My (Updated) Desert Island Discs

A while back I did a post on my Desert Island Discs. I was reminded of this recently when fellow blogger Christian did his own interesting series on that. So I thought, time to revisit this.

Firstly, what did I drop from the previous list and why? Well, I dropped Dark Side of the Moon. Great album, but I really only listen to “Time” and “Money” for the most part. I dropped Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues by Buddy Guy because I realized that I don’t even know it all that well. What was I thinking?

I dropped Four Seasons by Vivaldi. Listen, I like classical. But if I’m stuck on some fucking desert island with only ten albums I gotta have rock and roll and blues and jazz primarily. Sorry, Viv. Sadly I dropped Bob Dylan. I’ll get you next time Bob if, say, I’m stuck in an airplane terminal. And I dropped Chicago’s first album. Love it – but no.

So what were my criteria for inclusion? Two – one is they had to be great albums, at least IMHO. That doesn’t mean that every single track is great. But most, if not all of it is great. And they have passed the “I can listen to these repeatedly and not get sick of them” smell test.

So, here’s my list and comments, some cribbed (and possibly) updated from the last time. It’s funny that when I do this there are always people that say, “Oh I couldn’t possibly choose.” Sure you can. I mean, it’s a fucking thought game, it’s not really happening. Feel free to post yours if you’re so inclined.

Oldest album – Kind of Blue (1959). Most recent album – Texas Flood (1983). Sadly, no women on this list but I’m not gonna add them to be politically correct. Most of the singers I listen to are guys, for good or for ill. And I am by no means saying that I don’t like albums after 1983 or that these are the greatest albums of all time. Just the ones that meet the two criteria above.

  • Exile on Main Street – Rolling Stones – My favorite album ever. I listen to it all the way through about every 6 -8 weeks. This is my idea of rock and roll and why, frankly, much current (i.e., indie) rock leaves me cold. It just doesn’t sound like this. I will give the indie singers credit. They’ve managed to sing without so much as a trace of soul. They sound like fucking schoolboys.
  • At Fillmore East – Allman Brothers Band – Have you actually ever read my blog? The greatest live album of all time, bar none. Damn near perfect, except sometimes the boys drag endings out a little. Fun fact – my friends and I were going to go to one of these shows. But opted to instead see them at Central Park that same year. C’est la vie.
  • Citizen (box set) – Steely Dan – I gave myself the completely arbitrary option of picking one box set and one live set. You can’t beat Mr. Steely and Mr. Dan. I could just listen to “Kid Charlemagne” over and over.
  • My Aim is True – Elvis Costello – I almost went with his second album but I really love this one. I featured this recently as one of the best debut albums of all time.
  • Led Zeppelin I – Maximum Crunch ‘n blues. Fuck Zep IV. This is the one.
  • The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle – Bruce Springsteen – Those romantic young boys. All they ever wanna do is fight. Sorry, Bruce, You will never top this one. Way warmer and more romantic and jazzier than, say, Darkness. Suggestion – How about an album called Return to the Boardwalk where we see how, say, Billy and Diamond Jackie are doing?
  • Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs – Derek and the Dominos – The pain of unrequited love at its most searing. That and THE two greatest guitarists of the blues/rock era.
  • Abbey Road – I didn’t even have a Beatles album on the list last time which in some countries would get you the firing squad. To my point about lack of perfection, I’d have to skip over “Octopus’ Garbage” and “Maxwell’s Silver Douchbag” every time.
  • Texas Flood – Stevie Ray is a must. Period. End of story. I will bring my guitar and jam along.
  • Kind of Blue – Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Some say the greatest jazz album ever. I think it’s the most accessible one. It features a particular type of jazz (modal) but is hardly representative of all the styles. Still, a great Sunday morning album.

24 thoughts on “My (Updated) Desert Island Discs

  1. Can’t really argue with that list, Jim. And thanks for the shoutout!

    Apart from desert island songs I previously picked under somewhat arbitrary rules, I also published a top 10 favorite desert island albums in Sep 2020. I just took a look at it and have to say it still works for me. In no particular order:
    – The Beatles/Sgt. Pepper
    – Carole King/Tapestry
    – The Stones/Sticky Fingers
    – Marvin Gaye/What’s Going On’
    – Neil Young/Harvest
    – Deep Purple/Machine Head
    – Pink Floyd/Dark Side of the Moon
    – Bruce Springsteen/Born to Run
    – Stevie Wonder/Songs in the Keys of Life
    – Steely Dan/Aja

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    1. Interesting how little overlap we have and yet I like all of those. If you showed up on my island with those albums they would constitute a pretty good mix. “Key of Life” was on my short list. BTW, in its most recent ‘500 Greatest Albums’ list, Rolling Stone moved ‘Pepper’ down to 20 or so and ‘What’s Going On’ to 1. Wildly disagree.

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      1. The reality is there is so much great music that you could easily come up with other desert island album lists.

        I love that Marvin Gaye album but agree that putting it at number one while moving Pepper down as much as they did doesn’t look right. I hate to say this, one has to wonder to what extent political correctness has influenced the re-rankings. I will admit that in terms of the lyrics, “What’s Going On” does look more relevant to the current situation in America than Sgt. Pepper.

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        1. I think you’re right about political correctness. But truthfully, Gaye’s album will unfortunately always be relevant. But ‘Pepper’ was revolutionary in every aspect. And BTW, there is NO need to be politically correct on that, or any other, list. There is plenty of Black representation between rap, hip-hop, jazz, soul, blues. My God, music as know it is unimaginable without Black influence.

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        2. 100% agree with you, Jim, music should all be about the music and completely color blind. Unfortunately, pretty much anything these days quickly gets political, even album and song lists/rankings – it’s very tiresome!

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        3. Agreed. The good news is that music is, in my opinion, perhaps the world’s greatest force in bringing people together. Our military and baseball were both integrated in the late 40s, and even then only reluctantly. But Black and White musicians had already been playing together for years.

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      1. I heard a Wolf interview where he talks about a passing encounter with Duke. Didnt diminish my love of the man, only added to it.
        The Bruce album you picked is so good. So much going on in that album. Not one weak moment . Sort of like the other albums you’re taking. Just remember Doc that ‘Octopus and Maxwell” bring joy to a lot of people ears.

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        1. That’s funny. You’re welcome. It is “catchy”. Maybe new life. Never rubbed me the wrong way . Interesting to know how it compared to some of their other songs as far as making $$. Doc would know that.

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        2. Actually he wouldn’t. Not in this case. It was never a single, always part of ‘Abbey Road.’ As to Maxwell, the other three Beatles hated it, especially Lennon who referred to it as Paul’s ‘granny music.’ Nobody was harsher than John especially on some of his own songs. If he didn’t like them he’d call them rubbish. Some are my favorites.

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        3. That made me chuckle. From what Ive gathered about John, was he liked to mouth off and ruffle feathers (probably a sweetheart on days off). Also Lennon was a rocker (And so were the other guys from what I know) through and through. Gene Vincent Lives!!

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  2. Believe it or not, the list of my very favourite albums actually skews 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s as well. It has a couple of women in it though.

    You can find mine at https://albumreviews.blog/100-best-albums-of-all-time/

    In a lot of cases, I’d pick a slightly different album for the artists on your list – I’d take Sticky Fingers for The Stones (although Exile is very close), Darkness for Springsteen, Houses of the Holy, Imperial Bedroom…. I think we’ve noted before that you often prefer debuts and I often like slightly later albums that lean into the studio more.

    I still really like most of your choices – I’m largely unfamiliar with Stevie Ray Vaughan, who I suspect might not be my thing, and Abbey Road is overshadowed by a bunch of other Beatles albums for me.

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  3. I don’t recall having seen that list before. Very nicely laid out. I knew that ‘Close’ was your favorite. I fear that the magic of ‘Pet Sounds’ is largely lost on me. Much credi for ‘Blonde on Blonde’ and I’m still second-guessing my decision to dump ‘Essential Dylan.’

    I’ll make a deal with you. Suggest one album from your Too Ten I should listen to (that I dont) know and I will give it my full attention and honest review. In return, you do the same for ‘Texas Flood.’ The ones I don’t know at all are ‘Radio City,’ ‘Another Green World’, ‘Skylarking,’ ‘Colour of Spring,’ Liege and Lief.’

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    1. Sure, might take me a little while as I am trying to power through Scott Walker’s discography first.

      I think Liege & Lief is the best bet for you – I’m not big on the opening track though, so don’t write it off based on that. The big folk freakouts like ‘Matty Groves’ and ‘Tam Lin’ are my favourites.

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      1. Oh, cool. And by “review” I didn’t necessarily mean a post. We could just share notes here unless either of us feels strongly one way or the other. I’ll do it pretty soon but don’t feel obligated to jump on it.

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      2. BTW, I was well aware of this band and even knew of this album at the time. But it just wasn’t on my radar or any of my friends. Not even sure how much airplay they got in FM radio.

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        1. If you like them there’s a whole universe of spinoffs to explore – Richard Thompson, Richard and Linda Thompson, Sandy Denny, Steeleye Span, The Albion Band, Shirley Collins’ No Roses….

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        2. Actually I’m way ahead of you on that. I.am no stranger to this genre, it’s just that it’s not my go-to. I’ve long known of Richard Thompson’s prowess and bought a copy of ‘Shoot Out The Lights’ on vinyl when it was released. I already knew of Denny and her incredible voice even before ‘Evermore.’ Steeleye Span as well. Take a look at my Christmas posts and I’ve posted ‘Gaudete’ as one of my favorite Christmas songs.

          It’s entirely possible all this comes as a total surprise to you. If so, it shouldn’t be. Recall that this is all music that started in my generation so I know most of the artists if not most of the songs. It was in the air. It’s just that my go-to music – especially then – was face melt music. When Olivia Newton John said Have you never been mellow?

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        3. …the answer for me is a solid No. SRV will prove that. BTW I started on ‘Liege’ and am totally digging it. As to where or whether you publish a post, entirely up to you. I’m more interested in your honest opinion of some hard-core blues.

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