Sunday, December 12, 2010


40. Funkadelic - Maggot Brain (USA) 1970: George Clinton was truly a crazed genius and yes, crazy like a fox. By combining bands and musical forms, he confounded the music business as much as he confounded music fans with the cross genre music he presented. Loads of R&B and soul mixed with metal and hard rock in brilliant ways that are even more unique than Hendrix, let alone Rare Earth or Joe Cocker. "Super Stupid" is masterful and "Maggot Brain" is one of the best guitar passages by the late great Eddie Hazel.

39. Steeleye Span - Pleased to Meet the King (UK) 1969: Ashley Hutchings contributed much of what came to become folkrock with his efforts in Fairport Convention (See entry #37 below). When he wanted to go further he formed this band before heading off to various Albion Band incarnations. Steeleye went through many different versions but this one was the most fun for me. It features Martin Carthy playing electric guitar in a very odd manner. It has the great voices of Prior and Hart and fabulous haunting traditional folk tunes arranged in a great modern style. Any of the early albums are worth a listen, but this is the steadiest. And the closing notes are impossible to forget.

38. Stiff Little Fingers - The Peel Sessions (Northern Ireland) 1989: One of the finest punk bands from the UK scene and has only slowly gotten their due. Jake Burns is a fabulous songwriter and front man with gutsy guitar and an intense voice. The early albums are good with "Inflammable Material" being the one to grab. However, I like this Peel set as it has some of the fine songs from the first couple of years. Peel Sessions were studio works with limited overdubbing, so it was quality, vibrant live like recordings. SLF does great with this format and really delivers the heartfelt music as good as they have done, short of their brilliant live sets I have seen. A hugely influential band for our little Dayton, Ohio punk scene.

37. Fairport Convention - Liege Lief (UK): As mentioned above, Ashley Hutchings wanted to do a fully themed folk rock album. Fairport had certainly done that at times on previous albums, but this was successful in its design and as the stand alone great album of their long career. They did fantastic versions of old poems and songs like "Matty Groves" and "Tam Lin". Also, they wrote songs that fit this style with Richard Thompson's "Crazy Man Michael" being a classic for all ages. Add Sandy Denny's glorious voice, and you have an album that still gets critical plaudits from many continents.

36. Amon Duul II - Yeti (Germany) 1970: Krautrock is loosely defined genre, perhaps even lazy, but do not ignore the bands lumped there. This one is perhaps my favorite. Really, you can call them a psychedelic rock band that have experimental moves, but a great rock structure. They have exotic instruments like violins, male and female vocals, long and short songs, and lots of variety. Exciting music that is surprisingly accessible, yet with lots going on to explore in subsequent listening. I think this is the point of my list where this album and all subsequent albums are 100% interesting to me from the beginning note until the end.

35. The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground & Nico (USA) 1967: I really don't need to say much about this album as it started as slowly as any album on this list and has already risen to massive heights. Just when I think it is overrated, I listen to it again, remind myself what else was going on at this time and regain respect for Lou Reed and company. What was cool about this for me was how a song like "Sunday Morning" was completely unimportant to me when I listened to it in the seventies, but now is one of my favorites. And if you ever get a chance to see Richie Unterberger's mixed media lecture on this band, go. Your respect and pleasure with this music will only be enhanced.

34. Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures (UK) 1979: Another essential piece of post punk arrived from Manchester in 1979. This band helped create a label which lead to a major scene and morphed into other varieties of music. But I will always put this one at the top of anything from Manchester (along with the Buzzcocks). Ian Curtis and company had some of the quietest most intense songs out there and Martin Hannett was amazing with his production techniques that created so much space in the music. There is always so much to listen to on this album and all the cuts are amazing and best heard in the dark, late at night.

33. The Damned - Machine Gun Etiquette (UK) 1979: It was a tough call for me on whether to include the Damned's first album with Brian James on guitar or the reconstituted Damned with Captain Sensible on guitar for this third album. I went with this as the songs are really catchy and timeless. Clearly, they are out of punk, but fit in mainstream rock as well. Great energy and sense of humor prevail throughout. And instead of Stooges cover on the first, we get the MC5 this time around. You really can't go wrong with either album (but do not start with the second or you will wonder what I am talking about).

32. Dead Can Dance - Aion (Australia) 1990: I mentioned in the Boiled in Lead review that I wished I had been able to harness by visions into concrete musical forms either into their band or one other band. Well, this is the other band. This duo combined classical music, ancient music and gothic rock forms into a haunting and powerful soaring music. This one is my favorite as it goes back deep into pre-Renaissance forms. It's no surprise that you can hear Lisa Gerrard on many soundtracks including her music on "Black Swan".

31. Pererin - Haul ar yr Eira (Wales) 1980: This Welsh band made a few magical progressive folk rock albums with this being the classic. The male/female vocals are pure and ethereal while the electric guitar has a delicate bite as it moves above the rapid rhythm section. This music moves and is extremely moving. The light touch they employ is really unique for something that has so much inner strength apparent.

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