Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The List of Lists 2014

You can never quarantine the etc. etc. etc.

The compilation and 1974 song lists are both new and were a blast to make. The rest of the lists were created when I started this blog and I more or less stand by them; though I would rank almost all of them differently now, they've never been posted before and I hate wasting data. (A good example: there is no way that I would rate Parklife above Ready to Die or Funeral over Yoko now; also, I'd now switch Joanna Newsom and Iron & Wine, though I still love that I&W album dearly.) The rankings near the top of '74 and '84 are so difficult as to be all but meaningless; how to compare three masterpieces like Spring Hill Fair, Let It Be and Purple Rain, three of the best longform recordings issued in my lifetime? Same question for On the Beach and Fulfillingness only change that to before my lifetime. Speaking of which, the '74 albums list goes beyond a top ten because there are several records that richly deserve to be in there that just won't fit. The songs list isn't perfect and is probably missing some heavy hitter or another but I bet I can't list that many great singles from any year since.

Back to regular posting in a day or two!

BEST / MOST ESSENTIAL COMPILATION ALBUMS
Ranked more by my idiosyncratic listening habits than anything more objective, this is really a list of discs that seldom leave regular rotation around the house here; I play greatest-hits sets more often than albums, generally, because so many of the best artists didn't really record many great or consistent LPs. I'm not counting "twofer" discs of studio albums, or else the CD with Big Star's first two albums would probably top this list. By the way, I actually don't own #4 but I made a playlist and CDR using the Specialty Sessions box, which is a good enough investment that I advise you to do the same rather than buy it separately. (There will be a separate boxed sets list at some point I think.) #10 is two different releases but either will do the trick with a bit of judicious programming, and since nearly every Beatles album is a must-own it's preferable to any of the best-ofs that are on the market, all of which are flawed for various reasons.

1. Chuck Berry: The Great Twenty-Eight
2. Sam Cooke: Portrait of a Legend
3. Buddy Holly: Greatest Hits
4. Little Richard: The Georgia Peach
5. The Beach Boys: Endless Summer
6. Hank Williams: 40 Greatest Hits
7. Aretha Franklin: 20 Greatest Hits
8. Pet Shop Boys: Discography - The Complete Singles Collection
9. Carl Perkins: Original Sun Greatest Hits
10. The Beatles: Past Masters / Mono Masters
11. Smokey Robinson & the Miracles: Ultimate Collection
12. Elvis Presley: The Sun Sessions
13. Skip James: Complete 1930 Recordings
14. The Kinks: The Kink Kronikles
15. Marvin Gaye: Very Best Of
16. The Everly Brothers: All-Time Original Hits
17. Roy Orbison: All-Time Greatest Hits
18. The Shangri-Las: Myrmidons of Melodrama
19. Madonna: The Immaculate Collection
20. Blind Willie Johnson: Complete
21. Fela Kuti: Best of the Black President
22. John Lee Hooker: Very Best Of
23. Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings
24. The Supremes: Ultimate Collection
25. Elvis Presley: 30 #1 Hits

1964 ALBUMS
1. John Coltrane: A Love Supreme (Impulse!) A+
2. The Beatles: A Hard Day's Night (Parlophone) A+
3. Beatles for Sale (Parlophone) A+
4. Kinda Kinks (Pye) A
5. The Beach Boys: All Summer Long (Capitol) A-
6. Chuck Berry: St. Louis to Liverpool (Chess) A-
7. Bob Dylan: The Times They Are A-Changin' (Columbia) A-
8. The Rivieras: Let's Have A Party (USA) A-
9. Herbie Hancock: Empyrean Isles (Blue Note) A-
10. Another Side of Bob Dylan (Columbia) A-

1974 ALBUMS
1. Neil Young: On the Beach (Reprise) A+
2. Stevie Wonder: Fulfillingness' First Finale (Tamla) A+
3. Parliament: Up for the Down Stroke (Casablanca) A
4. Brian Eno: Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) (Island) A
5. Gram Parsons: Grievous Angel (Reprise) A
6. The Meters: Rejuvenation (Reprise) A
7. The New York Dolls: Too Much Too Soon (Mercury) A
8. Labelle: Nightbirds (Epic) A
9. Ohio Players: Skin Tight (Mercury) A
10. Richard & Linda Thompson: I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight (Island) A
+
Leonard Cohen: New Skin for the Old Ceremony (Columbia) A
Funkadelic: Standing on the Verge of Getting It On (Westbound) A
Brian Eno: Here Come the Warm Jets (Island) A

1974 SONGS
[Except for hit singles, allowing only one song per album because I enjoy making things difficult. Did you know "Take Me to the River" was not a single? Until I did this, neither did I.]
1. Miles Davis "He Loved Him Madly" [Get Up With It]
2. Stevie Wonder "Boogie On Reggae Woman" [Fulfillingness' First Finale]
3. Al Green "Take Me to the River" [Al Green Explores Your Mind]
4. The Meters "Hey Pocky A Way" [Reuvenation]
5. Stevie Wonder "You Haven't Done Nothin'" [Fulfillingness' First Finale]
6. Brian Eno "On Some Faraway Beach" [Here Come the Warm Jets]
7. James Brown "Funky President (People It's Bad)" [Reality]
8. George McCrae "Rock Your Baby" [Rock Your Baby]
9. Average White Band "Pick Up the Pieces" [AWB]
10. Hues Corporation "Rock the Boat" [Freedom for the Stallion]
11. Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes "The Love I Lost" [Black & Blue]
12. Neil Young "For the Turnstiles" [On the Beach]
13. Gram Parsons "In My Hour of Darkness" [Grievous Angel]
14. David Bowie "Sweet Thing" [Diamond Dogs]
15. Patti Smith "Piss Factory" [non-album 7"]
16. The Rolling Stones "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll" [It's Only Rock 'n' Roll]
17. Leonard Cohen "Lover Lover Lover" [New Skin for the Old Ceremony]
18. James Brown "Papa Don't Take No Mess" [Hell]
19. Golden Earring "Radar Love" [Moontan]
20. Carol Douglas "Doctor's Orders" [The Carol Douglas Album]
21. Parliament "All Your Goodies Are Gone" [Up for the Down Stroke]
22. George McCrae "You Can Have It All" [Rock Your Baby]
23. Gladys Knight & the Pips "I've Got to Use My Imagination" [Imagination]
24. Ohio Players "Fire" [Fire]
25. Marvin Gaye "Distant Lover" [Live!]
26. Richard & Linda Thompson "The End of the Rainbow" [I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight]
27. The New York Dolls "(There's Gonna Be A) Showdown" {Archie Bell & the Drells cover} [Too Much Too Soon]
28. Bob Marley & the Wailers "Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)" [Natty Dread]
29. Ohio Players "Skin Tight" [Skin Tight]
30. Carl Douglas "Kung Fu Fighting" [Kung Fu Fighting and Other Great Love Songs]
31. Gloria Gaynor "Never Can Say Goodbye" {Jackson 5 cover} [Never Can Say Goodbye]
32. John Cale "The Man Who Couldn't Afford to Orgy" [Fear]
33. The Flamin' Groovies "You Tore Me Down" [non-album 7"; later Shake Some Action]
34. James Brown "The Payback" [The Payback]
35. Love Unlimited Orchestra "Love's Theme" [Rhapsody in White]
36. Labelle "Lady Marmalade" [Nightbirds]
37. John Lennon "#9 Dream" [Walls and Bridges]
38. Funkadelic "Red Hot Mama" [Standing on the Verge of Getting It On]
39. Lou Reed "Kill Your Sons" [Sally Can't Dance]
40. Kool & the Gang "Jungle Boogie" [Wild and Peaceful]
41. Aretha Franklin "Until You Come Back to Me" [Let Me in Your Life]
42. The Kinks "He's Evil" [Preservation Act II]
43. Jackson 5 "Dancing Machine" [GIT: Get It Together]
44. Barry White "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe" [Can't Get Enough]
45. William DeVaughn "Be Thankful for What You Got" [Be Thankful for What You Got]
46. Disco Tex & the Sex o Lettes "Get Dancin'" [Get Dancin']
47. Wings "Junior's Farm" [non-album 7"]
48. Brian Eno "Back in Judy's Jungle" [Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)]
49. Hot Chocolate "Emma" [non-album 7"]
50. Ringo Starr "No No Song" [Goodnight Vienna] {actually terrible but it needs to be on this list}

1984 ALBUMS
1. The Replacements: Let It Be (Twin/Tone) A+
2. Prince: Purple Rain (Warner Bros.) A+
3. The Go-Betweens: Spring Hill Fair (Beggars Banquet) A+
4. Run-DMC (Profile) A+
5. Katrina & the Waves 2 (Attic) A
6. R.E.M.: Reckoning (I.R.S.) A
7. The Bangles: All Over the Place (Columbia) A
8. Depeche Mode: Some Great Reward (Sire) A
9. U2: The Unforgettable Fire (Island) A
10. OMD: Junk Culture (A&M) A-

1994 ALBUMS
1. Blur: Parklife (EMI) A+
2. The Notorious B.I.G.: Ready to Die (Bad Boy) A+
3. Pavement: Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (Matador) A+
4. Nas: Illmatic (Columbia) A+
5. Jeff Buckley: Grace (Columbia) A
6. Oasis: Definitely Maybe (Epic) A
7. Johnny Cash: American Recordings (Columbia) A-
8. Common: Resurrection (Relativity) A-
9. The Magnetic Fields: The Charm of the Highway Strip (Merge) A-
10. Digable Planets: Blowout Comb (EMI) A-

2004 ALBUMS
1. Kanye West: The College Dropout (Def Jam) A+
2. Iron & Wine: Our Endless Numbered Days (Sub Pop) A
3. Joanna Newsom: The Milk Eyed Mender (Drag City) A
4. Arcade Fire: Funeral (Merge) A-
5. Björk: Medulla (Atlantic) A-
6. Saturday Looks Good to Me: Every Night (Polyvinyl) A-
7. TV on the Radio: Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes (4AD) A-
8. The Walkmen: Bows & Arrows (Record Collection) A-
9. Beulah: Yoko (Velocette) A-
10. Elliott Smith: From a Basement on the Hill (Anti-) A-

[Just for fun: 2004 is the first year within this post in which I was conscious enough of what was going on to make a best-of-the-year list. I was amusingly enough an ardent hater of Kanye West at the time and was unfamiliar with several other items above. Medulla, which I then thought was an extraordinary accomplishment and still think is pretty amazing, was #1, Leonard Cohen and Wilco made it, and I'm too embarrassed to tell you about the rest.]