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July 22, 2009

Essential albums for Laura

Dear friends, I need your help. In just a few short weeks, my daughter Laura Rose will go off to college. I will spare you the syrupy mumblings of a father who is proud of his beautiful, funny, brilliant, wise and kind daughter, and who will desperately miss her presence in our house for the first time in 18 years, except to say: I am and I will.

This has to do with music.

Laura loves music. She regularly introduces me to new sounds. In the early years, we enjoyed the delightful nonsense of vapid, fluffy TV puppets like Elmo, Barney and Shania Twain. In her tween years, we danced along to such musical giants as Nelly, Britney, Backstreet Boys and Destiny’s Child. Yet, despite the influence of those early atrocities, Laura has developed a nuanced musical ear and an insatiable hunger for live music.

Nowadays she jams to artists like My Morning Jacket, Ray LaMontagne, Conor Oberst, Vandaveer, Jenny Lewis, Beyonce, Ben Harper, KT Tunstall and Kings of Leon. She also keeps a healthy helping of music history on her iPod, including Bob Dylan, Carole King, Bob Marley, Simon and Garfunkel, Elton John and Johnny Cash. To encourage this historical dabbling, I want to send her off to college with the five best albums made before 1990, the year she was born.

That’s where you come in.

When my son Ben was about to go off to college, I surveyed my readers to get their suggestions and got back a great list of ideas ranging from Velvet Underground, The Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers, Dylan, The Stones and Pavarotti to The Clash, Tom Waits, Marvin Gaye, Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, Al Green, The Sex Pistols and scores of others. After mulling them over, Ben ended up with Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, The Clash’s London Calling, Van Morrison’s Moondance and Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush. But he also ended up with a great list of other albums, many of which he bought on his own. Now it’s time to do the same for Laura.

Of course, the very notion of “album” is anachronistic these days, as both the album format and young people’s attention spans are disappearing faster than privacy and American cars. Still, it’s important to listen to the songs together on any great album, and it’s critical to listen to them in order. You wouldn’t fire up Waiting for Columbus, listen to “Fat Man in the Bathtub” and then skip all the way to “Dixie Chicken,” would you? Of course you wouldn’t. You must listen to the album all the way through. (And if you can’t start humming the next song as the current one’s winding down, that album doesn’t belong on a best-ever list.)

OK, here are your ground rules: First, I’m not willing to set aside my lifetime Beatles ban. Laura will simply have to acquire those songs from elevators and TV commercials or buy them herself. Don’t get me wrong — I loved the Beatles. But over the past three decades, I’ve heard every Beatles song enough to last several lifetimes, and I don’t ever need to hear another one. I don’t care how brilliant it is, once I heard “I Saw Her Standing There” for the 987,377,843rd time, it was … well, it was time to dance with another.

The second rule is that the music must predate Laura’s birth, which happened in 1990. The only other rule is to limit your suggestions to five albums. Please don’t send 10 because you can’t narrow it down. You can be forgiven if you aren’t good at physics or calculus, but if you can’t count, I don’t want my daughter taking advice from you.

Finally, I beg you not to include what usually passes for “classic rock” on the radio. For the love of god, no Phil Collins, Styx, Boston, Bob Seger, Blue Oyster Cult, Foreigner, Bad Company or KISS. She’s got enough of her own generation’s shitty high school music to listen to without listening to yours.

Let me hear from you. Please e-mail me at jimwelp@gmail.com with your list of Five Essential Pre-1990 Non-Beatles Albums Laura Should Own. If you’d like to share your list with the world, log onto www.leoweekly.com and post to the comments for this story. In a future column, I’ll let you know what albums she’s taking to college. 

off the top of my head albums

By stevestoneky
mostly influenced by what I listened to in college

Violent Femmes - 1st album (1983)
Smiths - Hatful of Hollow (1984)
Kate Bush - Hounds of Love (1985)
The Quintet (Charlie Parker as Charlie Chan)- Jazz at Massey Hall (1953)
Fishbone - Truth and Soul (1988)

Essential albums

By Bill Bornschein
A Love Supreme John Coltrane 1964 Leige and Leaf Fairport Convention 1969 Warren Zenvon ( self titled) 1976 Hejira Joni Mitchell 1976 Easter Patti Smith 1978

Purple Rain - Prince

By Damien McP
Purple Rain - Prince -84 What's Going On- Marvin Gaye-72 Disintegration - The Cure-89 Inspiration Information - Shuggie Otis -74? Red Garland's Piano - 57... 2 for date nite, 1 for breakups, one for winding down, one for studying...

5 great albums before 1990

By heartsfire5757
1. The Police- Regatta de Blanc 2. The Fixx- Reach the Beach 3. Gang of Four- Entertainment 4. Television- Marquee Moon 5. King Crimson- In the Court of the Crimson King That's enough to open up anyone's pineal gland! Heh. andycookart.com

your girl's needs

By layost
she needs this in order to be complete: Beastie Boys--Liscence to Ill Indigo Girils--Strange Fire REM-Eponymous Fleetwood Mac-Rumors Michael Jackson--Off the Wall (and it ain't cause he died either)

5 Must Haves for Laura

By brightone
David Bowie, Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust. Dylan, Blonde on Blonde. Pink Floyd, Animals. Bob Marley, Legend. Miles Davis, Bitches Brew. Michael W. Bright

not my generation ~ off the top of my head

By saRiot
CAN - Ege Bamyasi Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures Joni Mitchell - Court & Spark (this album profoundly affected me when my mom gave it to me; I was a few years younger than Laura is now at the time, but I never outgrew it...) Os Mutantes - Os Mutantes Talking Heads - More Songs About Buildings and Food

5 albums

By bubblehouse
1. Flood by They Might Be Giants 2. Steam Powered Aero-plane by John Hartford 3. Professor Long Hair Anthology 4. One Size Fits All by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention 5. The Soft Bulletin by The Flaming Lips(This album actually came out in 1999 and I know you said pre-1990 but this is a must own album and maybe on of the 5 greatest albums in the last 20 years in my opinion) Honarable Mention that is pre-1990 would be Maggot Brain by Funkadelic

Good stuff

By Wildo
Iron Maiden-Number of the Beast , 1982. Metal done to perfection, nuff said.////// Stevie Wonder-Talking Book, 1972. Feel good music, I challenge anyone to listen to Superstition and not at least bob your head a little./////// Grateful Dead- American Beauty , 1970. Often passed over because of the whole drug culture thing, its actually a great album without the chemicals too.///// Cat Stevens- Tea for the Tillerman, 1970. Hear all the songs modern musicians are bastardizing in thier original glory.//// Beastie Boys- Pauls Boutique, 1988 Great album, helped paved the way for the success of Rap music in general.

suggestions for laura

By bdsmith
1) "The Hermit of Mink Hollow" Todd Rundgren 2) "New York Tendaberry" Laura Nyro 3) "A Walk Across the Rooftops" the Blue Nile 4) "Red" King Crimson 5) "The Visitors" ABBA

5 Albums For Laura

By attackofthepacifists

1) "Remain In Light" by Talking Heads 2) "Rain Dogs" by Tom Waits 3)"So" by Peter Gabriel 4) "Maggot Brain" by Funkadelic 5) "Exodus" by Bob Marley and the Wailers

My Five

By dgruth
I think she'd like these.
David Bowie - Hunky Dory
John Cale - Paris 1919
Nick Drake - Five Leaves Left
Til Tuesday - Everything's Different Now
The Zombies - Odessey and Oracle

5 essential pre-1990 albums

By strummer57

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Cosmo's Factory
(I hope you don't include CCR in the shitty classic rock category. The band was great. John Fogerty is (or was) a genius.
David Bowie - Scary Monsters
Uncle Tupelo - No Depression
Pixies - Surfer Rosa
Leonard Cohen - I'm Your Man

Essential albums before 1990

By gnash001
All music, especially rock and roll, is best enjoyed when heard "live". These are among the best concert recordings I own: "Europe 72" - Grateful Dead "Stand in the Fire" - Warren Zevon "The Fillmore Concerts" - Allman Brothers "Rock n Roll Animal" - Lou Reed "Waiting for Columbus" - Little Feat

a few good ones

By juliapurcell
1. Blue-Joni Mitchell 2. Hejira- Joni Mitchell 3. Mingus Ah Um- Charles Mingus 4. The Last Waltz- The Band 5. Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard - self titled

Essential albums for Laura

By stephenbrockman
1-"Arrival" by ABBA [1976] 2-"Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen [1975] 3-"Songs for Swingin' Lovers!" by Frank Sinatra [1956] 4-"Rumours" by Fleetwood Mac [1977] 5-"The Visitors" by ABBA [1981]

Laura the College Years

By finalfurlong
Kinks - Something Else. If you need proof Ray Davies is a living genius start here. Waterloo Sunset, David Watts. Love how he doesn't shy away from his English roots. From here your daughter can jump over to Ray's ex wife Chrissie Hynde Prefab Sprouts - Two Wheels Good - Disregard the idiotic name of the band and embrace a treasure trove of amazing music. This eighties masterpiece showcases the incredible talent of Paddy McAloon and was ranked as one of the best records to come out that decade. Produced by eighties icon Thomas Dolby the album gets in your head and never leaves. Roxy Music - Avalon - Clocking in at just over 30 minutes Roxy's Avalon makes up for its brevity by being one of most gorgeous records ever recorded. The band's most accessible record is also their best. Delving into the rest of their discography would lead her to former Roxy member and legendary U2 and Talking Heads producer Brian Eno. Joni Mitchell - For the Roses - For my money the best female singer/songwriter ever. Tough to just choose just one of her records but For the Roses is top to bottom a classic. Even back then you can tell Joni's aspirations were far beyond making just folk/rock records. Joni's love for jazz came through even back then. For confirmation of her incredible talent check out her performance in the movie Band's The Last Waltz. Bruce Springsteen - Darkness on the Edge of Town - Springsteen pushes aside the glossy sheen of Born to Run and embraces his inner punk on this vastly underrated follow up. There is an undeniable ferocity to this record that is a pure shot of adrenalin. Adam Raised a Cain indeed!