BourbonAndVinyl Turns 1 Year Old: Thank You!

IMG_1192

Yesterday, July 11th, BourbonAndVinyl.net turned 1 year old… Happy Birthday to us! I just wanted to pause and thank all of you who have stopped their busy days to take some time to read B&V. When I started this music blog with my Mission Statement a year ago, I never thought anybody would actually read this. It was just something to do in between drinking and putting albums on the stereo. My goal was to entertain. I’m not sure if I’ve accomplished that or not, but over 2,000 people have visited us over the last year. Well, it’s either 2,000 different people or my mother has just logged on 2,000 times… My Sainted Mother is very supportive… Anyway, thank you to all of you who have read B&V. I appreciate all the support and comments. I hope you’ll continue checking us out from time to time. If you like something we post, please tell a friend.

Thank you!!!

Conspiracy Theory: Who Is Holding Bob Seger’s Early LPs Hostage?

MI0002357308

 I grew up in the Midwest, the breadbasket of the US. In those days, one name was synonymous with rock and roll and that was Bob Seger. He was bigger than US Steel in the Midwest. I think they coined the term “heartland rocker” for Bob Seger. He was to the Midwest what Springsteen was to the East coast back then. Of course Springsteen went on to be bigger than anybody. I love what I heard Dylan say about the two of them one day on Theme Time Radio Hour: “They say Seger is a poor man’s Springsteen but I think Springsteen is a rich man’s Bob Seger.” My friend Jeff, Nancy’s brother, who I like to call Dr Rock, always likes to remind me that he thinks Springsteen ruined Seger with a lot of bad advice, which I think is spurious. As usual, I think I’ve digressed here… Suffice it to say, Seger’s music was ubiquitous when I was young. Listening to Seger was like saying the Pledge of Allegiance, it was something you did every day before school.

Most people, when they think of Seger, think of his albums released between his two great, great live albums “Live Bullet” and “Nine Tonight.” What they don’t realize is that the albums, “Night Moves,” “Stranger In Town” and “Against The Wind” are really actually late period Seger. Well, I guess now they’re mid-period Seger, but I don’t want to get lost in the details. Seger really hit it big when “Live Bullet” came along. I don’t think anybody did the math and realized that those songs on “Live Bullet” had to come from somewhere. Most people were unaware that Seger had eight albums out before he got big. I don’t know if the guy just had bad luck, shitty support from his record label or bad producers but he never got a break. His first studio album to really have an impact was “Night Moves.” Prior to that he wasn’t very well known outside of his native Michigan, which is a shame.

We live in an era now where most artists’ back catalogs are curated with more care than the art held at the Louvre. There are giant, deluxe box sets of unreleased material. There are constant re-releases of remixed versions of our favorite albums. The Stones remaster their records almost every year in what I believe is a marketing ploy. Zeppelin just issued yet another series of remasters with unreleased material on each studio album they released in their heyday. Many artists are doing this with an eye toward their place in history. Some artists, including the aforementioned Springsteen, have done box sets consisting of remasters of their original albums only, no bonus material, just the old records in a new package. “Oh well, I guess I’ll be buying “The White Album” again…” At the very least you see the old albums “remastered for iTunes.”

The one notable exception – and this is where the conspiracy theory comes in – is Bob Seger. Not only can you not find his first eight albums, you can’t even buy his biggest albums on iTunes. He’s released his two must-have live albums on iTunes and a couple of greatest hits packages but not his actual albums. He did release the curious “Early Seger Vol. 1” which was great but it sort of leaves you wanting “Vol 2” which is nowhere in sight. You can still buy his late period records on CD but not on iTunes? You can’t find his early records on CD either? WTF is going on here? Who’s responsible? I suspect some sort of arch villain has the master tapes locked in a vault, guarded by a giant octopus. As usual, I suspect the corporate thugs at Capitol Records, his record label for all these years, are behind this somehow. There must be something I’m missing here. There is some rumor that Seger just doesn’t care about his back catalog or he thinks those records are substandard, probably because the listening public was too daft not to buy them by the millions. Some of the production was substandard but there are records missing that are screaming for release.

At a bare minimum Seger, or somebody, needs to see to the remastering and release of these following records… If you can find these on vinyl in a used record store, do yourself a favor and buy them. They may be scratched or have more pops and hisses than the bacon grille down at the local Waffle House, but they are not only worth it, they are all we have until someone, for the love of God, releases these albums properly:

  1. “Ramblin Gamblin Man” 1968 – this was Seger’s first release. It’s under the name “The Bob Seger System.” The title track was the only really big hit. It’s a part of his live set to this day… The world needs the Bob Seger System, people.
  2. “Mongrel” 1970 – I have a copy of this, and it’s in pretty bad shape, but it rocks in a “rawks” kinda way. Seger howls the vocals. He even does a cover of “Mountain High, River Deep.” This is just a super, overlooked album.
  3. “Smokin O.P.’s” 1972 – I’m not usually a fan of covers albums (the title supposedly means smoking other people’s songs) but this is a great set of tunes. I really like his versions of “Bo Diddley” and “Love The One Your With.” His version of “Let It Rock” the ol’ Chuck Berry chestnut was his encore, show ender for years.
  4. “Back In ’72” 1973 – There’s a moment on “Live Bullet” before (I think) “Turn the Page” where Seger says to the crowd, “this is from back in ’72.” I always thought he was merely referring to the year the song was released. I had no idea this album even existed. It’s the pick of the litter here. There is not a bad moment on this album. He even covers “Love the One Your With,” a ballsy move in those days. How this album didn’t make it big is a mystery to me. Seger has to put this album back out.
  5. “Seven” 1974 – Seger’s creatively named seventh album… This album doesn’t have any hits but it’s also one of my personal favorites. The original version of “Get Out of Denver” which is so wonderfully performed on “Live Bullet” is on this record. It’s simply the best Chuck Berry song not by Chuck Berry out there… with all due respect to the Stones, who have been doing Chuck for years.
  6. “Beautiful Loser” 1975 – This album is the one right before “Live Bullet” and had the biggest impact on that live record. This is another sensational album that I defy you to find a copy of.

The only early Seger album I’d warn you away from is “Noah.” Seger didn’t even do much singing on that record. There were rumors of depression and of course the famous false rumor of him having throat cancer. The guy just dropped out of the band for a while folks. Anyway, I beseech the powers that be, whoever is holding up the release of these albums and his more popular records on at least iTunes, please put this music out. I’m not usually a “second shooter on the grassy knoll” type of guy but this ranks up there with Amelia Earhart’s disappearance in terms of world mysteries for me…

Look for these records in your local used vinyl store and rock out people.

Cheers!

BourbonAndVinyl: A Music Theory, One of Many

IMG_1192

 Here at BourbonAndVinyl we have many theories about music. Unfortunately the excessive thinking we do about music could be classified as “obsessive compulsive.” I truly need to develop some hobbies that don’t involve pouring murky brown liquid into a tumbler and hitting “play” on the stereo. Anyway, I have always believed that if you’re going to marry someone, or live with them, or even date them, it’s very important that they have good musical taste or at least similar musical taste. Looks and physique fade (well, not for the Rock Chick, but mine have). What you choose to put on the stereo lasts a life time. Nobody wants to spend their lives wrestling over the stereo remote. I once stopped seeing someone who admitted to me they liked Barry Manilow.

I was fortunate, later in life, to meet the Rock Chick. And while her musical taste was exceptional, our musical tastes as a couple are more of a Venn Diagram – two interlocking circles, with some overlap but a lot of unmatched space on each side. Of course, in any relationship this is to be expected, no two people’s musical tastes match exactly. That’s why compromise is so important in a relationship of any kind. While the Rock Chick loves AC/DC, Motley Crue, Green Day and the Cult among many other bands, I was horrified early on to find out she hates Van Morrison, the Eagles and wasn’t terribly crazy about Springsteen. She’s much more into music that is current and I’m more likely to find that strange B-side from a side project of a guy in a band that was popular in the early 70s, before the guy o.d.’d. We all like what we like or as I’m fond of saying, “the heart wants, what the heart wants.”

In the early days of our courtship I remember trying to turn the Rock Chick onto some of the deeper cuts in my vast collection of music. Most of this “musical education” was met by the Rock Chick with a frown and crinkled nose, as if I was holding a piece of limburger cheese under her nose. Oh, well. I used to hold my hand up, fingers closed in a ball and holding a coin in my other hand feign trying to push the coin into my closed fist while exclaiming in a shrill voice, “nothing gets into a closed mind.” Oddly this behavior never got me laid. I finally gave up.

Eventually, through a lot of tense and drawn-out negotiations I finally got the Rock Chick to agree to the BourbonAndVinyl Basic Theory of music. It goes something like this:

Theorem A. Every band whose ever had a recording contract has at least one good song. On the low end you have the 1-hit wonders, Sniff and the Tears’ “Drivers Seat” for example, or Billy Thorpe’s “Children of the Sun.” On the other extreme you have the Beatles, who many (not the Rock Chick) would agree have mostly all great songs, with the only exception I can think of being “Revolution No 9.” I’m just not avant guard enough for that “tune.” Most bands people like have many great songs, not just one, but even the haters of a certain band have to agree, there’s always that one likable song. I’m not suggesting here that each band only has 1 good song, I’m merely arguing that even the Rock Chick has to agree that despite her hatred of Van Morrison that “Have I Told You Lately” is a great song, if you get my meaning. I have certainly used this trick repeatedly over the years to get the Rock Chick to listen to bands she normally wouldn’t… “Honey, this might be the song you’d like by Little Feat…” while the album plays on.

Corollary 1 To the BourbonAndVinyl Theorem A: Two people can disagree on what that “one good song” is. For example, in my opinion the only good J. Geils’ Band song is “Musta Got Lost.” That is just a great song full of longing and regret yet oddly joyful. I can’t stand most of their other stuff. My wife likes “Centerfold” which, lets face it, every chick in her generation digs. I remember it being played over the loudspeakers at lunch in my high school and the chicks would all go nuts. All the girls would start dancing in their seats when the lunchroom DJ put that on and the room would take on a musky air… ah, the power of music on girls, but I digress, as usual.

Corollary 2 To the BourbonAndVinyl Theorem A:  The one exception, i.e., the one band who doesn’t even have one good song is the fucking Moody Blues. No one will ever convince me that the Moody Blues ever did anything worth listening to. “Knights In White Satin” makes me want to commit harikari.

Currently, I’m using the BourbonAndVinyl Theorem A of Music to convince my wife to listen to the Doors in an attempt to help her find her “one good Doors song”. Frankly, I love the Doors, but alas they aren’t on my wife’s Venn Diagram. While it has helped me slip more of my music onto the stereo, it’s a tough road with the Rock Chick. Hopefully using the B&V Theorem A will help you too, faithful readers, convince someone to listen to music they might not otherwise listen to. It’s worth a shot.

Remember, compromise is key in any relationship folks. Cheers!

BourbonAndVinyl Spring Album Preview

IMG_1192

In the old days, I’d sneak out of school or better yet work and check out what was new at the local record store. I can almost smell the incense burning while the tattoo’d, stoned staff bustled around the store arranging stacks of records. I could spend hours going through the racks and racks of beautiful vinyl. I’d gaze lovingly at the artwork, turn the record over to read the track listing. Always on the hunt for something new, or something undiscovered. I was always looking for that fabulous high when the needle hit the groove and something great exploded from the speakers. In each record store, there was always a chalk board or a some kind of notification, “Upcoming Releases”. God, I miss those days. Now, I have to pour over Rolling Stone magazine, social media. or worse go out to the iTunes store and search the “Pre-Sale” list. I do wonder what happened to all those hippies that used to work in record stores. I have to imagine that they’ve all migrated out to Colorado and are working in the pot dispensaries. Well, at least that’s what I hope for them. I’d hate to think they all became used car salesmen.

As a follow up to the B&V “Upcoming 2016 Albums” post, I went out and to check out what might be coming out over the next couple of months, April and May ’16. Some of the stuff I knew about, some of it was a surprise. As a public service to rock fans every where, I thought I’d post what I found. This list, as all my lists, is not meant to be comprehensive, but these are records I’m interested in and thought you might be too. If I missed anything, please use the comments section to let the people know about the new rock and roll. We can pretend we all work in a giant virtual record store. Ah, that incense is burning….

  1. Mudcrutch, “2” – As mentioned in the upcoming 2016 LP post, Mudcrutch’s new album, creatively titled “2” (it’s their second album) is coming out May 20th. The first single “Trailer” is a song that was an outtake to “Full Moon Fever” and an early version of the song is available on the superb boxed set “Playback”. The song is a nostalgic trip back to Petty’s youth, which when you think about it, the same could be said for Mudcrutch in general. I love the new tune and look forward to hearing more. Petty wrote 7 of the tunes and each member contributed 1 song. My buddy Storm already has his Mudcrutch tix for the Denver show… I can always count on Storm!
  2. Eric Clapton, “I Still Do” – Clapton has been largely dead to me since “From the Cradle” his fabulous blues album. He hasn’t done much since then that you wouldn’t find in the “easy listening” aisle. The first single, “Can’t Let You Do It” which is a laid back shuffle akin to much of his latest stuff. The reason this record caught my eye was it’s produced by legendary producer Glyn Johns who produced “Slowhand”. Maybe he can bring something out in Slowhand again this time. There are originals and a couple of interesting covers including a Dylan tune “I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine”. Intriguing but my hopes are definitely not “up”. This one is also May 20.
  3. Peter Wolf, “A Cure For Loneliness” – I never liked the J Geils Band. “Musta Got Lost” was the only tune I really connected with. However, Peter Wolf on his own has released a series of great albums including 2010’s “Midnight Souvenirs”. I was a little discouraged to hear a couple of the tracks were recorded live, but that’s probably me being a music snob. This one will be high on my radar… It’ll be out in April.
  4. Rival Sons, “Hollow Bones” – The title track is on pre-release and it sounds like another monster riff song from Rival Sons. Same producer as “Valkyries” so I’m hopeful for some more riff-tastic tune-age! Look for this in June
  5. Ace Frehley, “Origins Vol 1” – I’m not a Kiss fan, but my college roomy owned the Ace solo album when each Kiss member released a solo album at the same time. It was mostly awful, but Ace can shred and people seem to like him. “Origins Vol 1” is an all covers release. It comes out tax day…
  6. Cheap Trick, “Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello” – I’ve been a little down on these guys since they booted Bun E. Carlos out of the band… However, their album from a few years ago, “Rockford” earned a lot of creative buzz. The four tunes that are already on pre-release are vintage Cheap Trick. Great riffs and those Beatlesque harmonies… Due out tomorrow, April 1st, I can’t believe I’m saying this but I might end up buying a Cheap Trick record for the first time since I conquered acne.
  7. Springsteen – Live Recordings (various) – Springsteen continues to release live recordings from each of his “River Tour” shows. These are probably more of a souvenir for the folks who attended but the Chicago one, reviewed in B&V earlier, is a treat to listen to. Springsteen has ditched that “Reverend of Rock” schtick and is clearly charged up by playing this particular material. The set after they finish “The River” is the real treat. He’s even playing “Rosalita” every night…

That’s the scoop over the next couple of months. As always, pour something strong, turn it up loud and enjoy.

Cheers!

The Return of My Turntable

p17jnutp8a3oceq7efr14gtn4r0_92168

Last year, my wife’s company was bought out by their fiercest competitor. By summer my wife could brook no more of the jackbooted oppressor’s bullshit and she “retired”. My wife is not an idle person nor retirement age, so I knew this would not bode well for my sedentary, settled life style. I was hoping she’d settle into an “arts and crafts” phase. I even suggested we turn the spare room into her “sewing room”. My wife doesn’t sew, she’s the Rock Chick. Before I knew it, we were moving. We (she) decided it was time to leave the leafy suburbs and move back downtown. Well, I knew she needed a project but moving? I will now be able to add “aging hipster” to my resume. If I grow a soul-patch and start wearing funny porkpie hats with little brims my wife has vowed to divorce me.

We had about a month to move out of the old place. One of the first things the wife decided to disassemble was the basement. The basement was my ultimate “man cave”. Instead of having a sports theme with Chiefs memorabilia (I typically try to hide the fact that I’m a Chiefs fan) I chose a musical theme. My basement was the “Rock and Roll Basement.” My box sets were proudly displayed alongside album covers hung on the wall. We had giant murals of the Rolling Stones and U2 hung in the bar (yes I had a bar, Bourbon is in the title of this blog). I’m not sure what’s going to happen to all that rock art, but I fear a bonfire is in my wife’s future plans.

A sad by-product of the basement tear-down was the break down and movement of my stereo. Oh sure, we had a radio and iPod docks upstairs but it’s just not the same. By the time I had the stereo disassembled and moved over to the storage area of the new place, it looked like C3PO after the Stormtroopers shot him up on the Death Star. Wires were sprawled all over the displaced components like electronic spaghetti. Atop it all was my beloved turntable (not pictured above, I took that image from the inter-web). I had to admit to myself the ol’ turntable hadn’t gotten as much use in the “Rock n Roll Basement” as it once did in my old bachelor pad. My wife had designed the cabinets so the turntable was down below. I had to pull out a rolling shelf to get to it. Pretty soon I just stopped trying to pull it out. I’d play my music in other formats.

We’ve been in the new place for about a month and I have to admit I’ve struggled with this move. I was not enamored with the old house, or the old neighborhood. I’m not a neighborhood kind of guy. I’m more of a “pull up the drawbridge”, “fill the moat with alligators” kind of guy. Since we’d moved out to the suburbs I kept running into people from my sketchy past which was always a bit un-nerving. I really had no explanation for this odd feeling of displacement. I couldn’t get myself settled in the new place. As I told a friend recently, just once I want to reach for a light switch in the dark and have it actually be where I thought it’d be.

The AV situation at the house was a mess. The old owners left all their old, crappy stereo and TV equipment. Beyond that it was more complicated than my minimal AV skills could manage. I quickly hired some folks to come in and set the whole thing up. The very skilled and competent folks were booked up until mid February. This would mean going without music for quite some time. It is what it is.

As a kid, when I got my first stereo, and it was a combined system – radio, turntable, and cassette deck all in one, I was thrilled. My first album was “Some Girls” by the Rolling Stones. I can remember gingerly putting it on the turntable for the first time. I nervously dropped the needle onto the vinyl… there was a pop and a small hiss until the needle finally found the groove. When the needle finds that groove its like a needle hitting the vein. The endorphins raced into my brain. I’ve never felt a high quite like the moment the music starts. I remember my father asking me a short time later, why I owned all those “different” records. Apparently my father was under the impression each record contained the same songs. As if an AC/DC album was like a ZZ Top album. After “Some Girls” I was a hooked, avid collector.

The AV guys finally showed up yesterday and set up all my stuff including my turntable. The head guy knows more about music than I ever will. We had an amazing conversation about Little Feat and Lowell George. Before I knew it, over the speakers downstairs I heard my music playing. Not the radio, finally it was my music playing. It’s amazing how much more settled I suddenly felt now that I had access to my music. The AV guys randomly grabbed an album to test the turntable. It happened to be Springsteen’s ‘Nebraska’, not the most joyous album. I was standing in the kitchen, trying to stay out of the AV guys’ way (I admit, I was hovering, excited like a kid on Christmas) when I heard that familiar sound of the needle finding the groove. Just like that I was back in my bedroom in my folks house. I could smell the carpet and see he wallpaper. The warm analog sound of the album embraced me like a mother holding a new baby. ‘Nebraska’ may not be the most joyous album, and my wife was hating it while it played, but I was ecstatic.

I knew, finally, I was home.

The best news, or perhaps it’s bad news for my wife, is that my turntable is now much, much more accessible. I think my vinyl is going to come back into my life in a big way, like a long lost friend. I’ve already played ‘Some Girls’ and the Allman Brothers’ ‘Idlewild South’… this could go on all weekend. If you’re out there and you don’t have a turntable, or perhaps someone has convinced you to put your turntable in mothballs in the basement, take my word for it, you need to set it back up. Vinyl has become hipster territory. The last time I was in a record store I was the only person there without a “man-bun”. It’s time the rock and rollers took it back. Get your turntables out people, it’s time.

Actually, joyful, it’s also time for me to go turn a record over. God that feels good.

Cheers!

The BourbonAndVinyl Essential Old School Double Vinyl Albums

IMG_1192

I was in Indy last spring for a wedding with some people associated with my wife. Some were friends, some were relatives, but the line was sort of blurry. Well, everything was sort of blurry that weekend. The wedding was a hippy-esque affair, performed outside, which I considered dicey in the Indy springtime. It was one of the few receptions where a “pub crawl” was part of the plan. As the drunken brawl raged on that March Saturday, I reached out to another friend of mine, B.J. He lives in Indy and I’d always promised if I was in town I’d give him a call. I never dreamed he’d actually join us at the bar at 10 pm on a Saturday night, but sure as I was (barely) standing there, in he walked a few minutes after I’d texted him. B.J. is a tea-totaller (and there’s nothing wrong with that…) and the crowd I was with was a rather rough and tumble herd. I think one of the guys might have been a biker (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I had been quietly cultivating that relationship all day. You never know when shit is going to break out on a pub crawl.

B.J. is an extraordinarily smart guy. One of the most erudite, well-read, well-traveled guys I’ve ever met. He strolled in and immediately I felt the fear rise up in my chest. He had those leather patches on the elbows of his cable sweater. He looked like a college professor who’d taken a wrong turn and had inadvertently walked into the seedy bar we were in to ask directions to the nearest coffee house, “uh, I’m late for a poetry reading”. I kept thinking, “Well, this will be fine, I’ll just keep myself between B.J. and the drunks… I’ll be the Chinese wall…” Almost immediately after his arrival, since he’s a very gregarious guy, he turned and started to introduce himself to the crowd arrayed around the bar table we’d commandeered. With his hands folded in front of him, like he was praying, he turned to address the entire table, “Well, I have to tell you folks, my wife and I were on the verge of finishing our binge-watching of “Downtown Abbey” when Ken contacted me. It was hard to pull away from that upstairs/downstairs drama, but here I am.” You could have heard a pin drop. I figured no one at that table had ever heard of “Downtown Abbey”. It was then that the biker looked up at B.J. and said, “Oh, I love that show. Don’t say anything, I’m still in season 2.” Turns out he was an architect. You just never know what’s going to happen in a bar.

My buddy B.J. loves rock and roll “lists”. “Ken, who are the best rock drummers, from American based bands, from the 70’s?” Uh, I don’t know. Over the past few months, the wife has decided we were going to sell the house and “downsize”. So I’ve been going through the process of moving which always includes throwing stuff out. Books, clothes, furniture, nothing is sacred from my wife’s pruning. Well, nothing except my albums. I spent the weekend gingerly packing my vinyl LPs into plastic, waterproof boxes, surrounded by egg crate stuffing and styrofoam peanuts. You’d think I was transporting an organ, I’ve taken so much care with these things. Mind you, I’ve endured the glaring stares of my wife during this entire process. However, I managed to stay firm. You have to draw a line in marriage or you’ll end up moving and “downsizing” before you’re ready… Hey, wait a minute.

As I began to look at these albums, I found myself pausing over the heavier, double albums I had purchased back in the day. Man, a double album meant commitment. When I first started buying albums from my meager busboy wages, a single record was $5.99 but a double album, that was over 12 bucks. So a double album had to be by an artist you trusted and had to be a major statement. With the advent of the CD the double album went the way of the Dodo. Ah, I still love to hold the album sleeve, typically a gatefold, where the herbal enthusiasts amongst us used to clean their pot. So, for my friend B.J., who loves rock and roll lists, here is the BourbonAndVinyl list of essential double-albums, that every music enthusiast needs to own. I’m not a completist, but you really should own each of these records as a start. Underscore the word, “records”, i.e. vinyl. These are in no particular order except perhaps the order I put them in the hermetically sealed moving package….I only included double studio albums. Live albums are not included, nor are albums that are a blend of live/studio stuff like “Eat a Peach” or “Rattle and Hum”.

  1. The Beatles – “The Beatles” (aka The White Album) – The Beatles came out of their psychedelic period and released this amazing, tour-de-force double album. What don’t they do here. George Harrison’s songs are some of his finest, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, “Piggies”. As has oft been written, this was a sound of four musicians growing apart rather than the broad artistic statement it was treated as upon it’s release. John had started bringing Yoko into the sessions. It’s easy to blame Yoko for the Beatles’ break up, but let’s remember, it’s guy code – the gang before the chicks…
  2. Bob Dylan – “Blonde On Blonde” – His magnum opus. Shortly after this album Dylan (purportedly) had a motor cycle accident and disappeared. What I love about this album is how bluesy it is. Dylan never gets credit for his wonderful blues. Lyrically and musically Dylan would never be stronger, with the possible exception of “Blood on the Tracks”.
  3. The Jimi Hendrix Experience – “Electricladyland” – I loved “Are You Experienced” but I thought “Axis: Bold As Love” suffered from the usual sophomore issues… recorded too quickly after the first album etc. Don’t get me wrong, “Axis” is amazing but “Electricladyland” is Hendrix’s Sistine Chapel. The 15 minute “Voodoo Child” is his most masterful blues tune and boasts organ by Steve Winwood.
  4. The Rolling Stones – “Exile On Main Street” – The product of the famous recording session in Keith’s mansion Nellcote on the French Riviera. There have so many albums after this one, based on the Stones template. It’s my favorite album and my favorite band. This was the final album in what was considered their “golden”, Mick Taylor period.
  5. The Who – “Tommy” – Pete Townshend’s first rock opera. I’m always surprised that it wasn’t until “Tommy” that the Who broke in America. Their first three albums were all amazing. They had a virtuoso bass player, drummer and guitarist. No one paints a soundscape the way Pete Townshend does with his guitar. If you listen to “The Who Sell Out” you knew Pete was into the concept album. Who knew he’d take it to an art form with “Tommy”?
  6. Derek and the Dominos – “Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs” – Eric Clapton, desperately in love with his best friend’s wife… Oh, and his best friend is Beatle George Harrison. Fiction writers can’t come up with stuff like this. This is one of the consummate blues-rock albums of all time. “Key to the Highway”, “Have You Ever Loved a Woman” and “Tell the Truth” are some of Clapton’s most inspired performances. Just to up the ante, he brought in Duane Allman of the Allman Brothers to play co-lead. Guitar heaven.
  7. Manassas (Stephen Stills) – “Manassas” – Bill Wyman, bassist for the Rolling Stones flew out to join the recording sessions for this one-off supergroup recording and was reported to have said, something like, “if I was going to quit the Stones it’d be to join Manassas”. Clapton once claimed he wanted to join the Band, so who knows. Each side is dedicated to a different type of sound, rock/blues/country/folk. There are Latin rhythms all over this thing. This is a must have for CSNY fans.
  8. George Harrison – “All Things Must Pass” – After years of his output being suppressed by John & Paul, George released not a double album, but a triple album. Though to be fair, side four is all jam sessions. He brought in Phil Specter to produce and the musicians that eventually became Derek & The Dominos as his backing band. His version of Dylan’s “If Not For You” is definitve.
  9. Miles Davis – “Bitches Brew” – I know this is a jazz album and not a rock album. I also know that I am not smart enough for jazz. But this album, only six tunes in length is amazing. Apparently influenced by Jimi Hendrix, Miles brought a bunch of musicians in and said, “Let’s jam”. This guy is on a whole other level.
  10. The Who – “Quadrophenia” – The second rock opera from Townshend. I actually like this album better than “Tommy”. It simply rocks harder. “The Real Me”, “Love Reign O’er Me”, and “5:15” are all part of rock’s canon now. The concept may be vague to US audiences, but let’s face it, all rock opera storylines are… odd.
  11. Stevie Wonder – “Songs In the Key of Life” – This album is the final record in what can only be described as Stevie’s greatest creative period, ’72-76. There isn’t a bad song on this album. Its political but soulful enough to dance to. “Sir Duke” for Duke Ellington is a definite highlight.
  12. Led Zeppelin – “Physical Graffiti” – Zeppelin’s entry into the “great bands do double albums” category. “Kashmir”, “Ten Years Gone” and “Trampled Under Foot”. What couldn’t these guys do. One of my favs from Zep.
  13. Elton John – “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” – I saw Elton in ’82 and he opened with “Funeral For a Friend/Loves Lies Bleeding” and I couldn’t help but wish, please just keep playing all of “Yellow Brick Road”. A sprawling, brilliant masterpiece.
  14. The Clash – “London Calling” – I heard Elvis Costello once say, “The Clash were different on the first two or three records, but after that it was just Joe Strummer’s record collection.” Well, if he meant “London Calling”, Joe had quite a record collection. The only hit was a song they almost left off the album, “Train In Vain”. That’s how strong this album is, they almost left the single off.
  15. Fleetwood Mac – “Tusk” – This album always got panned as a disappointment because it only sold 4 million copies vs Rumors 20 million. What are you gonna do? Heavily influenced by the punk movement Lindsey took the band on a huge left turn. This is still one of my favorite Fleetwood Mac albums.
  16. Bruce Springsteen – “The River” – the first Springsteen album I ever bought. I was nervous when I bought it as I only knew a hand full of singles from the Boss… This album did not disappoint me. Like all double albums it was a bit of a mess but all the songs here are great. “Point Blank”, “You Can Look But You Better Not Touch” and “Ramrod” are all great album cuts. After spending so much time in legal limbo after “Born to Run” Springsteen and a glut of material and thankfully he withdrew the single album version of this record and came out with a double album. The title track was his most political to date – he was able to communicate politically by making the song so personal.
  17. Pink Floyd – “The Wall” – Roger Waters’ masterpiece. Although he owns the rights to “The Wall” and was the principal creative force behind the stage show, it never would have gotten off the ground without the soaring guitar of David Gimour. I spent hours of my high school years listening to this. I always thought the line, “you can’t have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat” was “you don’t get any pussy if you don’t beat your meat” which was music to a high schooler’s ears.
  18. Prince – “1999” – Forget about the hits, “1999”, “Delirious” and “Little Red Corvette” this is an awesome album start to finish. This album has that Hendrix-y guitar married to funk that is mind blowing. There would be no “Purple Rain” without “1999”. I defy you to put on “D.M.S.R” and not dance around the room.

There you go folks. Head out to a record store and start collecting… Enjoy and as always, Cheers!