Goodbye 2011 & Hollandude’s Essential 75, Version 3.0

Right! Another year in the books and the time to go on the record (pun intended) about what recordings offered the most moving, cathartic, revolutionary, kick-ass, and/or ones with a good beat that you can dance too music. First, in case you missed it, my top ten of this year:

Top Ten Albums of 2011
1. Paul Simon; So Beautiful or So What
2. Tom Waits; Bad as Me
3. Danger Mouse & Danieel Luppi: Rome
4. Wilco; The Whole Love
5. Wild Flag; Wild Flag
6. Feist; Metals
7. Real Estate; Days
8. Girls; Father, Son, Holy Ghost
9. John Hiatt; Dirty Jeans & Mudslide Hymns
10. Radiohead; The King of Limbs

A reminder of last year’s (2010) top top albums
1 Spoon: Transference
2 Corrine Bailey Rae: The Sea
3 Grinderman: Grinderman 2
4 Black Keys: Brothers
5 Erykah Badu: New Amerika 2 – Return of the Ankh
6 Broken Bells: S/T
7 Dead Weather: Sea of Cowards
8 Citizen Cope: The Rainwater LP
9 The Hold Steady: Heaven is Whenever
10 Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings: I Learned the Hard Way

And from 2009
1 Green Day; 21st Century Breakdown
2 Brendan Benson; My Old Familiar Friend
3 Dinosaur Jr.; Farm
4 Corey Chisel; Death Won’t Send a Letter
5 U2: No Line on the Horizon
6 Dead Weather; Horehound
7 Sonic Youth; The Eternal
8 Wilco; Wilco (The Album)
9 Pearl Jam; Backspacer
10 Phish; Joy

Also, if you missed my interview with John Hiatt from a couple of months back, it’s here.

Now it’s time to, uh, do the dude…list and republish the essential 75.

At the end of 2009, I was asked to pick the top ten albums for the last five decades as part of a WFUV feature. Having to choose at least ten for every decade significantly changed the list compared to what it would be if the parameters were simply the best 50 albums over the past 50 years. If that were the case, the 70s would be wildly overrepresented in my picks. To ease my discomfort of having to limit myself to only ten per decade, I indulged in designating 25 honorable mentions. It was when I finished that I realized my 75 essential albums of the past 50 years had been born! A year later it occurred to me that the list should be a living thing reflecting fluctuations, maturation, and evolution of opinion. Now, at the end of 2011, I submit Version 3.0 –

A couple of notes: No compilations of course and tie goes to the other…that is, if I had a choice between putting another album on by someone whose body of work is well known versus a less well known band – I chose the latter if each offers about equal pleasures. That being equal, I give a slight weight to career representation. That is, if there are two great albums but only one spot and artist A has a body of work worth exploring and artist B has just the one record, then A gets it. However, career representation is a double-edged sword as three essential albums by any one band disqualifies them for any additional selections.

It’s also worth mentioning that I worked for years as a classic rock radio DJ. This experience shaped my picks by pretty much ruining certain albums for me. I put on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon for the first time in approximately twenty years last week because I played the individual tracks from it so often on the air. It sounded great and of course it’s genius but Meddle is still more essential in my view. Led Zeppelin 2 and 4 are similar cases and this works against the Stones, Who, and Beatles as well. However, this bias should generally make for a more interesting list. I put my feet to the fire and keep asking myself, “Do you want to hear that album right now?” or “Do you just remember that album being great even though now you are basically done with it?” If it is the latter, I let it go.

Note: 2010 Revision – Deleted G&R’s 1987 masterpiece Appetite for Destruction in exchange for Surfer Rosa. – the Pixies 1988 masterpiece. Axl’s personality doesn’t help him even though that’s not an official criterion.

Note 2011: I’m returning Appetite for Destruction. Let’s never fight again Axl.
Also, when Amy Winehouse died in July, I found myself defending her importance in a social media exchange and that helped crystallize my thoughts and spurred me to bump the Hold Steady’s Boys and Girls in America from 2006 in favor of her Back to Black from the same year. Mother Love Bone’s Apple from 1990 and Sonic Youth’s 1988 gem Daydream Nation (the horror!) had to be sacrificed from the Honorable Mentions to accommodate The Pixies and The Modern Lovers whose songs simply cannot be omitted. I’m especially sad to disrespect the Sonics as 2011 may mark their end along with the equally seminal and irreplaceable REM.

I hope you get a boot out of it.

Best Albums of Last 5 Decades:

60’s Ten
Bob Dylan; Highway 61 Revisited, 1965
Beatles; Revolver, 1966
Velvet Underground & Nico, 1967
Cream; Disraeli Gears, 1967
Jimi Hendrix Experience; Are You Experienced, 1967
Jimi Hendrix Experience; Electric Ladyland, 1968
Jeff Beck Group; Truth, 1968
Van Morrison; Astral Weeks, 1968
The Beatles (White Album) 1968
The Stooges, 1969

70s Ten
Derek & The Dominoes; Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs, 1970
Rolling Stones; Sticky Fingers, 1971
Curtis Mayfiled; Superfly, 1972
Who; Quadrophenia, 1973
Bob Dylan; Blood on the Tracks, 1975
Led Zeppelin; Physical Graffitti, 1975
Bob Marley & The Wailers; Rastaman Vibration, 1976
The Clash, 1977
Television; Marquee Moon, 1977
Gang of Four, Entertainment, 1979

80’s Ten
The Clash; London Calling, 1980 (Released 1/80 in U.S. – We are in America…)
AC/DC; Back in Black, 1980
Bruce Springsteen, The River, 1980
Replacements; Let it Be, 1984
REM; Fables of the Reconstruction, 1985
Guns and Roses: Appetite for Destruction, 1987
Nirvana; Bleach, 1989
Pixies; Doolittle, 1989
Neil Young; Freedom, 1989
Lou Reed; New York, 1989

90’s Ten
Massive Attack; Blue Lines, 1991
Nirvana; Nevermind, 1991
Teenage Fanclub; Bandwagonesque, 1991
U2; Achtung Baby, 1991
Matthew Sweet; Girlfriend, 1991
Lemonhead; It’s a Shame about Ray, 1992
Morphine; Cure for Pain, 1993
Alice in Chains; Jar of Sap (2 EPs: Sap, 1992 & Jar of Flies, 1994)
Radiohead; OK Computer, 1997
Elliott Smith; XO, 1998

00’s Ten
Radiohead; Kid A, 2000
D’Angelo; Voodoo, 2000
White Stripes; White Blood Cells, 2001
Beck; Sea Change, 2002
White Stripes; Elephant, 2003
Green Day; American Idiot, 2004
Spoon; Gimme Fiction, 2005
Raconteurs; Broken Boy Soldiers, 2006
Amy Winehouse; Back to Black, 2006
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds; Dig Lazarus Dig, 2008

Honorable Mention:
Traffic; John Barleycorn Must Die, 1970
Deep Purple; In Rock, 1970
T-Rex; Electric Warrior, 1971
Black Sabbath; Master of Reality, 1971
Joni Mitchell; Blue, 1971
Carole King; Tapestry, 1971
Rolling Stones; Exile on Main St., 1972
James Brown; The Payback, 1973
Led Zeppelin; Houses of the Holy, 1973
The Modern Lovers, 1976 (Recorded in 1971 & 1972)
Patti Smith; Horses, 1975
The Ramones; 1976
Aerosmith, Rocks, 1976
Sex Pistols; Never Mind the Bullocks, 1977
Pink Floyd; Animals, 1977
Neil Young; Live Rust, 1978
J.Geils Band; Love Stinks, 1980
Husker Du; Zen Arcade, 1984
Leonard Cohen; I’m Your Man, 1988
Temple of the Dog, 1991
Portishead; Dummy, 1994
Tom Petty; Wildflowers, 1994
Fiona Apple; Tidal, 1996
Surfer Rosa; Pixies, 1988
Tom Waits; Mule Variations, 1999

– EH 12/31/2011

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