Top Five Must Have Rock Albums, If You’re Me

In an era where you are pretty much guaranteed access to millions of recordings in multitudes of different outlets for the rest of your adult life, if you’re ever stranded on a desert island the music will be the least of your problems. Still, there are  five albums that, if you’re me, you must have in your collection in some shape, form or playlist. Because, if you’re me, you can’t do without¹.

Neil Young and Crazy Horse Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

Fever-induced and with two of the best songs ever–Everybody Knows and Down By The River–plus the mellow Round and Round as well as the double-drop D tuned Cinnamon Girl that everyone with a pulse immediately recognizes. I also love that in Rolling Stone’s initial analysis in 1969, the reviewer wrote, “In several respects it falls short of his previous effort. Young’s new material is a little disappointing…” Stupid idiot.

The Minutemen Double Nickels on the Dime

This might be  the most creative output by an American band I’ve ever heard.

Widespread Panic Space Wrangler

I won’t even pretend they’re the best band but they’re the first one I truly considered to be “my band.” During college my friend Rob brought home this cassette tape during Christmas break and we never stopped listening. We saw them in some 100-person club in South Beach when South Beach was still a dump and everything about them–the musicians, the fans, the atmosphere–fit like a glove. Because, especially compared to northeastern boarding school hippies, southern hippies are the coolest cats in the world.

Uncle Tupelo No Depression

Raw, awesome and the perfect antidote to some of the other over-hyped awfulness of the era. Too bad those guys hate each other.

Yellowman King Yellowman

Everybody always played Legends and then somebody put this on and it changed how we all thought about reggae. Growing up in South Florida we were soon obligated to go to Sunsplash every year. It also predated Run DMC’s Raising Hell in our consciousness by two years with the idea of spoken word as art form. Plus there’s the live show aspect.

UPDATE:  Emmylou Harris At The Ryman

Because everyone in my family knows it by heart.

(1. Nothing here is from the 21st century? Duly noted. When you come of age is when you come of age.)

12 thoughts on “Top Five Must Have Rock Albums, If You’re Me”

  1. Nice. My knee-jerk five would be even older (as am I) and perhaps a bit more iconic.

    Layla – Derick and the Dominoes
    Back in Black – AC/DC
    Are You Experienced – Hendrix
    American Beauty – The Dead

    … and a three-way toss-up between Live at the Fillmore, Eat a Peach, and Brothers and Sisters by the Brothers.

    I’m sure that with a bit more thought I’d tie myself into knots considering others, perhaps less obvious. But this is a damn good start.

    Thanks for getting me rolling.

    1. Those three Allman Brothers albums are right there with me. I started with the Allmans when they reinvented themselves with Warren Haynes and I think I saw them 20 times at the Beacon Theater in NYC. Seeing them live is a gold standard.

      1. Excellent! Couldn’t say how many times I’ve seen them, but the first was August 1970, the original band, at Memorial Stadium in Charlotte. Blew my socks off. Literally. Danced barefoot the night away in the grass infield. Ahhh, to be that young and free once again. Gold standard, and then some.

        Great stuff, Pete. I like your style. (Actually, I think I’ve said that before…).

  2. Bought the Minutemen on vinyl this week and look forward to revisiting. I have been trying to think of 5, but, wow, is it difficult- Here are a few – Quadrophenia – the Who, Summerteeth – Wilco, Saxophone collosus- Sonny Rollins, Exciteable Boy- Warren Zevon, John Senver’s Greatest Hits Vol. 1.

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