Top 10 Teen Albums

Not to be a pain in the ass – meaning I have every intention of being a pain in the ass – but I think “albums that lasted with you” is bullshit. Just another invitation to pat ourselves on the back. I’m more interested in the albums we actually listened to. I’ll tell you what I listened to most, to the best of my recollection, from ages 13-19. The years were 1968-1975.

I didn’t have many albums until 1969. No money. But I started working that summer and from 1969-1974 I probably bought 500 albums. That’s a lot of listening that must be left behind in choosing one or two records per year. But I’m going to try to pick the 10 albums I listened to the most. Most I still love and the rest I still at least like.

1968 – Their Satanic Majesties Request, because I had it. I only had about 10 albums and that was the newest and I really liked it, except I would often lift the needle and skip the jam parts. Closest rival would be Revolver, which I got for Christmas the year before.

1969 – Led Zep II. Very close call, could just as easily be Let It Bleed. I’ve blown hot and cold on Zep over the years, the cold mainly because FM radio for years insisted on playing many of their lesser songs over and over. Even now I think II is by far their best album, though all their albums have good songs. For all the criticism of them ripping off blues songs, they certainly aimed high with Sonny Boy’s Bring it on Home and with Killing Floor (The Lemon Song). And they did put their stamp on those songs. Furthermore, their best blues song, When The Levee Breaks, is as good as any old blues masterpiece, and I say that as a true lover of old blues masterpieces.

1970 – Mountain/Climbing in a very close call over Ten Years After’s Cricklewood Green. Teen hard rock. Damn right I had Funhouse, which most if not all my friends mocked, but I listened to Mountain more. The best of this record, not the raga guitar solo, has stood up well. You don’t hear this one much but damn I smile when I hear Leslie West whale.


1971 – I have to do two albums this year: Layla and The J Geils Band first album. I still remember the first time I ever heard the opening riff to Layla, and rushed out to buy it the next day. Like a lot of my favorite records it’s really dense with guitar tracks, and to this day I catch new little subleties of interplay between Clapton and Duane Allman. Speaking of Duane Allman, Live at the Fillmore got a lot of play in my ears this year, so did Who’s Next and Live at Leeds, not to mention Alice Cooper Love it to Death, but not as much as the eponymous J Geils Band. This is the shit:

1972 – A transistion year. Many great soul singles this year, but for the most part soul artists did not make great albums. Backstabbers, Cleanup Woman, Freddie’s Dead and Superfly, Sly’s If You Want Me To Stay, I’ll Take You There, Slippin Into Darkness, Get on the Good Foot – super funky shit but no great album attached. At this time we started hearing Glam from England, I loved Bang a Gong but didn’t get the album until later, but we did get way into Slade around this time. So this year’s album is Slayed? The real winner is Exile on Main St but that is forbidden me – an album that I didn’t much like when I first heard it although I loved the first single Tumbling Dice. I kept listening to it because of course I liked some of the songs, and one night listening to Let It Loose it hit me: not only is this good, it’s the best thing the Stones have ever done. Another dense mix that couldn’t be any other way. There are a lot of instruments and they should all be heard.

1973 – No contest, New York Dolls. I had been waiting all my life for the New York Dolls. I don’t know how many copies of this album I’ve owned over the years, certainly ten. I lost half my friends over the New York Dolls and good riddance. This is one album that sounds every bit as good today, or better. Every song is great, and it might boast the best rocknroll lyrics in one place ever. Todd Rundgren caught a lot of shit for his production, but history vindicates him in spades. Not their most known song but one of their best:

1974 – I’m not allowed to pick the Dolls’ Too Much Too Soon even though it’s the hands-down winner, but 1974 was a big Roxy Music year for me too. Sometimes my tastes swing from primitive to sophisticated, and Roxy could always do both. Their first five albums are up there with anybody’s as a body of work. In many ways Country Life is my favorite, and again the sound is dense but so worth penetrating:


1975 – I was on the road for most of the first half of this year, hitching across the country, and when I got back to New York in May I didn’t have any albums or a stereo. I moved to a 4th floor walkup on 11th St between 1st and A and played a lot of guitar. The bands I was listening to at this time hadn’t made any records yet. At the end of the year Patti Smith made her debut but I was not a fan. So there’s not a lot to choose from. Roxy’s Siren and Stones’ out-take album Metamorphosis aren’t allowed, so the album I listened to the most was probably Earth, Wind and Fire’s That’s the Way of the World. I spent a week in upstate New York and there were I think three albums to choose from.

12 thoughts on “Top 10 Teen Albums

  1. Cool list. Some of these I listened to a lot, Some I figured out later. I never understood Satanic Majesties in my teen years. Seemed to me then that the stones got off track. I loved Mountain (Mississippi Queen) but honestly paid more attention to the Nantucket Sleighride album

    Huge Geils fan. The early albums are great, especially the covers of early R&B tunes.

    Roxy’s Country Life is a classic but I would have chose “Out of the Blue” as the representative cut.

  2. Thank you, Tom. I thought about “Out of the Blue” and “All I Want is You”, great rockers to be sure, and even “Triptych”, one of the very few religious songs that ever moved me and still does. It reminds me of Dali’s Crucifixion which is an incredibly powerful painting. But Thrill deserves to be featured I think, becasue it sums up the band so well.

    I remembered another 1975 album but it wasn’t from 1975. It was a collection of Atlantic singles from 1958, something like History of Rhythm & Blues, that had Poison Ivy, Splish Splash, Jim Dandy and several other great ones. I was definitely doing my homework at this time.

  3. Ya know, I didn’t have any trouble getting into Satanic Majesties. Psychedelia was all over the place and I was young enough to accept it naturally. We were talking about Citadel and 2000 Man a few weeks ago, and I also liked this one, even the cheesy tremolo Bill Wyman vocal that sounded so far out at the time. (Tommy James used it as a career-revivor about a year later). However that may be, the chorus is killer:

  4. This album is weird, mostly for its naked Beatles emulation, but the music is innovative, original and swings. It probably should have been a disaster, but it may be the Stones’ album I play more than any other. On the other hand, I didn’t own it in its day, I bought it in the East Village (Sounds?) in the late 70s. With the 3D cover. It’s in the basement. In Another Land! How it rocks!

  5. Did Mick prophesy internet porn with “I’m having an affair with a random computer”? Nah. But it is a great song. Two points: 1) The Beatles emulation is almost all visual not musical, and 2) to the extent that it is musical, BOTH Beatles and Stones were influenced by Pink Floyd. We couldn’t know that at the time because Piper at the Gates of Dawn was unknown in the States, but Syd Barrett got there first.

  6. 1) Definitely with you on the opening bitch, Gene. Have given a lot of thought to why my favorites don’t mesh with the critical favorites like 40 percent of those participating in this exercise do. I couldn’t tell you year-to-year like you did, but my choices are most certainly what I listened to.

    2) Gene’s “Jim Dandy” mention made me think of the Black Oak Arkansas “High On The Hog” album I bought in my teens. I’m with the critics on how bad it is. Unfortunately that was when I could still only afford a new album every month or so, so I was stuck getting to know it. I can still sing a line or two from some of the songs.

    3) Sounds, Peter? Geez. When I sold my albums a few years ago, a couple of them still had the big, circular red/pink Sounds sticker in the top right corner.

  7. Yeah, people should be forced to embarrass themselves rather than report how cool they were at age 13. NOBODY is that cool at age 13. I made no distinctions between Blue Cheer and Simon & Garfunkel.

    I saw Black Oak Arkansas open for Slade. They were bad indeed. And I hate to say it but Slade weren’t so hot either. Noddy spent way too much time exhorting the audience to clap hands and stomp feet. When they shut up and played they were fine.

  8. Never saw Slade and never saw T. Rex. Guessing both were much better across the sea, where there was no need for desperation.

  9. This is a great list Gene.

    I so love Country Life, and have always loved that beautiful dissolve between Out of the Blue and All I Want, and both songs are on a Spotify list I have called “Spacey.”

    And, on that same list are both 2000 Man and In Another Land from an album I thought was underappreciated at the time because of Sgt. Pepper. They were different animals even if of the same ilk.

    But, they all come on from time-to-time so I get em regularly.

    But, for any of you who have the vinyl and the 3D picture: Have you ever picked out the heads of the four Beatles on the 3D? They are indeed all there (I spent many a stoned hour staring to find, especially Paul, if memory serves).

  10. Yeah, I got George and Ringo pretty fast but someone had to point out Paul to me. Agree on the Roxy segue, Lawr. One of my marks of a great band is that my favorite songs keep changing, and that’s Roxy all over. Odd thing: Roxy is maybe the one band that everyone in my family likes. I have some wide-ranging tastes around my table, from classical, choral and opera to Cannibal Corpse, and everyone likes Roxy. Not only that, but in the summer we hang out at the pool with our music machine, and every time Roxy comes on people come up to us and say how great this music is. And yet they were never very popular, in the States anyway. The Brits knew better. Here’s a family fave.

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