I know this is an old discussion but it is one that never seems to die or at least spark some debate. If you found yourself all alone on an uninhabited island in the middle of nowhere what 5 cd’s would you choose to have with you. The logic of having cd’s on a deserted island with no power or the Professor from Gilligan’s Island there to help fashion a stereo out of a coconut and banana leaves aside it is quite fun to make a list of the only 5 records that you would be able to listen to until your rescue ship sailed past.
Now, I know the Riverside is a blues society but it would be silly to think that any of us only listen to blues. So if someone were to ask which 5 cd’s I would pick they may be surprised to find that number one on my list would not be from the blues genre at all.
My first choice would be Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks.” Funny thing is when I first heard this record I hated it. My roommate in college used to play it a lot. After we parted ways, I found I missed hearing it and bought my own copy. I have owned 3 copies now. Originally conceived as an opera, Morrison scrapped that version and released the one we know which is a mixture of folk, blues, jazz, and classical music. It is unlike anything else I own and everytime I listen to it I hear something new.
Second on my list would be Elmore James with “The Sky Is Crying: The History of Elmore James.” This is the way slide guitar was meant to sound and it doesn’t get much better than this, making this particular compilation not only a perfect introduction to Elmore’s music, but an essential piece for any blues collection.
The 3rd record on the list is “His Best” from Howlin’ Wolf. This compilation of Wolf’s best music came out in 1997 and until that point there had never really been a collection of his greatest stuff. “Smokestack Lighting” is a song that I never get tired of and contains many more almost as good. A nice showcase for the Hubert Sumlin’s under-rated guitar work too.
My 4th choice would have to be “OK Computer” by Radiohead. The “Astral Weeks” of the 1990’s. This is a virtuoso display of technology and music combined with great songs. A dense and challenging record that requires repeated listens to discover the many layers of this beautiful recording.
Finally, at #5 would be the The Band with their second record called appropriately enough “The Band”. This was a record that along with “Music From Big Pink” was a collection of songs that had a timeless quality to them. The lyrics depicted Southern 19th century life and had a sound that was more American than most American bands were producing considering that 4/5’s of the group was out of Canada. You didn’t think I would have a list and not have some Canadian content in it did you?
Honorable mentions would include “Texas Sensation” from Freddie King, Dire Straits’ first record, “Sticky Fingers” by the Stones, Albert King’s “Born Under a Bad Sign” and BB King’s “Live at the Regal.”
I would love to hear what your favourites would be. Please use the comment link and share them with us.