My Longtime Favorite Albums

Ten records I continue to enjoy after more than three decades

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Earlier this week, I got nominated on Facebook to name 10 music albums that have made an impact on me and that I continue to enjoy today. The task was to post one album cover daily, and each time when doing so to nominate somebody else to do the same. Usually, I don’t participate in these types of chain activities, so initially, I ignored it. But since it was a close relative, who had nominated me, and music is my passion after all, I decided to go along. The exercise of identifying the 10 records inspired this post.

Because I found it impossible to limit myself to just 10 albums, I decided to narrow the field to only those records I started listening to as a teenager and in my early 20s. This explains why some of my favorite artists like The Allman Brothers Band, Buddy Guy and even The Rolling Stones are “missing.” It was only later that I started exploring them and many other artists I like today in greater detail. Without further ado, here is the list in no particular order, together with one song from each album.

As frequent readers of the blog know, I’m a huge fan of The Beatles. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, their 8th studio album from May 1967, is my favorite among their records.

The Beatles_Sgt. Pepper

Here’s the great closer A Day In The Life, which except for the middle section was mainly written by John Lennon, though as usually was credited to him and Paul McCartney.

Tapestry by Carole King was one of the earliest albums I listened to when I was 10 years old or so. Back then, I didn’t understand the lyrics but liked the music. Today, I dig the record for both the music and the lyrics. There is a timeless beauty in King’s tunes, and to me Tapestry is perhaps the ultimate singer-songwriter record.

carole-king-tapestry

There are so many great songs on this gem from February 1971, so it’s hard to chose one. Here’s Way Over Yonder. King’s soulful singing and the saxophone solo are two of the tune’s features I’ve always liked.

The Eagles’ Hotel California is an album I’ve owned on vinyl since I guess the early ’80s. It was released in December 1976 as the band’s fifth studio record.

Eagles_Hotel California

Here’s a live version of the epic title song, which is included in the album’s 40th anniversary deluxe edition that appeared in November last year. The tune was co-written by Don Felder, Don Henley and Glenn Frey. The distinct extended guitar interplay at the end featured Felder and Joe Walsh. This tune just never gets boring!

It was the Born In The U.S.A. album from June 1984, which put Bruce Springsteen on my radar screen.

Bruce Springsteen_Born In The USA

Here’s Bobby Jean, one of the album’s few tunes that wasn’t also released separately as a single. On this one, I particularly love the saxophone solo by Clarence Clemons, who was such an ace player.

Deep Purple to this day remains my first choice when it comes to hard rock, and Machine Head from March 1972 is the crown jewel in their catalog. The band’s sixth studio album featured their best line-up that included Ian Gillan (vocals), Ritchie Blackmore (guitar), Jon Lord (keyboards), Roger Glover (bass) and Ian Paice (drums, percussion).

Deep Purple_Machine Head

Here’s Pictures Of Home, which like all tracks on the album were credited to all members of the band. In addition to Lord’s great keyboard work, one of the tune’s characteristic features is a cool bass solo by Glover (starting at 3:40 minutes).

My introduction to John Mellencamp was Scaregrow, his eighth studio album from August 1995, but it was the follow-up record The Lonesome Jubilee, released in August 1987, that turned me into a fan.

John Mellencamp_The Lonesome Jubilee

Here is the great opener Paper In Fire, which also became the album’s lead single. Like all tunes except one, it was written by Mellencamp.

While it was pretty clear to me that a Pink Floyd album needed to be among my longtime top 10 records, the decision which one to pick wasn’t easy. I decided to go with The Dark Side Of The Moon but also could have gone with Wish You Were Here. I started listening to both albums at around the same time during the second half of the ’70s.

Pink Floyd_The Dark Side Of The Moon

I’ve chosen to highlight The Great Gig In The Sky. I’ve always liked the incredible part by vocalist Clare Torry.

I believe the first Steely Dan song I ever heard was Do It Again on the radio. By the time I got to Aja, I already knew the band’s debut record Can’t Buy A Thrill and, because of Rikki Don’t Lose That Number, their third album Pretzel Logic. While I liked both of these records, the Aja album from September 1977 became my favorite, after a good friend had brought it to my attention.

Steely Dan_Aja

Here is Deacon Blues, which also was released separately as the album’s second single. Like all tunes on the record, it was co-written by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen.

I was hooked to Live Rust the very first time I listened to it. Neil Young’s album from November 1979 pretty much is a live compilation of his greatest ’70s hits.

Neil Young_Live Rust

My, My, Hey, Hey (Out Of The Blue) is among the record’s highlights. The song was co-written by Young and Jeff Blackburn.

Led Zeppelin wasn’t exactly love at first sight. My first exposure was Led Zeppelin IV, the band’s fourth studio album from November 1971. I bought the record because of Stairway To Heaven.

Led Zeppelin_Led Zeppelin IV

I had listened to Stairway on the radio where they always faded it out before the heavy rock section at the end of the tune. I still remember the shock when I listened to the song in its entirety for the first time. I had just started taking classic guitar lessons and was very much into acoustic guitar. I simply couldn’t understand how Zep could have “ruined” this beautiful song by giving it a heavy metal ending. Well, today it is exactly because of its build why this track has become one of my favorite tunes. But instead of Stairway, I’d like to finish this post with Going To California, a beautiful acoustic ballad co-written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube

8 thoughts on “My Longtime Favorite Albums”

  1. The only album on your list that I don’t own is the Deep Purple one. I have developed a deep dislike for The Eagles in recent years. I do like Henley’s solo stuff and Ringo’s brother in law. Your list has a lot of diversity. Good list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, it was really tricky for me to put together this list, as noted in the post.

      As for diversity, it just occurred to me there is no black artist in there, even though I really like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Tina Turner, Jimi Hendrix and so many others. But just like the Stones or the Allman Brothers, the reality is I only started exploring these artists later in my music journey. I’m really glad I did!

      As for Deep Purple, I have to say “Machine Head” remains the ultimate hard rock album to me. I think Jon Lord with his roaring Hammond really illustrated that the genre can be much more than distorted electric guitars.

      As for the Eagles, I guess our views differ on this band. I actually saw them as part of their “History” tour in Atlantic City a few years ago. It was one of the last shows with Glenn Frey, and I thought they were really awesome.

      That being said, the one thing I dislike are their ticket prices that are a ripoff. Sadly, one can make that same criticism for most other music artists.

      For that reason I’m not planning to see the Eagles again, even though based on video footage I’ve seen, I think Deacon Frey and Vince Gill do a fine job singing Glenn’s parts.

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      1. 70’S ON 7 is playing the Top 40 from 40 years ago this week- guess what they just played? Running On Empty! …. I saw The Eagles 20 plus years ago i can’t say it was a bad show . i can usually separate the person/ group from the music but I can’t do that for some reason anymore with The Eagles…. Have never really listened to Deep Purple- will look into this album.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. A fine list. I can agree on these – Sgt. Pepper’s (though maybe Abbey Road is more of a favorite); Hotel California (a really good album and as you indicate, I never get tired of the song or those majestic solos); Born in the USA (Wild and Innocent is fave); Machine Head (I’ve posted about this one); Dark Side (a flat-out masterpiece); Aja (The Dan can do no wrong); Led Zep IV (my fave is the first album). As to the others, like but don’t love. I did my list a few years ago. (The URL for some reason says ‘Part 2. I did have a couple of posts but this was the Top Ten. https://musicenthusiast.net/2015/10/01/my-ten-favorite-rock-albums-part-2/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. What I was trying to capture in the list are album I’ve listened to again and again pretty much since the first 10 years of my music journey that started when I was like 10 or 11 years old. You could definitely call this arbitrary, but it certainly helped narrowing things down.

      As a teenager, I wasn’t particularly systematic about exploring music. Rather than focusing on albums, I mostly paid attention to specific songs.

      My introduction to 50s classic rock & roll and 60s primarily happened on the radio. My favorite station at the time had a 2-hour oldies show on Sunday evening I rarely missed. I taped songs like a maniac from there on music cassettes. That’s how I first learned about the British invasion bands, Motown and some of the other American music from the 60s. While as I result I got exposure to many different artists, it was specific songs, not entire albums.

      That explains why the Stones and the Allman Brothers and other artists are “missing” from the list. Initially, I included “Sticky Fingers”, which is my favorite Stones album, on the list. But since the only tune I knew from that record at the time was “Brown Sugar,” I took it off again. Only starting from my 20s did I explore the Stones more deeply.

      The Beatles were the only band, from which I owned all studio albums as a teen. I got a box set called “Beatles Complete” as a Christmas gift – one of the best presents ever! For the list I was between “Abbey Road” and “Sgt. Pepper.”

      As for Zeppelin, their forth album would still be my first choice, though I also like the first three.

      BTW, I also dig all other albums you have on your list. In a way I’m “glad” I didn’t listen to all these records when I was a teen. It really would have made the selection process for the list impossible!😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yeah. From today’s perspective, I would probably add “Sticky Fingers” and The Allman Brothers’ “At Fillmore East,” though I like all other albums on the list, so it would be a tough which two records to remove!

    Mellencamp is one of my favorite artists. While I pretty much dig all of his albums starting with “John Cougar” (1979), I like his gradual turn from straight rock to more rootsy music. “Lonesome Jubilee” marks the beginning of this transformation.

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