Top 10+ must-haves for your music collection
By Christopher Schutte
Just for the sake of argument, let’s say you had a chance to totally rebuild your record (CD, MP3, etc.) collection from scratch. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a musical curator guiding the process? Someone who – not unlike the sommelier that cautions you against dropping $300 on a ’98 bottle of Opus – would assist in building your musical vocabulary beyond that which you learned in college.
Such is the aim of this piece, the genesis of which can be found in this brief exchange with our lovely Editor Nicole Wroten (Ed. Note – Writer’s embellishment below):
What’s that you’re listening to? [Nicole]
The new record by Weekend. Kind of reminds me of the JAMC and My Bloody Valentine. [Me]
Great … I have no idea what you just said. [Nicole]
Right. I keep forgetting you have absolutely zero musical IQ. [Me]
If you weren’t so inherently lazy, you could probably come up with a list of 10 essential records that should be in every collection. [Nicole]
And so here we are. Ten essential records to serve as the building blocks of your collection. First a few ground rules:
1. No compilations or greatest hits collections. Convenient, but totally defeats the purpose.
2. Not necessarily my favorite 10
records (which may be a different
3. Not necessarily the best records of all-time (though there would certainly be some crossover in the two lists).
Like most lists, this list is completely subjective and represents my personal opinion. That said, I would never let you pay $300 for Opus when you could be drinking Gaja, and I certainly won’t leave you stranded with Nickelback when you could be listening to this:
OK Computer (1997)
No record before, or since, has so perfectly summed up a decade. Breathtaking in its scope and execution, yet anxious and overwhelmed at the same time. An unequaled marriage of man and machine. Key Tracks: Paranoid Android, Karma Police
The soundtrack of a cultural revolution. I’ll grant you Sgt. Pepper’s devotees your due, but Revolver with its tape loops, backward guitar solos, studio flourishes and LSD-fueled narratives is the clear choice for me. Key Tracks: Tomorrow Never Knows, She Said
London Calling (1980)
This apocalyptic masterwork signaled the beginning of a new, uncertain decade while seamlessly blending roots, punk, reggae and ska in one highlight filled, 19-track double album. Could easily be confused for a greatest hits collection. Key Tracks: London Calling, Clampdown
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)
YHT carried a lot of baggage upon its release. Its studio sonic tweaks (compliments of Jim O’Rourke) were such a relative departure for the band that their label didn’t view it as fit for release and dropped them. Bad choice. The record resonated perfectly in the wake of 9/11 and solidified the band as alt-country legends. Key Tracks: Ashes of American Flags, I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
The Sound of the Smiths (2008)
Yes, this is a singles compilation and I’m breaking one of my own ground rules. But, in my defense, The Smiths’ output (especially in the UK) was primarily a string of phenomenal singles released in various compilation packages. This 23-song tour de force is the only one you’ll need. Key Tracks: This Charming Man, How Soon Is Now?
A Love Supreme (1965)
I hate to open the Jazz door and not include Miles, Monk & Mingus, but bear with me here. A Love Supreme is to my mind the single greatest piece of recorded music extant – the Alpha and Omega. It’s also a great test of your aural competency. If this sounds like noise to you, we may have a problem. Key Tracks: Acknowledgement, Pursuance
Is This It? (2001)
Turn On The Bright Lights (2002)
Granted it’s kind of a copout grouping these two records together, but my rationale is strong. Both are stunning, legend-making debuts from young NYC bands that heralded a rebirth of the city’s cool. Gritty, careless and hooky in all the right places. Key Tracks: Last Nite, PDA
The Sex Pistols
Never Mind the Bollocks (1977)
Highly influential, hugely controversial and massively underrated musically, the Pistols’ only studio recording was a shot across the bow of rock music. From the opening of Anarchy in the UK in which Johnny Rotten declares, “I am an Anti-Christ,” the musical landscape was fundamentally changed. Key Tracks: Anarchy in the UK, God Save The Queen
The Rolling Stones
Exile on Main Street (1972)
This is the Stones at their debauched rock star peak, long before the Glimmer Twins started writing separately, travelling separately and feuding at a breakneck pace. The months spent recording in a remote French villa netted gems that span virtually every musical genre.. Key Tracks: Rocks Off, Ventilator Blues
It Takes A Nation of Millions… (1988)
This is a tough choice – mainly because I feel like I’m ignoring amazing rap entries including Eric B & Rakim and The Beasties’ “Paul’s Boutique”. That said, PE was a true force of nature and seeing them perform tracks from this seminal LP was a true life changing experience. Key Tracks: Bring The Noise, Don’t Believe The Hype
With the list complete I can’t help but feel like I’ve left out some of my favorite – and most influential – records. REM’s Murmur, Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, Gang of Four’s Entertainment and The Replacements’ Let It Be could all find their way onto this list.
Don’t agree with my list? I’d love to hear from you. Make your case and we may include it in a future follow-up.
Reach DCP freelance writer Christopher Schutte at email@example.com.