1. Cat Stevens – greatest hits
You’re sitting around the campfire at camp Whatsamucky or wherever your parents could afford to send you and some dude pulls out a guitar and teaches everyone the words to Moonshadow and Morning Has Broken. Then when you got home from camp, you bought your first copy of Cat Stevens Greatest Hits. Maybe you replaced it later on with a CD or maybe you just outgrew it, but it just kind of fell off the radar, am I right? That is until you heard Maxi Priest doing a reggae cover of Wild World and your memory was jarred. “I used to have that album” you said to yourself, then forgot about it again. Well there’s a reason that people have been singing Cat Stevens songs around campfires all over the world for the past thirty five years. They’re catchy, they’re easy to sing and I’ll be damned if they aren’t pretty good songs. Do yourself a favour and load the Cat’s greatest hits on your iPod before campfire season. Your kids will thank you when they go to camp already knowing the words to Moonshadow.
2. Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
If you are anywhere near my age, it is inevitable that you couldn’t get away from this album from its inception in 1977 to 1990 when it finally started to run its course. Every high school party, dance, fall fair and rodeo had this blasting from the speakers and you knew all the words. Trust, me, you still do. It’s deep in the recesses of your memory, and it’s okay. You, like the rest of us, didn’t stand a chance.
When I graduated from university, there were two things I vowed I would never have anything to do with again. The first was Kraft Dinner, and the other was the Fleetwood Mac album Rumours. I’m here to tell you that I have recently begun to eat KD again and you guessed it…I have Rumours on the iPod.
Lindsey Buckingham was the catalyst for this. I heard him playing a solo version of Never Going Back Again and I fell in love with that song again. His contribution to the record was monstrous to say the least and the addition of Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie rounded things out nicely. I can’t say too much about the songs because presumably you’ve heard them and know they speak for themselves.
It might be time to let of your high school saturation trauma and give this one another chance.
3. Pearl Jam – 10
I’m not suggesting you ever harbored a dislike for this album, but I might be suggesting you have been ignoring it for what…12 or 15 years? Sure, you loved it to death when it came out in ‘91 and you kept in steady rotation until 1995 but then what? Along came Dave Matthews and Radiohead and maybe, just maybe it got moved to the bottom of the pile and you just accidently forgot about it. Well it’s time to rotate the stock people. Go to your storage bin and see if the actual CD is still in its case. Dust it off, fire it in the machine, crank it up to 11 and revel in the glory of what we used to call grunge!
4. Spin Doctors – Pocket Full of Kryptonite
Shhhh, shhhh, I know, I know, it’s okay. Bad mushroom trip from college be gone.
Pocket full of Kryptonite was a grooving, dancey, at times cheesey, fun time record that kept dorm parties moving back in the early nineties. For whatever reason though, the Spin Doctors went from zero to sixty and back to zero in about three minutes. If you look at the tracks on this one, the good outweigh the bad, and admit it… deep down, if you heard Jimmy Olsen’s Blues or Little Miss Can’t be Wrong in the car, you’d be boppin’ your head like it was frosh week.
In case you can’t recall, a few other titles from this one are: Two Princes, Shinbone Alley, What Time is it, and Forty or Fifty.
5. The Rolling Stones – Tattoo You
Start me up. If you can get past that, this album is full of awesome Stonesy goodness. The reason? The album came out in 1981, but most of the material was conceived on the tail edge of the bands creative heyday in the mid to late seventies. There are songs that are cast offs from Goats Head Soup, Emotional Rescue and Some Girls. A cast off from Some Girls is still better than anything from side two of post 1981 Stones, so if you have a copy of this anywhere, get to listenin’. Side one is all vintage Stones, highlighted with Keith ripping it up on Little T & A. Side two is filled with some pretty good ballads including Waiting on a Friend and Tops.
6. Steve Miller Band – Greatest Hits 1974-1978
Once again, we are seeing the Fleetwood Mac syndrome here. Overplayed, overplayed and overplayed. Don’t hate because some jerk in grade 11 wouldn’t let you near the stereo and played this 47 times in a row. All great songs in their own right, these Classic Rock radio staples show astounding longevity. The next time you’re cooking dinner, throw this on and listen to it start to finish. You’ll have a beer, sing along and have a jolly old time, trust me. If nothing else, your kids will love to hear you belt out “I’m a joker, I’m a smoker, I’m a midnight toker.”
7. Huey Lewis and the news - Sports
Okay, okay calm down… I know this one is a tough pill to swallow. You’re thinking this is wedding dance material and you’re right. I never strongly liked nor disliked this back in the day, I just kind of nodded as they released hit after hit from this one record. “Oh, another single from Sports?” Cue mild indifference. If you look at the tracks on this however, it is a pretty damn good piece of work. What makes it is the catchy hooks, great singing, great harmonies all backed up by an above average bar band.
I know you likely don’t have this anywhere is your collection so let me refresh your memory: The Heart of Rock and Roll, I Want a New Drug, If This is It, Heart and Soul and Walking on a Thin Line. Recognize any of those? Nowadays, if you can get one top ten from a piece of work, you’re doing pretty well. These guys had four in the top ten and another in the top twenty, finishing only behind Thriller in 1984. I suspect Huey and the boys will be living off royalties from this one for years to come.
8. The Police – Synchronicity
The Police were the biggest thing on the planet when this came out. Sting knocked it out of the park and nothing he did solo-wise after can really compare. The thing with the Police is that maybe you stopped listening because you thought they sounded dated. They didn’t though. It’s an illusion created because there is nothing like them, nor will there ever be. It’s kind of like saying Johnny Cash or Buddy Holly is dated. Yes it’s old stuff but it is unique and still being ripped off today.
When you hear some kid rapping along to Puffie’s “I’ll be Missin’ You” you be sure to sit them down and give them a stern talking to. You tell him or her that the song is called Every Breath You Take, and it can be found on Synchronicity, which is an album by a band called The Police. You tell them. You tell them for me.
9. The Eagles – Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 and The Eagles - Greatest Hits, Volume 2
Okay, this one is a tie because both albums are chock full of that smooth seventies, easy listenin’, cowboy rock. I’m not certain that’s a real genre, but it seems to encompass most of what makes up the Eagles sound. I know you’ve heard every song on these two beauties and it may be a love-hate relationship. You have to reconcile that fact that you are walking the fine line between adult contemporary and whatever the Eagles are. Sure you can go into a supermarket and hear Hotel California being piped in, but you can also crank that one up in your car and rock out. How about the Hunter S. Thompson-esque Life in the Fast lane for an account of a cocaine fueled ride through the desert in the middle of the night? The fabulous harmonies on the live version of Seven Bridges Road? It’s a pretty stacked list when you consider it. The Long Run, Take it Easy, Peaceful Easy Feelin’ and more. Many, many more. It’s okay to like the Eagles…they’ve earned it.
10. Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon
You own it. You just don’t listen to it. It’s a proven fact that every household from Santiago to Whitehorse has a copy of Dark Side of the Moon somewhere. If not, then your uncle Jimmy has an extra one for you. The hype around this record was that it stayed on the charts longer than anything else ever has. You might not be listening as a protest to that fact. However, it’s coming up on the forty year anniversary so it may be time to re-wire your brain. I suggest putting this through a good pair of headphones and listen while lying on your back on the floor. Some suggest this might sound better in an altered state, but I can’t advise one way or another.
And everything under the sun is in tune
But the sun is eclipsed by the moon.
But the sun is eclipsed by the moon.