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Albums You Love from Before You Were Born


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One constant among all discussions I read on audiophile fora is the back-and-forth between older enthusiasts who have spent $800 on Pet Sounds and younger enthusiasts who have spent $0 pirating video game soundtracks.  I think the best way to bridge that gap is to put everyone on a level playing field.  If you would, please share some examples of albums you love that were first released before you were born.

For my part, here are five to get us started.

1) Ahmad Jamal: Chamber Music of the New Jazz


This is a phenomenal recording, showing really thoughtful playing by Jamal.  I'm particularly fond of the rhythmic tapping and string plucking he employs throughout, making use of parts of the piano you're not supposed to play.  This is from an era of jazz I don't prefer, but it sounds to me far ahead of its time.  Roon says I've listened to it 78 times, and I don't doubt it.  While writing my masters thesis I would listen to this album every day.  That was pre-Roon, so those plays aren't even counted.  I never tire of it.


2) Talking Heads: Remain in Light


This is for my boy TMoney.  Being a millennial, I was first exposed to David Byrne via his solo career.  "Sure sounds like the guy on Psycho Killer", I think I said.  Working my way back through the catalog I was absolutely floored by this album.  Some of my favorites off Stop Making Sense were on here, and to me it represents a turning point for the musical landscape that would lead to a lot of things I enjoy.


3)  Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: Will the Circle be Unbroken?


I inherited my Dad's turntable and his record collection when I turned ten.  He didn't die or anything, he just didn't listen to records.  I sure as shit did, but didn't want to listen to all the stuff I'd heard on repeat the last ten years of my life, so I went to record shops and thrift stores and picked up things with interesting covers that I could afford on a very finite allowance.  This album was the heaviest thing I could get for $0.25, which represented a real value.  It was also the first bluegrass/old time album I ever heard, and it was an absolute revelation to me.


4)  Peter Gabriel: Peter Gabriel III (Melt)


I'm cheating a little here, as my favorite Peter Gabriel album is "So", but that came out in 1986 and as such is disqualified.  Obviously there are some phenomenal songs on here, notably "Games Without Frontiers" and "Biko", but this was also the first album to use gated reverb on drums, ushering in a sound no one would get sick of for ten years.  I constantly tell my wife and daughter "this is a Peter Gabriel household", and we wear it on our sleeve like it will get us martyred by the IRA.  I don't know if the Collins/Gabriel divide of opinion exists in real life, but if it does we are ready.


5)  Frank Zappa:  Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch


This was another gem from my father's record collection, but one I actively avoided for years.  It was the weirdest thing I ever heard, and I thought it might be irreparably damaged.  The only song I could even remotely latch on to was "Valley Girl", but I played it dozens of times until I got the courage to ask my Dad what that even meant.  The explanation went similarly over my head.

Edited by Sherwood
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