If you could pick only one…
“If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”
If someone told you that you could only have one album per band or artist in your collection, would you be able to choose? No greatest hits or compilation albums of any kind, of course. An impossible task for completionists perhaps, but most of us, if hard pressed, could probably pick a favorite from each. It probably wouldn’t be the critical favorite, nor would it be the one with all the “hits” (well, sometimes—see below-Ed). No, most likely it would be the album that has the largest emotional hold on your psyche, the one that you go back to time and time again and hasn’t succumbed to massive overexposure. You know, the one that sends you, when you listen to it in it’s entirety, careening back to a simpler time and place.
Yes the intoxicating feeling of emotional attachment would win out, I’m pretty certain of that.
We’ll start with just a few of the heavyweights today.
You know, just for kicks.
The Rolling Stones: Let It Bleed
For the apocalyptic sound of the thing, I think. The album, for me, sums up the futility and ultimate demise of the flower power movement in the 60’s, and although that particular decade brought us some really fantastic music, by the year of this release (1969) hippies were either drug casualties, smartened up and grew up, or on their way to becoming corrupt businessmen. “Let It Bleed” should have been called “Let It Die”, something the Stones themselves should have done after Some Girls. RUNNER UP: EXILE ON MAIN STREET
Nick Lowe: Jesus Of Cool
This album, more than all others by Lowe, has enough creativity to last me a lifetime. Not as polished as his later work, but JOC has a charm that he hasn’t been able to better. RUNNER UP: LABOUR OF LUST
Elvis Costello: Armed Forces
It’s always between this and the debut for me. Armed Forces is more professionally produced than My Aim Is True (thanks to Mr. Lowe), and contains the best opening line in any rock song ever in “Oh I just don’t know where to begin…” RUNNER UP: MY AIM IS TRUE
The Beatles: Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
Gonna get some push back from this pick. I choose Sgt. Pepper’s because it makes me feel good. Even though this was essentially McCartney’s effort it still feels like they were working as a unit, and having a blast to boot. And Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite is still one of Lennon’s weirdest tracks. RUNNER UP: REVOLVER
David Bowie: Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars
A fairly obvious attempt to capitalize on the glam craze during the early 70’s, and he succeeded in spades. Believe it or not, my first real introduction to Bowie was Bauhaus’ take on the title track of this album, which sent me searching through the used bins for the original. I just think this flows better than his others. RUNNER UP: HUNKY DORY
The Who: Tommy
Ask anyone and they’ll tell you I’m a sucker for The Concept Album. Amazing Journey/Sparks and Underture are three reasons this remains my favorite Who album. RUNNER UP: WHO’S NEXT
The Kinks: Misfits
This pick is purely for sentimental reasons. The Kinks get slagged off a lot (to much) for their 70’s output, and that’s too bad. Perhaps it wasn’t as consistent as the stuff from the 60’s, and yes perhaps Davies was recycling a bit (Out Of The Wardrobe is fantastic, even if it does update the lyrical themes of Lola) during this decade, but so what? He earned the right. RUNNER UP: THE VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY
Rush: Moving Pictures
Can’t have one ounce of Canadian blood running through your veins and not have a soft spot for this power trio! They cut out the mythological/space exploration references and created an album of accessible and very potent songs, every one a winner with the epic The Camera Eye as the centerpiece of their masterpiece. RUNNER UP: PERMANENT WAVES
The Clash: Sandinista!
A bloated mess that sees the Clash trying everything and failing massively. But it’s a successful failure, not unlike The White Album (I mean, come on. The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill? Ob La Di Ob La Da? Rocky Raccoon? Piggies? Revolution #9?), only bigger and even messier. Did they need to redo Career Opportunities and use their kids for the vocals? No, but this album will never suffer from overexposure, for damn sure, and it contains enough great songs for a really fantastic DOUBLE (yes, I said DOUBLE) album. RUNNER UP: LONDON CALLING
Bob Dylan: John Wesley Harding
I just love the laid back vibe. He wasn’t making a statement (or maybe he was?), being overtly political, or trying to blow anyone’s mind. He just made an album, and it’s that no-frills approach that makes me take this one out more often than all the rest. RUNNER UP: HWY 61 REVISITED