Skolnick's Greatest Albums of the Century

By David Skolnick

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The Ten Greatest Albums of the Century

10) Harry Chapin: Greatest Stories Live. (Elektra, 1976). My father used to play this as an 8-track in his car when I was a kid and I loved it then and treasure it now. Chapin is among the greatest storytellers in music history and this live album is his masterpiece. Each song tells a complex story ­ one sadder than the next in most cases. Itís all here, "Taxi," "Cats in the Cradle," "Mr. Tanner" and "WOLD." A great album to put you in a depressed mood no matter how happy you were before you started listening.
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9) Jimmy Cliff and Various Artists: The Harder They Come (Mango, 1972). This oneís got the honor of being the best reggae and best movie soundtrack album of all-time. I put this one in my cassette player on long trips when I feel like singing aloud ­ and loudly. Great tunes like "Sweet and Dandy," "Many Rivers to Cross" and "You Can Get It If You Really Want." Youíre not going to find these tunes on 99.9 percent of the radio stations in the country, but if youíve never heard it, you owe it to yourself to check it out.
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8) The Beatles: Abbey Road (Apple/Capitol, 1969). If this album just consisted of the medley on the second side of the album, it would be worthy of consideration. Add to that great Beatlesí tunes like "Come Together," "Here Comes the Sun" and "Oh! Darling" and you have a studio masterpiece. Iím a huge Beatles fan and besides my No. 1 pick, this album has the other ones such as "Sgt. Pepper" and "Revolver" beat by a mile.
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7) Cream: Disraeli Gears (Polydor, 1967). Cream is probably the most underrated bands of all-time and their best work should not go ignored. This one features songs youíve heard before such as "Sunshine of Your Love" and "Strange Brew," but itís chocked fill of great songs that showcase each of the three band memberís musical talents. A must listen.
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6) David Bowie: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (Virgin/RCA, 1972). This placement could have easily gone to Bowieís early work, Hunky Dory, but Ziggyís got a slight edge for its overall musicianship as well as some introspective tunes that really hit home with me. I love the Ziggy story which Bowie masterfully tells through music.
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5)The Rolling Stones: Let It Bleed (Abkco, 1969). Iím a big fan of other Stonesí albums such as Exile on Main Street and Sticky Fingers, but I love the way Mick and the Boys perfectly blend rock, country and other music styles on this one. "Country Honk," the Stonesí country version of "Honky Tonk Woman," which appears on this album, always blows me away with its outdoor feel and jug-band sound. You also get the title track, which is one of the bandís most underrated songs, and "You Canít Always Get What You Want." If church sounded like that, Iím sure the pews would be packed every Sunday.
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4) Pink Floyd: The Wall (Capitol, 1979).  I always love the music bands put out when they are in turmoil and The Wall, one of Floydís last albums as the four-man entity you all know and love, is a timeless classic. The story is great and compelling and supported by some of the best songs youíll find anywhere. Itís hard to put into words how awesome this album is, but luckily itís a legendary piece of work that most people have heard before so you know what I mean.
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3) Led Zeppelin: Physical Graffiti (Swan Song/Atlantic, 1975). The best hard rock album of all time. There is no argument. It opens with "Custard Pie" with its great guitar riff and continues on with many of the bandís best songs such as "Kashmir" and "In My Time of Dying." As you can see from my top five picks, Iím a sucker for a great double album and this one plays often in my vehicle. In fact, when Iím alone, I turn my stereo volume as high as it will go ­ to 11? ­ and sing along. Iím sure my fellow motorists wonder what that idiot in the mini-van is doing. Heís rocking, buddy!
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2) The Who: Quadrophenia (MCA, 1973). My God, that Pete Townsend sure can write some great tunes. This is the perfect teen-age angst album filled with songs that feature incredible lyrics. The most popular song on the album, "Love, Reign Oíer Me," is probably itís worst and thatís saying something. Iíve almost worn out my copy of this tape. I never tire of it. 
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1) The Beatles: White Album (Apple/Capitol, 1968).  As I mentioned with The Wall, I love the music of bands about to break up and this one is the perfect example of it. You know the hits, but the lesser known songs on this album, "Piggies," "Yer Blues," and "Iím So Tired," are among the best written and performed songs youíll ever hear. I have no idea what Charles Manson was listening to, but I have to say he could pick out a great album. Some critics say itís too long and a single album instead of a double one would have made it the Beatles best. But except for "Revolution 9" I canít find much else to dump off of it.
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This article is Copyright ©  2001 David Skolnick. All Rights Reserved. 
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