Posted by: willenvelope | October 13, 2008

1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die

1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die
by Tom Moon ( Workman, $19.95 )

Today we have a book, which is a Slush City first regardless of what’s been said in our various business proposals. But it’s not, like, a real book. Rather, it’s the kind of book I like best: a thousand-page list of essential albums, in this case “a listener’s life list” that’s part of the 1,000 Before You Die™ series. I wonder what else I can only have a thousand of before I bite it.

If you’re a serially specialized music fan, there’s no way this book is going to satisfy. Its emphasis is on the well-rounded collection, a thousand titles across every genre. I can only imagine the snorts of derision that, for instance, even intermediate classical fans would direct toward the superficial selections here; obviously, you could have 1,000 transcendent classical albums alone. Well, I can kind of imagine the snorts of derision, because I emitted a few for some of the rock choices: Mother Love Bone? Ritual de lo Habitual? Dig Your Own Hole by the Chemical Brothers? Dust by the Screaming Trees, which isn’t even their best record anyway?

Ah, but that’s not the point. I derived a little meaningless validation by finding some of my favorites (Ladies and Gentlemen We’re Floating in Space; Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain) and yawned along with the usual sacred cows (Astral Weeks, The Ramones, Exile on Main Street…why not St. Dominic’s Preview, Road to Ruin, Let It Bleed?), but when I really pored through the book, I was also able to put together a nice wish list of genres I’m not too familiar with, especially world music, which this book handles well.

After the jump, the 41 recordings I hope to hear (although ideally I’ll get to do some other stuff too) before I die.

Blind Blake, Ragtime Guitar’s Foremost Fingerpicker
Bobby “Blue” Bland, Two Steps from the Blues
Big Bill Broonzy, The Young Big Bill Broonzy, 1928-1935
Junior Kimbrough, All Night Long
Magic Sam, West Side Soul
Blind Willie McTell, The Definitive Blind Willie McTell
Memphis Minnie, Hoodoo Lady, 1933–1937

Narvel Felts, Drift Away: The Best of Narvel Felts, 1973–1979
Charlie Poole, You Ain’t Talkin’ to Me

Karen Dalton, It’s So Hard to Tell Who’s Going to Love You the Best
John Fahey, The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death
John Martyn, Solid Air

The Clara Ward Singers, Take My Hand, Precious Lord

Tony Bennett, The Tony Bennett–Bill Evans Album
Codona, Codona 3
Miles Davis, Highlights from the Plugged Nickel
Sammy Davis Junior, I Gotta Right to Swing
Bill Evans and Jim Hall, Undercurrent
Jan Garbarek and Ralph Towner, Dis
Keith Jarrett, My Song
Lonnie Smith, Live at the Club Mozambique
Willie “The Lion” Smith, The Lion Roars!

Doris Duke, I’m a Loser
Aaron Neville, Tell It Like It Is
Howard Tate, Get It While You Can

Beau Brummels, Triangle
Maria Muldaur, Maria Muldaur
The Pretty Things, Get the Picture?

Mahmoud Ahmed, Éthiopiques Vol. 7: Erè Mèla Mèla (Ethiopia)
Boukman Eksperyans, Kalfou Danjere (Haiti)
Cartola, Cartola (Brazil)
Estrellas de Arecito, Los Heroes (Cuba)
João Gilberto, João Gilberto (Brazil)
Sol Ho‘opi‘I, Master of the Hawaiian Guitar, Vols. 1 and 2 (Hawaii)
Israel “Cachao” López y Su Ritmo Caliente, Descargas: Cuban Jam Sessions in Miniature (Cuba)
Thomas Mapfumo and Blacks Unlimited, Chimurenga Singles (Zimbabwe)
Remmy Ongala and Orchestre Super Matimila, Songs for the Poor Man (Tanzania)
Gabby Pahinui, Best of the Gabby band 1972-1977 (Hawaii)
Hermeto Pascoal, Slaves Mass (Brazil)
Baden Powell, O Universe Musical de Baden Powell (Brazil)
VA: Rembetica: Historic Urban Folk Songs from Greece (Greece; Rounder Records ed.)



  1. Your folk choices were on my list a while back, but I’ve managed to get through them now and they’re all well worth it. The rock list is likely to be disappointing… Mind you, in jazz, anything with Ralph Towner gets my vote (didn’t we have a discussion about ECM once?).

    After the Bob DYlan song, I had to hear Blind Willie McTell – but imho Bob lied ! LOL. And I know what you mean about world music, but there’s so much to wade through…

    These sorts of books are addictive. Did you read Nick Hornby’s 31 songs? Mind you, it’s the same reason I buy Uncut or Mojo, to scout through the reviews and create imaginary wish-lists….

  2. You told me about Towner’s record “Diary,” so it’s also on my list. I’m heading to the Princeton Record Exchange this weekend. Hopefully I’ll score some of this stuff. I wouldn’t protest if you burned me some “evaluation” copies of those folk records though…

    I just got hold of a Gary Burton record that I’d been really excited about. The good songs are good, but the bad songs, thanks to some ghastly 1969 guitar wanking (thanks, Jerry Hahn), are BAAAAAD.

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