Phantom's Greatest Albums of the Century

By The Phantom of the Ring

The Online Companion To
Wrestling Perspective

Paul MacArthur & David Skolnick
Editors & Publishers

About Wrestling Perspective 

Recent Issues

Book Reviews

Archives & Interviews

Our Writers

Other Writings

Good Links


Our Message Board

Subscription Information

Buy Issues Online


Wrestling Perspective
3011 HWY 30 West
Suite 101-197
Huntsville, TX  77340

Only $1.75 an issue

Subscribe Today!


Order your books, CDs, videos and other items from Amazon.Com

Just Click Below

In Association with


Or order your books, CDs, videos and other items from Barnes & Noble.Com

Just Click Below

Barnes & Noble



The Ten Greatest Albums of the Century

FRASIER: Remember when you thought the 1812 Overture was a great piece of music?

NILES: Was I ever that young?

        -- Frasier (Paramount Television, 1993)

I was asked, then nagged, to submit my picks for the greatest albums of the Twentieth Century. However, as albums themselves were a 20th Century invention, I figured they, like the music recorded on them, were timeless. Music, good music anyway, should be timeless, for there is a transcendent quality in music that lifts the spirit from the bounds of the present into a sort of limitless, formless dimension of the imagination, freeing the soul and intellect from the claims of Being into a sort of pure existenz - one with the universe.

If you should want more on this subject, I advise you to look up the works of Arthur Schopenhauer, in particular, The World as Will and Appearance (Vol. 1, Sec. 52). And, yes, it's available at Amazon! Though I do not agree with Schopenhauer's Pessimism, his chapter on music is a gem in itself and far preferable to the persnickety pabulum of the pompous pettifoggers who toll for the mass culture machine as exemplified by such dubious propaganda as Rolling Stone, Creem, Spin, etc.

My taste in music is more eclectic, reflected in my picks. I reflected on not only the music and artist, but also the place of the music and influence of the artist on later music. Because I can never shut up, my list of ten is actually twelve, in no particular order, plus a bonus pick that should illustrate the seriousness of this entire venture. So here goes nothing:

Beethoven: Complete Symphonies
Herbert Von Karajan, Conductor 
Deustche Grammophon, 1963 
The greatest composer of all time, the greatest piece of music (9th Symphony, 4th movement) ever put to an instrument, and the greatest conductor of all time. Need I say more?
Order It At Amazon.Com

Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro 
Erich Kleiber, Conductor
Decca, 1955 
Not every German opera needs to be three days long or unbearable to the ear. Mozart's opera, performed by such virtuosos as Fernando Corena and Suzanne Danco, shows us just how delightful operas can be, and helped set the tone for the later Italian masters, as well as Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht.
Order It At Amazon.Com

Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1
Performed by Artur Rubinstein and Vladimir Horowitz
Palexa Reissue, 1999 
An interesting CD: two virtuosos performing the same piece. Choose for yourself.  Frankly the Rubinstein version has one thing the Horowitz version lacks - the soul of the piece. Horowitz is more technically able, but only Rubinstein can communicate that which is better left unsaid.
Order It At Amazon.Com

Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill: The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahoganny
Performed by Lotte Lenya, the Northwest German Radio Chorus and the Northwest German Radio Orchestra, Wilhelm Bruckner-Ruggeberg, Conductor
Sony Classics, 1955 
There are few artists of the rank of Brecht and Weill, especially when Lotte Lenya is performing their music. Although best known for The Threepenny Opera, Mahoganny was more influential on rock music. The Doors covered "The Alabama Song" on their initial LP, although they omitted the verse beginning "Oh Show us the way to the next dollar bill . . ." It just wouldn't have been fitting, would it? Strong indications are that the Who's Tommy and the Kinks' Arthur were also influenced by this opera, as, too, the Police, especially Sting.
Order It At Amazon.Com

Ella Fitzgerald. The Legendary Decca Recordings
Universal/GRP, 1995 
The most innovative voice in Jazz, bar none. Long before Sinatra came along she showed us how to use the human voice as a Jazz instrument. Ella, for me, was at her height during the 40s, when she recorded such standards as "A-Tisket, A-Tasket," "Five O’clock Whistle," and "Stairway to the Stars." Although a current mini-craze for Ella’s music has been created by the hype surrounding the latest documentary by America’s leading Philistine, Ken Burns, I expect the music to keep its timeless quality despite the consumerist onslaught. A side note: "The Best of Benny Goodman features an early Ella classic, "Goodnight, My Love," recorded in 1937, that because of legal reasons, was not allowed to be released at the time. It is a must have for any Ella fan.
Order It At Amazon.Com

George Gershwin: "Rhapsody in Blue / An American in Paris 
Leonard Bernstein, Conductor
Sony Classics, 1987
In music, passion is everything. And no one had quite the passion for Gershwin than Leonard Bernstein. His rendition of "Rhapsody in Blue" is an American standard that brings out the passion of the piece and the creativeness of its composer. This version should be in every record library. No other can match its force.
Order It At Amazon.Com

Frank Sinatra: In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning 
Arranged by Nelson Riddle 
Capitol (remastered), 1998 
I come by Sinatra naturally, as my parents loved Ol' Blue Eyes, and there was always a recording of his playing in the background of my childhood. This is Frank's first collaboration with Nelson Riddle, and what Ella Fitzgerald does for jazz, Frank Sinatra does for ballads. Sinatra has influenced almost every rock singer who followed, from Elvis to McCartney to Bono. It is no accident all those rockers wanted to do Duets with Old Frankie. This album is an introduction to the reason why.
Order It At Amazon.Com

The Mothers of Invention: Freak Out 
Rykodisc, 1966 
Frank Zappa was probably the most creative force ever to come out of rock and roll. Combining a solid knowledge of classical music and avant-garde classical (Stravinsky, Varese, Ives) with a good old boogie-woogie and enough satire to escape pomposity, Zappa and the Mothers came at the listener any number of ways, each delightful and each brand new upon subsequent discovery. The juxtaposition of such satirical songs as "Hungry Freaks, Daddy," "Wowie Zowie," and "Who Are the Brain Police," with the Varese influenced "Return of the Son of the Monster Magnet," produces the brilliant "Trouble Every Day," all coated with a pop veneer. For better or worse, there would be no techno movement without him. Required listening.
Order It At Amazon.Com

Willie Dixon: The Chess Box 
Chess, 1988 
Forget Robert Johnson. Sure, Johnson was brilliant, even thought his career began after his death. It was Willie Dixon who was the bluesman who truly influenced Rock. Remember "Spoonful" (Cream), "Little Red Rooster" (Stones, Thorogood), "Back Door Man" (Doors), and "I Can't Quit You Baby" (Led Zep)? Here's the guy who wrote these standards, recorded on this album by legends as Howling Wolf, Little Milton, Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters. Also on the album is Muddy Waters' rendition of "You Need Love," later plagiarized by Led Zeppelin into "Whole Lotta Love." Willie sued and won, forcing Jimmy Page (Led Wallet) to do what he hated most: pay someone else royalties.
Order It At Amazon.Com

Beatles: Revolver
Capitol, 1966 
Never mind the recent hype from VHl. This is a great album, but I'd never vote for it as the greatest of all time. However, it is important in that it, along with Rubber Soul, marks the transition from power pop to the mature stylings of Sgt. Pepper, The White Album, and Abbey Road. Lennon was never better than in his dreamscapes, "I'm Only Sleeping," and "Tomorrow Never Knows," which led to the later "Across the Universe," one of the few Rock lyrics that actually approaches poetry. McCartney moves from the haunting "Eleanor Rigby," and "For No One," to the upbeat "Got to Get You Into My Life," and "Good Day Sunshine." George contributes three good songs, including the wittily nasty "Taxman," and the great "I Want to Tell You." Even Ringo gets a chance to shine with "Yellow Submarine." (Face it, we all sang this as kids.) Consider its influence on later groups.
Order It At Amazon.Com

Led Zeppelin: The BBC Sessions 
Atlantic, 1997 
Remember when Led Zep was a real kick-ass band, rather than the "best of' compiler it has become today? Forget for a moment the overproduced albums and listen to this collection of live songs for the BBC. In these recordings, Led Zep shows the real promise of what they could have been, rather than the bloated, overproduced band they eventually became. The songs on this CD resonate with a crispness I had quite forgotten Led Zep originally possessed. These were the days when Jimmy Page's metal guitar licks didn't drown out Robert Plant's great blues voice, when John Bonham didn't go on and on for no reason, and when John Paul Jones played crisp bass. Just listen to "Black Dog," "The Girl I Love She Got Long Wavy Black Hair," or their rendition of Robert Johnson's "Traveling Riverside Blues." Even the overplayed "Stairway to Heaven" comes alive once more, if only for a brief time. My only regret is they didn't play "Kashmir," one of Rock's truly great anthems. I would have loved to hear that one.
Order It At Amazon.Com

Captain Beefheart: The Spotlight Kid/ Clear Spot 
Warner Brothers, 1974 
There is no one quite like Captain Beefheart. A classmate of Frank Zappa, possessed of an eight octave range voice (you heard correctly), Beefheart combines Delta blues, Dada and surrealist poetry, free jazz, and techno-classicists like Stravinsky into something that once heard, cannot be repeated and is never forgotten. Beefheart, though, is an acquired taste. Definitely not for the timid, his music can shock the most hardened Rock fan upon first listen. The music does not contain a hook, but is itself a hook, and once hooked, there is no escape. The albums I recommend here are Beefheart at his most mainstream. Coming off the avant-garde Lick My Decals Off, Baby, The Spotlight Kid highlights Beefheart the blues stylist. It is also no coincidence that this was the first Captain Beehheart album since leaving Frank Zappa's Straight/Bizarre label for just plain Warner. Clear Spot is also a delight, an attempt to capture the Memphis Stax sound of the Sixties, albeit with the Beefheart twist.

Unfortunately, Beefheart is better known for influencing artists such as Devo, John Lydon, Tom Waits and PJ Harvey rather than actually selling records himself. But give a listen to the man whose album Safe as Milk was thought by John Lennon to be an artistic masterpiece. Then when you're ready, go and listen to Trout Mask Replica or Ice Cream for Crow. Revel in such tunes as "Old Fart at Play," "I Love You, You Big Dummy," "Woe-Is-Uh-Me-Bop," or "My Head is My Only House Unless It Rains." Once you become a Beefheart fan, you will never be the same.
Order It At Amazon.Com


Fred Blassie: I Bite the Songs
Rhino, 1985
Could any list be complete without this masterpiece? Not is you consider who this is and what publication's website it's for. It's, nice to come back to reality after my vacation in the Bahamas. There is no one like Fred Blassie. His "Pencil Neck Geek" was cited by no less an authority than Doctor Demento as one of the all-time masterpieces of music. So who am I to criticize? Fred also sings other songs on the album and I wish I could remember them now, but I can't because I just went back to the Bahamas. Just remember: before there was Nirvana, there was Fred Blassie. And after there was Nirvana, there was Fred Blassie. I don't quite know what this means, but my psychiatrist tells me its somehow related to my reluctance to return a badminton serve. Tennis, anyone?
Out of Print

This article is Copyright ©  2001 Phantom of the Ring. All Rights Reserved. 

Email Wrestling Perspective

This page is copyright © 2001 Wrestling Perspective. All rights reserved.

Wrestling Perspective, WrestlingPerspective.Com,  and The Phantom of the Ring are trademarked.

In Perspective, A Different Perspective, WP and Perspective/Counter Perspective are servicemarks of Wrestling Perspective.

Wrestling Perspective

3011 HWY 30 West

Suite 101-197

Huntsville, TX 77340