Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Desert Island Discs

It's been a long time since I last saw anyone list their "desert island discs"--the ten albums they prize most. (This used to be the best part of Tower Records's surprisingly good promotional magazine, Pulse.) Here are mine, because I love sharing good music and making lists satisfies my closet autism. There's something exciting about distilling a lifetime of taste into one short list.

One note: desert island discs must be albums. They can be studio or concert albums, but they must be work the musicians intended to be heard as a single experience. No The Best of Leonard Cohen or (the 3-years posthumous) Legend .

My ten:
Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway
Jay-Z and the Roots Unplugged
Joni Mitchell - Blue
Iggy and the Stooges - Raw Power
Cannonball Adderley - Them Dirty Blues
Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde
Pearl Jam - Ten
Aretha Franklin - Sparkle
Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation
Salif Keita - Moffou
A few notes:

A few years ago it would have been Blood on the Tracks and not Blonde on Blonde, but as happens often these days I've come around to the one championed by my friend Charles Kaiser. I recently listened to the seven albums Dylan released between 1962 and 1966, and The Times They Are A-Changin' also stood out--I'd forgotten about "Boots of Spanish Leather", and "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" is especially haunting to me since seeing Dylan's 1964 1965 Albert Hall performance in D. A. Pennebaker's documentary Don't Look Back. By the way, a few years ago, Ian Frazier wrote a great article about the song and the real event of Hattie Carroll's death in Mother Jones.

I listen to these ten albums all the time, except for Daydream Nation. I'd give the spot to Nico & Rushad (an excellent classical-jazz fusion album) or Jimi Hendrix's Axis: Bold as Love, but I put too many hours of my life into Daydream Nation in high school.

And last, I cheated. Here's a separate list of ten hip-hop (and trip-hop, electronic, etc.) albums:
Jay-Z and the Roots Unplugged
Fourtet - Pause
Avalanches - Since I Left You
3rd Bass - Derelicts of Dialect
Dujeous? - City Limits
Ghostface Killah - Supreme Clientele
Jay-Z and Danger Mouse - Grey Album
Nas - Illmatic
Outkast - ATLiens
XClan - Xodus
Alice, I'd like to know your picks, and I have another question for you: with which still-working musicians would you buy a new album sight unseen? (Er, sound unheard?) I'd trust Bjork, Outkast, Dujeous?, and that's about it.

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