Friday, August 15, 2008

Open Call For Top Ten Songs/Albums/CDs

Via Erudite Redneck comes a link to the rock mag Blender, which has an article on the top ten songs of the major party candidates for President. If you are too lazy to click the link, here are the lists:
1. Ready or Not Fugees
2. What's Going On Marvin Gaye
3. I'm On Fire Bruce Spingsteen
4. Gimme Shelter Rolling Stones
5. Sinnerman Nina Simone
6. Touch the Sky Kanye West
7. You'd Be So Easy to Love Frank Sinatra
8. Think Aretha Franklin
9. City of Blinding Lights U2
10. Yes We Can

1. Dancing Queen ABBA
2. Blue Bayou Roy Orbison
3. Take a Chance On Me ABBA
4. If We MakeIt Through December Merle Haggard
5. As Time Goes By Dooley Wilson
6. Good Vibrations The Beach Boys
7. What A Wonderful World Louis Armstrong
8. I've Got You Under My Skin Frank Sinatra
9. Sweet Caroline Neil Diamond
10. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes The Platters

I hadn't noticed before, but "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" is a great song, although the Platters has so many great songs, it is hard to choose.

Anyway, I do a couple posts a week on music here. They have spanned the gamut from the truly terrible to the personally relevant to the (I hope) uplifting. I am going to list the top ten albums (for want of a better word) I would want with me should I ever be stranded on some God-forsaken desert island. Some of them, I think, would surprise you. I am hoping you all would chime in, in comments, with your own lists of songs, albums, CDs - music that would keep you from losing your sanity in the face of a hopeless situation. My own list will be accompanied by an apologia for each, and goes in reverse order.

10. Dick's Picks #15 by The Grateful Dead. For those not in the know, Dick Latvala was the long-time tape archivist for the Dead. Before he passed away, he took the two-track mixing board recordings the band listened to after each show, and offered up his picks of the best representations of the band's career. Number fifteen in the series came from a comeback concert of sorts for the Dead. They had been on a kind of hiatus for a while, but appeared with The Marshall Tucker Band and a few other guests at Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ before 100,000 people on September 3, 1977. The inner jacket photo has the skull-fuck logo prominently displayed, and the band played quite well with a twenty-minute jam on Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away" a highlight, as well as the closer, the title track from then-new release "Terrapin Station".

9. Leftoverture by Kansas. Of their first six albums, this is the best representation of who this band was, and had the best overall production values (their next album, Point of Know Return may have had some great songs, but the production was just a little too muddy; even the remix isn't as clean as Leftoverture). There isn't a weak track on this particular release, even "Opus Insert", with highlights (besides the massive radio hit "Carry On Wayward Son") being "Cheyenne Anthem", "Miracles Out Of Nowhere", and "Magnum Opus".

8. Brave by Marillion. This was a difficult choice, because they have so many great recordings, and there are actually more weak moments on this one than, say, Season's End or even This Brave Engine. It is just that the high points are so high. Steve Rothery's guitar work is at its best on this one. A concept album concerning suicide (no cheery, no, but it does have a happy ending, of sorts), it features the first serious self-indulgence by a band that makes a fetish of it.

7. Dick's Picks #18 by the Grateful Dead. With a thirty-three minute jam-out on "Playing in the band", and a twenty-nine minute jam on "Scarlet Begonias/Fire on the Mountain" being the absolute highlights from this compilation from two mid-winter shows in Wisconsin and Iowa in 1978, this features the band really doing what they do best - just playing.

6. Beautiful Maladies by Tom Waits. A "Best of" compilation from his recordings with Island records, this chronicles Tom Waits being, well, Tom Waits. No one else in my family can even listen to him, and I can't for the life of me understand why.

5. Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence by Dream Theater. Their second recording with Jordan Rudess on keyboards, this double CD has them at their absolute best. Along with the 45-minute suite/symphony title track, "Misunderstood" and "Blind Faith" are awesome, although "Glass Prison" has one of the best openings of any song. Ever.

4. Rush in Rio by Rush. If you're going to spend the rest of your life trapped on a desert island, you might as well have this live recording along. Recorded on their Vapor Trails tour in Rio de Janeiro during what could be called a "comeback tour" of sorts (drummer/lyricist Neal Peart had lost both his wife and daughter within a year of one another in the late 1990's and retired from music for a while) and this concert shows them that, middle aged or not, past their prime or not - they can blow pretty much any band away (I saw them on this tour in Chicago in the Fall of '03).

3. Bach's Mass in B Minor by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Herbert von Karajan conducting, with featured soloists Gertrude Janowitz, soprano; Christa Ludwin, alto/contralto; Peter Schreier, tenor; Robert Kerns, baritone; and Karl Ridderbusch, bass. While this may be an obvious choice for a piece of sacred music, it is the production values of the parent company that released this particular recording that make it far more valuable than any other. Deutsche Grammophon has always supported superior production, and this recording is no exception. While I think the Musical Heritage Society has done well by itself in its remastering and releasing of older material, little tweaking of this analog recording would be necessary. It is, like the piece itself, flawless.

2. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen. Maybe it's obvious, maybe it's not, but I love this album. This is another of those recordings that has no weak moments, and bridges the early exuberance of The Wild, The Innocent, and The E Street Shuffle with the more experimental moments of The River and Atlantic City and even The Ghost of Tom Joad. This is probably the single best American record of the past fifty years. Even better than Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

1. Empty Glass by Pete Townshend. This solo album recorded during the hiatus in The Who after drummer Keith Moon died choking on his own vomit and Townshend nearly killed himself on a mixture of booze and heroin, this album has always surprised me with how powerful it is. Whether it's the takedown of rock music critics in "Jules and Jim", Townshend's plea for understanding in "I Am An Animal" to his ode to Motown, "Let My Love Open The Door", this single album has so many moods, so many shades of so many colors, I would have to say that, were I limited to a single recording, this would be the one. Indeed, if I ever had the privilege of meeting Townshend, I would want him to sign my copy not of any of The Who's recordings, but this one. I think this is not only his best work, but some of the best music ever recorded. Give it a listen.

I've shows you mine, now you show me yours.

Virtual Tin Cup

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