Monday, November 21, 2011

My Top 10 All-Time Favorite Records

Anyone who's read this blog for any amount of time probably knows that I'm a sucker for lists.  Putting together a list of favorite bands or records or labels is just plain fun.  I love trying to figure out how I'd rank things.  Sometimes when doing these lists there are specific parameters (Top 5 Records of 2010, Top 24 Albums Released by Epitaph Records, and My Current Rotating Top 20 as examples).  Often when I make lists in regards to albums, I limit those to studio recordings excluding live and compilation records.  Well the truth is that some of my favorite CDs over the years have been live, compilation, and best-of records.  So I figured that it would be a fun challenge to put together a list of my favorite albums of all-time without limiting myself to studio records.  Some of these records have been with me since high school (one since junior high) and some I discovered within the last couple of years (one I found earlier this year).  As with anything, this is a snapshot of my tastes at this moment and will probably change at some point. 

10.  Complete Discography by Minor Threat
One of the first DIY, independent punk rock records that I purchased in high school was Minor Threat's self-titled cassette that collected that band's first two 7 inch EPs.  The music was loud and fast and positive.  This tape along with 7 Seconds' Walk Together, Rock Together, and the Descendents' Liveage laid the foundation for what punk rock means to me.  Before Minor Threat called it a day, they released one full-length album, Out of Step, and one additional EP, Salad Days, and it is those releases along with the material from the cassette and two tracks that appeared on the Flex Your Head compilation that were collected and released on CD as Complete Discography.  This CD is a must for any honest-to-goodness fan of punk rock.  Check out "Straight Edge," "Think Again," and "Salad Days."

9.  Don't You Know Who I Think I Was?: The Best of The Replacements by The Replacements
I first heard The Mats when I was a senior in high school and picked up a copy of their sophomore release, the EP Stink.  I immediately fell in love with the record (at the time it was a tape) but for whatever reason I stopped there.  Over the years I picked up copies of Tim, Pleased to Meet Me, and Don't Tell a Soul and while there were songs on each that I really liked, none of them stuck with me.  Then in 2006 Rhino released Don't You Know... which included two new songs (which were actually songs Paul Westerberg had written years ago but held on to in case The Mats ever got back together).  For whatever reason, this CD hit me like a ton of bricks and blew me away.  Since then I have tried to absorb every bit of Replacements' music possible (including both Westerberg's and Tommy Stinson's post-Mats work).  And even though I have copies of four of the band's releases, it's this CD that I go back to more than any other.  Check out "Within Your Reach," "Can't Hardly Wait," and "Message to the Boys."

8.  Out of Time by R.E.M
1991 was a great year for music and it also the year that saw R.E.M. get their first number one album.  Out of Time was an album that helped me through my sophomore and junior years of high school.  Most people will remember this record for "Losing My Religion" and/or "Shinny Happy People" but this album iis much, much, MUCH more than those two songs.  Check out my post Blast from the Past: Out of Time and "Me in Honey," "Country Feedback," and "Belong."

7.  Gold Country by Chuck Ragan
Chuck Ragan's 2009 sophomore album is nothing short of brilliant.  I picked up this CD earlier this year when I first started discovering his music and it has since spent many an hour in my CD player and on my MP3 player.  Ragan's rugged and rustic vocals have never sounded as good as they do here.  Check out my post CD Spotlight: Gold Country and "Done and Done," "For Goodness Sake," “Ole Diesel,” and "10 West."

6.  Primer by Drag the River
Primer is essentially a Drag the River best-of collection and is nothing short of alt country perfection.  What's amazing about this CD is that despite the fact that these songs come from a variety of records, it sounds and feels like a cohesive unit and that is something that speaks to the power of Drag the River's music.  Check out "Me & Joe Drove Out to California," “Beautiful and Damned,” and “Calloused Heart # 2.”

5.  The Only One by Roustabouts
OKC's mighty Roustabouts are not only one of the best bands that I have ever had the pleasure of seeing live, they are some of the nicest guys that I've had the honor to know.  The Only One is absolute punk rock perfection, perfectly mixing elements of street punk, pop punk, and post hardcore creating an extremely powerful and catchy record.  Check out my post CD Spotlight: The Only One.  Sadly there aren't any videos on YouTube of songs from this album. 

4.  Walk Together, Rock Together by 7 Seconds
I first heard 7 Seconds when the Tampa based radio show The Under Ground Circus: Chuckwagon played their cover of "99 Red Balloons" on an all-covers edition of the show.  I was already a fan of that song, but the 7 Seconds version blew me away.  Shortly there after I picked up a copy of Walk Together, Rock Together and was floored.  Here was a band that was not only bleeding energy but was singing about the same things that I was feeling as a junior in high school.  I still have the original cassette that I purchsed at Camelot Music in Lakeland, FL in 1992 (I also bought the Ramones self-titled debut on that day).  Check out my posts Blast from the Past: Walk Together, Rock Together and Albums That Shaped My Life: Walk Together, Rock Together and "99 Red Balloons," "Spread," and "Walk Together, Rock Together."

3.  Liveage by Descendents
I first heard the Descendents in the Christian Slater teen angst classic Pump Up the Volume.  Shortly after that a friend made me a tape that had Liveage on one side and the Sex Pistols Never Mind the Bullocks on the other.  The recording quality was pretty bad but the songs still blew me away.  This was the album that truly introduced me to the Descendents and to this day it contains my favorite versions of many of their classic songs.  Also this is one of the best live albums out there.  Check out my post Blast from the Past: Liveage and "Sour Grapes," "Clean Sheets," and "Silly Girl."

2.  Rattle & Hum by U2
U2's Rattle & Hum changed my life.  Specifically it was the video for the live version of "Pride (In the Name of Love)" that shook me to my core.  The year was 1988 and I was in the 8th grade.  Prior to Rattle & Hum I lived on a musical diet of hair metal and top 40 hip hop.  That didn't last for long after hearing U2.  I devoured Rattle & Hum as soon as I got the cassette and that year for Christmas I asked for all of the band's previous releases.  This band's music and message spoke so loudly to me that for a time I couldn't hear anything else.  U2 opened the door for me and through that door I found R.E.M., INXS, Midnight Oil, The Ocean Blue, and The Cure which eventually lead me to the likes of 7 Seconds, Minor Threat, and the Descendents.  Check out "Hawkmoon 269," "All I Want Is You," and "Pride (In the Name of Love)."

1.  Breaking Things by ALL
While U2 changed my life and 7 Seconds seemed to sing what I was feeling, ALL, more than any other band, feels like family.  I first heard of ALL when I was a freshman at OU.  It was geography class and I had befriended another fan of punk rock and one day after class he told me that ALL was going to be playing at Rome in Norman.  I'd seen the flyers for the show but didn't know who ALL was and when he explained that they were the Descendents with a different singer, I immediately took note.  Sadly I missed that show but it wasn't too long after that that I picked up the band's latest album Breaking Things and was instantly a fan.  These were some of the catchiest and fiercest songs that I'd ever heard and this band summed up the topic of love better than anyone I'd ever heard.  And if all of that wasn't enough, they had (and still have) one of the best singers that I'd ever heard in Chad Price.  Since then I have hunted down every ALL and ALL related release that I can get my hand-and-a-half on and devoured them all.  Breaking Things would be ALL's last record for long-tome label Cruz/SST Records before making a short-lived jump to the majors before Milo came back into the game for a record and the band joining Epitaph Records.  At this point I own ALL's entire catalog (including all of the Descendents' records and the TonyALL record) but it is Breaking Things that is my favorite.  Check out my post Blast from the Past: Breaking Things and "Shreen" (how this song wasn't huge still boggles my mind), "Original Me," “’Cause,” "Right," “Stick,” and "Guilty."

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