Frankly Speaking

    From Rock to Schlock: 150 Desert Island Albums

    Issue 150

    Most “desert island” record articles make the assumption that you can only take a handful of discs with you that you can’t live without. Well, since the concept of being stuck on a desert island is hypothetical and ultimately nonsensical, if I’m forced to spend the rest of my life on some sandy rock with only a volleyball named Wilson for companionship (um, not a basketball as originally mis-stated, and thank you m3 lover for pointing that out), I’m at least granting myself a big record shelf. Plus, it’s a gratuitous way to fit the “150” theme into Issue 150.

    This isn’t a “best albums of all time” ranking. Muso though I am, I don’t think I’m qualified to put such a list together, and if I had to take a stab at it, it would be all-too-predictable – Sgt. Pepper, The Dark Side of the Moon, Kind of Blue, yadda yadda. This list is of my all-time favorite albums, not some edict from On High. Some would probably make someone else’s worst albums list, and I stand naked in revealing my sometimes-questionable taste. To which I can only say: ehhh?

    For now, this is just a list. I will be doing mini-reviews of most or all of these albums in future issues.

    I’m not including favorite singles or songs, just albums; a list of singles would easily top 1,000 (I’ll start compiling it now!) and include many more soul, R&B, funk and newer artists (James Blake’s “Say What You Will” is sticking in my head at the moment), as well as country, new wave, dance music and a lot more. I’m also cheating a bit; some of these are greatest hits collections and anthologies.

    I’ve included YouTube videos of some of the perhaps lesser-known stuff.

    It’s been said that the music of your youth has the most emotional resonance throughout your life. Guilty as charged.

    801 Live
    The Allman Brothers Band – At Fillmore East
    The Beatles, Revolver
    The Beatles, Rubber Soul
    The Beatles, Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
    Be-Bop Deluxe, Axe Victim
    Be-Bop Deluxe, Futurama
    Be-Bop Deluxe, Sunburst Finish

    Jeff Beck Group, Rough and Ready
    Black Sabbath
    Black Sabbath, Paranoid
    Blue Öyster Cult

    Blue Öyster Cult, Agents of Fortune
    Blue Öyster Cult, Secret Treaties
    Blue Öyster Cult, Spectres
    Blue Öyster Cult, Tyranny and Mutation
    Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits, Volume One
    David Bowie, Aladdin Sane
    David Bowie, Lodger
    David Bowie, Station to Station
    David Bowie, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
    Roy Buchanan
    China Crisis, Autumn in the Neighborhood

    Leonard Cohen, The Essential Leonard Cohen
    Crack the Sky
    Cream, Disraeli Gears
    Cream, Wheels of Fire
    Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bayou Country
    James Brown, Live at the Apollo
    James Brown, The CD of JB: Sex Machine and Other Soul Classics
    Jack Bruce, Songs for A Tailor
    Ray Charles, Genius + Soul = Jazz
    Ray Charles, Greatest Hits
    Jim Dawson, Songman

    Deep Purple, Machine Head
    Depeche Mode, Catching Up With Depeche Mode
    Donovan’s Greatest Hits
    Eek-A-Mouse, Wa-Do-Dem


    Eno, Before and After Science
    Eno, Here Come the Warm Jets
    Genesis, A Trick of the Tail
    Genesis, Foxtrot

    Genesis, Nursery Cryme
    Genesis, Selling England by the Pound
    Genesis, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
    Gentle Giant, Free Hand
    Gentle Giant, In a Glass House
    Gentle Giant, The Power and the Glory

    The Good Rats, Tasty
    The Guess Who, Artificial Paradise
    The Guess Who, Greatest Hits
    Daryl Hall and John Oates, The Atlantic Collection


    Daryl Hall and John Oates, War Babies
    Hampton Grease Band, Music to Eat
    The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced?
    The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Electric Ladyland
    Iggy and the Stooges, Raw Power
    Iron Butterfly, Ball
    Iron Butterfly, In A Gadda Da Vida
    James Gang, Rides Again
    James Gang, Thirds
    James Gang, Yer Album
    Billy Joel, Turnstiles
    June 1, 1974, various artists


    Keith, 98.6/Ain’t Gonna Lie
    The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society
    The Kinks, Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)
    The Kinks, Everybody’s In Showbiz
    The Kinks, The Kink Kronikles
    Kraftwerk, Autobahn
    Kraftwerk, Computer World/Computerwelt

    Kraftwerk, Electric Café
    Kraftwerk, Radioactivity/Radioaktivitat
    Kraftwerk, The Man Machine/Die Mensch-Maschine
    Kraftwerk, The Mix
    Kraftwerk, Tour de France
    Kraftwerk, Trans Europe Express/Trans Europa Express
    Love, Forever Changes

    Love, Revisited
    Martha and the Vandellas, Greatest Hits
    The Mothers of Invention/Frank Zappa, Absolutely Free
    The Mothers of Invention/Frank Zappa, Freak Out
    The Mothers of Invention/Frank Zappa, One Size Fits All

    The Mothers of Invention/Frank Zappa, Weasels Ripped My Flesh
    Motown 1s, various artists
    Mott the Hoople, Mott
    Nektar, Remember the Future
    New Order, Substance
    Laura Nyro, Stoned Soul Picnic: The Best of Laura Nyro
    Phil Ochs, 20th Century Masters
    Roy Orbison, The All-Time Greatest Hits of Roy Orbison
    Roy Orbison, The MGM Years 1965 – 1973


    Les Paul, The Legend and the Legacy
    Pavlov’s Dog, At the Sound of the Bell
    Anthony Phillips, The Geese and the Ghost

    Pink Floyd, Meddle
    Pink Floyd, Obscured by Clouds
    Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon
    Ramones, Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: The Anthology
    Lou Reed, Berlin
    Lou Reed, Rock and Roll Animal
    Lou Reed, Transformer
    The Rolling Stones, Beggar’s Banquet
    Roxy Music, Country Life
    Roxy Music, Siren
    Roxy Music, Stranded


    Rumer, Into Colour
    Rumer, Seasons of My Soul
    Todd Rundgren, A Wizard/A True Star
    Todd Rundgren, Faithful
    Todd Rundgren, Hermit of Mink Hollow
    Todd Rundgren, Something/Anything?
    Todd Rundgren, Todd

    Shelby Lynne, Love, Shelby
    Shonen Knife
    Shonen Knife, Brand New Knife
    Shonen Knife, Pretty Little Baka Guy
    Sly and the Family Stone, Greatest Hits
    The Spinners
    Spirit, 12 Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus
    Spirit, The Best of Spirit

    James Lee Stanley, Freelance Human Being
    James Lee Stanley, The Eternal Contradiction
    Steely Dan, Aja
    Steely Dan, Can’t Buy a Thrill
    Steely Dan, Countdown to Ecstasy
    Steely Dan, Katy Lied
    Steely Dan, Pretzel Logic
    Steely Dan, The Royal Scam
    Stevie Wonder, Innervisions
    Stevie Wonder, Music of My Mind
    Stevie Wonder, Talking Book
    Strawbs, Hero and Heroine

    Super Hits of the ’70s: Have a Nice Day (OK, I’m really cheating here; this is a 25-volume CD set of 1970s singles)
    Talking Heads, Fear of Music
    Talking Heads, More Songs About Buildings and Food
    Talking Heads, Speaking in Tongues
    Talking Heads: ’77
    Television, Marquee Moon
    Joe Walsh, Barnstorm
    Dionne Warwick, Anthology
    The Who, Who’s Next
    Gary Wilson, Forgotten Lovers
    Gary Wilson, You Think You Really Know Me

    XTC, Drums and Wires
    Neil Young, After the Gold Rush
    Neil Young, Decade
    Neil Young, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
    Frank Zappa and the Mothers, The Grand Wazoo
    Frank Zappa, Hot Rats

    48 comments on “From Rock to Schlock: 150 Desert Island Albums”

    1. I did see a few I don’t particularly care for, but nothing that would result in condemnation. As far as somewhat questionable taste in music, pretty much everyone who’s ever taken a look through my library has said something along the lines of “You’ve got really weird taste in music”. Guilty as charged, I’m listening to the soundtrack of the movie Heavy Metal atm. lol

      Great article and list!

    2. Nice list! I have probably only listened to half of these so it gives me some “new” stuff to discover.
      Thanks for taking the time to evaluate and put the list together.

      1. Since Frank noted up front that this list is of HIS favorites, and not a “greatest album” list, to call it invalid for excluding the Beach Boys makes that an invalid judgment…

    3. I have read a couple of articles recently about people’s listening habits as they age. One of these described how the vast majority of individuals tend to stop listening to new music by about the age of 28, the other explained this is because listening to unfamiliar music is more difficult on the brain than listening to the familiar. At a quick glance it appears that the most recently released of the recordings on this list are from when, 30 years ago?

      1. That sounds about right, I certainly don’t listen to as much new music as I did when I was younger even though I make an effort to do so. Can you post a link to those articles? I’d like to read them.


        1. Just a comment after reading the two links. Even the examples they used as old, Panic! At The Disco and Blink 182, are after my sweet spot age for new music. lol. I have listened to Blink 182 a bit, but I couldn’t name a track by Panic! At The Disco to save my life. I think I’ll give them a listen, who knows-they may even induce a serotonin release. The new album Voyage by ABBA certainly didn’t even though I was at the right age when they were popular. Now I know the reason I didn’t enjoy it right off, it’s just different enough not to cause a proper pleasure hormone release.

          Thanks Again!

      2. Love, Shelby is pretty current and Ms. Lynn’s 2020 album was great. Rumer made the list for albums in 2010 and 2014. Her Nashville album last year is also superb. Donald Fagen still brings it and is back on tour as Steely Dan. Hall and Oates sounded great in Saratoga this summer. So Frank’s list strikes you as dated. I found your criticism-Cello High a bit harsh, “at first glance”, mind you.

        1. You’re going to have to go back, as your first glance at my comment leaves a bit to be desired.
          First, it’s Frank’s list of favorites, not Paul’s.
          Second, I expressed no criticism but simply mentioned how two articles I had read, one commenting on how listening to new music tends to diminish after a certain age, and the second explaining why listening to new music at any age is difficult, seemed to be confirmed by Frank’s list. I’ll add here that Frank’s (and your) comments about Shelby Lynne’s Love (now 20 years since it’s release), and your mentions of Donald Fagan and Hall & Oates, again seem to make my point.
          I have no problem with anybody’s list of favorite albums. I own about half of the albums on Frank’s list. And Morph the Cat as well as Abandoned Luncheonette.
          Jim Austin’s editorial in the November Stereophile raises the same subject as he writes he “doesn’t recall loving a single rock album, by any band, since Amnesiac” (now 20 years since it’s release).
          I do remain perplexed by the fact that so many people interested in much of the same music as I from the past, as well as having an interest in good audio with which to listen to that music, are unaware of so little current music. I don’t see that as being beneficial to our industry, or the greater music/audio community.
          Let me leave you with a short list of my favorite music from the past year that, if you were interested in the sort of things on Frank’s list, as well as other records mentioned in response to his list, you might also enjoy as I do. Best wishes and happy listening.
          Things Take Time, Take Time- Courtney Barnett
          How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last- Big Red Machine
          Leftover Feelings- John Hiatt w/The Jerry Douglas Band
          When You See Yourself- Kings of Leon
          Lily Konigsberg- The Best of Lily Konigsberg
          Hey What- Low
          Dark In Here- Mountain Goats
          Sympathy For Life- Parquet Courts
          I Don’t Live Here Anymore- The War On Drugs
          The Future Bites- Steven Wilson

          1. I read those articles about our consumption of new music also, and it bothered me. I’ve since been making a concerted effort to discover new music I like. One that I found is the debut album by the group Dirty Honey. They have two eponymously titled albums, the one with track number 1 being “When I’m gone” is the one I’m referring to. Also Styx has a recent album called Crash of the Crown I enjoy. For arena and classic rock enthusiasts they’re both worth a listen.

    4. You’re obviously a modest man, I like the comment about this not being an “edict from on high” as some of these lists can appear to be, especially on something that is purely a matter of taste.

      I note you took the slightly easier way out of listing them alphabetically rather than the very very difficult option, nigh impossible, in order of favourite. Also are your 150 favourite albums the same as the 150 you play the most? I don’t think they would be in my case. Deep Purple ‘In Rock’ and Yes ‘Close to the Edge’ would likely make my list from a historical perspective but are rarely played these days. Lists like this encourage us to revisit which make them a very welcome and enjoyable read.

      When visiting friends I always used to enjoy nosying through their music collection to see what we had in common and I felt it gave me an insight to a part of them. Returning the favour did leave me feeling exposed though, not all my choices are cool, some potentially downright embarrassing. I didn’t see any ‘Steps’ (that’s a joke) or ‘Abba’ on the list. Don’t tell me you don’t like ‘Abba’ Frank, or do they come in at number 151? 🙂

      If I had to pick one album from the list it would be The Who ‘Who’s Next’, an underrated concept album. A remastered oldie that does get played at home.

    5. Frank,
      Great list and I’m super happy to see “Tyranny and Mutation” album art at the top. I have this tattooed on my left forearm. You could say I’ve been a BOC fan for quite some time.

      I little more XTC may be in order and Be Bop Deluxe “Modern Music” is a favorite of mine.

    6. I’ll address a couple of the comments at once here:

      I know, leaving the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson out is a shameful omission! 🙂 I consider Wilson one of the true geniuses of rock music, and “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times” is one of the most moving songs I’ve ever heard. Certainly, the “Endless Summer” collection has far more musical merit than the Keith album. But, I wanted to be honest in compiling this list (and yes, a LOT of stuff was left off), and at the moment, I’m getting more enjoyment out of listening to the Keith album.

      Naturally, this list would change over time.

      While most of the albums are from decades ago, the Rumer, Shelby Lynne and Shonen Knife albums are more recent. And I like a lot of contemporary artists, whether Foals of James Blake or Sam Smith or Adele or…well, the list could go on. But I wanted to be honest with myself and list the albums I listen to over and over again and never tire of.

      And, yes, when you read most top 10 or top 500 lists or whatever, they’re always presented as the Definitive Word from On High that shall not be questioned by those lowly enough not to be exalted critics from Rolling Stone or Pitchfork or wherever. I find such an attitude insufferable, especially when you look at the list and you just know they’ve created it to be clickbait/controversial, or because “Sgt. Pepper” is “supposed” to be the number one album, or whatever. Probably the most absurd example of this was a Spin ranking of the best guitarists of a few years ago. They put Skrillex on the top of the list…and he doesn’t play guitar.

    7. I’m normally not a “Best of” kind of guy but I appreciate you didn’t try to rank these but rather just list them. I was pleased to see a number of my favorites over the years. Particularly the Spirit selections which have long been favored

      I will admit that when bands in my top 5 are not included it perplexes me. In this case it was Jethro Tull and King Crimson

      I will enjoy trying some of the others

      1. I love the Pretenders but I could only fit 150 on this list, and I decided to include the albums were, honestly, the ones I’ve enjoyed the most through the years. I made some tough choices on who to leave out (in addition to the Pretenders and, as mentioned, the Beach Boys, Yes and Jethro Tull)…Santana, the Dead, Robert Fripp’s solo albums, Carole King, Isaac Hayes, the Supremes and many more. I also didn’t list any country (Merle Haggard would be at the top of my list) and jazz (I consider Monk, Evans, Miles, Trane, Getz, Baker and many other to be musical gods), and as noted, a list of my favorite songs might top 1,000, or reach multiple thousands, and I’d better start compiling the list now. As an example, I really like songs like “Thumbnail Screwdriver” by Quill, or “Love On a Two Way Street” by the Moments…”Somebody’s Been Sleeping In My Bed…” “Give Me Just A Little More Time…” “Wichita Lineman…” “Child’s Song…” but these were singles, and I’ve never heard most of the complete albums.

        Some of the albums on my list might not be considered very good by most standards. For example, Iron Butterfly’s “Ball” has some pretty mediocre and downright lousy songwriting, but it’s a not-so-guilty pleasure, and Eric Brann laid down some of the greatest fuzz-guitar solos ever on this album. (I’ve been trying to figure out how he got that grinding fuzz sound on “It Must Be Love” since the day I heard it. John Lyons of Basic Audio thinks it might have been the built-in fuzz in a Vox Conqueror amp, and Brann played a Mosrite guitar, but I digress…)

    8. I loved the inclusion of “Crack the Sky”, a very under rated band and album. Personally, I would have leaned a little more towards the Greatest Hits side of things. You may not get all the deep tracks, but you certainly get an artists gist. That way you can cover more ground. Overall a great list. Our tastes are very similar. Check out the Crazy 8s catalog, especially “Out of the Way”. Cheers!

    9. Great list, Frank, and I can see how you probably had to leave out so many other recordings to trim the list to 150. My list, like yours, is constantly in flux. There may be an album I haven’t wanted to play in a decade or two, then suddenly I’m playing it every day for three weeks straight! Then there are those albums I listened to decades ago, and know every note of, and today my opinion of them is decidedly “meh, whatever,” and I store it away for another dozen years.

      One advantage to Issue #200 is that you’ll have an additional 50 albums to list. ;o)

    10. Thanks as always for your thoughtful column.

      I was glad to see the inclusion of Jack Bruce / Songs for A Tailor, Anthony Phillips/ The Geese and the Ghost,

      Gentle Giant / Free Hand, Rumer / Seasons of My Soul, Television / Marquee Moon, masterpieces of reflection back to us all.

      My pleasure . . . guilty as charged ~ Tom Rapp and Pearls Before Swine / One Nation Underground & Balaklava, and The United States of America – all are among the best relics of dreamy psychedelia imprinted on my young arching tract of nerve cells from the hypothalamus and the thalamus to the hippocampus.

        1. So true in every sense … of the imagination . . . . . . .

          And the supreme ” Love Song For The Dead Che ” aching beautiful by Joseph Byrd & the haunting voice of Dorothy Moskowitz a deep melancholy of lost love .

          In the stillness of an Oriental rainfall, . . I remember the warmth of you, still in my arms,… late, late in the year…

    11. Uh Frank, Wilson was a volleyball, not a basketball. ;^)

      Now I realize this is a personal list, so you are free to name whoever you like. So I’ll just say I’m surprised to see more Blue Oyster Cult than either the Beatles or Stones.

      However, a serious question. Do you really find that much variation from one album to another of theirs to list 8 Kraftwerk albums?

      1. Hi m3,

        CRS syndrome strikes again. I’ll make a correction to the Wilson error but leave in the original reference so we can have a little fun with it.

        Naturally I love the Beatles and the Stones, and I’ve played the songs in bands as well as listened to their music for countless hours, but I wanted to be honest in putting out this personal list. I listen to those BOC and Kraftwerk albums way more than the Beatles or the Stones.

        I do find variation in the Kraftwerk albums, much more so than in a lot of electronic and EDM music, where it sounds like someone is fooling around with keyboards at Guitar Center and going duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh for 15 minutes. The Kraftwerk albums have distinct personalities, although, as I mentioned in an earlier Copper article, I get it that to some, it will just sound like repetitive boredom, which is in fact how they sounded to me at first.

        And, there are certain major artists and their albums, that, well, I just don’t like to listen to very much. (OK, U2. Other than “I Will Follow,” they just doesn’t float my boat. But who would deny their greatness in the rock pantheon?) Meanwhile, most people would listen to the Hampton Grease Band or Captain Beefheart and think, “what is this s*it?” while I get a smile on my face.

        It puts me in a mental conundrum at times because I know how hard it is to make it in the music business and I have a great deal of respect for anyone who can do so, even if I don’t personally like their music.

        I want to write a follow-up article addressing the age-old question…just what IS good music (and bad music) anyway, and who decides?

        1. Hi Frank,

          As I admitted, personal choices. Nothing wrong with that.

          Regarding my Kraftwerk comment, it’s not that I don’t appreciate them, just not nearly to that extent. But then my personal choices may be different than many others. My tastes are eclectic in that I enjoy a wide variety of music. So there are many artists/groups that I like, but one album of their music is enough to satisfy my aural itch. For a much more select group I may have 2 or 3 albums each. Then with a smaller number of artists (Miles, Monk, Brubeck, Mingus, Dylan, Beatles, Stones, Talking Heads, Zappa, and yes, Beefheart) I may have 5 to 20+ albums. That is in addition to classical, blues, bluegrass, soundtracks, etc. But I reduced my library by about 2/3rds two years ago for a major move. I believe I still have one Kraftwerk. ;^)

    12. Frank – I don’t know you, but I like you – anyone that has Genesis ’71-’75 AND the GOOD RATS is ok in my book!
      Next time if you want to avoid all the questions about who you left off the list, just go with a slightly bigger list….like maybe 10,000.
      I wonder if it’s possible to put together a list of records that SOUND the best? Acoustically, audibly, etc – some records from 50-60 years ago were poorly recorded, and some were done right. Of course a decent number have been re-mastered and on turntables sound exquisite.
      Happy thanksgiving!

      1. Thanks, and I’m glad you’re a part of the Copper community. I saw the Good Rats many times in their heyday.

        I could certainly put together a list of good-sounding records. I’ve done that in the past for The Absolute Sound and others, but most of them are ancient history now, so why not cover them again? And I’ve certainly discovered some new ones.

        Here’s a page with a series of articles I did for Mike Gaughn at Cineluxe. It’s written for a more mainstream audience, and it largely consists of obvious candidates for good sonics, which is what Mike wanted me to cover.

    13. Very nice and eclectic. Love, Kinks and most surprisingly Nektar were good inclusions. Lists are fun and Desert Island Decameron’s are a great exercise. Do it next year and it will be different!

    14. Another listener agrees with
      Crack the Sky and Good Rats and Eno and Nektar. Saw CTS at their first gig at My Father’s Place in Roslyn where they opened up for…Earl Scruggs Revue!!!

      I think the list is eclectically cool…

      I would have limited selections to a max of three per group, there would be more variety that way. But I appreciate that it’s a personal list for you alone. Bravo!

      You must hail from Long Island…


    15. great list , as a long islander , love the good rats . i was suprised not to see any Led zeppelin. led zeppelin 4 is a great album. not using this as a put down just a comment. this list has some great albums some i have ,some i will need to get.

      1. I could have included hundreds of albums, and keeping it to 150 was tough. I dig Led Zeppelin and Jimmy Page…how can you not? I had to leave so many other bands out that I also like, everyone from Queen to Ramatam to Methuselah to Quill…

        We might have been in the same audiences for the Good Rats at some point…Ubie’s OTJ’s especially, where they used to play every Wednesday during the summer and throw rubber rats out into the audience.

      1. Yes, I decided to focus on rock and pop. I don’t know if I could do justice to the jazz genre with a list of 150, though I’ve listened to a LOT of jazz over the decades. I probably have more than 200 jazz LPs and CDs, but I’ve done a lot of my listening via streaming audio, so I don’t have a complete physical collection to look through.

        There would be a lot of Bill Evans and Thelonious Monk…

    16. I listen to as much new music as possible, but tend to favor songs over individual albums. Also, like so many of us, I wish I had more time to listen. Recently I’ve gotten more into Japanese pop, but I don’t even have the songs of a lot of it memorized. In time, these bands may become new favorites.

    17. What a fun and interesting list. I had almost forgotten about Eek A Mouse. What a clever and fun singer. I most certainly would have included either the first Rory Gallagher solo album or his second “Duece”.

    18. I was pleasantly surprised to have Chris Maun mention Rory Gallagher, and all time favorite. Content wise “Irish Tour “74” would be on my list. No Knopfler or Dire Straits? fun list, happy holidays to all.

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