Ah yes, the end of the year. To do something a bit different, and for pure mindless posterity, here are my 30 favorite albums of all time, updated to include 2003. Two rules: NO Greatest Hits and only one instance per artist. First, we start with the 20 Indispensibles and then the 10 "Desert Island Disks." Read on...
30. Aldo Nova - Aldo Nova: Highlights include "Fantasy" and "Ball and Chain." Pure Jr. High memories for me.
29. The Offspring - Smash: Punk meets sardonic wittiness. Hard, fast and funny songs highlighted by the ode-to-the-whipped, "Self Esteem."
28. REO Speedwagon - High Infidelity: Ahhh, Jr. High dances wouldn't have been the same without this piece of vinyl and it's anchoring hit "Keep On Loving You."
27. Journey - Escape: Or, for that matter, this piece of vinyl and it's anchoring hit "Open Arms."
26. Def Leppard - Hysteria: It was either this or "Pyromania," but the guy drummed with one arm on this one and the title track was a great power ballad.
25. Soul Asylum - Grave Dancers Union: Much more than just "Runaway Train" with "Black Gold" also standing out. It was also the peak of their career.
24. Tears For Fears - Songs From the Big Chair: My first real experience with "Alternative" music before it really became known as such. Just "Shout."
23. Fast Times at Ridgemont High - Soundtrack: A double album with a who's who of early 80's from Hagar to Oingo Boingo to Marshall Tucker.
22. Meat Loaf - Bat Out of Hell: We all need a little "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" don't we?
21. R.E.M. - Eponymous: OK, it is technically a greatest hits, but the songs are from a bunch of indie label offerings, so it counts to me.
20. Foreigner - 4: I always wanted to be a "Jukebox Hero" and "Urgent" has that classic saxophone solo, but "Break it Up" always stuck out for me.
19. J. Geils Band - Freeze Frame: "Centerfold" was the anchor, but "Freeze Frames" synth riff and the weird "River Blindness" sticks with you.
18. The Black Crowes - Shake Your Money Maker: "Twice as Hard" was the best track, but "She Talks to Angels" garnered the acclaim.
17. The Outfield - Bangin': Not the album with "Your Love," but the follow up. Mindless pop with catchy riffs highlighted by "Since You've Been Gone."
16. Bob Seger - Nine Tonight: Great Live album, and until recently the only place to hear "Trying to Live My Life Without You" and a lot of his other hits.
15. Third Eye Blind - Third Eye Blind: Debut with a slew of pop hits, best being the overplayed-but-catchy "Semi-Charmed Life" and "Jumper."
14. The Cars - The Cars: "Just What I Needed" and "My Best Friends Girl" just remind me of carefree summers as a youth.
13. Corey Hart - Young Man Running: The artistic zenith of this singer/songwriter who is perpetually overshadowed by his early MTV image.
12. Goo Goo Dolls - A Boy Named Goo: It hung around long enough for "Name" to finally break this bands career open. Many more good rock songs.
11. U2 - Joshua Tree: It's slipped over the years, but it turned me on to this great band and "With or Without" you is so full of delicious angst.
Now for the TOP TEN
10. Boston - Boston: Look, it may seem tired now, but at the time it was THE seminal work. Signature Guitar sound conjures "More Than a Feeling."
9. Big Head Todd & The Monsters - Sister Sweetly: Powerful "Circle" and "Bittersweet" stand out, but Todd Park Mohr's guitar playing is the real highlight.
8. The White Stripes - White Blood Cells: "Dead Leaves & The Dirty Ground" is still their best song ever and "I Can't Wait" is neo-classic rock at its best.
7. Led Zeppelin - IV: (Or whatever you want to call it) Yeah, "Stairway to Heaven" and all that. It just set the standard.
6. Guns-n-Roses - Appetite for Destruction: "Sweet Child O' Mine" is fine, but "Rocket Queen" is supreme.
5. Goober & The Peas - The Jet Age Genius...: Who? Dark, ironic cow-punk. Jack White's former band and the seeds of Blanche. First song is about cannabalism.
4. Kiss - ALIVE!: Yup. My first obsession (at 7!). Music is simple but effective. I guess you could call it archetype rock.
3. Counting Crows - August and Everything After: Unique sound at the time full of intricate music and heartfelt lyrics with "Murder of One" and "Raining in Baltimore" shining.
2. Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories - Tails: Much more than just "Stay." Her guitar playing is underappreciated and her lyrics are often abstract but interesting. More than glasses.
1. Pearl Jam - Ten: One of the pioneer works of the "Grunge" movement. I've always thought these guys were much better than Nirvana. They went from hard tunes like "Once" and "Evenflow" to tragic "Black" and the final track is an oft-overlooked masterpiece.
There, I've made my list and checked it THRICE. Maybe I'll do a book one next...