Tag Archives: Barenaked Ladies

The 25 Greatest Rock Albums Ever, According to Me


A few years ago, I started jotting down thoughts about the seminal albums of my lifetime, the pieces of musical genius that helped shape my musical being.  What better time to dig out that list and freshen it up, as RARA’s Farm posts our one hundredth article.

As a self-described rock ‘n roll freak, there were many fantastic albums to choose from, but what set these apart was that every song on every album was great. Not just one great “side” for you old timers. I will admit first that for most of these, there’s no great deep personal meaning, and for some, I don’t even know the lyrics – but hey, I liked the MUSIC, and it’s my list…

My self inflicted rules: No compilations, which ruled out Bob Marley, The Baby’s, Ramones and the Beautiful South; and no live albums eliminating Neil Young, Johnny Cash and Cheap Trick. Also, I only allowed myself one from each artist. So, with all of those considerations, I think what follows would better be described as 25 Great Albums, not quite the 25 Greatest.

The albums are listed in the order that I fell in love with each of these masterpieces. You can click the iTunes link after each album to check them out yourself.

Moody Blues – Days of Future Passed – my Uncle turned me on to this one and it was my first taste of album rock – a great suggestion by a smart man. Classic rock with a full orchestra, and some pretty diverse stuff. This psychedelic treat is an amazing headphones experience. It was a tough choice between this and Long Distance Voyager, only because Voyager bridged the gap from my Aunts’ and Uncles’ musical era into the 80’s and was the first big concert I attended. Days of Future Passed - The Moody Blues

Who – Who’s Next – sure I was first attracted to “They’re all wasted” from “Baba O’Reilly,”  but this album is packed with nothing but great rock, “The Song is Over” never gets enough credit – but it’s my favorite Who song of all-time. Most of these songs were penned for Lifehouse, Pete Townshend’s failed follow-up to Tommy. This was Townshend’s first major foray into integrating synthesizers and it works perfectly. Who's Next (Remastered) - The Who

Queen – Night at the Opera – My brother loved this album before I did. I actually liked the non-Freddy tunes at first, like Roger Taylor’s “I’m in Love with My Car”, or Brian May’s “39,” but later came to appreciate Freddy’s pure genius on songs like “Love of My Life” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Another very diverse collection. I’m bummed that I never got to see these guys live. A Night At the Opera - Queen

Kansas – Leftoverture – this album was the second album I heard where everything seemed to fit together perfectly (after Nights in White Satin). The best album ever for headphone listening – can’t imagine how many times I fell asleep to this one with those soup bowl sized headphones still on, as the eight track continuously clicked through the tracks. To give you an idea how good this one was, “Carry On My Wayward Son” is the only hit, but probably my least favorite song on this great concept album. Leftoverture - Kansas

Bruce Springsteen – The River – I loved everything Bruce did before this and a few after. With so many great albums, this was a tough decision – but this is a rarity – a double album where every track is strong. The album featured Bruce really diving into relationships and telling stories we could all relate to. “Sherry Darlin,” “Ramrod,” “Crush on You” and “I Wanna Marry You” are in my all-time list for Bruce. Born to Run didn’t exactly suck either. The River - Bruce Springsteen

Cars – Cars – an amazing debut album, and although they followed this with many hits, they never came close to a collection as complete as their initial effort. This is a rarity on the list, an album that I admire, performed by a band that just sucked live on stage. Absolutely love “All Mixed Up/Moving in Stereo,” and not at all because of the Fast Times flashback… The Cars - The Cars

Tom Petty – Damn the Torpedoes – This was fabulous the first time I heard it and grew better every time I listened to it. I remember playing this often when I first moved away from home to live at college, and the familiar feel eased the transition. Such a smooth diverse album. It starts off with “Refugee” and EVERY song after is better. Great stuff! Damn the Torpedoes (Remastered) - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Meatloaf – Bat Out of Hell – Meat sure could sing, but the arrangements and musicians on this album overshadow his great voice. This is one of the few where I knew every word to every song. These are still classic and timeless party songs, including Phil Rizzuto’s captivating play-by-play and the perfect boy/girl trade-offs of “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.” And, “No,” you don’t sound just like the record when drunkenly singing this at late night karaoke! Bat Out of Hell - Meat Loaf

Beatles – Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – My first words as an infant were actually “Yeah, Yeah. Yeah,” from their 1963 hit “She Loves You,” but I never realized how great the Beatles were until I got this album. McCartney and Lennon at their best, but this one also features Ringo’s best “With a Little Help from My Friends.” The way the album ends with “A Day in the Life” is the best ending to any album EVER, which is appropriate, as this just might be the best of the best, from the best. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here – I loved all of their efforts, including The Wall, Dark Side of the Moon and 1990’s under appreciated Division Bell. But this one, a tribute to the mercurial Syd Barrett is their most musically packed. This classic features “Have a Cigar” and “Welcome to the Machine;” then there’s all nine parts and 26 plus minutes of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,”  just amazing… Wish You Were Here (Remastered) - Pink Floyd

The Alarm – Strength – One late night on my first shift on college radio I popped in the cart for “68 Guns” and fell in love with this unknown band – two years later, they released Strength, and played close by. I skipped the show because the $3.00 price tag was the equivalent of 30 beers at the Bus Stop – figured I’d have plenty of other chances. Unfortunately a few years later Mike Peters walked off the stage in the middle of “Blaze of Glory” and they were done. This album features the classic “Spirit of 76,” and the song I walked down the aisle to: “Walk Forever by my Side.” Strength 1985-1986 (Remastered) - The Alarm

REM – Reckoning – yeah, I confess that I don’t understand the lyrics to half of these songs – but does anybody? Every one of the tracks off of the band’s second album is a memorable ditty. Simple, catchy and fun. My first “go to” album as a college DJ. “Pretty Persuasion,” “So. Central Rain (Sorry)” and “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville” were the classics, but “Harborcoat” and “7 Chinese Bros.” were just as good. Reckoning - R.E.M.

Prince – Purple Rain – Truthfully, a girl named Nikki turned me on to this one, but I did not meet her in a hotel lobby…  Before this, I thought Prince was a flash-in-the-pan pop star. This album proved he was a rock legend, and that my first impressions were pretty pathetic and way off-base. Solid from the first note of “Lets Go Crazy” through the final chords of “Purple Rain;” and it includes my all-time favorite Prince song, “Baby I’m a Star.” Purple Rain (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture) - Prince & The Revolution

Alice Cooper – Schools Out – Didn’t listen to this until long after it was released when I stumbled across it on my late night Heavy Metal show. It’s another great concept album, with lots of creative stuff complementing the title track. “Public Animal #9” is pure rock, and “Grande Finale” is fantastically diverse! Mr. Furnier never got enough credit for being a great musician, and this classic never gets its just due. School's Out - Alice Cooper

Dire Straits – Love Over Gold – 5 songs. “Industrial Disease” is the only one that ever got any airplay – but this is packed with amazing guitar work from Mark Knopfler. The 14 minute “Telegraph Road” is one of my Top 10 all-time songs, and one of the great drum songs of all time from Pick Withers. It was hard not selecting Brothers In Arms, too. Love Over Gold - Dire Straits

U-2 – The Joshua Tree – I loved Boy, too, and Achtung Baby and Unforgettable Fire, and… This one edges them out because the non-hits are better, including “Trip Through Your Wires,” “Running to Stand Still” and “Red Hill Mining Town.” The album was driven by the band’s new found infatuation with America, but starts off with an amazing song about Belfast, a place where the streets had no name. The Joshua Tree (Remastered) - U2

Thrashing Doves – Bedrock Vice – I’m about to leave the Chestnut Cabaret after an energy packed Chasers show, and these “kids” get on stage pimping their first album. I decide to hang around and loved their stuff. If you ever see this one in a bargain bin grab it. “Biba’s Basement” and “Beautiful Imbalance” were addictive, but “Jesus on the Payroll” was the most intriguing. Definitely the most obscure album on the list, but it’s an unknown treasure.

Paul Westerberg – 14 Songs – I know this will piss off Replacement fans, but I think this is better than any of his efforts with the quartet from Minneapolis. The first time I listened straight through I assumed this was a greatest hits CD – lots of great stuff. “World Class Fad” is tremendous and “Things” is a beautiful ballad. 14 Songs - Paul Westerberg

Barenaked Ladies – Gordon – I bought it for “$1,000,000” – but there were so many more valuable tunes in store. “Enid,” “Grade Nine,” and “Yoko Ono” are just a few of the fun ones.  The album also features the magnificent “Brian Wilson, and some of BNL’s most touching stuff.  The best song is the under-appreciated “What a Good Boy.” Gordon - Barenaked Ladies

Stroke 9 – Nasty Little Thoughts – another band I found by mistake. They opened for someone else – I think Lit – and I loved their stuff. Yup, this is the one with “Little Black Back Pack,” but it’s packed with a bunch of other great tunes. Still amazed this band never took off. On this album, we also get to listen to “Letters,” “Washin’ and Wonderin'” and my favorite S9 tune, “Not Nothin’.” Nasty Little Thoughts - Stroke 9

Flogging Molly – Within a Mile of Home – They admittedly get extra points because of my Irish romanticism. I love the diversity on this one, and the lyrics touch my soul. “Factory Girls,” with a guest spot from Lucinda Williams is a great ride. We get to see the band stretch themselves in new ways, and it works throughout.  “Tobacco Island” is a historic flashback sure to get your Irish up. Within a Mile of Home - Flogging Molly

Green Day – American IdiotDookie and Nimrod were great, too, but I selected this one because it showed how the band was growing and adjusting to the times, and because it absolutely kicks ass. The album is written around a fictitious character “Jesus of Suburbia” and his trials and travails.  The title track is great, and one of a handful of true classics, including “Are We the Waiting,” “Holiday” and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.”  The non-hits include some of the band’s most creative efforts to date, as well. American Idiot - Green Day

Muse – Black Holes and Revelations – One of the first songs I heard on XM’s old Alternative Rock station Ethel was “Starlight.” I went out and bought the album the following day, and it is packed with hard charging rock and roll, pre-Twilight fame. The final track, “Knights of Cydonia” is one of the best songs of the new century. Black Holes and Revelations - Muse

Arcade Fire – Neon Bible – This one is a reflection of the times – The first selection on this list where I don’t own this album, but instead have the MP3’s. Haven’t seen them live yet, but I’m sure they’ll blow me away. From “Black Mirror” to “My Body is a Cage” – they are all powerful songs. Funeral, their debut album, was another great collection. Neon Bible - Arcade Fire

Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend – A surprise quirky Indie-Rock hit in 2008. This eponymous debut album was packed with gems that dominated Indie and Alt-Rock radio for a few years.  “A-Punk” was the biggest hit, but there were plenty of other excellent tracks. “Oxford Comma,” “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” and “Walcott” highlight the band’s diversity. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend

Just missed – The Clash – London Calling – should have been a single album, there are a dozen or so great songs, but they unfortunately stretched it out to 4 sides, and Armed Forces by Elvis Costello – loved the songs and sang along, even though I still have no idea what “Green Shirt” and “Good Squad” were about…

So, there you have it – a bit longer than I thought, but that was fun for me. If you made it through the entire list, thanks for your patience, and let me know your thoughts in the comments below…

Rock On!
Cretin

Some Barenaked Love

I remember the first time I heard these off-beat Canadian rockers, thinking they’d be a flash in the pan. As it turns out, they spent years in the spotlight. They dominated the non-Grunge rock scene of the 90’s from their fantastic 1992 debut release of Gordon through the 2000 release of Maroon. Their song-writing was different, and the lyrics more creative and interesting than anything we’d heard in years.  Over that decade, powered by the creative duo of Ed Robertson and Steven Page, they sold nearly 30 million albums, and developed a huge and loyal fan base.

Here’s my take on their Top 12 tunes, including my favorite lyrics from each. You’ll notice that there’s not much after the 90’s, as I admittedly lost some interest after the 2003 release of the mediocre Everything To Everyone, and Steven Page’s subsequent legal/drug problems and ultimate parting of ways with the band.

So, here’s the RARA’s Farm Farmer’s Dozen, including a bonus track:

Bonus Track: “Uncle Elwyn” – this is a hidden track on 1996’s Rock Spectacle.  It’s one of their infamous spontaneous raps, focused on Ed’s video-crazed uncle.  Favorite Lyric:“Elywn is tall, Elwyn is small, Elwyn plays a mean basketball.”

12.  “Hello City” – this is the first song off of their debut album Gordon.  I love the way the stand-up bass dominates this song. A great way to kick-off a fantastic album. Favorite Lyric: “The same people, the same drinks, the same music, the same quicksand.”

11. “Never is Enough” – One of my favorites from 1998’s Stunt, the album that thrust the band into International stardom. This one features Ed on vocals. Favorite Lyric: “The world’s your oyster shell, but what’s that funny smell?”

10. “”I’ll Be That Girl” – OK, I’ll admit it, I really don’t have a clue what it’s about, but I love singing along with this happy ditty, where I think Steven sings about killing the girl of his dreams. Favorite Lyric: “Then even a eunuch won’t resist the magic of a kiss, from such as me.”

9. “Pinch Me” – This was the big hit off of Maroon, and another one featuring Ed’s rap stylings. It’s infectious and was a hit with the masses. Favorite Lyric: “I could hide out under there, I just made you say ‘underwear.”

8. “Alcohol” – This one rocks, and got some nice airplay on rock stations.  Now, if I was only at least a little familiar with the subject of the song 🙂 Favorite Lyric: “Forget the cafe lattes, screw the raspberry iced tea. A Malibu and Coke for you, a G & T for me.”

7. “What a Good Boy” – Another pick from Gordon, This is a beautiful song about a young man coming to grips with life, Page’s vocals are perfect! Favorite Lyric: “Afraid of change, afraid of staying the same, when temptation calls we just look away.” 

6. “Brian Wilson” – Yup, another one from Gordon. It starts with Page driving to a record shop and spirals into thoughts on the genius behind the Beach Boys and his struggles with mental illness and obesity. Favorite Lyric: “Wondering where the hell all the love has gone, playing my guitar and building castles in the sun, and singing “Fun, Fun, Fun.”

5. “Old Apartment” – Page sings about breaking into his old apartment and reminiscing about the okay old days and a seemingly rocky relationship.  This song was actually played on  Beverly Hills 90210 (but I was way too hip to have watched that).  This is the only cut from Born On a Pirate Ship on the list. Favorite Lyric: “How is the neighbor downstairs? How is her temper this year? I turned up your TV and stomped on the floor just for fun.”

4. Life, In a Nutshell” – This is the only selection off of 1994’s Maybe You Should Drive. This one is a fun romp through a good relationship, again featuring great vocals and playful lyrics.  Favorite Lyric: “She memorized every pencil crayon color in the boxHer blue-green eyes complement the burnt sienna in her locks.”

3. “Some Fantastic” – This one is a nice collaboration between Robertson and Page, and the most unique song off of their hugely successful 1998 album Stunt.  This one is just different than anything else they’ve done, and that says a lot for this very diverse band. It’s a different take at a love song; the piano, drums, guitar, vocals… all perfect. Favorite Lyric: “And when we’re done we’ll boil ’em down for glue, that we can use to re-adhere your lips to mine if you were here.”

2. “Call and Answer” – A Steven Page masterpiece, featuring his amazing vocals throughout (even the back-up vocals are his). This single off of Stunt captures a couple struggling to reclaim a fractured relationship. Poignant, timeless and passionate!  Favorite Lyric: “I think it’s the getting to the point that is the hardest part.”

1. “1,000,000” – This actually was released on Gordon and then re-appears on Pirate Ship, but I picked the version from Rock Spectacle, their 1996 live album. It starts off as “Grade 9” a great tune of its own accord, and jumps into a rollciking version of $1,000,000 with new lyrics and plenty of audience participation. Fun stuff on a song that captures the essence of these great performers doing what they do best. Favorite Lyric: “Haven’t you always wanted a monkey?”

There you go my Top 12. I’m sure there are many other worthwhile candidates, but at least now you have this cretin’s perspective!