Top 10 Albums

I received a Facebook challenge…you know, one of those “tag 10 friends and they must reply” type of things. Well, I actually decided to participate in this one, and here is what I came up with:

Truth be told: when I was tagged in a friend’s post asking for a top-10 list like this, I initially was going to ignore it. But I’m a music elitist, and the challenge to actually put on paper my Top 10 Most Influential Albums was worth attempting. I enjoyed reading hers (thanks Rebecca!) and felt like it would be something fun to do. So, here it is…in all of it’s Facebook glory.

1 Graceland – Paul Simon

At first, I loved this album. Then after continuous replay in the family roadster on the 12 hour drive to and from Florida, I hated this album. It wasn’t until a few years after the dust had settled that I realized its brilliance. Lyrically, it is my favorite of all time. Musically, it also tops the charts. The African influence with Ladysmith is killer and lyrically is is second to none (did I already mention that?). “The Boy in the Bubble,” “I Know What I Know,” “Diamond on the Soles of Her Shoes,” “Under African Skies,” and “Homeless” are still, some 25 years later, some of the most influential music I have ever heard. It is absolutely the go-to record for me.


2 OK Computer – Radiohead

This was an album. I mean, THIS WAS AN ALBUM! Borrowing from the concept album, full length, not just 10 songs crammed together records of the 70’s, Radiohead formally closed the chapter on a bunch of crap music in the 80’s and 90’s (not to include the rise of alt-rock). I remember listening to this and thinking “wow, just wow.”


3 Achtung Baby, U2

Man, I went back and forth and back and forth on this one or Zooropa. Zooropa is my favorite U2 record, but this one qualifies for this list by definition. It was the first CD I ever bought on my own, and on top of that it was purchased in Israel (on the same trip, coincidentally, that my cousin introduced me to Enigma). The singles off of the record speak for themselves, but “Zoo Station” has a special place in my heart as I started to sing it in my head as we left the song’s namesake while on a trip to West Germany…the Zoo Station is the last train stop in West Berlin before you enter East Berlin. Yes, I sang a song from Achtung Baby while we feared for our lives while illegally entering East Berlin.


4 Apollo 18 – They Might Be Giants

Ah, the band that by no reasonable rights should be in anyone’s top-10 lists…but for some reason always are. The memory of one of the most fun concerts that I have ever been to (TMBG with NRBQ at Wolf Trap) is second only to the memory of flawlessly singing all 20 parts of “Fingertips” on the drive to school with Alex. The funny thing is that I can still do it. Now, the kids have been introduced and MUST STOP SPIDER!


5 Full Moon Fever – Tom Petty

Yes, the front side of this album has three of Petty’s most popular songs, but it’s the B-side that really makes this album special. “Yer So Bad” made for years of inside jokes, and “The Apartment Song” and “Alright For Now” are highly underrated efforts and some of my favorite Tom Petty lyrics. I remember Full Moon Fever with the high school gang, and on a ski trip to Pennsylvania with my Mom; and for an album to pull that off must mean it’s good.

6 Blues For Allah – Grateful Dead

During my senior year of high school, I was discovering the Dead for the first time. And with that came a totally random purchase of Blues For Allah. “Help,” “Slipknot,” “Franklin’s Tower,” and “The Music Never Stopped” turned out to be an extremely addictive intro to the Dead. I recognize that this isn’t the normal way that people fall in love with the Dead, but it’s a slippery slope from here…

7 13 Songs – Fugazi

After the first time I heard this record, I finally realized what underground anti-establishment punk rock was all about. Seeing Fugazi play in the student centers at both George Mason and Virginia Commonwealth, and then in the basement of a church in downtown DC, solidified their place in this list. To have a band that influential and that popular continue to push for accessible shows and require that their albums sell for no more than $10, set a precedent that a lot of sell-out musicians could learn from.


8 Sigh No More – Mumford and Sons

So these guys, and largely this album have narrated a lot of our lives over the past four years. I stumbled on the first two singles from Sigh No More, “The Cave” and “Little Lion Man” on an independent music blog some four+ months prior to the album coming out, and have been hooked since. I noticed those two songs out of a bunch I had downloaded while unpacking the new house, then we went to their concert at the tiny Ogden Theater while Ahna was pregnant with Liam. The album made for comforting music that we all sang along with while in the hospital with Liam. We have seen them two more times, including at the video taped Red Rocks shows two years ago…this time pregnant with Elia.

9 The Best of Miles Davis and John Coltrane – Miles Davis and John Coltrane

Do I really need to explain this one? Okay: I was sitting in a local pizza place in the town of Okemo, Vermont when this album first came to me. It played throughout our dinner, undoubtably making the memory of the pizza fantastically better than it actually was. It was instantly purchased and instantly made it’s way into the music rotation.


10 A String Cheese Incident – String Cheese Incident

The album that launched me into String Cheesedom. Jazz, bluegrass, jam, and rock are all intregal to these tracks, including an amazing cover of “Walk This Way.” Some 30+ concerts later, I still go bananas to hear “How Mountain Girls Can Love” and “San Jose.”


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