You are on a desert island and find 10 albums. Which ones should be included? Live albums and greatest hits collections are fair game. My ten in no particular order.
Abbey Road The Beatles at their finest. Not their best songs, although there are some gems, and the medley on side two is the Beatles at the top of their game. “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
This is the Moody Blues. A two-disc set that covers their classic period from the late 1960s to the mid 1970s. This collection includes the big hits and along with album tracks that defined their textured musical voyages. The songs are sequenced to segue from one to another as if they were meant to be this way even thought the songs are from different albums.
Yessongs. The ultimate live album if you are a fan of progressive music. YES created some masterpiece songs, layered in sound waves yet amazingly playable in concert without using additional musicians. This set comprises songs from their 1972 concerts which highlights their previous three studio albums. This set showcases their incredible musicianship.
It’s Only Rock and Roll. It’s only the Rolling Stones but you’ll like it. The last album made with guitarist Mick Taylor. While there is not a classic Stones single, this is arguably their best set of songs, expertly crafted, ranging from raw rock and roll to classic R&B to shimmering instrumentation. This album marks the end of their greatest production of classic albums.
Bookends. Yes, I picked this Simon and Garfunkel album over their most famous work. You couldn’t go wrong with either one but this album rocks with shorter songs and strong visual imagery. This is very much a 1960s album full of pop and folk delight. The longest song is “Mrs. Robinson” at a hair over four minutes. Paul Simon could tell an epic story in less time than it takes to makes toast.
All Things Must Pass. George Harrison’s finest set of songs and maybe the best Beatle solo album. A three record set on two CDs, the only negative is the now-dated “wall of sound” production provided by Phil Spector. Stripped of the excess, these songs are beautiful and linger in your mind. Forty-five years later the songs still pack a thunderclap of delight.
Wings Across America. A fine collection of Beatles and Wings songs played on Paul McCartney’s first post Beatles’ tour of America. A superb acoustic set is book-ended by strong electric sets. Paul’s concerts have always been strong with faithful renditions of solo and Beatles songs. This concert holds special memories 40 years later.
Paris. Supertramp produced one of the best selling albums of all time with Breakfast in America. They toured the world playing cuts from the album along with their best known songs. The result is this album that captured a mixture of their music both faithful to their recorded versions but stretched out comfortably in concert versions.
Face the Music. The Electric Light Orchestra’s first full album of classic songs although not their last. This album showed a growing songwriting maturity, an ability to write radio-friendly songs, and superior arrangements and musicianship. From the opening bars of “Evil Woman,” ELO downshifted into a new gear.
Barry White All-Time Greatest Hits. The only greatest hits package on the list. The soulful crooning of Barry White. Imagine the sound of Barry’s voice and the gentle ocean waves. I just hope I’m not alone on that island.
Of course, everyone has an ipod or mp3 files on their phone, so having an arm full of vinyl is very old school. But imagine, if you had to pair your favorite music down to a small number of tunes, what would you pick if you had to listen to your selections for perhaps a long period of time. It’s hard work but give it a try.