When I was 18 years old I was already listening to Bob Dylan. Although half of the time I didn't actually know what he was singing about, I found his voice quite unique and very expressive artistically. When my friends my age were listening to local groups and singers, I was prowling local music stores for the likes of Neil Young or Bruce Springsteen. This was the years CDs were just starting to get popular. I was also scavenging local bookstores for good music magazines particularly imported ones, but I lived in a small town and there wasn't any real good bookstore in town. And there still aren't any. My source of music information those days were the newspapers - the weekly album reviews by R.S. Moorthi in the New Straits Time sunday edition. Those were the days before the internet/computers became an important part of our lives. R.S. Moorthi introduced me to Led Zeppelin, REM, and basically who's who in music. Below are the list of my favourite albums collection over the years, with the write-ups extracted from TIME's 'All time 100 albums'.
Album: London Calling (1979)
Artist: The Clash
There were more than a few outraged faithful who thought their heroes had sold out because the sound was too smooth to be punk, but London Calling proved that a band could be anti-establishment and pro-melody. Joe Strummer and Mick Jones kept their collective pen focused on the issues of contemporary England and (they hoped) late capitalism ("I'm all lost in the supermarket/ I can no longer shop happily/ I came in here for that special offer/ a guaranteed personality") but they also had enough maturity to realize that, while politics was inseparable from life, it was not life's entirety. The cover features the most famous photo in rock, Paul Simonon the moment before his guitar becomes thousands of expensive toothpicks, bracketed by the same font and colors used on Elvis Presley's debut.
Album: Never Mind the Bollocks (1977)
Artist: The Sex Pistols
One album was all they made, and probably all anyone could stand. Johnny Rotten, who had never sung before, had a gift for malice that he turned on the complacent England of the 70s. "God Save the Queen" dared voice the opinion that the monarch "ain't no human bein'." "Holidays in the Sun" mashed the Holocaust, the British economy and third world tourism into something offensive to hear ("I don't wanna holiday in the sun/ I wanna go to new Belsen/ I wanna see some/ History 'cause now I got a reasonable economy") and more offensive to ignore. Sid Vicious was a tragic sideshow, but credit guitarist Steve Jones, now one of America's best radio DJs, with making the songs explosive and catchy.
Album: Born To Run (1975)
Artist: Bruce Springsteen
Springsteen's first two albums were commercial duds. He had no money, and the sound he wanted for his third record—The Boss later described it as 'Roy Orbison singing Bob Dylan produced by Phil Spector'—required months of studio tinkering to perfect. So Jimmy Iovine (then a recording engineer, now the head of Interscope Records) took care of hiding stacks of overdue bills from the record label while Springsteen obsessed over things like just how many guitar overdubs the title track needed. If it seems trivial to note that the final tally was 12, listen again, because, it's the accumulation of details, both musical (the warm wind of the saxophone on "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out," the violin that comes out of nowhere on "Jungleland") and lyrical ('The screen door slams/ Mary's dress waves...') that makes Springsteen's grandiosity both operatic and personal. No one before or since has tried to pack as much of the American experience into 39 minutes, and no one has come as close to succeeding.
Album: Horses (1975)
Artist: Patti Smith
Because Smith was a poet before she was a singer... and John Cale of the Velvet Underground produced... and her lover Robert Mapplethorpe took the cover photo, Horses is often praised for fusing classical verse, feminism, punk and the avant-garde—which makes this epic debut sound like it belongs on a syllabus for a class few people would willingly take. In fact, it's a rock record of overwhelming power. For all her poetic skill, the album's most memorable words are its first: "Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine." From there, Smith's voice—like a match dragging across the side of a matchbox just before it ignites—and unrelenting band (guitarist Lenny Kaye, pianist Richard Sohl, drummer Jay Dee Daugherty and bassist Ivan Kral) swagger through a complete reinvention of Van Morrison's Gloria and several nine minute volcanoes that feel far more romantic and revolutionary than any mere poetry.
Album: Time Out Of Mind (1997)
Artist: Bob Dylan
After a decade of borderline irrelevance, the lead track, "Not Dark Yet," appealed to sentimentalists because it felt like Dylan was revealing a truth ("Sometimes my burden is more than I can bear/ It's not dark yet but it's gettin' there") and bearing down for arts' sake, too. Forget truth—Dylan always has—and focus on the sly, world weary atmospherics of "Dirt Road Blues" and "Highlands," Dylan's funniest song since the 60s. ("She got a pretty face and long white shiny legs/ She says "what'll it be"/ I say "I don't know, you got any soft-boiled eggs."') Despite winning a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album, it was cover versions of "To Make You Feel My Love" by Garth Brooks and Billy Joel that generated the bulk of the cash Dylan made from Time Out of Mind.
Album: OK Computer (1997)
The English are not effusive by nature, but they make exceptions for David Beckham, Cliff Richard and Radiohead. Given the choices, Radiohead seems by far the most rational, even if OK Computer is not, as voted by the readers of Q magazine, the greatest album in the history of the world. What it is is a spooky, atmospheric, intense and paranoid rumination on modern life—the kind of thing that would be insufferable if it didn't float along on a procession of gorgeous melodies ("Karma Police," "Lucky") punctuated by Thom Yorke's elastic tenor. It also marked these five Oxonians' departure from mainstream rock and their assumption of the title The Only Band That Matters, which they still hold as of this writing. Whether any of this can be attributed to the fact that OK Computer was recorded in Jane Seymour's mansion while she was filming episodes of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman is a matter of considerable debate.
Album: Achtung Baby (1991)
Coaxed to Berlin by producer Brian Eno, U2 spent several chilly months arguing over how they wanted to sound in their second decade. Larry Mullen Jr. and Adam Clayton were in the 'Ain't broke, don't fix it' camp while Bono and The Edge campaigned for changing everything. The final product is less a revolution than a reformation; the grand guitar hooks are still there, but they're buried under polyrhythms and effects borrowed from electronic music. The songs seldom start and end at the same pace; they require more attention, and reward it, too. Bono veers between his love of sinners and saints, but his lyrics make sure it's a fair fight, as proven by "One," a song so accessible that it started as a bitter take on Bono's relationship with his father, twisted into a commentary on the state of the band, became a staple at weddings and now is used as an anthem to fight global poverty.
Album: The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars(1972)
Artist: David Bowie
I became Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie once said. "David Bowie went totally out the window...I got hopelessly lost in the fantasy." Possibly the first true rock concept album, complete with narrative, The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars tells the story of a Martian rock star whose mission is to offer sex and salvation to earthlings. In the climactic "Rock & Roll Suicide," Ziggy is torn apart by the fans he inspired. With such killer songs as "Suffragette City" and "Moonage Daydream," Bowie matched his arty, theatrical ambitions with crunching, arena-ready rock, setting in motion the glam rock movement that echoed from Alice Cooper to Marilyn Manson. For the album's 30th anniversary, a few of Ziggy's songs were broadcast into space from Roswell, New Mexico, using a high-tech laser beam. We continue to await response from the interstellar rock star community.
Album: Exile On Main Street (1972)
Artist: The Rolling Stones
Raucous, boozy, weary, violent and sex-obsessed, this double album sounds like the work of heathen outlaws, which of course it was. On the run from Fleet street mobs, narcotics officers and the Inland Revenue, the Stones holed up at Keith Richards' chateau in the south of France and composed an epic blues that went beyond tribute and beyond blue. Producer Jimmy Miller valued atmosphere over precision in his recording techniques, so Mick Jagger competes with a wooly sax and a juke joint piano and still his vocals make "Sweet Virginia" feel purple, like a bruise that's fun to touch. Through out, Jagger manages to sound intently focused and deeply stoned, while Charlie Watts minds the store with impeccable rhythm.
Album: Blue (1971)
Artist: Joni Mitchell
It's not deceptively simple, just simple. From the bare arrangements of acoustic guitar and piano with maybe a hint of dulcimer, to the lyrics — "All I really want our love to do/ Is to bring out the best in me/ and in you, too" — Mitchell whittles her journal entries and melodies down with poetic economy and relies on her falsetto to add the dramatic tension. Enjoyment depends entirely on your tolerance for sincerity, but even cynics concede the greatness of lines like, "I could drink a case of you and still be on my feet."
Album: Moondance (1970)
Artist: Van Morrison
After the dreamy acoustic sound of Astral Weeks, Van Morrison switched gears. For Monndance, he built his arrangements around a powerful horn section, veering more toward the punchy, old-school R&B he loved than Astral's jazzy meanderings. Morrison's singing got more aggressive, too, on the gospel-flavored "Brand New Day" or the glorious "Caravan," the first in a series of tributes to the otherworldly powers of radio. He kept his croony side, though, on the murmuring "Into the Mystic" and, of course, the immortal, swinging title track — a staple of prep schools and lounge acts to this day, and still none the worse for wear.
Album: At Folsom Prison (1968)
Artist: Johnny Cash
He never did any hard time, but Cash had a natural sympathy for men who gave in to their worst impulses. At California's Folsom Prison, songs like "Cocaine Blues" ("When I was arrested I was dressed in black/ They put me on a train and they took me back") and "25 Minutes to Go" ("With my feet on the trap and my head on the noose/ Got 5 more minutes to go") lose some of their defiance and gain some sadness, particularly when they're interrupted by announcements like, "88419 is wanted in reception." The final track, "Greystone Chapel," was written by Folsom inmate Glen Sherley. Cash heard it for the first time the night before the show and learned it fast so that the last lyric his audience heard was, "Inside the walls of prison my body may be/ But my Lord has set my soul free."
Album: (What's the Story) Morning Glory (1995)
Tossers, wankers—pick the derisive British term of your choice. The Gallagher brothers (Liam on vocals, Noel on guitar) spent the 90s getting arrested, yelling at each other and warring with Blur's Damon Albarn over the very important matter of which band was Britain's best. But for 12 songs they came as close as anyone to combining the tunefulness of the Beatles with the attitude of the Stones. From "Wonderwall" (a title taken from an obscure film scored by George Harrison) to "Don't Look Back in Anger" to the epic arena rawk of "Champagne Supernova," all of Noel's compositions swell perfectly at the chorus, and Liam, whose voice is a no-frills vessel for carrying a tune, knew how to turn each song into a sing-a-long.
Album: Nevermind (1991)
We'll pass on the chance to add to the Kurt Cobain cliche heap and instead offer seven thoughts about the finest album of the 90s.
1. Prior to Nevermind's release, the charts were ruled by Paula Abdul, Roxette and Michael Jackson, so anyone who claims they saw Nirvana coming is, uh, lying.
2. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (a title that paid ironic tribute to a deodorant for adolescents) may be the album's worst song.
3. "Lounge Act," built on Krist Novoselic's rubber band bass riff and Cobain's slowly intensifying vocals, may be the best.
4. "Breed" and "Territorial Pissings" prove Cobain's love for the Sex Pistols.
5. "Lithium" and "Drain You" are his tribue to the Beatles.
6. Dave Grohl is a far better drummer than his idol John Bonham.
7. "Something in the Way" is the best evidence that, for a few minutes, Cobain was able to turn misery into grace.
Album: Ready To Die (1994)
Artist: The Notorious B.I.G.
Christopher Wallace was a Brooklyn drug dealer, and, if his early interviews are to be believed, not a very nice one. Luckily, this was not his signal accomplishment. On Ready to Die Wallace took his street corner experiences and filtered them through his considerable charm. The result was a record that mixed long stretches of menace ("Things Done Changed," "Everyday Struggle") with romance ("One More Chance") and lots of humor. No rapper ever made multi-syllabic rhymes ("Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis/ When I was dead broke man I couldn't picture this") sound as smooth.
Album: Out Of Time (1991)
All R.E.M. wanted to accomplish with its seventh album was the reinvention of the love song. Rather than treat the most overdone of emotions directly, Michael Stipe took an oblique approach, writing impressionistic lyrics about the way love manifests itself in loneliness ("Belong"), regret ("Country Feedback") and, most famously, obsession ("Losing My Religion"). The music was similarly inventive. Peter Buck put down his Rickenbacker and picked up a mandolin, while Mark Bingham's sugar-free string arrangements and Kate Pierson's guest vocals added the kind of ethereal beauty rarely heard on a rock record.
Album: The Stone Roses (1989)
Artist: The Stone Roses
There's almost no precedent for the Stone Roses. Inspired as much by the 1968 student riots in Paris (the album cover has the French flag turned on its side) as their own collective ego (sample hits: "I Am the Resurrection," "I Wanna Be Adored") their debut was a fully formed gem that gave birth to an entire genre�Brit-pop. Singer and lyricist Ian Brown infused "Made of Stone" and "Waterfall" with lyrics that flicked at epic romance ("See the steeple pine/ The hills as old as time/ Soon to be put to the test/ To be whipped by the winds of the west") without veering into sentimentality, while guitarist John Squire lingered over chords like the Byrds' Roger McGuin. A label dispute sidelined them for four years and the Stone Roses never got back on track, but their one great album gave birth to dozens of other bands.
Album: Document (1987)
Michael Stipe mumbled his way through R.E.M.'s early albums, but on Document anger finally spurred him to clarity. "The One I Love" beats all comers as the most brutal love song ever to hit the Top 10 ("A simple prop, to occupy my time/ This one goes out to the one I love"), "Welcome to the Occupation" ("Sugar cane and coffee cup/ Copper, steel and cattle/ An annotated history/ The forest for the fire") made imperialism rhythmic, while "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" proved Stipe's pessimism was trumped by his sense of humor.
Album: The Joshua Tree (1987)
This is U2's America album, in part because songs like "Bullet the Blue Sky" are explicitly about American subjects, but also because the band did their homework and got the sound of the country just right. "With or Without You" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" could be played under a revival tent, while you can road trip in the open space between the Edge's guitar notes. Bono sings at or near the top of his range through out, but never more thrillingly than on "Where The Streets Have No Name," which belongs with "Like a Rolling Stone" on the short-list of best album openers.
Album: Stop Making Sense (1984)
Artist: Talking Heads
Talking Heads were part of the first wave of New York City punk rock, but their angular, jittery grooves were a long way from the full-throttle assault of the Ramones or the Dictators. Their interest in funk and African rhythms eventually started moving forward, peaking on the extended jams of 1980's Remain in Light before connecting with a pop audience on Speaking in Tongues in 1983. On the follow-up tour, captured in Jonathan Demme's phenomenal concert film Stop Making Sense and its soundtrack, the band recreated its journey — opening with David Byrne alone onstage with a boom box and gradually adding musicians until the show was a full-on psycho-Afro-disco frenzy, and "Burning Down the House" wasn't just a song title, it was a manifesto.
Album: Back In Black (1980)
Though unabashed in its misogyny—"Let Me Put My Love Into You" would be nicer if it were a request rather than a command while "Given the Dog a Bone" breaks the rules of chivalry and grammar—this testosterone filled romp's passion for bangin' is less focused on hips than heads. Produced by reclusive genius Robert "Mutt" Lange (now better known as Mr. Shania Twain), "You Shook Me All Night Long" and "Hells Bells" are arena anthems of uncorrupted hookiness and sonic quality. Angus Young's guitar riffs are instantly memorable while Brian Johnson, in his rookie campaign replacing the late Bon Scott, sings as if he's being tortured—and thoroughly enjoying it.
Album: Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Titles? We don't need no stinkin' titles! Guitarist Jimmy Page, no doubt in a moment of complete sobriety, wanted to see if Led Zeppelin's music could sell itself, so the band's name, as well as all other words, were struck from the album cover. Instead, each member picked an occult symbol representing their mystical identity to appear on the LP's spine. Why? Because it was 1971. Enough fragrant air has been exhaled about "Stairway to Heaven" (which was never released as a single and thus never appeared on the Billboard charts) for several lifetimes, but "Going to California" is the best thing they ever played at a pace below 'manic,' "Rock and Roll" is the best thing they ever played above 'manic' and "When the Levee Breaks" is their most convincing blues. Just call it Zeppelin's greatest record.
Album: After The Gold Rush (1970)
Artist: Neil Young
Since coming to California from his native Toronto, Neil Young had joined Buffalo Springfield and seen the band break up; teamed with Crosby, Stills, and Nash for the massive Déjô Vu album; and released a few discs of his own, including Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, a brain-shredding guitar powerhouse. The mysterious, elusive After The Gold Rush represents the morning after the mayhem, both personal and cultural — the sound of Young waking up with a post-'60s hangover, catching his breath, and trying to sort through the wreckage. The cryptic title song and "Southern Man" are the tracks familiar to casual fans, but only Neil Young could have written the chilling "Don�t Let It Bring You Down" or the homespun "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" — much less both on the same album.
Album: Astral Weeks (1968)
Artist: Van Morrison
It is one of rock's least-likely masterworks. Van Morrison had made a name for himself as the lead singer of the Belfast bar band Them, which achieved immortality with the garage anthem "Gloria." He then signed a solo deal in the US, skimming the Top Ten with the irresistible singalong "Brown-Eyed Girl," but he dismissed the album that came from those sessions. Signing with Warner Bros. Records, Morrison then assembled a bunch of jazz-based players, took them into a New York studio, and emerged two days later with Astral Weeks, a languid, impressionistic, utterly gorgeous song cycle that sounded like nothing he had done previously — and really, nothing anyone had done previously. Morrison sings of lost love, death, and nostalgia for childhood in the Celtic soul that would become his signature. Astral Weeks didn't reach the charts, but its mystic poetry, spacious grooves, and romantic incantations still resonate in ways no other music can.
Album: Kind Of Blue (1959)
Artist: Miles Davis
In 1959, Miles Davis had already remade jazz in his own image several times over. The Birth of Cool introduced a smooth, sophisticated approach, and then Walkin' heated things up again. His classic '50s quintet raised the bar for small-group improvisation. But when he assembled an unprecedented all-star team (featuring John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley on tenor and alto saxophones, and the masterful pianist Bill Evans) for the two-day sessions that became the Kind of Blue album, Miles left his most lasting mark. The open-ended songs, barely sketched out around "modes," or scales, rather than chord changes, were given just one or two takes — and the glorious results, the best-selling jazz disc of all time, are simultaneously delicate and powerful, and teeming with life.
Album: Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
Artist: Bob Dylan
From the pistol-crack snare that opens "Like a Rolling Stone" to the hazy dream visions of "Einstein Dressed as Robin Hood" that close "Desolation Row," the action never stops on Bob Dylan's most relentless and flawless album. Powered by Mike Bloomfield's slashing guitar lines and Al Kooper's bracing, rudimentary organ, the head-spinning race Highway 61 Revisited offers through America's music — rock, blues, folk, country — maps the strip of road that gives the record its title. The next forty years of Dylan's career would trace the routes mapped out on this album, and most of these songs remain part of his concert repertoire to this day.
Album: Revolver (1966)
Artist: The Beatles
Make me sound like the Dalai Lama chanting from a mountaintop, John Lennon told engineer Geoff Emerick. The result, on "Tomorrow Never Knows," Revolver's concluding track, effectively kicked off the psychedelic rock movement. But the songs leading up to that still-trippy knock-out punch reveal the Beatles in transition on their most varied album. The melancholy strings on "Eleanor Rigby," the guitar attack of "And Your Bird Can Sing," and the loopy carnival of "Yellow Submarine" illustrate the unlimited palette the Fab Four were introducing to pop music — and make Revolver the best introduction to their work, and the strongest single example of their magnificence.
Album: Pet Sounds (1966)
Artist: The Beach Boys
All of the original Beach Boys sang on Pet Sounds, but from the very beginning this was Brian Wilson's autocratic attempt to recreate the noises in his head. Laying the groundwork for the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band a year later, Wilson plundered orchestra pits for new instruments and obsessed over the layering of what may be the most perfect harmonies in rock history. At the time of its release, Pet Sounds was a commercial disappointment, largely because it broke from the unadulterated chirpiness of the Beach Boys' early work. "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and "God Only Knows" teeter on the edge between adolescent euphoria and adult lament, while "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" provided what was to become Wilson's defining lyric: "Sometimes I feel very sad."
Album: Blonde On Blonde (1966)
Artist: Bob Dylan
In 1965 and 1966, Bob Dylan went on a creative sprint that has never been matched. Over the course of fourteen months, Dylan recorded Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited — and then capped it off with Blonde on Blonde, rock's first significant double album. Cut in Nashville with an ace team of studio musicians (and, for the first time, Robbie Robertson as Dylan's lead guitar foil), the album had a tense, shimmering tone that Dylan described as a "thin, wild mercury sound." Though unfortunately it opens with the tiresome one-liner "Rainy Day Women #12 and 35" (universally known as "Everybody Must Get Stoned"), after that the Blonde on Blonde reaches some of Dylan's greatest heights — which is to say, the very pinnacle of rock.
Album: Are You Experienced (1967)
Artist: The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Seattle-born former paratrooper James Marshall Hendrix worked the back-breaking chitlin' circuit playing guitar with the likes of Little Richard and the Isley Brothers. But to turn into a star, he had to go to England, where he joined forces with bass player Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell. The trio's debut was an unprecedented barrage of joyful noise — Hendrix literally redefined and expanded the sonic possibilities of the electric guitar (strung upside-down for this left-handed virtuoso), while the propulsive rhythm section heightened the attack. But what made Are You Experienced? more than a mere instrumental novelty was the strength of its songs — an even dozen classics including "Purple Haze," "Fire," and the dreamy "The Wind Cries Mary" that sound as revolutionary and as far beyond category today as they did the day they were recorded.
Album: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)
Artist: Public Enemy
Chuck D. scared the hell out of America's white parents with lyrics that praised Louis Farrakhan and a delivery that made retributive black violence seem inevitable, rational and—egad!—cool. His deeply felt and commercially calculated radicalism was best expressed in "Bring the Noise" and "Rebel Without a Pause", whip-smart, reference-filled songs saved from pretension by Flavor Flav, rap's greatest hype man, who even makes the prison break in "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" seem like daffy fun. Producers Bill Stephney, Hank Shocklee, and Terminator X—known as The Bomb Squad—laced every track with siren-wails and funk explosives that ratcheted the tension ever higher.
Album: Paul's Boutique (1989)
Artist: Beastie Boys
There will never be another record like Paul's Boutique. Not because there aren't innovative musicians, but because after changes in copyright law required all samples to be cleared with their creators, the only person who could afford to make it is Bill Gates. On one song, "Egg Man," the Beasties sampled Sly and the Family Stone, Public Enemy, Curtis Mayfield, Bernard Herrmann's score from Cape Fear and dialogue from Jaws and Psycho. All of the samples were stitched together and overstuffed until they became a mattress for bouncy, pop culture obsessed rhymes ("There's more to me than you'll ever know/ And I've got more hits than Sadaharu Oh/ Tom Thumb, Tom Cushman or Tom Foolery/ Date women on TV with the help of Chuck Woolery"). Few records of any kind evince this much head-spinning joy, and coming on the heels of Licensed to Ill, their self-consciously idiotic debut, it announced that the Beasties were an innovative force.
Album: Sign O' The Times (1987)
With songs culled from a series of aborted albums during the nadir of Prince's Purple Rain hangover, Sign O' the Times has no business being anything but a career-sinking mess. Instead, it's the best album of the 80s. Most of this is attributable to genius; Prince flips back and forth between R&B and rock like a kid popping wheelies, but that's more virtuosity than the G word. Genius is knowing that "If I Was Your Girlfriend" and "The Cross" don't need much adornment and the "Housequake" does. Genius is also the ability to usher in a succession of female vocalists—Camille, Susannah, Sheila E. and Sheena Easton, playing way out of her league—and coax career-defining performances out of them.
Album: Appetite for Destruction (1987)
Artist: Guns n' Roses
The biggest-selling debut album of the Eighties, Appetite features a lot more than the yowl of Indiana-bred W. Axl Rose, the only thing still remaining of the original G n' R. Some of the band's assets were in fact subtle, such as drummer Steven Adler, who brought swing and disco breakdowns to the band's mighty metal. And while songs such as "Welcome to the Jungle" are all about urban pain, others, including "Sweet Child o' Mine" and "Paradise City," have sweet, yearning lyrics that put the band's musical ferocity in even higher relief. "A lot of rock bands are too fucking wimpy to have any sentiment or any emotion," Rose said, "unless they're in pain."
Album: Harvest (1972)
Artist: Neil Young
Harvest yielded Young's only Number One hit, "Heart of Gold," and helped set the stage for the Seventies soft-rock explosion -- both James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt sing on the album. Along with Young, they were in Nashville to appear on Johnny Cash's variety show the week that Harvest was cut with an odd group of accomplished session players that included bassist Tim Drummond, who had played with James Brown. The sound was Americana -- steel guitar, slide guitar, banjo -- stripped down and rebuilt with every jagged edge exposed. The standout tracks include "Old Man" and "The Needle and the Damage Done."
Album: The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
Artist: Pink Floyd
"I think every album was a step towards Dark Side of the Moon," keyboardist Rick Wright said. "We were learning all the time, the techniques of the recording and our writing was getting better." As a culmination of their inner-space explorations of the early 1970s, the Floyd toured the bulk of Dark Side in Britain for months prior to recording. But in the studio, the band articulated bassist Roger Waters' lyric reveries on the madness of everyday life with melodic precision ("Breathe," "Us and Them") and cinematic lustre (Clare Torry's guest vocal aria "The Great Gig in the Sky"). Dark Side is one of the best-produced rock albums ever, and "Money" may be rock's only Top Twenty hit in 7/8 time.
Album: At Fillmore East (1971)
Artist: The Allman Brothers Band
Although this double album is unbeatable testimony to the Allman Brothers' improvisational skills, it is also evidence of how they connected with the crowds at New York's Fillmore East, and how the reciprocal energy gave birth to rock's greatest live double LP. "The audience would kind of play along with us," singer-organist Gregg Allman said of those March 1971 shows. "They were right on top of every single vibration coming from the stage." The guitar team of Duane Allman and Dickey Betts was at its hair-raising peak, fusing blues and jazz with emphatic force in "Whipping Post" and "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed." But their telepathy was cut short just three months after the album's release, when Duane died in a motorcycle accident.
Album: The Wall (1979)
Artist: Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd's most elaborately theatrical album was inspired by their own success: the alienating enormity of their tours after The Dark Side of the Moon, which was when bassist-lyricist Roger Waters first hit upon the wall as a metaphor for isolation and rebellion. He finished a demo of the work by July 1978; the double album then took the band a year to make. Rock's ultimate self-pity opera, The Wall is also hypnotic in its indulgence: the totalitarian thunder of "In the Flesh?" the suicidal languor of "Comfortably Numb," the Brechtian drama of "The Trial." Rock-star hubris has never been more electrifying.
Album: Closer (1980)
Artist: Joy Division
One of the most de-pressing albums ever made, with droning guitars and synthesizers, chilly bass lines, stentorian vocals and drums that sound as if they're steadily beating out the rhythm of doom. And that's not even considering the lyrics, which are about singer Ian Curtis' failing marriage and how he suffered from epilepsy. (Curtis hanged himself on May 18th, 1980, at the age of twenty-three -- the rest of the band regrouped as New Order; see No. 361.) Though Joy Division fully earned their reputation as England's most harrowing punk band, they weren't always gloomy; on trips from Manchester to London, they'd pass the time by mooning other cars.
Album: Ten (1991)
Artist: Pearl Jam
When their debut came out, Pearl Jam were competing with Nirvana in a grunge popularity contest they were bound to lose. Yet Ten is a near-perfect record: Eddie Vedder's shaky, agonized growl and Mike McCready's wailing guitar solos on "Alive" and "Jeremy" push both songs to the brink and back again.
Album: The Queen Is Dead (1986)
Artist: The Smiths
The original kings of British mope rock could have earned that title on the basis of this album alone. The Smiths' third set is full of quiet rage ("The Queen Is Dead"), epic sadness ("There Is a Light That Never Goes Out") and strummy social commentary ("Frankly Mr. Shankly").
Album: Superunknown (1994)
They were the seattle punk scene's headbanging answer to Led Zeppelin II. But they became real songwriters on Superunknown, shaping their angst into grunge anthems such as "Black Hole Sun." "We realized the importance of melody," said Chris Cornell. "Maybe we've been listening to Bryan Ferry."
Album: Rust Never Sleeps (1979)
Artist: Neil Young and Crazy Horse
In 1978, Young went on tour with a batch of songs his audience had never heard and got two albums out it -- Rust Never Sleeps and the double LP Live Rust. Both are essential Young, full of impossibly delicate acoustic songs and ragged Crazy Horse rampages. Highlights: "My My Hey Hey" (a tribute to Johnny Rotten), a surreal political spiel called "Welfare Mothers" ("make better lovers") and "Powderfinger," where Young's guitar hits the sky like never before.
Album: Is This It (2001)
Artist: The Strokes
The objective of Is This It, said Strokes singer Julian Casablancas, "was to be really cool and non-mainstream, and be really popular." Re- corded literally under the streets of New York, this revivifying blast of guitar-combo racket passionately reconciled those seemingly contradictory aspirations and accomplished both.
Album: Jagged Little Pill (1995)
Artist: Alanis Morissette
Morissette was a Canadian teen-pop dolly who remade herself as a fire-breathing rock priestess. She rails against treacherous men ("You Oughta Know"), conformity ("Hand in My Pocket") and the preponderance of spoons when all you need is a knife ("Ironic"). A Nineties rock classic.
Album: Grace (1994)
Artist: Jeff Buckley
Buckley had a voice like an oversexed angel, and the songs on Grace shimmer and twist and ripple. On the fierce rocker "Eternal Life," he upends Led Zeppelin's take on the blues, even as he honors it: Instead of a hellhound on his trail, Buckley, who drowned in 1997, sings about immortality bearing down on him.
Album: Meat Is Murder (1985)
Artist: The Smiths
Inspired by can riffs, bookended by lengthy, brutal songs about corporal punishment and the horrors of the cattle industry, the Smiths' 1985 disc is the darkest entry in the U.K. group's catalog. On "How Soon Is Now?" Morrissey sums up with great pathos and hilarity what a drag it is to be shy. More pathos would come.
Album: Kick Out The Jams (1969)
It's the ultimate rock salute: "Kick out the jams, motherfuckers!" Recorded live in Detroit by Rob Tyner and his anarchist crew, Kick Out the Jams writhes and screams with the belief that rock & roll is a necessary act of civil disobedience. The proof: It was banned by a Michigan department store.
Album: Automatic for the People (1992)
"It doesn't sound a whole lot like us," warned Peter Buck, but that was the point of R.E.M.'s ninth album. Largely acoustic, and with string parts arranged by Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones, this musical left turn finds a haunted beauty in songs such as "Everybody Hurts" and "Drive."
Album: Tunnel Of Love (1987)
Artist: Bruce Springsteen
After the big-scale Born in the U.S.A., this came as a shock -- Springsteen stripped down for an album of stark, intimate, mostly acoustic confessionals. The newly wed superstar gets personal on adult love songs such as "One Step Up" and "Walk Like a Man." The marriage may not have lasted -- but the music does.
The Digital Age
These days all of my music collection are downloaded from the internet, particularly from rapidshare file hosting. One of the best and exciting music collection can be found at Radiobutt