Some people make "Top 10 Deserted Island CD's" lists, but I don't want to do that. If I'm stuck on a desert island, what good will 10 CD's do me? Sure, maybe I could use them as mirrors to signal to a passing boat or plane, but I sure as hell wouldn't have anything to play them on. And if, by some chance, that desert island had a CD player, electricity, and such, well, it would probably have more stuff I'd want, and then it wouldn't exactly be deserted, would it?
So, instead of a list of deserted island discs, I'm going to be more realistic (with just a bit of credibility stretching thrown in for good measure).
Imagine the scene-you have a nice CD changer in your car, and you are getting ready to change the discs in it. But to your dismay, you find that the changer is stuck, and won't let you change the CD's. You can't take any out, and you can't put any more in. You also have no way of getting the changer repaired, so the CD's that are in there are the CD's that you will listen to on every commute to work, drive to the store, and road trip until you sell the car (at which point, you can take a hammer to the changer and get your CD's out). What 10 albums do you want in the changer when it gets stuck? Here's my list, in no particular order:
1. Beastie Boys-Paul's Boutique
I can (and have) listen to this album for hours on end. No big hits, but the Beasties sophomore album has more excellent music packed onto it than any other album, period. Not only are the tracks great, but the whole album is like a big mixing bowl where the producers pulled thousands of samples from every genre of music out there, put them together, and came out with an unbelievable set of songs.
2. Neil Young & Crazy Horse-Ragged Glory
This is the album I was listening to when I "got" Neil Young. Not his best album, but close to it, this is one I can listen to and always enjoy. Some good, hard rocking Crazy Horse songs, a few ballads, and plenty of feedback. And, as usual, some interesting characters and stories floating through Neil's lyrics. This is what all those summer garage bands want to be.
3. Jane's Addiction-Nothing's Shocking
Some people like Ritual de lo Habitual better, but Summertime Rolls, Jane Says, and Mountain Song make this the best album in the Jane's Addiction catalog as far as I'm concerned. This is the album I played non-stop during my freshman & sophomore years of college, and it always brings me back to standing in the rain at the first Lollapalooza Festival at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, getting soaked to the skin, and not caring because the best band in the world was playing.
4. The Clash-London Calling
Much more than just a punk album, more than a rock & roll album, a bit of world music, and not a bad song in the bunch. I didn't get into London Calling until long after college, but once I heard it a few times, it blew me away. Every song is perfect, and the energy comes out of the speakers as if every note could be the bands last one. And to top it off, possibly the best album cover of all time.
5. Iron Maiden-Live After Death
A live album of classic Maiden, touring for what I consider to be their best album. Perfectly recorded and mixed, a great selection of songs, this is mid-80s heavy metal at it's finest. No hairspray here, this is pure fist-pumping head-banging metal, and there is melody in there too.
6. Paul Simon-Graceland
When you need to just relax, sit back,and drive, this is one of the best albums to have playing. I've listened to this through 3 or 4 times on long trips, and every song just flows, making time go by. I'll confess that I could probably only give titles to 2 or 3 songs if they were played outside the context of the album, but I could tell you they are from Graceland. This one always goes in the car with me on long trips, just in case I need to hear it.
7. Ramones-All the Stuff and More Vol.1
Maybe this is cheating, because this is a compilation of the first two Ramones albums, Ramones and Leave Home, on one CD. It's got a good handfull of the essential Ramones songs like Blitzkreig Bop, Beat on the Brat, Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment, and more. Hell, you could pick any one of the first 4 albums, and you'll have a few that are essential, and the rest are all good as well. The reasons for picking this set, though, is that it's got the first album on it. If your going to have only one CD of the Ramones, you might as well have the album that started punk rock.
8. Pearl Jam-Ten
Again, sophomore year of college. This is another one of those albums that brings me back. Although this time, it's Lollapalooza 2, but still at SPAC. And yes, it rained that year as well. I was out getting something to drink when the first notes of Even Flow came out from the amphitheater. We left the line, ran back to our seats as fast as we could, and got one of the best perfomances I've ever seen by a band, and they were only the second band on the bill.
9. Jimmy Buffett-Songs You Know By Heart/Greatest Hits
Yeah, Greatest Hits albums shouldn't be allowed, but you know what? I don't care. In 1996 I drove to Mammoth Cave, KY to work on an archaeological dig for a week, and this is the album I listened to over and over and over on the drive. It's also one of the CD's I listened to on my first trip to Charlottesville with Laura. All the songs are great, and I don't care what anyone says, Mr. Buffett is one of the best songwriters out there.
10. Grateful Dead-Without A Net
As the sticker on the case says, "The World's Grandest, Largest, Best Live Recording". It may not have all my favorite Dead songs on it, but this is by far my favorite of their live albums. The highlight of the album is Eyes of the World, featuring Branford Marsalis on Saxophones. Great songs, great band, and just an easy album to get carried away to. To paraphrase a common saying at the shows, they weren't the best at what they did, they were the only ones who did what they did. I'm glad I got to see them doing it several times.
That's my list of 10 CD's I'd want stuck in my CD player. Sure, I fudged a bit, as two of them are double albums (Live After Death and Without A Net) and one is two albums on one CD (All The Stuff And More Vol. 1), but I don't care. So, what would you want stuck in your CD player?