Favorites In Time

This blog started in 2014, so lists of my favorite music before that time was nonexistent – until now. I was born in the late ’60s, so this list starts from the ’70s, the decade when I became aware of what I liked (and didn’t). Before that, my earliest musical memories centered around the records my parents played – mostly Stevie Wonder, Jackson 5 and James Brown. During that time I learned to associate certain music with feelings and sensations, like the joy of being barefoot while napping outside (Stevie Wonder’s “You Are the Sunshine”) or Hoolahooping to James Brown as my parents laughed us on. Not a bad way to start a lifelong love of music.

Band on the Run album cover
1970s
By the end of this decade I had gone from passively experiencing music on my AM radio, to actively seeking out and buying 45s singles. I even started using cassette tapes to occasionally record whatever music I liked that I could get my hands on. This often meant borrowing records from neighbors and relatives or taping from the radio.

1. Band On The Run – Paul McCartney and Wings (1974)
2. Off The Wall – Michael Jackson (1979)
3. Pleasure Principle – Gary Numan (1979)
4. The Hissing of Summer Lawns – Joni Mitchell (1974)
5. Here My Dear – Marvin Gaye (1976)
6. Aja – Steely Dan (1977)
7. Young Americans – David Bowie (1974)
8. Uncle Jam Wants You – Parliament (1978)
9. Rumors – Fleetwood Mac (1977)
10. Elton John Greatest Hits Vol. II – Elton John (1977)

Two Wheels Good (1985) album cover.
1980s
Having to share my parents Sears 3 in 1 stereo got old, so I directed my lawn mowing cash to getting my own hi fi gear. While other kids were thinking about their first car, I was stressing over Dolby C vs. HX Pro. That started me on a relentless pursuit for technical perfection on a shoestring budget. College radio and MTV opened up new possibilities. By mid-decade I had gradually converted from LPs to CD. This was a time when I spent more money on music than food or clothes – and I still did not own a car until my senior year in college

1. Two Wheels Good/Steve McQueen – Prefab Sprout (1984)
2. Purple Rain – Prince (1984)
3. Love’s Easy Tears – Cocteau Twins (1985)
4. After the Snow – Modern English (1982)
5. Hounds of Love – Kate Bush (1986)
6. Golden Age of Wireless – Thomas Dolby (1982)
7. Field Day – Marshall Crenshaw (1983) / Hotter Than July – Stevie Wonder (1980) tie
8.Cupid and Psyche – Scritti Politti (1985)
9. Fables of the Reconstruction – REM (1985)
10.Shabooh Shoobah – INXS (1982)
11.Aretha Sings the Blues – Aretha Franklin (1980) / The Look – Shalamar (1983) tie
12.Raintown – Deacon Blue (1986)
13.Baby the Stars Shine Bright – Everything But the Girl (1983)
14.The Queen Is Dead – The Smiths (1987)
15.Mirage – Fleetwood Mac (1982)
16.Promise – Sade (1985)
17. 4 – Foreigner (1983)
18. Abacab – Genesis (1981)
19.Sparkle In the Rain – Simple Minds (1984) / The Glamours Life – Shelia E (1984) tie
20.The Joshua Tree – U2 (1986)

Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 album cover
1990s
This decade saw the use of cassettes to archive music at it’s height. Analog had reached it’s technical height thanks to cassettes recorded with Dolby S and VHS/Beta HiFi sounding as good as CD! As good as those formats were, they would be replaced with a short lived stint with mini disc. By the end of the decade, I had switched to mp3. Most low bitrate digital beyond CD still sounded like crap. I hung on to old formats because I finally achieved the ’80s promise of hi fidelity. I still had a few hundred LPs and my CD collection had tipped over 500 and was still growing.

1. Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1. – George Michael (1991)
2. Bedtime Stories – Madonna (1998)
3. The Miseducation of Lauren Hill – Lauren Hill (1998)
4. OK Computer – Radiohead (1997)
5. Groove Theory – Groove Theory (1997)
6. Music Has the right to Children – Boards of Canada (1998)
7. Homogenic – Bjork (1996)
8. Jordan The Comeback – Prefab Sprout (1990)
9. Grace – Jeff Buckley (1994)
10. Night Ride Home – Joni Mitchell (1991)
11. Embrya – Maxwell (1994)
12. A Turtle’s Dream – Abbey Lincoln (1992)
13.Achtung Baby – U2 (1991)
14.Tidal – Fiona Apple (1996)
15.60 Watt Silver Lining – Mark Eitzel (1996)
16.Dear 23 – The Poses (1990)
17.Erotica – Madonna (1994)
18.Maria – Jane Siberry  (1995)
19.Reading Writing and Arithmetic – The Sundays (1990)
20.Nevermind – Nirvana (1991)

How I Do album cover
2000s
I was still buying CDs and on occasion LPs (if no digital version was available). Even as a homeowner with student loans and a car payment, I was spending more money on music than I should have. Old habits die hard, but I finally stopped recording monthly audio archives on cassette around 2004. The archive went from my computer to a cloud based Spotify playlist in 2008. The joy of music was threatening to move to a subscription model.

1. How I Do – Res (2004)
2. The Golden Age – American Music Club (2008)
3. I Trawl the Megahertz – Paddy McAloon (2001)
4. First Born Second – Bial (2001)
5. Invisible Man – Mark Eitzel (2001)
6. Jordan The Comeback – Prefab Sprout (1990)
7. Give Up – The Postal Service (2008)
8. Turn On the Bright Lights – Interpol (2004)
9. Our Endlessly Numbered Days – Iron and Wine (2004)
10. Love Songs for Patriots – American Music Club (2004)
11. New Favorite – Allison Krauss and Union Station (2002)
12.Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds… – Jill Scott (2004)
13. Winterpills – Winterpills (2005)
14. The Fountain – Clint Mansell (2006)
15. Invincible – Michael Jackson (2001)
16. A The Center – Meat Beat Manifesto (2007)
17.Highly Refined Pirates – Minus The Bear (2002)
18. In Rainbows – Radiohead (2008)
19.Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes – TV on The Radio (2004)
20. The World has Made Me… – Meshell Ndegeocello (2007)


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2010s
The decade was marked by the need to organize and easily access music. Nearly everything had become digital for me now so it was much easier (thanks Spotify) to find whatever came across my mind. I still listened to analog formats on occasion mostly because I like the tactile sensation of pushing buttons and watching UV and LED displays dance. I still enjoyed the challenge of trying to get the best sound possible from the few LPs and cassettes I have left. That’s one of the reasons I still maintain a collection of working cassette decks.
I only buy CDs on occasion now and almost always directly from artists sites or Bandcamp. On the surface there seems like less music worth listening to, but digging deeper has immense rewards. Like a great find on college radio 30 years ago, a web search can be well worth the effort.

1. Carrie and Lowell– Sufjan Stevens (2015)
2. A Seat at The Table – Solange (2016)
3. OK Lady – Roman GianArthur (2017)
4. I Love You Honeybear – Father John Misty (2015)
5. Devotion – Jessie Ware (2012)
6. Malibu – Anderson .Paak (2016)
7. Blisters – Serpentwithfeet (2016)
8. Airtight’s Revenge – Bial (2010)
9. Shields – Grizzly Bear (2012)
10. Bon Iver – Bon Iver (2011) 
11. A Different Kind of Fix – Bombay Bicycle Club (2011)
12. Messiah – D’Angelo (2014)
13. Mid-City Island – Moses Sumney (2014) / The 20/20 Experience  – Justin Timberlake (2013) tie
14. Wildheart – Miguel (2015)
15. case/lang/veirs – case/lang/veirs (2016)
16. Tween – Wye Oak (2016)
17. Real High – Nite Jewel (2017) / Jamie – Jamie Howard (2019) tie
18. A Thoughtiverse Unmarred –  Georgia Anne Muldrow (2014)
19. The Light In You – Mercury Rev (2015)
20. 50 Words For Snow – Kate Bush (2011) / The Fun Rises, the Fun Sets – Van Hunt (2015) Tie