A couple of years ago I made a list of albums I want with me if I’m ever marooned on a desert island. That was fun, and difficult. Yes, a had with me a solar powered record player.
Here is a new list, using guidelines from vlogger Glen Kellaway. One album from each decade going back to the 1960s, and three bonus selections from any decade. I will not include greatest hits albums, but live albums and multiple disc albums are fair game.
Here we go:
1960s: The White Album (1968) by The Beatles. I grew up with this album and it has what is representable about The Beatles’ songwriting talent and their skill as players. I never get tired of these songs.
1970s: Who’s Next (1971) by The Who. A definitive album of the decade, an incredible statement of both optimism and caution in the coming age. The Who never sounded better, turbocharged and roadworthy, eager to tackle life ahead.
1980s: Full Moon Fever (1989) by Tom Petty. Venturing out as a solo artist, Petty takes the best of the Heartbreakers’ sound and retools it around songs he collaborated on with Jeff Lynne and Mike Campbell. The result is a terrific collection of accessible and vibrant songs that seem written especially for me.
1990s: Maybe an odd choice, The Division Bell (1994) by Pink Floyd. I play this album more than even the classic Floyd albums. The soundscape is clean to allow the brooding textures to shine through. David Gilmour’s songwriting is stronger than he is credited, and Richard Wright is back.
2000s: Bloodflowers (2000) by The Cure. Dark and foreboding like Disintegration, by more accessible musically. Complex soundscapes dripping with wonderful guitar effects, this the pinnacle for The Cure.
2010s: Western Stars (2019) by Bruce Springsteen. Longtime fans scratched their heads. This didn’t sound like Springsteen, rather it harkened back to the late 1960s, Burt Bacharach, Glen Campbell, Jimmy Webb territory. Strings and fancy arrangements, measured guitar work, vignettes of sun bleached and lonely Western sad stories. Epic and lush tales. A homerun in my book.
2020s: Brothers (2021) by Will Ackerman, Tom Eaton and Jeff Oaster. A New Age album of guitar, bass and horns. Quiet and beautiful, evoking sweet and reflective feelings for the listener. Ackerman is former founder of Windham Hill Records, who released some beautiful solo and ensemble albums back in the 1980s and 1990s.
Crime of the Century (1974) by Supertramp. Progressive-rock at its finest, the musicianship is amazing, while not the best group album, it is both commercially pleasing and sonically creative.
Yessongs (1973) by Yes. The only live album on my list, it is like an early greatest hits album, but the live versions are even better than the studio tracks. Yes at their peak.
Deja Vu (1970) by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. An angry, but beautiful album, rich in Americana, 1970s style. An amazing collection of songs, a reflective and powerful bridge between the decades.