You’ve all heard the question “What are your 5 favorite albums?” or this one “You find yourself stranded on a deserted island, what 5 albums do you hope you have with you?” Or even better, “If you could only listen to 5 albums for the rest of your life, which albums would you choose?” These are seemingly harmless questions at first glance. However, these questions are quite devastating if taken lightly. You can’t just answer them too cavalierly, because the future of your listening pleasure is at stake. You have to think seriously about these things. Take some time, sit down, rub your chin, go over your music collection, and sleep on it. Don’t ever rattle off 5 albums on a whim–that would be crazy insane and certain death ten days into your horror if you ever had to actually live out two of the above questions.
So, welcome to my Sunday afternoon. I was faced with the question “If you could only listen to 5 albums for the rest of your life, which albums would you choose?” My first thought was “Oh this is easy!” I positioned my hand like I did when I was in elementary school to count to 5 . . . and that’s it. That’s all I did. I stood motionless for a while . . . thinking. My mind, like some possessed jukebox, began to play snippets of songs I heard over my whole life. I even imagined a bevy of album covers, which was crazy (the Rufus feat. Chaka Khan album cover with the lips on it popped up most often and I don’t know why . . . really, I don’t). This was tough because I wasn’t choosing 5 songs or 5 artists, but rather 5 entire albums. I couldn’t quickly settle on 5. I was stumped. I had to get serious. So, I sat down, rubbed my chin, and went over my music collection, ultimately I slept on it.
Over night my mind weeded out all the albums that I would never listen too over and over again. That left me with about 150 albums that I would listen to, well not that many, but plenty. So the following is my honest and serious attempt to answer that seemingly harmless question. These are entire albums that I could listen to from beginning to end everyday with out question. Every song on these albums is perfect in every way. Check’em out and listen for yourself.
Here they are in no particular order:
1. Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue. This is hands down my favorite jazz album, which so happens to be the most popular jazz album ever recorded in the history of jazz, period. With personnel like Cannonball Adderly, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, John Coltrane, Wynton Kelly, and Bill Evans of course it’s perfect. (My favorite song on the Album: “So What”)
2. Steely Dan’s Aja. If you have not listened to this album I feel sorry for you. You need to experience the artistry and obsessive perfection of Donald Fagan and Walter Becker. This is the best in sophisticated 70s jazz/rock. I don’t know how else to explain it. It’s musically complex yet highly accessible. Since I’m a amateur musician and truly appreciate great musicianship, I’m drawn to this album by the personnel of Larry Carlton, Lee Ritenour, Steve Gadd, Bernard Purdie, Joe Sample, Wayne Shorter, and Michael McDonald. Special shout out to Al Schmitt et al for creating an engineering and recording musical masterpiece. They set the standard with this album in recording excellence and have the Grammy to prove it. (My favorite song on the Album: “Black Cow”)
3. Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall. It’s Mike under the direction of Quincy Jones and Rod Temperton, with Louis Johnson, David Foster, George Duke, Pattie Austin, and the C-wind (Seawind) horns; shout out to horn arranger Jerry Hey. What else do you need me to say? (My favorite song on the Album: “Working Day and Night”)
4. Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite (MTV Unplugged Live version). Neo soul at its finest. Maxwell dives into these song off his first album in epic fashion. How could he go wrong with writers such as Itaal Shur, Leon Ware, Stuart Matthewman, and Kate Bush, it’s perfect. I love the freedom expressed in the live recording. (My favorite song on the Album: “Gotta Get: Closer”)
5. Parliament’s The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein. This album contains some of the funkiest soul re-dipped in funk that you have ever heard in your life. Full of social messages and culturally valuable writers George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, and Bernie Worrell nailed it. Not to mention the voices of Glen Goins and Garry Shider are out of this world–these brothers blow in the most funkiest of ways. Special shout out to Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker. (My favorite song on the Album: “I’ve Been Watching You (MoveYour Sexy Body”)
There you have it, my 5 albums that I could and will most certainly listen to for the rest of my life. This was rough; because there are plenty more I could easily have listed. But today, right now, this is it.
Whew! I have a headache!
What are your 5? Hey, hey, hey . . . . take your time. This is serious! Your Willy Nilly-ness could result in your early death!