local alternative radio station, WFUV, had an "essential album"
subscription drive this year -- listeners shared their list of
"essential albums" with their DJ's, and their DJ's shared their's
with listeners, and played a song or two off the albums that people
submitted, over a week's time period.
they didn't play any of mine. I didn't give them any money for their
subscription drive, so I guess we're even.
they posted the list of 'essential albums' that each of their DJ's came up
with, and the cumulative list of top 90 essential albums that fans
submitted. None of mine made the top 90 either; you probably needed two
votes on an album to have it listed. I should've voted twice.
enough, the most interesting list was that of their webmaster; their DJ's
listed the same old albums that have been played ad infinitum by radio
stations through the decades. Not bad albums; but after listening to Abbey
Road one billion fucking times, how many more times can you listen to it? It
can't be that 'essential albums' for the most part stopped being made in
1976 can it? You would think so after seeing their lists.
my list, as I submitted it to WFUV. Essential albums, according to me. You can send me your
essential albums list and paperbacknovel.com will publish it. Swear
to god. You don't have to send us any money either.
Lost in Space
-- Aimee Mann
quintessential Aimee Mann album. Spacy, great lyrics, love her
intonations; the way she sings a song. Name me another female artist
who writes an album about space! (even though her Lost in Space
isn't quite the same as Pink Floyd's). I love all of Mann's albums,
but I'd say I love this one the most.
Ghost of You
-- MaryAnne Marino
Marino is the
new breed of 'city folk' artists (even though she doesn't get played
on your radio station). Her song "Conversation" is one of
the best folk compositions of the last 30 years; "Subway"
the quintessential city folk song. "Solitaire", It's
Great", and "Goodbye My Love" other favorite songs.
And then you have Marino's silky smooth, powerful voice. A lot of
fun. I've listened to this album over 500 times probably; as much as
any record in my record collection, or more.
Has Been -- William
A gem of our
time, Shatner, writes down essentially his life story, his
autobiography, and Ben Folds puts it to music. And they get some of
the best artists in the industry today to duet with Bill. The album
will make you laugh, make you cry, fill you with melancholy; it is
wistful, silly, fun, and rockin. One of the best albums of the last
10 years. Joe Jackson is exceptional. Aimee Mann perfect (as the
voice of one of his daughters). I've listened to this album over and
over and over, even a year after first listening; it holds true.
First time I
heard this album was on the radio as I was driving on the dark roads
of Massachusetts one night -- the radio station played it through
and through. The album BLEW ME AWAY. And still does today.
all starts with Zeppelin for me. First time I heard Kashmir, I said
to myself, that's a damn good song. Second time I heard it I said to
myself, wow. Third time I heard it I ran out and bought this album.
I was like 12. To me this may be the greatest album of all-time. Two
record set of the 'definitive diz-buster heavy metal band'. The
melodies! The folk! The rock! The rockin folky melodies! Page's
guitar and Plant's canibal yell.
was the list I submitted, and my reasoning for each one. I have many more
essential albums -- I'll keep adding more as they come to me, so keep
checking back. Or send me your list already.
Here's more, in no particular order --
guaranteed you will put these albums on over and over and over again.
Fun House --
straight-up, hard-driving, blues-based rock-and-roll record. Maybe
the best rock-and-roll record of all time. Infectious energy.
Incredible psychedelic blues guitar riffs. Iggy Pop is god.
Sleep and Dream of Fire --
From out of the
DIY (Do It Yourself) scene and the Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina
belt, one of
the best albums of the new century. It
is great American folk music, sometimes hard driving, sometimes
soft, but always melodic, thoughtful, and thought-provoking, with a
haunting female lead vocal.
Great music, great lyrics, unique topics; Sequoya is making some of
the best music being made today.
The Rising --
the first major artist to attempt to put into music a response to
the September 11th, 2001 devastation of the World Trade Center
towers. It was a very difficult and touchy subject at a very
difficult time, and he nailed it. He summed up the day, the feelings
of those involved, even the feeling one got afterwards of the view
of the 'empty sky'. Springsteen puts you in the shoes of the
unknowing husband or wife waiting and hoping for their partner to return. The
album is sad and inspirational and melodic and rocking; it reaches
out a hand and brings in arabic music to help us remember we are all
one people. It is Springsteen at his best; a poet representing the
common man and woman. One of the great albums of all time.
The WIld, the Innocent, and
the E-Street Shuffle --
The imagery in
the lyrics of
the young poet Bruce Springsteen is phenomenal on this album; as are
the melodies and the energy and the passion.
1,000 Kisses --
So pretty, so melodic -- this whole
album. It is a gentle kiss of an album. One thousand gentle kisses.
Velvet Underground and Nico
thought Lou Reed was a poor man's Bob Dylan until I listened to this
album. In some ways it was the other way around, especially when
forging electric psychedelic, distortion-based blues rock and roll.
Reed is the street-wise poet in the back alley with the needles on
the floor, and Nico is singing her deep, bleak vocals from the
drug-laden tenement apartment on the first floor.
Every rock-and-roll fan that was alive
in 1991 remembers where they were when they first heard Nirvana's
"Smells Like Teen Spirit". I was driving in my car in Brooklyn, and
they came on the radio. God Damn -- finally -- powerful,
stripped-down, passionate rock-and-roll; and you just knew
that this music was going to blow the crap that had been
playing on the radio (hair bands of the eighties with costumes and
synthesizers and over production.) off the radio.
A Mexico, Con Amore --
I've had a
lifelong grudge against Jose Feliciano
for covering the Doors Light My Fire while it was still on the
charts. I was ignorant and naive. Jose is one of the great guitar
players of the last 50 years; a fabulous classical guitar player.
Youtube has unearthed this. Jose sings some of the great, classic
Mexican songs on this album, and plays guitar. Fabulous album. The
music is so good.
Blood on the Tracks --
morning the sun was rising; I was laying in bed. Dylan at his
story-telling best and the music gets right to you.
Dark Side of the Moon --
Turn out the lights, put the volume of
the stereo way up high, and take a journey through space, in your
The White Stripes
Jack White continues the tradition of
Iggy Pop and the Stooges with passionate,
blues-driven, psychedelic, hard-driving rock and roll.
Joni Mitchell Ladies of the Canyon,
oincludes "For Fee", "Conversation", Big Yellow Taxi, Woodstock