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20 Albums That Are Very Important To Me

Most of the albums that I ever pick for these lists were recorded in the late '80s and early '90s. No surprise since I was in my formative years at that time.

Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation is and will always be probably almost my favorite album of all time. It's about as perfect as a record can get. I think the thing I loved about bands like Sonic Youth is it felt like they were ours. They belonged firmly in the Gen X generation and spoke our language. They helped invent the language.

I chose Yo La Tengo's Fakebook next because it will always be my soundtrack to living in Austin, Texas in the mid-'90s. And being an Okie, I always appreciated that they did a cover of the Kinks' "Oklahoma U.S.A."

It's certainly not their best album, but it is the one that will take me back to a time when I was a cashier at this health food store hardly anyone had ever heard of called Whole Foods. My girlfriend at the time had a job at this new chain of coffee shops called Starbucks. Good times.

Up next is Jane's Addiction's Nothing Shocking, which is an overlooked and underappreciated album. Sure it got its fair share of attention, but was overshadowed by Ritual de lo Habitual and now most people remember Perry Farrell for Lollapalooza. But when I was a teenager trying to find good music that was not heavy metal, Nothing's Shocking fit the bill. Honestly, the first time I heard that album, I didn't know what it was or what to think about it.

Mingus at the Bohemia is my fourth album. To put this into context, I first heard Mingus in probably 1994 after visiting a record shop in Oklahoma City called Charlie's. Charlie would always talk to you and on more than one occasion would make gin drinks for us and we'd drink them and talk about music. Charlie not only turned me on to Mingus, but he also opened my eyes to Funkadelic - Maggot Brain made No. 5 on the list - Lead Belly, Coleman Hawkins, Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman and Lightnin' Hopkins. Maybe one day I'll do a Charlie's Greatest Hits list.

That only gets us to a quarter of the way through the list, but the remainder largely consists of '80s and '90s emo and post-punk banks - The Cure's Disintegration, Joy Division's Still, Pavement's Slanted and Enchanted, etc. - and '70s garage and glam bands like The Real Kids, Bowie's Ziggy Stardust and Big Star's #1 Record.

These lists are interesting at times like these when people rush to the arts to ease their suffering and better understand the world around them. I would have included a Tom Waits album if I'd been tasked with naming 30 albums, but I would have picked Small Change over Rain Dogs, which I have seen appear on several lists. I love that Tom Waits quote that goes something like, "Bad art is ruining the quality of our suffering." Truer words were never spoken.

Here is the full list with additional commentary cadged from Facebook, where these selections originally appeared:

1. Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation.

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2. Yo La Tengo, Fakebook.

This will always make me think of Austin, Texas.

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3. Jane's Addiction, Nothing's Shocking.

Every song on this album is pure gold.

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4. Charles Mingus, Mingus at the Bohemia.

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5. Funkadelic, Maggot Brain.

I actually first heard this when I was living in Norman. I picked it up at a record store in OKC called Charlie's. Charlie was a really nice guy and turned me on to so much good music back then. I'll never get tired of it.

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6. Pavement, Slanted and Enchanted.

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7. David Bowie, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

I was really into this album in my first year of college.

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8. Violent Femmes, Violent Femmes.

Saw them just last year at a Riot Fest after show. They were incredible and used both a conk shell and stand-up BBQ grill as instruments.

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9. Words and Music of Lou Reed, The Best of the Velvet Underground.

Why a best-of album, you ask? I dunno. This is the first thing I ever heard by The Velvet Underground and I've always loved the arrangement of songs in this greatest hits record.

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10. Joy Division, Still.

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11. The Cure, Disintegration.

I used to listen to this nonstop when I was in junior high. I had a one of those fancy Walkmans that had a loop option, so both sides of the tape would play. I used to listen to it while I was asleep, and I'd be awakened by it every 25 minutes or however long one side of the album is.

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12. Dr. Dre, The Chronic.

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13. Elvis Costello, This Year's Model.

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14. Prince and the Revolution, Purple Rain.

I was 10 when Purple Rain came out, so I wasn't really buying music yet, but I remember seeing Prince on MTV at some point and thinking, "Wow this guy is super famous." He was a master at conveying that larger-than-life persona.

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15. A Tribe Called Quest, The Low End Theory.

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16. My Bloody Valentine, Loveless.

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17. The Real Kids, The Real Kids.

I wish I could hear this album for the first time again.

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18. Big Star, #1 Record.

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

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19. Willie Nelson, The Poet.

Do yourself a favor and listen to this this immediately because it's the greatest.

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20. Elliott Smith, Roman Candle.

I was never sadder about a celebrity dying.

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See the Rocklist archive.

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Submit your own!

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on June 9, 2020


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