Friday, August 01, 2008

Top 20

Here's my list, in response to Judy's post, following the same critieria except for the inclusion of one collection, Debussy's Preludes as performed by Walter Gieseking. I took a different tact, though, and thought about the albums with which I have the strongest emotional connection--not necessarily those I listen to the most, or, in some cases, even those I consider to be the best by certain artists--Coltrane's Meditations is a case in point. Nevertheless, as these lists are subjective anyway--and as the notion of a "best" CD, book, movie, whatever is wrought with all kinds of problems--I figured I'd bypass any attempt at objective analysis. No such thing, of course. So, what I've compiled is a list of albums that, for whatever reason, hit me hard and have done so, for the most part, for a very long time. These are the albums that I cannot imagine being without. Albums that have come to define a certain sonic circuitry to my life. As such, they all have some sort of complicated story attached, to be sure, stories that I may get around to telling at some point . . . or maybe not. Simply to say, explaining my admiration for these albums would require far more than addressing the sounds that they contain.

Stylistically, I'm not sure what keeps them all together. There's a certain shambolic tendency running throughout. Perhaps. I guess I tend to find myself drawn towards things that have only a tenuous hold. Technical proficiency, at least, is usually of little appeal. Surely many come from a certain time period, too, reflecting my coming of age in the 1980s. Were I younger or older, no doubt, the list would reflect such contingencies. There's also the sense that I'm impressionable, and certain critical writings about some of these pieces, at least, have altered my perceptions--that's certainly the case with Astral Weeks, and Lester Bangs's extraordonary essay about the album has forever defined if for me.

Anyway, I'm going on too long already. Here she is, in all her ragged glory:

20. Charles Mingus, The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady
19. Aretha Franklin, I Never Loved A Man the Way I Love You
18. Richard and Linda Thompson, Shoot Out the Lights
17. John Coltrane, Meditations
16. Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation
15. The Kinks, Something Else by the Kinks
14. The Band, Music from Big Pink
13. Peter Brotzmann, Machine Gun
12. Wu-Tang Clan, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
11. Claude Debussy, Preludes 1 and 2 (Performed by Walter Gieseking)
10. Eric Dolphy, Out to Lunch
9. The Minutemen, The Punch Line
8. Guided by Voices, Bee Thousand
7. The Congos, Heart of the Congos
6. Miles Davis, In a Silent Way
5. Pere Ubu, The Modern Dance
4. Slayer, Reign in Blood
3. The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground and Nico
2. Marvin Gaye, What's Going On?
1. Van Morrison, Astral Weeks


Judy B said...

Nice! Many of yours are ones I'd include should I attempt such a bizzare, challenging and fun task. Within minutes, I had five more to include, but I stuck to my guns. I just re-read mine, and I think that many of them speak to your "sonic circuitry" idea. Pack a punch indeed. Thanks for playing, Matt!

Scott said...

Playing by the same (or at least very similar) rules - here is my Top 20 list. I've spent quite a bit of time on this (probably way more than I should have), so if nothing else it's the most honest favorite albums list I've ever compiled.

20) Cheap Trick "Heaven Tonight"
19) Queens of the Stone Age "Rated R"
18) Public Enemy "Fear of a Black Planet"
17) Bob Dylan "Highway 61 Revisited"
16) The Velvet Underground "The Velvet Underground & Nico"
15) Charles Mingus "Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus"
14) Radiohead "Kid A"
13) Curtis Mayfield "Curtis/Live!"
12) Drive-By Truckers "Southern Rock Opera"
11) Massive Attack "Mezzanine"
10) Metallica "Ride the Lightning"
09) Beastie Boys "Check Your Head"
08) D'Angelo "Voodoo"
07) Miles Davis "Get Up With It"
06) The Rolling Stones "Beggars Banquet"
05) Roxy Music "For Your Pleasure"
04) Iggy & the Stooges "Raw Power"
03) The Beatles "The Beatles [White Album]"
02) Neil Young "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere"
01) Sonic Youth "Daydream Nation"

Give me a couple more months and I'll match your 21-40...