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Top 20 Favorite Albums

  • Jul 22, 2010
Not necessarily the best ever, but the ones that hold up best for me after repeated listenings over decades.
Not every song's perfect but the ragged charm and mumbled depth make this "the spiritual side of punk," as the Village Voice early captioned this band in their best stage, their early years.
Album cover
A rock concept LP about the marketing of music, and the love of fans for music, and the love of musicians for fans.
Roxy Music
Instrumentally inventive, full of ideas and fresh lyrical pastiches; art rock at its best on this debut.
What We Did on Our Holidays: Fairport Convention
Haunting electric and acoustic, elegant, callow, raw, endearing, smart: folk-rock as this talented ensemble begins to dig back to their British roots while still sounding like the West Coast pop that inspired their initial recordings.
Please to See the King: Steeleye Span
Follows Fairport into Celtic and medieval tunes as amplified invention, as if plugged in 500 years ago.
Slanted & Enchanted: Pavement
The only band that matters that emerged in the 90s? Smarmy, sassy, but what guitars, what lyrics. Out of nowhere, this lo-fi masterpiece sums up "college or indie" rock when it still almost mattered.
Another Music from a Different Kitchen: Buzzcocks
A punk-pop burst of energy, witty yet focused, raucous yet tender. Intelligent, artsy, yet direct, bold, fun.
The Scream: Siouxsie & the Banshees
A punk-doom burst of energy, witty yet overwhelming. Sexy, forbidding, the inspiration for goth is here.
Perverted by Language: The Fall
A punk-art burst of energy, eclectic yet engaging. They lock into a groove, to hammer & beat it to death.
Taking Tiger Mountain (by Strategy): Brian Eno
Roxy's keyboard savant shows how art-rock need not be prog. Amateurs meet pros, always surprises.
The Book of Invasions: Horslips
Irish myth meets glam-hard & soft rock-electrified folk. Intelligent, amusing, entertaining unfailingly.
Amidst the era of excess, a return to dignity and small-scale songcraft; the best of a great band's era.
Notorious Byrd Brothers: The Byrds
Amidst the era of excess, a return to ethics as the Summer of Love fades and 1968 brings more war.
Space Ritual: Hawkwind
Amidst the era of excess, an escape to the stage where prog meets propulsion: silly lyrics, great beat.
May I Sing With Me: Yo La Tengo
Post-punk noise, squally freakouts, indie-rock ballads, tender sweet tales meet sour guitar feedback.
Days for Days: The Loud Family
One of the smartest lyricists labors in obscurity; intricate guitar-keyboards meet wordless interludes.
Porcupine: Echo & the Bunnymen
Post-punk at its icy fury. Somber, takes itself seriously a bit too much, but a wonderful gloomy quest.
The Scottish Play: Wire
Post-punk's industrial zenith. These vets were in their 50s when they made their hardest music yet.
Album cover
London-Irish punk-folk: the model for many bands since, but the lyrics and grace here remain unique.

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August 04, 2010
Yup, in the early years REM were actually attractive, can you believe that? Also love WIRE!!!
July 23, 2010
Wow, fantastic list, John!  A lot of these are really true classics and I love how quite a few of them are the bands' debut albums or one of their earlier works.  Thanks for sharing!
July 23, 2010
By the way, I think you would really dig Music Matters, a music community on the site that you can actually ad your list to (just "follow" Music Matters, then go back to this list and click on "Add to a Community" underneath your list title).  I'm sure the music lovers there will appreciate it!  Let me know if you have any questions about that :)
July 23, 2010
Thanks, Devora-- and now I know how to show fellow fans my list.
About the list creator
John L. Murphy ()
Ranked #48
Medievalist turned humanities professor; unrepentant but not unskeptical Fenian; overconfident accumulator of books & music; overcurious seeker of trivia, quadrivia, esoterica.      … more
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