Essential Albums At Sixty
Author: David Bowling
Jan 01, 2010
I turned the big six zero yesterday and I have no idea how that
happened. I am a quintessential baby boomer, a part of the Woodstock
generation, flower power, and The Vietnam War. I saw Hendrix and the
original Who live and bought Sgt. Peppers and the Pet Sounds album
off the shelf at my local record store. My children and now my
grandchildren find my record collecting obsession to be both odd and
a little amusing but no one wants the collection after I'm gone. I
find it a little depressing that musicians who have been a part of my
life for decades are now passing away not from addictions or
accidents but from natural causes.
I bought and paid for my first record album in 1964. I have been
trying to think of which albums have spent the most time on my
turntable or in my disc machine but that has proven to be an
impossible task, so I have settled for the twelve that have received
regular play during the past several years and are currently
essential for me at sixty.
1) All Summer Long by The Beach Boys. This may actually be the album
I have played the most during my lifetime. It was the sixth studio
album by the Beach Boys and can be considered Brian Wilson's first
full sophisticated production epic. It is a concept album and a grand
ode to summer. "I Get Around," "All Summer Long," "Little Honda,"
"Girls On The Beach," "Drive In" and "Don't Back Down" are a part of
the idyllic and endless summer of my youth and at sixty that's not a
bad place to visit every once in awhile.
2) Beatles 65 by The Beatles. I respect such Beatles releases as Sgt.
Peppers, Rubber Soul, and Revolver but lately I have actually been
listening to this album. Maybe simple is better. I am still
enthralled every time I hear George Harrison's guitar sound that
opens "I Feel Fine." The rest is smooth rock 'n' roll at its best.
"I'm A Loser," "I'll Follow The Sun," "Everybody's Trying To Be My
Baby," "Baby's In Black," and "Honey Don't" may not be the most
creative music The Beatles ever produced but it is among the most listenable.
3) Highway 61 Revisited by Bob Dylan. Dylan had gone electric and the
resulting sound, textures, depth, and lyrics of this album have
fascinated me for years. "Like A Rolling Stone" alone makes it a
keeper. Rolling Stone Magazine would rank it as the greatest song of
all time. When you add "Desolation Row," "Queen Jane Approximately,"
"Ballad Of A Thin Man," "It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To
Cry," and more it all adds up to years of thoughtful listening.
4) Scarecrow by John Cougar Mellencamp. Music from the American
heartland. "R.O.C.K. In The USA" is catchy and was a huge hit but it
is songs such as "Small Town," "Rumbleseat," and especially "Rain On
The Scarecrow" which keep drawing me back. It is one of the few
albums where I really think the artist is both passionate and sincere.
5) Greatest Hits by Pat Benatar. What can I say? I thought she was
hot in my thirties, I thought she was hot in my forties, and well you
get the idea. I also enjoy her brand of hard rock and while her
studio albums may be a little uneven in places, when you gather her
best material in one place it is excellent. "Hell Is For Children,"
"Promises In The Dark," "Love Is A Battlefield," "Shadows Of The
Night," and a host of others all contain lyrics that walk on the dark
side of life and that has an odd appeal as well.
6) Get It by Dave Edmunds. Just accessible pop at its very best. His
version of "I Knew The Bride" makes the list of my favorite songs and
"Get Out Of Denver" plus "Here Comes The Weekend" are not far behind.
Why he has not been a bigger star in The United States is beyond me.
7) Party Doll And Other Favorites by Mary Chapin Carpenter. From the
enthusiasm and joy of "Passionate Kisses" and "Down At The Twist and
Shout " to the thoughtfulness and challenge of "Stones In The Road"
to just the good music of "Shut Up And Kiss Me" and "Quittin' Time,"
Mary Chapin Carpenter has put together a country/rock catalogue that
is second to none.
8) Days Of Future Passed by The Moody Blues. Justin Hayward and John
Lodge joined The Moody Blues and enabled them to fuse a rock and
classical music sound. This album was and still is creative as it
presented a day in a life. "Nights In White Satin" and "Tuesday
Afternoon" are still a pleasant way to spend an hour of my time
9) Are You Experienced by Jimi Hendrix. I saw Hendrix live for the
first time when I was in high school and how I convinced my parents
to let me travel into New York City for the performance I have no
idea. His debut album still knocks me out forty plus years later.
"Purple Haze," "Fire," "Foxy Lady," "The Wind Cries Mary," and "Third
Stone From The Sun" continue to amaze me on a regular basis.
10) Cricklewood Green by Ten Years After. I played this album to
death when I was in college and continue to listen to it today. Ten
Years After had terrible production on a number of their early albums
but here they got it just right as "Sugar The Road," "Love Like A
Man," and "Year 3000 Blues" are creative fusions of rock and blues.
11) Winter Carols by Blackmore's Night. Ritchie Blackmore of Deep
Purple and Rainbow fame met background singer Candice Night in the
early nineties and by 1997 had formed a rock/renaissance group that
has one of the most unique and joyful sounds I have heard. Their
Christmas album receives a lot of play in my home during the holiday
season. It is a combination of traditional carols and lesser known
tracks. Their "Lord Of The Dance/Simple Gifts" medley is the holiday
season at its best.
12) Gettysburg Soundtrack: Music by Randy Edelman. I am a Civil War
buff which led me to the Gettysburg film which in turn led me to the
soundtrack by Randy Edelman. The music is grand, poignant, and
soaring and it lets my mind wander along with it. Not bad from an old
folk/pop, singer/songwriter like Edelman. This album is a constant
companion in my car and its amazing how many times I pop it into the
CD player while on the road. Edelman has also been married to Jackie
DeShannon for over thirty years but that is another story.
That's my dozen essential albums at sixty. They may change in the
next year or so but that's the beauty of music, there are always new
surprises to be enjoyed no matter what the age but dang I'm getting old.