21 February

While any serious listener, music artist, journalist, musicologist, etc., could come up with his own list of favorites (but many don't unless prompted--modesty I don't recommend), what if we were to accept generally this informal canon constructed from critics' list and sales charts? Within the basic guidelines established by the artists selected there, what's missing?

- Highway to Hell - A C/D C. You've got the best album with Brian Johnson, you need the best with Bon Scott.

- Today! - The Beach Boys. So Pet Sounds is the second-greatest album, but this album that laid the groundwork for it rarely makes any lists.

- Please Please Me, A Hard Day's Night, and Beatles for Sale - The Beatles. Their music needs to be appreciated in its early years to embrace where they went with it; sure, the U S album Meet the Beatles is extremely important historically, but overall the U K albums were sequenced better. A Hard Day's Night was all originals, no covers--a big deal at the time; Beatles for Sale is my choice for their early peak, while Please Please Me is the crucial foundation of much of Rock music's subsequent development.

- Paranoid, Master of Reality, and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath - Black Sabbath. If you've got the first and fourth albums, you need the second, third, and fifth; arguably the most influential of all Rock bands.

- Low - David Bowie. 

- Live at the Apollo, Volume II and The Payback - James Brown. Keep the music going after Live at the Apollo and Sex Machine.

- Johnny Cash Sings the Ballads of the True West, At Folsom Prison, and At San Quentin - Johnny Cash. Just listening to Ride This Train isn't going to get you far...

- Your Funeral... My Trial - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. You absolutely must listen to early Bad Seeds before later albums like The Boatman's Call.

- Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music - Ray Charles. Surprising not to see this.

- A Love Supreme - John Coltrane. Given that this album, like Kind of Blue, is one of those Jazz works Rock scribes have decided you are allowed to listen to, I'm very surprised it didn't any publication's top ten.

Déjà Vu - Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. A rare album that was a huge hit in its day, deserved to continue selling, but didn't.

- Brothers in Arms - Dire Straits. Very high on the list of U K top sellers, and just below our cut-off point for U S top sellers, it's definitely better than their first album.

- Blood on the Tracks and The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan - Bob Dylan. The former, because you don't know where Dylan ended up from only listening to the 1965-66 albums; the latter, because it's the key album of his early Folk Revival years.

- Axis: Bold as Love - The Jimi Hendrix Experience. If the other two Experience albums make the cut, I don't see any reason why this one doesn't; it hasn't several Hendrix classics: 'Spanish Castle Magic', 'Little Wing', 'If 6 Was 9', and 'Castles Made of Sand'. 

- Loveless - My Bloody Valentine. If Pitchfork (which once proclaimed this the best album of the 1990's) and a few other younger publications did some all-time lists, this album would easily get some top-ten votes.

- Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd. At least as good as The Wall.

- The Idiot - Iggy Pop. Goes well with Lust for Life, obviously enough.

- Different Class - Pulp. British publications got the Stones Roses' eponymous debut so high in the list, but not this album?

- Murmur - R E M. I'm prone to liking Automatic for the People better, but overall Murmur gets higher accolades--yet didn't make any top tens.

- Raising Hell - Run-D M C. Let's be blunt: if you put Eminem ahead of this, you're dumb.

- Arise - Sepultura. Seems like an appropriate companion to Roots.

- Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme - Simon and Garfunkel; Still Crazy After All These Years - Paul Simon. The latter is arguably the best choice of Simon's early years, needed to accompany Graceland. The former helps not to slight the duo; after all, they were the highest-selling act in the U K during the later half of the 1960's--not The Beatles.

- Songs for Swingin' Lovers - Frank Sinatra. The counterpart to In the Wee Small Hours.

- Stand! - Sly and the Family Stone. Earlier standard to accompany Fresh.

- Daydream Nation - Sonic Youth. See note on My Bloody Valentine.

- Born to Run and The River - Bruce Springsteen. If you're going to listen to Darkness on the Edge of Town, Nebraska, and Born in the U S A, you've got to listen to these too.

- Raw Power - Iggy and the Stooges. As with Low, this is an obvious one.

- Tres Hombres and Degüello - Z Z Top. How they got to Eliminator...

- Burnin' - The Wailers. The other early classic besides Catch a Fire.

- Rain Dogs - Tom Waits. Slightly better than Swordfishtrombones.

- My Generation, Tommy, and Quadrophenia. Necessary if you're going to delve into The Who Sell Out and Who's Next.

- Talking Book and Innervisions - Stevie Wonder. Since Songs in the Key of Life is often listed as a best-seller because the R I A A counts it twice, we should include a Wonder album or two; also note the many Grammy Album of the Year awards he won--another crucial sign of mainstream praise.

- Tonight's the Night - Neil Young. If you're going to have After the Gold Rush...