9 Perfect Albums

How do I define a perfect album? There’s one rule: I love every track on the album.

These are not in order, as I have no idea how I could do that considering they are so disparate in style and genre. Nor is this a complete list.

Rush: Hold Your Fire (1987)
1. Force Ten
2. Time Stand Still
3. Open Secrets
4. Second Nature
5. Prime Mover
6. Lock and Key
7. Mission
8. Turn the Page
9. Tai Shan
10. High Water

What? It isn’t Moving Pictures? Tom Sawyer, dude! Many Rush fans will disagree with me here. I’m not saying Hold Your Fire is the groups most progressive or commercial album, only that it’s my favorite. Even the band is not thrilled by the “sound” of this album, and they suggest they might leave off Tai Shan should they do it over. Alex Lifeson called the song “a little corny”. Maybe it is, but the music, passion, lyrics, and theme (instinct) of this album make it my favorite. Geddy Lee is one of my favorite bass players. Neil Pert is a drum god. Rush is top five all-time favorite bands for me.

Shinedown: Sound of Madness (2008)

1. Devour
2. Sound of Madness
3. Second Chance
4. Cry for Help
5. The Crow & the Butterfly
6. If You Only Knew
7. Sin with a Grin
8. What a Shame
9. Cyanide Sweet Tooth Suicide
10. Breaking Inside
11. Call Me

For me, there is no better lyricist in rock today than Brent Smith. He is, again for me, the Jim Morrison of the day. I remember telling him that at a meet and greet on the┬áAmaryllis tour and I swear he blushed. His lyrical and vocal prowess is at it’s strongest on Sound of Madness. Combine them with the passionate performances by Zack Myers, Nick Perri on guitar, Eric bass on bass and piano, Barry Kerch on drums and you have a perfect album. Barry Birch is one of my favorite rock drummers. Shinedown is top five all-time favorite bands for me.

Iron Maiden – Piece of Mind (1983)
1 Where Eagles Dare
2 Revelations
3 Flight Of Icarus
4 Die With Your Boots On
5 The Trooper
6 Still Life
7 Quest For Fire
8 Sun And Steel
9 To Tame A Land
Piece of Mind introduced me to metal. I’d heard Black Sabbaths’ Iron Man, and Paranoid. I’d heard other metal. However, Piece of Mind made me take notice. Everything about this band blew me away: the vocal of Bruce Dickerson, Dave Murray and Adrian Smith on guitar, Nicko McBain on drums. Here’s the thing; I’m a bass player. Steve Harris is to bass players what Neil Pert is to drummers. Where many bass players of the day were content with straight eight notes, Steve Harris was playing dotted eighth notes. Where many bass players were content to hold down the root, Steve Harris was all over the neck. Paul McCartney, Steve Harris, and later Geddy Lee and Gene Simmons become profound influences on me.
Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks (1975)
1. Tangled Up in Blue
2. Simple Twist of Fate
3. You’re a Big Girl Now
4. Idiot Wind
5. You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go
6. Meet Me in the Morning
7. Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts
8. If You See Her, Say Hello
9. Shelter from the Storm
10. Buckets of Rain
I was never a Bob Dylan fan. I knew some of his songs. I knew he influenced the Beatles. I understood he was an icon. Less than a handful of his songs did I care about; Subterranean Homesick Blues for example. He was a great lyricist, but his vocals were not of my liking, and he was folk, and whatever whatever whatever. Bottom line was I aware, but not a fan of Bob Dylan. My brother-by-choice Paolo was a Dylan fan. I’d always rebuffed his attempts to expose me to Dylan. One day he played Tangled Up In Blue; then Simple Twist of Fate. Before I knew it the entire album had played. Today, Tangled Up In Blue is one of my all-time favorite songs and Blood on the Tracks one of my favorite albums.
Adam and The Ants – Kings of the Wild Frontier (1980)
1. Dog Eat Dog
2. Antmusic
3. Los Rancheros
4. Feed Me to the Lions
5. Press Darlings
6. Ants Invasion
7. Killer in the Home
8. Kings of the Wild Frontier
9. The Magnificent Five
10. Don’t Be Square (Be There)
11. Jolly Roger
12. Physical (You’re So)
13. The Human Beings
Some might consider Kings of the Wild Frontier to be a guilty pleasure, but I love every song. Those heavily distorted guitars thumping out the rhythm gave me goosebumps. The lyrics were defiant even if they weren’t Shakespeare. Adam Ants vocal delivery was passionate and infectious. The tunes were catchy but not pop. The backing vocals were… well.. unique. Some of the sounds on this album I’d never heard before or since. Made me want to dance. Adam Ant, wether solo or with the Ants, never repeated the sound or attitude of this album.
AC/DC – Back In Black (1980)
1. Hells Bells
2. Shoot to Thrill
3. What Do You Do for Money Honey
4. Given the Dog a Bone
5. Let Me Put My Love Into You
6. Back in Black
7. You Shook Me All Night Long
8. Have a Drink on Me
9. Shake a Leg
10. Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution
It’s AC/DC’s Back In Black. Need more be said ­čÖé
The Beatles – Revolver (1966)
1. Taxman
2. Eleanor Rigby
3. I’m Only Sleeping
4. Love You To
5. Here, There and Everywhere
6. Yellow Submarine
7. She Said She Said
8. Good Day Sunshine
9. And Your Bird Can Sing
10. For No One
11. Doctor Robert
12. I Want to Tell You
13. Got to Get You into My Life
14.Tomorrow Never Knows
There are any number of arguments on when the Beatles began to breakup. I suggest it was after the completion of the Revolver album and tour (though no songs from Revolver were performed on the tour). This was the last time all four Beatles interacted, and contributed to the development of each song. This was the Beatles last tour. This is the Beatles album I go to most often, followed by The White Album. There are too many favorites from this band to mention, but Paul McCartney is the reason I picked up the bass guitar. The Beatles are my all-time favorite band where as a band or solo artists.
Halestorm – Halestorm (2009)
1. It’s Not You
2. I Get Off
3. Bet U Wish U Had Me Back
4. Innocence
5. Familiar Taste of Poison
6. I’m Not an Angel
7. What Were You Expecting?
8. Love/Hate Heartbreak
9. Better Sorry Than Safe
10. Dirty Work
11. Nothing to Do with Love
From the opening note to the final chord, this album is an infectious, energetic, polished, produced, energetic, rock experience. ┬áLzzy Hale delivers some of the best vocals in rock. I’m not saying best female vocals. I contend she delivers the best vocals bar none. Few can match her amazing range. She can belt it out or growl. Arejay Hale is a madman on the drums. Josh Smith and Joe Hottinger fill out the ensemble on lead guitar and bass. After this album, Halestorm moved to a less polished, more raw sound.
Louis Armstrong – Satch Plays Fats (1955)
1. Honeysuckle Rose
2. Blue Turning Grey over You
3. I’m Crazy ‘Bout My Baby (And My Baby’s Crazy ‘Bout Me)
4. Squeeze Me
5. Keepin’ Out of Mischief Now
6. All That Meat and No Potatoes
7. I’ve Got a Feeling I’m Falling
8. (What did I do to be so) Black and Blue
9. Ain’t Misbehavin’
Many people know Louis Armstrong for his version of What A Wonderful World played in many movies including Bowling for Columbine, Good Morning Vietnam, Madagascar, Finding Dory, and so many others. This album is not that. This is a Louis Armstrong tribute album to Fats Waller. Pure jazz, pure music, pure joy.



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