The Best Albums Ever Recorded
There are two types of opinions, subjective or objective. Subjective opinions are those that are based on an individual’s personal view, which is generally related to their personal experience in a broad spectrum of activities. Subjective opinions don’t have a specific goal in mind when determining if the subject matter is terrific or terrible. Simply, if there’s something someone enjoys, they don’t have to offer an explanation as to why they feel that way.
An objective opinion however, is aimed at accomplishing a specific goal. In the public relations, or advertising industry, (the industries that are responsible for marketing commercial music to the masses), there is but one objective, and that is to amass as much monetary gain for their clients as possible. As a result, the music that tends to reach the record store shelves, music television, or assault the senses on the front pages of a commercial website are generally formulaic, uninspiring, and offer little, if, any artistic creativity, having no qualitative value.
The subjective opinions stated herein are not based upon the monetary gains of a public relations firm that’s hired to sway public opinion, or to net profits for their clients. Nor is this article intended to promote a particular artist based upon their popularity, longevity, or levels of fame obtained through happenstance, promotion or sales. Simply, this article is based upon the author’s personal assessment as to what he believes is brilliant music. Of course, it is only natural that other opinions may vary.
This music selections is not ranked in a descending order as other “Best Music” lists are. The recordings listed are offerings as to what the author deems as musical milestones, intended to introduce the curious to artists they may not have had the chance to have discovered.
One of the main intentions of this article is to show how particular albums, and artists have played a significant role in defining, and redefining contemporary pop culture, as it has existed throughout the past half century. These varying degrees of influence include artists who have willing, unwilling, or unknowingly contributed to fashion, the creativity of others, and even social, religious and politic issues. Some of these artists have had dazzling careers, and had honed their skills prior to bringing it to the masses. Others could barely hold a tune, or hardly play an instrument, yet there was something special about their ability, or lack of it.
It is no small feat when a group of musicians join together, and through that chemistry, somehow manage to sway an audience to toss aside previously accepted artistic norms, and to accept their tumultuous mutation of sights, sound and bane as the new path, to wherever it is that they may be travelling. It is the outcasts, the misfits, and the losers that are usually drawn to the new sounds, the punks, the mods, and the metal heads. Those miscreant imps who accepted their new heroes with open arms, had done so, to the disdain of those who went before them, and who inevitably were alienated, as a result of their inability to adapt in a systematic, and Darwinian form of a musical survival of the fittest. One should always remember that it’s not the strongest that survive. It’s not the smartest. It’s those that are able to adapt to change. David Bowie said it best; “Look out you rock ‘n’ rollers!”
There is little doubt that music has saved more wayward spirits from their own acerbic devices, than any religious icon nailed to a cross, or sitting lotus with the scent of patchouli wafting around them. Simply, recordings have outsold, and will outlast any of the religious offerings, as the solution to a restless and alienated soul. John Lennon was correct when he said, “The Beatles have become more popular than Jesus.”
While many choose to wait for their reward in the heavens, the majority of us prefer to receive a slice of ecstasy straightaway. Rock ‘n’ roll, contemporary music, pop, or whatever tag one wants to place upon it, we can all agree that music will be here until the sun wanes, or until mankind succeeds in destroying itself through their own reckless devices. If there is one thing that we can be assured of, it’s that when the masses, known as mankind, that cover the face of this blue orb, finally inhales their last breath, there will surely be one final note stroked, plucked or blown to venerate that fateful, and inevitable occasion. Someday, there truly will be a day when the music dies.
For new artists who struggle to find their voice, let it be known that all great talent struggled to find theirs too. In that, don’t write to appease others. Write for yourself, and stay true to what you believe in. On the other hand remember that there have always been great talents who were not fortunate enough to have had their voice discovered. Sad is the song that has never been heard.
I hope you enjoy the following selections. I anticipate that there may be an album or two that you hadn’t had a chance to discover. In that, I encourage you to find the time to explore it, and give it a chance to become part of your soul.
Aerosmith. Aerosmith. January 5, 1973.
Aerosmith is an American hard rock band that signed to Columbia Records in 1972, and released a string of multi-platinum recordings, beginning with their debut album Aerosmith. This album was followed by Get Your Wings, and in 1975, the band broke into the mainstream with Toys in the Attic, and their 1976 follow-up Rocks, which cemented their status as superstars.
Alice Cooper. Love It To Death. January 12, 1971.
Love It to Death is the third album by Alice Cooper, and was released in 1971. Songs include, Ballad of Dwight Fry, Is It My Body, and one of Cooper’s trademark songs, I’m Eighteen. A lot of credit goes to Jack Richardson, for cleaning up the band’s sound with fresh ideas and making it more accessible, most notably on the track, I’m Eighteen. It originally was a much longer song, and in a psychedelic vein like the band’s first two albums. The album cover caused much controversy at the time of its release. Early pressings show Cooper’s thumb sticking out of his pants, thus giving the illusion of a penis. This led Warner Brothers to censor it.
Allman Brothers. Eat A Peach. February 12, 1972.
Eat a Peach is a 1972 double album by the American Southern rock group, The Allman Brothers Band. This was the last album to include founding member, and lead slide-guitarist Duane Allman, who was killed in a motorcycle accident while the album was being recorded. Legend has it that a peach truck killed Duane. However, this is not true. It was actually a lumber truck. Shortly before Duane’s death he was asked in an interview what he was doing to help the revolution, Duane replied, There ain’t no revolution, it’s evolution, but every time I’m in Georgia I eat a peach for peace. The album’s name was originally supposed to be, The Kind We Grow in Dixie, and the artwork for the album showed a peach. Band members changed the title to Duane’s quote instead.
Bauhaus. Burning From The Inside. July 1983.
Bauhaus is generally considered the first gothic rock group. During the recording of this album, singer Peter Murphy fell gravely ill, leaving the rest of the band to undertake much of the writing and recording process without him. As evidence of how much input the rest of the band had on this album, bassist David J. and guitarist Daniel Ash sang lead vocals on numerous tracks. This led to internal difficulties with the group, and by the time the album was released, the band had already broken up. David J., and Daniel Ash went on to form the alternative rock band Love And Rockets.
The Beach Boys. Pet Sounds. May 16, 1966.
Pet Sounds is recognized as one of the most influential records in the history of popular music and is recognized as one of the best albums of the 1960s. Tracks include, Wouldn’t It Be Nice, and God Only Knows. Pet Sounds was created after Brian Wilson quit touring with the band due to psychological illnesses, and to focus on writing and recording. In this recording Wilson wove elaborate layers of vocal harmonies, coupled with sound effects and unconventional instruments like bicycle bells, buzzing organs, harpsichords, flutes, Electro-Theremin, dog whistles, trains, Hawaiian-sounding string instruments, barking dogs, and unusual keyboards and guitars. Pet Sounds is a heralding album in the emerging psychedelic rock style, and has been championed for its dramatic instrumentation. The album has been ranked at number one in numerous music magazines as the greatest album of all time.
The Beatles. Abbey Road. September 26, 1969.
Abbey Road is the Beatles last recorded album, although Let It Be was the last album released before the band’s dissolved in 1970. The album is widely regarded as one of The Beatles’ tightest albums, although the band was barely operating as a functioning unit at the time. After the disastrous sessions for the proposed Get Back album (released as the final Let It Be album), Paul McCartney suggested to music producer George Martin that the group make an album the way we used to, free of the conflict that began following the death of Brian Epstein. This would be the last time the band would record with Martin. In their interviews for The Beatles Anthology, the band members stated that, although none of them ever made the distinction of calling it the last album, they all felt this would be the final Beatles product and therefore agreed to set aside their differences and go out on a high note.
Let It Be. May 8, 1970.
Let It Be is the final studio album, released on May 8th, 1970 by the band’s own label Apple Records. Shortly after, the group announced their breakup. Most of Let It Be was recorded in January 1969, before the recording and release of Abbey Road. The Beatles were unhappy with the initial version, so it was temporarily shelved. A new version was later produced by Phil Spector and finally released as Let It Be in 1970. The Rolling Stones responded to the break up of The Beatles by releasing their album Let It Bleed.
Note. During Lennon’s David Peel And The Lower East Side days, President Nixon attempted to have him deported. After a lengthy legal tug of war, Lennon emerged victorious. When Lennon was asked about the outcome of the case and how he felt about Nixon, Lennon replied, “Time wounds all heels.”
Black Sabbath. Paranoid. September 18, 1970.
Black Sabbath is credited with being the founders of heavy metal. Paranoid is the band’s second album, and contains some of the band’s best songs, including the title track, Iron Man, and War Pigs. After the release of their debut album in February 1970, Black Sabbath returned to the studio in June that year, again with producer Rodger Bain, to record Paranoid. The title track was written at the last minute to fulfill the record label’s request for a single. As drummer Bill Ward explains: We didn’t have enough songs for the album, and Tony played the Paranoid guitar lick and that was it. It took twenty, twenty-five minutes from top to bottom. The song Iron Man was originally entitled Iron Bloke. Upon hearing the main guitar riff, Ozzy Osbourne remarked that it sounded like a big iron bloke walking around.
Note. If you want to hear a fantastic tune, then get a copy of the alternative version of Planet Caravan. Ozzy’s vocals and lyrics are haunting, and somehow reveal and extremely vulnerable side to the rock superstar.
Blind Pilot. Three Rounds And A Sound. July 15, 2008.
Blind Pilot is an indie folk band based out of Portland, Oregon. Their debut album, 3 Rounds And A Sound, reached No. 13 on Billboards Top Digital Albums chart. The band promoted the project by completing a bicycle tour from Bellingham, Washington to San Diego, California. Stops included Port Townsend, Seattle, Olympia, Portland, Corvallis, Eugene, Coos Bay, Arcata and Santa Cruz.
Blondie. Parallel Lines. September 1978.
Parallel Lines is the third album by American New Wave band Blondie. This album is the band’s most popular and best-selling effort. Parallel Lines includes several of the band’s best known hits, including, Heart of Glass, Hanging on the Telephone, Sunday Girl, and One Way or Another. In the liner notes for the Parallel Lines vinyl album, there are lyrics listed for a Parallel Lines song, though no such song exists on the album. Other stand out Blondie albums include the band’s debut album Blondie, and Eat To The Beat.
Blood Sweat And Tears Blood, Sweat & Tears. 1968.
Blood, Sweat & Tears is the second album by the band. Ironically, bandleader Al Kooper and two other members left the band after their first album and did not participate on this recording. Bobby Colomby and Steve Katz searched for a replacement singer and selected David Clayton-Thomas. The album was a huge commercial success, rising to the top of the U.S. charts for a collective seven weeks and yielding three successive Top 5 singles, The recording received a Grammy for Album of the Year.
Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan Greatest Hits. March 27, 1967.
Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits is the eighth album released by Dylan on Columbia Records. It contains every Top 40 single through 1967.
Bob Dylan Greatest Hits Vol. II November 17, 1971.
Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits Vol. II is the second compilation album released by Bob Dylan. With Dylan not expected to release any new material for an extended period, CBS Records president Clive Davis proposed issuing a double LP compilation of older material. Dylan agreed, compiled the tracks, and suggested that the package included a full side of unreleased tracks. After submitting a set of excerpts, Davis was not satisfied, so Dylan returned to the studio to recut several of his Basement Tape Songs. The final package included one previously unreleased single, Watching The River Flow, which became an instant classic, and an outtake from the same sessions, When I Paint My Masterpiece.
Bob Marley And The Wailers. Natty Dread. October 25, 1974.
Natty Dread was the first album released as Bob Marley And The Wailers and the first album without band members Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. The album is a spiritually charged political and social statement. It opens with, Lively Up Yourself, which Marley used to open his concerts with. No Woman, No Cry, the second track, is the most known recording on the album. No Woman No Cry is a nostalgic tune about growing up in the ghettos of Trenchtown, in Kingston Jamaica.
Carol King. Tapestry. February 10, 1971.
Tapestry is one of the best-selling albums of all-time. King wrote or co-wrote all of the songs, several of which had already been hits for other artists such as Aretha Franklin’s (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, and The Shirelles’ Will You Love Me Tomorrow. James Taylor, had encouraged King to sing her own songs, and he also performed on Tapestry, and would have a No. 1 hit with her song, You’ve Got a Friend.
The Carpenters. Carpenters. May 14, 1971.
Carpenters, is Richard and Karen Carpenters’ third studio album. Carpenters solidified Karen Carpenter’s reputation as one of her generation’s most accomplished pop vocalists. It has been said that the strength of these recordings is what caused Richard Carpenter to ask his sister to front the band for their live performances instead of playing behind the drums. Karen Carpenter suffered from bulimia, an eating disorder that eventually took her life. She literally starved herself to death, believing that she was overweight.
The Cars. The Cars. June 6, 1978.
The Cars first album was critically well received. Allmusic reviewer Greg Prato described the album as a genuine rock masterpiece, and that all nine tracks are new wave/rock classics.
Tea For The Tillerman. November 23, 1970.
Teaser And The Firecat. October 1971.
Cat Stevens, is an English singer-songwriter, who later became an educator, philanthropist, and convert to Islam. His early 1970s recordings, Tea For The Tillerman, and Teaser And The Firecat are both certified triple platinum. Cat Stevens earned two ASCAP songwriting awards for The First Cut Is the Deepest, which has also been a hit for four other artists. Stevens has been given several awards for his work in promoting peace in the world, including the 2003 World Award, the 2004 Man for Peace Award, and the 2007 Mediterranean Prize for Peace.
Creedence Clearwater Revival. Creedence Clearwater Revival. July 1968.
Creedence Clearwater Revival gained popularity in the late 1960s and early 1970s with a number of successful singles drawn from various albums. Their musical style encompassed country rock and swamp rock genres. Despite their San Francisco Bay Area origins, they defined themselves as Southern rock stylists, singing about bayous, the Mississippi River, catfish, and other popular elements of Southern iconography. Suzie Q became an instant classic, and featured vocals by both John and Tim Fogerty sharing lead vocals on different verses of the song.
Cheap Trick. Cheap Trick. February 1977.
Most of the songs on this debut recording is hard rock compared to the group’s later more polished power pop stylization. The albums lyrics deal with extreme subject matters, such as, The Ballad of T.V. Violence, which is about serial killer Richard Speck, Daddy Should Have Stayed in High School is a disturbing song about a pedophile father figure. Oh Candy, is about a friend of the band who committed suicide. The album is considered by critics to be Cheap Trick’s best work. The album definitely captures the band’s dark side, as well as the powerful presence of the band’s live performances.
The Cult. Love. October 18, 1985.
The origins of the band can be traced to 1981, in Bradford, Yorkshire, where vocalist Ian Astbury formed a band called Southern Death Cult. Later, Billy Duffy and Astbury joined together and formed The Cult. The band moved to London, and gained a dedicated following in the mid 1980s as a post-punk band. Their single She Sells Sanctuary, was a staple tune at any underground dance club. Love was released before the band relocated to Los Angeles, and broke into mainstream in the U.S. as a hard rock band.
Danzig. Danzig. August 30, 1988.
Danzig is the debut album of the American heavy metal band Danzig, led by Glenn Danzig, formerly the vocalist of The Misfits and Samhain. The album was the first released on producer Rick Rubin’s label Def American Recordings. Danzig is the band’s best-selling album and was certified Gold in the U.S. in 1994. The album’s best song is the classic, Mother.
David Bowie. Hunky Dory. December 17, 1971.
Hunky Dory is the fourth album by English singer-songwriter David Bowie. Hunky Dory has been described by Allmusic’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine as a kaleidoscopic array of pop styles, tied together only by Bowie’s sense of vision: a sweeping, cinematic melange of high and low art, ambiguous sexuality, kitsch, and class. With the departure of Tony Visconti and his replacement on bass by Trevor Bolder, Hunky Dory was the first production featuring all the members of the band that would become known the following year as Ziggy Stardust’s Spiders From Mars. Also debuting with Bowie, as producer, was another key member of the Ziggy phase, Ken Scott. The album’s sleeve would bear the credit Produced by Ken Scott (assisted by the actor). The actor was Bowie, whose pet conceit, in the words of NME critics Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray, was to think of himself as an actor.
The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars. June 6, 1972.
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is a concept album by Bowie, and based on the story of a rock star named Ziggy Stardust. Ziggy is the human manifestation of an alien being who is attempting to present humanity with a message of hope in the last five years of Earth’s existence. Ziggy Stardust is the definitive rock star: sexually promiscuous, wild in drug intake and with a message, ultimately, of peace and love; but he is destroyed both by his own excesses of drugs and sex, and by the fans he inspired.
David Johansen. David Johansen. May 1978.
David Johansen is an American rock, protopunk, pop singer, songwriter and actor. Johansen is best known as the singer of The New York Dolls. Johansen is also known for his work under the pseudonym Buster Poindexter. David Johansen is the first solo album following his tenure as lead singer of the New York Dolls. David Johansen also features fellow New York Doll guitarist Sylvain Sylvain, who was a member of the David Johansen Band.
David Peel And The Lower East Side. Have Marijuana. Released 1968.
David Peel is a New York-based musician who’s raw, acoustic street rock stylization with lyrics about marijuana and bad cops appealed mostly to hippies. It also appealed to John Lennon who joined the band after leaving The Beatles, and signed David Peel to Apple Records.
Note. The FBI had a photo file of John Lennon so agents could easily recognize him. In reality, it was a photo of David Peel because Lennon had copied the imagery of David Peel, including leather jacket, and round glasses that Lennon became famous for wearing.
Devo. Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo. July 1978.
In 1977, David Bowie and Iggy Pop received a demo tape by Devo. Both, as well as Brian Eno and Robert Fripp, expressed interest in producing the band. At Devo’s New York debut show in 1977, Bowie proclaimed that this is the band of the future; “I’m going to produce them in Tokyo this winter.” Eventually, Eno was chosen to produce the album at Konrad Plank’s studio located near Cologne, Germany. Bowie busy with filming, Just a Gigolo did help Eno produce the record on weekends.
Note. The cover is based on an image of professional golfer Juan Chi-Chi Rodríguez. Warner Bros. decided the image could not be used because the label felt the band was making fun of the golfer. Later, Mike Mothersbaugh offered a photo that morphed the faces of John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. These photos were then morphed with the Chi Chi Rodriguez image to create the cover art. The band did eventually get Rodriguez’s permission to use his image. However, since the morphed album sleeves were already in production by that time, it would have cost the band $2,500 to halt production and reinstate the original image. According to Casale, We were able to come out with something that by the corporate interference and misunderstanding of the business side of Warner Bros. Records, actually unwittingly produced something far more Devo than the original image.
Dixie Dregs. Freefall. May 27, 1977.
What If. March 1978.
The Dixie Dregs evolved from an Augusta, Georgia band called Dixie Grit, formed by Steve Morse and Andy West. Shortly thereafter, Steve Morse enrolled at the University of Miami’s School of Music, and the band broke up. Morse and West continued to perform as a duet, calling themselves Dixie Dregs. Based on the strength of a demo and a tip from Allman Brothers Band member Chuck Leavell, Capricorn Records signed them in late 1976 to record Free Fall. The moderate success and critical acclaim of Free Fall led to their 1978 effort, What If, which was supported by their first tour.
The Doors. The Doors.1967.
The Doors credit the success of their debut album to working the songs out night after night at the Whisky a Go Go, and the London Fog in Los Angeles. The Doors features the single, Light My Fire, and, The End, a dark anthem with Oedipal overtures in spoken word format.
Note. Jim Morrison often refused to perform their hit song Light My Fire at their live shows.
The Doors. L.A. Woman. 1971.
L.A. Woman is the sixth album by The Doors, and the last recorded with Jim Morrison. The band embarked on a tour before completing the album, although it would only comprise two dates. The first in Dallas, Texas reportedly went well. The second performance took place at The Warehouse in New Orleans, Louisiana, on December 12, 1970, where Morrison apparently had a breakdown on stage. Midway through the set he slammed the microphone numerous times into the stage floor until the platform beneath was destroyed. He then sat down and refused to perform for the remainder of the show. Drummer John Densmore recalls in his biography Riders on the Storm, that after the show he met with Ray and Robby, and decided to end their live act. By the time the album was released, in April 1971, Morrison had moved to Paris, France, where he died three months later of an apparent drug overdose.
Eagles. Eagles. 1972.
Eagles, is the debut album by the rock band of the same name. The album was recorded at London’s Olympic Studios with producer Glyn Johns, and became an immediate success. Eagles released three singles with Take it Easy, Witchy Woman, and Peaceful Easy Feeling. The album also played a major role in popularizing the southern California country rock sound of the 1970s.
Elton John. Madman Across The Water. November 5, 1971.
Madman Across the Water is the fourth album by British singer/songwriter Elton John. The title song was supposed to be released on John’s previous album Tumbleweed Connection. However, it was set aside and would eventually be re-recorded and serve as the title track on this, his next album. Previous versions of the song from the Tumbleweed sessions have Mick Ronson on guitar, and can be found on the remastered Tumbleweed Connection CD.
Elvis. The Sun Sessions. March 22, 1976.
The Sun Sessions is a compilation of Elvis Presley recordings at Sun Studios in 1954 and 1955. It features most of the tracks recorded at Sun Studio, and produced by Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Studios. Phillips signed Presley after hearing a song that he had recorded for his mother on his birthday. The recordings include, That’s All Right (Mama), which is regarded as the first rock and roll recording. Phillips said Presley was rehearsing with his band members, Scotty Moore and Bill Black, when Presley began singing the song. Phillips said that was the sound he had been looking.
Note. Elvis recorded more than twenty songs at the Sun Studio. Songs include private recordings never released. Of those recordings, fifteen appear on The Sun Sessions album. Missing songs include, Harbor Lights, Tomorrow Night, When It Rains It Really Pours, I Got a Woman (tape lost), and Satisfied (tape lost).
Fleetwood Mac. Penguin. 1973.
Penguin is the seventh album by British rock band Fleetwood Mac. It was the first to feature Bob Weston and the only one to feature Dave Walker, formerly of Savoy Brown. Bob Weston was known for playing slide guitar. Penguin was the highest charting Fleetwood Mac album in the U.S. at the time, clawing its way into the Top 50. However, during the recording of their next album, Mystery to Me, it was mutually agreed that Walker’s vocal style did not fit in with Fleetwood Mac and by June 1973 he left the band.
Rumours, was largely recorded in California during 1976. The album was produced by the band, Ken Caillat and Richard Dashut. The record peaked at the top of both the main U.S. Billboard chart and the UK Albums Chart. Rumours is Fleetwood Mac’s most successful release with sales of over 40 million copies sold, and a Grammy winner.
Frank Sinatra. No One Cares. July 1959.
No One Cares is considered a sequel to Sinatra’s earlier recording Where Are You, which was arranged by Gordon Jenkins. No One Cares was a moody and somber recording that was also arranged by Jenkins. Sinatra is known for doing only one vocal take in a studio. As a result, a twelfth song, The One I Love (Belongs to Somebody Else), was unreleased due to a mistake in the lyrics, as well as a string passage that wasn’t performed very well, which is apparently why the song was not released.
Frank Zappa. Just Another Band From L.A. August 7, 1971.
Just Another Band from L.A. is a live album by The Mothers, released in 1972. It was recorded live on August 7, 1971 in Pauley Pavilion on the campus of UCLA. A notable inclusion on this album is Billy the Mountain, Zappa’s long, narrative parody of rock operas, which were very popularity at that time. Often overlooked by reviewers, this album marks an important period in the band’s career due to the extensive use of the Turtles, a popular band from the 1960s.
Guns N’ Roses. Appetite For Destruction. July 21, 1987.
Guns N’ Roses is an hard rock band that formed in Los Angeles, California by singer Axl Rose and guitarist Izzy Stradlin, along with guitarist Tracii Guns, bassist Ole Beich, and drummer Rob Gardner. Duff McKagan replaced Beich, while Guns’ lack of attendance at rehearsals led to his replacement by Slash. Gardner soon quit, being replaced by Steven Adler. A year after its release, Appetite for Destruction reached No. 1 on Billboard’s 200, on the strength of the tune titled, Sweet Child O’ Mine. The album has sold more than 28 million copies worldwide.
Hedwig And The Angry Inch. Hedwig And The Angry Inch. 1999.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a rock musical about a rock band fronted by an East German transgender singer. The story draws on John Cameron Mitchell’s life as the son of a U.S. Army Major General who once commanded the U.S. sector of occupied West Berlin. The character of Hedwig was originally inspired by a German divorced U.S. Army wife who was a Mitchell family babysitter who also moonlighted as a prostitute at her Junction City, Kansas trailer park home. The music is steeped in the androgynous 1970s glam rock era of David Bowie (who co-produced the Los Angeles production of the show), as well as the work of John Lennon and early punk godfathers Lou Reed and Iggy Pop.
Note. The musical opened Off-Broadway at the Jane Street Theater on February 14, 1998. Originally directed and produced by Peter Askin, the play won a Village Voice Obie Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical. The Off-Broadway production ran for two years.
Hole. Live Through This. April 12, 1994.
Live Through This is the second album by alternative rock band Hole. It was released by Geffen Records on April 12, 1994, just four days after Courtney Love’s husband, Kurt Cobain, was found dead in their home. This is also Hole’s last album to feature bassist Kristen Pfaff before her death in June 1994 of a drug overdose. In Live Through This, Hole sought a more accessible sound, focusing on melody and dynamics instead of the distortion and experimental sounds that dominated their previous recordings. Lyrically, the album heavily reflected upon Love’s life at the time, her transition into public notoriety, and her role as a wife and mother, as well as articulating a third-wave feminist consciousness.
Celebrity Skin. September 8, 1998.
Celebrity Skin is Hole’s third album. Hole intended the record to diverge greatly from their previous grunge-influenced sound. In order to produce a cleaner, polished and more radio friendly pop sound. The album was produced by Michael Beinhorn, and the first to feature bassist Melissa Auf der Maur following the death of Pfaff. Unlike the material on previous albums, Celebrity Skin were composed by a number of musicians, including, The Smashing Pumpkins, Billy Corgan, and former Auf der Maur’s bandmate Jordon Zadorozny. Celebrity Skin was the band’s last album before disbanding in 2002.
J. Geils Band. Live Full House. September 26, 1972.
The J. Geils Band started as an acoustic blues trio with singer and guitarist John Geils, bassist Danny Klein, and harmonica player Richard Salwitz (Magic Dick). Later the band began playing electrically and recruited drummer Stephen Jo Bladd and fast-talking ex-disc jockey, Peter Wolf as the vocalist. Although living in Boston, the band always considered Detroit their second home because of their enormous popularity there. As a result, J. Geils Live is one of two live albums recorded in Detroit. The album contains the classic song Whammer Jammer, which is a harmonica masterpiece.
Janis Joplin. Pearl. January 11, 1971.
Pearl is the fourth album by Janis Joplin, released posthumously on Columbia Records. It peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, holding that spot for nine weeks. Janis Joplin was from Port Arthur, Texas, and rose to prominence in the late 60s as the singer of the psychedelic-acid rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company, and later as a solo artist with her soulful and bluesy groups, The Kozmic Blues Band, and The Full Tilt Boogie Band. She was one of the more popular acts at the Monterey Pop Festival and later became one of the main attractions at the Woodstock festival.
Note. In Hitmen: Power Brokers And Fast Money Inside The Music Business written by Fredric Dannen, Clive Davis said he received a copy of Pearl at the same time he learned of Joplin’s death. Davis’ played the recording and heard Joplin’s performance of Kris Kristofferson’s, Me And Bobby McGee and could do nothing but weep.
Jeff Beck. Blow By Blow. March 1975.
Jeff Beck is an English rock guitarist, noted for playing with The Yardbirds. Blow by Blow, is Beck’s first solo album, and was released on Epic Records. The album peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200. This is an amazing feat considering the album didn’t have any pop singles, and contained no lyrics.
Jefferson Airplane. The Worst Of Jefferson Airplane. November 1970.
Jefferson Airplane was an American rock band formed in San Francisco in 1965. The band was a pioneer of the psychedelic rock movement, and the first band from the San Francisco scene to achieve mainstream commercial and critical success. The Worst of Jefferson Airplane is a compilation album featuring all of Jefferson Airplane’s hit singles up to that point.
Jimi Hendrix. Are You Experienced? August 23, 1967.
Axis Bold As Love. January 15, 1968.
Electric Ladyland. October 25, 1968.
In September 1966, ex-Animals bassist Chas Chandler brought Hendrix from the U.S. to the UK where The Jimi Hendrix Experience would form. Noel Redding joined as the bassist, and drummer Mitch Mitchell finalized the lineup. The Experience’s first recording was a cover of Billy Roberts’ Hey Joe. The B-Side was Stone Free, written by Hendrix. Purple Haze, and The Wind Cries Mary, original Hendrix compositions, were subsequently released and reached No. 3 and No. 6 respectively, before the band’s debut LP, Are You Experienced, was released. The album reached No. 2 in the UK and No. 5 in the U.S. in the wake of the success of Hendrix’s performance at the Monterey Pop Festival.
Johnny Cash. At Folsom Prison. May 1968.
At Folsom Prison is a live album released on Columbia Records in May 1968. Since he first wrote the song Folsom Prison Blues in 1955, Cash had been interested in performing at prisons. Cash, backed by June Carter, whom he married that same year, Carl Perkins and the Tennessee Three, performed two shows at Folsom State Prison on January 13, 1968. Despite no interest and little investment by Columbia, the album was a hit in the U.S., reaching number one on the country charts and the top 15 of the national album chart. At Folsom Prison received excellent reviews upon its release and the ensuing popularity revitalized Cash’s career, leading to the release of a second prison album, At San Quentin.
At San Quentin. June 4,1969.
At San Quentin is a live concert given by Johnny Cash to the inmates of San Quentin State Prison. As well as being released as a recording the concert was filmed by Granada Television. The album was nominated for a number of Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, and won Best Male Country Vocal Performance for A Boy Named Sue.
Journey. Infinity. January 20, 1978.
Originally called the Golden Gate Rhythm Section, the band formed to serve as a backup group for established Bay Area artists. The group included Santana guitarist Neal Schon and Gregg Rolie on keyboards and lead vocals. The band abandoned the backup group concept and developed a distinctive jazz fusion style. After an unsuccessful radio contest to name the group, roadie John Villaneuva suggested the name Journey. Journey’s album sales were not doing well and Columbia Records requested they change their musical style and add a frontman, with whom keyboardist Gregg Rolie could share vocals. Journey hired Steve Perry as the lead vocalist. The group’s album Infinity gave the band their first platinum album plus hit singles with Lights, and Wheel in the Sky.
Killing Joke. Killing Joke. 1980.
Killing Joke is the debut album of the London post-punk band Killing Joke. The album was self-produced, and became an immediate underground classic. Vocalist Jaz Coleman, along with fellow bandmate Big Paul Ferguson expressed their opinions on issues such as politics, death, hypocrisy, human nature, pollution, and exile, wrote the lyrics. Several bands including Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Tool, Soundgarden, and Metallica have credited Killing Joke for influencing much of their material. Requiem was covered by Foo Fighters in 1997, and The Wait was covered by Metallica in 1987.
Brighter Than A Thousand Suns. November 1986.
Brighter Than a Thousand Suns is the sixth album by Killing Joke. The 2007 remastered CD restored Chris Kimsey’s original mixes in place of Julian Mendelsohn’s, which appeared on the original release. Kimsey’s mixes are noticeably livelier, preferring the clean attack of bass, drums and guitar over the synth-washed, reverb-heavy approach of the original. The reissue also features extra bonus tracks, including Ecstasy, a rare B-side from one version of the single Adorations. I personally prefer the original mixes.
King Crimson. In The Court Of The Crimson King. October 10, 1969.
In the Court of the Crimson King is the 1969 debut album by the British progressive rock group King Crimson. The album is generally viewed as one of the strongest of the progressive rock genre, where King Crimson largely stripped away the blues-based foundations of rock music and mixed together jazz and classical symphonic elements. In his 1997 book, Rocking the Classics, critic and musicologist Edward Macan notes that In the Court of the Crimson King may be the most influential progressive rock album ever released. Pete Townshend of The Who called the album an uncanny masterpiece.
The King Bees. The King Bees. 1980.
The King Bees singer and songwriter, Jamie James is best known for his work the band Steppenwolf. The Kingbees recorded two albums on RSO. The first entitled The Kingbees, was released March, 1980, and received critical acclaim with the James penned hit My Mistake. The second album, titled The Big Rock, was released in March 1981 and spawned a national tour of the U.S.. The band also performed on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand and had a cameo role in the movie The Idolmaker.
Both of the Kingbees’ albums were combined onto a single-disc collection these days. Most of the material was written by Jamie James, although covers of Buddy Holly, Charlie Rich, Don Gibson, and Carl Perkins give a pretty good idea as to the band’s sources of inspiration.
Lambert, Hendrix & Ross. Lambert, Hendrix & Ross. 1960.
The group formed in 1957 and recorded their first album Sing A Song Of Basie for Paramount Records. The album was so successful that Count Basie Orchestra collaborated with them on the album Sing Along With Basie (1959). The album was awarded a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1998. The trio recorded a version of Ross’ 1952 song Twisted, featuring her lyrics set to a Wardell Gray melody. High Flying won a Grammy Award for Best Performance by a Vocal Group in 1962. Lambert, Hendricks & Ross were voted Best Vocal Group in the Down Beat Readers Poll each year from 1959 to 1963.
Note. The double album cover featured above contains tracks from several recording sessions including Count Basie, Joe Williams, Lambert, Hendrix and Ross Sing Along With Basie.
Led Zeppelin. II. October 22, 1969.
Led Zeppelin were an English rock band formed as the New Yardbirds in 1968, the band consisted of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham. They are widely considered to be one of the most successful, innovative and influential rock groups in the history of music. On the other hand end, the band was successfully sued by blues artist Willie Dixon for plagiarizing several of his tunes, and failing to pay royalties for record sales. Later prints show Willie Dixon’s name included in several of the band’s recordings.
After changing their name, the band signed a deal with Atlantic Records that allowed them considerable artistic freedom. Led Zeppelin II earned a considerable amount of sales and was the band’s first album to reach No. 1 in the UK and the US. In 1970, art director David Juniper was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Recording Package for the album.
IV. November 8, 1971.
Led Zeppelin’s fourth album was released on November 8th, 1971. However, no title is printed on the album, so it is usually referred to as Led Zeppelin IV, following the naming standard used by the band’s first three studio albums. Led Zeppelin IV was a commercial and critical success. The album is one of the best-selling albums worldwide at 32 million units. IV is the third-best-selling album ever in the US and contains the band’s most celebrated song, Stairway to Heaven. Led Zeppelin disbanded following the death of drummer Bonham in 1980.
Lenny Kravitz. Mamma Said. April 2, 1991.
Lenny Kravitz is an American singer-songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist who often plays all of the guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and percussion on his albums when recording. One of the stand out tunes on Mama Said is the song Fields Of Joy, with Guns ‘N’ Roses guitarist Slash playing one of the best solos of his musical career.
Leon Russell. Leon Russell And The Shelter People. 1971.
Carney. June 26, 1972.
Leon Russell, born in Lawton, Oklahoma, began playing piano at the age of four. While still attending high school Russell was already performing at Tulsa nightclubs. After moving to Los Angeles, he became a session musician, working as a pianist on the recordings of many notable musical artists including Frank Sinatra. By 1970 Russell became a solo artist. The song Stranger in a Strange Land contains one of the early uses of the Moog synthesizer on a pop recording. Russell had engineer Terry Manning, who had studied with Robert Moog introduce him to this new technology. Russell was inducted into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.
Lou Reed. Berlin. July 1973.
Berlin is a tragic rock opera about a doomed couple, and addresses themes of drug addiction and depression. Musically, Berlin differs greatly from the bulk of Reed’s work, due to the use of orchestral arrangements, horns, and session musicians. Instrumentally, Reed himself only contributes the acoustic guitar on the recording. The Kids tells of Caroline having her children taken from her by the authorities, and features the sounds of children shouting for their mother at the end of the song.
As with Reed’s previous albums, Berlin re-drafts several songs that had been previously written and recorded. The title track first appeared on Reed’s solo debut album. Caroline Says is a rewrite of Stephanie Says from the Velvet Underground. The Velvets had also recorded a rather sedate demo of Sad Song, which had much milder lyrics in its original form. Men of Good Fortune had been performed by the Velvet Underground as early as 1966. An archival live performance of the band playing at Andy Warhol’s Factory provides the evidence of the song’s age.
Love And Rockets. Express. September 25, 1986.
Love and Rockets was an English alternative rock band formed in 1985 by former Bauhaus members Daniel Ash, David J (bass guitar and vocals), and Kevin Haskins (drums and synthesizers) after Bauhaus had split up in 1983. Express is the second album by the band, and released on Beggars Banquet Records. Express is a departure from the band member’s work as Bauhaus, incorporating a more accessible pop sound. Love and Rockets’ fusion of underground rock with elements of pop provided an early catalyst for alternative rock, at the time known as college music.
Lynyrd Skynyrd. Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd. August 13, 1973.
Lynyrd Skynyrd is an American rock band best known for popularizing the Southern rock genre during the 1970s. Originally formed in 1964 as the Noble Five in Jacksonville, Florida, the band rose to worldwide recognition on the basis of its driving live performances and signature song Free Bird. At the peak of their success, three members died in an airplane crash in 1977, putting an abrupt end to the band’s most popular incarnation.
Second Helping. April 15, 1974.
Second Helping is the band’s second album, and featured its hit single, Sweet Home Alabama, a response to Neil Young’s Alabama and Southern Man. This was the first Lynyrd Skynyrd album to feature the band’s trademark triple guitar attack.
Nuthin’ Fancy. March 24, 1975.
Nuthin’ Fancy is the band’s third album, and their first to reach the Top 10, peaking at No. 9 on the U.S. albums chart. This is the first record with drummer Artimus Pyle and the last with guitarist Ed King until the reformation of Lynyrd Skynyrd and the release of Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1991.
Street Survivors. October 17, 1977.
Street Survivors is the fifth album by Lynyrd Skynyrd. The album is the last recorded by original members Ronnie Van Zant and Allen Collins, and is the sole Skynyrd studio recording by guitarist Steve Gaines. Three days after the albums release, on October 20, 1977, the band’s chartered airplane crashed en route to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, killing the pilot, co-pilot, the group’s assistant road manager and three band members (Van Zant, Gaines, and Steve’s sister, and backup singer Cassie Gaines). The crash severely injured most who survived the crash. Surviving members re-formed in 1987 for a reunion tour with lead singer Ronnie Van Zant’s younger brother Johnny as frontman. A version of the band continues to tour and record, with only Gary Rossington of its original members remaining as of 2012. Lynyrd Skynyrd was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 13, 2006.
Note. Most bands couldn’t pack ten decent songs on a compilation recording. Lynyrd Skynyrd packed ten great tunes into practically every record they made.
Note. Lynyrd Skynyrd got the band name from former high school coach Leonard Skinnard who refused to let the boy’s play sports unless they cut their hair. Instead of playing sports the boys chose to play guitar.
Marvin Gaye. What’s Goin’ On. May 21, 1971.
What’s Going On is the eleventh album by soul artist Marvin Gaye. This is the first album credited as produced solely by the artist. What’s Going On is a concept album consisting of nine songs, most of which lead into the next. It can also be categorized as a song cycle; the album ends on a reprise of the album’s opening theme. What’s Going On is told from the perspective of a Vietnam War veteran who returns to the country he had been fighting for, and seeing nothing but injustice, suffering and hatred.
What’s Going On was the first album on which Motown Records’ main studio band, the group of session musicians known as the Funk Brothers, received an official credit. The album features introspective lyrics and socially conscious themes about drug abuse, poverty, and the Vietnam War. What’s Going On was both an immediate commercial and critical success and has endured as a classic of early-1970s soul.
MC5. Kick Out The Jams. February 1969.
MC5 is a band from Lincoln Park, Michigan. The original line-up consisted of vocalist Rob Tyner, guitarists Wayne Kramer and Fred Sonic Smith, bassist Michael Davis, and drummer Dennis Thompson. The band crystallized the counterculture movement at its most volatile, according to Allmusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine. The MC5’s far left political ties and anti-establishment lyrics positioned them as emerging innovators of the punk movement in the U.S.
The MC5 had a promising beginning which earned them a cover on Rolling Stone magazine even before their debut album was released. Their initial run was short-lived, with their dissolution in 1972. The MC5 are often cited as one of the most important American hard rock groups of their era. Tyner died of a heart attack in 1991. Smith also died of a heart attack in 1994. The remaining members of the band reformed in 2003 with The Dictators’ singer Dick Manitoba. Davis died of liver failure in February 2012.
Melanie. Candles In The Rain. September 1970.
Leftover Wine. November 1970.
Melanie grew up in Astoria of Queens, New York. She made her first public singing appearance at age four on the radio show Live Like A Millionaire, performing the song Gimme a Little Kiss. While studying acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, she began singing in the folk clubs of Greenwich Village. Initially signed to Columbia Records, Melanie released two singles on the label. Subsequently she signed with Buddah Records and found success in Europe in 1969 with Bobo’s Party, which reached No. 1 in France. Melanie’s debut album received rave reviews from Billboard, which heralded her voice as wise beyond her years. She also performed at the Woodstock Festival in 1969 and the inspiration for her signature song, Lay Down (Candles in the Rain), arose from the Woodstock audience lighting candles during her performance. The recording became a hit in Europe, Australia, Canada, and the United States in 1970.
In 1970, Melanie was the only artist to brave a court injunction banning the Powder Ridge Rock Festival. She played to the crowd on a homemade stage powered by Mister Softee trucks. Melanie also performed at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 where she was introduced by Keith Moon and received four standing ovations.
Melanie left Buddah Records when they insisted she produce albums on demand. In 1971 she formed her own label, Neighborhood Records. Melanie had her biggest hit on her own label. Brand New Key made it all the way to No. 1.
Monkees. Head. December 1968.
The Monkees were assembled in Los Angeles by Robert Rafelson and Bert Schneider for the American television series, which lasted two seasons from 1966-1968. The quartet was composed of Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork, and Davy Jones. The band’s music was initially supervised by producer Don Kirshner. The Monkees were described by Dolenz as a TV show about a band that wanted to be The Beatles. The actors/musicians soon became a real band. However, Dolenz later said, “The Monkees becoming a real band was like Leonard Nimoy really becoming a Vulcan.” For the first few months of their almost five year career, the group were only allowed in the studio to perform vocals. They soon fought for, and earned the right to collectively supervise all musical output under the band’s name. The group also undertook several concert tours, allowing an opportunity to perform as a live band. Although the show was canceled in 1968, the band continued to record through 1970, releasing their last single in 1971. Head is the band’s best work. It was released as an album and a movie. The standout tune is the song, The Porpoise.
Moody Blues. Days Of The Future Passed. November 10, 1967.
The Moody Blues formed in Erdington, Birmingham, England. The name developed from a hoped-for sponsorship from the M&B Brewery, which failed to materialize. Members of the group claimed that originally, the band’s label, Decca Records, wanted them to record a rock version of Dvorak’s, New World Symphony for the newly formed Deram Records division in order to demonstrate their latest recording techniques. Instead, the band focused on an album based on an original stage show they’d been working on.
On The Threshold Of A Dream. August 7th, 1970.
On The Threshold Of A Dream is the fourth album by The Moody Blues. It was their last album to be released by the band before they formed their own record label, Threshold, to be distributed by Decca Records. Like the band’s preceding two albums, On The Threshold Of A Dream is a concept recording. The album explores dreams, especially on the second side, which climaxes with the Voyage suite, inspired in part by Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathrustra. On The Threshold of a Dream provided The Moody Blues with their first British No. 1 album, and became the band’s first Top 20 in the states. Ironically, the albums only single, Never Comes the Day, was a commercial flop.
A Question Of Balance. August 7, 1970.
A Question of Balance was an attempt by the group to strip down their well-known lush, psychedelic sound in order to be able to better perform the songs in concert. In order to be able to play as many new songs as possible from their new album live, the group decided to abandon heavy overdubbing.
Mott The Hoople. The Hoople. March 29, 1974.
The Hoople is an album by British band Mott the Hoople. The band had strong R&B roots, popular in the glam rock era of the early 1970s. They are popularly known for the song All the Young Dudes, written for them by David Bowie, who appeared on their 1972 album of the same name.
New York Dolls. New York Dolls July 27, 1973.
New York Dolls is the debut album by American rockers the New York Dolls. The album’s protopunk sound was hugely influential on punk rock. Guitarist Sylvain had a job at A Different Drummer, a men’s boutique that was across the street from the New York Doll Hospital, a doll repair shop. Sylvain claimed that the shop inspired the name for their future band. In 1970 they recruited Johnny Thunders to join on bass, though Sylvain ended up teaching him to play guitar. When Sylvain left the band to spend a few months in London, Thunders and Murcia went their separate ways.
Initially, the group was composed of singer David Johansen, guitarists Johnny Thunders and Rick Rivets (who was later replaced by Sylvain Sylvain), bass guitarist Arthur Killer Kane and drummer Billy Murcia. The original lineup’s first performance was on Christmas Eve 1971 at a homeless shelter, the Endicott Hotel.
The band was influenced by vintage rhythm and blues, the early Rolling Stones, classic American girl group songs, and protopunk bands such as the MC5 and The Stooges, as well as glam rockers such as Marc Bolan. In synthesizing this wide variety of influences they created something which critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote doesn’t really sound like anything that came before it. It’s hard rock with a self-conscious wit, a celebration of camp and kitsch that retains a menacing, malevolent edge.
Nirvana. Nevermind. September 24th, 1991.
Nirvana was an American rock band that was formed by singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic in Aberdeen, Washington. Nirvana went through a succession of drummers, the longest-lasting being Dave Grohl, who joined the band in 1990. Nevermind is the second album by Nirvana, released on September 24, 1991. Produced by Butch Vig, Nevermind was the group’s first release on DGC Records. Frontman Kurt Cobain sought to make music outside the restrictive confines of the Seattle grunge scene, drawing influence from groups such as the Pixies and their use of song volume dynamics.
Despite low commercial expectations by the band’s label, Nevermind became an unexpected huge success. It included some of the band’s biggest hits, including Smells Like Teen Spirit, Come as You Are, Lithium and In Bloom. By January 1992, it replaced Michael Jackson’s album Dangerous at No. 1 on the Billboard charts. The album has sold over 30 million copies worldwide. Nevermind was responsible for bringing alternative rock to a large mainstream audience, and critics subsequently regarded it as one of the greatest and most influential albums of all time.
Note. Nirvana’s brief run ended following the death of Kurt Cobain in 1994, but various posthumous releases have been issued since, overseen by Novoselic, Grohl, and Cobain’s widow Courtney Love. Since its debut, the band has sold over 75 million records worldwide.
Peter Frampton. Frampton Comes Alive. January 6, 1976.
Peter Frampton is an English guitarist and singer. Frampton has worked with David Bowie and was also the guitarist with Humble Pie, and The Herd. Frampton is best known for his songs, Show Me the Way, Baby, I Love Your Way, Do You Feel Like We Do, and I’m in You. Frampton is also known for his work with a Talkbox. Frampton Comes Alive is a double live album, and one of the best-selling live albums ever in the U.S. Oddly, this release followed four studio albums that had flopped, while this live album reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200, and was in the top spot for a total of 10 weeks. Frampton Comes Alive was the best-selling album of 1976, selling over 6 million copies in the U.S. alone. Frampton Comes Alive was also voted Album of the year in the 1976 Rolling Stone readers poll. It stayed on the charts for 97 weeks.
Pink Floyd. A Nice Pair. January 18, 1974.
A Nice Pair is a compilation album by Pink Floyd, re-issuing their first two albums titled, The Piper At The Gates of Dawn, and A Saucerful Of Secrets. These albums contain songs written by original band member Syd Barrett.
The Dark Side Of The Moon. March 23, 1973.
The band originally consisted of university students Roger Waters, Nick Mason, Richard Wright, and Syd Barrett. They gained popularity performing in London’s underground music scene during the late 1960s. Under Barrett’s creative leadership they released two charting singles, Arnold Layne and See Emily Play, and the band had a successful debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.
Guitarist and vocalist David Gilmour joined as a fifth member, several months prior to Barrett’s departure due to deteriorating mental health. With the loss of Syd, the band moved from psychedelic pop to a more progressive sound. With this line-up they achieved critical and commercial success with concept albums The Dark Side of the Moon, and Wish You Were Here.
The band achieved international success with their progressive and psychedelic music marked by the use of philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, and elaborate live shows. One of the most commercially successful and influential rock groups in the history of popular music, they have sold over 200 million albums worldwide, including 74.5 million certified units in the U.S. In 1996 they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The Pogues. Rum, Sodomy And The Lash. August 1985.
The Pogues were founded in Kings Cross, a district of North London, as Pogue Mahone, meaning kiss my arse. Shane Macgowan, and Spider Stacy’s punk background influenced their politically tinged music, yet the band used traditional Irish instruments such as the tin whistle, cittern, mandolin and accordion. The band reached international prominence in the 1980s. MacGowan left the band due to drinking problems but the band continued first with Joe Strummer and later with Spider Stacy on vocals. The band reformed in 2001, and regularly performs in the U.S., and across the UK and Ireland.
Rum, Sodomy And The Lash is the band’s second album. The album’s title is taken from a quotation attributed to Winston Churchill: “Don’t talk to me about naval tradition. It’s nothing but rum, sodomy, and the lash.” The cover artwork is based on The Raft of the Medusa, a painting by Theodore Gericault, with the band members’ faces replacing those of the men on the raft.
The Pretenders. Pretenders. January 19, 1980.
The Pretenders are an English–American rock band formed in Hereford, England. The original band comprised of songwriter Chrissie Hynde, James Honeyman-Scott, Pete Farndon, and Martin Chambers. The band experienced drug related deaths of Honeyman-Scott, and Farndon, as a result numerous personnel changes have taken place over the years, with Hynde as the sole original member. This debut album has its roots in pop, and punk music, and is one of the first punk oriented records to break into mainstream.
Robin Trower. Bridge Of Sighs. 1974.
For Earth Below. 1975.
Robin Trower is a guitarist who has inspired other guitar legends such as Robert Fripp. It is the rare English guitarist who has been able to stand alongside American guitarists and play with an equal authority to someone grounded in a fundamentally American tradition. Trower toured America with Ten Years After top bill, King Crimson second, bill, and Robin Trower the opening act. The chart positions were the other way around with Ten Years After number 160 in BIllboard, Crimson in the 60s, and Trower reaching the top twenty.
Trower grew up in the seaside resort of Southend-on-Sea, Essex. In 1962, he formed The Paramounts. Trower, and later joined Procol Harum following the success of the bands single A Whiter Shade of Pale. Former Procol Harum organist, Matthew Fisher, produced Trower’s albums. Trower’s work is noted for his Hendrixesque style influences.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show. August 14, 1975.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the 1975 film adaptation of the British rock musical stage play, The Rocky Horror Show, was written by Richard O’Brien, and is a parody of B rated science fiction and horror films. Director Jim Sharman collaborated on the screenplay with O’Brien, who wrote both the book and lyrics for the stage. The film introduces Tim Curry and features Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick along with cast members from the original Kings Road production presented at the Royal Court Theatre, in London.
Rocky Horror Picture Show has the longest-running theatrical release in film history. It gained notoriety as a midnight movie when audiences began participating with the film in theatres. The motion picture has a large international cult following and is one of the most well-known and financially successful midnight movies of all time. In 2005, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.
Roxy Music. Roxy Music. June 1972.
For Your Pleasure. March 1973.
Roxy Music is an English art rock band formed by Bryan Ferry, who became the group’s vocalist and chief songwriter, along with bassist Graham Simpson. The other members are Phil Manzanera (guitar), Andy Mackay (saxophone and oboe) and Paul Thompson (drums and percussion). Former members include Brian Eno (synthesizer and treatments), and Eddie Jobson (synthesizer and violin).
Roxy Music attained popular and critical success in Europe and Australia during the 1970s and early 1980s, beginning with their debut album, Roxy Music. The band was highly influential, as leading proponents of the more experimental, musically sophisticated element of glam, as well as a significant influence on early English punk music. They also provided a model for many New Wave acts and the experimental electronic groups of the early 1980s. The group is distinguished by their visual and musical sophistication and their preoccupation with style and glamour. Ferry and co-founding member Eno have also had influential solo careers, the latter becoming one of the most significant record producers and collaborators of the late 20th century.
Stranded. November 1973.
Other British artists such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Who, The Pretty Things, David Bowie, King Crimson, and Elton John influenced their music. Eno’s treatments were influenced by the experimental sound of The Velvet Underground.
Savoy Brown. Street Corner Talking. September 1971.
The original line-up included singer Bryce Portius, keyboardist Trevor Jeavons, bassist Ray Chappell, drummer Leo Manning and harmonica player John O’Leary. Portius was one of the first black blues musicians to be a part of a British rock band. Several line-up changes ensued, with founding members Portius, Chappell, and Manning departing. Street Corner Talking is the seventh album by Savoy Brown. Released by Parrot Records in 1971. It was the first album released by the band since the departure of Peverett, Earl, and Stevens who went on to form the band Foghat. This left Kim Simmonds as the only original member left in the group. Simmonds recruited a fresh lineup of musicians, which, ushered in a new sound for the band.
Sex Pistols. Nevermind The Bullocks, Here’s The Sex Pistol. October 27, 1977.
Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols is the only studio album by the highly influential and controversial English punk rock band known as the Sex Pistols. Fans and critics generally regard it as an extremely important album in the history of rock music, citing the lasting influence it has had on subsequent musicians, as well as other musical genres that were influenced by such punk rock artists. In 1987, as part of their 20th anniversary, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it No. 2 on The 100 Best Albums of the Last Twenty Years.
The Sex Pistols originally comprised of vocalist Johnny Rotten, guitarist Steve Jones, drummer Paul Cook and bassist Glen Matlock. Sid Vicious later replaced Matlock on bass. Under the management of Malcolm McLaren, the band provoked controversies that captivated Britain. Their concerts repeatedly faced difficulties with organizers and authorities, and public appearances often ended in mayhem. Their single God Save the Queen, attacked Britons’ social conformity and deference to the Crown, precipitated the last and greatest outbreak of pop-based moral pandemonium.
The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle. February 26, 1979.
In January 1978, at the end of a turbulent tour of the U.S., Rotten left the band and announced its break-up. Over the next several months, the three remaining members recorded songs for McLaren’s film version of the Sex Pistols’ story. The double album titled The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle, feature a significant number of tracks that omit Lydon entirely. Rotten refused to participate in the project, as a result his vocals were taken from demo recordings. Other songs on the recording include Sid Vicious singing cover, and original songs. Silly Thing, was sung by Cook and Lonely Boy, was sung by Jones. Edward Tudor-Pole sang the title track, and Who Killed Bambi. Numerous novelty tracks include French street musicians playing Anarchy in the UK, and a medley of several Sex Pistols songs covered by a disco band.
Note. Sid Vicious died of a heroin overdose in February 1979, not long after facing charges of murdering his girlfriend Nancy Spungen. In 2006, the Sex Pistols, were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, but refused to attend, calling the museum a piss stain.
Sisters Of Mercy. Alice. 1983. Extended Play.
The Sisters of Mercy are an English rock band that formed in 1980. After achieving early underground fame in UK, the band had their commercial breakthrough in mid-1980s and sustained it until the early 1990s. The Sisters of Mercy is known as the first gothic musical act, and utilized deep, brooding bass vocals with highly melodic guitar riffs, and dance beats associated with underground nightclubs of London. The Alice EP is the second independent release by The Sisters of Mercy. It was released as a 12-inch vinyl on Merciful Release, the band’s label. The EP was never released on a stand-alone CD, but is compiled in Some Girls Wander by Mistake.
First And Last And Only. March 11, 1985.
First, And Last, And Always is a compilation of several prior tracks, with some new tracks included. Each album released by the band was recorded by a different line-up; singer and songwriter Andrew Eldritch and a drum machine called Doktor Avalanche are the only points of continuity among the line-ups. The group ceased recording activity in 1993, when they went on strike against their record company Time Warner, which they accused of withholding royalties and of incompetence. Time Warner eventually let the band go, and the band has not signed to another label. They have chosen not to use an independent label, despite showcasing numerous new songs in their live sets.
Son Lux. At War With Mazes. 2008.
Ryan Lott says he never intended to be a singer. When making the first Son Lux record, he used his voice as the guide track, assuming he could find other singers more capable of the task. Lott realized the weirdness and falling apart quality of his voice, and worked to balance the “highly organized and just-so vibe of the music.” This is his way of explaining how he became a vocalist. However he realized his potential as a vocalist it works well on this recording.
Spiritualized. Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space. March 1997.
Spiritualized is an English space rock band formed in 1990 in Rugby, Warwickshire by Jason Pierce (who often goes by the alias J. Spaceman) after the demise of his previous outfit, Spacemen 3. The membership of Spiritualized has changed from album to album, with Pierce, who writes, composes and sings all of the band’s material, and remains the only constant member. Spiritualized have released seven albums. The best known and most critically acclaimed is Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, which NME magazine named as their Album of the Year. Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space is the third album released by this space rock, dream pop and neo-psychedelia band. The album features guest appearances from the Balanescu Quartet, The London Community Gospel Choir and Dr. John.
Steve Miller. Anthology. 1972.
Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Steve Miller received his first exposure to music from his mother, Bertha, whom he described as a remarkable non-professional jazz-influenced singer, and his physician father, George, known as Sonny who, in addition to his profession as a pathologist, was a jazz enthusiast and accomplished amateur recording engineer. Moreover, guitar virtuoso Les Paul and his musical partner Mary Ford were regular visitors at the Miller house and Dr. and Mrs. Miller were best man and maid of honor at their December 1949 wedding. Les Paul. Anthology is the first greatest hits compilation album for the Steve Miller Band, covering material from their first five albums. It has been certified Gold in the U.S. Stand out songs include Going To Mexico, and Saving Grace.
Stevie Ray Vaughan. Texas Flood. June 13, 1983.
Stevie Vaughan was an American guitarist best known as the leader of the blues rock band Double Trouble, with whom he recorded four albums. Born and raised in Dallas, he moved to Austin at the age of 17, and formed the band, Triple Threat Revue, that evolved into Double Trouble. Texas Flood is Vaughan’s debut album. Vaughan was highly rated as one of the greatest guitarists of all time. He was ranked at No. 7 on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 Greatest Guitarists. Vaughan won six Grammy Awards, and was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. Vaughan sold more than 11.5 million albums with Double Trouble.
Note. On August 27, 1990, while departing a concert venue by helicopter in East Troy, Wisconsin, Vaughan was killed when the helicopter crashed into the side of a ski hill.
Stray Cats. Stray Cats. February 1981.
Stray Cats is an American rockabilly band formed in Long Island, New York by guitarist/vocalist Brian Setzer, upright bassist Lee Rocker and Slim Jim Phantom on drums. The group had numerous hit singles in the UK, Australia and the U.S. including Stray Cat Strut, Sexy And 17, and Rock This Town, which the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame has listed as one of the 500 most important songs in the history of rock and roll. Eddie Cochran, Carl Perkins, Gene Vincent and Bill Haley heavily influenced the group. When the Stray Cats heard a rumor that there was a revival of the 1950s Teddy Boy movement in England, the band moved to the UK. They spearheaded the rockabilly revival movement, by blending the 1950s Sun Studio sound with modern punk musical elements.
In the summer of 1980 the Stray Cats entered the studio to record their self-titled debut album, Stray Cats, released in Britain on Arista Records. They had three hits that year with Runaway Boys, Rock This Town, and Stray Cat Strut. The next UK release, Gonna Ball, was not as well received, and had no hits. Yet the combined sales of their first two albums was enough to convince EMI America to compile the best tracks from the two UK albums and issue an album in the U.S. The record went on to sell double platinum and was the No. 2 record on the Billboard album charts for 26 weeks.
Styx. Styx. March 1972.
Styx is an American rock band that became famous in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Chicago band is best known for melding progressive rock with the hard rock, strong ballads, and elements of American musical theater. Styx is the self-titled debut released in 1972 and contains much of the bands best material.
Ted Nugent. Ted Nugent. November 1975.
Nugent dropped the Amboy Dukes band name in 1975, when he signed as a solo artist to Epic Records. The band consisted of Derek St. Holmes (vocals), Rob Grange (bass) and Clifford Davies (drums) with Nugent on guitar. This debut album contains the hard rockin’ anthems Hey Baby, Stranglehold, Snakeskin Cowboys and Storm Troopers. It was during this era that Nugent emerged as a guitar hero to hard rock fans, many who were unaware of his lengthy apprenticeship with the Amboy Dukes.
Teenage Fan Club. Thirteen. October 1993.
Teenage Fanclub is an alternative rock band from Bellshill, Scotland. The band’s is influenced by the Byrds, but also has a hard rock guitar style that was popular in the late 80s and 90s. The standout strength of the band is its use of harmony vocals. Although often pegged as alternative, the group has incorporated a wide variety of elements in its song writing.
Ten Years After. Cricklewood Green. April 17, 1970.
Ten Years After is an English blues-rock band that has composed eight Top 40 albums on the UK charts. In addition the band has had twelve albums enter the U.S. Billboard 200. Ten Years After is best known for their songs I’m Going Home, Hear Me Calling, I’d Love to Change the World, and Love Like a Man. Cricklewood Green is their best studio work.
Tommy James And The Shondells. Crimson And Clover.1968.
Tommy James and the Shondells are an American rock group whose greatest success came in the late 1960s. The band scored two No. 1 hits in the U.S. with Hanky Panky, and the classic Crimson And Clover, which has been covered by several bands but none have come close to capturing the incredible originality of the band’s studio performance. Tommy James And The Shondells have also charted 12 other Top 40 hits, including five in the top ten. These include Crystal Blue Persuasion, as well as Crimson And Clover, which was mentioned above. Both songs are on this album.
U2. Boy. October 20, 1980.
U2 is an Irish alternative rock band that formed at Mount Temple Comprehensive School when the members were teenagers with limited musical proficiency. Within four years, they signed with Island Records and released their debut album Boy. Common themes among the album’s songs are the thoughts and frustrations of adolescence. The album included the band’s first UK hit single, I Will Follow. By the mid-1980s, U2 became a top international act. The band was more successful as live performers than at selling records, until their breakthrough album The Joshua Tree, which, according to Rolling Stone, elevated the band’s stature from heroes to superstars.
War. February 28, 1983.
War is the third album U2, released on February 28th, 1983. The album is overtly political, with songs like Sunday Bloody Sunday, and New Year’s Day. While the central themes of their earlier albums Boy and October focused on adolescence and spirituality, respectively, War focused on both the physical aspects of warfare, and the emotional after-effects. Musically, it is also harsher than the band’s previous releases. The album has been described as the record where the band turned pacifism into a crusade.
The Unforgettable Fire. October 1, 1984.
The Unforgettable Fire is the fourth album by U2. The band wanted a different musical direction following War. They employed Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois to produce and assist them experiment with a more ambient and abstract sound. The resulting change in direction showed the band at its most dramatic.
Uriah Heep. Salisbury. January 1971.
Uriah Heep is an English rock band formed in London. The band is regarded as one of the seminal hard rock acts of the 1970s. Uriah Heep’s progressive, art and heavy rock fusion features hard rock guitar, keyboards, vocal harmonies and in the early years David Byron’s operatic vocals. Salisbury is the second album released by the band. Although the tracks are more hard rock than on the band’s previous release Very ‘Eavy Very ‘Umble, Salisbury features a bit of jazz-fusion on The Park, which is a tune borrowed from a traditional Bolivian song titled Nacimiento. The album also includes the acoustic ballad Lady In Black, which has a strong anti-war lyrical theme in a traditional writing format that only the British can do so well. Unlike their first album, songwriting credits for fully half of the record are attributed to Ken Hensley alone, as opposed to the collaborative partnership credits of Box/Byron on the debut.
Ween. 12 Golden Country Greats. July 16, 1996.
Ween is an American experimental rock band that formed in New Hope, Pennsylvania when Aaron Freeman and Mickey Melchiondo met in an eighth grade typing class. Ween has a large cult underground fanbase despite not being so well known in American pop culture. The band’s style is eclectic, and while Ween could be referred to as rock music, one of their defining tendencies has always been to experiment with various styles, often incorporating elements of humor and absurdity.
12 Golden Country Greats is Ween’s fifth album, and third for Elektra Records. This album marked the first time Ween limited themselves to a specific genre. Bringing in a wide variety of seasoned, and legendary Nashville musicians, including Charlie McCoy Buddy Spicher, Bobby Ogdin and The Jordanaires, the album sought to recreate the sound of golden-age country music with a great amount of success, while also combining this sound with classic Ween on such tracks as Piss Up a Rope. The legendary Bradley’s Barn was chosen for recording the album. Later, Ween would assemble some of the session musicians again into a touring band dubbed The Shit Creek Boys.
The Verve. Urban Hymns. September 29, 1997.
The Verve were an English rock band formed in Wigan by vocalist Richard Ashcroft, guitarist Nick McCabe, bass guitarist Simon Jones and drummer Peter Salisbury. The band endured several changes due to health problems, drug abuse and various lawsuits. Filter referred to them as one of the tightest, yet ultimately volatile bands in history. The band’s commercial breakthrough was the 1997 album Urban Hymns, one of the best-selling albums in UK Chart history, and the single Bitter Sweet Symphony, which became a worldwide hit. In 1998, the band won Best British Group, and appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine two times. Bitter Sweet Symphony was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rock Song.
The Who. Tommy. May 23, 1969.
The Who is an English rock band formed in 1964 by Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle, and Keith Moon. The band was known for their energetic live performances, which often included the destruction of instruments. The Who has sold approximately 100 million records, and have charted 27 Top 40 singles in both the UK, and U.S. Tommy is the bands fourth album. It is a double album that tells the story about a deaf, dumb and blind boy who becomes the leader of a messianic cult. Tommy was the first musical work to be billed as a rock opera. Released in 1969, the album was mostly composed by Pete Townshend. In 1998 it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for historical, artistic and significant value. It has sold over 20 million copies worldwide.
Wishbone Ash. Argus. April 28, 1972.
Wishbone Ash is a British rock band, which achieved success in the 70s. The band is considered one of the major innovators of the twin lead guitar format. Their contributions helped in Powell and Turner being voted two of the Ten Most Important Guitarists in Rock History by Traffic magazine, and two of the Top 20 Guitarists Of All Time in Rolling Stone. Melody Maker described Ted Turner and Andy Powell as the most interesting two guitar team since the days when Beck and Page performed in The Yardbirds. Argus is the third album by Wishbone Ash, and was named Album of the Year in Sounds magazine. The sound engineer on Argus was Martin Birch, who also worked with Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and other hard rock bands.
Yes. Close To The Edge. September 13, 1972.
Yes is an English rock band that achieved worldwide success as a progressive, art rock band. The band is regarded as one of the pioneers of the progressive rock genre. Yes is also known for lengthy songs, mystical lyrics, and elaborate album artwork. Original members include Jon Davison, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White, and Geoff Downes. Rick Wakeman on keyboards, and Steve Howe on guitar are musicians that later joined the group and became an integral part of the band’s sound. Yes have sold nearly 50 million albums worldwide. Formed in 1968 the band released two albums to lukewarm reception and sales. The band began to enjoy success after the release of The Yes Album and Fragile, which featured Howe and Wakeman. They achieved further success with Close to the Edge, which is the band’s finest work.
Close to the Edge is the fifth album and was released on Atlantic Records. It reached No. 4 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard 200, and remained on the charts for 32 weeks.
ACDC. For Those About To Rock.
The Alarm. Declaration.
Al Green. Al Green’s Greatest Hits.
Anti-Nowhere League. We Are The League.
Babe Ruth. First Base.
B52’s. Cosmic Thing.
Bear Mountain Band. One More Day.
Beastie Boys. Check Your Head.
Brian Eno. Before And After Science.
Buggles. The Age Of Plastic.
Cabaret Voltaire. Mix-Up.
The Chi-Lites. Greatest Hits.
The Clash. London Calling.
The Cocteau Twins. Garlands, Victorialand, and Blue Bell Knoll.
Doc Watson. Doc Watson, and The Elementary Doc Watson.
Eddie Cochran. The Very Best Of Eddie Cochran.
Edgar Winter. Edgar Winter’s White Trash, and They Only Come Out At Night.
Eric Clapton And Cream. Fresh Cream, and Goodbye.
Gene Vincent. Gene Vincent And The Bluecats.
Harry Nilsson. Son Of Schmilsson.
Iggy Pop. Fun House.
J.J. Cale. Special Edition.
John Mellencamp. Scarecrow.
Jackson Browne. For Everyman.
James Brown. Please Please Please.
James Taylor. Sweet Baby James.
Jane’s Addiction. Jane’s Addiction.
Janis Martin. Female Elvis.
Joe Williams. A Man Ain’t Supposed To Cry.
Johnny Burnette. Johnny Burnette And The Rock ‘N’ Roll Trio.
Kraftwerk. The Man-Machine.
The Monkees. Head.
Mose Allison. Allison Wonderland Anthology.
Pearl Jam. Ten.
Queen. A Night At The Opera, and A Day At The Races
Quicksilver Messenger Service. Quicksilver Messenger Service.
Radiohead. Pablo Honey.
Rage Against The Machine. Rage Against The Machine.
Robert Gordon. Rock Billy Boogie. Fresh Fish Special.
Rolling Stones. Let It Bleed. Sticky Fingers.
Roy Orbison. Roy Orbison’s Greatest Hits.
Samsara Blues Experiment. Long Distance Trip.
Simon And Garfunkel. The Concert In Central Park.
Status Quo. Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon.
Sly Stone. Greatest Hits.
The Smiths. The Queen Is Dead.
Soft Cell. Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret.
Tangerine Dream. Electronic Meditation, Phaedra, and Rubycon.
Television. Marquee Moon.
The Temptations. Greatest Hits.
Wanda Jackson. The Best Of Wanda Jackson
Wes Montgomery. California Dreaming.
Willie Dixon. Willie Dixon’s Peace.
Woody Guthrie. Dust Bowl Ballads.