3 Perfect Albums?

Poking around on Facebook today, my friend Casey asked “I want to know your 3 perfect albums. Not your personal favorite albums, but 3 albums you think are excellent front to back… Song track order, theme, build…”

I hastily composed my list – perhaps too hastily? – and this is what I came up with:

Big CountryThe Crossing
The Beatles – The White Album The Beatles (White Album) - The Beatles
Superdrag – Head Trip In Every Key Head Trip In Every Key - Superdrag

A decent sampling across decades, I thought. She mentioned that she likes good production & sequencing, and I’m wondering now if I made the right choices. But these are, to me, “all killer, no filler,” a statement that will cause many people to disagree with me just over The White Album. I love that record specifically because it is all over the place – it encompassed the past, present, and future of pop music, all on two discs.

The Big Country record I’ve loved since it was released. I first heard the chiming bagpipe guitars of “In a Big Country” and had to hear more – I may still have the cassette somewhere. I listened to it constantly on my Walkman (along with Rush’s Exit…Stage Left and the Police’s Ghost In the Machine). When I was working at a small company back in 2003-2004, one of my co-workers happened to be a Big Country fan as well and got me back into their other records. I hadn’t given those records much of a listen – I liked the singles “Wonderland” and “Look Away” but for some reason didn’t connect with the album tracks until 2003. For the record, I think Stuart Adamson was one of the best rock guitarists, ever. I think I may have already mentioned that in this blog before, but he was.

The Superdrag album I declared the best album of 1998, and I still think so. If you think there’s a better album from that year, go listen to Head Trip in Every Key, listen to your album, come back and tell me if you still think your album is better. You might still, but hopefully you’ll agree that HTiEK is a great record, too.

So – what would your 3 perfect albums be?


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-Your Older Brother, Samreply
January 12, 2012 at 4:41 am

And as soon as I answered her, I wrote this: "I could easily answer with records by Billy Bragg, Depeche Mode, OMD, Danger Mouse (Grey Album), Handsome Furs, Hold Steady, Jimmy Eat World, Matthew Sweet, Dillon Fence, The Smiths….but surely you get the picture by now."

But I went with these three. 🙂

January 12, 2012 at 6:09 am

Three words: Closer, Psychocandy, Loveless

-Your Older Brother, Samreply
January 12, 2012 at 6:10 am

JD, JAMC, MBV. Me likey. 🙂

January 12, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Those are 3 really well thought out choices my good man! How about these: Sgt. Peppers, Love – the Cult, Nevermind

-Your Older Brother, Samreply
January 12, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Thanks, Walt! I struggled between Sgt. Pepper's & the White Album, actually. It could easily have been the pick. There are so many well-sequenced & produced albums. Pet Sounds, anyone? 🙂

I'll have to give Love another listen, but I'm sure you're on the mark as well. 🙂

Leon Jreply
January 12, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Hrmm. too hard to narrow it down but i'll go with:

1) Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd. It may seem like a no brainer or an easy out when talking about this subject but there's a reason its a best seller every year. It will drag you in and keep running till its over.
It's not my favorite Floyd. Whis you were here holds that spot.

2) 20yrs of Dirt – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. It's a best of album but I've listened to it over and over for the past 20 years. the progression of a band through various phases (folk, rock, country) is interesting.

3) Back in Black – ACDC. It actually may be the most perfect album ever. (this may be tongue in cheek but I believe every word of it.)

Love songs:
Give the Dog a Bone
What you do for Money Honey
Let me put my love into you
Shook me all night long

Hells Bells
Back in Black
Have a Drink on Me

Shake a leg

Have a Drink on Me

Close 4th and 5th for me is Def Leppard – High & Dry and Great White – Once bitten. I had both albums on a cassette one on each side for driving music way back when. It was actually like one continuous song.
Right now Van Halen – 5150 is the only cassette I have in my car. It's stretched, it's about 20 years old and But it's there for the first Warm sunny day of the year when i'm out driving.

There's more and better music that I have, and after I click "Publish" i'll think of them. but to answer out of the blue, the list above is what I'll go with.

January 12, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Violent Femmes, Violator, Little Earthquakes. Those be my three Señor Teensy Bottles… Digging on yours & Dale's!!!

-Your Older Brother, Samreply
January 12, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Great reply, Leon! Thanks for the explanations. DSotM may well have made my list had I ever listened to it in its entirety. If I was more familiar with The Wall – or for that matter Tommy or Quadrophenia, etc – I might have put them.

Oh, damn, and I just now thought of Weezer's Pinkerton. Ah, well. 🙂

And I had considered Back in Black, too. It is maybe *the* perfect rock record.

Jen Stonereply
January 13, 2012 at 12:24 am

This blog is dope! I feel the very same way about the song "In a Big Country." Three perfect albums off the top of my block.

Tom Waits, Closing Time
Lucinda Williams, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
Gin Blossoms, New Miserable Experience

-Your Older Brother, Samreply
January 13, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Glad you like it, Jen! I'll probably not listen to the Tom Waits record (have never been able to stand listening to him sing), but that's an pretty eclectic list! I like that Lucinda record for sure. And New Miserable Experience is a very solid album. It's been years since I listened to the whole thing, but looking at the song titles, I remember listening to all of those songs, a lot. Good times. 🙂

-Your Older Brother, Samreply
January 13, 2012 at 8:25 pm

I'm right there with you on the Femmes & Depeche choices. I've not listened to the Tori Amos record, but I'll see if I can give it a spin sometime to check it.

Alan Ralphreply
January 15, 2012 at 12:04 am

Hmm, my 3 perfect albums would be "Music Madness" by Mantronix, "Selected Ambient Works Vol II" by Aphex Twin and "The 4 Cornered Room" by Luke Slater.

"Music Madness" was the first album that I copied off of a friend's vinyl onto tape, back when I was still at school. (I subsequently bought an extended version on CD years later). Kurtis Mantronik was at his best on the production of this album – the only other stuff he produced that even comes close, in my opinion, are the tracks he did for T La Rock's "Lyrical King" album and Just-Ice's "Cold Gettin' Dumb".

"Selected Ambient Works Vol II" doesn't contain many of Mr Richard D James's well-known works, although chances are you may have heard a few of the tracks from this album uses in commercials. That said, it's a big sample of the ambient side of his work, and much more approachable (and listenable) as a result.

"The 4 Cornered Room" was originally released under Luke Slater's alias The 7th Plain back in the early 90s, around the time he became involved with Peacefrog Records and created Planetary Assault System. This album, unlike most of the PAS releases, is much more lush and mellow, with a mix of playful and melancholy tones throughout.

I must throw in a couple of honourable mentions. "Tri Repetae++" by Autechre is my favourite of their album releases, and I only didn't include it because some of the tracks drag on a bit. And there's also "In The Jungle Groove" by James Brown, which has only one or two less-than-stellar tracks but is otherside full of gold by The Godfather of Soul backed up by the J.Bs – yes, "The Funky Drummer" is included, but I'd argue you need to hear it in full to understand why it has been sampled so much over the years.

January 15, 2012 at 5:05 am

Too many winners here.

Mine will for the moment be:

Lyle Lovett – Joshua Judges Ruth

Loggins and Messina – Full Sail

Baetles – White Album

-Your Older Brother, Samreply
January 16, 2012 at 12:02 am

I know the Lyle Lovett record – I like his stuff a lot. Not sure which album of his I'd substitute – he's got a lot of good ones. I'd need to listen to the Loggins & Messina album – interesting choice! And another vote for the White Album. Nice. 🙂

-Your Older Brother, Samreply
January 16, 2012 at 12:51 am

Thanks for the extended reply & explanations! That makes me want to listen to these records even more. I hear a lot about Mantronix but I haven't heard much of their music.

Love "The Funky Drummer" – I'm a pretty big JB fan. 🙂

Jen Stonereply
January 27, 2012 at 12:38 am

Sam, if "Bone Machine" is what's keeping you from listenign to "Closing Time" I can't blame you. That was crapola. Reconsider! "Closing Time" is literary and accessible and just a pretty, pretty album. If you give it a go, let me know. I predict a lightbulb moment.

-Your Older Brother, Samreply
January 27, 2012 at 12:47 am

Ok…I'll give it a try. But no guarantees. 🙂 I'll report back.

May 28, 2012 at 3:33 pm

The Queen Is Dead
Head On The Door
Life's Rich Pageant

(off the top of my head)

– Jim

-Your Older Brother, Samreply
May 28, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Off the top of your head is the best way to list them – if you start thinking about it, you'll change it. 🙂

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