Music is most definitely the soundtrack to our lives. And, putting the cliche aside, it is wholly true in the literal sense as well. After much pondering, x-ing out and CD searching, I have chosen a list of my Top Ten CD's, however constantly changing, all of them classics from my point of view. Here's how I chose them.
I got all of the genres that I am fond of together, and I searched my collection for my favorites out of each type of music. Some genres lack as many mentions as others, but the cause of that is that my preferences overlapped and I had to make some hard choices between them (a full list of artists that I like can be found when you look at my profile.).
Anyways, as something that shows up a lot in my pieces, please don't judge me by the type of music I listen to, whatever kind of affect that sentence might have on you. The CD's are in no particular order as to how they are put together on this list, so without further ado, here goes the top 10 . . .
1. Legend - Bob Marley And The Wailers Bob Marley is one of my all-time favorite artists, and a spot on this list is a given as soon as I think about my top ten albums right from the get-go. The question was, which BMW album? It was between Legend, a compilation of absolute classics, and Rastaman Vibration, a slightly overlooked effort (because none of the songs from that CD showed up on Legend). But, I had to go with the classics, and Legend it is. Timeless tracks play throughout the CD, giving you the up-beat chill-out tone that reggae has seemed to patent over the years, along with the sad tracks that leave you close to tears that Marley is such a master at. There are no filler tracks, but the best showings on this album include the quick beats of Exodus, the gripping I Shot The Sheriff and the slower Satisfy My Soul. A must-have? Goes without saying. Essential.
2. American Beauty - The Grateful Dead The Grateful Dead, the cornerstone of hippie rock/bluegrass/rock and roll/blues/country combined. Which isn't that far-reaching as a n=musical genre. But the Dead, fronted by the influential Jerry Garcia for those many years, have dropped countless wonderful albums during their span at the top of the hippie circuit, but none rivals this. It has the upbeat tracks that are ideal to listen to while in a good mood, such as Sugar Magnolia, Box Of Rain and Truckin', while also sporting the slower, more somber classics, among them Attics Of My Life and Brokedown Palace. Every song is great, and it's hard to miss for any musical taste on this one.
3. The Ultimate Experience - Jimi Hendrix It's no secret that Jimi Hendrix was a good guitarist. The best ever? I'd make a case for it. But the point is, Hendrix put out some great material in his diminutive 27 years in existence, and never before has it been captured so well in The Ultimate Experience. Containing classics that everyone from all age groups is familiar with, such as his own version of Bob Dylan's All Along The Watchtower and the famous originals Purple Haze, and Hey Joe, this compilation is everything but just the tracks played on classic rock radio stations. Jimi also had hidden gems such as the guitar-lick-rich Castles Made Of Sand, and the heart-wrenching Angel and Little Wing, in my opinion the best two songs on the 20 track album. Great compilation highlights a great artist.
4. It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back - Public Enemy Switching gears slightly from the blues rock/hippie rock/reggae to the old school hip hop and rap, another CD in my top 10 belongs to the highly influential Public Enemy. Consisting of a group that highlights emcees Chuck D and Flava Flav, this 80's hip hop group was known for their upbeat rhythms, drifting away slightly from the regular gangsta rap that was recorded often in those days. Public Enemy was known for their music giving a message, their songs had lyrical meaning, often in protest or for civil rights for African-Americans. All in all, it's a great album, featuring PE in their prime, with such tracks as the bouncy Bring The Noise and the slightly comical Cold Lampin' With Flavor. A break from the arbitrarily agressive and explicit g-funk that has controlled the airwaves in the past and present.
5. Illmatic - Nas Some albums take up hours on end of your valuable time, leaving you searching for the shining moments amongst a load of, well, garbage. Illmatic by Nas is a vast exception in all categories of the above sentence. In a seemingly condensed form of just under 40 minutes, Nasir Johnson dropped this '92 record at the peak of the g-rap/g-funk explosion, and he flourished after he released this, his debut, album. OK, yes, explicit content, there is some talk of gang-bangers . . . but it is all done with feeling, Nas isn't spewing diss tracks or nonsense threats. Great all around, featuring classics such as New York State Of Mind, Life's a B*tch and Halftime. A must-have for anybody who ventures around the realm of rap/hip hop.
6. Greatest Hits Vols. I and II - Queen Queen is one of the best bands ever. I don't care what anybody says against that thesis, because it's wrong. Everybody knows that Queen is one of the greatest bands ever in existence, featuring an unpredictable vocalist (Freddie Mercury) and a unique guitarist (Brian May), with an all-around incredible band. Sometimes humorous, sometimes somber, but always chock full of musical value, this compilation album has the best Queen out there, from Bohemian Rhapsody to Bicycle Race, from Killer Queen to Somebody To Love, from I Want It All to . . . you get the picture. This 34-track two-disc set has it all.
7. Metallica - Metallica Many hardcore Metallica fans, or any hardcore thrash metal/hair metal fan will tell you that Master Of Puppets or Ride The Lightning is superior, but I make this call for a simple reason: I am not a hardcore thrash metal fan, I'm a casual listener. But I'm a listener nonetheless. This album is chock full of big riffs, boasted to perfection on tracks such as Enter Sandman and Wherever I May Roam. It is full of slow, seeming ballads that either explode into a harder song or continue it's somber tone, such as Nothing Else Matters and The Unforgiven as well. This album is a complete selection from a highly distinguished group.
8. Stevie Wonder: The Definitive Collection - Stevie Wonder Who doesn't love Stevie Wonder? I mean, really, I would like to know, this is a serious question. Stevie is an icon; a legend in his industry and has forever left his mark on not only his genre but music as a whole; he has no doubt carved out his niche in the musical world. He plays all of the instruments that are on his albums. And he does it all without the gift of sight. This is a great compilation of Stevie's best, from the slower, crooning tracks to the upbeat funky tunes. Top tracks on this "definitive collection" (wait, that's the title? Really?!) include the upbeat Sir Duke and the iconic tracks Superstition and Higher Ground. Some of the best from one of the best.
9. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles The Beatles' mention. You knew it was coming, but you couldn't stop it. Yes, The Beatles are one of the greatest bands of all time, as everyone knows; holder of perhaps the greatest number of household songs in the world. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is, in my opinion, the best Beatles that is available, featuring a great array of musical genres in one album, from rock and roll to softer bluesy type songs to just plain weirdness. Everybody knows this album and has memorized most of the songs from it. Need I say more? Top tracks on the album include A Day In The Life, She's Leaving Home and With A Little Help From My Friends. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds was good for a while as well, but that song gets a bit annoying after a little while. A great effort from one of the greatest groups.
10. The Ultimate O'Jay's - The O'Jays I went to add this compilation album to the list, but something stopped me. There were plenty of other bands that I liked a lot more than The O'Jays, but I decided that it was definitely worth putting this album on there, because overall, it's just so damn good. One of the best 60s/70s soul/funk/motown groups that never got the kind of coverage tha Aretha Franklin or The Temptations did has a great album that features many of the band's hits over the years in The Ultimate O'Jays. With jazzy tunes that make you want to get up and dance on the spot, their smooth and harmonic voices drift over the tracks as easily as the waves lap at the seashore. Top tracks include the former hits 992 Arguments, Backstabbers and For The Love Of Money.
So, there are the highlights from a person with a very expansive musical taste. As I said earlier, please check out my profile to see a complete list of the many bands that I listen to. I had to leave out many great albums that I love, among them efforts by Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, 2Pac, Dr. Dre, Nirvana . . . the list goes on.
This was in no way a concrete list; it's pretty much changing all the time. They are but 10 classics that I don't go a month without listening to at least one song on each of them. Please check them out if you haven't heard them, and thanks for reading, that was one of my longer pieces. Thanks again!