What’s On Your List?

posted by Tom Moon on December 01, 2008 at 2:18 pm
in , ,

Share a few of your must-hear recordings here. Please include title, artist and year of release if you know it. And tell us why it's essential! Thanks....

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#1 from Anastasia - 12/02/2008 9:24

Joanna Newsom: Ys (Drag City, 2006)

A five-song album that hauntingly beautiful. The tracks range from 7 to almost 17 minutes. She tells a story throughout the album, both with the lyrics and the music (she plays harp, and this album also has incredible string arrangement). Some compare her voice to Björk, and I think that might be especially true in her previous album The Milk-Eyed Mender.

I was lucky enough to see her perform this album on her last tour, where she played in concert halls with an orchestra. It was amazing.

#2 from Michael, Los Angeles - 12/02/2008 10:20

My list is huge, but I’ll list only five I can think of off the top of my head, including two huge omissions from the book, and two understandable ones considering the books scope.  Tom, I loved the book dearly, but the two omissions I’ll list at the beginning, man… smile

REM- Automatic For The People (1992)

An absolutely gorgeous record, filled with pop masterpieces such as Try to Breathe, Man on the Moon, Everybody Hurts, The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite etc.  Nightswimming is on my short list of perfect songs (the music and lyrics fit so well together it feels like a song that was waiting to be discovered rather than merely written).  I’ve had the album loved by people of all ages, races, genders, creeds, and musical tastes.  A truly universal and transcendent album, and the album I was most astonished to not see on the List.  Granted, Murmur is brilliant, but not enough to exclude even a mention of AFTP.

Anything by Crowded House, but especially Woodface

Another huge omission.  These guys, especially Neil Finn, are pop geniuses.  Songs like Fall At Your Feet or Four Seasons in One Day are classic hits.  Songs like She Goes On are fantastic gems.  I had a chance to see Crowded House live in NYC about a year ago now, and they were sensational.  When you get people like Paul McCartney praising you as a great pop song writer, you know you’re doing something right.

Talk Talk- Spirit of Eden

The most haunting album I’ve ever heard.  The music almost doesn’t seem human, but ethereal.  The melodies are gorgeous, the words are deeply personal and the effect it has on me is unlike any other album I can think of; I feel like I’m floating away but deeply aware of my surroundings at the same time.  Another album I’ve introduced a diverse group of people to, all of whom have come away at least impressed, most in awe.

The Blue Nile- Hats

The ultimate night music.  Nothing says four a.m. like this record to me.  I’ve played this album, closed my eyes, and not even noticed the passage of time until the music stops.  Very few albums feel this carefully constructed yet utterly natural and perfect.  I could write a sentence about every song, but in the interest of space, let’s just say there are only seven songs, all worthy of many listens.

John Coltrane- A Love Supreme

The most personal album ever made, and maybe the most legitimately spiritual one at the same time.  Tom already spoke beautifully about it in the book, so I’ll just add a personal anecdote.  My grandfather and I used to listen to music together; he would play classical music he loved, I would play rock and jazz albums.  One day, I played him A Love Supreme, and he was on the verge of tears by the end.  Music like this doesn’t need justification or labeling or anything other than a willing ear and an appreciation for the truth that music can convey through a genius like Coltrane. 

There are more, but I’ll leave it at that for now.  Thanks for reading!

#3 from Whit Andrews - 12/02/2008 10:55

Adrian Belew, Lone Rhino, 1982.

Belew had been a sideman for the Talking Heads, David Bowie and similar technically demanding, groundbreaking rock artists. As he became a new core element of King Crimson, he also embarked on a solo career for which this (and the sequel, “Twang Bar King”) represented a strong, widely various foundation. Each song represented a new direction that Belew then traveled repeatedly and brightly in the next few years in a variety of different ways. Nothing had sounded quite like much of it before. The tracks are perfect, poppy and brilliant. I still remember how sweet it sounded when I sat in a friend’s rec room on a spring afternoon and discovered the songs, one after another.

#4 from Neil Bostock - 12/03/2008 2:45

Three bands who I’m surprised to see missing in action are The Buzzcocks, The New York Dolls, and The Fall.

The Buzzcocks “Singles Going Steady” perfectly matches Ramones speed, Pistols snarl, pop melody, and Can repetition.

The Dolls debut is like the center of a galaxy where punk rock, the Stones, glam, and a sort of alternative trash-Broadway all revolve.

And The Fall—extraordinarily influential, prolific, fascinating and just plain fun.  Tough to pick one album given the “always different always the same” moniker of Mark E. Smith, but “The Real New Fall LP” is a killer from start to finish.

#5 from Kris Vandekerckhove, Brugge, BE - 12/03/2008 4:28

David Sylvian - Secrets Of The Beehive (1987)

After David Sylvian broke away from British synth-pop ensemble he started his own career that would bring him (and us) more and more to the essence of pure (pop) music. With ‘Secrets Of The Beehive’ he was at the beginning and also the defining moment of that quest. From that moment on there was no way back for Mr. Sylvian, once labeled as ‘The Most Beautiful Man In Britain’. Look up the collaborators who played with Sylvian on this album and a step back in awe. Up until then there was never an album like this one and there wasn’t one since. Pop music never went this deep and sounded so glorious at the same time!

Tears For Fears - The Hurting (1983)

An album that painfully describes & dissects teenage angst with accompanying childhood traumas and immediately (this was their debut!) it was obvious that Tears For Fears was not to be any other pop chart-band.

Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here (1975)

Everything that needs to be said and more about this album is common knowledge for any music aficionado. Mandatory!

Tom Waits - Closing Time (1973)

Waits’ debut; recommended listening for any aspiring nightclub singer. Jazzy, folky, poppy but overall the album to purchase when in love with Waits’ first period, namely the piano singer & storyteller extraordinaire…

The Beatles - Revolver (1966)

One of the greatest albums in musical history worldwide up until this very day. Need I say more? Thought so…

#6 from Shane, Nashville, Tn - 12/05/2008 4:59

1.  Minor Threat - Complete Discography 1983
As my friend says “The Quintessential Hardcore band, the band by which all others MUST be judged”  This album is pure energetic fury from start to finish

2. The Beatles - White Album 1968
It’s essentially 4 solo albums rolled into one.  There is something for everybody on this double album.

3.  The Wynton Kelly trio with Wes Montgomery - Smokin’ at the Half Note 1965
Wes Montgomery at his best.  Smokin’ indeed!

#7 from Phil Rudd - 12/05/2008 8:08

Rush - 2112 - must not miss.  Use headphones

#8 from victor harris, new york - 12/05/2008 3:53

One serious omission from your list: Sarah Brightman. You could pick from any number of selections, but the ” Live From Las Vegas” in 2004 is among the best. Her solo of ” Stranger in Paradise” is also quite extraordinary. Definitely top 100 stuff, let alone 1,000.
Also noteworthy by their absence are Melanie - ” Lay Down”; and Rita Coolidge - ” We’re All Alone.”
Time to start another book - ” The 1,000 I Should Have Included”

#9 from Kim, Kingston, NY - 12/05/2008 7:25

My all time favorite classical piece is Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major, played by Jasha Heifetz and the London Symphony Orchestra.

I was introduced to it by my mother—she played it every Saturday morning to accompany her when she was doing housework, of all things.  I’ve heard other interpretations of the Concerto, but none compares with Heifetz’s.

A little disappointed it wasn’t included in the list!

#10 from Domingos Silva Neto, Key Biscayne, FL - 12/06/2008 1:33


I have a suggestion.  Why don’t we focus on release dates after the cutoff date for your book’s first edition (which I assume was 2007)?

As such we could start the 2nd edition - what will certainly turn into several future ones(online or not).

My contribution to that list is Milton Nascimento & Trio Jobim’s latest CD, Milton’s first full CD interpreting several bossa nova classic tracks (and even one from your fave Lo Borges).

Best regards and congrats on the NPR show on your book.

#11 from Matt, New York - 12/06/2008 8:52

The following are, IMO, the twenty most eggregious rock-based omissions from the book, in order.  None of these albums needs any justification, as their greatness is apparent to anyone who listens to them.  They are vastly superior to some of the highly questionable entries that were inexplicably included on The List (either long-overrated bores or flat-out crap) like Dirt (Alice in Chains), Ray Of Light (Madonna), Rock Steady (No Doubt), Solitude Standing (Suzanne Vega), When The Pawn… (Fiona Apple), Grace (Jeff Buckley), Tracy Chapman, Chicago Transit Authority, School’s Out (Alice Cooper), 69 Love Songs (Magnetic Fields) Crane Wife (Decemberists), a gross overrepresentation of Beatles albums, American Idiot (Green Day), Brain Salad Surgery (ELP), The Gorge (Dave Matthews Band), Blind Faith, Surfacing (Sarah McLachlan), Apple (Mother Love Bone), Jagged Little Pill (Alanis Morrisette), a host of boring “world music” albums clearly included for no reason other than to show that the author is trying to be “representative,” and numerous others.

1.  Neil Young and Crazy Horse—Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (Reprise, 1969)

2.  King Crimson—Red (EG, 1974)

3.  Frank Zappa—Hot Rats (Rykodisc, 1969)

4.  Genesis—Selling England By The Pound (Charisma, 1973)

5.  National Health—Of Cues And Cures (Charly, 1978)

6.  Soft Machine—Third (CBS, 1970)

7.  Led Zeppelin—IV (Atlantic, 1971)

8.  Elvis Costello—This Year’s Model (Columbia, 1978)

9.  Miles Davis—Jack Johnson (Columbia, 1970)

10. Steely Dan—Pretzel Logic (MCA, 1974)

11. Frank Zappa—Absolutely Free (Rykodisc, 1967)

12. Jimi Hendrix—Axis: Bold As Love (MCA, 1967)

13. Can—Ege Bamyasi (Mute, 1972)

14. REM—Automatic For The People (Warner Brothers, 1992)

15. Gentle Giant—In A Glass House (Dressed To Kill, 1973)

16. King Crimson—Larks Tongues In Aspic (EG, 1973)

17. Flying Burrito Brothers—Gilded Palace Of Sin (Edsel, 1969)

18. Built To Spill—Keep It Like A Secret (Warner Brothers, 1999)

19. Led Zeppelin—st (Atlantic, 1969)

20. Randy Newman—Good Old Boys (Reprise, 1974)

#12 from Neil Bostock - 12/06/2008 8:21

I’m not sure characterizing some of Tom’s picks as “boring” or “crap” is terribly useful. The bottom line is that all lists are subjective, and often selections are made because they made a strong impact on the listener in a certain context.  Matt’s list is (almost) uniformly good as well. I’d take issue with the comments about world music also—Cesaria Evora, Buena Vista, Bebel Gilberto, Ali Farke Toure, et cetera, should be on any music list that claims to be inclusive of great music, not just great rock music.

Bearing in mind that no one person can have come across all the great music in the world, here are two that Tom probably hasn’t heard:

Mike Seeger - Old Time Country Music, a 1960s release, now available only from the Smithsonian archives, and the best “old timey” record I’ve heard.

Rory McLeod - Angry Love, the 1980s debut album from a British folk/world/blues artist/poet/songwriter/harmonica player, that is unlike anything else you have ever heard.  Also the best live performer I have ever seen.

#13 from Matt - 12/07/2008 12:19

“I’m not sure characterizing some of Tom’s picks as “boring” or “crap” is terribly useful.”

As I’ve stated in other comments on this blog, I think that the book is overall good and useful, but such an undertaking invites criticism and pointing out where the author really dropped the ball is fair game.  I find the rock-based albums to be a solid bunch, though with some big holes.  The jazz inclusions were only a mediocre representation of the greatest jazz albums, unfortunately.  A really excellent job was done with the classical music selections however.

The abundance of international titles creates problems.  On one hand, it is admirable that the author might aspire to actually attempt to chronincle the 1000 recordings in a totally comprehensive manner; on the other, such an attempt is impossible.  It is a questionable aspiration from a theoretical standpoint, anyway—the audience for the book is English-speaking (principally Americans), so The List can only be useful insofar as it accomodates the cultural perspectives of its audience.  An attempt to be truly objective is impossible, since the author himself is biased by his own cultural perspective: for example, an Indian author attempting to perform the exact same task would likely come up with an entirely different list that “underrepresents” rock and soul music (and western music in general, most likely)  Since comprehensiveness is thus proven to be not possible, attempts to be comprehensive appear contrived, and that is what I perceive to be one of the project’s main flaws.  In attempting to do the impossible, it alienates the majority of the book’s actual audience by including a significant percentage of non-North America/UK titles, yet it gives short shrift to non-North America/UK readers by having the appearance of considering music from all corners of the globe, yet filling the list with music that is predominantly from the US and UK. 

To illustrate the principle, consider other “greatest albums” lists which we’ve all seen from time to time that attempt to list the best records from a particular decade, and which name titles nearly exclusive to the rock/pop/hip-hop/soul genres (the dominant focus of the publication in question) and then throw in two or three jazz titles.  While it is nice to know that the authors of such lists are aware of a few major jazz albums, the unfortunate but obvious implication is that the 97th rock album on that particular top 100 list is better than the 4th best jazz album released during the same time period.  Considering that, it would probably have been for the best that Kind of Blue, A Love Supreme and Time Out (to name three of the most usual suspects) not been listed at all, and more space been given to titles that would be of greater relevance to the audience for the particular list. 

Anyay, back to the original point.  Can the case be made that Ray of Light is better, more influential or more necessary to hear than Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere?  I don’t know how it can be. With the goal of comprehensiveness discredited by my points above, then the only reasonable conclusion to be drawn is that an error was made.

#14 from Neil Bostock - 12/07/2008 5:36

Matt, your points about comprehensiveness are well taken, and I can’t argue with your comments regarding Ray of Light. 

On the other hand, all such lists have to strive for some inclusiveness, otherwise they would be dominated by multiple titles from major artists.  I mean, strictly speaking, if you were to ask me for a list of records that people should absolutely hear before they die, it would have to include Another Side of Bob Dylan, Bringing it All Back Home, Desire, Hard Rain, Basement Tapes, Tonight’s the Night, Time Fades Away, On The Beach, Ragged Glory, Zuma, and Harvest, and while I could defend all of these choices, readers might complain about 20 pages of the book being devoted to Dylan and Neil Young.

#15 from Robert Henderson, Fairmount, Philadelphia - 12/07/2008 7:12

Thanks for your effort. I will find the book useful for some time.

Questions, criticisms:

Why no mention of the greatest body of music ever written: The Sacred Cantatas of Bach? Any copy of the Suzuki series would do.

No Matthew Passion? Arguably the greatest single piece of music written. Everyone needs to hear the Munich Bach Choir in full throat. Richter c. 1960

Important recording: Hogwood and the ACM. The first set of period Mozart Symphonies and still the best. Astringent. Clears the pipes.

Messiah. Again a recording that changed how we listen: MacKerras and the Ambrosian Singers on Angel. Pointed the way to more authentic practice. Hogwood and Kirkby on LasOLyre beautifully completed that journed. Still the best.

And man, oh man, how can you leave out Leonard Bernstein’s Mahler. He championed Mahler all his life. His Nine Symphonies must stand out as one of the achievements of the century. Surely a top ten. If you don’t go for sets, choose the Second, Sixth or Ninth. And check ot his Ninth with the BPO. Devastating.

And Mahler’s Tenth with the PO Ormandy. Chillingly intense, another groundbreaker.

Where is Copland’s Appalatian Spring. Copland conducting full score in Columbia with chamber orchestra.

Or the Clarinet Concerto with Benny Goodman as soloist.

Ives Fourth also belongs there. And Carl Ruggles with Tilson Thomas.

#16 from Tom Moon - 12/07/2008 7:51

Thanks to Matt and Neil (and everyone else for contributing to this discussion…pls keep it going! there are no wrong answers where music is concerned, and like some readers/lurkers, I’ve discovered recordings I didn’t know from reading this thread. For that I’m extremely grateful.)....

I’m surprised and dismayed to read that Matt, an obvious astute listener, is inclined to so quickly dismiss some choices from other cultures as “boring “world music” albums clearly included for no reason other than to show that the author is trying to be “representative.”

Did Matt read any of the entries connected to those albums, I wonder? Is he really ready to proclaim Elis Regina “boring” or a mere token representation from some exotic place? Same question for Franco, Amalia Rodriguez, Ruben Blades and Willie Colon. In this ever-more-interconnected world, and especially at this moment when American recklessness is a worldwide concern, it seems high arrogance to assert that “Anglo” music is of greater significance than music from anyplace else. While it’s true that the list is inevitably Anglo-heavy, I made a concerted effort to encounter and learn about music from other cultures. At no point during the research did I grab a recording simply to earn “diversity” points—it had to be a peak experience, something thrilling enough to spark further exploration. I stand by those choices.

To reiterate something from an earlier post: This project is NOT to be read as a definitive index of absolute musical greatness. Music is far too personal and subjective for that. Instead, it’s an accounting of some of the stuff I found to be essential and indispensible when I went out searching for greatness. I cast a wide net and avoided the tedious “cage match” tactic (you know, “who’s better? Mozart or the Beatles?”), on the thinking that there was room in a book of 1000 entries for discussion of artists and genres and styles who are featured very rarely on, say, the iTunes homepage. You know, like it says on the front: The more you love music, the more music you love.

The intended audience for this book is not rock snobs or music hipsters. Instead, it’s intended for an open-minded person who is just beginning to explore music, and is curious about knowing about (and hopefully hearing) a wide range of amazingness from all over. I couldn’t take chances with this listener—I couldn’t assume that he or would know Astral Weeks even though it appears on literally every list of Greatest or Most Essential rock albums. Likewise I couldn’t exclusively champion big sellers or Grammy winners, my personal favorites or pet obscurities. I had to concentrate on some of the key foundation documents (the “roots”) in each style, and then utiilze brief mentions (Next Stop and After That, etc.) to guide the curious listener to some of the more remote branches.

Matt, you’re right when you say that ” pointing out where the author dropped the ball is fair game.” That’s the spirit of this blog: Building this list involved lots of decisions, and those judgement calls deserve to be questioned/explored/etc. However the specifics of your argument, outlined in the second post, are undercut by the intolerant cultural bias (and entrenched assumptions) expressed in the first. You say you can’t see how “Ray of Light is better, more influential or more necessary to hear than Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. I say check your head, stop seeking hierarchical “justice” and check out Como & Porque instead.



#17 from Adam Herbst, New Jersey - 12/09/2008 8:49

I’ve never actually had a list and don’t think the idea really works for me and how I listen to music. 

What I do have, though, is a list of artists to see before they die or I do. 

Folks who were on this list and are gone:  Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, and others.

Folks I missed:  Nina Simone and Johnny Cash, and others.

Folks still around who I’ve seen who I want to see again:  Willie Nelson, Prince, and others.

I won’t tell you who is on my current list because I don’t want to give either them or me the kina hurah.

#18 from Scott Minchk, Austin, Tx - 12/09/2008 2:12

My “Top 20” list is very guitar oriented, being a guitarist myself, and growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, I have been moved by many different players…and I love Steely Dan!

#1. Pat Metheny Group - Pat Metheny Group
#2. Surfing With The Alien - Joe Satriani
#3. Joe’s Garage - Frank Zappa
#4. The Shaming Of The True - Kevin Gilbert
#5. The Royal Scam - Steely Dan
#6. Veedon Fleece - Van Morrison
#7. Spilt Milk - Jellyfish
#8. Breezin’ - George Benson
#9. American Garage - Pat Metheny Group
#10. Purple Rain - Prince
#11. Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch - Frank Zappa
#12. Hat - Mike Keneally
#13. Sometime Tuesday Morning - Johnny A.
#14. Katy Lied - Steely Dan
#15. Tim - The Replacements
#16. Dissolve - Ivory Library
#17. Moondance - Van Morrison
#18. Aja - Steely Dan
#19. Gaucho - Steely Dan
#20. Pretzel Logic - Steely Dan

#19 from Joel High, Omaha, NE - 12/09/2008 7:51

Here are a few of my must hear albums:
Lucinda Williams, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
John Mellencamp, Scarecrow
Miles Davis Quintet, Relaxin’
Ahmad Jamal Trio, The Awakening
Paul Simon, Graceland

#20 from Scott, Narberth, PA - 12/09/2008 8:58

While it is great to have the Yes album on the list, I find it distressing that Close to the Edge was left off. This 1972 release still sounds as fresh as the day it was released.  It spawned a whole genre of music but no one prog band has matched its intensity, beauty, arrangements or heart since.

#21 from Robert Henderson, Fairmount, Philadelphia - 12/09/2008 9:06

One would think that the list would contain the most influential classical set of the century: Mahler’s nine symphonies with Bernstein. Bernstein championed these works and many are still"the best”.m That concert halls are filled today with Mahler’s work is due in large part to Bernstein’s recordings.

#22 from Bryan Bradley, Philadelphia - 12/10/2008 6:11

The Blueprint- Jay-Z September 11,2001

Jay-Z’s most ground breaking album, the Blueprint set the bar for all rap music this side of the millennium.  Jay-Z puts forth the perfect mix of confidence and lyricism with an undertone of spite towards his previous friend, Nas to make The Blueprint one of the most complete rap albums of all time. Highlights:“Song Cry”-an examination of self where Jay-Z speaks of a love lost. “Heart of the City”- Hov lets you know that the city still breathes, and you believe him. Jay-z pulls out all the stops, and all the nicknames,(Jigga, Hova, Hovito, Jay, God-MC.) to make the Blueprint unable to be released from CD rotation.

#23 from Joel Weseeling, Ontario, Canada - 12/10/2008 9:39

Tom, I cant thank you enough!

This book has been with me for a month now and I need my daily fix of reviews that are written with creative intensity..

The records that I do have that are in the book are described perfectly but I’m always looking for new music and dont want to use the trial and error method anymore so this book has made my music search exciting, fun and easier..

I’m now completely enjoying Funkadelic Maggot Brain, Martin Carthy’s Byker hill and his second lp..

looking for some heavy Classical and Hip Hop next..

“I dont care” that you missed many of my favorite recordings. Your clearly a very diverse listener, and I’m sure
you had trouble with only 1000..

I can wait for “1001 to 2000” Recordings.
1000 is enough for now..


#24 from Neil Bostock - 12/11/2008 3:40

I agree with Joel’s positive review above, and have been using the book in much the same way.  Thanks Tom.

Having said that, I spent my formative musical years in England, and my personal list would include the following:

Roy Harper - Flat, Baroque and Berserk - superior songwriting, singing and guitar playing.  There’s a reason Zep dedicated a song to him!

The Jam - Sound Affects—a great melding of punky vocals, Who-ish power chords, Kinks’ whimsey, and New Wavish beats.

“In the Beginning” by The Slits.  Completely indescribable marriage of funk, dub and punk, best listened to in its 12” single form.

Family - Bandstand—top class prog/pop/rock with unique and endearing vocals.

Vinegar Joe - Vinegar Joe—Robert Palmer and Elkie Brooks in 1972.  Kind of like an English Delaney and Bonney.  Very soulful, good songs, great vocal interplay.

Recently I’d put The Libertines and the Arctic Monkeys up there for consideration, but haven’t quite lived with their catalog long enough yet to see if they’d make the cut.

#25 from Franklin Rabon, Augusta, GA - 12/11/2008 8:59

One record I would say should get some consideration is (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? by Oasis.  You could also argue Definitely Maybe, as in Britain that’s considered the band’s best record.  Sure, Oasis have their faults, but for a brief period after (WTS)MG? was released they were arguably the biggest band in the world.  The album kicks you in the face right off the bat with Hello.  Everybody knows Wonderwall, and according to Last.fm that’s one of the most listened to tracks even today.  Immediately following Wonderwall on the record is also what is perhaps Oasis’s most beloved song amongst their fans, Don’t Look Back In Anger.  In between those songs and the monumental closer, Champagne Supernova, are under-appreciated little gems (Some Might Say, Cast No Shadow) and fun little tunes (She’s Electric).

#26 from Joel Weseeling, Ontario, Canada - 12/11/2008 6:43

This is great, I’ll be picking up Roy Harper F,B and B. I’ll check out the Oasis album too as I’m only Familiar with Wonderwall.

Here’s a small list . Few hard to find though but worth Pain of looking.

Gods of Taste:Gods of Taste—-Abstract and free playing jazz band from Quebec with a female Keyboard player who has a somewhat new wave sound..

Bill Stewart(Tony Williams Influence) :Telepathy

Pat Metheny(Bill Stewart on drums) on Trio 99/00 and the folowing live cd.
Metheny creates open spaces to let Stewart fill the space with his technical abilities combined with his abstract timings.

Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition; Stravinsky: Three Dances from Petrouchka—-
Pipe Organ Throughout that is a challenge for the listener and the stereo..

Frank Zappa: Shut up and play your guitar

Joan Armatrading: Joan Armatrading and Show some Emotion.

Looking forward to more new discoveries.

#27 from Kris Vandekerckhove, Brugge, BE - 12/11/2008 6:49

The first 2 Oasis records, ‘Definitely Maybe’ & ‘What’s The Story…’ are HIGHLY recommended listening material. For me their debut (DM) still beats all competition.


#28 from HV, Boston, MA - 12/11/2008 8:30

Here goes:
1. Steve Tibbetts - Yr (1987?) Self-produced tribal rock featuring amazing and ferocious guitar work by this Minnesota master.

2. Thelonious Monk - Misterioso (195?) - Culled from a series of dates at the Five Spot in NYC when Monk was at the height of his creative powers, and 57th Street was the jazz hub of the universe.  Listen for some incredible sax work from Johnny Griffin.

3. Coltrane and Hartman - Eponymous - (196?) One of the gems from the great Impulse label.  Coltrane’s haunting sax weaves in and out with Johnny Hartman’s laconic and soulful voice.

4. Donald Fagen - The Nightfly - What more can be said about this classic?  Fagen freed of obligations to record labels and Steely Dan creates a brilliant concept album which is by turns optimistic and cynical, and of course sonically beautiful.

That’s all for now….

#29 from Greg, Ottawa, Canada - 12/12/2008 11:47

I’m searching high and low and I can find no Renée Fleming!  One of the most technically brilliant, passionate performers of the current generation and not a peep to be heard.  “Bel Canto”, “The Beautiful Voice” or why not even “Haunted Heart” if you’re not partial to her operatic style.  Pick one!

#30 from Neil Bostock - 12/13/2008 7:01

Having grown up steeped in British traditional music I appreciated Tom’s inclusion of the likes of Fairport, Sandy Denny, Steeleye, and particularly Peter Bellamy’s wonderful “The Transports.” 

For those wishing to dig further I’d recommend:

Nic Jones “Penguin Eggs”—In the Martin Carthy tradition, but IMHO better singing, a great selection of songs, and killer guitar picking.

The Watersons - “For Pence and Spicy Ale”—rousing a cappella traditional singing. This is raw and rural—like the earth singing.

Dick Gaughan and Andy Irvine—“Parallel Lines”—my favorite Celtic record.  They bring out the best in each other.

As a bonus, all these are available on emusic.com for a very competitive price.

#31 from Steve, USA - 12/13/2008 10:26

Good Lord, you left out Neil Young’s Harvest???  Lets see, his only No. 1 album (and no. 1 hit, Heart Of Gold), had almost everything: country, rock, folk, blues, classical….a glaring omission IMHO.

#32 from Mike - 12/14/2008 2:30

I know that this may not be the most talked about album, in fact it kinda snuck under the radar for a lot of people, because they thought it was going to be more of the same like their last 2 albums before it.

But I would say

Blink-182 - Blink-182

Is one of the most amazing albums I’ve heard in my life.  If you’ve never heard it, don’t be quick to judge, its not another Enema of the State album, its got depth and meaning.

I can’t think of another album that flows so well and yet addresses so many (some very strange) concepts, from sex to stockholm syndrome to being up in space and not wanting to return to domestic violence to the 80s to love and more

The album really isn’t typical by any means, the band was clearly experimenting with new and strange sounds as well as moving past the typical power chords they were known for before

If you don’t like one or both of the singer’s voices, at least try and listen to the words and the meaning, there is large depth there, not to mention that if you don’t like their voices, Robert Smith of the Cure guest vocals and sings the majority of one of the songs (which also happens to be a cool follow up continuation song to the one before), and a woman reads aloud a letter that Mark’s (the bassist/singer) grandfather wrote to his grandmother while fighting in WWII, with piano in the background, its hauntingly beautiful, whats more is it litterally appears between tracks, put it in your cd player, and after track 4, it will read track 5 -01:30 (or however long it is), but if you skip to track 5, you will not hear the letter, pretty cool and crazy

So all in all, I just wanted this one to be added to the list, Blink’s self titled album is by far one of my all time favorite albums.

#33 from Jerry - 12/14/2008 4:43

First, I can’t begin to thank you enough for this book. Music ranks just behind love, , breath, food and drink in what I hope is a less contentious list than seems to be everywhere this time of year. I see “1000” more as a welcome life’s update from a friend than all those other rankings and name-my-niche exercises. Any guide that can lead me to Peter Bellamy, Elis Regina, “Precious Lord”, a Johnny Mathis album I can actually treasure, Julie London, Taraf de Haidouks, Jimmie Spheeris, Fern Jones,Baden Powell, Propelerrheads, Francis Ulloa, Mars Volta, Gabby Pahlini, “Live At The Club Mozambique”, Missy Elliott and Jill Scott(and yes I realize how clueless I’m revealed by overlooking those last two)... is simply priceless. To help me “rediscover” Neil Diamond, Barbara Streisand and a full recording gem of Showboat was also a most happy surprise.
To criticize the world music elements - neither statement nor defense makes any sense to me - is to wander tiresomly close to that prominent jazz critic who refuses to credit any foreign language recording.
Like so many others, I’ll be submitting a (ho-hum) year end list soon and because of the publication’s audience I might have hesitated to list great new recordings by Concha Buika, Umalali, Sissoko, El Mamouni and Rajery, and the Broadway shows of In The Heights and Passing Strange. Not now though. Your sterling example encourages me to send ‘em in. Thanks again! 
Oh and I’ll echo the recommendation of Joanna Newsom’s Ys and add the last two recordings by Maria Schneider.

#34 from Taylor Franklin, Brooklyn, New York - 12/15/2008 1:22

I picked this up to read at Target when my girlfriend was shopping. I was pleased to read all the nice thoughtful entries. I was so happy to see some rare and obscure records on here. I will buy this when i find a job.

Anyways, 3 that popped into my head that I figured were missing, and sure enough they are.

Any John Zorn
Any Animal Collective
Any Morphine

#35 from Neil Bostock - 12/15/2008 5:35

Cannonball Adderley - Something Else.

It is.

#36 from Nancy, Iowa - 12/20/2008 3:01

Just discovered Josh Groban. Talented, beautiful, consistent voice, writer, humanitarian, songs connect to everyone. What more needs to be said? Probably a lot, but will leave it for now. Don’t know what you’re missing.

#37 from Peter Gorman, Maryland - 12/20/2008 5:25

I’ll name three missing from the 1000:

The Who - The Who Sell Out:  Beautiful, funny, playful, serious, a mix of never-made commercials and songs about tattoos, misers, shangri-las and deodorant, there’s never been another album like it.

P.M. Dawn - Of the Heart, the Soul, and the Cross:  The hip hop album from 1967, if hip hop had existed then.

Beethoven - Piano Sonata No. 32, Opus 111:  Life in two acts.  Act one is all sound and fury.  Act two is bliss, permutations way up on the keyboard that continue to find ways to sustain the feeling in different ways.

#38 from Jim C., Philly - 12/21/2008 12:19

First, congratulations, Tom.  Quite a book.

This really highlights how subjective it all is, even with 1,000 entries you can always find some releases that just *have* to be there, somewhere.

Having just seen an excellent Oasis show last night, I am reminded that there is really huge difference in perspective from British/Euro writers and American writers.  Only the Stone Roses, I believe, made the book out of the whole 90’s Brit-rock era: thus excluding all Blur, Oasis and Travis. :(

I do like the sampling of one representative release from most bands.

Could have used some Posies, a second Beastie Boys album, and Automatic For the People seems like a contender for greatest album ever, let alone top 1000.

#39 from Raffaele Quirino, Keswick, Ontario - 12/21/2008 9:34

Thoroughly enjoyed the book even if I didn’t always agree with some of the choices. Here are some of my inclusions…

Moody Blues/Days Of Future Passed (Universal)

An elegant and majestic pop/orchestral/rock synthesis with superb production and memorable songs. Definitely an artefact of its time but still a thrilling release (my 11 year old daughter recently told me “Nights In White Satin” was a beautfiul song).

Barry Reynolds/I Scare Myself (Edsel)

Originally on Island in 1982, Reynolds acquired a rep as a studio gun for hire working on albums for Grace Jones, Joe Cocker, Marianne Faithfull and Robert Palmer. This solo album features “Times Square”, a highly visual, introspective moment on a superb album filled with reggae, soul, rock and Celtic touches (his “Bold Fenian Men” is a stunner).

Rolling Stones/Black & Blue (Rolling Stone records)

Not everyone loves the post-Exile On Main Street Stones. Yet this 1975 album contained so many enjoyalbe cuts (“Memory Motel”, “Hand Of Fate”, “Fool To Cry”, “Hot Stuff”) that still retain their strut and swagger that, IMO, it remains an unsung classic.

10CC/How Dare You! (Universal)

Many accuse 10CC of being twee and overly pop/pretty. Yet their mastery of the studio created - in their finer songs - mini pop-erettas that told a story or created a mood instantly. Here, “I’m Mandy, Fly Me” is the story of a stewardess who saves a passenger on a downed airliner. The title track is a winsome instrumental with lots of rubbery bass, gizmo sound effects and ace guitar playing. “Art For Art’s sake” is a fine record industry rant. “Don’t Hang Up” a lonesome ballad. If you only know the group for “I’m Not In Love”, try this album.

Stomu Yamash’ta/Go! (Esoteric)

Reissue of a 1976 album for Island featured guests Mike Shrieve (ex-Santana drummer), Steve Winwood, Al Di Meola and Klaus Schulze (among many others) on a “concept” album about a zen-like warrior who undergoes a life altering change when he’s defeated in combat. A little heady for pop, yes. Yet it meshes latin, rock, soul, jazz (of the fusion variety), oriental, electronic and orchestral patterns more cohesively than anything prior or post. A beautiful recording.

While I have many more suggestions, I humbly submit these to those with open ears…

#40 from Neil Bostock - 12/21/2008 5:22

Thoroughly agree about “Black and Blue” a sorely underrated album in the Stone’s catalogue.  Not a bad cut, and there’s something very immediate about the mix, making it sound like Charlie Watts is in the living room with you.

#41 from Marc, NC - 12/22/2008 12:14

Two of my favorite ‘70s albums by artists not represented on the list. Unique in their own way, each merits some attention to better understand our tastes then.

Tonio K. - Life In The Foodchain(1978)
If you think Warren Zevon was too much of a nice-guy wimp, this is the album for you. Tonio K.‘s nothing-is-sacred take on what’s wrong with the world holds up today long after the echoes of the punk/new-wave movements he was loosely lumped in with faded. Plus it’s tuneful and well produced. It didn’t hurt that in the April 1979 issue of Stereo Review, the noted critic Steve Simels called Life In The Foodchain “the greatest album ever recorded”. (Tonio K. himself denied this in the next issue stating Live At The Apollo by James Brown deserving of that honor)

Skyhooks - Ego Is Not A Dirty Word(1975)
The mid 1970’s was an era for some off-beat musical acts. Because they were given heavy FM airplay in the nearby Jacksonville, Florida radio market, I automatically assumed what was true in my small portion of the world was true every where else. It wasn’t. One reviewer labeled the Skyhooks “demented” but I thought they played songs that rang true, such as “All My Friends Are Getting Married” - exactly what I was experiencing at the time. Skyhooks held claim to being the best selling Australian act prior to the rise of AC/DC, INXS, Men At Work, etc. Their shows were highly theatrical affairs that parodied another 70’s phenomenom, ‘Glam Rock’ and many (apparently most) listeners didn’t “get” them. I think the Skyhooks successfully pulled off what the Tubes were trying to accomplish. The album cover showed the strangest bunch of guys I’d seen. Even with their costumes and colorful make-up the Skyhooks played very pointed “sex, drugs and rock-n-roll”. Especially heavy on the sex and drugs bit so that almost all of their early stuff was banned from the airwaves in their native Australia.

#42 from Kevin Walker, Winchester, VA - 12/22/2008 8:25

- The Walkmen - You & Me
- Deerhunter - Microcastle/Weird Era Cont.
- Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
- No Age - Nouns
- The Muslims - S/T

(More at http://resound.wordpress.com )

#43 from Neal Allen, San Francisco - 12/22/2008 9:36

Hi Tom:

This is wonderful and is leading my two teenagers and I through an amazing time. We’re doing the list page by page, completing the As now and into the forbidding Bs.

I knew I’d be delighted by hearing new music. But just by following this process (we have rules to how we listen, you know) I’m hearing amazing new things in music I thought I knew. (How many times had I listened to the Allman Bros Live at Fillmore without noticing that nowhere does Duane play fast or showy; he’s deep within the own slow strangeness of his thoughts. And who knew that Aerosmith makes sophisticated music?)

Some transcendent moments:

The squeaky woman’s voice sailing out of the Abyssinian Choir and pulling me up into the rafters of the church.

Mahboub Ahmed’s talking drums maintaining their closeness to the ancient while that cool African electric guitar scratching keeps me stuck on the contemporary dance floor in the moment.

So much Mose that I almost felt sorry for him.

The reemergence of Klinghoffer’s wife as a true hero.

The enrichening influence of Moroder’s sound on Abba late in its career.

The hidden majesty of Cannonball Adderly’s brother, who lifts the music out of its groove and pushes that part of my ear that requires novelty.

Pennywhistles beyond the jug band.

As my daughter says, the more music you hear, the more you hear the music.

Thank you for this incredible journey.


#44 from Neal Allen, San Francisco, CA - 12/23/2008 9:09

Hi Tom:

OK, one tiny quibble. My daughter and I both are wondering why the Airplane doesn’t make the list.

For me, Volunteers is in the top 10 pantheon with transcendent works like Bird and Diz, Are You Experienced, Highway 61 Revisited, Abbey Road, etc.

Bless Its Pointed Little Head, recorded after Kaukonen had quietly and humbly become a truly great guitarist, might be the best live rock album ever (Get Yer Ya Yas Out, Roadwork, Mad Dogs and Englishmen, Live at Leeds, Allman Bros/Fillmore are the competition?)

People tend to think of the Airplane for the excesses (which were wonderful in their own right) and forget that for a couple of years they were an exceptional band with a focused sound. Unusually good drumming. A bassist as melodic in his playing as McCartney. Beautiful singers engaging vocal harmonies built on the American folk tradition. More than the Dead (and far more than Love) they epitomized everything right and creative about the San Francisco sound. Plus there wouldn’t have been a Fairport Convention without them. Or Hot Tuna.

My other unregistered faves don’t seem to reach the same level of omission in my amateur mind: New Grass Revival, Flora Purim (plus her bonus contribution, Airto), Doc Watson (his absence does suprise me, though, especially with the presence of the Almanac Singers, who while historically significant were rudimentary at best), Little Feat (I don’t know if it counts for or agin, but try to find a single lick by the Eagles that Lowell George & Co. didn’t produce earlier; and if you don’t believe that, listen to them back up Jagger on the Performance soundtrack, credited at the end of the movie but not on the record ... that was the soundtrack that turned a lot of us hippies onto the Last Poets, too!), Donovan (like him or not, he was as influential in his time as AC/DC in theirs, and was a musician at least), Tony Rice or Norman Blake as leaders (or Grisman, I guess, just someone to represent the pure force of virtuosity that kept bluegrass apart from C&W;), Madeleine Peyroux (her songwriting is creeping up to be as beautiful as her voice), and the always strangely undermined World Saxophone Quartet.

I just finished order the first half of the Bs. Man, there are a lot of those.


#45 from Neal Allen, San Francisco, CA - 12/23/2008 9:16

in blog posting #42 please feel free to correct Ahmed’s first name, my use of “I” rather than the correct “me” in the opening sentence, and the nonword “enrichening” with a real word like, say, “enriching” ... not used to the speed of blogging ...

#46 from brad, colorado - 12/23/2008 9:11

while i like the list, i would imagine that we all have complaints about it.
a few albums that i thought had to be on there were
1) led zeppelin 4 this is a no brainer!!!!
2) Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here
3) Grateful Dead without a net (any of their live albums over american beauty)
4) Phish (any of their live albums)
5) John Mellencamp Scarecrow
6) Bob Marley Legend

#47 from Jonny, MD - 12/25/2008 8:02

Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea

The Hold Steady - Separation Sunday

Iggy Pop - “The Passenger”

Lou Reed - Transformer

Cap’n Jazz - Analphabetapolothology

Ben Folds Five - Whatever and Ever, Amen

Weezer - Pinkerton

Mountain Goats - The Sunset Tree

Dinosaur Jr. - Bug

Dead Kennedys - Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables

Bruce Springsteen - Hammersmith Odeon, London ‘75 (live)

#48 from Dave, Worcester, Mass - 12/26/2008 4:35

Béla Fleck and the Flecktones - Flight of the Cosmic Hippo (1991)

The scope of the musicianship exhibited on this album is startling.  Victor Wooten is arguably still the best bass player alive today. Bela Fleck has redefined what is capable on the banjo. Future Man created his own percussion instrument! A great album for both jazz heads and acoustic fans.

#49 from Eileen, DETROIT MICHIGAN - 12/26/2008 7:09




#50 from Neil Bostock - 12/26/2008 8:28

I can’t think of a single artist on Tom’s list who was more consistent that Bob Marley.  I’m hard pressed to think of a bad Marley song, let alone a bad Marley album, and both of his picks, Natty Dread and Exodus, are both stellar.  But I’d suggest an alternate pair, Burnin’ and Kaya. 

Burnin’ really represents the pinnacle of the Marley, Livingstone, Tosh version of the Wailers.  Tough, sinuous, melodic, great harmonies, political, all at the same time.

Kaya is a pop-reggae album, and Marley was criticised for making such a sunny record (ya can’t win), but this is pop music of extraordinary beauty, listenability, and melody.  Robert Christgau said, “if this is MOR, then it’s MOR like good Steely Dan.”  And John Peel said, “if this is ‘just a pop record’ then it’s ‘just a pop record’ in the same way that Please Please Me by the Beatles was just a pop record.”

In other words, transcendent.  “Sun is Shining”, with it’s hypnotic rhythm, nuanced vocal, and subtle buried-in-the mix guitar solos, may be my single favorite Bob Marley track.  And there’s a lot of competition.

#51 from saskia hoogwerf, groningen, the netherlands - 12/26/2008 10:38

I really miss Tool: lateralus. Beautifull music. I had goosebumps all through their concert I attended when they were in Groningen.

#52 from saskia hoogwerf, groningen, the netherlands - 12/26/2008 10:41

by the way, I found two mistakes untill now:
it’s Santana Abraxas and not abraxis (p671).
And Frank Zappa it’s not zombie wolf but zombie woof.

#53 from Colin, St. Louis, MO - 12/26/2008 11:35

Because rap hasn’t been around that long, it’s difficult to put it in a ‘top 1000’ perspective. Here are a couple of independent albums that I find myself coming back to repeatedly. They stray away from the typical tones and topics of mainstream rap. It might take a while to get used to these artists’ styles, but they steadily grew on me and became staples of my collection.

Aesop Rock - Labor Day
Madvillain - Madvillainy
Blackalicious - Blazing Arrow

On a related note, if you want to check out more indie rap, I highly recommend the Quannum and Definitive Jux labels. Each features rappers with a variety of styles and the websites have ample samples.

#54 from Toni, Gilmer, Texas - 12/26/2008 11:58

#36 from Nancy, Iowa - 12/19/2008 7:01

Just discovered Josh Groban. Talented, beautiful, consistent voice, writer, humanitarian, songs connect to everyone. What more needs to be said? Probably a lot, but will leave it for now. Don’t know what you’re missing.


With Josh Groban only being 27 I see him becoming a major player in the musical world.  He may not have made the list this time, but he will.

I was also surprised that The Beatles - White Album was not on the list.  Talk about an oversite.

#55 from Jerry - 12/27/2008 4:53

I’m afraid the oversight is yours.
The White Album IS on the list.

#56 from Cal Burke, Jax Beach FL, USA - 12/28/2008 8:51

Congrats on listing EVERYTHING alphabetically: music is music, and you only limit your mind by assigning it to categories. If you love music, you are by definition opinionated, but props are also extended for 6 entries for the Beatles, 4 for Dylan and 5 for Miles.

My additions are peculiar to me: Steve Goodman, the most spontaneous, energized performer I ever saw. Tommy Emmanuel, who adds exponents to the superlatives people employ to describe any guitar player. Bela Fleck, for defining my remarks about categories (in one year, he was nominated for best jazz, rock, folk and country artist). And Brian Setzer, for reinventing and introducing swing to the modern world - defying tradition, expectations and belief.

#57 from Kavin, Burleson, Tx., USA - 12/31/2008 9:27

I’ll suggest four artists not represented in the list (shame) and their essential albums you must hear:

Robin Trower - “Bridge of Sighs”  (1974) Trower’s Hendrixian influences and James Dewar’s muscular vocals make this one of the best rock albums from the 70’s.

Michael Hedges - “Aerial Boundaries” (1984) Hedges was THE most influential practitioner of acoustic instrumental guitar until his tragic death in 1997, and this groundbreaking album is his best.

Enya - “Watermark”  (1988) - Simply a beautiful album throughout.  Listen how the layered vocals and keyboards intertwine.

#58 from jeff, earth - 01/24/2009 12:26

I could have missed it, but i dont think i saw Elvis Costello’s first album.
Also, “The crazy world of Arthur Brown”, and Rhino just issued a box set called “What it is! Funky soul and rare grooves” which i just picked up. It’s a must have for fans of the genre.

Looks like a great book, i cant wait to actually buy it!

check out my daily blog: http://rockandrolltoday.blogspot.com/

#59 from Trevor Babb, Rochester, NY - 01/24/2009 1:15

Here are 10 recordings I would have loved to have seen on the list (or in the book at all!)

1. Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over THe Sea
2. John Coltrane - Giant Steps
3. Damien Rice - O
4. Dream Theater - Images and Words
5. Girl Talk - Night Ripper
6. Earl Greyhound - Soft Targets
7. Jeff Buckley - Live at Sin-e
8. Joe Satriani - Surfing With the Alien
9. Michael Tilson Thomas conducting SFSO on Mahler’s Second Symphony.
10. Stars - In Our Bedroom After The War
11. Any Recording of Julian Bream playing ANY piece he commissioned.

#60 from Daniel, South Korea - 02/01/2009 8:59

I would like to have seen a Yo La Tengo album included on this list ... Perhaps 1993’s “Painful” or else “I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One” if not “And Everything Turned Itself Inside Out”.  Any of the 3 would be recommended listening before you die.  Cheers to you Tom.  Great site.  So helpful.

#61 from Sharon, Ontario, Canada - 02/02/2009 12:42

Having a wonderful time with this book - really happy to see that Hank Snow was not overlooked, but even more important, to my mind, is the omission of Doc Watson’s “Southbound”  (1988 Vanguard Records).

#62 from Joe Friedman, Germany - 02/05/2009 3:13

Hello Tom,

        Just out of curiosity, why did you omit the names of the performers/members of the selected albums? Although all too often groups broke up sometimes sadly prematurely, the members of the groups went on to do other interesting work. There are way too many to list as examples however you are much more of an expert than I will ever be.  Even the ability to follow the engineer i.e. Bob Clearmountian or Alan Parsons, understanding that he not only had his own group but played an important part in “Dark side of the Moon, Year of the cat, the Beatles white album etc” shows the next generation that almost anything touched by some artists could be worthy of giving a serious listen to. 

        My son presented your book for my birthday and I have found so many jewels in it that I am afraid that I am going to need another 60 years to go back and start all over again, filling in the countless LP’s that I somehow missed while stuck in the rut of one or another genre of tunes. Thanks so much for adding a new musical challenge to my need to hear them all before I die.

Rock on,


#63 from Jon, Philly - 02/10/2009 12:48

The one record I believe is a must for any serious music fan is Sunny Day Real Estates’ “Diary” released in 1994 on Sub Pop. This record is by far one of the stand out records of the 90’s, also is noted for opening the window for “emo”.

Beginning to end there is not a miss on this record at all; Jeremy Enigks’ dark/melodic voice with the musician ship of the band make this must have and is absolutely deserving of your list.

Love the book, cant wait for the 2nd edition….

#64 from avandia lawyer, new york - 02/10/2009 10:54

This is truly innovative and insightful information- thanks a lot for the post.

#65 from langdon - 02/13/2009 10:55

any list without Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is a joke.

#66 from Younger Dryas, Basidium - 02/13/2009 2:39

OK I just typed a long, brilliant post and then the blog deleted it because I failed the SECRET WORD test .....  AAARRRRGH 8^)

So without elaboration:

Jefferson Airplane

Jethro Tull

if they don’t make the 1000 list, but yet we get hip-hop and throw away stuff like Sonic Youth,  then the book loses credability.

Younger Dryas

#67 from Younger Dryas, Basidium - 02/13/2009 2:51

Ok now that I have the secret word working for me,  I’ll add a forgotten jazz group that may have added more to the world of music than Sun Ra 8^)

Dave Brubeck

#68 from Joel, Ontario - 02/16/2009 8:54

The complaining grows tiring.

Hip Hop is a valid musical style and Tom can point us to some good Hip Hop Recordings.

I’m a huge Jazz fan with a large collection and have heard several Dave Brubeck albums and the only one that sticks for me is “Time Out”.
Radiohead, Sonic youth, Bjork have more keepers than Brubeck.

I would only put Jethro Tull in a book called “some of the best songs to hear before you die”

I’m now enjoying around 30 new records from Tom’s book and they are all part of my steady play list.
I’m also buying music that I enjoy that’s not in the book.

My point: Use book to find new music and expand your musical taste and library but always enjoy the music you already have and don’t wory about what “I think should be in the Toms book” just tell us the “What’s on your list”

Subjectivity refers to a subject’s perspective, particularly feelings, beliefs, and desires.

Joel   “Never Enough Music”

#69 from Domingos, United States - 02/16/2009 9:39

Finally a nice comment…  Thanks, Joel, agree 100% with you.  Tom’s book is the journey, not necessarily the destination.

#70 from Younger Dryas, Basidium - 02/17/2009 12:44

I like Tom’s book and don’t want to be negative about it.  It’s great that he is trying to widen the musical vistas of other people.  I don’t think it’s fair to quibble
about omissions of little known gems of music that never reached any audience at all.

But to leave out a group as important as the
Jefferson Airplane is just unbelievable.  The
Airplane produced a large body of unique music that was nothing short of revolutionary.  In the late ‘60s they were at the forefront of the progressive movement that included Beatles, Beachboys, Doors,Hendrix, Dead, Mothers of Invention. 

Their music was
complex;  always pushing to find new harmonies and metric forms.  Grace Slick and Marty Balin’s voices alone would stand in the upper ranks of all rock singers,  but when you combine this with the powerful genius of Jorma and Casady on guitar and bass….the result is stunning. 

As for Tom’s book, all I can think is that somehow he never listened to the Airplane. 
He is a bit too young to have heard them when they came on the scene, and for this reason he likely doesn’t have any feel for the soul-wrenching social and political climate of those days.  The Airplane wrote
lyrics that pulled no punches when they sang about personal freedom.  One reviewer referred to their “Fierce sensibility”. 

In one song Grace Slick wrote: “War’s good business so give your son; but I’d rather have my country die for me…”

They wrote the first song to address global warming in 1970, “Eskimo Blue Day”, in which Slick asks “....if you don’t mind Heat in your river…” and the music has overdubbed sound of a glacier calving into the ocean.

Paul Kantner saw the environmental crisis expanding beyond earth itself when he wrote
“American garbage dumped in Space and no place left for brotherhood..”

In another song Kantner askes, “Where do we go from here?  Chaos or community?”

So the group was hated by the right wing because of it’s unrepentant voice for human rights. 

But even if you hated their politics,  they brought evocative songs of love and poetry.  Consider Marty Balin’s verse as he sings “Coming Back to Me” (Surrealistic Pillow):  “The summer had inhaled and held it’s breath too long…..and through an open window where no curtain hung…I saw you, coming back to me..”

If you’re too young to know about the Airplane, then OK.  But this band deserves to be remembered and enjoyed as one of the greats of all time. 

As an earlier comment said, listen to “Volunteers of America” and “Bless it’s pointed little head”

But their great masterpiece for me is:

“After Bathing at Baxters”

Find it on the web and give it a listen.

#71 from Cal Burke, FL USA - 02/17/2009 6:22

A critical review is worthless unless you know the perspective. If I, for example, think Abbey Road is the greatest recording ever made, it is stupid for me to read a review by someone who thinks Limp Bizkit (or fill in the blank with the current fifteen minute wonder/bottle blonde sugarcube) is some kind of deity. Find a reviewer who’s taste reflects your own, and there will be far fewer times you think “What an opinionated asshole!” Because music is subjective: just because I know a sh_tload of theory and history and am myself a musician doesn’t make my opinion more -or less - valid than yours. It’s just MINE. Seen from this perspective, you have a wonderful opportunity to be turned on to music you might not have been aware.

If you really like the Airplane, check out the band X: particularly See How We Are.

Naturally - this just a snapshot: ask me another time, almost certainly you get a different answer.”

#72 from Lenny R, Catonsville,Maryland - 02/20/2009 6:36

Great book i can’t put it down.I would have included “August and Everything After” by the Counting Crows just because i think it is one of the finest debut albums of all time from first track to last and is still one of my most played CD’S.I don’t think they have been able to come close to that since and as a result their star as fallen.

#73 from Roger C. Parker, Dover, NH - 02/23/2009 2:48

I just discovered your great book and have devoured it all weekend. Congratulations!

Anyway, I have found over 40 years of pleasure from Glenn Gould’s Well-Tempered Klavier as well as just about everything he’s recorded.

I also consider myself fortunate to live north of Boston, which allowed me to attend numerous Handel & Haydn concerts conducted by Christopher Hogwood and played on original instruments.

I highly recommend Hogwood’s recordings of the Beethoven Symphonies for anyone who wants to hear them fresh, for the first time.

Surprised by two things in your book, however: no Arlo Guthrie, and no Peter Schickele.

Best wishes—Roger

#74 from Mike, North of Seattle, WA - 03/02/2009 1:18

I love this book—I bought it for a friend at Christmas and I couldn’t bring myself to wrap it because I just kept reading it.  And I have been visiting the site for more and more suggestions of recordings to check out.  Anyways, I do have a couple suggestions: I agree with #72 there about Counting Crows - August and Everything After.  Pure magic as pop music goes, and the lyrics are poetic masterpiece.  Sun Kil Moon - Ghosts of the Great Highway is another one I just think is a winner from start to finish.  The music and the lyrics are hard to beat.

#75 from DingoJoe, New Orleans - 03/02/2009 3:09

In many cases, I could and will argue with the individual album choices made but not so much with the artist choices, and Tom covers his butt on this by listing other catalog choices for each artist.  I also really like the other linkages for each album (Next Stop, After That)

If Tom had asked me, and I’m disappointed that he didn’t, I would have preferred a “1000 artists to hear before you die”.  A big part of the fun is being introduced to artists you knew little or nothing of, or that you had heard a little of and long forgotten and want to rediscover.

If that meant shrinking the Beatles, Dylan and Miles down to one album to fit another dozen artists in, so be it.

Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow belongs on the list.  Perhaps Tom still holds a grudge against them for the Starship years.

Arthur Crudup belongs too.  Although finding a top tier easily available collection is problematic as it seems to be with several artists these days.

#76 from Nelson Heise, Columbus, OH - 03/17/2009 8:58

Let me start by saying that I just enjoy the conversation and debate this book brings. I do not agree with all the selections, but it provided a lot of “new to me” stuff to go listen too and old favorites to re-visit. 5 must have rock records that I would have liked to have seen included are:

The Velvet Underground- White Light/White Heat- It is just the best album they did, to me much more exciting than any of the other albums.

Neutral Milk Hotel- In the Areoplane over the Sea- Just discovered this recently and it has a profound effect. It sounds so big even when the songs are preformed acoustic.

Kinks- Something Else- I just think it is better than Village Green Preservation Society, I also think Muswell Hillbillies is as well.

Camper Van Beethoven- Any of their albums excluding their newest. Their early recordings are interesting from waltz to ska to punk to polka. They don’t get enough credit for what they were doing when they were doing it.

Tom Waits- Mule Varations- Actually any Tom Waits will do and I was glad to see Rain Dogs included but this is the disc I return to the most. It is more consistent than Bone Machine, and I think more interesting than Swordtrombonefish. The best of his later stuff.

#77 from Zach Preiksa, Houston, TX - 03/21/2009 9:38

The following are essential and have changed who I am as a listener for many years:

1. Death Cab For Cutie, Transatlanticism (2003)
    A gorgeous multilayered record that breaks your heart in sincere hopes of putting it back together again.
2. Arcade Fire, Funeral (2004)
    The best debut by any artist in the new millenium. Period.
3. Radiohead, The Bends (1995) especially “Fake Plastic Trees”
    An almost hopeful album by the bluest band of this generation.
4. Amy Winehouse, Back to Black (2007)
    Hopelessly honest confessions from a hopeless artist just trying to make it in this world. A poster child for the unrelentless judgements of the Bush era.
5. Rilo Kiley, More Adventurous (2004)
    Swift California indie pop for the soul, Jenny Lewis being the newest Stevie Nicks.
6. Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago (2008)
    The second Dylan of the new millenium (you already crowned the first), his epic, sprawling acoustic evokes tearful appreciation in anyone.
7. Kings of Leon, Because Of The Times (2007)
    The key in the young band’s career, better and more coherent than anything they will likely put out. Plus the cover is the best of the decade.
8. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It’s Blitz! (2009)
    It’s Blitz! is already essential for being the best synth pop record since the ‘80s, and for showing that even bands close to the break return to make strong, impacting records.
9. Dixie Chicks, Taking The Long Way (2006)
    A free speech anthem is all it takes for these country masterminds to move their controversial career in a Laurel Creek direction. Plus, it’s flawless production and scathing vocals are more epic than anything that’s come out of “Nashville” in years.
10. Coldplay, A Rush of Blood To The Head (2002)
    The biggest band since U2 deliever an early masterpiece. It’s British sensibility offers heartwrenching tracks that are compulsively listenable.

#78 from Adrian Brown, Ireland - 04/12/2009 11:23

I reckon there are a load of you that are missing the point totally.  What is this about the relative ranking of jazz albums to those in the pop/rock genre?  Isn’t this about providing a list of your favoutite recordings?  Isn’t this the list which you think, subjectively, is the best?  Note the word ‘subjectively’, that’s the key word.  Provide your opinions please about what you think is the best but please don’t criticise anyone elses list.  It’s their opinion and they are entitled to it.

#79 from tom moon - 04/13/2009 7:51

thanks for all these responses and pls keep sending along discoveries, either here or elsewhere on the site.

and now, for today’s edition of “Fessing up to My Blind Spots:”

I’ve heard a lot from friends and enemies about all kinds of records, but a few keep coming up:
I like White Light/White Heat and probably listen to that more than anything else Velvets. still, the record with Nico has become the mile-marker, and I felt the best “first encounter” for a newbie just beginning to learn about the VU.
Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane, which I’ve written some about elsewhere on the site. a true album and one I hope people will make the effort to hear.
Counting Crows: August and Everything After. Great songwriting and very relaxed playing here; on a different day this would have made my list, easily.
Jefferson Airplane: After Bathing at Baxters or Surrealistic Pillow. fwiw, I hold no grudges, DingoJoe from New Orleans. it’s true that the Airplane happened before I began listening, but hey so did Sly Stone and the Beatles. it’s more a personal blind spot—one of those records where the consensus says it’s a watershed moment and critically important but when I listen (and I did listen and consider both) I just don’t get it. I intend to go back now, after reading these passionate arguments for the band. maybe it’ll get through to me this time. (it often happens that great music doesn’t enchant on the first or even fourth hearing. sometimes it takes a while.)

thanks again….

#80 from Arunas Rudalis, Amherst, MA - 04/16/2009 11:07

I liked your list as it has been a source of a lot of new and
interesting music although some of your inclusions were
disappointing to me.  I know music appreciation is a very
subjective field and I enjoyed reading many of the above
postings as they also have also been a source of new music
for me to listen to.  I concur with many of the above posters
that Jefferson Airplane should have at least one album
included and I can’t decide whether to recommend
Surrealistic Pillow or Volunteers.  I also concur with the
poster(s) who complained about the absence of any
album by Sarah Brightman.
Given all that I have some comments of my own:
1) I find it appalling that you can’t find room for even one
album by Dead Can Dance.
2) You seem to have completely blown off New Age music
and here I would find room for at least Deep Forest and
either Autumn or Winter by George Winston. Other candidates
include Paul Horn - Inside the Great Pyramid, Vangelis - China,
and either Oxygene or Euinox by Jean Michel Jarre.  Also
a virtually unknown guitar virtuoso, who was one of the
founders of Windham Hill Music,  Michael Hedges, would
probably be famous now if he had not preferred the New Age
3) In World music you seem to have a breadth I rarely see in
music compilers but again I feel that not including Rossy
(one of the top musicians from Madagascar) is a glaring
omission. I would include his Island of Ghosts. I feel you are
top heavy with Latin Music in your World selections but that
is understandable given that you are American and that is
the World Music most of us in America get exposed to. Or
perhaps you just prefer Latin American World Music??
4) In Rock I was disappointed not to find anything by Pat
Benatar whose voice and lyrics (in my opinion) are far better
than that of say Alanis Morisette (to name just one of the
people you do include.)  Other notable omissions are
Laurie Anderson and either Annie Lennox (say Medusa) or
the Eurythmics.  Also I think the first Enigma album should
be included in any top 1000 if not any top 100.
5) In Jazz I would say you have the landscape well covered
and all I could complain about here is that you happened to
choose a different album than I would have chosen but we are
in agreement for the most part about who does/does not appear. 
The only glaring omission was Dave Brubeck.  I would also
include at least one album by Joshua Redman.  Another real gem
is Gil Evans-Out of the Cool (yes the same Gil Evans that
produced Miles Davis Sketches of Spain). You might want to
consider including at least one Herbie Mann album, say Live at
the Village Gate
6)  Female Vocalists.  You have very good representation in this
field but I think you missed a real good one in the early music of
Jane Siberry (say Speckless Sky or No Borders Here)  and any top
1000 list should include at least one Celine Dion album.  One
other must (whose absence might be attributed to your blowing
off New Age) is Enya (say Watermark although some other choices
are also good).  Of course Sarah Brightman is missing but I have
already mentioned that some of your other posters above
brought that to your attention.

Finally, given your overall taste in music I have a few
recommendations that would certainly be in my top 1000 but I
can understand that they might not make it into yours. In any case
I feel if you haven’t already heard then then you will most likely
enjoy them:
1) Tor Dietrichson - Global Village
2) Tim Wheater-  Heart Land (although many others are also good)
3) Renaissance - Prologue
4) Quinn - Ecstasy in Avila
5) Pilgrimage - 9 Song of Ecstasy
6) Moodswings - Moodfood
7) Osamu Kitajima - The Source
8) Stomu Yamashita - Go
9) Mickey Hart - Planet Drum
10) Mark Isham - Tibet
11) Gabrielle Roth and the Mirrors - Luna
12) Chuck Greenberg - From a Blue Planet
13) Glenn Gould - Images
I hope you enjoy this music, I sure do.  Arunas

#81 from tom moon - 04/23/2009 4:48


thanks for your note and I appreciate your list…for what it’s worth, I do discuss Rossy in the book—he was part of the Kaiser/Lindley collaboration A World Out of Time (pg. 416) and his own recordings, which unfortunately are hard to find in the US now, are mentioned as a Next Stop. when I do an “international guitarist” roundup, he will be mentioned. he’s incredible.

as for New Age, that’s a tricky one: during the research I listened to some of the records you mentioned and while they were pleasant, I found they didn’t go much beyond pleasant. I did include Steve Roach (Dreamtime Return) and a few other artists, but because I was trying to focus on roots and not branches, I went with pioneers over big stars. one early example is Tony Scott’s Music for Zen Meditation. I’d argue that it is a great starting point, for those who don’t know anything about the genre and those who regard Enya as a high priestess.


#82 from Walter, Bremerton, WA - 10/04/2009 8:14

First I want to say how much I enjoyed the book and that I am still finding treasures that were unknown to me before reading it. Shirley Horn never ceases to amaze me and Close Enough For Love is now up there with You’re My Thrill and May the Music Never End on my list of favorite albums by her.

The following is a list of ten mind bogglingly great albums that have enriched my life considerably.

1.  Lost in the Stars - Various artists (1985)
Artists from all over the musical spectrum cover Kurt Weill’s music beautifully and brilliantly.

2.  Seapeace -  Georgia Kelly (1978)
Up there with Are You Experienced? and Marquee Moon as one of the great debut albums of all time. Only Georgia plays the harp instead of the electric guitar.

3.  Abbey sings Abbey - Abbey Lincoln (2007)
Growing old gracefully like Mississippi John Hurt, Alberta Hunter, and Doc Cheatham before her.

4.  High Ball Me -  Moose (2000)
This band should be as big as Radiohead or Coldplay and this album is as good as popular music ever gets. Listen to tracks 3 and 4 if you don’t believe me.

5.  Homage to Charles Parker -  George Lewis (1979)
A beautifully strange jazz album that sounds nothing like Charles Parker really. A true head spinner.

6.  Movies -  Michael Mantler (1978)
Almost as good as Another Green World and better than Before and After Science.

7.  Dazzle Ships -  OMD (1983)
Speaking of Brian Eno this was produced by Rhett Davies who also produced Another Green World with the same flair and imagination.

8.  Hoboken Saturday Night -  The Insect Trust
Possibly the greatest album to come out of Hoboken not by Frank Sinatra. Although Summer Sun by Yo La Tengo is great experimental pop music as well.

9.  Hosianna Mantra -  Popol Vuh (1972)
Florian Fricke was a musical genius on a par with Holger Czukay from Can and this album is up there with Future Days by Can as some of the most sublime German music ever created.

10. Lovers Knot -  Jeb Loy Nichols (1997)
Combining elements of Soul, Blues, Jazz, Country, and Bluegrass. This is one of the great undiscovered albums that sounds better every year just like Al Green’s Call Me Masterpiece.

Well I enjoyed writing this list and hope it inspires some like minded souls to pick up one (or more) of these and possibly find an album to treasure for years to come.

Take Care


#83 from Joel, Dallas, TX - 10/22/2009 10:34

Moon Safari - Air (1998)
Synth Pop I guess is how you’d classify this album. Very much in the same vein as Stereolab (which made the list). Definitely worth the listen.

By the way, I dug the best albums of 08 thread from earlier this year and am anxiously awaiting the best of 09 as well as the best albums of the 00 - 09 decade. When can I expect to see that?

#84 from tom moon - 10/26/2009 10:20


thanks for your note.

I will do a 2009 best-of list, probably in mid December, after we’re fairly sure most of the titles have been released.

hadn’t thought about a decade list but that would be fun. thanks!

happy exploring…


#85 from Mac, Illinois - 10/28/2009 8:57

I agree that lists like this are all simply a matter of perspective, and there’s no way for anyone to hear anything.
So, it’s with a heavy heart that I give in to anger and ask…........

Where are THE BLACK CROWES? How could such and amazing band with such an amazing discography be left off your list?

Okay, sorry. I got that off my chest and I’m alright now.

Great book! It’s wonderful to have such things to help broaden our horizons. Have discovered many new favorites with your help!

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