Payn's Ponderings... Top 10 Essential Albums

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
The theme of the thread is about essential albums. Albums construction in it's entirety and not just good artists and/or tracks. Many on this list are so narrow in scope that albums will land on it, not because they are great start to finish, but due to lack of option/competition.

I mean, lets take top 10 women pop singers post 2015. I can maybe think of one album in this category. A lot of music isn't produced by the album anymore but by the single. So, selection will be more based on the most hits than by having a great album. In spirit of the thread, its likely even more difficult than just a top 10 albums of all genres, IMO.

When you think of it in terms of great albums, you can weed out many great artists and albums because often singles are easier to produce. Thinking in entire album terms, actually makes this assignment easier than folks think, while still being very challenging.

I think that this is an important element - or it was for me. To be honest, it does rule out a lot early music IMO, since the "album" as a technological concept didn't arrive until the 50s and as an artistic concept (as opposed to singles, put together) until the 60s.

Arguably, the rise of streaming has led to a decline in the "essential" nature of the album. I think that many artists today still put out cohesive albums, influenced by the past, but I'm not sure how long that will continue.

Anyway, it was decidedly necessary for me to think about the album as a whole as opposed to just good music- they are very different things.
 

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To be honest, it does rule out a lot early music IMO, since the "album" as a technological concept didn't arrive until the 50s and as an artistic concept (as opposed to singles, put together) until the 60s.
I think the same could be said for many records/CDs/cassettes that came out after CDs became the dominant format. Excluding the double LPs of the 70s most runtimes on records were ~40 mins. CD pushed that runtime to the limit with 14-15 songs so most recordings in the 80s, 90s and 2000s had filler on it. There's some records from that period I'd consider great start to finish but non-essential. One band that stick out to me as having an inability to edit their music anymore is Iron Maiden, anything after Fear of the Dark is just too long, lots a filler and just beats you over the head after the third song. I love their early stuff but they've got more progressive and it just doesn't hold my attention. The last 4-5 releases just sound the same to me. I honestly dont know why I've bought their last few, probably holding out hope that they have one more Piece of Mind or Powerslave in them.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Here you go Danny alcatraz:

  • Top 10 NuMetal
  • Top 10 Post Punk
  • Top 10 Smooth Jazz
  • Top 10 Deep House
  • Top 10 Celtic
  • Top 10 Celtic Metal
  • Top 10 Albums similar to or by bands featured in Dave Grohl's Probot album
  • Top 10 Grunge
  • Top 10 Political Hip Hop from the aughts
  • Top 10 women pop singers post 2015
  • Top 10 Album titles or bands with names that could be awesome D&D adventures or supplements (I'm thinking like "Unleash the Archers")
I’m giving these serious thought…some of them, at least.
 
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Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
One band that stick out to me as having an inability to edit their music anymore is Iron Maiden, anything after Fear of the Dark is just too long, lots a filler and just beats you over the head after the third song. I love their early stuff but they've got more progressive and it just doesn't hold my attention. The last 4-5 releases just sound the same to me. I honestly dont know why I've bought their last few, probably holding out hope that they have one more Piece of Mind or Powerslave in them.
Largely in agreement with you there. My Maiden collection basic plateaued at Fear of the Dark. However, my favorite album to date (and I believe it is on my essentail list here) is A Matter of Life and Death.

There is just something both raw and epic about it. Its not just that its long or has a theme to it. It has a "garage band" feel, sometimes rough and unpolished. But that just makes it pure and unfiltered. You get a sense of musicians just jamming out and playing something they really feel. And Dickinson's voice is as powerful as ever.

Its definitely not Powerslave or Piece of Mind, but it is a fantastic album in its own right. (I'm almost sure its on my list. I need to double-check now.)

Edit: It is! 👍
 

Largely in agreement with you there. My Maiden collection basic plateaued at Fear of the Dark. However, my favorite album to date (and I believe it is on my essentail list here) is A Matter of Life and Death.

There is just something both raw and epic about it. Its not just that its long or has a theme to it. It has a "garage band" feel, sometimes rough and unpolished. But that just makes it pure and unfiltered. You get a sense of musicians just jamming out and playing something they really feel. And Dickinson's voice is as powerful as ever.

Its definitely not Powerslave or Piece of Mind, but it is a fantastic album in its own right. (I'm almost sure its on my list. I need to double-check now.)

Edit: It is! 👍
I own all of their recording except the era with Blaze Bailey. I think I'm going to relisten to Brave New World forward over the next few days and see if they're any better than I remember. I know I've tried a few times and just couldn't get through them, but we'll see. I think there a lot to be said that if you asked anyone ten years ago, now or ten years from now what their favorite 10 records are the answer would be completely different.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Here you go Danny alcatraz:
  • Top 10 Deep House
  • Top 10 Celtic
  • Top 10 Celtic Metal
  • Top 10 Political Hip Hop from the aughts
So, here’s my thoughts on a couple of those categories so far:

  • Top 10 Deep House
Deep House is enjoyable background music for me. However, too many genre cliches exist- certain discrete elements present in WAY too many songs- for me to really get into it with any depth. Are there essential albums in the genre? Possibly. But so far, none has been presented to me, at least not as such. Nobody I know is a bigger fan of Deep House than I am, and I’m clearly not a big fan.

  • Top 10 Celtic
  • Top 10 Celtic Metal
Sorry to disappoint, but most of my Celtic music is either collections of the straight up traditional stuff or Enya.

  • Top 10 Political Hip Hop from the aughts
Lupe Fiasco Food & Liquor

The rest of the political rappers of that period haven’t done much to impress me as compared to their predecessors like Public Enemy, Michael Franti, etc., or some that followed.
 

wicked cool

Adventurer
Like most human beings, I am a person of many moods and many tastes, and I cannot predict which island I will be stranded or that I will be addressed appropriately for my undetermined lengthy stay. These focus lists don't contribute to the overall goal of the thread of trying to ascertain the essential albums of all time and all genres. It's mostly just for fun.

This time, I am continuing my eccentric album lists with Hair Metal albums. What is Hair Metal? Its hard to pinpoint as many musicians straddle the lines or completely ignore them. Some groups evolve and change over the years, while some just experiment with new directions. Hair Metal isn't just a particular sound, its also a look and an attitude. One could even argue that some albums by one band might fit the bill, but other albums don't and that's fine.

One thing to keep in mind is we're talking albums. Not just the ones that had a couple of favorites or well-known songs, but complete albums with tracks that were, as the saying goes, "all thrillers, no fillers". And they had to be albums I owned, or at least heard more than once in its entirety. So here's my picks in no particular order:

Jacob's 10 Essential Hair Metal Albums
  1. Extreme - Extreme (self-titled debut)
  2. Def Leppard - Pyromania
  3. Whitesnake - Whitesnake (self-titled)
  4. W.A.S.P. - W.A.S.P. (self-titled debut)
  5. Skid Row - Skid Row (self-titled debut)
  6. Dangerous Toys - Dangerous Toys (self-titled) I would honestly pick any of their first three albums.
  7. Bulletboys - Bulletboys (self-titled debut)
  8. Love/Hate - Black Out in the Red Room
  9. Guns N' Roses - Appetite for Destruction
  10. Jackyl - Jackyl (self-titled debut)
Bonus Picks:
Once again, I will pick a single greatest hits album and a single soundtrack for the category.
  • Greatest Hits: The Best of Both Worlds - Van Halen
There's actually a number of Van Halen albums I could pick for this category, and some I would not. But there is no divide between Roth and Hagar for me. Both frontmen brought a different sound and energy to the group and still remained Van Halen. So this one splits the difference nicely. And if I had to choose one from each singer (and had space on the list), I'd probably pick 1984 and 5150.
  • Soundtrack - Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey
Honestly, I'm a little hard-pressed to find a soundtrack filled with "hair metal" tracks. The soundtrack from the first movie also qualifies, but the sequel had more familiar tunes by popular bands at the time. At least I can say owned both at one time.
no bon jovi? Poison? scorpions? Motley Crue. some of these on your list i had to look up as i hadnt heard of them
 


Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Here you go Danny alcatraz:

  • Top 10 Albums similar to or by bands featured in Dave Grohl's Probot album
  • Top 10 Grunge)
Some more…
  • Top 10 Albums similar to or by bands featured in Dave Grohl's Probot album
AFAIK, there’s not a lot of artists releasing albums like that. Besides Probot, there’s Carlos Santana’s Supernatural and Tony Iommi’s Iommi. Dr. John did an album called Locked Down with a host of young guns selected by Dan Aurbach (The Black Keys). Kodo did Mondo Head, featuring musicians from around the world, fusing their styles. Mickey Hart’s Planet Drum qualifies, IMHO. Jason Becker’s 5 albums since his ALS diagnosis robbed him of his ability to play are arguably also key. But Bill Laswell is the 800lb gorilla here. A huge portion of his discography of HUNDREDS of albums consist of groups he’s put together for projects in particular styles- actually, usually FUSIONS of styles.

  • Top 10 Grunge

Neil Young Rust Never Sleeps
Sonic Youth Daydream Nation
Nirvana Bleach
Soundgarden Badmotorfinger
Pearl Jam Ten
Mad Season Above
Temple of the Dog Temple of the Dog
Green River Rehab Doll
Mother Love Bone Apple
Alice In Chains Dirt

(Now technically, Young & Sonic Youth’s albums might more accurately be called proto-grunge by some, but that’s splitting hairs to me.)
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Some more…

So, one of my favorite quotes (and I do have a lot of them!) is this-

Anyone who insists they like "all kinds of music," is, in fact, telling you that they like no kinds of music.

That's a paraphrase of Chuck Klosterman. And yes, he does like a lot of music. He's ... kinda good at the music thing.

Another point Chuck hits on is that talking about your favorite music, identifying your favorite music, is usually not about the music you love, so much as establishing your own bona fides. It's really about signaling. It's not just about saying what type of music you like, it's about saying what kind of person you are.

Anyway, this is a long way of getting around to the main point- the benefit (to the extent there is one) of these types of exercises isn't about the final list, per se, it's about your own internal exercise as to how you arrived at it, and what that means for you. It doesn't mean the list is immutable (my list at 14 would have been very different!), but the exercise in making it is what makes it interesting. For example, I knew that I had to narrow my list to "rock/pop/hip hop" because I've been listening to a LOT of jazz recently and I just didn't have the capacity to compare.

But it's not supposed to be easy! If I made this list two years ago, or maybe two years in the future, I probably wouldn't have Portishead on it. But right now, I can't imagine them not being on it.

Point being- just give us 10 albums Danny. I promise (with 98% certainty) that the albums you don't include will not form together in some type of Voltron-esque critter and murder you in your sleep.

Okay. Maybe 80% certain. Still, good odds!
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
So, one of my favorite quotes (and I do have a lot of them!) is this-

Anyone who insists they like "all kinds of music," is, in fact, telling you that they like no kinds of music.

That's a paraphrase of Chuck Klosterman. And yes, he does like a lot of music. He's ... kinda good at the music thing.

Another point Chuck hits on is that talking about your favorite music, identifying your favorite music, is usually not about the music you love, so much as establishing your own bona fides. It's really about signaling. It's not just about saying what type of music you like, it's about saying what kind of person you are.

Anyway, this is a long way of getting around to the main point- the benefit (to the extent there is one) of these types of exercises isn't about the final list, per se, it's about your own internal exercise as to how you arrived at it, and what that means for you. It doesn't mean the list is immutable (my list at 14 would have been very different!), but the exercise in making it is what makes it interesting. For example, I knew that I had to narrow my list to "rock/pop/hip hop" because I've been listening to a LOT of jazz recently and I just didn't have the capacity to compare.

But it's not supposed to be easy! If I made this list two years ago, or maybe two years in the future, I probably wouldn't have Portishead on it. But right now, I can't imagine them not being on it.

Point being- just give us 10 albums Danny. I promise (with 98% certainty) that the albums you don't include will not form together in some type of Voltron-esque critter and murder you in your sleep.

Okay. Maybe 80% certain. Still, good odds!
I simply can’t, Klosterman be damned. I tell you my own internal movie soundtrack- the music I hear in my head without benefit of devices- is deep and broad. If I were asked to grab 10 CDs from my collection- Hell, let’s make it out of all CDs ever recorded- to take with me as we evacuated the planet, never to return, I’d ask to take a guitar instead, so I could play what‘s running on my iBrain. (And write new stuff besides.)

Or I’d stay on Earth so someone else could take their 10 and be saved.

Please believe me, I do NOT like all kinds of music. I would probably have trouble expanding my list of opera I like to 10 songs, much less 10 whole operas. And that’s with me growing up as the son of a music teacher who loves opera.
 
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Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
Some more…
  • Top 10 Albums similar to or by bands featured in Dave Grohl's Probot album
AFAIK, there’s not a lot of artists releasing albums like that. Besides Probot, there’s Carlos Santana’s Supernatural and Tony Iommi’s Iommi. Dr. John did an album called Locked Down with a host of young guns selected by Dan Aurbach (The Black Keys). Kodo did Mondo Head, featuring musicians from around the world, fusing their styles. Mickey Hart’s Planet Drum qualifies, IMHO. Jason Becker’s 5 albums since his ALS diagnosis robbed him of his ability to play are arguably also key. But Bill Laswell is the 800lb gorilla here. A huge portion of his discography of HUNDREDS of albums consist of groups he’s put together for projects in particular styles- actually, usually FUSIONS of styles.

  • Top 10 Grunge

Neil Young Rust Never Sleeps
Sonic Youth Daydream Nation
Nirvana Bleach
Soundgarden Badmotorfinger
Pearl Jam Ten
Mad Season Above
Temple of the Dog Temple of the Dog
Green River Rehab Doll
Mother Love Bone Apple
Alice In Chains Dirt

(Now technically, Young & Sonic Youth’s albums might more accurately be called proto-grunge by some, but that’s splitting hairs to me.)
L7's Bricks are Heavy is one of my top grunge albums; but your list is very strong and I'm not sure I would replace any (maybe Green River) with L7.
 


Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
Right. This is why I don't pay much attention to lists created by other people unless they're people I want to know about. If I create a top10 list of anything, it's always going to be my top 10. Not yours, and not what others expect it to be. In other words, if someone says you forget x, y, and z, they're not really interested in your opinion.

Also, there is a real difference between "I like all music" and "I can appreciate music in all forms".
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Here you go Danny alcatraz:

  • Top 10 NuMetal
  • Top 10 Post Punk
  • Top 10 Smooth Jazz


  • Top 10 NuMetal
  • Top 10 Post Punk
Tough calls on these. A lot of the bands called post-punk now were called New Wave (or other things) back when I was a teen. And the distinctions between Rap Rock and NuMetal are blurry, especially considering the efforts of some of the earliest bands. So, still thinking it through,

  • Top 10 Smooth Jazz
George Benson Breezin
Chuck Mangione Feels So Good
Spyro Gyra Morning Dance
Sade Stronger Than Pride
Herb Alpert Rise
Bill Withers Menagerie
Grover Washington, Jr. Mister Magic
Al Jarreau Breakin’ Away
Anita Baker Rapture

You’ll note 1) that’s just 9 albums and, 2) Kenny G is not on the list. Kenny G has talent and skill that has made him one of smooth jazz’s biggest names…but I don’t care for his stuff. So while one of his albums probably belongs on a list like this, I couldn’t tell you which one.
 
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amethal

Adventurer
I don't actually own that many albums - I'm more of a "greatest hits" sort of person (cue Alan Partridge comparisons). I put it down to not listening to much music growing up, so everything was new to me and it was difficult to know where to start. Anyway, in alphabetical order:

Adele 21
Bruce Springsteen Born in the USA
Chris Rea Road to Hell
Dire Straits Brothers in Arms
Karl Jenkins (composer) Adiemus
Leonard Cohen I'm Your Man
Queen A Kind of Magic
Show of Hands Witness
Space Pirates of Rocquaine Vraic and Ruin
Susanne Vega Solitude Standing
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
2) Kenny G is not on the list. Kenny G has talent and skill that has made him one of smooth jazz’s biggest names…but I don’t care for his stuff. So while one of his albums probably belongs on a list like this, I couldn’t tell you which one.

You have to watch the HBO Max Kenny G documentary.

It had the weird effect in that it made me understand him, and then I appreciated him more ... and less ... at the same time.

ETA- By the way, Kenny G is responsible for the genre we call smooth jazz. Other artists later get lumped into it.
 



payn

Legend
Personally, I can't get enough free jazz.

I love all sorts of jazz, but as soon ass I heard Ornette Coleman, I was hooked. I felt like I was on ... a nightflight to venus.

Oh .....


No .....

I said today's phrase!

help me 80s GIF
 

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