Saturday, February 10, 2007


A couple of weekends ago, the hubby passed me an article from his weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal (January 20-21, 2007). I don't know where I've been, but I didn't know the WSJ published a weekend edition. Anyway, the article was in the paper's music section (huh, the WSJ has a music section too?) and it dealt with Smokey Robinson's top five favorite albums of all time.

At the top of Smokey's list of albums was none other than one of my all time favorites, Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On' (1971). I wasn't surprised by that pick. I'd dare say you'd be hard pressed to find any true-blue, socially conscious R & B fan who doesn't appreciate the raw, bitter soulfulness of Marvin's 'What's Going On'. Even as a teen, I seldom made it through the entire album with tearing up at some point.

Now, Smokey's next choice, Carole King's 'Tapestry' (1971) did come as a bit of a surprise. I can't say that I've ever really sampled any of Ms. King's work, but I trust Smokey's taste and if he says it's a winner, I'm willing to roll with him. Also, the fact that the album sold more than 10 million copies and won four Grammy awards, is an indication that a lot of other folks agree with him.

Third on SR's list was 'Talking Book' (1972) by Stevie Wonder. Why I don't own his album or cd is a mystery to me. Actually, I'm pretty sure the fact that my folks never owned it, and therefore I couldn't steal . . . I mean borrow it from them is a big part of why I don't currently own a copy. I do intend to rectify that situation ASAP! And rest assured, I have heard and do love much of the music from that album, including "Superstitution" and "You Are The Sunshine of My Life."

Coming in at number four on SR's list was Natalie Cole's 'Unforgettable With Love' (1991). I can't say that I'm a big fan of Ms. Cole's voice. Some of her early work was all right, but she generally sounds like she's whining and singing through her nose to me. But if I were to buy any of her work, I'd probably choose 'Unforgettable' too.

Last on Smokey's list was an album, I'm ashamed to say, I didn't even know existed! Maxwell's Ascension (Never Wonder) 1996 was released shortly before his platinum-selling, full length 'Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite' (1996). I'm a HUGE Maxwell fan, so how this got past me is a mystery. 'Ascension' only contains six tracks and I've probably heard them, but I need to own that bad boy . . . Anyway, the fact that it made Smokey's top five, is interesting. As much as I truly love me some Maxwell, I can't say that I would put him in my top five . . . possibly my top ten, but not my top five of ALL-TIME.

What would I include on my top five list of albums? Good question. I know I once said if I were ever on a deserted island and could only listen to 3 albums, they would be the following by Marvin Gaye, 'What's Going On', (1971) 'Let's Get It On' (1973) and 'I Want You' (1976). But you know, after reviewing Smokey's list, I think I'd like to make a few tweaks to my own top 5.

Certainly, at the top of my list, just like Smokey's would be Marvin's 'What's Going On' (1971). According to Smokey, Marvin told him the album was written by God. I don't doubt it. Divine inspiration is all up in that bad boy.

Next would probably be something by Aretha . . . either 'I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You' (1967) (I'll be dog if my mama didn't play the heck out of this album when I was growing up) or else Sister Ree's gospel classic 'Amazing Grace'.

Of course, I'd have to have some jazz. My first choice would be 'Kind of Blue' (1959) by Miles Davis, which contains my all time favorite jazz tune 'Blue In Green.' Just recently I learned a couple of interesting facts about the album 'Kind of Blue': it was recorded in just 2 days and it's the best-selling jazz album of all time. As messed up as Miles was, his genius for music is undeniable.

My next jazz choice would be Kirk Whalum's 'Cache' (1993). For those of you who don't know, (you durn well oughta) brother Whalum is a tener saxophonist with Memphis roots. 'Cache' is one of those cds the hubby and I enjoy listening to when we take our road trips. My favorite cuts on the album are 'Fragile' (which was written by Sting) and 'Love is A Losing Game.'

The last selection on my list . . . and I know those of you who have been counting are saying, hey that's 6, but no, I'm counting my Aretha selection as 1 (smile) . . . the last selection is one a lot of folks, even those who think they know me, will find odd. 'Bang!Zoom' (1995) by Bobby McFerrin rounds out my top five. And before you go there, NO, this is none of that sickning, 'Don't Worry, Be Happy' crap.

The album/cd 'Bang!Zoom' is nothing like that. There's something pure and almost tribal about the way McFerrin uses his voice as an instrument on this album. It owns the distinction of being another one of those rare albums that the hubby and I are in mutual agreement about and listen to when we're on the road. When our son was a toddler and we were still cutting his hair and using our kitchen as a makeshift barbershop, we'd always start by popping 'Bang!Zoom' into the cd player. I think because it was soothing. My favorite song on the album has to be 'Freedom Is A Voice'.

The title alone says it all (smile), especially for those of us who have struggled to have our voices heard.

So, think about it for a moment. What are your top 5 favorite albums of all time? If you're open to sharing, tell us about your list in the OSM's comment section.


mr said...

I really like all the lists you do. It lets me pick up some new material to see/hear/read! I especially like learning about something that's been around a while that I've never heard of before. It's like finding an old, diamond ring. It keeps art alive. Whittling a list of faves down to five is really hard! It seems that "What's Going On" is on every "favorite" or "greatest" list. As well it should be. It's on mine, too. When you hear the words "What's Going On" you don't really think of just the song. You think of the whole album. So, to be cliche, if you looked up "album" in the dictionary, there should be a picture of the "What's Going On" cover there.

Now, this list is different from the deserted island scenario. If I had to pick absolutely only one, then I'd want something that would cover every emotion I might encounter: being lost; discovering fire; finding a piece of food; being rescued...there's only one artist's repertoire that can cover that range (my opinion)...Aretha. So it would have to be her greatest hits. That being said, here's some others I'd like to share:

Tears for Fears, "The Seeds of Love", 1989. This is a brilliant album. Features a fabulous singer, Oleta Adams, singing backgrounds. I swear, her voice is one of the best things about this album. Throwing back to one of your previous posts about misunderstood lyrics...the chorus of the title song starts with the words "sewing the seeds of love". Some friends of ours (yours & mine) thought they were singing "sewing machines of love".

Joni Mitchell, "Night Ride Home", 1991. Intriguing lyrics to some smooth sounds. My folks won this CD in some kind of contest and gave it to me. It became one of my favorites.

Weather Report, "8:30", 1979. I'm not super crazy about jazz but this live album...damn!

Sting, "Bring On The Night", 1985. Another live one with Omar Hakim who played with Weather Report, Branford Marsalis, Darryl Jones who played with Miles Davis and some wailin' background singers, Janice Pendarvis and Dolette McDonald. If it was just Sting, this album would be rehash. It's the band and the backgrounders who bring him out.

Lori said...

Hey MR!
Your deserted island scenario is so classic "MR" (LOL). I figured I could count on you to include some Aretha in your top five. You're probably right, a collection of her greatest hits just might be the way to go.

I haven't had the pleasure of listening to anything from Tears For Fear's 'Seeds of Love.' Of course, I'm sold on those two hits from their 'Songs From The Big Chair.' You can't talk about the 80's without mentioning 'Shout' and 'Everybody Wants To Rule The World.' Those were the jams!

I've heard some nice covers of Joni's Mitchell's work--Dianne Reeves and Janet Jackson (of all people) among them, but I've never listened to her singing any of her own work. Perhaps I ought to. Her talent as a songwriter is a given.

I'll have to see if my Dad has any Weather Report that I can borrow *or steal" (smile).

Sting is the man! Don't hate, appreciate (smile) The only reason I'm interested in seeing the Grammy's at all this year is to checkout the reuniting of Sting and the Police. Later for all of that tired a$$ music that came out last year . . . and that goes triple-double for anything put out by that non-Memphian (he's from Millington, people) R & B wanna be Justin Timberlake!