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Top Five Favorite Albums Ever?


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Yeah, I know this has been done to death on other sites, so hear me out.  


I could care less about the Hoffman forum diatribes of musical greatness and shit like that.  I frequently read the "What Are You Listening To" thread here and many other threads to see what's out there and get a feel for what many of you truly love in music.  If nothing else, we get a good sense of where you are coming from musically.  I figure a top five list would underscore that, and, hopefully, people find some new music to listen to.


What do my favorite albums have in common?  Melody, energy, dynamics, and catchy as hell riffs/choruses/solos.  I have to have something to hum in my head at all times.  Why do you think I like Grados so much?



1. Opeth - My Arms, Your Hearse




My favorite album for a long time.  It is the perfect combination of melody vs. bombast.  The songs flow so well with so many memorable guitar pieces.  This is my island album.



2. Opeth - Still Life




My second favorite album for a long time for the same reasons as MAYH.  These two albums are my favorite Opeth period.



3. Poema Arcanus - Iconoclast




A recent addiction.  There are so many pieces from this album that sound unlike all other bands I have heard before.  Everything here, from the song structure to the vocal delivery, is simply captivating.



4. Riverside - Out Of Myself




I will never hear another progressive rock album I like better.  Ever.  The guitar tone is just so perfect.



5. Moonsorrow - Verisäkeet




Like the other four albums, there are so many parts of this album that are so memorable for me.  The buildup and ending of Karhunkynsi, the chorus of Jotunheim, and the energy of Pimeä are so fun to listen to.

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But...but...but...beyond #1 & 2 (really, tie for first), I don't know what my favourite albums are...that said, I'll take a stab at it.  I don't analyze what it is I like about music so much, so taken with "what I could think of at the moment":


1 (tie). Pink Floyd, Animals -- this is one of the first albums that ever made me feel prescient -- like I knew what they were going to play next, even though I could never write something as brilliant as this, their writing was just sympatico with my sensibilities -- the perfect ebb and flow of rock and space of "Sheep", the majesty of "Dogs", just everything...also, I find this guitarsy album to be the perfect complement to the synthy...


1 (tie) .  Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here -- from the restrained fanfare synth line opening, to that first most perfect guitar note, to the Orwellian "Welcome to the Machine", to the groovy slower-melody-on-faster-melody of "Have a Cigar", to the campfire-style strumming of the title track, to the perfect closing of the rest of "Shine On, You Crazy Diamond", it just doesn't get any better than this.


I heard David Gilmour talk about writing one of the post-Waters guitar albums, and he mentioned that they had a formula -- about 50% instrumental (he was talking golden era).  Instead of being repulsed by that, I realized that some of my favourite music is about 50% instrumental.


3.  Talk Talk, Spirit of Eden -- I love the patience of this album, and putting "Desire" sort of in the middle, so it builds up to it and then comes down from it afterwards on side 2, separates it from any other album I've heard, post-rock or otherwise.


4.  Rob Dougan, Furious Angels -- so morose.  And again, offset by disparity -- "Drinking Song" offsets the rest of the album nicely.


5.  Marillion, Childhood's End -- prog, intended to be listened in one sitting, it's about drinking and girls and finding oneself, this was the soundtrack of my divorce.  Still, not as morose as you'd think.  I've heard the demo...but they got it right with the final studio album, which was then recreated live on La Gazza Ladra.


6.  In the Nursery, Hindle Wakes -- modern chamber music, fantastically lyrical instrumental music.  I'm almost afraid to see the movie at this point.


7.  Kraftwerk, Computer World -- synthpop perfection, from beginning to end.


8.  Vangelis, Heaven & Hell -- instrumentalism, and yet again, offset in ~ the middle by a song.  Goes from nightmarish dissonance to angelic beauty like no-one else (not even Mike Oldfield, one of my other favourites).


I'll arbitrarily stop there.

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I could probably do a representative sample:


Ellie Goulding - Halcyon 

Cowboy Junkies - Caution Horses

Iggy Pop - Raw Power

Paul Bley (featuring Ornette Coleman) - Live at the Hillcrest Club

The  Beach Boys - Pet Sounds

Arvo Part - Tabula Rasa

Pink Floyd - Animals

The Flaming Lips - The Soft Bulletin

Mos Def - Black on Both Sides

Hal Wilner - Whoops I'm an Indian


But I don't know that any of those are really in my top 5.  Or even in my top 10.  It's a pretty good slice of what i listen to tho.

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I agree top five/desert island choices would be tough, so I'll narrow it down to the albums that have hit the hardest since my daughter was born nearly two years ago. Much of that are the lyrics and their delivery. Increasingly I want great words or none. Mostly instrumentals now, though not represented here.

Harry Nilsson & Randy Newman - Nilsson Sings Newman
Nilsson's voice coupled with Newman's writing creates a pessimistic optimism that rings the most true to how I view her future world. "Yet, a masterpiece is what this is, albeit a subtle, graceful masterpiece where the pleasure is in the grace notes, small gestures, and in-jokes."


Frank Sintra - In The Wee Small Hours
John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman - Self-titled
Nat King Cole - Nat King Cole Story
Greats of course. Beauty I hope never goes out of style and a vulnerable masculinity I have to learn from.

Bon Iver - Self-titled
Oddball choice of the list, but probably no other album is linked to the hazy, crazy, saturated days after her birth (even if I am twisting the lyrics completely to fit my experience).
"Someway, baby, it's part of me, apart from me."
"And at once I knew I was not magnificent."


Tom Waits & Crystal Gayle - One From The Heart OST
Horrible movie, wonderful forgotten soundtrack. More guarded, but exposed hearts trying not to fuck up. "The result is one of the most beautifully wrought soundtrack collaborations in history."


Sinead O'Connor - I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got
For a short time a few decades this ago this defined the rock ethic to me. Feels newly brave now.


The Band - Self-titled
A manufactured past to create something new which falls back in the past again. Approaches timelessness and I'll take it.

Edited by blessingx
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i know its a cop-out but i'm really cyclical with these things


there is almost always something from Nine Inch Nails on the list.  

even that item changes.


probably Wish You Were Here and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.


i usually like something exotic to go with everything.  

Probably Yerba Buena Bounce and Flamenco!  Or Arthur Rubinstein's Chopin Polonaise set.


And yet there is no jazz on that list, so that can't be right.


This One's For Blanton is the go-to jazz rediscovery album for me.  

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Yeah, there should be something fusion on mine -- have to go with Return to Forever, Romantic Warrior -- Chick's compositions on that are so perfect.  And again with the lyrical.


I doubt there will ever be anything classical, because in my case, it's all about the original composition, not the performance.  But if there was, it'd be something like von Karajan conducting Concertgebouw Amsterdam Orchestra (or whatever it's called, I only ever remember "Concertgebouw"), playing Pictures at an Exhibition or New World Symphony or the like.  EDIT:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra -- it's just that when I was first rediscovering classical music, my local library at the time had a lot, so I checked several things out each week, and the RCO just nailed it every time.


Glassworks should be on my list, too, haven't listened to it in a while, maybe I should.

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Wow. I thought this would be easy. Not.


1.  King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King




Heard this at age eleven. Mind blown. Life altered.


2. King Crimson - Larks Tongues In Aspic




The second coming... not really but to me.


3. Neil Young - Rust Never Sleeps




I'd always loved Neil Young. Here he preceded the indie crowd by a bunch of years. And proved that welfare mothers make better lovers.


4. Be Bop Deluxe - Modern Music




Has anyone else ever heard of these guys? Bill Nelson was a guitar hero, but jebus did he write nice lyrics.  


5. Brian Eno - Here Come The Warm Jets



Purchased in a snowstorm in the early 70's. Bought because the butler is lifting his lady's skirt so she can let go the "warm jets" (Hey, I was a kid and there was very little porn available in the 70's). What I ended up finding was a non-musician who spoke to everything I needed in music. Pop/Risk/Insanity. This is still an album that totally sucks me in.


And runners up:


David Bowie - Low.

Patti Smith - Horses

The Stooges


I'm old, but these still speak to me.

Edited by Absorbine_Sr
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I love doing Top Five anything. The OP really made me think about albums I've listened to over and over and over, not just records I respect, not just records I know are seminal, but the albums that I just can't get enough of, that are just as fascinating to me now, if not moreso, than when I first heard them. 



1. Phish - Live at MSG




There is so much Phish to choose from, but this live recording seems have become what most phans recommend to those who are wondering what this whole Phish thing is about. And its also my most listened to Phish recording. So my most listened to recording, from the band I've seen the most live, and has had the biggest impact on my life. Gotta be #1.


2. Ween - The Pod




Complete awful gibberish, or the most brilliantly ridiculous album ever recorded? The Pod was the first Ween album I heard outside of "Push the Lil Daisies" on an episode of Beavis and Butthead. Needless to say I was not impressed with either Ween experience, and it took me almost a decade before a close and very twisted friend of mine suggest I give Ween another shot. It was the beginning of a really dark musical journey, and slowly I worked my way back to The Pod. And I get it now. Its an astonishingly, stupefyingly amazing achievement. Every song on this album, even Pollo Asado, makes the hairs stand up on my arms and blood pump through my body. 


3. Wu-Tang - Forever




The pinnacle of alternative hip-hop, in my opinion. I almost put Ghostface's "Supreme Clientele" in its place, but Forever ultimately wins. Every stoner at my high school had this album, and I'm still shocked at how many of the lyrics I remember. It's a brutal, devastating record, perfect in its execution, an album full of massive egos that somehow all manage to give each other room to breathe. Production so unique, that even albums that were obviously inspired by it don't sound anything like it, if that makes any sense.


4. New Order - Substance




Kind of cheating since its a collection, but this first disc is just hit after hit after hit. Sure, maybe a Joy Division record would be more appropriate in this spot, but out of all the New Order/Joy Division albums, Substance far and away has gotten more listens. This is dance music.


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I love doing Top Five anything. The OP really made me think about albums I've listened to over and over and over, not just records I respect, not just records I know are seminal, but the albums that I just can't get enough of, that are just as fascinating to me now, if not moreso, than when I first heard them. 



1. Phish - Live at MSG




There is so much Phish to choose from, but this live recording seems have become what most phans recommend to those who are wondering what this whole Phish thing is about. And its also my most listened to Phish recording. So my most listened to recording, from the band I've seen the most live, and has had the biggest impact on my life. Gotta be #1.



I don't remember if that was taken from my friend's masters, but I know his recording of that show was among the best live phish tapes I've ever heard.  I was at that show, and I left thinking phish was breaking up.  Once they forfeited the chess game, I knew it was over.  Turns out, it wasn't them quitting performing, just caring. They went from a band that rehearsed and tried and cared, to a band that was in it for the money at that point.  I've heard they've come back to rehearsing since then, but after a few years post 95, I finally gave up, and gave up for good.  I do still have my 12/31/95 clones from chillwig's masters tho, among others.  It was a good night.

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Some of the albums mentioned pique my interest.


Very eclectic tastes here.  The standout surprise for me was there was no mention of a Beatles album.  I am not a fan at all, but they are in so many peoples' top-of-the-head lists.


I also found it interesting that there was not one metal album mentioned, and four of my five are.  I am definitely a musical outlier  :laugh:   I love so many non metal albums, but the ones I constantly turn to the most just happen to be those... much to my wife's elation :chair:

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Alright, I'll give this a shot. Like everyone before me has said, this was a very hard list to pick. There are so many bands I absolutely love that just don't have that one standout album that you'd really go for. Likewise, there are some albums with terrific songs on them that might not burn at that supernova intensity the entire way though.


In any case, leave me one a deserted island with these five discs and I'll die happy.


I have a bit more of a pop music bent that some of the lists that have gone before.


(In no particular order).


Fleetwood Mac - Rumours [1977] - The best pop album ever? Brilliant songwriting/musicianship/production the entire way through.




Rolling Stones - Exile on Main St. [1972] - The best rock album ever? IMO this is the best album to come out of the 'Stones brilliant period with Mic Taylor. Love it. Not a bad track on the album.




Miles Davis and Gil Evans - Porgy and Bess [1959] - An irrational choice perhaps, but this is my all time favorite jazz album. Maybe its because it has Davis and Evans reinterpreting Gershwin? Its a brilliant album that, like all the albums on this list, moves me every time I hear it.




Paul Simon - Graceland [1986] - As a songwriter, Simon has incredible honesty and vulnerability that really give his songs beauty. Mix that with some incredibly talented African musicians and some amazing studio production work and you have magic.




And, last, but not least, Stevie Wonder - Songs in the Key of Life [1976] - Stevie's voice is a gift from up above. Its a very tough call between this album and Inversions but I ultimately chose this one. IMO this is his magnum opus.



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It changes for me, but right now probably something along these lines:


Edge of Sanity - Crimson II



Draconian - A Rose for the Apocalypse




Draconian - Turning Seasons Within



The Project Hate MCMXCIX - The Cadaverous Retaliation Agenda



October Tide - A Thin Shell


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Not in Order:
Led Zeppelin - 1969 - Led Zeppelin II
Killer licks from a young band... 
Rick Wakeman - 1974 - Journey To The Centre Of The Earth
Musical journey from a master orchestrator. (moog goodness all over the place as well)
Harry Connick, Jr. - 1994 - She
all about the 'groove' (and lots of it)
Styx - 1977 - The Grand Illusion
One of my early Albums (that may make me a pozer).. But still love to listen to these tracks.. and shows a lot of my musical progression from that point. Keyboard forward, backing vocals, progressions, transitions. etc.
Art Of Noise - 1986 - In Visible Silence
Industrial noise music - not much more needed..
Imogen Heap - 2005 - Speak For Yourself
The vocal overlaying of these tracks just kills me - never can get enough.
Frank Sinatra - 1966 - Sinatra At The Sands



And the vocal swagger of these tracks just kills me as well.. 





and a small pile that didn't make it in the top (some were really hard not to include) - but could be swapped out if needed:


Jeff Lynne - 1990 - Armchair Theater
Boston - 1976 - Boston
Elliott Smith - 1998 - XO
Pat Metheny - 1987 - Still Life
Saga - 1981 - Worlds Apart
Yo-Yo Ma - 1990 - Bach Six Unaccompanied Cello Suites
Blade Runner Soundtrack - 1982 - The Esper Edition
Queen - Jazz (1978)
Pink Floyd - 1975 - Wish You Were Here
Jean Michel Jarre - 1984 - Zoolook
Buckingham Nicks - 1973 - Buckingham Nicks
Branford Marsalis - 1992 - I Heard You Twice The First Time
Beatles 1966 Revolver
King Crimson - 1969 - In the Court of the Crimson King
Billy Joel - 1981 - Songs In The Attic
Mozart Requiem K. 626 -1991- Sir Neville Marriner
Michael Hedges - 1984 - Aerial Boundaries
JellyFish - 1993 - Spilt Milk
You don't see these showing up in the What are you listening to now threads.. pretty much because these are on heavy rotation at work, on my phone and at home... During any given week - at least a couple of tracks from a couple of these are playing (considering I have over 70,000 tracks available this was not an easy list).
Fun evening picking the list.... 
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Some good lists here....as with others, the top 5 of any given moment may change.  But some of my all-time favorites are (not in order):


  • Joy Division - Closer (Unknown Pleasures a very close second)
  • Chameleons UK - tie for Script Of The Bridge and Strange Times
  • Loreena McKennitt - tie for The Visit and the mask & mirror
  • October Project - s/t
  • Pink Floyd - tie for Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, Animals, and Wish You Were Here
  • Heather Nova - tie for Oyster and Siren
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This is a harder post than I expected...

Boring list with no pictures.  In no particular order.

Opeth - My Arms Your Hearse
A near perfect album that never grows old.  I only wish it was longer.  A perfect balance of everything they do.


Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
Another near perfect album that is done before I'm ready.  I don't know if you could go wrong with Blacklisted here, either.  But this was my first Neko album and holds a place close to my heart.


Swallow the Sun - Plague of Butterflies
This album makes the list due to the strength of the 34 minute title track alone, though the other 4 revisited songs are all solid.


Rykarda Parasol - Our Hearts First Meet
It's difficult for me to put my love of her voice or songwriting into words.  "Texas Midnight Radio" gets me every time.


Trauma Pet - You Cannot Feel This
I don't find myself listening to this as much recently, but dark synth pop with really strong female vocals is right up my alley, and this does it better than the rest for me.


Honorable Mention

Nine Inch Nails - Still
It's tough to choose just one of their albums, and even tougher to choose an acoustic one like this.  But the reworkings of some songs are strong and the closing originals are masterful.


Agalloch - The Mantle
One of the best albums for atmosphere I've heard.  I love the textures and balance of electric and acoustic instruments.


Rasputina - A Radical Recital
I really wanted to pick one of their studio albums, but the truth is I reach for this since it's such a great compilation of my favorite tracks and their live energy is well captured.


Shannon McNally - North American Ghost Music
Loooooove her voice, but I don't love her studio productions... Too sterile.  But this live album is stunning.  Her vocals are amazing, and she's backed by a great live band.


Draconian - Arcane Rain Fell

Their strongest album start to finish for me.  As much as I detest the "beauty and the beast" label for this kind of album, the mix of male and female vocals is perfect.  Supremely disappointed Lisa Johansson left the band.


And the list goes on...

Edited by en480c4
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I am impressed with the lack of overlap between peoples picks. I don't know whether to be surprised by this or not. Pink Floyd and Opeth are pretty much the only bands that show up on multiple lists.


In any case, I can't wait to start tracking down albums on everyones top 5's and give them a listen.

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