My Favorite Artists and Recordings



    A couple of years ago I decided to sell my Bose Acoustimass 15 surround system and return to a mid to high end stereo set up. The difference in sound quality changed my music listening habits. I went from popping a CD in once a month or so to near daily listening. I reconnected to recordings I hadn't listened to in ten years or more, which eventually led me to write this.
     When I decided to do this as part of my website I thought that I would list maybe my top twenty or maybe fifty artists and recordings of all time, but after starting to write things down and talking to friends it quickly became apparent that the list was going to be longer and take a lot more time than I had envisioned.
     These are my opinions and I certainly don't expect everyone to agree with me and I know that I'll be leaving out a lot of music that you may feel is essential, but the beauty of music is that there is literally something for everyone. I have fairly wide ranging tastes, but they don't encompass every variety of music.
     I’m providing just a short synopsis of some of my favorite artists in the following section. I hope you enjoy reading this more than I enjoyed writing it and as much as I enjoyed listening to all this great music.
     (All of the titles I've listed under the artist's name are ones I consider to be four stars or above in a five star rating system.)





The Allman Brothers Band

Idlewild South
At Fillmore East

     The Allman Brothers Band defined Southern rock in the seventies, but it was a prototype that nobody (with the possible exception of Lynyrd Skynyrd) could live up to let alone improve on. The mix of originals and blues classics, concise instrumental vehicles, and extended jazz-like improvisations couldn’t be carried off by a lesser group of musicians. Unfortunately many tried.
     Buy the first five discs, and do some careful picking and choosing after that.


Karrin Allyson

Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane

     Definitely one of the best female jazz singers to come out of the nineties, virtually every Karrin Allyson recording is worth more than a casual audition. If you like vocal jazz at all, give her a listen. The Ballads CD is a good place to start.





The Band

Music From Big Pink
The Band
The Last Waltz

     They went from Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, to Bob Dylan’s backing band, to simply The Band, what a journey and what a band. Even though all of the members except Levon Helm (from Arkansas) were Canadian, they made what I’ve always thought was quintessentially American music. Instead of reading any more of what I write, I suggest you listen to the music of THE BAND.


Patricia Barber


     A female jazz piano player and singer, Patricia Barber is the epitome of cool. Listen to her take on mediocre pop songs like “The Beat Goes On” and turn them into cool jazz. A new favorite of mine, I only started listening in 2008.
     There are several very good Patricia Barber discs, starting with those above.


The Beach Boys

Pet Sounds
Endless Summer

     The Beach Boys started or were at least the best known proponents of surf music. All of the early hits were great fun, but along the way Brian Wilson wanted to start pushing things in another direction which resulted in “Pet Sounds” and the aborted “Smile”. For my money “Good Vibrations” is one of the all-time great rock singles.


The Beatles

Rubber Soul
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

     With all that has been written about the Beatles and with their worldwide popularity there isn’t much to say, but here it goes anyhow. From two minute pop songs to some of the most varied, sophisticated music of the rock era - that’s the Beatles musical history in a nutshell.
     As for what to buy, buy them all or at least “The Beatles 1”.


Chuck Berry

St. Louis To Liverpool
The Great Twenty Eight

     Would there be rock and roll without Chuck Berry? Probably, but it wouldn’t be the same. He was one of the earliest rock guitar gods and also one of the best (if not the best) of the early rock era song writers.
     “The Great Twenty Eight” has all the essentials, but try one of the boxed sets if you would like a more in depth look into the music of Chuck Berry.


Tommy Bolin


Private Eyes

     Consigned to mediocre status by most critics, I think Tommy Bolin was one of the most accomplished rock guitarists of his era. That was just a start, he wrote or co-wrote almost every song on these two albums as well as acting as producer. He died of a drug overdose when he was only twenty five and that was a crying shame. No one knows, but I think he could have delivered great things.
     Buy the two solo albums, but seek out Deep Purple’s “Come Taste The Band”, and Billy Cobham’s “Spectrum” among others.


David Bowie

Ziggy Stardust
Hunky Dory

     It’s difficult to recommend too many David Bowie albums, there are simply too many discs covering too many different styles. I can’t think of another artist who has recorded in so many different styles and created music worth hearing in each of them.
     If you don’t want to slog through all the albums, try “Changsesbowie” from Rykodisc or one of the box sets.


James Brown

     The Godfather of Soul, The Hardest Working Man In Show Business, Soul Brother Number One, James Brown was one of the great figures in American music.
R & B, Soul, and Funk were the grist for this machine. The inspired performances, driving rhythms, and impassioned vocals sum up James Brown and band for me.
     A compilation such as “the CD of JB”, “20 Greatest Hits” or “Star Time” should be sufficient for most people.


Jackson Browne


The Pretender
Running On Empty

     Jackson Browne - and this not a knock on him - reminded me of a darker, west coast version of James Taylor. An incredibly gifted songwriter, everything he released during the seventies is excellent.


Jimmy Buffett

Havana Daydreamin’
Changes in Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes

     The King of the laid back Florida lifestyle, Jimmy Buffett is capable of writing something as trashy (but admittedly funny) as “Why Don’t We get Drunk And Screw” and the introspective “A Pirate Looks At Forty”.
     Buy almost anything Jimmy put out in the seventies or a good greatest hits package and listen to it when you want to get relaxed.





Johnny Cash

At Folsom Prison
At San Quentin
American Recordings

     Johnny Cash - The Man In Black - is thought of as the country music establishment by many people I know. Just a quick look at his life makes that interpretation seem at best incomplete. The rebellious streak he displayed was a mile wide, and between his temper and drug addiction he seemed headed for prison. Thankfully he met June Carter and the rest is history.
     How many country artists can you think of who would cover Nine Inch Nails?
Johnny did and he made the song his.
     The three discs listed above are my three favorites. Still, in order to cover the breadth of his career more completely also get “Legend” or “The Essential Johnny Cash”.


Rosanne Cash

Seven Year Ache
King’s Record Shop
10 Song Demo

     The daughter of Johnny Cash and his first wife, Rosanne didn’t have to ride on daddy’s coattails. She is an excellent singer and songwriter in her own right and hasn’t recorded a bad album, although she certainly hasn’t been as prolific as her father.
     Buy everything or get one of the greatest hits packages.


Eva Cassidy

Live At Blues Alley

     Eva Cassidy released only one disc during her brief lifetime - “Live At Blues Alley”. She was only starting to be heard outside of her native Washing-ton, DC area when she died of cancer in 1996. She was only thirty three years old. This is yet another sad tale in the history of music.
     Listen to anything that has been released (except “No Boundaries”) and you will hear a woman who could sing almost any song and make it her own.


Ray Charles

Modern Sounds In Country and Western Music
Genius Loves Company

     Ray Charles could play and sing virtually any kind of American music and make you feel it right down to your toes. He was an exceptional musician, writer, and arranger with one of the most easily recognized voices in popular music. The man is a legend indeed.
     If you don’t want to buy a bunch of individual discs (almost anything with Genius in the title is good), try one of the greatest hits like “The Very Best Of Ray Charles” from Rhino or better yet a boxed set such as “Pure Genius” or “Genius & Soul”. Enjoy.


Eric Clapton

461 Ocean Boulevard

     What can you say about the man that had people writing “Clapton is God”?-
how about they were a little overwrought, but then again not by a huge margin.
     In addition to his solo recordings check out discs from The Yardbirds, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton, Cream, Blind Faith, and Derek and the Dominos. It’s an amazing body of work.


Guy Clark

Boats to Build
Old No. 1
Dublin Blues

     What can I say about Guy Clark? Other people have surely written far more eloquently than I'll ever be able to, but here is my two cents worth. Guy Clark is one of my favorite songwriters of all time and an under rated singer. I've heard some of his songs performed by other artists and at least for me they just don't carry the same emotional impact as hearing them performed by the writer.
     I put “Boats to Build” first because it was the first Guy Clark CD I ever heard and I was stunned – “Baton Rouge”, “Boats to Build”, “Too Much”, “Ramblin' Jack & Mahan”, “Jack of All Trades”, and “I Don't Love You Much Do I” the duet with Emmy Lou Harris all left me with the feeling that I didn't want them to end.
     Every Guy Clark CD has at least a couple of classic songs – “L.A. Freeway” and “Desperadoes Waiting For The Train” from “Old No. 1” and “Dublin Blues”, “Stuff That Works”, and “The Randall Knife” from “Dublin Blues” come immediately to mind.
     If you have heard Guy Clark before you know what I'm talking about and probably have your own choices. If you haven’t heard Guy Clark before, do yourself a favor and listen to him soon and decide on your own favorites.


Joe Cocker

With A Little Help From My Friends
Joe Cocker!
Mad Dogs & Englishmen

     Joe Cocker’s raspy, soulful voice is among the most easily recognizable in rock music. Most of his hits have been written by other people, but even when they were previously hits for others the songs sound like his.
     For a compilation try “Gold”.


Holly Cole

Don’t Smoke In Bed

     If you like Diana Krall or Norah Jones, please listen to Holly Cole. I like both Krall and Jones quite a bit, but I think Holly Cole is a much better singer than either. This subtracts nothing from the previously mentioned pair, indeed I would urge you to listen to their music, but definitely listen to Holly Cole at your earliest opportunity.
     I would start with the two I listed, but try them all.


John Coltrane

Giant Steps
My Favorite Things
A Love Supreme

     John Coltrane, despite a relatively short recording career, delivered dozens of albums as a sideman and as a front man. Although he played in jazz bands starting in the mid 1940’s, he recorded only from 1956 to 1967 and was a leader from 1960 on. He is one of the greatest jazz saxophone players that ever played the instrument.
     The discs listed above are the favorites of the Coltrane discs that I have heard, but the man was prolific and there are many others I would like to hear.


Ry Cooder

Paradise and Lunch
Bop Til You Drop
Talking Timbuktu

     I always thought of Ry Cooder as a walking encyclopedia of American music but apparently I was wrong, he is an encyclopedia of World music. As a composer, arranger, and guitar player he has few peers but by bringing such artists as Ali Farka Toure, V.M. Bhatt, The Buena Vista Social Club, and others to the attention of an American audience he jumps to the top of the class.
     If you would like a greatest hits set try “The UFO Has Landed”.


Elvis Costello

My Aim Is True
This Year’s Model
Almost Blue

     When His first album was released, Elvis Costello was lumped in with the punk genre by many critics and dubbed an angry young man. They completely missed the point in my opinion. Yes he could thrash with the best, but he also wrote some beautiful, intelligent songs. The various elements he drew from included reggae, country, pop, and rock all fused into his own musical vision.
     There are several great Elvis Costello albums, the ones listed above among them. I haven’t seen a career spanning greatest hits, but try “The Best Of Elvis Costello And The Attractions”.


Robert Cray

Bad Influence
Strong Persuader

     Robert Cray has been passed off as too pop or too rock by many blues purists. Who cares? It’s still great music, and he’s still a damn fine guitarist, vocalist, and a pretty good songwriter.
     Everything he’s done is worth hearing and some of it is excellent. Start with the two listed above and you won’t be disappointed, at least I wasn’t.


Creedence Clearwater Revival

     Dubbed swamp music by critics after their initial release, CCR tapped into southern roots music and rockabilly for some of its influences. The group was a tight musical unit that was dominated by the songwriting and vocal talents of John Fogerty. This is great American music.
     Everything the group recorded until the final studio album, 1972’s “Mardi Gras” was outstanding. Buy them or the retrospective “Chronicle”.


Rodney Crowell

     A great singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer, I first heard Rodney Crowell as part of Emmy Lou Harris’ Hot Band in the mid-seventies. He wrote several excellent songs for her before he left a couple of years later to form his own band. He established himself as a producer on his own albums as well as all of Rosanne Cash’s best albums of the seventies and eighties.
     Almost all of Rodney Crowell’s albums are worth owning, but you need to have at least one of the greatest hits collections.





Miles Davis

Birth Of The Cool
Kind of Blue
In A Silent Way

     Miles Davis was Jazz with a capital J. There are many towering figures in the history of jazz music but I can think of no other individual who began with what was handed him and continually changed it and moved it forward like Miles Davis did. In my opinion if you don't like Miles, you don't like jazz.
     The albums listed above are as good a starting point as I can think of, but there are probably more than a dozen others that I would consider to have a five star rating.


The Doors

The Doors
L.A. Woman

     Dismissed as a drunken buffoon by the later stages of his career, Jim Morrison managed to make some classic rock recordings with The Doors. With Ray Manzarek’s keyboards and Jim Morrison’s vocals leading the way, The Doors made some of the most affecting music of their time.
     “The Doors” and “L.A. Woman” are indispensable recordings for anyone who likes sixties and seventies rock.


Bob Dylan

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan
Highway 61 Revisited
Blonde on Blonde

     A songwriter who could rouse and soothe and hit every note in between,    Bob Dylan was the voice of his generation and certainly the most popular to deal with some of the most difficult social problems of the day. But you can’t forget the comedy of Rainy Day Women #12 & 35, Quinn The Eskimo, or the romance of Tangled up In Blue, and the sublime Lay Lady Lay among many others.
     The listed discs are all great, but virtually any recording from the sixties is a classic. There have been excellent recordings in each decade since the sixties, but there have been fewer of them.





Ronnie Earl

Test Of Time
Grateful Heart
Healing Time

     I was a big fan of the original Roomful Of Blues, so I was not happy when founder/guitarist Duke Robillard left the band in 1979. However he was replaced by Ronnie Earl who was even better. When Ronnie started releasing albums under his own name in the early eighties the results were a little uneven, but I think over the years his playing has gotten better and better.
     “Test Of Time” is collected from his first six recordings for Black Top, “Grateful Heart” is on the Bullseye Blues label and “Healing Time” is on Telarc.


Bill Evans

Complete Village Vanguard Recordings 1961
Jazz Around Midnight
Conversations With Myself

     Bill Evans’ lyrical, introspective style is what makes him my favorite jazz piano player. He seemed equally at home as leader or sideman (check out Miles Davis’ “Kind Of Blue”). This is intricate, expressive playing without trying to overpower the people surrounding him.
     The first listed disc is a combination of the recordings that resulted in the original releases of “Waltz For Debbie” and “Sunday At The Village Van-guard”, “Conversations With Myself” is Evans triple tracking his piano - not to be missed.





Fleetwood Mac

Then Play On
Fleetwood Mac

     There is no denying that “Fleetwood Mac” and “Rumours” were the peak of their popularity and arguably their artistry, but I prefer the Peter Green led, blues oriented Fleetwood Mac of the sixties. That doesn’t mean I don’t like the Buckingham/Nicks era, I did. It’s just that for me the highs were higher, even if the lows were lower, during the blues rock era of their career. Plus the fact that Peter Green was one of the best of the British blues guitarists of any era.
     For an overview of their entire career try “The Chain”, but try to find a greatest hits collection that gathers what they did prior to 1975. “Fleetwood Mac”, “Rumours”, and maybe “Tusk” are all you need from the post 1975 period. Also look for the excellent Peter Green album “In The Skies”.


Aretha Franklin

     Aretha Franklin’s impact on American music - rock, pop, soul, jazz, or gospel - can’t be overestimated. The songwriting, the piano playing, and the vocals were all first rate. Gospel influenced everything she sang, and although there have many gospel steeped singers in the history of rock music, none have been able to put it all together like Aretha.
     I would get “Queen Of Soul: The Atlantic Recordings” at a minimum.





Al Green

Gets Next To You
Let’s Stay Together
I’m Still In Love With You

     The Reverend Al Green, with all due respect to Marvin Gaye (a personal favorite of mine) and everyone else who ever sang a note, is the greatest soul singer who ever lived. With producer Willie Mitchell he created the soundtrack for seduction in the seventies and it still works pretty well today.
     This music belongs in every music collection in the world. Get a greatest hits collection at the very least or I’ll come to your house and sing his songs until you do. OK, I wouldn’t actually torture you that way but you get the idea.

Grant Green


     Grant Green’s guitar sound comes from the intersection of jazz, blues, and soul. He has long been one of the most under rated jazz guitarists, but that is changing finally. I’ve been listening to his music for about fifteen years and one or another of his discs finds its way into my listening rotation at least once a week.
     All of his sixties releases on Blue Note are good and many are excellent.


Buddy Guy

Damn Right, I’ve Got The Blues
Sweet Tea
Buddy’s Blues (Chess 50th Anniversary Collection)

     Buddy Guy is probably the man who epitomizes the bridge between the blues and rock. He is a loud, aggressive player who loves to put on a show as much as he loves to play. He has definitely influenced a couple of generations of blues-
rock guitarists.
     As usual, my favorites are listed above and are the ones I would buy first to add to my collection. Of course I already own these and several more.            




Jimi Hendrix

Are You Experienced?
Electric Ladyland

     These are the two vital albums to have for any Jimi Hendrix, sixties Rock, or Rock guitar fan to have in their collection. One of the all-time great guitar players and surely one of the most innovative, Jimi set the standard for combining technical expertise and feeling to convey the meaning of a rock song.
     In my opinion these two albums are indispensable for any rock fan, but several others are definitely worth having depending on how much you want to indulge yourself.


John Hiatt

Bring The Family
Slow Turning
Stolen Moments

     Long known as one of rock’s great songwriters, John Hiatt is also a fine performer. The list of artists who have recorded his songs is stellar - Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Willie Nelson, Ry Cooder, Jeff Healey, Joe Cocker, Conway Twitty, Gregg Allman, Rosanne Cash, and on and on.
     There are a lot of fine albums here that deserve to be heard. There are also several greatest hits discs but none of them contain one of my favorite songs - “Bring Back Your Love To Me”.


Buddy Holly

     Wow - when I first heard Buddy Holly’s music back in 1977, I couldn’t believe that it had been recorded twenty years before. I mean, it sounded better than most of what I’d been listening to, and the writing and guitar playing were outstanding. Of course after this I found out what a huge influence he had been on The Beatles and others because of his writing and his prowess in the studio. Even today Buddy Holly’s music sounds fresh. It’s hard to believe that all these classic tunes were recorded in a period that lasted only about eighteen months. I will always wonder what might have been.
     There are several greatest hits collections out there, buy one released by a reputable record label and enjoy.


James Hunter

People Gonna Talk

     With a handful of absolutely great songs and a terrific band behind him, this has quickly become a favorite of mine. This is the only James Hunter recording I have heard, but it sure makes me want to hear a lot more.





Chris Isaak

Heart Shaped World
Forever Blue

     Chris Isaak is an excellent singer, songwriter, and guitarist who has seldom traveled beyond niche status. While “Wicked Game” was a huge hit, and deservedly so (in my opinion it is one of the finest rock songs ever written), there is decidedly more to the music of Chris Isaak than that one song. Take a listen to any of his albums and you’ll see. For instance The Neil Diamond song “Solitary Man” from “San Francisco Days” has never been performed better in my opinion. There are many more examples, listen for yourself.





Joe Jackson

Look Sharp!
Jumpin’ Jive
Night And Day
     Joe Jackson kept trying musical genres on for size over his first five albums and the all seemed to fit pretty well. Although I haven’t kept up with his career since the early eighties, I like what I heard.
     Check out “Greatest Hits” or “Steppin’ Out” for an overview of his music.


Etta James

At Last
Etta James Rocks The House
Tell Mama


     If “At Last” was the only song that Etta James ever recorded she would be a legend. Fortunately for us there have been many more great releases like “All I Could Do Was Cry”, “Tell Mama”, and the monumental “I’d Rather Go Blind”. The passion and longing that she can put into a song are amazing.
     Start with the recordings listed above or at least get a decent career retrospective like “Essential Etta James”.


Robert Johnson

The Complete Recordings

     The legendary Robert Johnson set the standard for country blues guitar playing and influenced the rock music of the sixties - think of “Love In Vain” as performed by The Rolling Stones or Eric Clapton’s version of “Crossroads”.
     Robert Johnson’s life and music long ago entered the arena of myth, check it out when you get a chance.


Janis Joplin

Cheap Thrills

     When she went into full screech mode, Janis Joplin could be hard to take.
However she could swoop from screech to stunning in one line. At her best there was no more heartfelt, inspired vocalist in rock.
     Try one of the greatest hits or the box set “Box Of Pearls”.





Keb’ Mo’

Keb’ Mo’

     Keb’ Mo’ has always been pigeonholed as a blues artist, but I think that goes a bit far. He recorded a couple of Robert Johnson songs on his first album to great effect, but taken as a whole it was more blues influenced than trad-
itional blues. That doesn’t make any difference, it was still a great album.
     All of his releases have at least something worth a listen, however a career retrospective is long overdue.


B.B. King

Deuces Wild
Live At The Regal

     B.B. King is the one and only King of the Blues. The man’s voice and guitar playing are instantly recognizable. B.B. King is probably the most recognized blues musician extant, and deservedly so.
     During his long career there has been a lot of dirt among the diamonds.
Start with “Live At The Regal” and “Live In Cook County Jail” and then flesh out your collection from there.




Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin 1-4
Houses Of The Holy
Physical Graffiti

     Just writing this makes me want to go on a Led Zeppelin binge. This music is usually labeled as the birth of heavy metal; I prefer to think of it as heavy blues (with a kick). Whatever you want to call it, they recorded a lot of great music over the course of their career. Unfortunately they also inspired a lot of inferior bands. Accept no substitutes.


Little Feat

Sailin' Shoes
Dixie Chicken
     Little Feat was one of my favorite bands of the seventies. The individual band members - Bill Payne, Paul Barrere, Kenny Gradney, et al were all excellent instrumentalists but it was the off kilter imagery in Lowell George's lyrics that put the band over the top. After George died in 1979 things were never the same. The band got back together in the late eighties and released a couple of decent albums but Lowell George's writing was sorely missed.
     If you like the above discs and want more try “Little Feat”, the live release “Waiting For Columbus” and the retrospective “Hoy-Hoy!”.


Lyle Lovett

Lyle Lovett
Lyle Lovett And His Large Band

     Another in a long line of great songwriters from Texas, Lyle Lovett hit the ground running - his first three discs are uniformly excellent. His albums are a mix of country, folk, rock, jazz, big band, and God knows what else. Eclectic - you bet, worth listening to - damn straight!
     Almost everything he’s recorded should be heard, but I’m waiting for the next great Lyle Lovett album.





Bob Marley

     Bob Marley and The Wailers are without a doubt the most well-known reggae band that ever recorded and he is the iconic figure of the genre. I couldn’t imagine really caring about reggae without Bob Marley.
     Virtually anything released before his death is worth owning, but buy the greatest hits set “Legend” at least.


Steve Miller Band

Brave New World
Fly Like An Eagle

     Steve Miller’s career loosely breaks down into two sections, the blues influenced 1968 to 1973 and the pop/rock 1974 to 1978. His first three albums “Children Of The Future”, “Sailor”, and “Brave New World are all excellent as are the later releases “Fly Like An Eagle” and “Book Of Dreams”. There are also some good collections out there like “Best Of 1968-1973”, “Best Of 1974-1978” or the aptly titled “Box Set”.


Joni Mitchell

Court And Spark

     Joni Mitchell - I love her voice and her late sixties to mid-seventies music is some of the best of the singer/songwriter era. Unfortunately most of her output since hasn’t been that good although I can’t say anything about the last couple of discs since I haven’t heard them.
     If you have any interest in this type of music you should at least buy her best of disc on the Reprise label appropriately named “hits”.


Van Morrison

Tupelo Honey

     Van Morrison is a musical genre unto himself. Blues, Soul, R&B, Rock, Celtic, Jazz and more all filtered through his own lens. I've seen it called Celtic Soul and that is as good a name as any, but I think he goes beyond that.
     His musical output throughout the sixties and the seventies was first rate with only a couple of exceptions, but has been spottier in the decades since. Still there is much there from the eighties and onward worth hearing.
     Start with the two albums listed above and if you like those I would recommend “Astral Weeks”, “St. Dominic's Preview”, and “His Band and The Street Choir”.


Motown Records

    Obviously not an artist, but it is easier to talk about the incredible roster of talent at Motown than about each individual band. What a roster - The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Supremes, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson 5, and many more.
     These groups were almost all hit machines, so look for greatest hits sets by your favorite artists or a box set like “The Complete Motown # 1’s”.





Willie Nelson

Red Headed Stranger
Willie And Family Live

     “Red Headed Stranger” is what first drew me into country music in the mid- seventies. The sparse instrumentation, the incredibly descriptive songs, and most of all that incredible voice made for an amazing listening experience. With a first rate band and outstanding songs, Willie released a string of great albums in the seventies. His music led me to Waylon Jennings, Hank Jr., Kris Kristofferson, and more. All I can say is thank you Willie.
     Unfortunately I haven’t replaced any of my old albums with compact discs. This is an oversight which I need to correct.





Charlie Parker

The Greatest Jazz Concert Ever

     If John Coltrane was one of the greatest ever - and he was - then Charlie Parker may have been the best ever. Along with Dizzy Gillespie and Bud Powell, he practically invented bebop. Another one taken too soon, a life of heroin addiction and hard living took Bird when he was only thirty four years old.
     Look for anything with Savoy or Massey Hall in the Title.


Alan Parsons Project

Tales Of Mystery And Imagination
I, Robot
Turn Of A Friendly Card

     The Alan Parsons Project was a collective of musicians overseen by producer/engineer Parsons who provided the direction for each album. Alan Parsons is probably the best known producer/engineer in rock music history.
Each release had its own theme - in order Edgar Allen Poe, Isaac Asimov, and gambling.
     There is some very interesting music here which deserves to be heard.


The Persuasions

We Came To Play
Street Corner Symphony
A Cappella Dreams

     A large fish in a small niche, The Persuasions deserve a much larger audience than they are ever likely to get. They are far more talented than many far more popular groups. Unfortunately this is a far from perfect world.
     At any rate, if you have any interest in this type of music, you need to hear these three discs at a minimum. After these, if there is anything else that intrigues you, please buy it. You may also want to listen to The Nylons, Sweet Honey In The Rock, and Rockapella among others.


Pink Floyd

Dark Side Of The Moon
Wish You Were Here
The Wall

     Space Rock, Acid Rock, Psychedelic Rock - put whatever label on it you want, Pink Floyd makes music to lose yourself in. I know I did many times in the distant past. So turn down the lights, get comfortable, slip on your headphones, and get lost.
     My favorites are above - find your own.


Elvis Presley

     One of the pivotal figures of rock and roll, Elvis Presley was probably the most important if not the best of the founders of the genre. It’s become a cliché, but the Sun recordings and the early RCA discs really were the best music Elvis ever recorded. The period from 1956 to 1960 and 1968 to 1971 was about it for Elvis recording honest to God rock and roll. His great talent was squandered for large chunks of his career.
     The best of this material deserves to be in any complete rock or pop collection. Try “Elvis: 30 #1 Hits”, it has most of the essentials.


John Prine

John Prine
Sweet Revenge
John Prine Live

     I’ve been listening to John Prine since the mid-seventies and can’t imagine not being able to hear his music again. Listening to John is like listening to an old friend you haven’t seen in a long time. He’s going to tell some old stories you both know - some of them are going to be hilarious and some are going to be heart breaking, but you’re damn glad you experienced them together.
     If you haven’t heard John Prine, please do yourself a favor and at least buy “Prime Prine” or one of the other greatest hits recordings.





Bonnie Raitt

Nick Of Time

     A great guitar player and singer (and a decent songwriter), Bonnie Raitt was also an outstanding interpreter of other writers music. She has recorded out-
standing versions of songs by Joni Mitchell, John Hiatt, John Prine, and many others. I read a review years ago that said she had a plain voice and played mediocre guitar, I figured we didn’t live on the same planet.
     The two discs above are favorites, but could be replaced with any of the first three releases or “Luck Of The Draw”, or you could just buy all of them!


Lou Reed

Rock ‘N’ Roll Animal
New York

     Lou Reed is probably best remembered for his work with The Velvet Under-ground, but much of his solo work is very good. The subject matter of his early work - drug abuse, sex, transvestites, etc. - wasn’t exactly mainstream, but it was excellent rock music.
     Look for the early Velvet Underground discs, or a greatest hits package, but you have to at least listen to “New York”, it is a modern classic.



The Rolling Stones

Beggars Banquet
Let It Bleed
Sticky Fingers
Exile On Main Street

     These are just a few of the outstanding albums recorded by the Rolling Stones during their prime. Often called the greatest rock band in the world and although that may be debatable they were damn sure one of the best. They also idolized some of the best American musicians like Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry, so they had a good base to start from.
     Although the listed albums are some of my favorites, most of their sixties and seventies albums are well worth owning or at least hearing.


Linda Ronstadt

Heart Like A Wheel
Prisoner In Disguise

     Linda Ronstadt was one of the most popular vocalists of the seventies and when she had the right material she was also one of the best. Folk, country, and pop were the best fits for her voice in my opinion. When she tried harder edged material it just didn’t work, she picked some great songs by the likes of Warren Zevon and The Rolling Stones but they just didn’t suit her voice.
     The seventies were mostly pretty good for Ronstadt. “Heart Like A Wheel” and “Prisoner In Disguise” are two very fine albums. Since she was mainly a singles artist, a greatest hits package should work just fine.


Roxy Music

The Atlantic Years

     Brian Eno left Roxy Music after their second album was released (the excellent “For Your Pleasure”. Bryan Ferry and the rest of the group continued on and turned out a handful of other great albums - “Stranded”, “Country Life”, and “Siren”. “The Atlantic Years” is a greatest hits collection.
     By the way, Roxy’s Phil Manzanera is one of my favorite guitarists so check out any of his solo recordings from the seventies and early eighties.







     With Carlos Santana’s guitar leading the way, Greg Rolie’s keyboards, and Jose Chepito Areas’ percussion helped fuel a Latin tinged rock sound that hadn’t been heard before. Right from the beginning you knew this was something special. Santana’s output was first rate through Caravanserai (released in 1972).Since then it had been spotty until Supernatural was released in 1999.
     I would buy the first four discs, the ones listed above, plus Santana III. If you only have room for one disc, try the remastered “The Best Of Santana” released by Columbia in 1998.


Bob Seger

Live Bullet
Night Moves
Stranger In Town

     Bob Seger had been recording on and off for years with different bands and line ups when he formed the Silver Bullet Band in the mid-seventies, the rest as they say is history. In the latter half of the seventies Seger became one of the biggest acts in the US and deservedly so. He had a stockpile of great songs like Turn The Page, Beautiful Loser, Heavy Music, and others. He continued writing memorable songs throughout the seventies and into the late eighties when his star dimmed. During that time he left a legacy of some of the best rock music to come out of America's heartland.
     The three recordings listed above are a great place to start, but much of the output from the seventies and eighties is indispensable.


Paul Simon

Paul Simon
There Goes Rhymin’ Simon
Still Crazy After All These Years

     The first two albums I ever bought (graduating from 45 rpm singles) were Three Dog Night’s “Golden Biscuits” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. As a kid I appreciated the soaring vocals of Art Garfunkel. As I grew older and the duo broke up, I came to appreciate the writing of Paul Simon which was ultimately the more important part. Paul Simon is still one of my favorite artists of all time.
     You can buy nearly any Paul Simon or Simon & Garfunkel disc and enjoy some truly great music.



Frank Sinatra

     There isn’t really much I can say about Francis Albert Sinatra that hasn’t been said before. He is certainly the best interpreter of material from the great American songbook (Gershwin, Porter, Cahn, Arlen, etc.) and more. There is simply so much outstanding material recorded during his long career that it’s hard to pick. I would probably start with “Classic Sinatra” and go from there.


Sly & The Family Stone

There’s A Riot Goin’ On

     This is the one band that defines the sixties - a mix of blacks, whites, men, and women that played a mix of funk, soul, rock, psychedelic, and more.
There are thematic albums, socially conscious music, and just plain old get up off your butt and dance music. For anyone with an interest in the sixties, it’s hard to beat this group.
     There are a couple of good greatest hits sets out there to choose from so don’t hesitate to pick one.


Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes

I Don’t Want To Go Home
This Time It’s For Real

     The Jukes were a great band that was unfortunately overshadowed by Bruce
Springsteen. I’m a big Springsteen fan and he was undoubtedly the more important artist, but these guys really deserved a larger audience.
     There are a couple of decent hits collections available: “Havin’ A Party” and “Best Of”.



Bruce Springsteen

Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.
Born To Run
The River

     Right from the start Bruce Springsteen brought a fresh perspective and
energy that was captivating. If you aren't a fan and haven't heard anything beyond the hits listen to “Growin' Up“, “For You“, and “Mary Queen Of Arkansas” from the Greetings CD or “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out“, “She's The One“, and the noirish “Meeting Across The River” from “Born To Run” or... well, you get the idea. For me this was what it was like to be young and longing to go somewhere, anywhere but where I was.


Steely Dan

Can’t Buy A Thrill

     Steely Dan was never really a rock band as such, but a vehicle for the songwriting of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen. Although the band personnel were constantly changing, the musicianship and production values were always top notch. More than most rock albums of the era the sound quality of a Steely Dan recording was a feature of every release.
     The discs listed above are my favorites, but every Steely Dan album is worth owning. This is one of my favorite groups from any time period.


Rod Stewart

Every Picture Tells A Story
Atlantic Crossing

     Rod Stewart was one of the great singers (and a pretty good song writer) from the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies, unfortunately time didn’t stop and Rod went to disco and beyond. Still, he left some great music up until the lousy “Foot Loose & Fancy Free”.


The Subdudes

The Subdudes

     Hailing from New Orleans, The Subdudes cook up a gumbo spiced with funk, blues, rock, and gospel that will appeal to your ears the way a Louisiana gumbo tantalizes your taste buds.
     Do yourself a favor and listen to these guys at your earliest opportunity.





Talking Heads

Talking Heads: 77
More Songs About Buildings And Food
Remain In Light

     The Talking Heads were one of the bands that defined their era, a group that consciously chose to experiment with different musical styles from album to album. Grab a good hits collection or the first four studio albums.


James Taylor

Sweet Baby James
Mud Slide Slim And The Blue Horizon

     The epitome of the seventies singer/songwriter, James Taylor’s calm demeanor and smooth vocal delivery helped win him a legion of fans. Of course others thought him a total wimp. I wasn’t one of them. There are times I want to listen to headbangin’ rock and times I want to listen to softer, intelligent, introspective lyrics. That’s why James Taylor has a permanent spot in my music collection.
     For those who only want one James Taylor disc, try the Rhino/WEA “The Best Of James Taylor“.



John Barleycorn Must Die
Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys

     Traffic had a revolving membership centered on Steve Winwood that included Dave Mason, Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood, Ric Grech, and others. There is some really great music here although some of it hasn’t aged that well.
     For a one disc hits collection try “Gold”.





Stevie Ray Vaughan

Texas Flood
In Step

     Another artist gone far too soon, Stevie Ray Vaughan could play guitar in a variety of styles and sound incredible in all of them. I saw him in concert a couple of times and just basked in the sounds cascading over me. It was a shame that within a couple of years after shaking a serious drug and alcohol addiction he was killed in a helicopter crash.
     Get your hands on any Stevie Ray Vaughan recordings you can find and enjoy some great blues influenced music.





Muddy Waters

At Newport
Folk Singer
Hard Again

     Muddy Waters is one of the most commanding figures in blues history. His arrival in Chicago from the Delta changed the course of Chicago blues from the forties onward. He surrounded himself with some of the greatest musicians in blues history - Otis Spann, Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers, James Cotton, and more.
     There are a lot of very good albums out there, as usual I recommend you start with the ones I’ve listed or a greatest hits collection such as “Anthology (1947-1972).


Doc Watson

     Perhaps the best flat-picker who ever lived, Arthel “Doc” Watson should be listened to by anyone who wants to hear a master guitar player and story teller. I don’t think he has recorded a bad album, some are just better than others. The only problem I’ve ever seen with his music is that he has recorded some of the same tunes on multiple albums.
     You can start by listening to almost anything released by Vanguard or if you would like to hear other similar artists try “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” - a great slice of Americana put together by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.


Weather Report

Weather Report
Black Market
Heavy Weather

     Weather Report was built around saxophonists Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter, but with other members such as Airto Moreira, Alphonse Mouzon, Miroslav Vitous, Jaco Pastorius, and Peter Erskine this was more like a jazz all-star band. These guys virtually defined the jazz/rock movement in the seventies, which is appropriate since several of them played with Miles Davis in the sixties.
     Anything from the seventies is worth hearing and most of it is excellent.
“Heavy Weather” is probably the biggest hit and a safe place to start.



The Who

Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy
Who's Next

     One of the great rock bands of all time, The Who had an incredible songwriter in Pete Townshend which set them apart from most other groups of the era. Keith Moon got most of the headlines for being a total madman, but I couldn't imagine the group being nearly as good without John Entwistle on bass and especially Roger Daltrey as lead vocalist.
    “Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy” is an early greatest hits collection if you don't want to buy the individual albums, “Tommy” is rock as high concept, and “Who's Next” is simply one of the greatest rock albums in history.


Hank Williams

The Unreleased Recordings
The Complete Hank Williams

     Hank Williams wrote an incredible number of classic songs in his short life. His music not only influenced country music, but also rockabilly and rock and roll. Listen to any Hank Williams hits collection and you’ll hear songs that have been working their way through popular music for over fifty years. This is a body of work that was completed before he ever saw his thirtieth birthday.
     Hank Williams - man, myth, Legend.


Lucinda Williams

Lucinda Williams
Sweet Old World
Car Wheels On A Gravel Road

     Although Lucinda Williams isn’t a household name, she should be. From the first note I heard, I knew I was in for something special. The lyrics, the music, and the vocals blend into a whole that rivets your attention. She deserves more than a cult following.


Stevie Wonder

Talking Book

     From a very early age Stevie Wonder was an amazing performer and as the sixties and seventies progressed his stature as a songwriter continued to grow. He wrote and performed some of the greatest pop and soul songs ever recorded. These songs have entered the popular lexicon and should remain there for many years to come.
     If you don’t want to buy the individual discs, the hits are a requirement. Try “The Definitive Collection” on for size.






Close To The Edge

     Yes was one of the best, and certainly the longest lived, progressive rock bands of the seventies. The two I listed are my favorites, nearly everything else is superfluous. Try one of the greatest hits sets like “Yessongs” instead.
     If you like this type of music you should check out early Genesis, King Crimson, or Emerson, Lake and Palmer.


Neil Young

After The Goldrush
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

     Neil Young is one of the best songwriters of the rock era and certainly one of the most prolific. This creates the problem of too many discs and too little money. I have quite a few Neil Young discs in my collection, but could get along quite nicely as long as I had “Decade”.
     You might also want to check out Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young.





Frank Zappa

We’re Only In It For The Money
Overnight Sensation

     Frank Zappa - incredible guitar player and composer, had a penchant for writing incredibly demanding music that interspersed rock and symphonic elements along with free jazz, oh and he also threw in doo wop. If you aren’t confused yet, you aren’t paying attention. This music definitely isn’t for everyone, in addition to the complexity of the music Zappa also liked to challenge censorship. If a little vulgarity bothers you, don’t listen. Plus some of his music sounds slightly nuts.
     The three discs listed above are a good place to start, but there is an abundance of material out there and most of it is worth listening to.


Warren Zevon

Warren Zevon
Excitable Boy
Bad Luck Streak In Dancing School

     It’s hard to for me describe Warren Zevon’s music. Okay, I’ll try - wickedly funny, satiric, and on occasion downright beautiful come to mind. Everybody probably thinks of “Werewolves Of London”, but try “Mohammed’s Radio”, “Desperadoes Under The Eaves”, “Lawyers, Guns And Money” or many of his other songs to get a better idea of what he was all about.
     If you don’t want to buy the individual discs, try one of the greatest hits packages like “Genius” or “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead”.


ZZ Top

Rio Grande Mud
Tres Hombres

     A great blues/rock band from Texas, ZZ Top released several very good albums in the seventies - see the above. Unfortunately, almost nothing they’ve released since has measured up. Oh well, we’ll always have the seventies.




Tuck Andress – Reckless Precision
Bad Company – 1st album
Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians - Shooting Rubberbands At The Stars
The Everly Brothers - Cadence Classics: Their 20 Greatest Hits
Steve Forbert – Alive On Arrival
Carole King - Tapestry
Peggy Lee - Miss Peggy Lee Sings The Blues
Delbert McClinton - Live From Austin
Meat Loaf - Bat Out Of Hell
Glenn Miller Band - In The Digital Mood
Roy Orbison - The All Time Greatest Hits
The Rascals - Anthology 1965-1972
Otis Redding - The Ultimate Otis Redding
Roy Roberts - Every Shade Of Blue
Michelle Shocked - Short Sharp Shocked
Todd Rundgren - Anthology (1968-1985)
Robin Trower - Bridge Of Sighs
War - Anthology (1970-1994)
Edgar Winter - They Only Come Out At Night


One Hit Wonders and Random Singles

Song    -    Artist

Sufficiently Breathless - Captain Beyond
How Long - Ace
Spirit In The Sky - Norman Greenbaum
All Right Now - Free
Suavecito - Malo
Summer - War
Tighter, Tighter - Alive & Kicking
Vehicle - The Ides Of March
Ride Captain Ride - Blues Image
Do You Know What I Mean -  Lee Michaels
Take A Letter Maria - R.B. Greaves
Midnight At The Oasis - Maria Muldaur
Come and Get Your Love - Redbone
My Maria - B.W. Stevenson
Natural High - Bloodstone
Just My Imagination - The Temptations
Buffalo Soldier - The Persuasions
In The Summertime -  Mungo Jerry
Montego Bay -  Bobby Bloom
Love Land - Charles Wright
Betcha By Golly Wow - The Stylistics
Me and Mrs. Jones - Billy Paul
Midnight Train To Georgia -  Gladys Knight & The Pips
Drowning In The Sea Of Love - Joe Simon
Expressway To Your Heart - The Soul Survivors
Cowboys To Girls - The Intruders
You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine - Lou Rawls
If You Don’t Know Me By Now - Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
Show And Tell - Al Wilson
Band Of Gold  - Freda Payne
Rainy Night In Georgia - Brook Benton
Love Or Let Me Be Lonely - Friends Of Distinction
Something In The Air - Thunderclap Newman
Hypnotized - Fleetwood Mac
Signs -  Five Man Electrical Band
Polk Salad Annie - Tony Joe White
One Toke Over The Line - Brewer & Shipley
Freakin’ At The Freakers Ball -  Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show
Rolene - Moon Martin
Stealin” - Uriah Heep
Presence Of The Lord - Blind Faith
Baker Street - Gerry Rafferty
Starting All Over Again - Mel & Tim
The Weight - The Band w/The Staples
Green Onions - Booker T & the MGs
Little Green Bag - George Baker Selection
Going In Circles - Friends Of Distinction
Tennessee Stud - Doc Watson
Rainy Days and Mondays - The Carpenters
Stranglehold - Ted Nugent
The Letter - The Box Tops
Ain’t Got No Home - Clarence “Frogman” Henry
Lido Shuffle - Boz Scaggs
I Don’t Want A Lover - Texas
Fever - Peggy Lee
Good Day For The Blues - Storyville
A Whiter Shade Of Pale - Procul Harum
Blue Collar -  Bachman Turner Overdrive
You Just Don’t Wanna Know - Jules & The Polar Bears
Smoke From A Distant Fire - Sanford Townsend Band
Rock This Town - Stray Cats
Cruisin’ - The Rascals
Stand By Me - Ben E. King
Hot Fun In The Summertime - Sly & The Family Stone
Summer In The City - The Lovin’ Spoonful
I Can Help - Billy Swan
I Would Walk 500 Miles - The Proclaimers
Put A Little Love In Your Heart -  Jackie DeShannon
Hold On - Ian Gomm
House At Pooh Corner - Loggins & Messina
Tangled Up In Blue - Bob Dylan
Lay Lady Lay - Bob Dylan
Heaven - Los Lonely Boys
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face - Roberta Flack
Lean On Me -  Bill Withers
Just The Two Of Us - Bill Withers
Baby Come Back - Player
Riviera Paradise  - Stevie Ray Vaughan
Summer Rain - Johnny Rivers
Summertime - Janis Joplin
Hickory Wind  - Gram Parsons
Sail Away -  Randy Newman
You Keep Me Hangin’ On - Vanilla Fudge
Any Kind Of Lie - Marti Jones
Angel Eyes -  Jeff Healey Band
Lost In The Ozone - Commander Cody
Midnight Rider - Gregg Allman
Blue Eyes Cryin’ In The Rain - Willie Nelson
Waterloo Sunset - The Kinks
Amanda -  Waylon Jennings
Soul Searchin’ - Solomon Burke
Walk On By - Dionne Warwick
Crazy -  Patsy Cline
In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida - Iron Butterfly
Cry Me A River - Julie London
Wondering Where The Lions Are - Bruce Cockburn
Giving It Up For Your Love - Delbert McClinton
Someday, Someway - Marshall Crenshaw

    I could probably keep this up for days, but I’ve been writing for hours in one long non-linear trip down memory lane and I have to stop sometime. This was an incredible amount of fun and at the same time it was a lot of work. I’ll probably try it again sometime, but this is enough for now. I hope this took you to some of the same places it has taken me.

















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