- Louis Armstrong-Portrait of an Artist
- Thelonious Monk-Jazz Manifesto
- Ella Fitzgerald-Sings The George and Ira Gershwin Songbook
- Beatles-Rubber Soul
- Chuck Berry-Essentials
- Rolling Stones-Exile on Main Street
- Chet Baker-Chet Baker Sings
- Johnny Cash-The Legend of Johnny Cash
- Pink Floyd-Wish You Were Here
- Steely Dan-Pretzel Logic
I came up with a list of the top 10 albums of all time. These reflect my preferences. The above mentioned list contains solid choices. There aren’t dud songs on these albums.
One thing I notice when putting together a list is they all contain songs which at least predominantly include songs before 1980. There aren’t any albums made up of songs recorded in the previous decade or this one.
There are some albums from the last five years, which deserve consideration, but they don’t quite make the cut. More recent albums are at a disadvantage, since they haven’t had the chance to entice listeners for decades. They could age well enough to put them in the winner’s circle. Nevertheless, none of them quite makes the instant classic category at this time.
Still, there is good music still being made. Albums like the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s It’s Blitz! and Vampire Weekend’s Contra show greatness is well within the grasp of current artists. All three of Vampire Weekend’s albums dazzle, although its latest doesn’t draw me in quite like the Savages’ debut let alone rival Chuck Berry or Pink Floyd’s best offering.
In the meantime, we can enjoy the works of the masters. The Beatles never sounded better than on Rubber Soul. Chet Baker showed as good as he was playing trumpet, he was even more spectacular with vocals.
Baker and Thelonious Monk make me long for a previous time when jazz had great melodies, innovation and compelling beats. Diana Krall sounds good, when she sings, but she isn’t Ella. I’d be thrilled if an artist could draw inspiration from the classics as effectively as Steely Dan did on a pair of cuts from Pretzel Logic.
There are still moments, when I hear jazz albums with remarkable cuts, but it isn’t quite the same. Wayne Shorter’s live album is quite good, but it doesn’t overshadow cuts from decades ago on his own or with Weather Report.
Taylor Swift is good, but Johnny Cash still stands supreme as a master of secular and gospel oriented country.
I’ll keep watching and wondering if the current crop of stars are poised for true greatness beyond high chart positions or heavy rotations on various play lists. But it’s unlikely there will ever be someone, who sounds as good as Louis Armstrong as a singer, trumpeter or band leader. The 100-song collection I have is one of the few albums I listen to all the way through in this era of downloaded tracks. It also sounds pretty amazing narrowed down to 20 cuts.