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Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Essential 5

Lately some friends of mine have played that game of naming records that "changed their lives." It's been kicking around in my head. Yesterday, taking shelter from the bitter cold, I decided to fill the CD carousel with my choices.  This carousel only holds 5 CDs, so here are the 5.  I put them on shuffle and listened to the tracks in a randomized order.  All the songs stood toe to toe with each other.  All of these records still resonate with me very, very deeply.  They help make me who I am today. Yes, really.

1. John Lennon - Plastic Ono Band --- Lennon's first post-Beatles record. Stripped down, elemental truth. Powerful, razor sharp with great production by Phil Spector.  The wall of sound reverb meets bass, drums, guitar, piano and Lennon's amazing, heartfelt, cutting voice.  Still brings chills.

2. Bob Dylan - Highway 61 --- A blast of exuberance. Funny, over the top, genre busting. No one ever recorded songs like this before. Dylan fronting an incredible band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper. A shock. A blast. Mind-bending. Dylan never sounded more engaged, more intense, more alive and funny.

3. Neil Young - Tonight's the Night --- Shakey's "dark night of the soul." A death-haunted record. A great band pushed to the ragged edge. Raw, bleak, darkly funny. Neil opens up a vein.  Spooky and cool.  L.A. Dark shades. Bleary nights. Filled with flaws, quirks - perfect.

4. The Rolling Stones - Let it Bleed --- The Stones at their darkest. Decadent blues, desiccated country. Perfectly realized r&r.  Jagger and Richards at the peak of their collaboration.  Perfectly recorded and produced by Jimmy Miller.  The Stones made other great records, but this one is complete. Flawless. Thrilling.

5. Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Everybody Knows this is Nowhere --- Neil emerges with the first and greatest Crazy Horse lineup. Danny Whitten on vocals and guitar is the secret weapon.  Long guitar jams. Overpowering sound. Funky. Cool. Sad. And when the "Horse" kicks it up, there is nothing better.

UPDATE: This was cross-posted over at whitewolfsonicprincess r&r diary!

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