#SupportPGHMusic // Exclusively on HughShows Radio at the bottom of the page, for a limited time enjoy the full December 2019 concert of HughShows Secret Santapalooza IV // HughShows is now taking submissions for the Pittsburgh covers project. If you are a band from Pittsburgh and want to contribute a cover song from another Pittsburgh band for a future compilation, email me at hugh@hughshows.com. // #SupportPGHMusic // The full HughShows Holiday movie is now available to view on YouTube

“In deciding to compile this list, I tried to be as honest as possible in that I found myself several times resisting the urge to include albums or musicians that I ‘thought’ I should have on my list but don’t necessarily listen to all that much. For example, there’s a reason I don’t have any jazz on here. I don’t find myself reaching for Miles Davis over R.E.M. so why be a poseur and include it? These are favorites…’MY favorites’. A few notes: I shied away from live albums (hence, no “The Last Waltz”), greatest hits (with one exception), compilations and having more than one album from a particular band. What, was I going to list the ENTIRE Beatles catalog? A few times I did include multiple albums from a songwriter whether it was a solo album or offshoot band, so you may spot a few repeats in that respect. I also could have easily included many local Pittsburgh releases but decided to keep them for a separate list coming soon. With that being said, I hope you enjoy this list as much as I had making it. Hopefully in putting this together, you the reader, will discover something you never heard before or reacquaint yourself with a long, forgotten album. Look out for the remaining installments here ‘every’ Sunday. Check out the previous entries for #6-10, #11-20, #21-40, #41-60, #61-80, #81-100 and the albums that almost made the cut.
I have been putting off this last post because it is impossible for me to attempt to explain the importance that these albums have been to me and the love I feel for this music. I’d hate to sound all gushy but these are the five albums that got me through some weird, fun, difficult, awesome, expanding and essential times. They will probably never mean less to me than they do right this moment. They are all extraordinary. Please check them out if you haven’t before. Finally, thanks to all who have read this list of mine. As always, it means the world you would consider my opinions as worthy of your time.

Number One Forever. Grant Lee Buffalo-Mighty Joe Moon (1994) My perfect album. It came along at a time in my life when I desperately needed it to. It forever will mean more to me than any music I will ever listen to in my lifetime. I listen to it almost twenty years later and the memories it bailed me out of still resonate and I still cannot understand or explain the power this has had over what I was going through then but understand that without discovering this band, this songwriter, this album, I would have definitely been in another place as I write these words. How many albums can you say has had that effect on you as a human being? I can name one.

Thank you, Grant-Lee, Paul and Joey. Choice Tracks: ‘Lone Star Song‘, ‘It’s The Life‘, ‘Mockingbirds‘, ‘Sing Along‘, ‘Mighty Joe Moon‘, ‘Demon Called Deception‘, ‘Lady Godiva & Me‘, ‘Drag‘, ‘Last Days of Tecumseh‘, ‘Happiness‘, ‘Honey Don’t Think‘, ‘Side By Side‘, ‘Rock of Ages‘.

2. The Mendoza Line-Lost in Revelry (2001) I was a saved from Classic Rock, Shakedown Street and probably spending a lot of time with Phish by this album. What a gift it was to find out about this band who had a propensity to self destruct before our eyes. This is ‘Indie Rock’? I like it! I barely got on the train and was able to not only see the band play before the premature (maybe not) disbanding but have become somewhat chummy with the members in that I still correspond and follow anything they put out. Just a great band that I always feel needs to be appreciated more. In time, they will get the due. Choice Tracks: ‘A Damn Good Disguise‘ (my Favorite Song of All-Time), ‘Something Dark‘, ‘What Ever Happened To You?‘.

3. World Party-Goodbye Jumbo (1990) Having your last 8 bucks to shell out on a cassette over food and not being sorry for it is a huge deal in one’s life. Thanks, Karl. More here and here. Choice Tracks: ‘Sweet Soul Dream‘, ‘Way Down Now‘, ‘Message in a Box‘, ‘Love Street‘.

4. Camper Van Beethoven-Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart (1988) In 1989, Camper Van Beethoven became the band that made me want to see more concerts. Damn them forever. More here and here. Choice Tracks: ‘Eye of Fatima (Part One)‘, ‘She Divines Water‘, ‘Never Go Back‘, ‘Change Your Mind‘.

5. Roger Waters-The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking (1984) I was the casual fan of the Floyd in the early eighties when this came out. I loved the weird ‘operatic’ feel to this an with Eric Clapton on lead guitar, it didn’t take me long to become hooked. When I say hooked, I am not kidding. I went through three cassettes of this as I listened to it constantly. During the second leg of this tour (sans the amazing Clapton! guitar leads on the studio version) there was a radio broadcast of the show from New York that is still one of my favorite bootlegs ever.

Choice Tracks: ‘4:50 A.M.‘, ‘4:58 A.M.‘, ‘5:01 A.M.‘, ‘5:06 A.M.‘.

In deciding to compile this list, I tried to be as honest as possible in that I found myself several times resisting the urge to include albums or musicians that I ‘thought’ I should have on my list but don’t necessarily listen to all that much. For example, there’s a reason I don’t have any jazz on here. I don’t find myself reaching for Miles Davis over R.E.M. so why be a poseur and include it? These are favorites…’MY favorites’.
A few notes: I shied away from live albums (hence, no “The Last Waltz”), greatest hits (with one exception), compilations and having more than one album from a particular band. What, was I going to list the ENTIRE Beatles catalog? A few times I did include multiple albums from a songwriter whether it was a solo album or offshoot band, so you may spot a few repeats in that respect. I also could have easily included many local Pittsburgh releases but decided to keep them for a separate list coming soon.
With that being said, I hope you enjoy this list as much as I had making it. Hopefully in putting this together, you the reader, will discover something you never heard before or reacquaint yourself with a long, forgotten album. Look out for the remaining installments here ‘every’ Sunday.

It’s hard to imagine as I get closer down the countdown that these albums are even rankable. I mean, I could pick any of these particular albums as an all-time favorite. They literally shaped my musical appreciation over the years and cannot fathom the idea of not discovering them. Check out the previous entries for #11-20, #21-40, #41-60, #61-80, #81-100 and the albums that almost made the cut.

6. R.E.M.-Lifes Rich Pageant (1986) It’s difficult to put in words the importance R.E.M. has had in my life. I purposefully limited to one only the number of albums a single band could have on this list because the IRS albums the band put out at the beginning of their career would clog up most of it. Why this album over the others? It was a toss-up between this and “Fables” but I had to include “Pageant” because this tour was the first time I saw them live, and it’s just so damn good. They are justifiably considered one of the best American bands ever for good reason. Spin this to hear why. Choice Tracks: ‘Begin the Begin‘, ‘I Believe‘, ‘These Days‘, ‘The Flowers of Guatemala‘.

7. Earlimart-Treble & Tremble (2003) What can I say about this band that I already haven’t? This is their fourth album and it was weird how I discovered it. I never heard of them and was browsing music videos on demand of all places when I stumbled upon ‘Heaven Adores You‘. I dug the quirky, primitive visuals in the video but then halfway through the song, I instantly fell in love with the band’s sound. This is and always will be my go to record if I want to turn others on to the magnificence of this amazing, under-appreciated band. My biggest regret so far in my concert-going career has been the fact that I have never seen them play live. I just have to rectify that sometime in the future. Choice Tracks: ‘Heaven Adores You‘, ‘First Instant Last Report‘, ‘Unintentional Tape Manipulations‘, ‘The Hidden Track‘.

8. Neko Case-Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (2006) The remarkable thing about Neko and particularly this, her fourth album, is her amazing vocals. Yeah, the songs are killer, her band is the tightest in the business and all her other albums are great but on this album her voice really shines. I distinctly remembered listening to this after several dozen of times and suddenly being ‘hit’ with just how transcendentally she sings. Being able to see this tour was a gift that I will always cherish as a music fan. Choice Tracks: ‘Star Witness‘, ‘John Saw That That Number‘, ‘Lion’s Jaws‘, ‘Hold On, Hold On‘.

9. Elliott Smith-Figure 8 (2000) The last album released before Smith’s death in 2003, I admittedly came late to his party and although I like his earlier acoustic efforts, I really love this, his fifth album, which has his backing band ‘rocking out’. This tour came to CMU on Halloween in 2000 and too bad he wasn’t on my radar then, I would have LOVED this show. Choice Tracks: ‘Stupidity Tries‘, ‘Son of Sam‘, ‘Can’t Make a Sound‘, ‘Wouldn’t Mama Be Proud‘.

10. The Beach Boys-The SMiLE Sessions (2011) The expectations were very high for this finally being released decades later but not from me. Yeah, I always knew the myth but for some reason, I imagined (wrongly so) that this was left in the vault because it wasn’t up to par and was probably a haphazard, ‘psychedelic mess’. That finished product is anything but. It’s an American original that contains humor,vision and the most incredible harmonies the Boys ever put down. The four extra discs of the sessions are overkill for sure. Stick to the main album and discover why Brian Wilson is deservedly dubbed a genius. Choice Tracks: ‘Heroes and Villains‘, ‘Surf’s Up (Solo Version)‘, ‘Cabin Essence‘, ‘SMiLE Backing Vocals Montage‘.

In deciding to compile this list, I tried to be as honest as possible in that I found myself several times resisting the urge to include albums or musicians that I ‘thought’ I should have on my list but don’t necessarily listen to all that much. For example, there’s a reason I don’t have any jazz on here. I don’t find myself reaching for Miles Davis over R.E.M. so why be a poseur and include it? These are favorites…’MY favorites’.
A few notes: I shied away from live albums (hence, no “The Last Waltz”), greatest hits (with one exception), compilations and having more than one album from a particular band. What, was I going to list the ENTIRE Beatles catalog? A few times I did include multiple albums from a songwriter whether it was a solo album or offshoot band, so you may spot a few repeats in that respect. I also could have easily included many local Pittsburgh releases but decided to keep them for a separate list coming soon. With that being said, I hope you enjoy this list as much as I had making it. Hopefully in putting this together, you the reader, will discover something you never heard before or reacquaint yourself with a long, forgotten album. Look out for the remaining installments here ‘every’ Sunday.

Getting really good now. These all could be top ten…easy. Never heard of these bands or albums? All I can say by now is simply our loss. Check out the previous entries for #21-40, #41-60, #61-80, #81-100 and the albums that almost made the cut.

11. Built Like Alaska-Autumnland (2005) How did I find this band/album? I have no idea. Their music came into my life and actually became a part of my life. They are incredibly cool people who live 2,400 miles from me but that doesn’t matter. They live with me everyday because they made this music. They came to play Pittsburgh because I asked them to. That never happens anymore. Why not? I remember studying the liner notes/lyrics of the CD insert like an actual LP gatefold of yore when I got this. I cannot tell you how much this album means to me, which is actually great, it’s none of your business. Choice Tracks: ‘Train Wreck‘, ‘Does Your Mother Feel Sick‘, ‘Almost The Earth‘.

12. Old 97’s-Fight Songs (1999) Their fourth album finds the band exploring more Donny than Marie as they seemingly started as country and evolved to rock and eventually pop. I love Rhett’s and Murray’s songs and the haters will hate that the alt.country beginnings became too ‘mainstream’. People should chill and appreciate the songs for what they are worth. I turned my buddy onto this album, who eventually turned my other buddy onto this album and damn if they both aren’t bigger 97’s fans than I am today. This band is so great. Choice Tracks: ‘Jagged‘, ‘Busted Afternoon‘, ‘Valentine‘.

13. Norfolk & Western-If You Were Born Overseas (2005) I don’t know who M. Ward is. He’s playing a free gig in one of CMU’s many cafeterias? Sure, what’s to lose? Turns out he’s REALLY good. Not only that but his opening bands are just as cool. N&W also play as his backing band and have this limited edition, hand-printed cover release at the table. I hardly ever buy merch but Adam, and especially Rachel, are charming enough that I pick it up. I throw it in the player as we drive home and instantly kick myself as how I really didn’t pay enough attention as the band played these incredible songs while I was waiting for the headliner. To this day, I NEVER underestimate the opening band and what they have to offer. So lucky I saw Adam and Rachel twice again before they ‘disbanded’. The world needs more Adam Selzer music in the world. Yeah, this might the most obscure album on the list since they took many of the songs and released them again on later albums. Choice Tracks: ‘From the Interests of Few‘, ‘Edison‘, ‘Banish All Rock‘.

14. The Cure-Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (1987) A friend of mine bought this double album when it came out and although I really didn’t care for the band whatsoever (I was as far away from ‘goth’ as you can get), I immediately loved the crazy, eclectic vibe of this album and still love it 25+ years later. Choice Tracks: ‘Catch‘, ‘If Only Tonight We Could Sleep‘ (Acoustic), ‘The Perfect Girl‘.

15. Ryan Adams-Gold (2001) I still don’t consider this his ‘best’ album but it remains my favorite. There is a subtle difference in that I listen to and fondly appreciate that this was the release that introduced me to his music over the one that I think is better. Screw it, they are both amazing, as his other albums, and this is just a fun record to blast loud, very loud! Listen to the acoustic demos for these tunes and really appreciate the finished product. Choice Tracks: ‘La Cienega Just Smiled‘, ‘Touch, Feel & Lose‘ (Acoustic), ‘New York, New York‘.

16. One Star Hotel-Good Morning, West Gordon (2004) Probably the most under the radar album on the entire list. This now disbanded little band from Philly played the Quiet Storm Coffeehouse twice and as my hopes were extremely high for these to guys to rock my world for years to come, I was told by them at the second gig they were breaking up. I am still crushed years later, even with the consolation that main songwriter Steve Yutzy-Burkey was carrying on in another band The Swimmers. My heart belongs to the two sets I saw and the two albums they left behind. I listen to this band more often than I should. Seriously, download both of their albums now, they are quite fantastic. Choice Tracks: ‘Starlight‘, ‘Falling Down‘, ‘River Drive‘.

17. Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice-Jesus Christ Superstar (1970) Let me blunt in stating I hate showtunes. They are the worst. You name any Broadway melody and I’m running for the hills. Seriously, I literally gave up a career because of ‘La Cage aux Folles’. Long story but I detest that ‘Gotta Dance!’ shit. Except this. Whether it’s a ‘rock opera’ or not, I was weened on it at an early age as my siblings and I used to sing this along with my mother who, like my father, is responsible for me still enjoying the some of the music I listen to as an adult. Choice Tracks: ‘Heaven on Their Minds‘, ‘Damned for All Time/Blood Money’ (1996),’ ‘I Don’t Know How to Love Him‘.

18. Slow Dazzle-The View From the Floor (2005) Imagine if your favorite band folkish rock and roll band put out an obscure, one-off, electronica-vibed, minimalist album? You would initial think it was a terrible idea, right? So did I until the minute I heard it and to this day cannot believe how I seem to be in the minority as just how fantastic this is. This is one of those secrets you hold dear. You want everyone and their mother to experience how great this is but are content to know that you and a ‘privileged’ few are privy to how a now divorced couple can document a break-up. The Mendoza Line’s divorce album wasn’t the ‘30 Year Low‘ album as everyone ran with, it was this one, released two years prior. Either way, the end of my indie hopes and dreams in some weird way. Choice Tracks: ‘Fleur de Li‘, ‘Now or Never or Later‘, ‘The View From the Floor‘.

19. Bruce Springsteen-Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978) Once again I have to blame my father for insisting on having me listen to the radio broadcast of Bruce’s Cleveland gig on a hot as hell August night in 1978. I was 11 years old?!?! My old man knew what was up back then. He never ‘forced’ rock and roll on me but was definitely influential in what I listen to today because he was and always will be so damn cool. Watching him (try to) dance to ‘Badlands’ always cracked me and my siblings up. What a beautiful guy. Choice Tracks: ‘Badlands‘, ‘Racing in the Streets‘, ‘The Promised Land‘, ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town‘.

20. Blue Rodeo-The Days In Between (2000) The band’s least favorite album turns out to be my go to album of theirs. I was introduced to the band with this one and caught them live the following year in Pittsburgh on a ‘Greatest Hits‘ tour at the now defunct Nick’s Fat City with Tim Easton opening. My sister in law at the time scared the hell out of Tim that night for some reason. Maybe that’s why he avoided Pittsburgh several years afterwards? I have attempted to even remotely get into any other Blue Rodeo album other than this one and weird thing is, I haven’t able to. Maybe I’m the strange one? Choice Tracks: ‘Cinema Song‘, ‘Rage‘, ‘Somebody Waits‘.


In deciding to compile this list, I tried to be as honest as
possible in that I found myself several times resisting the urge to
include albums or musicians that I ‘thought’ I should have on my list
but don’t necessarily listen to all that much. For example, there’s a
reason I don’t have any jazz on here. I don’t find myself reaching for
Miles Davis over R.E.M. so why be a poseur and include it? These are
favorites…’MY favorites’.

A few notes: I shied away from
live albums (hence, no “The Last Waltz”), greatest hits (with one
exception), compilations and having more than one album from a
particular band. What, was I going to list the ENTIRE Beatles catalog? A
few times I did include multiple albums from a songwriter whether it
was a solo album or offshoot band, so you may spot a few repeats in that
respect. I also could have easily included many local Pittsburgh
releases but decided to keep them for a separate list coming soon.
With
that being said, I hope you enjoy this list as much as I had making it.
Hopefully in putting this together, you the reader, will discover
something you
never heard before or reacquaint yourself with a long,  forgotten album.
Look out for the remaining
installments here every Sunday.

As each installment of this list goes by, it’s becoming clear to me that so many of these albums could easily be higher in the ranking. Getting down to the nitty gritty, for sure.
Check out the previous entries for #41-60, #61-80, #81-100 and the albums that almost made the cut.

21. Paul and Linda McCartney-Ram (1971)
The best post-Beatles solo album, period. Bold statement for sure but what seemed as an exercise by Sir Paul to become comfortable in the studio by himself, has become THE essential go to record when any music fan wants to hear what the best band in the world became after their split.
Choice Tracks: ‘Too Many People‘, ‘Monkberry Moon Delight‘, ‘Eat At Home‘.

22. Will Johnson-Vultures Await (2004)
I credit this album for ‘waking me up’ to begin discovering the world of indie music. Will Johnson’s second solo album made me realize that to find great music, you must be open to explore bands and musicians that might be under the radar but the result can change your life, as it has mine. For that, I am eternally grateful to him.
Choice Tracks: ‘Just to Know What You’ve Been Dreaming‘, ‘Closing Down My House‘, ‘Vultures Await‘.

23. Wilco-Being There (1996)
I was lucky enough to catch the tail end of this tour in San Francisco at the Fillmore on my honeymoon where Jeff Tweedy invited me onstage to drunkenly serenade my wife. Pretty damn cool.
Choice Tracks: ‘I Got You (At the End of the Century)‘, ‘Outtasite (Outta Mind)‘, ‘Forget The Flowers‘.

24. Van Morrison-Into the Music (1979)
My dad was a huge influence on my musical tastes. He loved ‘Van the Man’, especially this lesser-known album of his which will always bring back memories of driving around with my old man as he played this cassette constantly. Seek this out.
Choice Tracks: ‘Bright Side of the Road‘, ‘And the Healing Has Begun‘, ‘Full Force Gale‘.

25. Palace Music-Viva Last Blues (1995)
Before he was Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Will Oldham was Palace Music. This is one beautifully weird, dark record. “If I could fuck a mountain…”, seriously? I was a drunken Palace ‘groupie’ for a couple days as a buddy and I traveled to see Will (pre-beard) play a few solo shows in Ohio in the late 90’s. Man, those carefree days were such a blast.
Choice Tracks: ‘More Brother Rides‘, ‘The Mountain Low‘, ‘New Partner‘.

26. Tim Easton-The Truth About Us (2001)
I’ll always think of Tim as my favorite ‘acoustic troubadour‘. This second album has him playing with the then rhythm section of Wilco and the full band treatment suits him just fine.
Choice Tracks: ‘Bad Florida‘, ‘I Would Have Married You‘, ‘Happy Now‘.

27. The Rolling Stones-Exile on Main St. (1972)
Not a single bad song on this sprawling double album. The run of releases these guys had starting with “Beggar’s Banquet” and ending with this one is impossible to match in rock and roll.
Choice Tracks: ‘Torn and Frayed‘, ‘Sweet Black Angel‘, ‘Loving Cup‘.

28. David Gilmour-About Face (1984)
Gilmour’s second solo album came out about the same time I was getting into Pink Floyd hard. He toured for this album and I caught the show at the Syria Mosque. What has become a forgotten album in rock history still holds up for me to this day.
Choice Tracks: ‘Murder‘, ‘Love On The Air‘, ‘All Lovers Are Deranged‘.

29. Hallelujah The Hills-Collective Psychosis Begone (2007)
This little band from Boston is like a yet to be discovered secret that me and a few handful in Pittsburgh know about. I flipped out the first time I heard this, their debut and the following two full-lengths and smattering of EPs are all just as good. When I asked them to sign this CD the first time they played Pittsburgh, I was told that this was the first autograph request they ever received. Super nice guys to boot.
Choice Tracks: ‘To All My Scientist Colleagues I Bid You Farewell‘, ‘Wave Backwards to Massachusetts‘, ‘Hallelujah The Hills‘.

30. The Beatles-Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
This was released the month I was born, ‘The Summer of Love’! It’s The Beatles. What can I say that hasn’t been said about what most declare the greatest album of all-time? Nothing but Sir Paul and I share that birthday!
Choice Tracks: ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band‘, ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds‘, ‘A Day in the Life‘.

31. Bob Marley & The Wailers-Uprising (1980)
Why this album? The tunes on here are just so damned catchy. This is his greatest hits in my opinion. Except for a couple, you never hear these songs on the radio, which is such a shame. His last show ever was in Pittsburgh  touring behind this album. Boom!
Choice Tracks: ‘Coming In From The Cold‘, ‘Real Situation‘, ‘Redemption Song‘.

32. Grandaddy-Sumday (2003)
In the great Napster purge of the mid-Aughties, I discovered Jason Lytle and his band Grandaddy. Take my word for it when I say it was intense. Demos, live stuff, everything and anything you can imagine, I probably heard from this band at one time. Thankfully, they released this gorgeous collection of songs around that time and toured, hitting Pittsburgh (opening for the totally mismatched Saves The Day) upstairs at Club Laga before eventually breaking up. I vividly remember that set. Jason jamming  on ‘Lost on Yer Merry Way’ as he was more into the screen projections than playing for the fans (the three of us) or really playing at all? The end of the band before my very eyes.
Choice Track: ‘The Group Who Couldn’t Say‘, ‘The Go for in the Go-For-It‘, ‘El Caminos in the West‘.

33. Jackson Browne-Running on Empty (1977)
If my Q&A was called Third/Last, this would be mentioned as the third album I ever bought . As a ten year old with a new family turntable for the first time, it was difficult not to notice this album as it was everywhere that year. Remember when albums had fold out sleeves and pictures all over them. Gazing at that simple spread for hours listening to the songs over and over again made an impact on me that has me appreciating this album now. Notice the word album.
Choice Tracks: ‘The Road‘, ‘Shaky Town‘, ‘The Load-Out/Stay‘.

34. Okkervil River-Down the River of Golden Dreams (2003)
You know when you stumble upon a band and they rock your world with that album and you love it so much you begin to dig deeper into the catalog and then discover their previous album was even better than the newest one? This is how I found Okkervil River. They actually played Garfield Artworks on this album tour and I wasn’t there. I wasn’t at the Quiet Storm coffee house when The Decemberists played that same year and neither were you so we both lose.
Choice Tracks: ‘Blanket and Crib‘, ‘Seas Too Far To Reach‘, ‘It Ends With a Fall‘.

35. Dark Dark Dark-Bright Bright Bright (2010)
This five song EP was my favorite release of that year. I was obsessed with this thing. I listened to this till I was sick of hearing it. Left it for awhile then listened the hell out of it again. I never have and hopefully never will do that again but I can tell you, I still love and listen to this frequently.
Choice Tracks: ‘Wild Goose Chase‘, ‘Flood‘, ‘Something For Myself‘.

36. Slobberbone-Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today (2005)
This amazing band’s best album. I realize many people have never heard of some of the musicians on my list. Please check them out. I cherish the fact that these guys played Club Cafe in 2001 and I was there.
Choice Tracks: ‘Placemat Blues‘, ‘Meltdown‘, ‘Pinball Song‘.

37. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers-Southern Accents (1985)
When I graduated from high school, my older brother gave me this album on cassette. Whether it was the gesture of the gift or not, which could very well be, this remains my favorite Petty release. Blasting it that summer was so much fun. Free of the confines of having to go to school and not worrying about the future at all. This was part of the soundtrack to that moment in my life.
Choice Tracks: ‘Don’t Come Around Here No More‘, ‘Rebels‘, ‘Southern Accents‘.

38. Daniel Lanois-Acadie (1989)
The very first CD I ever bought turned out to be an impulse buy at Eide’s that I have surprisingly enjoyed more over the years than I should have. This little known gem has major contributions from his famous collaborators in Bono and Aaron Neville but his songs are the highlight. My biggest surprise with this album came with the only time I saw Jerry Garcia solo and he played ‘The Maker‘. I seriously imagined I was the only one in the auditorium who knew the tune.
Choice Tracks: ‘The Maker‘, ‘Ice‘, ‘Still Water‘.

39. The Apples in Stereo-The Discovery of a World Inside the Moone (2000)
For me, this album is the epitome of everything the Elephant Six stood for. Fun, slightly psychedelic, power pop that is accessible as anything that out of that weirdo camp. Believe me, weirdo is good. Apples leader Robert Schneider is one weird as hell dude, as well as beautiful, nice and talented. I still can’t believe he honored my favorite song request (‘Stream’) minutes before he took the stage the only time I have been lucky enough to see his band. So great.
Choice Tracks: ‘Stream Running Over‘, ‘Submarine Dream‘, ‘Go‘.

40. The Replacements-Let It Be (1984)
 Of all places Rolling Stone Magazine turned me onto this band (and this album in particular) when they ranked it on one of the mags seemingly endless lists they featured in the 90’s. On a whim I bought the CD and was floored by the energy of the balls out rock tunes but also the slower ballads. Never saw the band live but had a few chances back in the day. My loss. My total loss.
Choice Tracks: ‘Unsatisfied‘, ‘Gary’s Got a Boner‘, ‘Androgynous‘.


In deciding to compile this list, I tried to be as honest as possible in that I found myself several times resisting the urge to include albums or musicians that I ‘thought’ I should have on my list but don’t necessarily listen to all that much. For example, there’s a reason I don’t have any jazz on here. I don’t find myself reaching for Miles Davis over R.E.M. so why be a poseur and include it? These are favorites…’MY favorites’. A few notes: I shied away from live albums (hence, no “The Last Waltz”), greatest hits (with one exception), compilations and having more than one album from a particular band. What, was I going to list the ENTIRE Beatles catalog? A few times I did include multiple albums from a songwriter whether it was a solo album or offshoot band, so you may spot a few repeats in that respect. I also could have easily included many local Pittsburgh releases but decided to keep them for a separate list coming soon. With that being said, I hope you enjoy this list as much as I had making it. Hopefully in putting this together, you the reader, will discover something you never heard before or reacquaint yourself with a long, forgotten album. Look out for the remaining installments here every Sunday.

I have to say, this is getting way more difficult in that most of these albums have more than two choice tracks I should link to. Please discover these albums and bands. They will change your life as they have mine. Check out the previous entries for #61-80, #81-100 and the albums that almost made the cut.

41. Cracker-Kerosene Hat (1993) Booo…Camper Van Beethoven breaks up. Yippee…main man David Lowery forms a new band. This is their second album and although I could stand to never hear ‘Low‘ again, the rest of the album more than makes up for it. Choice Tracks: ‘Take Me Down to the Infirmary‘, ‘I Want Everything‘.

42. Radar Bros.-The Fallen Leaf Pages (2005) Merge Records will always be remembered as the label of “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea”, and “The Suburbs”. They will always be remembered by me as when I discovered “The Fallen Leaf Pages” by Radar Bros. I was instantly hooked upon hearing this lazy, hazy, melancholic, pop gem. Was finally able to see the band as they opened for Teenage Fanclub a few years ago. Choice Tracks: ‘Papillon‘,’Government Land‘.

43. U2-The Unforgettable Fire (1984) I saw the ‘Joshua Tree’ tour. I was at the other two or three out of control stadium shows U2 did in Pittsburgh following that one as well. They progressively got more over the top and well, worse. My buddy (brother?) asked me to go to this show at the arena and for some dumb reason I said no. In context, I said no to two invitations to see Stevie Ray Vaughan at The Decade. Yes, I am an idiot. This album is a band knowing they are gonna kick ass and totally delivering. I call it the “Wait Till We Totally Show You What’s Up” Album. Choice Tracks: ‘Wire‘, ‘The Unforgettable Fire‘.

44. Songs:Ohia-Magnolia Electric Co. (2003) Wanna know a secret? I became a concert photographer because of Jason Molina. Blame HughShows solely on him. I was getting into indie rock and I was getting into going to shows and I was getting into documenting those indie rock shows as I was discovering photography. Perfect storm. I had no idea what Jason looked like and said to myself, “This Songs:Ohia guy is awfully camera shy?” Show me a photo of him playing live pre-2004 and I will digress. So I try to find the beast in the wild and this album pops up? Listen…There aren’t many albums as perfect as this one. Fun Fact: He was the one who showed me how to quickly bust open the plastic wrap, exorcise a CD from the jewel case without breaking it, and signed it for me as ‘Jason Magnolia‘ before buying me a whiskey! Choice Tracks: ‘Farewell Transmission‘, ‘Just Be Simple‘.

45. The Kinks-Something Else by The Kinks (1967) So I initially go on a total Kinks discovery exactly one and a half years ago for some uneventful reason and lo and behold, they start re-releasing ‘Deluxe Editions‘ of The the Kinks albums in order and hey, why not buy them all and listen to the mono and stereo versions and read books on the band and actually get to see Ray Davies in concert and totally humble myself in front of my best friend who has been pimping the band since “Give the People What They Want” first came out. Why this album over all the rest? For me it ‘flows’ more so than any other release and the Dave Davies emergence as a ‘heartbreaking’ songwriter makes it hard not to pick it. Choice Tracks: ‘Death of a Clown‘, ‘Situation Vacant‘.

46. Pink Floyd-Obscured by Clouds (1972) I cannot describe to you how much Pink Floyd music I have listened to in my life. I am not kidding. I was introduce to them, by of all people, my future wife as she was listening to “The Final Cut” on a walkman in 1983 during study hall and I asked her, “Who are they?” I bought Ummagumma that day and the rest was history. In the early ’80’s cassettes were made very cheap, especially Columbia Records tapes, which apparently distributed the Harvest/EMI Floyd albums. I TORE through that entire catalog, replacing several titles (one in my Top 5) because I listened to them too damned much. And the one that I love best turns out to be an obscure soundtrack they made as a seemingly throwaway contract obligation. I was thrilled to finally see this movie, pre-VHS, on a big screen at the Carnegie Museum and although the actual film is ‘meh’, the music is anything but. Choice Tracks: ‘Childhood’s End‘, ‘Free Four‘.

47. Opal-Happy Nightmare Baby (1987) Before Mazzy Star scored a worldwide smash with ‘Fade Into You’, the guitarist had a band with another girl singer and they released this one dark, fuzzy, bluesy, ‘vampire-ish’, awesome album that no one ever seems to of ever heard of. I bought this CD when it came out and although I wasn’t into the late ’80’s goth scene that much, I totally flipped over this. I will always be in the minority feeling that Hope Sandoval ruined the band when she joined. Choice Tracks: ‘Supernova‘, ‘Magick Power‘.

48. dios (malos)-dios (malos) (2005) I sorta had a mini infatuation with dios malos when I first discovered them. The band from Hawthorne, California (boyhood home of The Beach Boys, no less) released this sophomore album at the time I was discovering indie rock. They actually came to Pittsburgh a couple times and I became really friendly with the band during those visits. I was hoping they would get ‘Death Cab For Cutie big’ but unfortunately aren’t active as they once were. Still love and listen to this album all the time. Choice Tracks: ‘Say Anything‘, ‘Grrrl…‘.

49. The New Pornographers-Challengers (2007) Yeah, The New Pornos probably have better albums, but like many other band’s releases on this list, I just like this one better. My totally late introduction to the band, I ordered the deluxe edition from Matador with all kinds of cool extras. Demos, b-sides and a live show actually enhance the album rather than commonly provide filler. Choice Tracks: ‘Myriad Harbour‘, ‘All the Old Showstoppers‘.

50. My Bloody Valentine-Loveless (1991) Sooo late to this party. The re-issue of this just last year piqued my interest enough to fall for the whole two disc version of the same damn album. Regardless of the apparent charade, I love this album and cannot believe I wasn’t into this music when it first came out. What was I listening to? Oh yeah, hours upon hours of Grateful Dead. What was I thinking? Actually, I predict this particular album will be way much higher on my list come next year. Choice Tracks: ‘Sometimes‘ (remastered from the analog master), ‘Only Shallow‘ (remastered from the digital master).

51. Centro-Matic-Love You Just The Same (2003) The best quote I’ve ever heard about a band was, “Centro-Matic is better than your favorite band”. I tend to agree with bold assumption, especially after discovering this, their eighth of eventually two hundred or so releases from the songwriter Will Johnson? Seriously, this guy is a musical factory. I saw the band on the tail end of this tour and that show still remains a highlight of my concert going experiences. Stay tuned for more of Mr. Johnson on the list. Choice Tracks: ‘Strahan Has Corralled the Freaks‘, ‘Picking Up Too Fast‘.

52. Matt Mays & El Torpedo-Matt Mays + El Torpedo (2005) My love for all things Matt Mays can be found here. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen him and the boys play in awhile but this album still gets plenty of regular spins in my house. Choice Tracks: ‘Stand Down at Sundown‘, ‘Cocaine Cowgirl‘.

53. George Harrison-All Things Must Pass (1970) The first Beatles solo album is a monster. All those tunes Harrison had stockpiled apparently not ‘good enough’ for Lennon & McCartney to consider for inclusion on the band’s later albums (O.K., ‘Thanks for the Pepperoni’ is amongst the throw-aways here) but with an all-star band assembled, this album is still a classic. Choice Tracks: ‘Isn’t It a Pity‘, ‘Wah-Wah‘.

54. Marah-Float Away With the Friday Night Gods (2002) Marah came out blazing in the late ’90’s with a pair of fantastic albums culminating with their iconic alt-country sophomore effort, “Kids in Philly”. They did a 180 degree turn-around music-wise with this, their next album replacing banjo and harmonica with drum machines and heavy effects laden vocals. Many early fans turned their back on the band but I love this record. Springsteen guests on the opening track but truth be told he is barely audible. If you want the ‘pure’ version of the album, pick up the ‘demos’ version released a few years later called “Float Away Deconstructed“. Choice Tracks: ‘Soul‘, ‘Leaving‘.

55. Son Volt-Trace (1995) When you sit outside a sold out concert in the freezing cold with your brother and best friend and Jay asks from the stage for the management to let you in and they don’t, you might be bitter. I luckily saw them a couple more times in their original line-up before it became Jay Farrar and Co. Some of my favorite memories were talking to original (and Uncle Tupelo) drummer Mike Heidorn who was always super nice. Early nineties concert going was the best. Choice Tracks: ‘Tear Stained Eye‘, ‘Drown‘.

56. Rhett Miller-The Instigator (2002) Why does everyone hate this album? I still don’t get it. The ‘alt-country’ prince goes a little pop and his loyal fan base turns on him? This album has been so great for the ten years I have been counting on it! I LOVE the Old 97’s. I LOVE Rhett solo. It’s like choosing between your siblings at this point. Choice Track: ‘Your Nervous Heart’, ‘Terrible Vision‘.

57. Neutral Milk Hotel-In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (1998) As ‘annoying’ as this album seems to be, it’s endearing uniqueness seems to lift it above the run of the mill all-time classic. I don’t listen to it often but I will never forget the first time I heard it, as anyone else who as ever heard it. I have seen Jeff Mangum a couple times now and both were extraordinary examples of how to totally move a room full of people through your music. Not something I see every day. Choice Tracks: “In the Aeroplane Over The Sea‘, ‘Oh Comely‘.

58. Biirdie-Catherine Avenue (2008) How I stumbled upon this band I will never remember but the impact the title track had on me is immeasurable. I bought both their albums from their website on the strength of that tune and I cannot believe how lucky I am to do so. I love this band. Both of their albums are so good and they better make more music soon. I would kiss Biirdie straight on the mouth if I could. Choice Tracks: ‘Catherine Avenue’, ‘LA is Mars‘.

59. Liquor Giants-Every Other Day at a Time (1998) I’ve pimped this long lost obscure band previously but the thing about this particular album is that it never seems to go away. I always find myself reaching for it because of the songs. Amazing lyrics and melodies that I feel no one ever hears. Their loss. Ward Dotson needs to be recognized. Choice Tracks: ‘It’s Raining Butterflies‘, ‘Kentucky Lounge‘.

60. Bob Dylan and The Band-The Basement Tapes (1975) Many times I wax poetic throughout my life that I wish I was seventeen years old in 1969 instead of two. For too many reasons to expound upon here, one of the most amongst them being the release of “Great White Wonder“. Considered the first ‘official’ bootleg in history that eventually became this album is nothing short of synergistic musical genius. Whether you know the background or not, this album is loose, haphazard and influential beyond that’s come before it or since. It’s like describing ‘The White Album’. You can’t really do it. Choice Tracks: ‘Million Dollar Bash‘, ‘Ain’t No More Cane‘.

In deciding to compile this list, I tried to be as honest as possible in that I found myself several times resisting the urge to include albums or musicians that I ‘thought’ I should have on my list but don’t necessarily listen to all that much. For example, there’s a reason I don’t have any jazz on here. I don’t find myself reaching fo Miles Davis over R.E.M. so why be a poseur and include it? These are favorites…’MY favorites’. A few notes: I shied away from live albums (hence, no “The Last Waltz”), greatest hits (with one exception), compilations and having more than one album from a particular band. What, was I going to list the ENTIRE Beatles catalog? A few times I did include multiple albums from a songwriter whether it was a solo album or offshoot band, so you may spot a few repeats in that respect. I also could have easily included many local Pittsburgh releases but decided to keep them for a separate list coming soon. With that being said, I hope you enjoy this list as much as I had making it.

Hopefully in putting this together, you the reader, will discover something you never heard before or reacquaint yourself with a long, forgotten album. Look out for the remaining installments here every Sunday. The second in a series of posts eventually culminating in my favorite album of all-time. I noticed in prepping this installment that I really love all these albums and I am constantly considering moving them up the list. They all are worthy of being close to anyone’s top. If you aren’t familiar with these bands or albums, go out and at least try to familiarize yourself with them as soon as you can. I have come to realize this has become so damn hard to rank. Read the first installment here.

61. The Broken West-I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On (2007)

This is one of those bands who I feel incredibly lucky to have seen before they broke up. With only two fantastic albums under their belt, they disband. Such a bummer. Thankfully, songwriter Ross Flournoy has a new-ish band in Apex Manor. This record is their debut and always sounds as fresh as the first time I heard it every time I play it. Choice Tracks: ‘Down in the Valley‘. ‘You Can Build an Island‘.

62. Teenage Fanclub-Bandwagonesque (1991)

Speaking of ‘power pop’…Teenage Fanclub’s seminal album captures what The Broken West would do several years later, but with more of an edge. Again, I feel lucky to have seen this band live. Choice Tracks: ‘The Concept‘, ‘December‘.

63. Nora O’Connor-Til the Dawn (2004)

This album is the only solo effort from Nora who has become a mainstay in the Chicago music scene, as a member of the long-lost, long-loved band The Blacks as well as an integral member of Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire, Nora has the voice that people in the know (Robbie Fulks, Neko Case) go to. This album is such a little gem and she actually did tour for it AND actually hit Club Cafe on that tour and I ACTUALLY missed it. One of only a handful of shows that I truly regret missing in my life. Choice Tracks: ‘My Backyard‘ ‘Tonight‘.

64. Neil Young with Crazy Horse-Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969) What I love about this particular album is the lesser-known tunes that don’t get the massive radio airplay…and yeah, the killer popular ones as well. Choice Tracks: ‘Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere‘, ‘Round and Round (It Won’t Be Long)‘.

65. Golden Smog-Down By the Old Mainstream (1996)

If I had to list my ‘Favorite Concerts of All-Time’ (hmmmm….that might be fun), I would definitely have to rank the tour behind this album at Graffiti close to the top. This is the ‘supergroup’s’ second release and arguably their best. With members of Wilco, The Jayhawks, Souls Asylum among others, you really can’t go wrong. Choice Tracks: ‘V‘, ‘Radio King‘.

66. Elton John-Tumbleweed Connection (1970)

The string of albums Elton John put out in the early seventies are hard to touch for the sheer quality of incredible music. I love this album for being both ‘funky’ and ‘country’ simultaneously, a strange combination that works. Choice Tracks: ‘Ballad of a Well-Known Gun‘, ‘My Father’s Gun‘.

67. Reigning Sound-Too Much Guitar (2004)

Greg Cartwright is one bad-ass electric guitar garage rock monster. Bringing vintage R&B influences into modern rock, The Reigning Sound are one of the most criminally underrated bands releasing albums today. This album, their loudest’ (read: most awesome), is a sonic assault that never fails to get the blood flowing. Once again, I feel lucky to have seen this band as a trio ROCK out Smalls several years ago. Choice Tracks: ‘Excedrine Headache No. 265‘, ‘We Repel Each Other‘.

68. The Brian Jonestown Massacre-Tepid Peppermint Wonderland: A Retrospective (2004)

I made a point of not including any ‘Greatest Hits’ or ‘Best of’ collections on this list but made one exception for this two-disc ‘Retrospective’. The single albums of BJM have always been spotty affair for me but this is 38 great songs all together with nary a bummer in the bunch. Choice Tracks: ‘Who?‘, ‘That Girl Suicide‘.

69. The Beat Farmers-Van Go (1986)

Before there was ever ‘alt-country’ there was The Beat Farmers. Unfortunately they are probably known best for their dopey ‘Happy Boy‘ but this album proves that they ain’t no joke. Choice Tracks: ‘Riverside‘, ‘Gun Sale at the Church‘.

70. Jason Lytle-Yours Truly, the Commuter (2009)

I am always a little surprised just how much I love this debut solo album from Grandaddy frontman Jason Lytle. It’s a dreamy, sometimes sleepy collection of songs that never seem to be striving for any sort of grand ‘climax’ but somehow they totally get into your head. Wait, I did just kinda described Grandaddy music, so why should I be surprised?Choice Tracks: ‘Ghost of My Old Dog‘, ‘Brand New Sun‘.

71. Bobby Bare Jr’s Young Criminal Starvation League-From the End of Your Leash (2004)

Another essential musician who opened my eyes to what indie rock could offer after spending WAY too much time living and breathing Grateful Dead following the almost decade after Jerry’s death.Choice Tracks: ‘Your Adorable Beast‘, ‘Valentine‘.

72. Maria McKee-Life is Sweet (1996)

My wife, who is by no means a music aficionado, turned me on to Maria as we started dating and I must thank her bringing Maria and her music into my life. Certainly another must see musician before I die thing going on with her. Choice Tracks: ‘Life is Sweet‘, ‘Absolutely Barking Stars‘.

73. Paul Kantner, Grace Slick and David Freiberg-Baron Von Tollbooth & the Chrome Nun (1973)

One of the most obscure psychedelic oddities in rock music from the Jefferson Airplane/Starship families. It doesn’t hurt, as many of those San Francisco hippies tended to do back then, to have an ‘all-star’ lineup of session players helping out, including the rest of the Airplane line-up, Jerry Garcia and The Pointer Sisters of all people pitching in. Track this record down. Bonus points for having Grace Slick being the least annoying of her career on this record. Choice Tracks: ‘Ballad of the Chrome Nun‘, ‘Fat‘.

74. For Squirrels-Example (1995)

A month before this, the band’s second record, was released, they were returning from CMJ when their tour van crashed and killed the lead vocalist, bassist and manager. The ultimate story of ‘what if?’ in alternative rock, this album displays the very beginnings of a band finding it’s voice and literally losing it before any potential could be realized. So sad. Choice Tracks: ‘Mighty KC‘, ‘Orangeworker‘.

75. Bright Eyes-I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning (2005)

I was never a big (or even casual) Bright Eyes fan and still wouldn’t call myself one but this album is killer. Released the same day as the band’s ‘electronic’ companion “Digital Ash in a Digital Urn”, an album I have intentionally never listened to yet, the acoustic folky-vibe sort of reflects what Conor Oberst was attempting to realize with the disappointing Monsters of Folk supergroup. Choice Tracks: ‘Another Travelin’ Song‘, ‘At The Bottom of Everything‘.

76. John Lennon-Mind Games (1973)

Lennon’s least ‘in your face’ album containing my favorite tunes he wrote as a solo Beatle. His protest ‘anthems’ aren’t venomous and his love songs aren’t sappy. Fittingly, the perfect balance for him. Choice Tracks: ‘Mind Games‘, ‘Bring on the Lucie (Freda People)‘.

77. Kathleen Edwards-Asking for Flowers (2008)

This album came out of nowhere and finally had me take notice of Kathleen and her music, including her excellent previous two efforts. What sealed the deal was seeing her at WYEP performing the title track. Forward to 10:47 here to listen to exact moment this album became my favorite of 2008. Choice Tracks: ‘Goodnight, California‘, ‘Buffalo‘.

78. Uncle Tupelo-Still Feel Gone (1991)

Only discovering the brilliance of the band way too many years after they broke up, the seemingly effortless rawness of this second album epitomizes what I love about this band. Choice Tracks: ‘Looking For a Way Out‘, ‘Gun‘.

79. Grant Lee Phillips-Mobilize (2001)

Grant Lee Phillips’ second solo album is his most ‘pop’ record and still I don’t hate it. In fact, it’s my favorite of all his solo releases, which are all great. Choice Tracks: ‘We All Get A Taste‘, ‘Sleepless Lake‘.

80. Elliott BROOD-Ambassador (2005)

These guys are simply an amazing band. I have seen them a couple times and here’s another pathetic example of this weird Canadian thing were they can’t break out under the 49th Parallel. Such a crime. Choice Tracks: ‘Twill‘, ‘Johnny Rooke‘.

In deciding to compile this list, I tried to be as honest as possible in that I found myself several times resisting the urge to include albums or musicians that I ‘thought’ I should have on my list but don’t necessarily listen to all that much. For example, there’s a reason I don’t have any jazz on here. I don’t find myself reaching for Miles Davis over R.E.M. so why be a poseur and include it? These are favorites…’MY favorites’.

A few notes: I shied away from live albums (hence, no “The Last Waltz”), greatest hits (with one exception), compilations and having more than one album from a particular band. What, was I going to list the ENTIRE Beatles catalog? A few times I did include multiple albums from a songwriter whether it was a solo album or offshoot band, so you may spot a few repeats in that respect. I also could have easily included many local Pittsburgh releases but decided to keep those for a separate list coming soon.

With that being said, I hope you enjoy this list as much as I had making it. Hopefully in putting this together, you the reader, will discover something you never heard before or reacquaint yourself with a long, forgotten album. Look out for the remaining installments here every Sunday.

81. Great Lake Swimmers-Bodies and Minds (2005)

Tony Dekker and his band Great Lake Swimmers had a very important role in my musical education in the mid-Aughties and this, their second album, is a gem full of simplistic, acoustic folk. Choice tracks: ‘Song for the Angels‘, ‘Imaginary Bars‘.

82. Arcade Fire-The Suburbs (2010)

I have always thought that Arcade Fire was too bombastic and what’s the word…overrated? I just wasn’t getting it, until this came out. Yeah, it’s bombastic for sure but I love these songs and as a concept album, it works perfectly. Choice tracks: ‘Rococo‘, ‘Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)‘.

83. The Grateful Dead-Wake of the Flood (1973)

Having seen 30 Dead shows in 10 years, for better or for worse, this band was a huge part of my life, musical or otherwise. This album in particular has the best bunch of tunes they have released in their career and the songs played live were always great to hear. With the addition of horns on the album, it added a new element missing from their other work. Choice Tracks: ‘Row Jimmy‘, ‘Here Comes Sunshine‘.

84. Deadstring Brothers-Starving Winter Report (2006)

The highpoint in a promising career that seems to have faltered lately. This album showed so much potential in a band that is still touring and hopefully has so more killer music up it’s sleeve. How good are they? Check out the song ‘Where Are All My Friends?’ from a Bloodshot Records comp. Choice Tracks: ‘Blindfolded‘, ‘Sacred Heart‘.

85. The Byrds-Younger Than Yesterday (1967)

Hard to choose a favorite Byrds album. Redefining American rock and roll in the mid-sixties ultimately has a plethora of good examples to choose from. This fourth album has bassist Chris Hillman bringing in his songs to the band which are some of my favorites they ever recorded. Choice tracks: ‘Have You Seen Her Face‘, ‘So You Want to Be a Rock and Roll Star

86. The Minders-Hooray for Tuesday (1998)

The Minders put out a smattering of decent albums then seemed to fall off the face of the Earth. This debut from the Elephant 6 collective is their ‘best known’ and showed so much promise. Still hoping for a follow up to their 2006 effort, “It’s a Bright, Guilty World”. Choice Tracks: ‘Hooray for Tuesday‘, ‘I’ve Been Wondering.

87. Band of Horses-Infinite Arms (2010)

This band seems to release a great album, then a not so great album and so on over their four album career. This was one of the greats and bests anything they have put out ever. With this rationale, expect their next album to be killer. Choice Tracks: ‘Older‘, ‘Compliments.

88. Donna The Buffalo-The Ones You Love (1996)

There was nothing like seeing this band when they only had a few albums of material to play from and every show was great. This is their second album and I remember hearing them play it many times over. So much fun. Choice Tracks: ‘Ancient Arms‘, ‘Off To Dreamland.

89. The Steve Miller Band-Your Saving Grace (1969)

Before he became ‘The Joker’ and sold zillions of records, Steve Miller defined himself as a psychedelic blues rock guitar god. His early albums are at times spotty but when done right, like here on his fourth album, he proves he was the best band to come out of the San Fransisco ‘Summer of Love’ even if the album is mostly comprised of cover tunes. Choice Tracks: ‘Your Saving Grace‘, ‘Baby’s House‘.

90. The Middle East-I Want That You Are Always Happy (2011)

The newest album on the list. Hailing from Australia, these guys put out a killer first album and break up (onstage, no less) a few short months later. They actually did play Garfield Artworks as I found out later but like many times before, I didn’t know them when. Bummer. Choice Tracks: ‘Hunger Song‘, ‘Jesus Came To My Birthday Party‘.

91. Cat Power-The Greatest (2006)

I never was a big fan of Chan and her music previously but this album (and the free show at Hartwood promoting it) stands out for sure. Was it the ‘big band’ sound provided by The Memphis Rhythm Band that isn’t on her other releases? Who knows? It’s a great album. Choice Tracks: ‘Love & Communication‘ (track down the live band version), ‘Living Proof‘.

92. The Sadies-Favourite Colours (2004)

Solid, frenetic, alt-country, rock and roll. These guys are the best backing band in the business and when they are able to shine on their own, take notice. Choice Tracks: ‘Northumberland West‘, ‘Why Be So Curious, Pt. 3‘.

93. The Jimi Hendrix Experience-Axis: Bold as Love (1967)

The best Hendrix stand alone album proper. What it lacks in ‘hits’, it more than makes up for in displaying Hendrix’ branching out to find a balance between killer songwriting and psychedelic sonic exploration without getting too ‘far out’ there. Choice Tracks: ‘Little Wing‘, ‘Bold As Love‘.

94. Admiral Radley-I Heart California (2010)

Jason Lytle and Aaron Burtch of Grandaddy and Aaron Espinoza and Ariana Murray of Earlimart team up for a one off album that combines both of the band’s sensibilities. I would have loved to have seen this tour. Choice Tracks: ‘Ghosts of Syllables‘, ‘GNDN‘.

95. Manassas-Manassas (1972)

Early seventies folk rock ‘supergroup’ from Stephen Stills and Chris Hillman. Seems Stills entire career was running around forming supergroups. This is the most solid of the bunch. Choice Tracks: ‘Colorado‘, ‘The Love Gangster‘.

96. Lil’ Cap’n Travis-In All Their Splendor (2004)

Another ‘whatever happened to these guys’ bands. Not many people probably ever heard of them outside of their native Austin where they still sporadically play out which is a shame because this album showed a ton of potential. Choice Tracks: ‘Steady as She Goes‘, ‘3.2 Beer of Love‘.

97. The Doors-The Soft Parade (1969)

Everyone went through a ‘Doors Phase’ at some point in their teens. Most of us moved on but you got to admit, this is a cool as hell album which out of all their output still holds up. Choice Tracks: ‘Shaman’s Blues‘, ‘The Soft Parade‘.

98. Spoon-Gimme Fiction (2005)

Spoon’s highpoint IMO. They were indie darlings prior to releasing this album where I felt they never really capitalized on how good this was. I expected them to really ‘blow up’ but they released an album called “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga”. Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb. Choice Tracks: ‘The Beast and Dragon, Adored‘, ‘My Mathematical Mind‘.

99. The Jayhawks-Smile (2000)

I know I’ll get blasted for not listing one of the bands previous albums that had founder Mark Olson on them before he left the group. Too bad, this is a great album, regardless who’s on it or not. Choice Tracks: ‘Somewhere in Ohio‘, ‘I’m Gonna Make You Love Me‘.

100. Don McLean-American Pie (1971)

Finally, I had to include this album. The title track was the first song that I learned all the words to and it was the impetus in wanting to buy my very first guitar. This album was a monster back when I was discovering music for the first time. Choice Tracks: ‘American Pie‘ (duh), ‘Vince

Tomorrow I start counting down my ‘All-Time Favorite Albums’ in a series of weekly posts over the next couple months. Last night I posted to FaceBook the albums that didn’t make the Top 100 and within minutes there was speculation that my entire list was bogus due to the fact that some essential albums didn’t make the cut. Controversy! I love it.
The rules I set up will be explained in the posts but basically, I tried to be true to myself and list albums that were important to me and not what others expect.

A few examples:

Dylan has had a HUGE impact on my musical growth. There’s no doubt about it but I already included one of his albums on the list and tried not to repeat a specific artist or band. “Blood on the Tracks” is a great, great album but is it better than “Bringing It All Back Home”, or even “Infidels” which I listen to all the time? Tough call for sure but this is the reason I am calling the list ‘Favorites’ and not ‘Best’.

Another cry of heresy came with “London Calling” not making the list. Here’s the deal, I totally understand what a milestone The Clash, and in particular that album, is in rock history. Thing is, I never bought or listened to any Clash music growing up and until recently, never got into them. I am a newbie fan for sure but haven’t spent enough time to fully appreciate how ‘great’ they are and if that somehow nullifies my intentions, then so be it. As rankings reflect, this is a fluid list in that it will be different in a year from now when I discover new (and old) music that surely will become future favorites.

In talking to my brother he said, “Exile on Main St.” isn’t number one? Your list is invalid.” Yeah, “Exile” is amazing (and does crack the Top 30) but for me there are albums that I love more. It’s impossible to ‘please’ everybody, or anybody, in attempting to compile a list like this so I didn’t even try and freed myself from worrying about any sort of critical evaluation in doing so. People are always going to be chuggin’ that Hatorade, that’s cool with me.

This, like any list, is eventually going to stir debate but what I really hope happens is that maybe you discover some fantastic music that you might not have heard before. There’s a lot out there, you just might have to dig a bit and my sole intention is to help you along.