The 25 “Essential” Albums of All-Time, Generically Speaking
Having seen that controversial Facebook app of "The 100 Most Influential Albums," I set out to capitalize and create the correct list upon which men could measure their manhood and women could be reassured that it's a man's man's man's white man's world out there. Magazines and websites have been doing this kind of thing forever with the exact same results and my entire existence depends upon making these meaningless lists. So humor me.
First thing I did was get rid of that awful "Influential" word and go for the less controversial "essential," where no one has to be influenced by anything. Unfortunately, upon doing the preliminary work, I ended up wasting four hours compiling a list of albums that turned into the 125 Most Essential Albums of 1964-1980. I wasn't putting down the albums I liked best but the ones that seemed like other people thought were pretty important, since they show up on other lists. I would've started the post-1980 list but things gets so esoteric it's impossible to determine which subgenres things need be divided into.
While I decide what to do with all that information, I did grab all the most obvious choices, added a few things post-1980 that were more obvious than obvious and took out the soul singers, nearly all the women and threw the Kinks out for being too obscure and Miles Davis' Kind of Blue out for being too jazz (and because I ran out of room) and before I knew it I had the "Generic 25 Essential Albums of All-Time List" that shows I can do monochromatic, tokenism type stuff just like everybody else! Just as my picture tells you I'm a useless white male! This list confirms it! Though don't blame me! I'm just repeating received and repeated wisdom. If it were up to me, American Music Club's Everclear and Mercury would be battling it out, The Apartments, Colin Blunstone, Ida, The Jam, Mia Doi Todd, Swearing At Motorists and The Fall would be part of "the conversation" and Arthurs Alexander and Lee would have a seat at the table next to Monster Magnet, Curtis Mayfield, Ruby and the Romantics and more women!
Even if you dislike this list as much as I do, you have to admit, I sure can read! (And you probably should own most of these. Just not so obviously.)
25) Elvis Presley -- Elvis Presley (1956): Before Elvis Presley there was no music. There were no teenagers. No one had sex. People came back from wars and settled into new subdivisions where they commuted to work and were glad they were no longer at war. With this album, the 1950s are covered. (Note: some lists cheat and put the 1977 album The Sun Sessions on their list. It is better, but it was an album put out after the fact, a compilation.)
24) Bob Dylan -- Highway 61 Revisited (1965): Before Bob Dylan no one ever wrote a song with meaningful lyrics. All songs rhymed moon and spoon and June and singers sang the words in polite ways that were pleasant to listen to. Bob Dylan hadn't been modestly popular more than a few years with his folky guitar before he found an electric one and successfully made acoustic music obsolete. (Bob Dylan, first boomer to show brains. Interesting how quickly we move away from the visceral, rhythmic base towards music upper-middle class kids in grad school might like.)