Alright everyone, thanks for sticking with me thus far. I know this is a longer blog post to read than my others. What did you think of the first part of this list so far?
We are now down to the top ten albums to make my top 25 albums of all time list. I wonder if you can guess what #1 will be….
10) Sunflower – The Beach Boys (released August 31st, 1970)
It is hard to follow up any album after “Pet Sounds” and make it just as good, if not better, but The Beach Boys managed to do it. Personally, with the exception of a few songs, I prefer “Sunflower” to “Pet Sounds.” The general feel of this album is cohesive, and I enjoy when I can turn on an album because I am in a certain mood and each song from that album fits the mood. “Sunflower” is for when I want to relax on a beautiful, sunny day and want to just kind of forget about the rest of the world. My favorite tracks from this album include “Add Some Music To Your Day,” “Slip On Through,” and of course, “Forever,” which I perceive as one of the greatest love songs ever written. The only negative of this album is that it does not include “God Only Knows” (because that is my favorite Beach Boys song of all time and one of the most beautiful songs ever written in my opinion) lol. But, I can’t fault an album for what it doesn’t have, I can only fault it for what it does have, so from that perspective, this album has no faults.
9) Damn the Torpedoes – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (Released October 19th, 1979)
This is quite the interesting album in terms of cohesiveness, as it starts and ends on complete opposite spectrums. The album opens with the hard, rocking “Refugee” electric riff and ends with the softer, country-esque slide guitar featured tune of “Louisiana Rain.” But hey, the Heartbreakers sound good no matter what they’re playing. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are probably within my top three favorite bands of all time. I have a soft spot in my heart for every member of that band, and I think they have an incredible story. Tom Petty is probably one of the most loveable song-writers, and you can’t help but enjoy anything that man wrote. Though I would categorize him in the Bob Dylan’s and Neil Young’s of the world in terms of his unique voice, it’s his signature voice and style of singing that makes every Heartbreaker song unique from note one. I have nothing bad to say about Tom Petty, this band, or their music, and this album is enjoyable no matter what mood I am in. Rest in Peace Tom Petty, your music lives on forever in the hearts of all of your fans.
8) Jackson Browne – Running on Empty (released December 6th, 1977)
This is an interesting album because it consists of live performances, either from on stage during tour, or backstage on tour buses or hotel rooms during tour. Either way, the general theme of this album is “life on the road,” and the album really encompasses that. Additionally, not every song on this album is a Jackson original, but I love this album nevertheless because everything Jackson touches turns to gold. I think this is also one of the best closing performances to any album, ending with “The Load Out / Stay.” There’s not one song on this album that I don’t enjoy listening to, and before my turn-table broke, this album was constantly spinning on there. It’s very much a comfort album to me, and I respect Jackson Browne as a musician so much.
7) Deja Vu – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (released March 11th, 1970)
First of all, I mean, what a dynamic quartet. Somehow these four came together to produce perfect harmonies and beautiful songs…and I ain’t mad about it. This album not only contains some of CSNY’s greatest commercial hits (Teach Your Children, Our House), but it contains some wonderful gems such as “Country Girl,” “Almost Cut My Hair,” and my personal favorite, “Helpless” (which I can thank my former band-mate, Mike, for). This was also Crosby, Stills, and Nash’s first studio album as a quarter with Young. It’s no mystery that Neil Young is one of my favorite lyricists and musicians as a solo artist, but he also fits into the trio so effortlessly, like the missing piece to a puzzle, and everything comes together like magic on this album. Overall, this album easily makes the list for a few reasons: the music is sincere, the harmonies are divine, and the stories are told. And you have four great musicians coming together to bring it all to life.
6) Houses of the Holy – Led Zeppelin (released March 28th, 1973)
So, I totally wanted to cheat and just pick Zeppelin’s 2007 compilation album “Mothership,” but that would be too easy. Of course, that album would cover most of my bases for Zeppelin as it consists of their greatest tracks from all 8 studio albums, but since it’s not an original album, I felt like I couldn’t pick that. “Houses of the Holy” is my top pick from Zeppelin. Coming in at their fifth studio album, this album is stylistic, expressionistic and diverse. I’m a huge fan of Zeppelin, but I do often find I enjoy their “chill” songs and arrangements the most, for lack of a better word (think “Tangerine,” “Going to California,” “Down by the Seaside.”) I think it is what Zeppelin does best. This album is what I would classify as their most “chill” album, and I think that is why I really love it. Songs from this album like “The Rain Song” and “Over the Hills and Far Away” are hypnotizing, beautiful, and capture the unique sound of Zeppelin that no other band in this world could ever match. Then we have “The Ocean,” “D’yer Mak’er,” and “Dancing Days” that help break up the album to the lively Zeppelin we know and love. Overall, this album serves its purpose when I want to throw on Zeppelin and enjoy a wide range of their music: a little bit of rock, a little bit of reggae, a little bit of ballads and blues; it’s everything. And I love it, a lot.
5) One of These Nights – Eagles (Released June 10th, 1975)
Oof, gosh darn was it hard to pick which Eagles album I wanted to put on this list. I almost feel as if I like this album, Hotel California, and The Long Run equally, but ultimately, I went for this one. The reason for this is that this was the last studio album and tour that consisted of the Eagles original lineup, before guitarist Bernie Leadon left the band and was replaced by the infamous Joe Walsh. Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Joe Walsh and I think he added tremendously to the Eagles’ energy and transition from more of a country to rock sound, but there is something about the original lineup that I think often goes underappreciated. Leadon was great, and he even ended up singing lead vocals for the first time with this album, on the song “Visions.” Unfortunately for Leadon, the band was itching for a rock flare, while Leadon was a country musician at heart, and he ultimately left because he didn’t agree with the direction the band was going. Additionally, this album was the Eagles’ first real successful commercial breakthrough, yet right before their huge hit album “Hotel California.” Lastly, my favorite Eagles song of all time, “Take it to the Limit,” is featured on this album, and it really makes this album all the more special to me. Randy Meisner, the band’s bassist and my favorite Eagle, sings lead and even came up with the concept of the song, and I just think it’s a really special song. Overall, this album features some huge hits and some amazing gems, and it is almost like an ode to the original lineup, with “I Wish You Peace” closing the album, which to me sounds like a farewell and civil send off to Bernie Leadon in a way.
4) Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon & Garfunkel (released January 26th, 1970)
It would feel almost criminal to not include this album in ANY top 25 albums of all time list, let alone my own, so here we are. Simon & Garfunkel were such a special duo, with some of the most haunting and mesmerizing harmonies two people have ever been able to make. In addition, Paul Simon is one of my favorite lyricists of all time, and this album reflects well on his abilities as a songwriter. “The Boxer” and “The Only Living Boy in New York” are my favorite tracks from this album and some of my favorite songs ever written, but we cannot forget about the often overlooked, yet beautiful tracks, like “Song for the Asking” and “So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright.” Furthermore, you get a nice break from the melodic and melancholy with tracks like “Baby Driver” and “Cecilia,” so this album really just has it all. Oh, and of course, S&G’s most universally iconic song: “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” So, there you have it; a practically perfect album.
3) A Night at the Opera – Queen (released November 21st, 1975)
I don’t think any top albums of all time list is complete without “A Night at the Opera.” And yes, while we all know Bohemian Rhapsody as the iconic anthem it is, this album is so much more than just Bohemian Rhapsody. My personal favorite off the album, and my favorite Queen song, is ‘39. This album encompasses everything Queen was: bold, daring, unique, and TALENTED! I really have nothing else to say because the album speaks for itself for real.
2) Rumours – Fleetwood Mac (released February 4th, 1977)
This album was released almost exactly 20 years before I was born, and I still wish all the time that I was alive during that era to experience all of it. But, I grew up with this album before I even knew what an album was, and it’s some of the first music I ever remember hearing. I have distinct memories of my mom playing this album in the car all the time on our way to wherever we were going. I don’t think I really have to convince anyone how iconic this album is, but one of the most fascinating things about this album is how broken the band really was at the time. Lindsay and Stevie were broken up and hurt by each other, as reflected in “Dreams” and “Go Your Own Way.” Christine (keys, vocals) and John Mcvie (bass) had just divorced, and drummer Mick Fleetwood was faced with the news that his wife had an affair with his best friend. Needless to say, “The Chain,” is a reflection of how despite all this turmoil, the band was making emotional sacrifices to keep their music alive, working and writing and touring despite everything they were going through, never breaking “the chain.” It’s amazing how dedicated they were to their music, and this album is a true showcase that some of the best music in the world would never be able to exist without pain.
1) Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen (released August 25th, 1975)
Well, folks…who’s surprised? My favorite album of all time is Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” It just doesn’t feel right putting any other album higher up than this one. Coming in at just 8 tracks, this album has more to say than albums with double the amount of tracks. This album features odes to escape, freedom, love, loss, betrayal, defeat and everything in between. From epics such as “Jungleland” and “Backstreets” (two of my favorite songs of all time), to iconic anthems such as “Born to Run” and “Thunder Road” that we all know and love today, this album encompasses every talent Springsteen posesses: storytelling, song-writing, producing, and multi-tasking instruments. I know I’ve said this about most of these albums already, but I really did grow up with this album. Songs like “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” (which I could never understand were the actual words as a kid) and “She’s the One” really just sound like childhood to me. Overall, it’s my favorite because I like listening to it (obviously), but also because I really don’t think it gets better than this album. Out of all the incredible lyricists out there, Springsteen is my favorite of all time because I connect so deeply with the way he writes and the stories he tells. The way he puts words together to tell a story is just pure magic.
So, there you have it! This has been quite a whirlwind experience for me. When I first had the idea to put together this list, I was super intimidated. I didn’t know how I was going to determine which albums would make the list, let alone rank them in order from there. But, I am happy with how this turned out because it helped me do some of my own reflection, too. I knew I liked these albums, but getting to sit down and write about why I like each album gave me a newfound appreciation for each one. This took me a good 5 months to complete, from the brainstorming process to the writing process to the finished product, so I hope you enjoyed reading it! What are your thoughts? Do any of your top favorite albums overlap with mine? Do you think you would ever make your own top albums list? Feel free to share your ideas and thoughts with me either in the comments or anywhere else you wish to reach me.
I hope everyone has a happy holiday break and I’ll see you all next year with a new blog post.