What are the albums that you have listened to most? Not the albums that you believe are the best artistically, but the ones that you have actually played over and over. I decided to determine my top 25 most listened to non-classical music albums as a fun exercise to see where my musical tastes gravitate most.
The first three choices are probably my three most listened to albums. The rest are in no particular order. Here’s the annotated list:
1 “Sergeant Pepper.” (Rolling Stone Magazine’s number 1 album of all time)
2 “Abbey Road.” The song cycle, which begins with You Never Give Me Your Money and ends with The End, is one of the true masterpieces of rock music.
3 All the Beatles Albums. Truth is, I’ve probably listened to every Beatle album more than any other album.
4 “Pete Seeger and Friends.” Includes Pete solo and with The Cathedral Singers, The Union Baptist Singers, Paul Winter, and more.
5 “Ray Charles Anthology.” I’d rather hear Ray sing almost anything than anyone else. My all-time favorite singer and an amazing keyboard player to boot.
6 “Introducing Reuven Gonzalez.” The great Cuban keyboard player who gained prominence in “The Buena Vista Club,” performing with other great Cuban musicians.
7 The Who, “Who’s Next.” Includes my choice for the greatest rock and roll song of all time: Baba O’Riley.
8 “Duke Ellington’s Greatest Hits.” I used to be anti greatest hit’s albums, until I discovered that sometimes the “greatest hits,” actually deserve their title.
9 “Woodstock.” As media plays up the significance of the 40th anniversary of this social musical milestone, I am reminded why I used to play this album over and over: Joe Cocker - Little Help from my Friends, Country Joe and The Fish - Feel Like I’m Fixen’ to Die Rag, Jimmi Hendrix – Star Spangled Banner, The Who – See Me, Feel Me, Richie Haven – Freedom, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young – Sweet Judy Blue Eye, and many more. Wow.
10 Miles Davis, “Kind of Blue.” The album that introduced many musicians, including me, to modal jazz. Incredible - like almost everything Miles did.
11 Tom Lehrer, “That was the year that Was.” Tom set the bar for funny, satirical songs, and nobody has ever taken it higher. Includes National Brotherhood Week, The Vatican Rag, Pollution, and New Math.
12 Dave Brubeck Quartet, “Time Out.” Brubeck’s exploration of complex meters includes Take Five, Blue Rondo a la Turk, and Kathy’s Waltz.
13 “Live Johnny Winter Band.” Recorded at the old Fillmore East, this is my favorite performance of raw, hard driving, gritty blues/rock guitar playing.
14 Herb Ellis, Joe Pass, Ray Brown, Jake Hannah, “Entering Concord.”
Great jazz guitar playing. I got this as a high school graduation present and didn’t appreciate it until years later. In gratitude, it has become my standard high school graduation present.
15 “Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits, Volume 1.” I don’t have the patience to sit through mediocre Bob Dylan songs, but his best songs are as good as they get.
16 “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.” An amazing debut album.
17 Billy Joel, “Turnstiles.” Includes James, NY State of Mind, and Angry Young Man.
18 Charlie Byrd, “My Inspiration; Music From Brazil.” Includes Chuck Redd on Vibes and Scott Hamilton, Sax. Incredible.
19 “Songs of Leonard Cohen.” His debut album includes Suzanne, Sister’s of Mercy, and Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye.
20 Simon and Garfunkel, “Live in Central Park.” Includes several of their masterpieces. I predict that many of the Simon and Garfunkel songs will still be standards years from now.
21 Paul Simon, “Graceland.” So many artists did their best work early. Paul Simon is an exception; he just keeps developing, trying out new things. Still hard to believe it was from the composer of The Boxer.
22 “The Best of John Prine.” If you’ve never listened to John Prine start with this album. His best songs are as good as Bob Dylan’s.
23 Flor de Cana, “Dancing on The Wall * Bailando en la Murailla.” The Boston based Flor de Cana, which later regrouped as Sol Y Canto, was the group through which I first discovered Latin music. Fabulous rhythms, vocals, harmonies, and guitar playing.
24 “An Evening With John Denver.” OK, this is by far the most uncool album on my list, but these are great songs, great lyrics, great melodies, great singing. Denver was an extraordinary talent, and few people were better at writing simple songs that celebrated life.
25 Hank Jones, Piano and Charlie Hayden, Bass; “Steal Away.” The great jazz pianist and bass player collaborate to perform spirituals. This is my latest favorite. I can’t stop listening to it.
What are some of your all-time favorite albums? Please consider listing a few!