Anyway, here is a completely different list of the thirty greatest albums ever. (Or actually the 31 greatest, because I couldn't quite get it down to 30, damn it.)
30. The Magic Garden—The 5th Dimension (1967)
29. Psych Funk Sa-Re-Ga!:Aesthetic Expressions of Psychedlic Funk Music in India, 1970-1983 —Various Artists
28. Solid State Survivor—Yellow Magic Orchestra (1979)
27. Paradise—Linda and Sonny Sharrock (1975)
26. America's Most Colorful Hillbilly Band, vol. 1—Maddox Brothers and Rose (1946-1951)
25. True School Lyrical Lessons From The Rap Legends vols 1-3 (late 70s-early 80s)
24. Mambo!—Yma Sumac (1954)
23. A Song That Will Linger— Jodi Stecher and Kate Brislin (1988)
22. Louder than Bombs—Smiths (1983-86)
21. The Writing's on the Wall—Destiny's Child (1999)
20. 50 Coastin' Classics—The Coasters (2 CDs) (1950s).
19. Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By—Lovage (2001)
18. The Blues: A Smithsonian Collection of Classic Blues Singers (4 CDs) (1920s-1990s)
17. Ultraviolet—Kid Sister (2009)
16 The Haunted House—Pyha (2001)
15. PTTM—Wiseblood (1991)
14. Gather in the Mushrooms : The British Acid-Folk Underground, 1968-1974
13. Electric Warrior—T. Rex (1971)
12. Doggystyle —Snoop Dogg (1993)
11. The Motherload—James Brown (late 60s, early 70s)
10. Bring to the Table—Jordannah Elizabeth (2014)
9. Julie Is Her Name—Julie London (1955)
8. Louis Armstrong Complete Hot 5s and 7s (4 CDS) (late 1920s-early 1930s)
7. Velvet Underground and Nico (1967)
6. Southern Journey (12 CDs)—compiled by Alan Lomax (1959-1960)
5. Horowitz Plays Scarlatti (1964)
4. Different Light—The Bangles (1986)
3. Lysol—Melvins (1992)
2. Complete Recordings of Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers (1950-57)
1. Chain Letter—Brooke Valentine (2005)
So, setting my brain aside, why make another list? First of all, I guess, because there were all these things I couldn't put on the initial one. What clinched me in doing this was I realized I'd left off Horowitz's Scarlatti recordings, which seemed really wrong.
Also, this whole exercise was initially prompted by the extent to which so many best of music lists are really staid and unadventurous. The effort to make an all time all time list that will be taken seriously by someone or other tends to make the canon congeal into records you can justify to your mom, or maybe Greil Marcus. Why not admit that everyone has infinite best of lists in them, depending on the phase of the moon and what they've listened to this week?
That doesn't mean the list isn't meant to be taken seriously; as with the last one, I agonized over what should be on it and in what position. Do I really think the Bangles are that good (I do!) If I'm obsessed with Lake Street Dive this week, should I sneak them on there (not quite.) Shouldn't Steely Dan be on there somewhere? Stevie Wonder? fIREHOSE? I'm pretty sure I could make yet another list without too much trouble… (shut up, brain.)
I was fairly strict about not repeating artists from the first list—one or two may have snuck in through anthologies (Mississippi John Hurt for example) but there's not much overlap. Still, to be clear, this isn't meant to be a second best list. The first list was the 30 greatest albums of all time, and this is the 30 greatest albums of all time also. Sly's There's a Riot Goin' On is the greatest album ever made and so is Brooke Valentine's Chain Letter. I contain multitudes as Whitman said after writing "Leaves of Grass and also Best of Lists." He was pithy, was Whitman.
In terms of breadth, more than half of the albums include women performers, and two thirds include POC. As I said, I did manage to get in a classical album this time, and there's electronica, jazz, R&B, gospel, rock, rock and roll, rap, metal, blues, pop. I have multiple albums that touch every decade from the 20s through the 2010s.
I think I may have done even worse this time with artists from outside the US. I did artists from Korea, Peru, India, Russia, Germany, Japan, and Britain. Still nothing from Africa, though, which is pretty ridiculous, all things considered.
One of the most enjoyable parts of doing this is rediscovering albums I love. I had just about forgotten about Yma Sumac ,until I started looking through my record collection. Best of lists should be about finding new things for the compiler as well as for the reader, I think. That's why they're so much fun to put together. You could do one every week, if you wanted…though I promise not to.
Again, if you want to put your own list in comments, go for it. Next week we'll probably be back to writing about film…unless I get distracted again, I suppose.