:: Friday, March 12, 2004 ::

Before we continue our countdown of all-time greatest pop/rock albums, we're taking a brief respite to give you, dear reader, a chance to participate. So in Friday Five fashion (and with apologies to the real deal, which is actually pretty good this week, and you should take time to go there and fill out your own after you're done here), bloggedy blog asks you to respond to any or all of the following five questions in the comments form. (Or post the answers on your blog and leave a link in the comments form.)

1. What one album on this list so far clearly does not belong in the top 100?

2. What two albums currently not on this list (and that you doubt will make the top 40) should be?

3. Which of these three-person groups currently on our list (ZZ Top, Black Sabbath Rush, or Crosby, Stills and Nash) is the best? (Thanks to MarcV for pointing out that the original Black Sabbath was a four-man band. We've replaced them with Rush.)

4. What are the four greatest live albums ever made?

5. Create your own personal "top 5" list of greatest pop/rock albums and post it here.

Thanks for playing!

In other blogosphere news related to this countdown:

  • As we unveil the composite countdown here, SteelerDirtFreak is listing his own top 100.

  • Ganns posts an eloquent argument for including Wilson Phillips, etc., on his list of all-time greats. (Scroll down to his Monday, March 8, entry, beneath the cute baby pics.)

  • Thanks to Josh Claybourn, Steve Beard/Thunderstruck and MusicSpectrum, among others, for linking to this countdown and driving hits my way.

    :: Andrew 08:02 + ::
  • :: Thursday, March 11, 2004 ::

    Greatest Pop/Rock Albums, Vol. 6: 50-41
    Here's the latest installment -- but first, in case you missed them, here are:

  • Vol. 1 (100-91)
  • Vol. 2 (90-81)
  • Vol. 3 (80-71)
  • Vol. 4 (70-61)
  • Vol. 5 (60-51)

    Now, on to our countdown

    50. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John
    Bernie Taupin and Elton John were the best pop songwriting duo of the early to mid-70s, taking the mantle from the early Lennon-McCartney work. And Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is the best example of their talents. At least one judge on our panel would put Honky Chateau before Yellow, and perhaps the earlier EJ was purer in a sense. But the opening track, the eerie, somewhat macabre "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding," signals the artist's departure from his past, for better or for worse. He gives a proper burial to his Madman Across the Water/Honky Chateau past and steps fully into pop stardom. "Bennie and the Jets" remains the best single of Elton John's storied career.

    49 Paranoid, Black Sabbath
    Blow your speakers. Blow your mind. MarcV put it best when he called this album "THE heavy metal statement and their best," and, "Oh, to be able to play bass like Geezer."

    48. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie
    Hey, man! Glam rock's reigning chameleon king created the definitive glam-rock album with Ziggy Stardust. Says KJo: "The ultimate concept -- not even as a theme, but as a man!" Best track, IMHO: "Starman."

    47. Tommy, The Who
    In 1969, the year of Woodstock, The Who unleashed an amazing journey of a rock opera. Tommy remains the paragon for this niche, and includes some of Pete Townsend's most creative work.

    46. Graceland, Paul Simon
    Paul Simon's creativity only blossomed after the breakup of Simon and Garfunkel. Teaming with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Simon treated the listening public to South African rhythms and harmonies on this LP. Graceland is beautiful and thoughtful, and "You Can Call Me Al" has perhaps the best penis joke of the entire top 100.

    45. Alive!, Kiss
    Has there ever been a better party song than the live version of "Rock and Roll All Night"? No metalhead's collection would be complete without this classic concert album.

    44. Harvest, Neil Young
    I will say, unabashedly, that I love this album. I love the writing, the guitar craft -- heck, I even love Neil Young's strained, whiny voice on this album. Best tracks: "Old Man" and "Alabama."

    43. Slowhand, Eric Clapton
    461 Ocean Boulevard should probably be in this slot -- but hey, Clapton fans, at least we got one from your man in here.

    42. Rubber Soul, The Beatles
    Beep-beep mm beep-beep, yeah! The second Beatles record to make the list hails from 1964 and is chock full of hits: "Drive My Car," "Norwegian Wood," "Michelle," "Nowhere Man," etc. I think nine out of 14 tracks were probably released as singles, and every one of them a smash. But their best work was yet to come.

    41. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Lauryn Hill
    KJo calls this disc "an instant classic," and I agree. Some of the most soulful hip-hop around. What happened to Lauryn on her second album?


    My Top 10
    by KJo

    As the lone female on our panel (not that several female bloggers weren't asked to take part), KJo bears the responsibility of representing her entire gender. But she's up to the task. A former student assistant in my office, KJo is now a geological engineer. So she really knows her rock. Heh.

    10. Paul's Boutique, The Beastie Boys
    The precursor to any and all sampling, even if no credit was given.

    9. Highway 61 Revisited, Bob Dylan
    He might not be able to sing, but damn can he write a song, pack it with lyrics and leave you thinking about it long after the song -- and in particular this album -- is over

    8. Sign O' the Times, Prince
    Lyrical and musical genius that was able to take a real survey of his life at the time.

    7. Kind of Blue, Miles Davis
    Maybe it's not pop or rock, but one cannot deny the influence this album and this man have had on common culture.

    6. Ten, Pearl Jam
    Nirvana may have started the revolution, but this was the more poignant album.

    5. London Calling, The Clash
    Punk with social conscience and purpose. Beautiful.

    4. The Ecology, Marvin Gaye
    Social commentary on the economy, environment, politics and ... SOUL. Marvin delivers all of it from the depths of his being.

    3. Songs in the Key of Life, Stevie Wonder
    Wonder delivers his own slice of life in this collection, with more joy and humanity than his other masterpieces (the man is amazing) ... jump up and shout!

    2. Let It Bleed, The Rolling Stones
    Watch out world, the Stones try to grow up here, and give the performance of their lives -- fitting considering the events leading them to this album. And it's obvious with some of the subject and the urgency in the delivery.

    1. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles
    The Beatles go out on a limb and create a complete tour-de-force. Absolutely amazing.

    :: Andrew 08:02 + ::
  • :: Wednesday, March 10, 2004 ::

    Greatest Pop/Rock Albums, Vol. 5: 60-51
    Now it's getting serious, music fans. No more Wilson Phillipses or John Mayers from here on out.

    Previously in our countdown: Vol. 4 (70-61); Vol. 3 (80-71); Vol. 2 (90-81); and Vol. 1 (100-91).

    60. The Smiths, The Smiths
    Raw and stark, the debut album from this short-lived post-punk/pre-goth group is their best. Our resident Smiths expert, Ben Squires, elaborates: "There is no better combination of singer and guitarist than Morrissey and Marr, the combination that has inspired so many towards greater lyricism with guitar work which carries the weight of the lyrics."

    59. Specials, The Specials
    Here's a message to you, Rudy: If you don't love this debut album from the greatest ska band of all-time, you have no soul. Produced by Elvis Costello, Specials ushered in a ska revival. "The Specials took punk, Jamaican ska rhythms, and created one of the most unique pop albums ever," writes David Hopkins. "And then, copycats took their lead. Imitation is the best form of flattery?" Make no mistake: Were it not for The Specials, there would be no Madness, no English Beat, no Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

    58. Automatic for the People, REM
    David Hopkins again: "Every time we thought they made their best album, they made a better one." Yeah, this one was pretty decent -- with "Man on the Moon," Michael Stipe's tribute to Andy Kaufman, and the ballad "Everybody Hurts" -- but I think REM's best work is yet to come on this countdown.

    57. Violent Femmes, Violent Femmes
    "The quintessential new wave album," according to guess who. Catchy acoustic riffs and weary, plaintive vocals are trademarks styles for the Femmes, starting with "Blister in the Sun," the Femmes' best-known tune. The pattern continues in "Kiss Off," "Please Do Not Go," etc.

    56. Rust Never Sleeps, Neil Young and Crazy Horse
    One of the finest offerings from a masterful songwriter, with beautiful bookends -- the acoustic "My My, Hey Hey" (Out of the Blue) and the rocking "Hey Hey, My My" (Into the Black) -- bracing great tunes ("Powderfinger" is my favorite). Sez Mista Sinista: "This one grips me from start to finish, as does the video of the stage show that accompanied this soundtrack."

    55. Disraeli Gears, Cream
    Vastly underappreciated, Disraeli Gears defines acid rock. "Sunshine of Your Love" is the essential bluesy-rock single from this album. Eric Clapton shines.

    54. At Folsom Prison, Johnny Cash
    Pop/rock purists will throw stones at this pick. But country-pickin' Johnny Cash's rockabilly style comes through loud and clear on "Folsom Prison Blues," "Cocaine Blues" and, yes, even "Orange Blossom Special." My mom made me listen to this album as a youth. Thanks, Mom!

    53/ Deja Vu, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
    Neil Young joins CS&N, adds a new dimension to already beautiful harmonies. Includes the consummate '60s hippie anthem, "Woodstock."

    52. Led Zeppelin IV, Led Zeppelin
    "Stairway to Heaven" made me want to learn how to play guitar. "Black Dog" and "Rock & Roll" made me dream of becoming a guitar god. "Misty Mountain Hop" made me dream, period.

    51. Alice's Restaurant, Arlo Guthrie
    "Alice's Restaurant Massacree" took up one entire side of this album. Was it worth it? Probably. But "Motorcycle Song" was also worth a listen on Side B.


    My Top 10
    by Richard Hall

    10. Born in the USA, Bruce Springsteen
    9. Symbols, Led Zeppelin
    8. Hymns to the Silence, Van Morrison
    7. Various Positions, Leonard Cohen
    6. The Joshua Tree, U2
    5. Rattle & Hum, U2
    4. The Wall, Pink Floyd
    3. Seal, Seal
    2. New Boots and Panties, Ian Dury and the Blockheads
    1. Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd

    :: Andrew 09:37 + ::
    :: Tuesday, March 09, 2004 ::

    Greatest Pop/Rock Albums, Vol. 4: 70-61
    On and on it goes. (For a refresher: Vol. 1: 100-91; Vol. 2: 90-81; Vol. 3: 80-71)

    70. Rites of Passage, Indigo Girls
    The top pick on Ganns' list. "This 1992 opus is amazing. With harmonies and lyrics that work together in brilliant unison, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers have proven why, 17 years later, they're still rocking the free world." Blogger's note (and shameless plug for The Only Band That Matters): for the Indigo Girls at their finest, check out their cover of The Clash's "Clampdown" on the Clash tribute album -- RealAudio file or wav file.

    69. New Boots and Panties, Ian Dury and the Blockheads
    I remember hearing "Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll" over and over on the college free-format station when I was a student, but other than that song I'm not too familiar with Dury's work. This ranks at the top of Richard Hall's list, so it must be worth a listen. Dury even rates a tribute album of its own.

    68. Live at Budokan, Cheap Trick
    One of the five greatest live albums ever created. Cheap Trick's idiot savant guitarist Rick Neilsen shines on tunes like "I Want You to Want Me," "Ain't That a Shame" and "Goodnight." Drummer Bun E. Carlos is runner up for the coolest drummer name in rock'n'roll history (to Topper Headon of The Clash, of course).

    67. Tres Hombres, ZZ Top
    Have mercy! The lil ol' band from Texas serves up three-man boogie rock with the best of them on this album. "La Grange" is John Lee Hooker's Delta Blues spiced up with Tex-Mex attitude. "Waitin' for the Bus/Jesus Just Left Chicago" brings tears to my eyes.

    66. Tapestry, Carole King
    A writer of great '60s pop tunes (Little Eva's "The Loco-Motion," the Monkees' "Pleasant Valley Sunday"), Carole King directed her efforts toward herself in this 1971 album and weaves a beautiful musical portrait. I was 10 when it came out, and my older sister Margo played it over and over. "So Far Away" remains a powerful song of love and yearning.

    65. Quadrophenia, The Who
    The lesser-known Who rock opera (after Tommy), but the better -- no, make that the best -- rock opera, according to panelist MarcV, who put it at 16 on his list.

    64. Crosby, Stills and Nash
    Classic folkie rock. Beautiful harmonies. "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" alone is worth the price of admission.

    63. Off the Wall, Michael Jackson
    Before he became a freak show, Michael Jackson created some terrific pop tunes. Forget Thriller; this album's the real killer. Says KJo: "Thriller was the popular one, but this was the beginning of maturity as an artist and vocal risk."

    62. Jars of Clay, Jars of Clay
    In my judging criteria, I didn't devalue the ratings for this crossover record (as I did the ratings of other, strictly CCM titles, giving them 0.8 points for every 1 point of true pop/rock). That's because this debut stands on its own. In a sea of mid-90s CCM dreck in which only Rich Mullins produced anything creative, ,I.Jars of Clay redefined what it meant to be a "Christian" rock band and opened doors for others to cross into the mainstream.

    61. Doolittle, The Pixies
    Says our panelist David: "The Pixies may have been just a moderately successful band within the indie/alternative scene, but their magnum opus Doolittle is as close to perfect as rock'n'roll gets. Twisted, catchy, playful, textured, solid -- the Pixies created an album that kicks ass and takes names."


    My Top 10
    by MarcV
    ("Not a music critic, just an aficianado")

    10. Roundabout, Yes
    Prog-rock classic. Another band where it is tough to choose amongst several albums worthy of the list.
    Probably my favorite band in my late teen years -- that's why they made my list!

    9. Aerosmith, Aerosmith
    They outdo the Stones on white-boy blues. Raw, from-the-gut rock, nothin' fancy, just straight-ahead power chords. They also paid the price years later, yet they somehow have survived through it all.

    8. One More from the Road, Lynyrd Skynyrd
    The best southern party band cut short. Their studio albums were good (who doesn't like the song "Curtis Lowe"?), but this type of boogie was best on stage.

    7. Ted Nugent, Ted Nugent
    Another fast-hand guitarist playing and writing at his peak, but leaving the lead vocals to someone who could actually sing. Ted wrote the best guitar jam intros ever.

    6. Frampton Comes Alive, Peter Frampton
    Everyone has it and knows it. Peter snuck up on people to deliver a great concert experience on vinyl.

    5. Paranoid, Black Sabbath
    THE heavy metal statement and their best. How many speakers have been blown while playing this album
    (don't look at me!)? Oh to be able to play bass like Geezer!

    4. Houses of the Holy, Led Zeppelin
    It's tough to choose just one from them, but this finds them at their peak. They established themselves as the pre-eminent hard rock band with this.

    3. Electric Warrior, T. Rex
    Musical genius cut short. Like Hendrix he (Marc Bolan) not only wrote awesome songs but played them like nobody else could.

    2. My Aim Is True, Elvis Costello
    Perfect pop-rock. While he has written some great songs since, this album remains his definitive statement of pop artistry.

    1. Are You Experienced? The Jimi Hendrix Experience
    The guitar maestro's finest, one that has influenced rock the most and raised the bar for all other guitarists to come.

    :: Andrew 08:27 + ::
    :: Monday, March 08, 2004 ::

    Greatest Pop/Rock Albums, Vol. 3: 80-71
    The countdown continues. (In case you missed the previous editions: Vol. 1: 100-91; Vol. 2: 90-81)

    80. Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin
    Beginning with the amazing and simple opening riffs of "Whole Lotta Love," Led Zep's second album puts some of the finest Jimmy Page guitar wizardry on display.

    79. Pretenders, The Pretenders
    Chrissie Hynde was the quintessential punk rock grrl of 1980 (she hung out with the Sex Pistols, after all). Fronting the Pretenders, she let it rip with with some fine vocals accompanying the minimalist musicianship of "Precious," "The Wait" and the one hit from this album, "Brass in Pocket." A great ballad, "Stop Your Sobbing," offers a glimpse into Hynde's softer side. This is on my personal top 10 list. Too bad none of our other judges appreciated the genuis of this album.

    78. What's Going On, Marvin Gaye
    Leave it to a Motown soul man to create the ideal '60s hippie peace song. Marvin Gaye does it with the title song.

    77. Electric Warrior, T. Rex
    "Genius cut short," says MarcV, who ranks Electric Warrior among his all-time favorites. There's more to this album than just "Bang a Gong." Marc Bolon was a genius indeed.

    76. All Things Must Pass, George Harrison
    The Beatles' mystic-in-residence makes his mark on the top 100 as the only ex-Beatle to make it. No Paul McCartney and Wings, no John and Yoko, no Ringo, just George. This collection includes many of his greats, like "My Sweet Lord" and "What Is Life," but as Mista Sinista explains, the lesser tracks make this collection so sweet. "'Beware of Darkness' is one of my all-time favorite songs, and this album has many more keepers in there. It is easily the greatest post-Beatles record that any of them made."

    75. Room for Squares, John Mayer
    "Filled with real life in his words and songs," writes Rick.

    74. Songs in the Key of Life, Stevie Wonder
    Personally, I think Innervisions is the better Stevie Wonder album, but -- the tribe has spoken. And isn't this record lovely, Sir Duke?

    73. Power of Love, Luther Vandross
    Quoth Ganns: "This 10-track collection is an amazing display of his sensitive songwriting and dynamic vocal abilities." Again, the tribe speaks.

    72. Seal -- or is it Seal? -- by Seal
    One of our judges listed Seal's Seal as a top pick, but I'm not sure which Seal was meant: the 1991 Seal or the 1994 Seal. Personally, I prefer Seals and Croft, but I'm just one member of the tribe.

    71. Days of Future Passed, the Moody Blues
    Ah, this takes me back. A wonderful concept album from the '60s.


    My Top 10
    by Post-Modern Pilgrim

    Time to check in with one of our judges, who lists these gems at the top of his ballot:

    10. Let It Bleed, The Rolling Stones
    9. American Beauty, Grateful Dead
    8. Purple Rain, Prince
    7. Blonde on Blonde, Bob Dylan
    6. Are You Experienced?, Jimi Hendrix
    5. Music from Big Pink, The Band
    4. The Joshua Tree, U2
    3. Days of Future Passed, Moody Blues
    2. Disraeli Gears, Cream
    1. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band, The Beatles

    Barry's commentary on his "top 31": "I did notice that there are some groups conspicuous in their absence: the Doors, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Allman Brothers, AC/DC, Aerosmith. It isn't that they don't deserve having several songs in the top 50, but none of their albums stood up like these."

    :: Andrew 11:13 + ::

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