Ragged Clown

It's just a shadow you're seeing that he's chasing…

Quest 500. 11-20


The next ten albums in my quest to listen to 500 Greatest – according to Rolling Stone – Albums of All Time. It’s handy, on a quest like this, to have access to all the music in the world. Imagine if you had to buy them all on iTunes at 99c a track. It’d be even handier if The Beatles albums were available on Rhapsody which is kind of important when THERE ARE 5 BEATLES ALBUMS in the top 14!

OMG Elvis at #11.

Elvis is kind of unfashionable right now – especially in America. People still have this image of a fat greaser in a sequined jumpsuit but that is totally unfair. It’s like remembering Frank Sinatra as an old man or Marlon Brando as an obnoxious tub of lard.

Frank Sinatra will always be a super-cool young crooner with a voice from heaven. Marlon Brando will always be Fletcher Christian casting Captain Bligh into the long boat and Elvis will always be the nineteen year old trucker who walked into Sam Phillips’s studio and changed music forever.

I got my first Elvis album for Christmas in 1972 and hearing his voice still gives me chills.

Rolling Stone says:

Many believe Rock & Roll was born on July 5th, 1954, at Sun Studios in Memphis. Elvis Presley, guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black were horsing around with “That’s All Right,” a tune by bluesman Arthur Crudup, when producer Sam Phillips stopped them and asked, “What are you doing?” “We don’t know,” they said. Phillips told them to “back up and do it again.”

I came to Miles Davis late in life. I always liked jazz but Miles Davis never grabbed me – until I sat down and listened to A Kind of Blue. I could put this on a loop and never get bored with it.

I used to think that Hendrix was the greatest guitar player ever, But, now that I am learning to play the guitar, I am starting to doubt that he was a guitar player at all because there is no way that those sounds could come out of the same instrument that I strum away at every night. I think he was some kind of magician.

Rolling Stone says

This is what Britain sounded like in late 1966 and early 1967: ablaze with rainbow blues, orchestral guitar feedback and the highly personal cosmic vision of black American emigre Jimi Hendrix.

I bought Nevermind a long time ago but, after one listen, decided it was too heavy for my taste and didn’t play it for another ten years. Now I can’t get enough of it. I blame Guitar Hero.

Rolling Stone says

his slashing riffs, corrosive singing and deviously oblique writing, rammed home by the Pixies-via-Zeppelin might of bassist Krist Novoselic and drummer Dave Grohl, put the warrior purity back in rock & roll. Lyrically, Cobain raged in code — shorthand grenades of inner tumult and self-loathing. His genius, though, in songs such as “Lithium,” “Breed” and “Teen Spirit” was the soft-loud tension he created between verse and chorus, restraint and assault.

I hated Michael Jackson in 1983 but my girlfriend of the time couldn’t get enough of him. She played Thriller back to back, hour after hour, over and over, every night of every weekend for nearly three years. When I listen to it now, the only song that strikes me as really great is Billie Jean but, like it or not, it’s a part of my life.

Rolling Stone says

It is hard now to separate the wonder of Thriller from its commercial stature (Number One for thirty-seven weeks, seven Top Ten singles, eight Grammys) and Jackson’s current nightmare of tabloid celebrity and self-destructive egomania. But there was a time when he was truly the King of Pop. This is it.

Except for The Velvet Underground (did they throw these outliers in to see if we are paying attention?), the rest of the top 20 is kind of obvious although I might’ve picked a different Van Morrison album.

11. The Sun Sessions, Elvis Presley

12. Kind of Blue, Miles Davis

13. Velvet Underground and Nico, The Velvet Underground

14. Abbey Road, The Beatles

15. Are You Experienced?, The Jimi Hendrix Experience

16. Blood on the Tracks, Bob Dylan

17. Nevermind, Nirvana

18. Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen

19. Astral Weeks, Van Morrison

20. Thriller, Michael Jackson