fountain Kingdom (2017)

26. Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls (2012)

25. Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball (2012)

24. The Black Keys – Brothers (2010)

23. St. Vincent – MASSEDUCATION (2017)

22. Paul Weller – True Meanings (2018)

21. Taylor Swift – 1989 (2014)

20. Fitz & the Tantrums – Pickin’ Up the Pieces (2010)

19. Jenny Lewis – The Voyager (2014)

18. The Black Keys – El Camino (2011)

17. Leon Bridges – Coming Home (2015)

16. David Bowie – Blackstar (2016)

15. Beyoncé – Beyoncé (2013)

14. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN. (2017)

13. Paul Weller – Wake Up the Nation (2010)

12. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, M.A.A.D. city (2012)

11. Adele – 21 (2011)

10. Beyoncé – Lemonade (2016)

9. Taylor Swift – Red (2012)

8. Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer (2018)

7. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories (2013)

6. Kanye West – My Beautiful Twisted Dark Fantasy (2010)

5. Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell! (2019)

4. Bob Mould – Sunshine Rock (2019)

3. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly (2015)

2. Lady Gaga – Born This Way (2011)

1. D’Angelo & the Vanguard – Black Messiah (2014)