What a daunting task! I don't think the order is correct and I won't be held to it. This is also my twisted opinion and not meant to reflect the opinions of others. My expertise and interest does NOT extend to rap, hip-hop, country or classical music, so this will be a short list for those categories. I selected for engineering and production values first, and performance second. With impeccably good taste, I have omitted anything I was an artist or producer on; it doesn't look right to me when other people do that. So The Tubes, Child Is Father To The Man, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Mike Bloomfield are left off for possible inclusion on other peoples lists. I guess the purpose of all this is to vent and also to perhaps guide a few curious souls toward something they might not have come across on their own.

Cheers and Happy New Century!!!

al kooper


100 GREATEST RECORDINGS OF ALL TIME

 

* = SINGLE TRACK, NOT AN ENTIRE ALBUM
+ = NOT AVAILABLE ON CD
# = IMPORT CD

 

1. PET SOUNDS (BOX SET) - BEACH BOYS
In the garden where naiveté and genius meet, there are bass harmonicas, stratocasters, violas, oboes, barking dogs & trains. Put this on and go away for awhile.

2. SONGS FOR SWINGIN' LOVERS - FRANK SINATRA
Great recordings, great vocals, great arrangements, great look - smooth perfection.

3. WALL OF SOUND - PHIL SPECTOR BOX SET
Where my generation learned how to overdub and overdub and overdub, etc. etc,

4. SGT. PEPPER - THE BEATLES
Sir George Martin is God. Could not have been made without him.

5. THE NIGHTFLY - DONALD FAGEN
A clean machine with sinewy guitar and the best vocal adenoids around.

6. GRACELAND - PAUL SIMON
A wandering Jew walks in the back door outside Johannesburg and walks out with a new genre - world music. If he had stopped in Brazil on his way home, he could have given David Byrne a lift.

7. WHAT'S GOIN' ON - MARVIN GAYE
Independence Day in Detroit, Marvin throws off the Motown shackles and raises the hackles on the back of your neck.

8. KIND OF BLUE - MILES DAVIS
A stellar cast with great material is captured like a snapshot in bluesiana excstasy by producer Teo Macero. Miles, 'Trane,Cannonball, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers - even better on disc than on paper, if that's possible.

9. REVOLVER - THE BEATLES
Up a few notches from it's predecessor "Rubber Soul," serious envelope pushin' is goin' on. Sadly, they don't make music like this anymore. In pop music at the Millennium, necessity is no longer the mother of invention.

10. GOOD VIBRATIONS - BEACH BOYS* (single)
One of the greatest singles ever released. Butt-cut editing, theremins, amazing organ sounds, bass & guitar doubled, and the trademark BB harmonies. Never sounds dated, always a rush.

11. THE SUN SESSIONS - ELVIS PRESLEY
Inside the room during the invention of rockabilly and rock n roll. Chemistry like you wouldn't believe. Producer Sam Phillips fulfills his fantasy of a white boy who can sing black. Millions are made, but only $40k by Sam, himself.

12. LIVE AT THE APOLLO - JAMES BROWN
Soul music and screaming served up in just the right amounts. The greatest live album ever made.

13. THE BIRTH OF SOUL (BOX SET) - RAY CHARLES
At the intersection of Gospel & Blues, Ray made his stand. It's still standing.

14. THE LOOK OF LOVE/BURT BACHRACH BOX SET - VARIOUS ARTISTS
The Gershwin of pop - his best and tastiest moments are collected here in multi-CD format. Many other CDs can now be traded in - all the good parts are on this box set.

15. RUBBER SOUL - BEATLES
The first concept album. Moon in June and three chords be damned!

16. BLONDE ON BLONDE - BOB DYLAN
No better capturing of the sound of four A.M. than "Just Like A Woman, "Sadeyed Lady of the Lowlands," and "Visions Of Johanna." The rest ain't too bad, either.

17. MY GENERATION - THE WHO* (single)
You can hear the guitars and drums being smashed towards the end. Feedback, switch-flicking and stuttering vocals herald the new order of 1966.

18. HEARTBREAK HOTEL - ELVIS PRESLEY* (single)
When I first heard this in 1956, I thought it was a little black man with a pork-pie hat hunched over a piano with a cigarette dangling from his mouth as he sang and tickled the ivories. My jaw dropped when I saw the real thing.

19. BOOKENDS - SIMON & GARFUNKEL
While not their most popular album, certainly their most ambitious. Shout-out to producer John Simon.

20. MUSIC FROM BIG PINK - THE BAND
Where masterful material meets minimalism in a world of good taste. One of the most influential debut albums of all time. Also produced by rarely-heralded John Simon.

21. AJA - STEELY DAN
Okay, Roger Nichols - I give!! Slinky as a muthaf*cka....

22. THE LEGEND & THE LEGACY (BOX SET) - LES PAUL
The man who invented modern recording in the comparative dark ages, struts his stuff on 4 CDs. An enjoyable history lesson with tricks that still work!

23. GIANT STEPS - JOHN COLTRANE
'Trane serves notice - Things ain't what they used to be. Staggering (especially if you played tenor sax)

24. THRILLER - MICHAEL JACKSON
Michael sticks it out and Quincy shows him where to put it - in the history books.

25. TUMBLEWEED CONNECTION - ELTON JOHN
With the amazing bass artistry of Herbie Flowers leading the way, Reg shows The Band and The Eagles a thing or two. Wonderful production and engineering.

26. MOANIN' - ART BLAKEY & JAZZ MESSENGERS
Perhaps engineer/producer Rudy Van Gelder's finest quintet moments. One can proudly note: Recorded in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey!

27. MERCY - ANDRE CROUCH
One of the finest collections from the man who modernized gospel music in the early 70's. A 90's release, impeccably crafted, sung, recorded and mastered.

28. SILK DEGREES - BOZ SCAGGS
Slick & soulful, it was great background music for satin-sheet-sliding. Many conceptions blamed on this album; none of them, however, immaculate.

29. STICKY FINGERS - ROLLING STONES
For Bitch and Can't You Hear Me Knockin' we give thanks.

30. ODDESY & ORACLE - ZOMBIES
The Zombies chase the Beatles (and catch them) at Abbey Road Studios.

31. BILL HALEY - ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK* (single)
Talk about music standing up - Milt Gabler (Billy Crystal's uncle!) produced this at NYC's Pythian Temple in the early fifties. It was the clarion call to rock n roll back then and stands up to '90's scrutiny. Great drum part and guitar solo !!!!

32. DUSTY IN MEMPHIS - DUSTY SPRINGFIELD
The Queen records in Camelot. King Jerry Wexler presides.

33. AFTER THE GOLD RUSH - NEIL YOUNG
Simplicity of the soul. Stark, influential, anti-slick and timeless.

34. ARE YOU EXPERIENCED - JIMI HENDRIX
For performance more than for sound reasons. Meat & potatoes production preferable to later albums where he got swamped with fx and trix. Just straight up great playing from a place no one could have imagined but the man himself.

35. REACH OUT - FOUR TOPS
An amazing collection of material for a non-greatest hits collection. A body of work that began with "Reach Out," continued with "Bernadette". "Standing In The Shadows of Love," and finished nicely with "Seven Rooms of Gloom" Holland-Dozier-Holland met Bob Dylan on the streets of Detroit and it worked.

36. SAVIOR PASS ME NOT - SWAN SILVERTONES* (single track)
One of the finest vocal stereo performances ever put on tape. The great version is on the CD soundtrack of "The Big Easy." Breathtaking and still never equaled.

37. HIGHWAY - FREE
A personal favorite. Four whiteboys play the funk out of fast & slow groin music.

38. BOOGIE CHILLUN - JOHN LEE HOOKER* (single)
What's great about JLH all wrapped up in one song. The amazing constancy of that guitar lick, the vocal phrasing, and the coooool just oozes out of your speakers. Amazing usage in the film "Funny Bones." Sounded majestic in the movie theater.

39. DOCK OF THE BAY - OTIS REDDING
A lovely collection of performances by Sam Cooke's illegitimate son.

40. FAITH HOPE & LOVE - KINGS X
What if The Beatles & Led Zeppelin had a party and left the tape recorder on ?

41. ATOM HEART MOTHER - PINK FLOYD
The concept side with the title piece sounds like modern classical music. A break-through that set up Dark Side Of The Moon.

42. STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER - THE BEATLES* (single)
Chemicals & music - blended together - and served fresh.

43. A CAPPELLA - TODD RUNDGREN
Throw out the instruments - electronically multiply Todd by twenty - and stand back!

44. MUSIC OF BULGARIA - PHILLIPE KOUTEV & CHOIR
Arguably, the most beautiful music on earth. Luckily, I've been listening to this since 1965. Why hasn't this album been a film score yet?

45. SIX PACK (BOX SET) - ZZ TOP
The first six Top albums collected under one roof. Turn the stereo to eleven for best results. If it's too loud.. errr....it CAN'T be too loud !!!!!

46. THE COMPLETE 1959 COLUMBIA RECORDINGS (BOX SET) - CHARLES MINGUS
Charles at the peak of powers, produced by Teo Macero. Makes yer brain sweat!

47. THE COMPLETE MUDDY WATERS (BOX SET) #
The Mississippi Delta Blues swaggers up to the city of Chicago, grabs it by the hair and drags it away into the nearest hotel room. And yet, still dignified, in it's own way. The complete Chess Recordings - 9 CDs! Available from the Charly label in the UK.

48. MR. TAMBOURINE MAN - THE BYRDS
Imagine a world with no electric Bob Dylan, no Tom Petty, no Wallflowers, no Flying Burrito Brothers, or no REM - This is where they all began...

49. THE SCREAMIN' END - GENE VINCENT
A nice compilation of what made Gene and The Blue Caps great, with excellent mastering. Features my favorite Gene track, "Cat Man"

50. SPINNERS ANTHOLOGY (BOX SET)
And when Thom Bell was very good, he was a genius. He's awfully good here, producing and arranging his ass off. Why no Thom Bell Box ?????

51. EAGLES GREATEST HITS
You must give 'em credit - even if it hurts.

52. FOCUS - STAN GETZ
Although mastered a little harshly, the program material overcomes. Tenorist Getz ad-libs over Eddie Sauter's brilliant compositional sketches. A classic.

53. WHO'S NEXT - THE WHO
Before Goldberg there was Townshend, Moon, Entwhistle & Daltrey - at their best!

54. MY JUG & I - PERCY MAYFIELD +
A rarity, but a dream recording. Ray Charles band backs up the great Percy singing his best material with Brother Ray taking a rare turn on Hammond B-3 organ and production throughout the proceedings.

55. AL GREEN BOX SET
The heir to Otis Redding's throne shows just how the crown is worn. Shout-outs to Willie Mitchell and Al Jackson, Jr. Personally, can't get enough of Simply Beautiful.

56. DREAM ON - AEROSMITH* (single)
There's Stairway to Heaven, there's Free Bird and there's Dream On. Any questions?

57. LAYLA & ASSORTED LOVE SONGS - DEREK & THE DOMINOS
Drug-addled Clapton's greatest post-Cream work. Good songs, good Dominos, Duane Allman and Miami help the mix. Timeless in many ways...

58. AVENGING ANNIE - ANDY PRATT+
A wacky, delirious, uninhibited sophomore album from the early seventies that has become a cult classic.

59. BIRDS OF FIRE - MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA
The fathers of fusion incinerate with some fashionable flying.

60. TIME SIGNATURES (BOX SET) - DAVE BRUBECK QUARTET
Music for beatniks and intellectuals - amazingly overlooked in the kitsch revivals.

61. NIGHTBEAT - SAM COOKE
One of the greatest albums by the greatest soul singer ever - Just play the first track and take it off. Work up to the rest slowly after that...

62. WINGS - BAND ON THE RUN
In which Macca finally figured out what to do for an encore. Sadly, it only lasted one album.

63. TEMPTATIONS BOX SET
A little more information and tunes than you really need, but a masterful body of work, nonetheless.

64. THE CAR'S GREATEST HITS
A CD that lionizes producer Roy Thomas Baker. There never was a live Cars album, was there?

65. LYLE LOVETT - JOSHUA JUDGES RUTH
The quirky Texan approaches Dylandom with great production and sympathetic, sensitive, studio musicians. Kudos to keyboardist Matt Rollings.

66. THE LAST RECORD ALBUM - LITTLE FEAT
Why the loss of Lowell George was so devastating - A band with one foot on Mars.

67. MUSIC OF MY MIND - STEVIE WONDER
Stevie's first backturn on the hitmaking Motown machinery. It worked for Marvin and it worked for him too.

68. THE COMPLETE JIMMY REED (BOX SET) #
For some reason, the music of Jimmy Reed sounds magnificent on CD. The man couldn't have been more sub-analog, and yet somehow his stuff is velvet and grease reproduced digitally. The entire VeeJay Records output on seven CDs by Charly Records in the UK.

69. CONTROVERSY - PRINCE
What other artist deserves to be sixty-ninth ?

70. CHICAGO - CTA
Their first album, on which they blow the doors off Bobby Colomby & Steve Katz's Blood Sweat & Tears. Both BS&T AND Chicago's first big hits were produced by James William Guercio.

71. LED ZEPPELIN - LED ZEPPELIN
Gotta do it - Can't be helped. Heavy metal is born and not yet abused here.

72. ANY ALBUM - XTC
Readers choice - They're all great for one reason or another. I lean towards "Black Sea" and "Oranges & Lemons". Or is that "Skylarking" or "Drums & Wires?" Ahhhh nevermind.......

73. NEVER TOO MUCH - LUTHER VANDROSS
Luther's debut album and the origin of his partnership with Marcus Miller/ Happy stuff and......never too much.

74. RELAX - FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD
Audiophile disco music for gender-bending. Ya had to be there...

75. THE BEST OF JAMES CARR - JAMES CARR
The man who nearly set soul music on fire, but then was institutionalized for over twenty years in a mental ward. You won't believe how good this is. Shout-outs to Dan Penn & Spooner Oldham.

76. BLIND FAITH - BLIND FAITH
Coulda been contenders. Winwood & Clapton exist together for a few gigs, but leave this legacy in their wake. Now that we're all grown up: Shall we try again, lads?

77. SUPREMES - YOU KEEP ME HANGIN' ON*
Black people pandering for white attention and sales and gettin' it back tenfold. One of the best rhthym guitars EVER.

78. SHOWDOWN - ISLEY BROS +
Groove, groove, groove, groove, grooove. Chord changes, Chord changes, chord changes. and the magnificent voice of Ron Isley. Ecstasy on the dance floor and mellifluence in the back seat.

79. CLEAR SPOT - CAPTAIN BEEFHEART
In which the white grooves are celebrated and unique from track to track and the nonsense is exuberant and skilled.

80. GOOD THING - PAUL REVERE & THE RAIDERS * (single)
A guilty pleasure - but hey - this Stones/Beach Boy hybrid R-O-C-K-S !!

81. TRUE LOVE WAYS - BUDDY HOLLY*
A look to one of the many directions this master may have gone had he lived. Beautiful King Curtis tenor riffing in the background.

82. DEAR MR FANTASY - TRAFFIC
Steve Winwood and close friends (for a short time) go to Berkshire and make heady music.

83. SOUL DRESSING - BOOKER T & THE MGS
Wipe your face and hands after playing this one. Extremely greasy !!!

84. GREATEST HITS - EARTH WIND & FIRE
Maurice White did a lot of firsts in R&B. They are all contained herein.

85. THE COMPLETE HOWLIN' WOLF (BOX SET) #
No Lowell George, Dr. John or Captain Beefheart without this 6'5'' blues presence. Another Charly UK release. Everything he recorded for Chess. Everything!

86. SOULFUL ROAD - NEW YORK CITY +
Probably Thom Bell's (Stylistics, Delfonics, Spinners) greatest masterpiece. A triumph of performance, songwriting, arranging and production. Miraculously overlooked in it's time and now as well.

87. HOWARD JONES - HUMAN LIB
What Elton John wrought, many people bought. Lovely sound.

88. RELENTLESS - DANNY GATTON & JOEY DEFRANCESCO
Anytime Jimmy Vivino and I play a great gig and come home thinking we're the coolest, I slip this on and quickly defrost. An instant ego-deflater for organists and guitarists alike. Other-worldly on a consistent basis...

89. DEBARGE (TWOFER) - ALL THIS LOVE/IN A SPECIAL WAY
This was a serious fraternal grouping featuring the amazing vocals of El Debarge. Another brother was married to Janet Jackson for about ten minutes. Great 80's soul music. They don't make 'em like this no mo'.

90. LOOK TO THE RAINBOW - AL JARREAU
Most people's first intro to Al. Recorded impeccably live. Very smooth sailing.

91. DISCIPLINE - KING CRIMSON
Adrian Belew & Robert Fripp surround themselves with prog heroes Bill Bruford & Tony Levin and let 'er rip. The Mahavishnu Orchestra of the 90's - and vocals too!

92. FUNDAMENTAL THINGS - BONNIE RAITT
The record she was born to make. All that platinum and press paved the way for just extremely relaxed blues & soul au natural after all the fuss. A breath of fresh air.

93. WHITE LINES - GRANDMASTER FLASH* (single track)
I'm 55 and I don't do the rap/hiphopthing, but I DO get THIS and so should YOU!

94. DEBUSSY-MUSIC FOR OBOE & HARP - BERT LUCARELI & SUSAN JOLLES
Great picks of composer's catalogue and tasteful duet arrangements - one of the most soothing CDs ever issued - these two instruments make great bedfellows...

95. WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF - JIMMY SMITH
A treat for the ears. Smith fronts a big-band, masterfully recorded by Rudy Van Gelder. Special treat: Slaughter On Tenth Avenue.

96. AFTERGLOW (BOX SET) - ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA
Jeff Lynne's crowning glory. All the great tracks (and then some) in one place.

97. 3+3 - ISLEY BROS.
Hendrix used to play with them. Young guitarist Ernie Isley appropriated everything Hendrixian when the Master passed on, and plays all of it on this album. Check out Summer Breeze and Who's That Lady..

98. WAS NOT WAS - BORN TO LAUGH AT TORNADOES
The debut album by these Motor City Madmen before they were seduced by Hollywood. Mel Torme (?!?) guests.

99. MORE SOUL - HANK CRAWFORD
One of the greatest alto sax albums in all jazzdom. Seven horns, bass & drums play clever arrangements and Crawford cries & wails over the top. In 1960, this was actually Ray Charles's band minus Ray.

100.TRICYCLE - FLIM & THE BBS
The CD they always have playing in stereo stores to get you to buy high-end speakers. Actually sounds good on low end speakers too. Don't tell anyone...... save money!

 

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