This morning, I played The Freewheelin’ First Aid Kit – a playlist I created on YouTube a while back, after coming up with the idea here. As the name infers, it features their versions of a few Bob Dylan songs (plus a few other cool covers). First Aid Kit are relative young ‘uns, of course, and their willingness to dig deep into the music of the past is, well, a joy to behold.
I’d love to read a list of their seminal albums.
Which leads to this: Over the past week or so, my Facebook newsfeed has exploded with lists by friends and acquaintances of albums that made a lasting impression on them during their formative years. Such lists get flung around on Facebook every now and again, it seems. This specific meme lays down a few rules: list 10; don’t think too long or hard about them; and don’t choose more than one per artist or band. Some respondents expand the 10 to 20 or even 30; and quite a few can’t help but to push the “one album per artist” rule to two or three. They are always interesting to read.
Anyone who’s spent time on my blog already knows most, if not all, of mine. My music-obsessiveness kicked into gear a few months prior to my turning 13 in 1978 – and has lasted ever since. I’ve always been a fairly open-eared listener, awash (at various times) in the Top 40, AOR rock, oldies, country and adult contemporary, plus disco, R&B and soul. I have no shame, and no “guilty pleasures.” Life’s too short for that.
Some days, I listen to little. Others? I play a lot. On my Wednesday morning commute, I listened to the Jam’s Snap collection, which I had on vinyl way back when; on my way home, I played the Kinks’ One for the Road, another favorite 2-LP set from my teen years. In between, at work, I strapped on my headphones and listened to the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Neil Young’s On the Beach, Gladys Knight & the Pips’ Imagination and, because I’m not totally stuck in the past, the Staves’ If I Was and Harriet’s debut. The day before, while working from home, I made it a Rumer day, and listened to her entire oeuvre (minus Stereo Venus). Right now, I’m listening to Jackie DeShannon’s Are You Ready for This?, a wonderful but oft-overlooked gem of an album she released in 1966 –
– but before that it was Imagination (again) and the Jam’s The Gift.
Anyway, here are not 10 nor 20, but 16 albums from my teen years that (along with lots of others) laid the foundation for much that has followed, arranged in (more-or-less) chronological order as to when I acquired them. Though some are stone-cold classics, others obviously are not – yet they were, in their way, equally important in the evolution of my music-obsessiveness. Then as now, my listening pleasures weren’t always new; some things I discovered from the radio, others from the music magazines and, often, the Rolling Stone Record Guide. I’ve also reduced the span from my teen years to my middle- and high-school days (1978-1983); and, in some instances, included links to past posts where I discuss the album or artist.
It’s also far from definitive. Rickie Lee Jones’ stellar debut isn’t mentioned, for example, though it should be (and is, in a way, now). When I finalize my All-Time Greatest Albums list, which I’m in the process of doing, such lapses and oversights will be corrected.
- Paul McCartney & Wings – London Town
- Olivia Newton-John – Totally Hot
- The Beatles – 1967-1970
- Linda Ronstadt – Mad Love
- Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band – Against the Wind
- The Go-Go’s – Beauty & the Beat
- The Pretenders – Extended Play
- Neil Young & Crazy Horse – re*ac*tor
- Joan Jett & the Blackhearts – I Love Rock ’n’ Roll
- Janis Joplin – Pearl
- Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On
- Dusty Springfield – Dusty in Memphis
- Lou Reed – Rock ’n’ Roll Animal
- Patti Smith – Easter
- The Jam – The Gift
- Roxy Music – The High Road
Anyway, here’s today’s Top 5: 16 or 10 to 6. AKA, songs from six of the above albums…
1) Olivia Newton-John – “Deeper Than the Night.” Fresh from the success of Grease, Olivia released what may well be the greatest album of her career, Totally Hot.
2) The Go-Go’s – One of the greatest crimes of the 21st century: That this band is not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Here they are with “Lust to Love” from Beauty & the Beat…
3) The Pretenders – “Talk of the Town.” Extended Play is no more, which is a shame. A five-song classic it was, and this song was my favorite (with “Message of Love” a close second).
4) Roxy Music – “Like a Hurricane.” The High Road was another EP – and is another lost gem, as it fell out of print.
5) The Jam – “Just Who Is the Five O’Clock Hero?” Paul Weller. The Jam. From their swan song, The Gift.
And… one bonus:
6) Patti Smith – “Because the Night.” From Easter.