Personal Best: Fave Musicians Favored Work
Bob Marley – Marley was better on greatest hits than through an entire album, but this 1975 Live, introduced me to “No Woman, No Cry,” (written by Bobby’s buddie Vincent Ford) “Trenchtown Rock,” “Get up, Stand Up,” and the best version of “I Shot The Sherriff” to date.
Bright Eyes – Has anybody ever fell to earth with the thud Conor Oberst did? In the 00s he was the greatest pop star of his generation, in the 10s he sure wasn’t. At his height is the best album ever written about 9-11, I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning.
Curtis Mayfield – You know, I know, so maybe I’m cheating and Superfly is a more obvious, but in this case I will go with a personal favorite, 1982’s Love Is The Place.
D’Angelo – I don’t care how it was built, 2000’s Voodoo was the best r&b album of the 00s, and when I saw him at Radio City Music Hall in 2000, he was on a whole other level.
David Bowie: Just as punk dawned in time to wipe the slate clean, Bowie ws already elsewhere and with 1976’s Station to Station there was no slate to wipe and no one to wipe it. A swift hard beauty of an album, six songs, 38 minutes in length, opening with “Station To Station” that mixes somewhere between fascist Bowie back from Berlin with paranoid alien Bowie performing a Scott Walker impression. Only much, much better.
Diana Krall – In 1999, Diana left the jazz ghetto to the pop penthouse with When I Look In Your Eyes, an album she promoted with a gig at Carnegie Hall that functioned as a coming out party for a woman who used the jazz trio as an exploration of her blondness.
Ed Sheeran – “Divide” is his masterpiece -he may never do it better again.
Eric Benét – Before Jay-Z turned him into a verb, Eric was a top r&b singer, and long after Hailee Barry divorced him, Eric released one of the best unsung r&b albums of the 2010s, Lost In Time. Among its many, many achievements, it includes the only song worthy of Faith Evans gifts.
Grateful Dead – If you can break the universe into two, Deadheads and everybody else, I am certainly everybody else. While I could take em in small doses, all that jammin’ for allah does nothing much for me. But there are two exceptions, and neither are live, American Beauty is one, and terrific proto-Americana country blues Workingman’s Dead triumph is the other. From 1970, it sounds like the road not taken.
Kendrick Lamar – His best because it is his purist, Untitled was not about the songs, always Kendrick’s weakest point, but about the rapping.
Marla Mase – The spoken word artist cum art rocker nail every song on the thirty minute dash through every skill she has Half-Life, including some she shares with Bill Laswell and Charlie Funk. “Drowned In Blue” is her masterpiece.
LCD Soundsystem – 2007’s Sound Of Silver is James’ most consistent album as well as his best, ten years after it was released in 2007 it hasn’t dated itself in a genre that dates itself fast.
R. Kelly – The man coulda been a contender, for awhile he was straddling his soul and his hip hop cred with astonishing skill, then he jumped right off the deep end in all Black eccentric lifestyle and 60 part songs. 2003’s Chocolate Factory is the one where he kept his pants zipped up long enough to hover near Stevie Wonder land.
Rod Stewart – A toss up between 1970’s Every Picture tells A Story and 1971’s Never A Dull Moment, Both albums are flat out masterpiece among the best rock albums of all times standards. If you added them together you’d have the greatest double of all time, and you could do that: they are of a piece. But Never A Dull Moment has the slightest of edges because “You Wear It Well” is better than “Maggie May”.
Talking Heads – have I ever mentioned what an awesome year 1979? Debatably the greatest year in popular music history. These guys released their best album, the strangely crafted dance and art horror stories, including “Cities” and “Life During Wartime” and… “Heaven”. the best thing ever written about heaven.
Titus Andronicus: 2010’s The Monitor was the exact opposite of the sophomore jinx, Patrick Stickles’ second album was a rock opera about the American Civil War and a bad romantic break up that all seems to happen somewhere in the back of Patrick’s mind as he quits teaching to form a rock band between Boston and New Jersey. As of now, it remains the best rock album of the decade.
X – Following on the heels of Los Angeles, another album that shakes off the sophomore slump, Wild Gift, part as art as hardcore as California Dreaming while Elvis sucks on doggie’s dick.
Yo La Tengo – I am gonna cheat again, their 1990 Fake Book cover album pulled em out of that rock critic starts band world of sneer, and 1997 I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One made them one of the greatest rock bands in the world.