20 Albums You Should Own, But Probably Don't

Rob Babcock

Rob Babcock

Okay, anyone care to enlighten us? I've posted this elsewhere, but I'm curious to see the responses here at AH. What are your personal "Top 20 Albums That You Should Have Yet Probably Don't"? They needn't be your twenty favorites, just good stuff that's perhaps a bit off the beaten path. I'm always looking for something new and interesting, and you rarely hear anything good on the radio. :mad:

Many of the bands on this list are things I discoved thru the recommendations of fellow forum brothers in arms. :) Here's mine, in no particular order:

1. Iron and Wine- Our Endless Numbered Days: This is sorta folksy, mellow stuff, pretty low fi but interesting. I&W is just Sam Beam and his trusty 4-track, but very compelling. Listening to it daily will make you a better person.

2. Built to Spill - Ancient Melodies of the Future: Good hard alt rock with smarts and killer guitar riffs. Very catchy stuff with great songwriting and lots of hooks, Ancient Melodies of the Future might just convince you that Doug Marsch is a friggin' genius.

3. Flaming Lips - The Soft Bulletin: This one is honestly the Dark Side of the Moon for the modern day. The followup album, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, is killer too, but The Soft Bulletin is a great intro to the band.

4. Jesus & Mary Chain - 21Singles: I normally wouldn't recommend a greatest hits as an intro to a band, but I can't otherwise decide where to begin. These guys were very influencial yet criminally underrated in the US.

5. Alison Krauss - New Favorite: If you don't listen to newgrass you may have never heard Krauss. She's a fiddle phenom, but even if she didn't play a note, her angelic voice would still justify her recording contract. This is a real treat if you have any affinity for folk, country or bluegrass at all and can appreciate a great voice.

6. Joe Satriani - Engines of Creation: This one's a fist in the gut from the first note. The Satch is a modern day guitar legend, and this one is pure glorious noise. Do yourself a favor and crank Attack on something that can play some bass. Engines is easily his best post-Surfing With The Alien work.

7. Johnny Cash - The Man Comes Around: Despite the fact that the years had taken their toll on his voice, Cash was never more powerful than on this one. In a long career filled with great music, this was among his finest work. Chocked full of some of his best songs, including the apocalyptic title track, this one shouldn't be missed, even if you don't listen to country.

8. Liz Phair - Exile in Guyville: I love all her stuff (well, not the new S/T one- I'm pretending that one doesn't exist! ), but Exile, her debut, is arguably her finest. She basically started the whole Lillith Fair/Grrrl power movement, but if you don't hold that against her too much this one's an instant classic from my favorite Potty Mouthed Girl.

9. The Clancy Brothers With Tommy Makem - Ain't It Grand Boys: The Clancy's were almost singlehandedly responsible for the folk explosion of the 50's and were very influencial. In fact, Bob Dylan cited them as a primary influence and even recorded some of their songs. While all the material here is available elsewhere, the Clancy's were always at their most compelling while playing live, so Ain't It Grand Boys, a double live set, is the perfect place to start.

10. Cantus - Let Your Voice Be Heard. Cantus is a mostly-classical vocal group from Minnesota. Let Your Voice Be Heard is a collection of secular and religious songs from around the world, magnificently performed and immaculately recorded in the Great Hall of the Washington Pavillion in Sioux Falls, SD by John Atkinson, the editor in chief of Stereophile magazine. It's hard to see how this CD could be improved. This album will blow your mind and show you the power of the human voice.

11. Roger Waters - Amused To Death: The latest project from former Floyd frontman and songwriter Roger Waters, Amused To Death will show you who the real heart of Pink Floyd really was. Nothing in Floyds catalog of post-81 fluff can match this one.

12. Sonny Rollins - Way Out West: Most would say if you only buy one real jazz records to make it Miles Davis' Kind of Blue- and it's hard to argue with that choice. But for my money, I'll take tenor-sax-god Sonny Rollins Way Out West. This one's simply more compelling to me than anything by Davis. Go for the XRCD version if you can; it's spendy, but the sound is fantastic.

13. Dave Brubeck - Time Out: Okay, I'm not 'Mr Jazz' by any means, but to me Time Out is the greatest album in jazz history. Filled with catchy tunes and wild experiments in rhythm, this one at once accessible and eccentric. Listen to it once before you decide you don't like jazz.

14. Sigur Ros - () : This is a strange one- the album has no name, and there aren't even names for the songs nor any credits. The whole album is an odd electronic experiment in glacially unfolding sounds and strange wordless chants (in a nonsense language the band calls "Hopelandic"). It's not an easy listen at first, but patience really pays off. This isn't one you'll blast this on your car stereo- it's more like an excercise in sonic meditation.

15. The Raveonettes - Whip It On: This disc really sounds like a collision between the Beach Boys and Jesus & Mary Chain's tour busses. :p Glorious 3 minute slices of feedback and fuzzed out noise that's basically a homage to the music of the 50's mixed with Jesus and Mary Chain. In fact, imagine J&MC recorded by Phil Spector and you'll be close. Not everyone digs this, but it's certainly something different.

16. Kaki King - Legs to Make Us Longer : While she's far from a household name, Kaki King makes some wonderful guitar noises. She hammers on it, whacks it as a percussion instument and picks it nearly to peices, but she actually has learned to do it within the context of real songs. She'll probably never sell a lot of records, but she's damned fun to listen to.

17. Beck - Sea Change: Beck is probably mostly thought of as a sardonic jokester (much like me :p ), but this rare album of totally sincere and un-ironic music is quite a departure for Bech, but very powerful. Especially good on DVD-A.

18. Steely Dan - Two Against Nature: This recommendation is conditional- you should only buy this on DVD-A. The music is fine, if a bit less ambitious than their older stuff. No, you should buy this one to hear what can be done with modern recording technolody. If you have surround sound and a decent rig, you'll be treated to one of the best sounding discs ever recorded.

19. XTC - Skylarking: This one's a tough call- I could as easily recommend Apple Venus Vol I or Nonesuch, but Skylarking has stood the test of time. Combining the bouyant harmonies of the Beatles with a heavy dose of sardonic wit and irreverance, XTC has created a string of classic records. This one's a great intro to their charms.

20. Porcupine Tree - In Absentia: This disc combines poetic lyrics and angst with a hard rock uppercut to the jaw. Nominally a prog band, PT collaborated with the Swedish metal band Opeth to create a very dark masterpeice in In Absentia. Go for this one on DVD-A and you won't be disappointed.

While I'm a big fan of classical music, for this list I'm sticking to rock and pop. There's a lot of great stuff out there, and of course this isn't meant to be comprehensive.

Please list the most overlooked classics you think should be in my collection. The idea is to expand each others' musical horizons by adding everyone's hidden gems. :)


Full Audioholic
Only 10: I'm lazy

I threw this list together in about 5 minutes and after looking reviewing it, I thought I would stop after 10 because a pattern was beginning to emerge: my love for the sound of a tele/strat emanating from a Showman amp (or reasonable facsimile). Geezer Rock anyone?

These are in no means any order. Here we go:

Damas Y Caballeros – Los Straitjackets – For lovers of surf-rockabilly Ventures/Link Ray style and with a good sense of humor. This Nashville based Spanish wrestling masked group is great live and this is good example. Eddy Angel is one of the best guitarists you’ve never heard of.
Sing-Along With – Los Straitjackets – Yes another LS offering. This one only because of the unique line up of guest vocalists. Highlights include a very smoky tavern sounding honky-tonk “I’ll Go Down Swinging” with Exene Cervenka from X on vocals to a great Kinks sounding “Treat Her Right” with, yes, Mark Lindsay from Paul Revere & The Raiders fame. Leigh Nash from Sixpence None The Richer does a bang up job on Skeeter Davis’ classic “End of the World”.
Surf-N-Burn – The Blue Stingrays – This is a bit of a con job but a great album. It’s really Mike Campbell and most of the Heartbreakers less Tom doing a fine job. The liner notes are a gas.
Live – Bruce Cockburn – The great Canadian rock/folk/guitarist doing most of his 70s/80s stuff. If you don’t have any of BC’s work, this is a good one to get.
Smile – Brian Wilson – Last year’s release of his previously unreleased masterpiece. I can’t get enough of “Surf’s Up”.
New Depths – The Ventures – A mid 90’s release that is one of the best instrumental surf/rock albums ever made. Guests include Duane Eddy, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter and many more. Baxter produced the album.
Live – Delbert McClinton – Recorded in Norway of all places, this is pure Delbert. A 2 disk set covers most of Delbert’s long career and what a band!
Anthology – The Blues Project – In the late 60’s Al Kooper, Danny Kalb, Andy Kluberg and Steve Katz, along with a few others I can’t remember, form the Blues Project in the Village and release three records. This 2 disk set has everything you would want from them (plus a couple of later releases).
Back in 20 – Gary U.S. Bonds – Remember “Quarter to Three” or “School is Out”? He’s the guy and he’s still alive and kicking. With the help of Bruce and The E Street Band, Southside Johnny & Dicky Betts, this album is a pure rocker.
Sleepless – Peter Wolf – This album is a gem. Don’t expect a J. Geils rehash. More like Otis Redding meets Steve Earle. Mick and Keith make guest appearances.
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Audioholic Chief
I'll spare you guys. My Top 20 would all be from the 70s and largely out of print or hard to find. ;)


Full Audioholic
Shadow_Ferret said:
I'll spare you guys. My Top 20 would all be from the 70s and largely out of print or hard to find. ;)
Since I have a bit of trouble connecting with much of today's music, please un-spare me
Rob Babcock

Rob Babcock

If I'd have expanded my list to 21, Brian Wilson's Smile would have been on it. While he's by no means obscure, his days as a radio staple are long since behind him, but Smile is a great album. I've heard a few complain about the production values, but compared to the vintage 'Boys stuff it sounds great.


Full Audioholic
Another diamond in the rough is Herb Alpert - Rise. This album is the convergence of jazz, latin, & disco. It is extremely well recorded. I use it as a reference for auditioning speakers, and it definitely turns some heads.
Bob R

Bob R

I’ve stared at the title of this thread for three days now and I’m still not sure about it. How can I recommend full albums I don’t own, but wish I did? I would have bought them.

So, I’ll twist the rules to included “albums that I’m glad I didn’t skip”

1. Country Joe MacDonald – “War, War, War”. I’m a Country Joe fan but I was leery about this selection of poems by Robert W. Service put to music. No problems, especially the bone chilling “Army of the Dead”. A well written and performed release.

2. Eric Burton & the Animals – “Winds of Change”. Speaking of bone chilling, the “Black Plague” is about the scariest story I’ve ever heard put to music.

3. Eric Burton & the Animals – Love Is. I don’t know anyone who bought this double album, other than me. Superb versions of “Ring of Fire”, “River Deep, Mountain High”, and my favorite cover of “As the Years go Passing by”.

More later …


Senior Audioholic
Anberlin - Never Take Friendship Personal - Very melodic rock. I absolutly can't live without this album.

Unwritten Law - Elva - A great rock/punk/folk band that has some unforgettable songs on this album

O.A.R. - Of A Revolution - If you're a fan of folk type music, this is for you

Joe Satriani - Crystal Planet - By far I think it's his most melodic album. It's not brash rock, but it's not soft rock either

Tal Bachman - Tal Bachman - Great rock with an outstanding singer

38th Parallel - Turn The Tides - Excellent rock band with very well thought out lyrics.

Will 6 suffice??


Mort Corey

Senior Audioholic
Rob Babcock said:
If I'd have expanded my list to 21, Brian Wilson's Smile would have been on it. While he's by no means obscure, his days as a radio staple are long since behind him, but Smile is a great album. I've heard a few complain about the production values, but compared to the vintage 'Boys stuff it sounds great.
The recent DVD release of the live performance in Burbank is pretty good as well. It's pretty amazing that they can perform this work live and do it well.



Check out Blue October. "Consent to Treatment" and "History for Sale" are both great.
Rob Babcock

Rob Babcock

Bob R said:
I’ve stared at the title of this thread for three days now and I’m still not sure about it. How can I recommend full albums I don’t own, but wish I did? I would have bought them.
That's not exactly how I meant it. :eek: I meant what twenty albums do you own that everyone else should but probably don't. Still any way you take it is fine.


Audioholic Samurai
Eagles Concert DVD, Hell Freezes over. The best audio reproduction I have ever heard by a mile, not to mention the songs themselves.

Simon & Garfunkel Bridge Over Troubled Waters.

James Taylor Concert DVD, Live at The Beacon Theater. Great music and great dynamic reproduction.

And from out there in left field: Monty Python "I'm a lumberjack and that's ok......"


Not in any order

These are not in an order because I would get in a fight with myself if I tried to say one is better then others. Also I am going to try to limit it to one album per artist just for fun.

WLICO Yankee Hotel Foxtrot if you have never heard Wilco then you are missing out on some great music also check out Summerteeth and anything Tweedy has done(Friday Boston baby!!)

Mike Gordon Inside In His first solo album which is a sonic ride I highly recommend this album.

Leo Kottke&Mike Gordon Clone Q:How can you go wrong with acustic bass and 12 string?? A:you can't (new album 66steps comes out Aug 23rd)

The Disco Biscuits TranceFusion Brodcast Radio 1 I don't know how to describe them just get it.

the Flaming Lips Soft Bullitin Read above

Bob Marley Talkin Blues This is my personal favorite release by Bob

The Harder They Come Soundtrack This is quite possibly the best Reggae album ever.

Jerry Garcia Band Run For the Roses Its Jerry nuff said.

Jerry Garcia & John Kahn Bootleg 05-05-82 Live from Oregon ST Prison
You can't but this but download it here its AMAZING Jerry with an acustic. If you like say James Taylor you will love this.


Full Audioholic
Rob Babcock said:
8. Liz Phair - Exile in Guyville
Yep, definitely agree with that one. Not sure how well known she is in the US, but she's almost unheard of over here (UK).

Ok, well, here's a few (though not necessarily 20):

Brad - Shame - Wonderfully mellow and funky album. Has guitar work from Pearl Jam's Stone Gossard and fantastic vocals from ex-Satchel frontman Shaun Smith.

Aco - Irony - Japanese j-pop songstress starts listening to Björk's Vespertine album and produces a cracker. Absolutely haunting vocals.

Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man - Out Of Season - Another haunting album, this time from the ex-Portishead vocalist and former Talk Talk bassist respectively.

PJ Harvey - To Bring You My Love - Polly Harvey's gained a bit more commerical recognition since her superb 'Stories from the city, stories from the sea' album. This is an earler one, and like all of Polly's work, each album is quite different.

Bert Jansch - Toy Balloon - A fantastic folk/blues acoustic guitarist who's been around since the 60's. This one's more recent, but every bit as good.

Bloc Party - Silent Alarm - Rapidly gaining attention in the UK. Not quite sure how to describe the style, but very much worth a listen.

Carina Round - The First Blood Mystery - A simply stunning songwriter and performer. Not well known in the UK, and, I believe has recently moved to the USA. The single most impressive live performer I've ever seen.

Jarret - Hic Non Sunt Leones - An album given to me by a Czech friend. I'm not sure how well they're known in the Czech Republic. A very nice album of acoustic tracks.

Joni Mitchell - Blue - What can I say? A stunning album.

Liz Phair - Comeandgetit - For those who are less than impressed with Liz's latest album, you can download this from her website.

Mindfunk - Dropped - Incredibly dark and bassy album from a vastly underrated band.

Mother Love Bone - Stardog Champion - Great funky stadium rock. Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament before Pearl Jam.

Temple of the dog - Temple of the dog - Pre-Pearl Jam + Soundgarden collaboration album for deceased MLB vocalist Andy Wood.

Y Kant Tori Read - Y Kant Tori Read - Panned on its release, this 'pre-Tori' Tori Amos album has a few signs of Tori's later work.

Green River - Rehab Doll/Dry As a Bone - Hear Nirvana before they even existed ;). More pre-Pearl Jam, and Mudhoney members.
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Full Audioholic
10 Jazz Albums you SHOULD have...but may not..

1. Grant Green - The Matador: Grants' best IMO with support from Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner. Daring version of Coltranes "...Fav Things" and
5 other 10 minute jams where Grant cooks like no other.

2. Cannonball Adderly - Somthin' Else: Features Miles and recorded just before the "Kind of Blue" sessions. You can feel the linearage. Very cool, some of Miles' best playing. Best version of "Autumn Leaves" ever.

3. B - Sharps - Tha Go Round: Relatively unknown LA jazz quartet that are atraditional straight ahead jazz...but with an urban jam feel to it. Really cooks.

4. Bass Desires - Bass Desires: One of my favorite jazz albums of the 80's.
Part fusion, part straight ahead with a little indian, reggae, oriental, blues, and blue grass added for flavor. Scofield, Frissell, and Erskine jam like nobody's business.

5. Ralph Peterson Jr. - V: The drummer who replaced Art Blakely on drums in his own Messengers band. Explosive and subtle at the same time. This is his best work with support from Blanchard, Geri Allen and others.

6. Joe Henderson - Inner Urge: More support from Elvin and McCoy. Joe's best work.

7. First Light - How The Land Lies: Obscure British fusion outfit. This is their only release and I have no idea why. Kind of like 80's Pat Methany Group...but with more attitude. Great guitar and drum work. Don't know what happened to these guys.

8. Dieter Ilg - SummerHill - Dutch bass player who somehow managed to get Michael Brecker, Mike Stern, Peter Erskine, and Randy Brecker for this gig.
Solid Fusion.

9. Kenny Burrell - Midnight Blue - Best blues/jazz guitar album of alltime.
Stanley Turntine like you've never heard him before. Incredible sounding
recording for being 40 years old.

10.Dennis Chambers - Outbreak: Available in Japan only. Killer funk fusion with the groove master himself on drums. Great compositions and support.


Full Audioholic
Now those are right up my alley, I'll have to check them out. My Jazz collection is far too small.... :)


Full Audioholic
I have only one to add.

Rise Robots Rise - Spawn

RRR was signed to TVT right around the same time the label scored big with some guy working under the name Nine Inch Nails. While it was easy to sell the musical stylings of Trent Reznor as "Industrial", RRR was too difficult for the marketing clowns to pigeonhole, so they were left on the proverbial back burner.

Spawn is like Detroit, Nairobi, Berlin, LA, and Dublin julienned, sauteed over medium-high flame, and served on a bed of Funk.

I never got to see them play (van broke down in a snowstorm on the way to First Avenue), but one of my teachers at Berklee said they were the best show he'd ever seen. Up to 12 people on stage - multiple percussionists, horn section, smokin' backup vocals, plus the usual bass, guitar, keys.

Since you can get it for $.50 (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00000E8N6/qid=1119642042/sr=2-2/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_2/002-7972081-2864069) you can't help but check it out.
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Full Audioholic
I'm not into jazz or reggae or rap..............strictly rock. Sooooooooooooo........

1. Pink Floyd - Meddle............some wonderful mellow stuff

2. Alan Parsons - Tales of Mystery & Imagination.........great concept, well done

3. UFO - Strangers in the night..........great live album

4. Dream Academy (title) ..........underrated....."Life in a northern town" isn't even one of the best songs on this Cd

5. The Cure - Disintegration ..........hard to classify the Cure

6. Al Stewart - Greatest Hits - .........I know many may scoff at the idea of listing a greatest hits CD, but having owned a collection of albums that are now in storage I like the idea of my favs on one disk. I have many others.

7. Shooting Star - Hang on for your life .......great old rock which integrates some violin.

8. Bob Welch - French Kiss .......I'm the only one I know who owns this CD so i thought I'd add it........good CD.

9. Jeff Healy Band - Master Hits ........good mix of blues & rock guitar

10. Scorpions - Moment of Glory (with the Berliner Philharmoniker) ...........great concept that works well with the selected songs.

................just added the Herb Alpert - Def. Hits to my collection :eek:


A few punk or "punk-like" albums to add to the must-own list:

1. The first Clash album (US version), which includes such songs as Police and Thieves, Remote Control, Total Control, their cover of I Fought the Law, Jail Guitar Doors, etc.

2. A representative Ramones album, such as "The Ramones", or maybe "Rocket to Russia". Although it's maybe unfair to name greatest hits CDs, "Ramones Mania" is a good choice, with 30 songs on one disc (all at about 2 minutes per!)

3. Rancid's "And Out Come the Wolves". Much more melodic punk and ska-punk than their subsequent albums.

Another couple of entries from my "top 20 desert island albums" are Nick Lowe's "Labour of Lust", and Dave Edmunds' "Trax on Wax" (or alternate Dave Edmunds choices "Git It" or "Repeat When Necessary". If you only want to burn one choice with BOTH Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds, then go for the lone Rockpile album, when they finally worked out the record company contract issues that kept them on separate labels, and recorded one album before breaking up.

Speaking of Bob Welch (a previous poster mentioned one of his albums), I am maybe one of the few people that thinks that the best Fleetwood Mac Album is the one with Bob Welch on it (pre-Nicks/Buckingham). I can't think of the name of this album right now, but its the one with the cover art that has a drawing of an old man, a gorilla, and maybe also a penguin? The singing chores are split between Welch and Chris McVie.


Full Audioholic
zipper said:
................just added the Herb Alpert - Def. Hits to my collection :eek:
Have you had a chance to evaluate it? If so , what do you think, particularly of tracks 16 and 17?

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