NY Magazine Names 60 Albums You’ve Never Heard Of

You can read the list here: http://www.vulture.com/2013/11/60-great-albums-you-probably-havent-heard.html#comments

It’s a good list because many are new to me and I look forward to delving. I may or may not agree, but I find this fun.

Just so you know, I know a bunch of these records. Here’s some notes on those:

2. Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Gospel Train (1956): I own this one and it was in heavy rotation for a long while. Thanks for the reminder.

6. Elizabeth Cotten, Freight Train and Other North Carolina Folk Songs and Tunes (1958) Not rocking, but a fantastic record of one of our most fecund folk music heritages. And I love that detail about the guitar playing.

14. Tex Williams and His String Band, Smoke Smoke Smoke (1960) I learned about Tex because Commander Cody covered the title song here. And while I delved deeper into Bob Wills, Tex was great.

19. Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Volunteered Slavery (1969) It was later that we loved Mr. Kirk. Because he could out Jimi Jimi, and because his sound was wild. I remember eating up this jazz back then as if it was the news. Seems crazy now.

25. Jane Birkin, Di Doo Dah (1973) It seemed subversive at the time.

27. Melanie, Stoneground Words (1972) She’d had corny hits, though they were more a tribute to her personality than anything else. And she was an artist, if maybe more a weird one than a great one.

28. The Flatlanders, More a Legend Than a Band (1972) This is one of my favorite records of all time, amped only a little because of its origins. That is, it was recorded in Nashville by our heroes——Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock–but shelved by heartless record execs until Rounder released it nearly 20 years later.

30. Jobriath, Jobriath (1973) I remember him as an absolute fraud. His inclusion on this list means I have to listen again.

32. Marshall Crenshaw, Downtown (1985) A classic album. Probably shouldn’t be in this list. He is a masterful pop-rock songwriter who never really found any pop success, but is widely respected.

35. Fishbone, Truth and Soul (1988) I saw these guys a few times and they were always great. Hard to believe they didn’t leave a long tail, but their fusion of styles–funk, ska, hardcore, no wave, younameit–was awesome. Especially live.

38. King Sunny Adé & His African Beats, Juju Music (1982) My first real date (not mini golf) with my wife was to see King Sunny. This album, a compilation but his intro to North America, is one of the greatest of all time. That we don’t know that has to remind us that culture is king. But so is King Sunny.

41. Ivy, Apartment Life (1997) This is one of my favorite albums of all time, partly because it flies so far under the radar, partly because it sounds like Belle and Sebastian but predates that band.

45. Youssou N’Dour, Set (1990) I’m a big fan of this elpee. Beautiful voice and semi pop tunes. Still, exotic.

46. Latin Playboys, Latin Playboys (1994) A lovely album that came with no strings attached by members of Los Lobos. Dreamy and Mexican, experimental with poetry. This is a lovely album.

47. Freedy Johnston, Can You Fly (1992) A fine pop songwriter singing his songs, like Marshall Crenshaw. The key is “fine.” We should listen to him. I linked to him singing Jimmy Webb’s Wichita Lineman a few weeks ago

48. Iris DeMent, My Life (1993) One of my favorite writers and singers, full of country warmth and hard truths, spiritual and wonderfully straight forward. If you haven’t listened to all her songs, you’re missing out.

2 thoughts on “NY Magazine Names 60 Albums You’ve Never Heard Of

  1. The only one I have is Jobriath, which is OK, but, no, not as good as Bowie. My guess is I probably wouldn’t like the other 59 at all. I’ll bet I could make a better list though.

  2. Go for it!

    I’m listening to Jobriath right now and it is a prime example of the difference between cheese with umami (Bowie) and cheese that reeks (Jobriath). Or rather, now listening to the song Movie Queen, he is clearly a gay guy with theatrical ambitions who saw in Bowie someone to emulate (at least some of the time). But World Without End and Earthling have that cheese thing going. They reek rather than rock.

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