Thursday, March 10, 2005


I am so smart, I am so smart . . . S - M - R - T . . . I mean, S - M - A - R - T.

Taking a break from the dullery that is international relations... I hereby present to you Jonathan Kelley's Top 23 albums of all time! Quick note - I came up with these off the top of my head; there's no rigor involved; one album per artist; and I left out Greatest Hits CDs or other complations (otherwise, obviously, the Mean Girls soundtrack would be here). So with no further ado...

23. Off the Wall, Michael Jackson. Quincy Jones mixes dance & ballads beautifully. "I Can't Help It" needs to be played more.

22. John Denver & the Muppets Christmas. Great memories of Christmases past.

21. Red Hot & Dance. Contains original music, so doesn't count as a "compilation." I would have picked Listen Without Prejudice but "Too Funky" is a teeny bit better song than "Freedom '90."

20. Achtung Baby, U2. My first U2 album, I played it out more than Joshua Tree, and I think "Mysterious Ways" is just terrific. Plus, Joshua Tree makes me think of that Friends episode where Rachel & Ross are thinking of each other while its raining and BOTH listening to "With or Without You." DAMN YOU RACHEL AND ROSS!!!

19. Purple Rain, Prince. "Dearly beloved..."

18. Let It Be, Beatles. I'm a huge Beatles fan, but this is the only album of theirs I think I could take to the proverbial desert island & not get sick of. Best parts - "Two of Us" and "Across the Universe."

17. Bookends, Simon & Garfunkle. "America" is one of the bestest songs ever; "At the Zoo" makes me want to go to the zoo; "Hazy Shade of Winter" is even better than the BANGLES (not bananarama - thanks TJ!) cover. I know!

16. Free to Be You and Me. Shut up.

15. Miseducation of Lauren Hill, Lauren Hill. She brings alive the best music genre ever - 70s soul. Us masses thank you!

14. Let It Bleed, Rolling Stones. Okay, full disclosure: I've never actually heard this album. But I've never owned an original Stones album at all, and I really really think they're awesome, so I picked this one for "Gimme Shelter."

13. Bedtime Stories, Madonna. To me, this is the middle book of her three part master trilogy, with Erotica first and Ray of Light third. Each album is unique and packed with great songs. These albums represent the peak of Madonna's tremendous career. I'm picking Bedtime Stories because "Secret" is so hummable, "Love Tried to Welcome Me" might be my favorite Madonna song of all time, and particularly because of the artistic breakthrough that is "Bedtime Story." The last was cowritten by Bjork. Yay Bjork!

12. Kind of Blue, Miles Davis. Exquisite cool jazz.

11. A Charlie Brown Christmas, Vince Guaraldi Trio. Name one person who doesn't love this music. You can't do it! It's unpossible.

10. Rumours, Fleetwood Mac. So many big hits ... "Dreams" is played all the time, and deservedly so. "Go Your Own Way" proves that Lindsay Buckingham is an asshole, because he used to make Stevie Nicks sing it onstage! But she did it, so.... Anyway, "Gold Dust Woman" is a ridiculously underplayed song. I also like "Oh Daddy."

9. Prose Combat, MC Solaar. When I was in Montreal, I asked the young drag queen & his friends my ex & I were hanging out with, "what's good French hiphop?" One of the kids said to buy this album. I did and I have blissed out to it ever since, even though I can't understand a damn word the dude is saying.

8. Graceland, Paul Simon. Paul gets on the list twice because he's a supergenius, plus we all know that Garfunkel was the real creative force behind Simon & Garfunkel. This is a triumph musically but lacks a little bit of heart for my comfort level.

7. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John. There are a few misses on this double LP, but fuck it. It's got "Bennie and the Jets"!!!

6. Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, Sarah McLachlan. "... kiss you so hard, I'll take your breath away..." Back in 1995 I never thought I'd like another album any better than I loved this one. It's moved down a few notches but maybe that's because I lost it?

5. Wrecking Ball, Emmylou Harris. Daniel Lanois has done a lot of great stuff in his career (see: Time Out of Mind, Achtung Baby, So, Joshua Tree, and more). As an review for Lucious Jackson's album Fever In, Fever Out pointed out, Lanois likes to "smother his clients in gauze." This Emmylou album is no differnt. Thing is, I love what Lanois brings to the table. He creates some of my favorite sounds of all time. It's not clean, it's not crips. But it gets to me. Add Emmylou Harris's cracked vocals and you have a true mystical experience.

4. Bitter, Me'shell NdegeOcello. A devastating album about infidelity. Contained no hits. Not a lot of people have heard it. But spectacular. [Edited because I got the name of the damn album wrong! It's not Peace Beyond Passion, which is a good album, but doesn't touch Bitter.]

3. I Put a Spell on You, Nina Simone. Nina was a great songwriter, and all of these were covers. But between the title track, "Feeling Good," and "Take Care of Business" it will make you smile. The best part for me is that it's on the same CD as the album Nina Simone in Concert, which has her version of "Don't Smoke in Bed" and "I Loves You Porgy." Wow.

2. Shaming of the Sun, Indigo Girls. Not really my second favorite album, but since they're my favorite band of all time, I had to put them high. "Don't Give That Girl a Gun" is super awesome.

1. Disintegration, The Cure. Sure I just really started listening to the album this week. Yes, it's mightily pretentious and really more appropriate for 14 year olds in 1986. Whatever. Now I know what the hell the South Park kids were talking about when they claimed this was the "best album ever!!!!!"

Okay! Wow, do I have mainstream tastes. But I already knew that!!! Anything you want to add, subtract, mock, agree with --- just comment!!

May I please have some of what you are smoking?
we have really different musical tastes, except for the stuff that resonates with my inner lesbian and my inner 14 your old child, who incidentally still is living in 1986. i guess none of this is very surprising.
oh gosh, dudes, my friend "Lainie" just reminded me of one of my favorite all-time albums. No, not "Very Necessary" by Salt n Pepa (which is in my Top 50) but "Wildflowers" by Tom Petty. Okay, move everything starting with Graceland up one slot, and put Wildflowers in at #8. I may even have to edit.
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