Music Lists #22: Favorite Records

I hate greatest hits albums for the same reason I hate iTunes: the album as a cohesive whole is chunked in favor of being no more than a delightful assortment of individual tracks.  Does this make sense?  An Album (with a capital "A") is more than just a collection of tracks.  It's called synergy - where the total is greater than the sum of its parts.

An Album's songs are in a particular order, each serving a purpose.  (And I'm not just talking about the "concept album".)  There's a mood, a feel, a vibe that an Album has, that just isn't captured in a greatest hits album.... and it damn sure isn't conveyed in an iTunes playlist.

For instance, "Money" by Floyd surely deserves to land on a greatest hits album; but how pathetic to not hear it in the context of Dark Side of the Moon.  How lame to have "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" not flanked by "With a Little Help from My Friends" and "Getting Better".  Finally, to take it a step further, there are some albums where I don't love any particular tracks, but absolutely cherish the LP.  Translation: no stand alone songs, but a damn fine album.

So, shame on Retrospace for having gobs of music lists highlighting songs, but neglecting albums.  To make amends, here's my current favorites.  Please take note that I have refrained from listing a single song in this entire list.  Plus, this is a favorites list - NOT THE GREATEST LIST.  Obviously, Revolver, Aja, Saturday Night Fever, and Forever Changes should be here, but they're not.  This is what's on heavy rotation at the Gilligan residence, and what I have great affection for - not a hall of fame.

(Whew) That said, here's the list...

Liege & Lief
Fairport Convention

Music for the Maypole with hypnotic rock accouterments; Sandy Denny's voice is like the spirit of Stonehenge come alive. Recommended background music for lighting Wicker Men on fire.

Funk Beyond the Call of Duty
Johnny Guitar Watson

Nasty, filthy, booger-nosed funk.  A funkadelicacy that requires its listener to shout like James Brown and slap the nearest booty.  This album is pronounced guilty on all counts for the crime of Funkacide.

Can I Have My Money Back?
Gerry Rafferty

At times Beatle-esque with soaring melodies, but more often it seems meant for a fictional rustic pub in the British backwoods.  I will never grow tired of this because the notes have hooks that grab your medulla oblongata and won't let go; in other words, the melodies are as timeless as breathing.


Before hairbands reared their ugly androgynous heads, the pop metal format had already been executed with perfection.   This is hard rock sanded and polished beyond recognition.  It only needs to be done once, so throw away your Warrant and Poison LPs; this all you'll ever need should a craving arise.

Feel Like Makin' Love
Roberta Flack

My desert island record hands down.  In fact, I can think of nothing better than being stranded with only its sounds to keep me company.

Ogden's Nut Gone Flake
Small Faces

Even with the unfortunate gobbledygook from Unwin between each track, this still is psychedelia of the most inspired variety.  Legend has it that if you roll a joint on its gatefold, it will be imbued with ancient Elvish magic.

Howdy Moon
Howdy Moon

Soft rock of the mellowest variety done with genuine post-60's flair that can't be manufactured.  Best listened to naked while lying in a glade of wildflowers.

12 Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus

Psychedelic masterwork that is hundreds of years ahead of its time: I expect this to top the charts in 2059.  Not simply experimental diddling as common among proggers; but rather strong melodies launched from reservoir of transcendental genius.

Free to be You and Me
Marlo Thomas and Friends

No, it's not Sgt. Pepper, but it's worthy to sit alongside Schoolhouse Rock.  Not only is it a clarion call for new hippie parenting, it is downright catchy from start to finish.

Dreaming My Dreams
Waylon Jennings

It seems  these days both rock and country music are missing their outlaws. Imagine having Keith Moon and Johnny Paycheck in the cubicle next to you. The music industry is similarly scared - the corporate culture can't handle their low down ways.  This LP is a relic of when they could.  .

Dancing in the Moonlight
King Harvest

This is my favorite album right now.  It lags a bit with a few forgettable tracks, but I still can't stop listening to it. It's all over the place - hippie trips, pop nuggets, and an obscure Ennio Morricone song (from the movie Incontro) if that gives you some idea.  The title track of course is what everybody knows, but their forgotten LP should be just as loved.


  1. Cool! Only a few I'm familiar with so I'll be checking these out this week.

  2. You gained points in my book for the Waylon mention!

  3. AnonymousMay 24, 2015

    I agree, the Spirit album is way ahead of it's time. Psychedelic jazz, fusion, and soul wrapped up in one album. Music on acid. Nick

  4. Three of my favorite albums of all time. Liege and life, twelve dreams and Ogdens nut. Great list. Played the hell out Johnny Guitar Watson back in the day also

  5. Thanks for this list. I know a couple of these but I'm always on the look out for more retro goodies I have missed. I remember loving Dancing in the Moonlight when it was on the radio and a big hit -Im dating myself now but- it sure was catchy you have to admit!

  6. I really dig "Dancing in the Moonlight", but as a drummer, the near lack of a kick drum in the mix bugs the crap out of me.

    Nice to see Unmasked in your current rotation, Gilligan. Although I really missed having Peter Criss in the band, some on Anton Fig's licks on this album were among my favorites. I still love to play the opening of "Torpedo Girl".

    After watching "Dogday Afternoon" a few weeks ago, I fell in love with the opening and the song that accompanied it, "Amoreena" by Elton John. I looked it up and ended up buying the entire deluxe edition of the album it appears on, "Tumbleweed Connection". The whole album has a great vibe. The song "Talking Old Soldiers" is an absolute killer.

  7. Camel: The Snow Goose.
    Beatles: Rubber Soul (American album, described in 'The Beatles Compleat' as akin to "wood and smoke.")