johnnywhassup's Favorite Records of All Time

By johnnywhassup johnnywhassup
updated 7 months ago

  1. The Velvet Underground - 1969 Velvet Underground Live With Lou Reed

    Took a chance buying this record back in high school because it was the only Velvet Underground record available at my local record store and I think I must have read somewhere that they were cool. It turned out to be another one of those albums that found its way to my turntable and never left. This posthumous double LP of later-period Velvet Underground features live versions of material that originally appeared on their four previous studio records as well as a few songs that were previously unreleased at the time. What’s noteworthy about this collection is how markedly different many of the songs are compared to their studio counterparts. Sweet Jane, which was a straight ahead rock and roll song on their swan song LP Loaded, is presented here as a quiet, after hours ballad that includes a beautiful bridge section that was never in the original release. A song like White Light/White Heat, which originally clocked in at under three minutes, here is extended to almost three times that length to allow for a devastating guitar freakout by Lou Reed. Recorded in club settings, there’s an intimacy inherent in the recordings that puts the listener right in the room with the band who, in this later incarnation, plays with a relaxed confidence. A fantastic live record that’s as essential a VU album as any.

  2. The B-52's - The B-52's

    The B-52’s may have been retro with their beehive hairdos and fondness for earlier dance crazes, but hearing their classic debut album as an impressionable rock kid was like hearing an alien transmission, but one that you could dance to. They were just so weird and different, yet strangely accessible. Rock Lobster may have been the most popular song, but Planet Claire, 52 Girls, and 606-0842 were just as infectious. A perfect, timeless party of an album.

  3. The Monkees - The Monkees Greatest Hits

    The Monkees - Greatest Hits was the first rock record I owned when I got it as a birthday gift at age 6. I watched The Monkees TV show religiously on syndication. With the matching red shirts, their beach house with a living room that also served as a practice space and, of course, all the groovy girls that came into their orbit, they made being in a band look like a blast and I was hooked! In the mid-'70s, this was the only Monkees record available and I wore it out, as most of the original Monkees albums released in the '60s were out-of-print and hard to come by. Micky Dolenz was my favorite Monkee, so naturally my jams were Last Train to Clarksville, She, Pleasant Valley Sunday and (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone, which is still my favorite Monkees song and one that I’ve played with various bands throughout the years. I've since acquired most of the original LPs that were released in the '60s and just a few years ago finally saw The Monkees (the first tour to include Mike Nesmith!) in concert with my son. There would be other bands and records that would have an even bigger impact on me as time went on, but Greatest Hits is where the rock and roll dream began.

  4. The Who - The Kids Are Alright

    The amazing soundtrack album to the equally amazing feature film rockumentary of The Who that came out in 1979. I didn’t know much about The Who when, at age 10, I saw the film at one of the local movie theaters, but became obsessed with them right then and went out and bought this at the mall record store the very next day. If a record can change your life or at least open up your understanding and appreciation of music and inspire you as a young musician, this would definitely be one of those records for me. When I got my first drum set a few months later, the very first song I worked out was The Kids Are Alright version of "I Can’t Explain." Keith Moon remains one of my biggest influences as a drummer. I’ve listened to this double LP a bazillion times and it still blows me away all these years later. For me, some of the live tracks - notably "I Can’t Explain" from the Shindig TV show, "Young Man Blues" and "A Quick One (While He’s Away)" - are the definitive versions, eclipsing the original releases and proving just how powerful a live band The Who were. An essential Who record, an essential rock album.

  5. Soundgarden - Superunknown

    I bought this record the day it came out in 1994 and listened to the whole thing on headphones that night. By the end, I was convinced Soundgarden had taken things to a whole new level. Superunknown was a game-changer. Labels like grunge, metal or alternative seemed woefully inadequate to describe Soundgarden's music at that point. To their credit, though, they never seemed to neatly fit into any of those genres. With Superunknown, Soundgarden proved that they were simply an amazing hard rock band, just as vital to their times and their generation as Led Zeppelin and the Beatles were to theirs. This record has the vision, musicianship and enduring songs that make it a classic in every sense.

  6. Buzzcocks - Singles Going Steady

    This stayed in heavy rotation throughout most of my teen years and into adulthood. With great hooks, catchy melodies and twin buzzsaw guitars over relentlessly hyper-driven drums, Singles Going Steady is right up there with the Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks and the debut records by The Clash and Ramones as one of the best of the first wave punk records. "What Do I Get," "Ever Fallen In Love" and "Love You More" were hit singles in my alternate (or alternative?) universe. Seeing the reunited Buzzcocks in concert at St. Andrew’s Hall in Detroit in 1989 with the original band members was a punk rock religious experience.

  7. Cheap Trick - Cheap Trick At Budokan

    I saw Cheap Trick in concert for the first time when my mom took me to see KISS for my 10th birthday at the Pontiac Silverdome and Trick was the opening act. If was the summer of 1979 and the band was riding on the success of At Budokan with the live version of "I Want You To Want Me" in the Top 10 singles chart. I’ve seen them about 20 times since, including in 2013 when, to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Budokan's release, they played the entire original setlist at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles. I was right up close and it was unbelievable!

    At Budokan is pure, high energy rock and roll bliss. It might well be the best live record ever made and if you disagree, well I'm not sure we can be friends anymore.

  8. Avengers - Avengers

    This underrated eponymous LP by late ‘70s San Francisco band The Avengers ranks right up there with the best of the first wave punk classics. Lead vocalist/lyricist Penelope Houston delivers with such passion and fire while the band plays with a driving intensity throughout. Songs like Car Crash, We Are the One and I Believe In Me are some of the best punk songs committed to record. One of my early dates with my future wife Christa Deitrick was The Avengers when they reunited for a show in LA in 1999. A special night, for sure.

  9. The Flaming Lips - Transmissions From The Satellite Heart

    This is the Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Neil Young and Jesus and Mary Chain all rolled into one glorious psychedelic masterpiece. Later albums like The Soft Bulletin get heaps of praise, but for my money, this is the Lips at their finest. Transmissions was one album that everyone in my band WIG would want to listen to in the van back in the touring days of the ‘90s. We were so into this record and the sound of it that we went to Chicago to record with the producer, Keith Cleversley, for our Wireland album.

  10. The Replacements - Let It Be

    It’s impossible to overstate how much of an impact The Replacements’ Let It Be album had on the teenage me when it came out in ‘84. From the jangly guitar intro of album opener I Will Dare to the looping telephone operator voice that closes Answering Machine, Let It Be had the perfect balance of ernest, startlingly mature pop songs (Unsatisfied and Sixteen Blue) with the bratty punk of the band’s earlier work (Gary’s Got a Boner and Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out) and became a constant soundtrack in my life during those teenage years. Hailing from Minneapolis, they didn’t come off as rock stars. They seemed like regular guys I might see at a keg party out in the woods on any given weekend. Maybe it was the fact that, like me, they also lived in an area where there’s lots of snow and the winters drag on way too long, but as kid growing up in upper Michigan, there was a restless, northern Midwest spirit about The Replacements that I connected with. The Replacements were MY band back in the day and with Let It Be, the group that brazenly appropriated a Beatles’ title for their breakthrough album were, in many ways, The Beatles of my youth.