Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Best Rock Albums from My Youth

Before there were CD's... Before you could purchase individual tracks from the Internet... We bought records and played them on a record player.  It was a technology made for eventual failure because records eventually wore out... Although the technology was superior to the 8-track tape.

Many records had one or two terrific cuts, but were balanced with songs that were sub par... and this fact plays a tremendous role in my choices.  My "best" albums are good from beginning to end.  They do not include "best hits of" albums from a particular artist. 

I also consider innovation, fresh new sounds, and lyrics.

15.  The Doors  The Doors... In an amazing display of parental ignorance my mother, upon my request, gave me this album as a Christmas present when I was 14 years old... Light My Fire, Break On Through, Backdoor Man... A great trashy album.

14.  Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road...  This was a dynamo when I was in college.  This double album started with the instrumental Funeral for a Friend and never let up. 

13.  Carole King's Tapestry...  Who didn't own this album?   ...An incredible songwriter with a style that delivered.

12.  Neil Young's Harvest... Great album with Heart of Gold, A Man needs a Maid, The Needle and the Damage Done... Good from beginning to end.

11.  Steely Dan  Can't Buy a Thrill...  No filler... all good.

10.  Dan Fogelberg's Home Free... An incredibly fresh sound.  He followed with Souvenirs which was almost as good.

9.  Jackson Browne's Late for the Sky... This soulful, romantic poet's wordy offerings had incredible depth... The cool girls loved him.

8.  The Eagles' Hotel California... On the Border and their first, Eagles, had a charm all their own, but from beginning to end, Hotel California was their best.

7.  Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA... (OK, maybe a little past, or at least encroaching upon the edges of my youth...)  Maybe the best Rock and Roll album of all time, though his Born to Run album was maybe more artistic and innovative.

6.  The Beatles' Abbey Road... Epic, incredibly innovative... Maybe Let it Be came close, but Abbey Road was their best.

5.  Linda Ronstadt's  Simple Dreams... Referred to by many as "the best pipes in the business," this was Ronstadt's best... Every song was good.

4.  Pink Floyd  Dark Side of the Moon... This album stretched the boundaries of recorded sound, and the lyrics were amazing.

3.  Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water... This album had everything from Keep the Customer Satisfied with its amazing instrumental arrangement, to The Boxer which explored the dark side of humanity. 

2.  Joni Mitchell's Miles of Aisles... This is the best live album of all time.  Maybe it breaks my "best hits of" rule... But this poet with a voice like the wind produced something incredible.  If my "best hits of" rule was strictly enforced, I'd still place her here for Court and Spark.

1.  Billy Joel's Piano Man... Joel went commercial after his first effort, but I don't care.  This was a great album.  It had its hits, but every song was entertaining and fresh.

I think this is a good list, but the problem with lists is placement... I can't really say that Piano Man was greater than Tapestry... And I wonder who I have forgotten... 

I would love to hear about your favorite albums...



Bekah said...

Are there albums that don't include David Phelps? :) Oh come on - you knew I was going to say it.

SkyePuppy said...

I was a HUGE fan of Heart. I heard the very end of Crazy On You on the radio, then heard the whole song later and went right out and bought the album (their first). No filler at all.

My ex came into the marriage with Court and Spark and Dark Side of the Moon, among others. There was something about the Pink Floyd album, something that he loved but that reached inside of me, grabbed my emotions, and dragged them down into a swirling vortex that left me depressed and on the edge of despair. I couldn't listen to it.

SkyePuppy said...

Oh, and when I was grade school age, I had three Monkees albums.

Malott said...


Good for you! Mr Phelps' music covers a subject that actually matters.

I wasted a lot of money on rock music... Never listen to it any more.


The Heart album came out after I graduated college, which was the point at which I lost track... It was still the 70's, but I always thought they sounded more like 80's music. Very talented.

Malott said...


Favorite Monkee? I know you had one.

Christina said...

Hmmm, my hands-down, no-filler favorite on your list...The Eagles. And Hotel California is one of my all-time favorites as well. I also love Desperado.

Ok, I love pretty much all the Eagles songs.

But you don't have any Journey on your list. They definitely fall into the no-filler/all hits category.

SkyePuppy said...


Heart's first album came out in spring 1976. They had a tiny recording/distribution company in Seattle, and it took quite a while for their album to make its way across the country. I bought it in June in Montana, and it was just getting to Calif. in September when I went there.

Monkees: Davy. My sister liked Peter. My ex told me he thought all the girls liked Mike, but I said, "But he was MARRIED! Ugh!" At eight years old, we knew that mattered.

Grammy said...

I don't remember the names of the albums, but the ones I played over and over were Eagles, Styx and Kansas but the best and most worn out of all were Ray Charles. Ruby was his all-time best, followed, of course, by Georgia on My Mind.

Sounds like the group consensus is Eagles.

Anonymous said...

Hello Cousin, YOU gave me my first Heart album. "Dreamboat Annie", I still have it and it is like new! I am still quite fond of Ann and Nancy. Anyway, I was glad to see Elton John made your top 15.....but Bruce Springsteen, Really?.......there is something about his mouth, his over-bite, I can't watch him.