Gary Giddins – Heir to a Secret History (Jason Moran) (Village Voice, October 17, 2001; reprinted in Weather Bird, 2004)

Sometimes great lists are snuck indiscriminately into the middle of an article, presented as an aside or provided as context, nearly hidden from view, formatted like regular text when you and I both know it is in fact no such thing. Look at that Oxford comma! That is not a sentence; that is a list! Treat it with respect! Provide line breaks and present it vertically! Give it bullet points! List items in order of preference! Listers; what would the world do without us.

Here’s an example of just such a monstrosity: near the beginning of this Giddins article praising jazz pianist Jason Moran there hides a short but excellent list of ’60s Blue Note albums which “epitomize the struggle to remake jazz structure, employing free spirits unleashed by the avant-garde without embracing the potential chaos of unstructured improvisation.” Eureka! It’s a secret history of ’60s progressive jazz in list form: not a history in which mainstream musicians resist the avant-garde, nor one in which the avant-garde resists the mainstream, but something more nuanced than that (and, let’s be honest, everything is a little more nuanced than that, amirite? Except that which constitutes a list; obviously, in this, there are no exceptions).

The recordings Giddins lists present that history and aesthetic puzzle in all of its angular and peculiar beauty. Granted, like a punk, he couched it in the substance of a sound and compelling argument, but still, we’ll give him a pass because 1. he’s Gary Giddins, and 2. it’s a great list. Enjoy.

  • Sam Rivers, Fuchsia Swing Song (“which should be heard as presented by Mosaic . . . including three utterly dissimilar alternate takes of ‘Downstairs Blues Upstairs'” [also included as bonus tracks on the 2003 Blue Note Connoisseur Series reissue])
  • Jackie McLean, Destination Out!
  • Eric Dolphy, Out to Lunch
  • Tony Williams, Lifetime
  • Wayne Shorter, The All-Seeing Eye
  • Andrew Hill, Point of Departure
  • Bobby Hutcherson, Components

Jazz (by Scott DeVeaux and Gary Giddins) – Collecting Jazz Recordings (2009)

According to the authors, this is not a 100-best list of jazz recordings: “Each entry represents a way to explore a part of jazz and, with it, your own emotional and intellectual responses to it.” Ah nuts, you might say–usually covering this much ground leads to something totally generic. Thankfully, this list is too eccentric for that. It also proves an excellent expansion of Giddins’ Postwar Jazz: An Arbitrary Roadmap.

Jazz doubles as a college textbook, so its audience is assumed to be college-aged as of 2009. This leads to writing about the collecting of jazz records as if to preserve, for future generations, this lost rite of passage. Said journey leads to gorgeous aesthetic theory: “jazz is a blend of art and entertainment, and its first objective is to give pleasure.” Yes. “Listen to everything  with empathy, but don’t be intimidated into letting go of your bullshit detector–this applies to arts and to arts criticism. It even applies to this book.” Laurie Anderson hardly said it better. “Your taste will change over time, and if you are lucky, that will mean an expansion rather than a diminishment in interest, curiosity, and receptiveness.” Absolutely, though perhaps it’s not luck, but rather work worth doing. “There is something deeply creepy about middle-aged people who will listen to nothing but music that turned them on when they were teenagers.” Amen to that.

“Here is a list of 100 albums by 100 artists,” even if it turns out there are two number 34s, so scratch that and write in 101 (caveat: I have an early copy; this was likely corrected). Dates listed for each item are the year(s) of recording, and not necessarily the release date. No CDs include more than two discs, and multi-artist compilations are excluded. All albums were “available in one form or another in the final months of 2008,” say the authors, a stipulation which limited their list: “We were astonished that we could not find–as CDs or MP3s–suitable anthologies or classic albums by Jack Teagarden, Randy Weston, Henry Threadgill, Anthony Braxton, and, incredibly, the prewar Lester Young.” So make that 106? Never enough. Happy spelunking.

  1. Muhal Richard Abrams, Blu Blu Blu (Black Saint), 1990
  2. Cannonball Adderley, Mercy, Mercy, Mercy! (Capitol), 1966
  3. Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt, Boss Tenors (Polygram), 1961
  4. Louis Armstrong, The Complete Hot Five & Hot Seven Recordings, vol. 3 (Columbia), 1928
  5. Albert Ayler, Spiritual Unity (ESP-Disk), 1964
  6. Count Basie, One O’Clock Jump: The Very Best of Count Basie (Sony), 1936-42
  7. Mildred Bailey, The Rockin’ Chair Lady (Verve), 1931-50
  8. Sidney Bechet, The Legendary Sidney Bechet (RCA), 1932-41
  9. Bix Beiderbecke, At the Jazz Band Ball (ASV Living Era), 1924-28
  10. Art Blakey, Mosaic (Blue Note), 1961
  11. Arthur Blythe, Focus (Savant), 2002
  12. Lester Bowie, The Great Pretender (ECM), 1981
  13. Clifford Brown and Max Roach, Clifford Brown and Max Roach (Polygram), 1954
  14. Dave Brubeck, Time Out (Columbia), 1959
  15. Jaki Byard and Roland Kirk, The Jaki Byard Experience (Prestige), 1968
  16. Don Byron, Tuskegee Experiments (Nonesuch), 1992
  17. Benny Carter, Further Definitions (Impulse!), 1961
  18. James Carter, Chasin’ the Gypsy (Atlantic), 2000
  19. Bill Charlap, Live at the Village Vanguard (Blue Note), 2007
  20. Charlie Christian, The Benny Goodman Sextet Featuring Charlie Christian (Sony), 1939-41
  21. Nat King Cole, After Midnight: The Complete Session (Blue Note), 1956
  22. Ornette Coleman, Sound Grammar (Sound Grammar), 2006
  23. John Coltrane, A Love Supreme (Impulse!), 1964
  24. Chick Corea, Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (Blue Note), 1968
  25. Sonny Criss and Horace Tapscott, Sonny’s Dream (Prestige OJC), 1968
  26. Bing Crosby, Jazz Singer (Retrieval), 1931-41
  27. Miles Davis, Kind of Blue (Columbia), 1959
  28. Eric Dolphy, Out There (Prestige), 1960
  29. Roy Eldridge, Roy Eldridge with the Gene Krupa Orchestra Featuring Anita O’Day Uptown (Sony), 1941-49
  30. Duke Ellington, The Essential Duke Ellington (Sony), 1927-60
  31. Bill Evans, The Paris Concert, Edition One (Blue Note), 1979
  32. Gil Evans, Out of the Cool (Impulse!), 1960
  33. Ella Fitzgerald, Something to Live For (Verve), 1937-66
  34. Erroll Garner, Concert by the Sea (Sony), 1955
  35. Stan Getz and Kenny Barron, People Time (Polygram), 1992
  36. Dizzy Gillespie, A Night in Tunisia: The Very Best of Dizzy Gillespie (RCA), 1946-49
  37. Benny Goodman, Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert (Sony), 1938
  38. Dexter Gordon, Go! (Blue Note), 1962
  39. Herbie Hancock, Maiden Voyage (Blue Note), 1965
  40. Roy Hargrove, Habana (Polygram), 1997
  41. Johnny Hartman, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman (Impulse!), 1963
  42. Coleman Hawkins, Ken Burns Jazz Collection (Polygram), 1926-63
  43. Roy Haynes, Roy Haynes Trio Featuring Danilo Perez and John Pattitucci (Polygram), 2000
  44. Fletcher Henderson, Ken Burns Jazz Collection (Sony), 1924-40
  45. Woody Herman, Blowin’ Up a Storm: The Columbia Years (Sony), 1945-47
  46. Andrew Hill, Point of Departure (Blue Note), 1964
  47. Billie Holiday, Lady Day: The Best of Billie Holiday (Sony), 1935-42
  48. Dave Holland, Conference of the Birds (ECM), 1972
  49. Keith Jarrett, Whisper Not (ECM), 1999
  50. Stan Kenton, Contemporary Concepts (Blue Note), 1955
  51. Lee Konitz, Motion (Verve), 1961
  52. George Lewis, Jazz in the Classic New Orleans Tradition (Riverside OJC), 1950
  53. Abbey Lincoln, You Gotta Pay the Band (Polygram), 1991
  54. Joe Lovano, Joyous Encounter (Blue Note), 2005
  55. Jimmie Lunceford, Rhythm Is Our Business (ASV Living Era), 1933-40
  56. Rudresh Mahanthappa, Kinsmen (PI), 2008
  57. Wynton Marsalis, Standards & Ballads (Sony), 1983-97
  58. John McLaughlin, Live at the Royal Festival Hall (Polygram), 1989
  59. Brad Mehldau, Live (Nonesuch), 2008
  60. Charles Mingus, The Black Saint & the Sinner Lady (Impulse!), 1963
  61. Roscoe Mitchell, Sound (Delmark), 1966
  62. Modern Jazz Quartet, Django (Prestige), 1953-54
  63. Thelonious Monk, The Best of the Blue Note Years (Blue Note), 1947-52
  64. Wes Montgomery, Smokin’ at the Half Note (Verve), 1965
  65. Jason Moran, Modernisitic (Blue Note), 2002
  66. Lee Morgan, The Sidewinder (Blue Note), 1963
  67. Jelly Roll Morton, Birth of the Hot (RCA Bluebird), 1926-27
  68. Gerry Mulligan, The Concert Jazz Band at the Village Vanguard (Verve), 1960
  69. David Murray, Shakill’s Warrior (Sony), 1991
  70. Fats Navarro and Tadd Dameron, The Complete Blue Note and Capitol Recordings (Blue Note), 1947-49
  71. Oliver Nelson, The Blues and the Abstract Truth (Impulse!), 1961
  72. King Oliver, Off the Record: The Complete Jazz Band Recordings (Archeophone), 1923
  73. Charlie Parker, Best of the Complete Savoy and Dial Studio Recordings (Savoy), 1944-48
  74. Bud Powell, Jazz Giant (Verve), 1949-50
  75. Joshua Redman, Back East (Nonesuch), 2007
  76. Django Reinhardt, The Best of Django Reinhardt (Blue Note), 1936-48
  77. Sam Rivers, Fuchsia Swing Song (Blue Note), 1964
  78. Sonny Rollins, Road Shows, vol. 1 (Doxy), 1980-2007
  79. Jimmy Rushing, Mr. Five by Five (Pearl), 1929-42
  80. George Russell, Ezz-Thetics (Riverside), 1961
  81. John Scofield and Pat Metheny, I Can See Your House from Here (Blue Note), 1994
  82. Artie Shaw, Begin the Beguine (RCA), 1938-41
  83. Archie Shepp, Fire Music (Impulse!), 1965
  84. Wayne Shorter, Footprints Live! (Verve), 2002
  85. Horace Silver, Song for My Father (Blue Note), 1964
  86. Bessie Smith, The Essential Bessie Smith (Sony), 1923-33
  87. Jimmy Smith, The Sermon (Blue Note), 1958
  88. Art Tatum, Piano Starts Here (Columbia), 1933-49
  89. Cecil Taylor, Unit Structures (Blue Note), 1966
  90. Lennie Tristano, The New Tristano (Atlantic), 1955-62
  91. Joe Turner, The Boss of the Blues (Atlantic/Collectables), 1956
  92. Sarah Vaughan, Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown (Polygram), 1954
  93. Fats Waller, The Very Best of Fats Waller (RCA), 1929-42
  94. David S. Ware, Go See the World (Columbia), 1998
  95. Dinah Washington, The Essential Dinah Washington (Polygram), 1952-59
  96. Weather Report, Heavy Weather (Sony), 1977
  97. Chick Webb, Stompin’ at the Savoy (ASV Living Era), 1934-39
  98. Ben Webster and Oscar Peterson, Ben Webster Meets Oscar Peterson (Verve), 1959
  99. Cassandra Wilson, Belly of the Sun (Blue Note), 2002
  100. World Saxophone Quartet, Revue (Black Saint), 1980
  101. Lester Young and Teddy Wilson, Pres and Teddy (Verve), 1956

Christgau’s Consumer Guide: Albums of the ’90s – The A Lists (2000)

The entire text of critic Robert Christgau’s Consumer Guide: Albums of the ’90s is available on his website. It is my favorite book; you should read it. In the back of the book are his A Lists, in which the author provides, in order of preference, the best albums of each year–albums which he has graded A- or higher. Most of the albums listed collect new recordings, though some are single- and multi-artist compilations which contain previously released material.

I love those compilations–do not skip them. But including them in a list makes it hard to compare Christgau to his peers, who tend to make separate lists for new and old music. Comparing lists is fun; therefore, below I have excerpted from Christgau’s book top 10 lists which remove compilations of previously released material and feature only albums of newly recorded music. Though this takes many terrific collections of African music out of each list–an important feature of his criticism–several still remain, and balance is kept in the universe.

Christgau scholars will notice that these top 10s are similar to his Pazz & Jop ballots. You’re right, they are. However, if you’re like me, you will enjoy the subtle differences between the two, especially given that the ballots were completed at the end of each year, and the A Lists were completed at the end of the decade. This difference makes the excerpted top 10s functionally similar to other retrospective ’90s lists, and facilitates easier comparison. Did you know Nevermind leaped from #13 to #1? See for yourself!

Jump to a year: 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999.

See also this Online Exchange with Robert Christgau from 2002.


  1. Public Enemy, Fear of a Black Planet (Def Jam)
  2. The Chills, Submarine Bells (Slash/Warner Bros.)
  3. L.L. Cool J, Mama Said Knock You Out (Def Jam)
  4. Red Hot + Blue (Chrysalis)
  5. Pixies, Bossanova (4AD/Elektra)
  6. L7, Smell the Magic (Sub Pop)
  7. Madonna, I’m Breathless (Sire/Warner Bros.)
  8. Beats International, Let Them Eat Bingo (Elektra)
  9. Ice Cube, Kill at Will (Priority)
  10. Macka-B, Natural Suntan (Ariwa)


  1. Nirvana, Nevermind (DGC)
  2. Linton Kwesi Johnson, Tings an’ Times (Shanachie)
  3. Public Enemy, Apocalypse ’91: The Empire Strikes Black (Def Jam)
  4. Loketo, Extra Ball (Shanachie)
  5. Sonny Sharrock Band, Highlife (Enemy)
  6. R.E.M., Out of Time (Warner Bros.)
  7. Bonnie Raitt, Luck of the Draw (Capitol)
  8. The Feelies, Time for a Witness (A&M)
  9. P.M. Dawn, Of the Heart, of the Soul and of the Cross: The Utopian Experience (Gee Street)
  10. Ice-T, O.G.: Original Gangster (Sire/Warner Bros.)


  1. Freedy Johnston, Can You Fly (Bar/None)
  2. Ya Ntesa Dalienst & Le Maquisard, Belalo (Sango Music import)
  3. Mzwakhe Mbuli, Resistance Is Defence (Earthworks)
  4. David Murray, Shakill’s Warrior (DIW/Columbia)
  5. Lucinda Williams, Sweet Old World (Chameleon)
  6. L7, Bricks Are Heavy (Slash)
  7. Tom Zé, Brazil 5: The Return of Tom Zé: The Hips of Tradition (Luaka Bop/Warner Bros.)
  8. Madonna, Erotica (Maverick/Reprise)
  9. Sonic Youth, Dirty (DGC)
  10. Pavement, Slanted and Enchanted (Matador)


  1. Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville (Matador)
  2. Nirvana, In Utero (DGC)
  3. Loudon Wainwright III, Career Moves (Charisma)
  4. Pet Shop Boys, Very  (EMI)
  5. Archers of Loaf, Icky Mettle (Alias)
  6. PJ Harvey, Rid of Me (Island)
  7. De La Soul, Buhloone Mindstate (Tommy Boy)
  8. Digable Planets, Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space) (Pendulum)
  9. P.M. Dawn, The Bliss Album . . . ? (Gee Street)
  10. Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Spinning Around the Sun (Elektra)


  1. Latin Playboys, Latin Playboys (Slash/Warner Bros.)
  2. Iris DeMent, My Life (Warner Bros.)
  3. Sonic Youth, Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star (DGC)
  4. Nirvana, MTV Unplugged in New York (DGC)
  5. Beck, Mellow Gold (DGC)
  6. Hole, Live Through This (DGC)
  7. Pavement, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (Matador)
  8. M People, Elegant Slumming (Epic)
  9. Soul Coughing, Ruby Vroom (Slash/Warner Bros.)
  10. Sebadoh, Bakesale (Sub Pop)


  1. Tricky, Maxinquaye (Island)
  2. Luna, Penthouse (Elektra)
  3. Oruç Guvenc & Tumata, Ocean of Remembrance (Interworld)
  4. Archers of Loaf, Vee Vee (Alias)
  5. Peter Stampfel, You Must Remember This . . . (Gert Town)
  6. Pavement, Wowee Zowee (Matador)
  7. James Carter, The Real Quietstorm (Atlantic)
  8. Yo La Tengo, Electr-O-Pura (Matador)
  9. Randy Newman’s Faust (Reprise)
  10. PJ Harvey, To Bring You My Love (Island)


  1. DJ Shadow, Endtroducing . . . DJ Shadow (Mo’ Wax/FFRR)
  2. Fluffy, Black Eye (The Enclave)
  3. Fugees, The Score (Ruffhouse/Columbia)
  4. Sleater-Kinney, Call the Doctor (Chainsaw)
  5. Amy Rigby, Diary of a Mod Housewife (Koch)
  6. Iris DeMent, The Way I Should (Warner Bros.)
  7. Los Lobos, Colossal Head (Warner Bros.)
  8. Ghostface Killah, Ironman (Razor Sharp/Epic Street)
  9. Nirvana, From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah (DGC)
  10. James Carter, Conversin’ With the Elders (Atlantic)


  1. Arto Lindsay, Mundo Civilizado (Bar/None)
  2. Sleater-Kinney, Dig Me Out (Kill Rock Stars)
  3. Pavement, Brighten the Corners (Matador)
  4. Yo La Tengo, I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One (Matador)
  5. Spring Heel Jack, Busy Curious Thirsty (Island)
  6. The Notorious B.I.G., Life After Death (Bad Boy)
  7. Tiger, Shining in the Wood (Bar/None)
  8. Cornershop, When I Was Born for the 7th Time (Luaka Bop/Warner Bros.)
  9. The Beautiful South, Blue Is the Colour (Ark 21)
  10. Doc Cheatham & Nicholas Payton, Doc Cheatham & Nicholas Payton (Verve)


  1. Lucinda Williams, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (Mercury)
  2. Sonic Youth, A Thousand Leaves (DGC)
  3. Billy Bragg & Wilco, Mermaid Avenue (Elektra)
  4. Liz Phair, Whitechocolatespaceegg (Matador/Capitol)
  5. The Plastic People of the Universe, 1997 (Globus International import)
  6. Public Enemy, He Got Game (Def Jam)
  7. Aretha Franklin, A Rose Is Still a Rose (Arista)
  8. George Clinton & the P-Funk All Stars, Dope Dogs (Dogone)
  9. The Coup, Steal This Album (Dogday)
  10. Beastie Boys, Hello Nasty (Grand Royal)


  1. The Magnetic Fields, 69 Love Songs (Merge)
  2. Moby, Play (V2)
  3. Le Tigre, Le Tigre (Mr. Lady)
  4. John Prine, In Spite of Ourselves (Oh Boy)
  5. Holy Modal Rounders, Too Much Fun (Rounder)
  6. Latin Playboys, Dose (Atlantic)
  7. Sleater-Kinney, The Hot Rock (Kill Rock Stars)
  8. Handsome Boy Modeling School, So . . . How’s Your Girl? (Tommy Boy)
  9. Willie Nelson, Night and Day (Pedernales/FreeFalls)
  10. Prince Paul, Prince Paul Presents A Prince Among Thieves (Tommy Boy)

The Rolling Stone 200 – The Essential Rock Collection (May 15, 1997)

The Rolling Stone 200 is staid and unimaginative; it is also useful. In theory, the magazine’s more recent list of 500 albums provides welcome breadth and variety, but in fact it doesn’t at all–it merely brings you closer to the present with albums  you totally expect to be there, plus older picks that flesh out known quantities.

In contrast, this more limited 200 provides the canon and little more. However, if you want to talk the talk, this is what you need to be able to walk. And it’s not like this is bad music. Hardly! Even stuff I don’t go nuts over is at least helpful in forming a knowledge base. Hegemony has its uses.

Per usual, I did not correct errors in the original text; however, I am called to note that the 1974 Supremes Anthology LP is in the list, but the 1995 CD gets the accompanying picture. I also doubt the Big Star two-fer was ever a double CD, and Roxy Music made an album named Siren, not Sirens. It’s a long list–errors will be made. Forgiveness is a virtue.

Here are links to jump to the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s.

The 50s Era:

Hail, Hail Rock & Roll by David McGee

  • Chuck Berry, The Great Twenty-eight (1984, Chess/MCA)
  • Ruth Brown, Rockin’ in Rhythm: The Best of Ruth Brown (1996, Rhino)
  • Johnny Cash, The Sun Years (1990, Rhino)
  • Ray Charles, The Birth of Soul (1991, Atlantic)
  • Ray Charles, Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music (1962, ABC, reissued on Rhino)
  • Bo Diddley, Bo Diddley/Go Bo Diddley (1986, Chess/MCA)
  • Fats Domino, My Blue Heaven – The Best of Fats Domino (1990, EMI)
  • The Everly Brothers, Cadence Classics (Their 20 Greatest Hits) (1985, Rhino)
  • Buddy Holly, 20 Golden Greats (1978, MCA)
  • Jerry Lee Lewis, The Jerry Lee Lewis Anthology: All Killer No Filler! (1993, Rhino)
  • Little Richard, The Georgia Peach (1991, Specialty)
  • Roy Orbison, For the Lonely: A Roy Orbison Anthology, 1956-1964 (1988, Rhino)
  • Carl Perkins, Original Sun Greatest Hits (1986, Rhino)
  • Elvis Presley, The Complete Sun Sessions (1987, RCA)
  • Elvis Presley, Elvis’ Golden Records (1984, RCA)
  • Elvis Presley, The Memphis Record (1987, RCA)
  • Joe Turner, Big Bad and Blue (1994, Rhino)
  • Atlantic R&B 1947-1974 (1991, Atlantic)
  • The Best of Doo Wop Uptempo (1989, Rhino)
  • The Sun Records Collection (1994, Rhino)

The 60s Era:

Let It Bleed by Anthony DeCurtis

  • The Animals, The Best of the Animals (1966, MGM, reissued on Abkco)
  • The Band, The Band (1969, Capitol)
  • The Beach Boys, Endless Summer (1974, Capitol)
  • The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds (1966, Capitol)
  • The Beatles, The Beatles/1962-1966 (1973, Capitol)
  • The Beatles, Rubber Soul (1965, Capitol)
  • The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967, Capitol)
  • The Beatles, The Beatles (The White Album) (1968, Apple)
  • The Beatles, Abbey Road (1969, Apple)
  • James Brown, Star Time (1991, Polydor)
  • Buffalo Springfield, Buffalo Springfield Again (1967, Atco)
  • The Byrds, The Byrds’ Greatest Hits (1967, Columbia)
  • Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band, Trout Mask Replica (1969, Reprise)
  • Sam Cooke, The Man and His Music (1986, RCA)
  • Cream, Wheels of Fire (1968, Atco, reissued on Polydor)
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival, Willy and the Poor Boys (1969, Fantasy)
  • Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Deja Vu (1970, Atlantic)
  • The Doors, The Doors (1967, Elektra)
  • Bob Dylan, Bringing It All Back Home (1965, Columbia)
  • Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited (1965, Columbia)
  • Bob Dylan, Blonde on Blonde (1966, Columbia)
  • Bob Dylan, The Basement Tapes (1975, Columbia)
  • Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks (1975, Columbia)
  • The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Gilded Palace of Sin (1969, A&M)
  • Aretha Franklin, I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967, Atlantic, reissued on Rhino)
  • Aretha Franklin, Lady Soul (1968, Atlantic, reissued on Rhino)
  • The Grateful Dead, Live Dead (1970, Warner Bros.)
  • The Grateful Dead, Workingman’s Dead (1970, Warner Bros.)
  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced? (British version) (1967, Track U.K., reissued on MCA)
  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Axis: Bold as Love (1968, Reprise, reissued on MCA)
  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Electric Ladyland (1968, Reprise, reissued on MCA)
  • Jefferson Airplane, Surrealistic Pillow (1967, RCA)
  • The Kinks, The Kinks Greatest Hits! (1966, Reprise, reissued on Rhino)
  • The Kinks, Something Else (1968, Reprise)
  • John Mayall, Bluesbreakers – John Mayall With Eric Clapton (1966, London)
  • Joni Mitchell, Blue (1971, Reprise)
  • Pink Floyd, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967, Capitol)
  • Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon (1973, Capitol)
  • Otis Redding, Otis! The Definitive Otis Redding (1993, Rhino/Atlantic)
  • Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Anthology (1995, Motown)
  • The Rolling Stones, Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass) (1966, London, reissued on Abkco)
  • The Rolling Stones, Beggar’s Banquet (1968, London, reissued on Abkco)
  • The Rolling Stones, Let It Bleed (1968, London, reissued on Abkco)
  • The Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers (1971, Rolling Stones, reissued on Virgin)
  • The Rolling Stones, Exile on Main Street (1972, Rolling Stones, reissued on Virgin)
  • The Rolling Stones, Some Girls (1978, Rolling Stones, reissued on Virgin)
  • Simon and Garfunkel, Greatest Hits (1972, Columbia)
  • Phil Spector, Back to Mono (1958-1969) (1991, Abkco)
  • Dusty Springfield, Dusty in Memphis (1969, Atlantic, reissued on Rhino)
  • Diana Ross and the Supremes, Anthology (1974, Motown)
  • The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967, MGM/Verve, reissued on Verve/PolyGram)
  • The Velvet Underground, Loaded (1970, Cotillion, reissued on Rhino/Atlantic)
  • The Who, Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy (1971, Decca, reissued on MCA)
  • The Who, Tommy (1969, Decca, reissued on MCA)
  • The Who, Who’s Next (1971, Decca, reissued on MCA)
  • Jackie Wilson, Mr. Excitement! (1992, Rhino)
  • The Yardbirds, Greatest Hits, Vol. I (1964-1966) (1986, Rhino)
  • Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Freak Out! (1966, Verve, reissued on Rykodisc)
  • The Best of the Girl Groups, Vols. I and II (1990, Rhino)
  • Hitsville USA: The Motown Singles Collection, 1959-1971 (1992, Motown)
  • Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968 (1972, Elektra, out of print)

The 70s Era:

One Nation Under a Groove by Mark Coleman

  • AC/DC, Highway to Hell (1978, Atlantic)
  • Aerosmith, Rocks (1976, Columbia)
  • The Allman Brothers Band, At Fillmore East (1971, Capricorn, reissued and expanded on Polydor as “The Fillmore Concerts”)
  • Big Star, Radio City (1974, Ardent, reissued on Ardent as a double CD with Big Star’s first album, “#1 Record”)
  • Black Sabbath, Paranoid (1971, Warner Bros.)
  • Blondie, Parallel Lines (1978, Chrysalis)
  • David Bowie, Hunky Dory (1971, RCA, reissued on Rykodisc)
  • David Bowie, Low (1977, RCA, reissued on Rykodisc)
  • Jackson Browne, Late for the Sky (1974, Asylum)
  • Chic, Risqué (1979, Atlantic)
  • The Clash, The Clash (1977, Epic)
  • The Clash, London Calling (1979, Epic)
  • Elvis Costello, My Aim Is True (1977, Columbia)
  • Derek and the Dominos, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970, RSO/Polydor)
  • The Eagles, Hotel California (1976, Elektra/Asylum/Nonesuch)
  • Brian Eno, Another Green World (1975, EG)
  • Fleetwood Mac, Rumours (1977, Warner Bros.)
  • Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On (1971, Tamla)
  • Marvin Gaye, Anthology (1995, Motown)
  • Al Green, Greatest Hits (1972, Hi, reissued on Right Stuff)
  • Billy Joel, Greatest Hits: Vol. I and Vol. II (1985, Columbia)
  • Elton John, Honky Château (1972, MCA, reissued on Rocket/Island)
  • Elton John, Greatest Hits (1974, MCA)
  • Carole King, Tapestry (1971, Ode/CBS)
  • Kraftwerk, Trans-Europe Express (1977, Capitol)
  • Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II (1969, Atlantic)
  • Led Zeppelin, (Led Zeppelin IV) (1971, Atlantic)
  • John Lennon, Plastic Ono Band (1970, Apple/EMI)
  • John Lennon, Imagine (1971, Apple/EMI)
  • Bob Marley and the Wailers, Burnin’ (1973, Tuff Gong/Island)
  • Bob Marley and the Wailers, Live! (1975, Tuff Gong/Island)
  • Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions, The Anthology 1966-1977 (1992, MCA)
  • Van Morrison, Astral Weeks (1968, Warner Bros.)
  • Van Morrison, Moondance (1970, Warner Bros.)
  • Van Morrison, The Best of Van Morrison (1990, Polydor)
  • Willie Nelson, Red Headed Stranger (1975, Columbia)
  • Randy Newman, 12 Songs (1970, Reprise)
  • The New York Dolls, New York Dolls (1973, Mercury)
  • The O’Jays, Back Stabbers (1972, Philadelphia International, reissued on Legacy)
  • Parliament/Funkadelic, Mothership Connection (1975, Casablanca/Polygram)
  • Parliament/Funkadelic, One Nation Under a Groove (1978, Warner Bros., reissued on Priority)
  • Pere Ubu, The Modern Dance (1977, Blank/Rough Trade, available on DGC’s box set “Datapanik in the Year Zero”)
  • The Pretenders, Pretenders (1979, Real/Sire)
  • Ramones, Ramones (1976, Sire)
  • Roxy Music, Sirens (1975, Reprise)
  • The Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977, Warner Bros.)
  • Sly and the Family Stone, Greatest Hits (1970, Epic)
  • Sly and the Family Stone, There’s a Riot Going On (1971, Epic)
  • Patti Smith, Horses (1975, Arista)
  • Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run (1975, Columbia)
  • Bruce Springsteen, Born in the U.S.A. (1984, Columbia)
  • Steely Dan, Pretzel Logic (1974, MCA)
  • Rod Stewart, Every Picture Tells a Story (1971, Mercury)
  • The Stooges, Funhouse (1970, Elektra)
  • James Taylor, Sweet Baby James (1970, Warner Bros.)
  • Stevie Wonder, Talking Book (1972, Tamla/Motown)
  • Stevie Wonder, Innervisions (1973, Tamla/Motown)
  • X, Los Angeles (1980, Slash)
  • Neil Young, After the Gold Rush (1970, Reprise)
  • Neil Young, Tonight’s the Night (1975, Reprise)
  • Neil Young, Rust Never Sleeps (1979, Reprise)
  • The Harder They Come (1972, Mango/Island)
  • Saturday Night Fever (1977, RSO/Polygram)

The 80s Era:

Appetite for Destruction by Ira Robbins

  • Laurie Anderson, Big Science (1982, Warner Bros.)
  • Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force, Planet Rock – The Album (1986, Tommy Boy)
  • Beastie Boys, Paul’s Boutique (1989, Capitol)
  • Black Flag, Damaged (1981, SST)
  • The Cure, Staring at the Sea: The Singles (1986, Elektra)
  • De La Soul, Three Feet High and Rising (1989, Tommy Boy)
  • Eurythmics, Touch (1983, RCA)
  • Gang of Four, Entertainment! (1979, Warner Bros., reissued on Infinite Zero)
  • Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Greatest Message’s (1984, Sugar Hill)
  • Guns N’ Roses, Appetite for Destruction (1987, Uzi Suicide/Geffen)
  • Don Henley, The End of the Innocence (1989, Geffen)
  • Hüsker Dü, Zen Arcade (1984, SST)
  • Michael Jackson, Off the Wall (1979, Epic)
  • Michael Jackson, Thriller (1982, Epic)
  • Jane’s Addiction, Nothing’s Shocking (1988, Warner Bros.)
  • The Jesus and Mary Chain, Psychocandy (1985, Reprise)
  • Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, I Love Rock & Roll (1981, Boardwalk, reissued on Blackheart)
  • Joy Division, Closer (1980, Factory, reissued on Qwest)
  • LL Cool J, Radio (1985, Def Jam/Columbia)
  • Madonna, Like a Prayer (1989, Sire)
  • Metallica, Kill ‘Em All (1983, Megaforce, reissued on Elektra)
  • Ministry, The Land of Rape and Honey (1988, Sire)
  • Minutemen, Double Nickels on the Dime (1984, SST)
  • N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton (1988, Ruthless/Priority)
  • Sinéad O’Connor, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got (1990, Ensign/Chrysalis)
  • Pixies, Surfer Rosa (1988, 4AD/Rough Trade, reissued on 4AD/Elektra)
  • Prince, Dirty Mind (1980, Warner Bros.)
  • Prince, Purple Rain (1984, Warner Bros.)
  • Prince, Sign ‘o’ the Times (1987, Paisley Park/Warner Bros.)
  • Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988, Def Jam/Columbia)
  • Bonnie Raitt, Nick of Time (1989, Capitol)
  • R.E.M., Murmur (1983, I.R.S.)
  • R.E.M., Document (1987, I.R.S.)
  • The Replacements, Let It Be (1984, Twin\Tone)
  • Run-DMC, Raising Hell (1986, Profile)
  • The Smiths, The Smiths (1984, Rough Trade/Sire)
  • Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation (1988, Blast First/Enigma, reissued on DGC)
  • Talking Heads, Remain in Light (1980, Sire)
  • U2, The Joshua Tree (1987, Island)
  • U2, Achtung Baby (1991, Island)

The 90s Era:

Smells Like Teen Spirit by Lorraine Ali

  • Beck, Odelay (1996, DGC)
  • Dr. Dre, The Chronic (1992, Death Row/Priority/Interscope)
  • PJ Harvey, Dry (1992, Too Pure/Indigo)
  • Hole, Live Through This (1994, DGC)
  • Massive Attack, Blue Lines (1991, Virgin)
  • Moby, “Go” (1991, Instinct)
  • My Bloody Valentine, Loveless (1991, Sire)
  • Nine Inch Nails, Pretty Hate Machine (1989, TVT)
  • Nirvana, Nevermind (1991, Sub Pop/DGC)
  • Nirvana, Unplugged in New York (1994, DGC)
  • The Orb, The Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld (1991, Island)
  • Pavement, Slanted and Enchanted (1991, Matador)
  • Pearl Jam, Ten (1991, Epic)
  • Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville (1993, Matador)
  • The Smashing Pumpkins, Siamese Dream (1993, Virgin)
  • The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses (1989, Silvertone/RCA)

Spin Alternative Record Guide – Top 100 Alternative Albums (1995)

Like the guide itself, this list is an excellent alternate path to the then-hegemonic Rolling Stone oeuvre. Simply put, if punk was your Beatles, this is your canon. Two traits worth pointing out:

  • So many female musicians for a list published in 1995! Given how a majority of these albums are FRACKING AMAZING, I don’t consider this tokenism.
  • Where much canon-making relies on ye olde “test of time,” 15 of these albums are from the five-year span immediately preceding the publication of the guide, including one in the top five (Nirvana), another in the top twenty (Pavement), two from just the year before (Hole, Beck), and one from the same year (Moby). (There are also several compilations listed which were released in the ’90s but collect music from the ’70s and ’80s.)

The record guide was edited by Eric Weisbard with Craig Marks. Enjoy!

  1. Ramones, Ramones
  2. Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
  3. Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground & Nico
  4. Hüsker Dü, Zen Arcade
  5. Nirvana, Nevermind
  6. Patti Smith, Horses
  7. Big Star, Radio City
  8. R.E.M., Murmur
  9. Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation
  10. X, Wild Gift
  11. Madonna, The Immaculate Collection
  12. Wire, Pink Flag
  13. Funkadelic, One Nation Under a Groove
  14. Neil Young, Tonight’s the Night
  15. Gang of Four, Entertainment!
  16. Pavement, Slanted and Enchanted
  17. Buzzcocks, Singles Going Steady
  18. Modern Lovers, The Modern Lovers
  19. X-Ray Spex, Germfree Adolescents
  20. Blondie, Parallel Lines
  21. Eric B. & Rakim, Paid in Full
  22. Pet Shop Boys, Discography
  23. Lucinda Williams, Lucinda Williams
  24. Prince, Sign “O” the Times
  25. Hole, Live Through This
  26. Clash, The Clash
  27. Run-D.M.C., Together Forever: Greatest Hits 1983-1991
  28. Television, Marquee Moon
  29. Meat Puppets, Meat Puppets II
  30. Stooges, Fun House
  31. Replacements, Let It Be
  32. Pretenders, Pretenders
  33. Flying Burrito Brothers, The Gilded Palace of Sin
  34. Public Image Ltd., Second Edition
  35. My Bloody Valentine, Loveless
  36. PJ Harvey, Rid of Me
  37. De La Soul, 3 Feet High and Rising
  38. Talking Heads, More Songs About Buildings and Food
  39. Minutemen, Double Nickels on the Dime
  40. Beastie Boys, Licensed to Ill
  41. Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground
  42. B-52’s, The B-52’s
  43. Mekons, Fear and Whiskey
  44. David Bowie, Changesonebowie
  45. Richard and Linda Thompson, Shoot Out the Lights
  46. Roxy Music, Siren
  47. Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Armed Forces
  48. Ramones, Rocket to Russia
  49. Feelies, Crazy Rhythms
  50. Brian Eno, Another Green World
  51. Pere Ubu, The Modern Dance
  52. Pixies, Surfer Rosa
  53. Prince, Dirty Mind
  54. Ornette Coleman, Dancing in Your Head
  55. Germs, (GI)
  56. Big Star, Third/Sister Lovers
  57. Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville
  58. Black Flag, Damaged
  59. Beck, Mellow Gold
  60. Devo, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo
  61. Neil Young, Rust Never Sleeps
  62. Violent Femmes, Violent Femmes
  63. Chic, Dance Dance Dance: The Best of Chic
  64. Hüsker Dü, New Day Rising
  65. Various Artists, Wanna Buy a Bridge?
  66. New Order, Substance
  67. Stooges, The Stooges
  68. Boogie Down Productions, Criminal Minded
  69. Joy Division, Closer
  70. New York Dolls, New York Dolls
  71. Go-Betweens, 1978-1990
  72. Young Marble Giants, Colossal Youth
  73. Captain Beefheart, Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller)
  74. Descendents, Milo Goes to College
  75. Funkadelic, Maggot Brain
  76. Flatlanders, More a Legend Than a Band
  77. Freedy Johnston, Can You Fly?
  78. Various Artists, The Indestructible Beat of Soweto
  79. Flipper, Album–Generic Flipper
  80. ABBA, The Singles
  81. Michael Hurley, Unholy Modal Rounders, Jeffrey Frederick & the Clamtones, Have Moicy!
  82. Barbara Manning, Lately I Keep Scissors
  83. Big Black, Atomizer
  84. Sun Ra, Heliocentric Worlds Volume 1
  85. Vaselines, The Way of the Vaselines: A Complete History
  86. U2, Achtung Baby
  87. A Tribe Called Quest, The Low End Theory
  88. Sonny Sharrock, Guitar
  89. Velvet Underground, 1969 Velvet Underground Live with Lou Reed
  90. Roches, The Roches
  91. Go-Go’s, Beauty and the Beat
  92. Nirvana, In Utero
  93. Moby, Everything Is Wrong
  94. English Beat, I Just Can’t Stop It
  95. Clean, Compilation
  96. Lee “Scratch” Perry (and the Upsetters), Some of the Best
  97. Smashing Pumpkins, Siamese Dream
  98. Sebadoh, Sebadoh III
  99. Breeders, Last Splash
  100. Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols

Spin – The 90 Greatest Albums of the ’90s (September 1999)

Spin magazine. God I miss Spin magazine. Not the online one; the print one. The ’90s one. I was an avid reader ’96-2000. I would start reading it in the bathroom, beginning with the reviews in the back (obviously), and moving article by article to the front. I’d sit so long my legs would go numb. The best.

Print issues are available digitally through Google Books. Dig out this list and you’ll find excellent write-ups by the best music critics, plus gorgeous pictures and a clean, hip, and functional layout. Worth it. But me, I’m a text guy. So find reprinted below the main list, two essential supplementary lists for reissues and singles, and additional goodies marked “See also” scattered throughout. To die for.

Taken in sum, you get the ’90s according to Spin and, by extension, the dominant critical community c.1999. This is also my ’90s–not a list of my favorite albums, but a list that conceptualizes the decade as I remember it. Virtues of the sum include representation and inclusion, a demonstration of plenty rather than scarcity, and Biggie not 2Pac. Plus, Sonic Youth in the fine print, and the greatest music release ever, presented here as merely the top reissue of its time. If only!


The 90 Greatest Albums of the ’90s by Charles Aaron, Lorraine Ali, Chairman Mao, Windy Chien, Joshua Clover, Cheo Hodari Coker, Jon Dolan, Richard Gehr, Andy Gensler, Tony Green, Josh Kun, Jessica Letkemann, Robert Levine, Alan Light, Evelyn McDonnell, Suzanne McElfresh, Sia Michel, Greg Milner, Chris Norris, Simon Reynolds, James Rotondi, Mike Rubin, Jeff Salamon, Mark Schone, Craig Seymour, RJ Smith, Marc Spitz, D. Strauss, Kate Sullivan, Rob Tannenbaum, Sarah Vowell, Barry Walters, Eric Weisbard and Douglas Wolk

The Top 20 Reissues by Will Hermes

The Top 20 Singles by Charles Aaron

The 90 Greatest Albums of the ’90s

  1. Nirvana, Nevermind (DGC, 1991)
  2. Public Enemy, Fear of a Black Planet (Def Jam, 1990)
  3. PJ Harvey, To Bring You My Love (Island, 1995)
  4. Beck, Odelay (DGC, 1996)
  5. Pavement, Slanted and Enchanted (Matador, 1992)
    • See also: Bettie Serveert, Palomine
  6. Hole, Live Through This (DGC, 1994)
  7. Björk, Post (Elektra, 1995)
    • See also: Björk, Homogenic
  8. Dr. Dre, The Chronic (Death Row/Interscope, 1992)
  9. Radiohead, OK Computer (Capitol, 1997)
    • See also: Talk Talk, Laughing Stock
  10. The Chemical Brothers, Dig Your Own Hole (Astralwerks, 1997)
    • See also: Live at the Heavenly Social Vol. 1 (Heavenly UK)
  11. Nine Inch Nails, The Downward Spiral (Nothing/Interscope, 1994)
  12. Beastie Boys, Check Your Head (Grand Royal/Capitol, 1992)
  13. Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville (Matador, 1993)
  14. Tricky, Maxinquaye (Island, 1995)
  15. DJ Shadow, Endtroducing… (Mo’ Wax/FFRR, 1996)
    • See also: Headz and Headz 2 (Mo’ Wax)
  16. My Bloody Valentine, Loveless (Sire, 1991)
  17. Fugees, The Score (Columbia, 1996)
  18. Nirvana, In Utero (DGC, 1993)
  19. U2, Achtung Baby (Island, 1991)
  20. Moby, Play (V2, 1999)
    • See also: Josh Wink, “Higher State of Consciousness”
  21. Sleater-Kinney, Dig Me Out (Kill Rock Stars, 1997)
  22. Wu-Tang Clan, Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers (Loud/RCA, 1993)
  23. Smashing Pumpkins, Siamese Dream (Virgin, 1993)
  24. Massive Attack, Blue Lines (Virgin, 1991)
  25. Various Artists, Return of the DJ, Vols. 1&2 (Bomb Hip-Hop, 1996, 1997)
  26. Rage Against the Machine, Rage Against the Machine (Epic, 1992)
  27. The Notorious B.I.G., Ready to Die (Bad Boy/Arista, 1994)
  28. Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (Ruffhouse/Columbia, 1998)
  29. Bob Dylan, Time Out of Mind (Columbia, 1997)
  30. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, The Supreme Collection Volume 1 (Caroline, 1997)
    • See also: Untouchable Outcaste Beats (Tommy Boy)
  31. Tori Amos, Little Earthquakes (Atlantic, 1992)
    • See also: Fiona Apple, Tidal
  32. A Tribe Called Quest, The Low End Theory (Jive, 1991)
    • See also: The Roots, Things Fall Apart
  33. Pearl Jam, Ten (Epic, 1991)
  34. Cornershop, When I Was Born for the 7th Time (Luaka Bop/Warner Bros., 1997)
  35. OutKast, Aquemini (LaFace/Arista, 1998)
  36. Fugazi, Repeater (Dischord, 1990)
    • See also: Jawbox, Grippe
  37. PJ Harvey, Rid of Me (Island, 1993)
  38. Roni Size/Reprazent, New Forms (Talkin’ Loud/Mercury, 1997)
  39. The Breeders, Last Splash (4AD/Elektra, 1993)
  40. R.E.M., Automatic for the People (Warner Bros., 1992)
    • See also: Vic Chesnutt, Is the Actor Happy?
  41. Sebadoh, Sebadoh III (Homestead, 1991)
  42. Portishead, Dummy (Go Discs!/London, 1994)
  43. Pulp, Different Class (Island, 1995)
  44. Sinéad O’Connor, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got (Ensign, 1990)
  45. Basement Jaxx, Remedy (Astralwerks, 1999)
  46. Stereolab, Emperor Tomato Ketchup (Elektra, 1996)
  47. L.L. Cool J, Mama Said Knock You Out (Def Jam, 1990)
  48. Sublime, Sublime (Gasoline Alley/MCA, 1996)
    • See also: No Doubt, Tragic Kingdom
  49. Maldita Vecindad y Los Hijos del Quinto Patio, El Circo (BMG Mexico, 1991)
    • See also: Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Rey Azucar
  50. Air, Moon Safari (Source/Caroline, 1998)
  51. TLC, CrazySexyCool (LaFace, 1994)
  52. Metallica, Metallica (Elektra, 1991)
  53. Green Day, Dookie (Reprise, 1994)
    • See also: Rancid, …And Out Come the Wolves
  54. Bikini Kill, Bikini Kill EP (Kill Rock Stars, 1992)
    • See also: Bratmobile, Pottymouth
  55. Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Ragged Glory (Warner Bros., 1990)
  56. Aphex Twin, Selected Ambient Works 85-92 (R&S, 1992); Selected Ambient Works Volume II (Warp/Sire, 1994)
    • See also: Autechre, Tri Repetae++
  57. Cypress Hill, Cypress Hill (Columbia, 1991)
  58. Red Hot Chili Peppers, BloodSugarSexMagik (Warner Bros., 1991)
  59. Sonny Sharrock, Ask the Ages (Axiom, 1991)
    • See also: Sonic Youth, A Thousand Leaves
  60. The Prodigy, Music for the Jilted Generation (XL/Mute, 1994)
  61. Lucinda Williams, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (Mercury, 1998)
  62. Pavement, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (Matador, 1994)
  63. Uncle Tupelo, No Depression (Rockville, 1990)
    • See also: The Jayhawks, Hollywood Town Hall
  64. Built to Spill, There’s Nothing Wrong With Love (Up, 1995)
    • See also: Modest Mouse, The Lonesome Crowded West
  65. Basehead, Play With Toys (Imago, 1992)
  66. Missy Elliott, Supa Dupa Fly (EastWest, 1997)
    • See also: Timbaland and Magoo, Welcome to Our World
  67. Tortoise, Millions Now Living Will Never Die (Thrill Jockey, 1996)
  68. Fatboy Slim, You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby (Astralwerks, 1998)
  69. Slint, Spiderland (Touch and Go, 1991)
  70. Soundgarden, Superunknown (A&M, 1994)
  71. Buena Vista Social Club, Buena Vista Social Club (World Circuit/Nonesuch, 1997)
  72. Mary J. Blige, My Life (Uptown, 1994)
    • See also: Erykah Badu, Baduizm
  73. Elliott Smith, Either/Or (Kill Rock Stars, 1997)
    • See also: Richard Buckner, Devotion+Doubt
  74. De La Soul, De La Soul Is Dead (Tommy Boy, 1991)
    • See also: De La Soul, Buhloone Mindstate
  75. Steve Earle, I Feel Alright (Warner Bros., 1996)
  76. Daft Punk, Homework (Virgin, 1997)
  77. Boredoms, Super Æ (Birdman, 1998)
  78. Yo La Tengo, I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One (Matador, 1997)
  79. Oasis, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? (Epic, 1995)
    • See also: Blur, The Great Escape
  80. Ice Cube, AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted (Priority, 1990)
  81. Kristin Hersh, Hips and Makers (Sire/Reprise, 1994)
  82. The Orb, The Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld (Island, 1991)
  83. Raekwon, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx (Loud, 1995)
  84. Lisa Germano, Geek the Girl (4AD, 1994)
  85. Various Artists, Macro Dub Infection Volume 1 (Caroline/Virgin, 1995)
    • See also: Mad Professor, No Protection
  86. Dr. Octagon, Dr. Octagon (Bulk, 1996/Dreamworks, 1997)
  87. Everything but the Girl, Walking Wounded (Atlantic, 1996)
  88. Neutral Milk Hotel, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (Merge, 1998)
  89. Prince Paul, A Prince Among Thieves (Tommy Boy, 1999)
  90. Cibo Matto, Viva! La Woman (Warner Bros., 1996)

The Top 20 Reissues

  1. James Brown, Star Time (Polydor)
  2. Tougher Than Tough: The Story of Jamaican Music (Mango)
    • See also: Linton Kwesi Johnson, Independant Intavenshan (Island)
  3. Miles Davis, Dark Magus/Live Evil/At Fillmore/Black Beauty/In Concert (Columbia)
    • See also: Miles Davis, Bitches Brew; Agharta; Pangaea (Columbia)
  4. Anthology of American Folk Music (Smithsonian Folkways)
  5. Tropicalia: 30 Años (Polygram Brazil)
    • See also: Os Mutantes, Everything Is Possible! (Luaka Bop); The Best of Tom Zé (Luaka Bop)
  6. Martin Denny, Exotica (Rhino)
    • See also: Esquivel, Space Age Bachelor Pad Music (Bar/None); Incredibly Strange Music, Vols. 1 and 2 (Asphodel)
  7. Ennio Morricone, A Fistful of Film Music (Rhino)
    • See also: The Carl Stalling Project, Vols. 1 and 2 (Warner Bros.); John Barry, The EMI Years, Vols. 1-3 (Scamp/Caroline)
  8. Serge Gainsbourg, Comic Strip (Polygram/Mercury)
    • See also: Françoise Hardy, Comment Te Dire Adieu (Virgin France)
  9. Louvin Brothers, Satan Is Real (Capitol)
    • See also: Complete Hank Williams (Mercury); The Essential Johnny Cash (Columbia)
  10. Derrick May, Innovator (Transmat)
    • See also: Model 500 (Juan Atkins), Classics (R&S Austria)
  11. Orchestre Baobab, Bamba (Stern’s)
    • See also: 30 Ans de Musique Africaine (Africa No. 1/Sonodisc UK); Africa Never Stand Still (Ellipsis Arts)
  12. The Perfect Beats (Tommy Boy)
    • See also: Street Jams: Electric Funk, Pts. 1-4 (Rhino)
  13. The Congos, Heart of the Congos (Blood & Fire)
    • See also: Lee “Scratch” Perry: Arkology (Island); The Wailers, The Complete Wailers 1969-1972 (JAD)
  14. Yoko Ono, Ono Box (Rykodisc)
    • See also: The Raincoats, The Raincoats; Odyshape (Geffen)
  15. History of Our World Parts 1&2 (Sm:)e)
    • See also: Toasted: Massive Ragga Jungle (Mutant Sound System)
  16. Fela Kuti, Original Sufferhead/I.T.T. (Universal France)
    • See also: Fela Kuti, Shakara/Fela’s London Scene (Universal France)
  17. Wild Style: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Rhino)
  18. Grateful Dead, Dick’s Picks Vol. 8: Binghamton, NY 5/2/70 (Grateful Dead)
    • See also: Grateful Dead, Dick’s Picks Vol. 4: Fillmore East 5/13/70-5/14/70 (Grateful Dead)
  19. Bob Dylan, Live 1966 (Columbia)
    • See also: Bob Dylan, The Bootleg Series Vols. 1-3 (Columbia)
  20. Nuggets (Rhino)

The Top 20 Singles

  1. Dr. Dre, “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” (Death Row/Priority, 1992)
  2. PJ Harvey, “Sheela-Na-Gig” (Island, 1992)
  3. TLC, “Creep” (LaFace, 1994)
  4. Beastie Boys, “Sabotage” (Grand Royal/Capitol, 1994)
  5. Arrested Development, “Tennessee” (Chrysalis, 1992)
  6. Beck, “Loser” (Bong Load/DGC, 1994)
  7. Pavement, “Summer Babe” (Drag City, 1991)
  8. Joey Beltram, “Energy Flash” (R&S/Transmat, 1991)
  9. Goldie, “Timeless” (FFRR, 1995)
  10. Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth, “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” (Elektra, 1992)
  11. Deee-Lite, “Groove Is in the Heart” (Elektra, 1990)
  12. Geto Boys, “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” (Rap-A-Lot, 1992)
  13. Orbital, “Chime” (FFRR, 1990)
  14. Quad City DJ’s, “C’Mon N’ Ride It (The Train)” (Big Beat/Atlantic, 1996)
  15. (tie) D’Angelo, “Brown Sugar” (EMI, 1995); Erykah Badu, “On and On” (Universal, 1997)
  16. Prodigy, “Firestarter” (Maverick, 1997)
  17. Digital Underground, “The Humpty Dance” (Tommy Boy, 1990)
  18. Aaliyah, “Are You That Somebody?” (Atlantic, 1998)
  19. Superchunk, “Slack Motherfucker” (Merge, 1990)
  20. (tie) Hanson, “MMMBop” (Mercury, 1997); Naughty by Nature, “O.P.P.” (Tommy Boy, 1991)

Classic Rock – The 50 Albums That Built Prog Rock (July 2010)

This was originally published as a wall poster in the July 2010 issue of the U.K.’s Classic Rock magazine. Included is a welcome variety of approaches to prog from the classic era, as well as a representative selection of recent albums which demonstrate how well prog aesthetics mix with metal. “Classic Rock consulted the ‘progniscenti'” for this list, “everyone from Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson, ELP’s Carl Palmer, Fairport’s Dave Pegg, Ihsahn, members of Marillion, Magenta, Pallas, Mastodon, Mostly Autumn and Dream Theater to long-term prog fans like Alice Cooper.” Alice Cooper?! The things you learn.

Though prog rock as a style is well known for 20-minute suites and noodling, I prefer to think of it as the presentation of musical complexity as something that is beautiful and desirable. Of course, this road can lead to some crap. But can’t all aesthetic roads lead to crap? So why not give this one a try? Plenty to listen to here, for sure. But if you need to skip one, make it the Moody Blues. The orchestrations on that one really are crap.

  • The Mothers of Invention, Freak Out! (1966)
  • The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds (1966)
  • The Beatles, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
  • Procol Harum, Procol Harum (1967)
  • Pink Floyd, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967)
  • Moody Blues, Days of Future Past (1967)
  • The Nice, The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack (1967)
  • King Crimson, In the Court of the Crimson King (1969)
  • Fairport Convention, Liege & Lief (1969)
  • The Soft Machine, Volume Two (1969)
  • Curved Air, Air Conditioning (1970)
  • Van Der Graaf Generator, The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other (1970)
  • Magma, Magma (1970)
  • Barclay James Harvest, Once Again (1971)
  • Jethro Tull, Aqualung (1971)
  • Caravan, In the Land of Grey and Pink (1971)
  • Emerson Lake & Palmer, Tarkus (1971)
  • Focus, Moving Waves (1971)
  • Yes, Fragile (1971)
  • Genesis, Foxtrot (1972)
  • Gentle Giant, Octopus (1972)
  • Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
  • Mike Oldfield, Tubular Bells (1973)
  • Mahavishnu Orchestra, Birds of Fire (1973)
  • Genesis, Selling England by the Pound (1973)
  • Emerson Lake and Palmer, Brain Salad Surgery (1973)
  • Gong, Angels Egg (1973)
  • Rick Wakeman, Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1974)
  • Supertramp, Crime of the Century (1974)
  • Electric Light Orchestra, Eldorado – A Symphony by… (1974)
  • Kraftwerk, Autobahn (1974)
  • Hawkwind, Warrior on the Edge of Time (1975)
  • Renaissance, Scheherazade (1975)
  • Camel, Moonmadness (1976)
  • The Alan Parsons Project, Tales of Mystery and Imagination (1976)
  • Kansas, Leftoverture (1976)
  • Peter Gabriel, Peter Gabriel (1978)
  • Rush, A Farewell to Kings (1977)
  • Kate Bush, The Kick Inside (1978)
  • Asia, Asia (1982)
  • Marillion, Misplaced Childhood (1985)
  • Yes, 90125 (1983)
  • Queensrÿche, Operation: Mindcrime (1988)
  • Dream Theater, When Dream and Day Unite (1989)
  • Radiohead, OK Computer (1997)
  • Opeth, Blackwater Park (2001)
  • The Mars Volta, Deloused in the Comatorium (2003)
  • Porcupine Tree, Deadwing (2005)
  • Muse, Black Holes and Revelations (2006)
  • Mastodon, Crack the Skye (2009)

Per usual, I did not edit this list–any inaccuracies in the dates or titles are in the original. However, the poster switches the band name and album title of ELO’s Eldorado, and I could not let that one go. Every man has standards.