Well, we all survived a whirlwind weekend as my brother came in from out of town to finish off some family business. Now that’s over, therefore, we can relax a little…hopefully!
Let’s do something fun! How about another 10 from my list of 500 favorite albums? Here we go again.
40. Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced (1967). Now, here is a stereotypical album from the Summer of Love. Even though Hendrix’s brand of psychedelic rock is steeped in the blues, I cannot imagine just how foreign this music sounded when placed in a juxtaposition with the sugary pop and renegade rock of the moment. I do understand why so many Boomers were blown away by Hendrix. I also believe that no one has even come within miles of this man’s guitar technique. Many have come close, for starters Stevie Ray Vaughan or Eddie Hazel of Parliament/Funkadelic, but no one has duplicated or expanded upon Hendrix. Maybe, in retrospect, it makes sense that guitarists went to painting abstract textures rather than frustrating themselves to expand upon Hendrix’s art. It goes nearly without saying that this album is both a class and a masterpiece.
39. Bob Mould – Workbook (1989). When Bob Mould announced that he would be releasing a solo album, many of those “in the know” thought we were in for a revved Hüsker Dü-ish album of feedback and grinding guitars overlaying on a pop melody base. But, Mould, instead, went for the completely unexpected. He went acoustic and relatively quiet. By doing that, Bob created a masterpiece in unadulterated beauty by playing up the folk side of his songwriting. In the process, Mould established himself as an artist to watch during the 90s. Was this album his answer to Crosby, Still & Nash’s debut or Neil Young’s Harvest? If not, Workbook is a spiritual cousin to those two classics.
38. Green Day – American Idiot (2004). Whenever the country is drawn into a war, rock music comes roaring alive to eventually protest it if the war is deemed unjust. Well, by 2004, it was becoming quite clear that the country may have been tricked into a war in Iraq. But, when 90s resident punk smartasses Green Day lost the master tapes for their upcoming album, the trio regrouped to create a concept album/rock opera to vent their frustration with the war policy in the Middle East. And no one expected THIS band to rise to the occasion to put words and music together, articulating yet another generation’s apprehension about participating in another unjust war. In one well-thought out album, Green Day put their snotty Gen X twenties to ascend to an elder statemen role within the rock community. Perhaps in reality, the band’s enduring reputation just might stem from this album.
37. OutKast – Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2003). To fully comprehend just how good this hip hop album is that the Baby Boomer parents of Millennial children LOVED this album. OutKast became the hip hop duo that crossed over from the younger generations to the AARP Boomers. And, I feel like “Hey Ya!”, one of the many hit songs from this double CD set, may just be the song of The Aughts, if not one of the greatest songs in rock history.
36. D’Angelo & the Vanguard – Black Messiah (2015). Just as many of his fans were beginning to give up on D’Angelo ever releasing new material, you hear from The Roots’ drummer and one of the world’s most knowledgeable rock insider ?uestlove discussing the status of a new album in the works. And then within a few days of that interview comes the news that The Man was dropping a new one later that very day. And, then it happened! All of a sudden, we were knee-deep in D’Angelo-mania in the press. And, for once, did an album live up to the 15-year pause between full-length releases. And, everything was back in place in his music, with all of D’Angelo’s brilliant flourishes of his Prince-meets-hip hop music to know that this album was going to be D’Angelo’s moment against any further albums are measured. Black Messiah is D’Angelo’s Purple Rain.
35. The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967). If you are a Boomer, this album is probably the single-most important album of the Summer of Love. This album was an attempt to one-up The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds from the previous, which ironically enough had been an attempt to one-up The Beatles’ Rubber Soul. But Sgt. Pepper was unlike any album before it. To a Gen X-er’s or Millennial’s ears, the album might sound quaint and antiquated. Yet, the album remains a milestone and a standard to which all subsequent albums are measured. Sgt. Pepper is the whole package, from the packaging to the advertisements of the day to the music itself. The album was an total sensory immersion, with the cover being unlike anything before it. Much like Led Zeppelin IV, the songs have been overplayed through the years and no longer packed the wallop they once did. I was only four when it was released, so I am simply measuring it’s impact upon my life. I prefer a couple other Beatles’ albums.
34. The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers (1971). As I have stated many times before, 1971 was a stellar year for rock music. So, we should expect to see a classic Stones album. First off, I don’t think there was one person who wasn’t intrigued by the zipper on the cover, which was for the tight pants of the well-endowed man. The music is sexually-charged and drug-induced. This is The Stones at their finest, especially on “Wild Horses.”
33. Dr. Dre – The Chronic (1992). When Dre dropped this album, he was telling the world that their was a sound beyond Straight Outta Compton, an album on which he helped define the sonic structure. Now, he was raiding George Clinton’s music for samples as he created the West Coast-centric G-funk sound. On The Chronic, Dre introduced us to several important rap voices including the laidback drawl of Snoop Dogg, then known as Snoop Doggy Dogg. Of course, this album became one of the soundtracks to the LA riots after the police beating of Rodney King on a driving violation. This is one of the first magnificently produced hip hop albums that continues to resonate through the music world today.
32. Bee Gees & Other Artists – Saturday Night Fever [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] (1977). Seriously, there was a time in the mid-70s when people believed disco was cutting edge and great underground music. So, the manager of the Bee Gees, Robert Stigwood, decided to get into the movie business by buying the film rights to some fiction article from a New York magazine, with the thought that his band would create some new songs utilizing their newfound sound on their last surprise big selling Main Course album. So, the boys complied, giving Stigwood five new songs that were about to change the world. Then, Stigwood had his people grab some of their favorite songs on the dance floor to create the 70s album that changed the industry for good. The album and movie had a synergy that rocketed both to the top, with single after single being released and hitting the top. By the time the soundtrack ran out of steam, everyone was tired of disco, and, unfortunately, it became a bad name. But, for a glorious three-year period, disco was king, and the Bee Gees ruled the world.
31. Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde (1966). Bob Dylan was so inspired working with The Band in this new electric music world that they recorded a double album’s worth of music. But, this music would change the world. Dylan had made inroads on music, but this album signaled that Dylan was changing rock music right before our ears. How can you beat “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” and “Just Like a Woman” for fun and seriousness?
Until next time, peace.