Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
Kicking things off with the Boss, Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run sits among the pantheon of rock albums with a killer opening track. While I could not wait to listen to Thunder Road on my stereo system at home— it is my favorite track—the album has plenty still to offer from there. The album’s title track is another rocker, and probably even more well known than Thunder Road. Jungleland and Tenth Avenue Freeze Out are several other stand outs. Check out this classic rock staple when it’s available. You won’t regret it.
Surrealistic Pillow by Jefferson Airplane
Traveling further back in time to the 60s and psychedelic rock, Surrealistic Pillow by Jefferson Airplane captured the mood and energy of a generation. Grace Slick’s vocals on this album are among the best any band in the 60s could offer, and the Alice in Wonderland lyrical references bring a smile to this lover of literature. Check out this album and go tumbling down the rabbit hole.
Electric Ladyland by Jimi Hendrix Experience
“Have you ever been to Electric Ladyland?” If you have, then you know checking out this album is a no brainer, and if you haven’t, then you will realize soon after listening how this record, the music within and the Jimi Hendrix Experience changed rock music forever. The meticulous lengths to which Hendrix and his bandmates went to craft these songs to perfection or as near to it as possible is obvious on every track, from Crosstown Traffic and Gipsy Eyes to Voodoo Child (Slight Return) and one of the greatest covers of all time, All Along the Watchtower. From start to finish, this album rocks the way only Jimi and his band knew how.
Money Jungle by Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Max Roach
Money Jungle, one of two picks I had never listened to before, is a testament to musical collaborations and ingenuity. The musicians never rehearsed prior to recording, and Mingus and Roach were given only lead sheets and a visual description to keep in mind for each song. The album is also a time capsule of two generations meeting, sometimes clashing (several stories of disagreements during the recording sessions exist) and ultimately collaborating to craft one of Ellington’s most unique performances of mostly his own songs and one by Juan Tizol. The speed and talent of Mingus and Roach produced from Ellington an intensity seldom heard on his big band records. Check this one out and hear some of Jazz’s greatest legends shine.
Aretha’s Gold by Aretha Franklin
Rounding out my first five picks is Aretha’s Gold, highlighting some of the best recordings from Aretha Franklin. The album kicks off with two songs recorded at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, who’s facility, engineer Rick Hall and sessions musicians Franklin credits as a turning point in her career that would lead to her becoming the “Queen of Soul.” Other classics on the album include R.E.S.P.E.C.T. and Think. Check it out today!