100 Records Blog
In the spirit of (1) saving up money for my annual pilgrimage to Chicago and (2) digging in my own collection, I'm taking a half year off from buying records and am going through the records I have (and in many cases have purchased but not listened to yet). To share the experience I'm writing capsule reviews every other day of a record - which works out to 100 records by mid-July. Where available I've provided a link to audio clips (just click the ;Audio clip' text). I'll update this frequently so keep checking back for new reviews and records! -Keith
74. Dickie Oliver
A reissue of a rare library record, this record is definitely nice – it’s a funky organ groove that definitely delivers – but at the same time I was somehow expecting more. Maybe it’s the lure of the rare record / library record thing that colors a mystique around it, maybe it’s something else but this record isn’t great. It’s solid but falls flat somewhere and I can’t quite figure it out. That said if you like Groove Holmes and similar artists it’s worth checking out.
Acquired: Dusty Groove, Chicago Audio
73. Corrosion of Conformity – Live Volume
There was a time not long ago when I didn’t like live albums, but wow has that changed… at least under very specific circumstances. For me those circumstances are (1) have a nice back catalog of tracks (2) that weren’t produced that well in the first place or (3) happened before the band upgraded / found their sound. This record is exactly that, capturing a live show by Corrosion of Conformity featuring their best tracks using their 2000-and-beyond sound of thick, Sabbathy riffs and production. The whole catalog benefits, since every song now sounds thick and rich. The album works well as something to put on in the background (I find the band underrated bordering with parts of their discography unknown) and also as a focal point of you want to get your doom fix. My favorite on this is the said sonic upgrade on ‘Vote With a Bullet’, also my favorite song of theirs.
Acquired: online Audio
72. Beyond Possession
This 1986 release from Metal Blade is an interesting record for metal diehards / historians / completists since it fuses punk and metal with a sound that’s raw and interesting, plus the record is very fast. If you’re not those people you’re safe to avoid it – this record has vocals that are pretty annoying in a way that makes it sound like all those records on the PA in punk record stores. Some of the riffs and tempo changes are inventive given the time frame, in fact it seems like this record should be the kind of obscure record a bunch of modern, relevant bands cite as a huge influence. But it’s really just obscure.
Acquired: Glass House Record Shop, Pomona CA Audio
71. Raging Slab – True Death
Four-song EP that stands as Raging Slab’s second or third (can’t remember!) piece of work – well into their career but before their two biggest moments – the Rick Rubin-produced ‘Dynamite Boogie Monster concert’ and their semi-hit ‘Don’t Dog Me’. This record is four lean and mean amped-up southern rock tracks, my favorite being the nasty groove of ‘I Heard the Owl’. If you like your southern rock heavy, this band and this record are for you.
Acquired: Glass House Record shop, Pomona CA Audio
70. Brand New Wayo – Funk, Fast Times and Nigerian Boogie Madness
A really good compilation (2xLP) of exactly what the title says – as with most above-average comps most songs are good, a few are disposable and a few are transcendent. My favorites are ‘Brand New Wayo’, ‘Funky Situation and, ‘Listen to the Music’. Even more recommended if you’re into boogie and / or modern music from the Africa continent.
Acquired: Sonic Boom, Seattle WA Audio
69. Opprobrium – Serpent Temptation
Super-obscure thrash classic from 1988, this record is for people who (1) love the guitar sound on Metallica’s ‘Kill em All’ but (2) wish the vocals sounded like early Venom. I say these things both as compliments, but this LP is for the thrash / death metal diehards and has almost no outside appeal. If you’re a fan of this style of music though this record is essential, it’s solid all the way through to the point where I wouldn’t even listen to a specific song on the record, I’d just go through the whole thing.
Acquired: Standard, Vista CA Audio
68. Duel – Witchbanger
A totally great brand new record (released June 2017) by a retro-sounding band from Texas – definitely Sabbath-inspired but with hints of southern rock as well. Spiritually they’re very close to Clutch, perhaps slightly groovy by every bit as cool. My personal faves are ‘Astro Gypsy’ and ‘Cat’s Eye’ but the whole album is great. Plus you can get the record direct from the band if you hit them up and follow them on Facebook (and other places I’m sure)! Totally recommended if you like big, Sabbath-inspired retro-metal.
Acquired: direct from band Audio
67. The 8th Day – The 8th Day
This album is on Invictus, and if you’re familiar with that label you’re 90% of the way to understanding the sound of the record – sweet soul (I supposed it’s called that?) with elements of funk, excellent harmonies and relationship-related song topics. I don’t know if this record is a classic of the subgenre but I don’t have much of this stuff in my collection and it was worth getting just for the perfect ‘She’s Not Just another Woman’. The record doesn’t really hit the amazing heights of that single, but ‘Too Many Cooks’ and the lengthy, low-key ‘Just as Long’ work in very different ways.
Acquired: Fingerprints, Long Beach CA Audio
66. Heretic – The Breaking Point
Perfectly competent and at times really good LP from a short-lived band in the late 80s that’s likely most notable for providing Metal Church with their most successful vocalist (Mike Howe). Because of Howe’s presence, this record feels like a lost Metal Church album, perfectly in step with ‘Blessing in Disguise’. ‘Enemy Within’ and Time Runs Short’ and ‘Shifting Fire’ are my favorites on the record and stand out the most compared to other tracks I’ve listened to from the genre. Despite the time frame, the record is not thrash, it’s melodic and heavy with likely heavy influences from Rainbow, Priest and Black Sabbath (again, just like Metal Church).
Acquired: Tracks in Wax, Phoenix Audio
65. Acid – Acid
If you look in ‘Encyclopedia Metallum’ you’ll see the band is from Belgium, released their debut full-length (this record) in 1983 and has listed lyrical themes of ‘Satan, Sex, Metal’ in that order. Sign me up! Sonically this is a heavier take on the NWOBHM (I suppose the B could be Belgian in this case) sound, with songs hanging in that grooving ‘driving’ tempo, some slower and some much faster. The vocalist bears a lot of similarity to Geddy Lee which makes the record come off like a Motörhead meets Rush hybrid, which is a high compliment. My personal faves are ‘Hell on Wheels’, ‘Hooked on Metal’ and ‘Heaven’s Devil’s’.
Acquired: San Diego Metal Swap Meet, SD Audio
64. Beginning of the End
This record starts with a bang, kicking in with ‘Super Woman’, a track seemingly made for B-boys with its fast pace and uplifting mood. The record then settles in to a relaxing funky groove worthy of the southern Florida location of the band, picking the tempo back up at the end for ‘Jump in the Water’ and the conga line funker ‘Bahamian Boogie’.
Acquired: Online Audio
63. The M-Tet – Long Play
Vacillating between prime Booker T and the MGs and Groove Holmes, this record serves up 12 cuts of organ funk. The mic’ing is tight and it’s a great record to both listen to and throw on as atmosphere. My personal faves are ‘all drums up’ and Meters-y ‘Sal’s-U-Save’. Great work from a current group out there playing!
Acquired: Vamp records, Oakland Audio
62. Sound Foundation
The label on this said ‘1969 Prog/funk influenced by Sly Stone’. That about does it! It definitely moves – the track ‘Morning Dew’ is (I believe) the track that makes people check for the record but it’s solid all the way through. Highlights include a funky cover of ‘Magic Carpet Ride’, the opening break of ‘Bruised’, the opening break to ‘Love loves to love love’ and the rest of track too… yep there are some breaks on here! Okay wait a minute. I’m writing this capsule review as I listen through the record in order and goddamn the breaks on the final track ‘Soul Foundation’ are stupid. Yes I said breaks, the track has three breaks on it and is a freaking funk monster. A pricey record but worth it!
Acquired: Diabolical records, Salt Lake City Audio
61. Durand Jones and the Indications
I’m going to say something that borders on hyperbole but actually isn’t – this might be the best record on this list and also might be the best record Colemine has ever released. It mixes signature Colemine Records funk with a skilled, soulful vocalist in Durand Jones. Much like the instrumental funk of Desco and Daptone found its voice with the late great Sharon Jones, this record feels like the thing Colemine has been building to. ‘Make a Change’ sets the tone by opening with a stupid breakbeat, stirring in funk and soul vocal excellence… and the record never lets up from there. Slow soul jams, uptempo dance floor grooves, this album has it all. Please go out and get this record!
Acquired: Needle to the Groove, San Jose Audio
60. NWOBHM Volume 5
Technically a CD but it’s part of such a hard to find series (only two of the eight volumes available on discogs, and those two available at high prices) I wanted to at least discuss one of the excellent volumes. The CDs collect even *more* rare and expensive music from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, an era of heavy music that serves as the bridge from heavy music of the 1970s to hair metal and thrash metal in the early 80s. Almost every track is interesting – especially for heavy music buffs – and a few of them are quite good and still hold up over time. My favorites are ‘Hooker Hater’ by Demolition, ‘Footprints on the Water’ by Big Daisy and ‘Down to Zero’ by Bleak House. Every volume is good and worthwhile listen.
Acquired: Online Audio
59. Tonight’s the Night – Soul Sensation Orchestra
A hit and miss record that has a few good songs (two different versions of the title track) and a few cringe-worthy bad tracks. Some of this is a remnant of the era, but during this time a lot of artists talked over funky tracks a la Barry White to set the mood, if you get my drift. When it clicks it really clicks, but when something feels off – either bad word choice or an inauthentic feel- the whole thing falls apart. That happens here – I just can’t buy the vibe they’re selling. Still check out the title track though. Audio
58. Dizzy Gillespie – Souled Out
This LP is an appropriately named soul excursion by Gillespie, and as result contains some dope grooves. ‘Stomped and Wasted’ is a groovy jazz track that kicks off with a sample familiar to hip-hop fanatics, and ‘Blue Cuchifrito’ lays a sick groove that’s also light and slightly corny (in the best way imaginable). Some of the tracks I don’t mention go for an interesting choice of using female vocalists sing backup-style soul vocals without any real meaningful words or lead vocals , capturing the feel of a soul record without the lyrics of one. The tracks above are all from side one, side two feels a touch different because every track is basically (1) a nasty groove (2) with great-sounding instruments but (3) isn’t particularly sample-able (for those that think that way). All in all a really worthwhile record.
Acquired: Groove Merchant SF Audio
57. Angelo Bond – Bondage
A 1975 funky soul monster sung by one of the more interesting falsettos I’ve ever heard – Angelo has a natural high register so good I continue to think this record might have a female vocalist. I scoured the notes on the back of he album so I’m pretty sure it’s him but wow! Half the tracks are excellent and the other half are solid – my favorites are the funk groove ‘I love you’ and uptempo tracks ‘Reach for the Moon’ and ‘What’s bad about feeling good’. Soulful proto-disco goodness!
Acquired: Vamp Records Oakland Audio
56. Blitzkrieg – A Time of Changes
Blitzkrieg is a NWOBHM band that both influenced Metallica and was influenced by Metallica, releasing a self-titled single in 1981 that Metallica covered in 1984 and then releasing this full LP in 1985 after Metallica’s first two records (and presumably the 1984 cover as well). The result is a record that sounds as close to Metallica as anyone, though it’s hard to parse out who influenced who. That aside this a good heavy metal record worth inclusion among the early 80s classics, and a solid listen all the way through. The opener ‘Inferno’ and the best-known track ‘Blitzkrieg’ are the standouts but everything is solid.
Acquired: online Audio
55. Gene Dozier and the Brotherhood – Blues Power
Okay soul/ funk record with a good amount of covers and a few originals. The opener ‘Hunk of Funn’ is my favorite song but in general it’s the kind of cool-sounding record that’s good to throw on at a gathering of friends st your place, but not necessarily an interesting listen on your own.
Acquired: Vamp Records, Oakland CA Audio
54. Thee Image – Thee Image
Looking at the cover of this record makes you think you’re in for something psychedelic, and that’s partially correct. To be more specific this three-piece from 1975 plays a cool prog – rock – funk fusion with more than its share of soulful moments. I gravitate toward those moments and two tracks that really deliver on that are the album opener ‘Good thing’ (a straight up soul track) and ‘Temptation’ (a slow funky groove that keeps rolling). Slightly more uptempo and proggyis the album closer ‘show your love’, and while other tracks have moments and a few aren’t really good. Still worth a listen an perhaps purchase.
Acquired: Vamp Records, Oakland CA
53. Obituary – Obituary
I’m a sucker for bands who release a self-titled album late in their career, and this recent 2017 release is definitely late in the band’s long career. Mentioning an Obituary album is tough because you’re probably in one of two camps: (1) you’re well aware of the album and already own it or (2) you have zero interest in the record and no review will tell you otherwise. I’ll leave it at this: it has a great sound and features a bunch of good new tracks without treading too heavily all over their old tricks. ‘Turned to Stone’ particularly caught my ear on this record because it has that great ‘Obituary trudge’, their heavy signature groove feel.
Acquired: Direct from band at show Audio
52. Alcatrazz – No Parole from Rock n Roll
Mostly known for being an early band of guitar wizard Yngwie Malmsteen, this record also features notable vocalist Graham Bonnet (of Rainbow fame) and his incredible vocal range. The record is uneven overall but the best moments are quite good, notably the tracks ‘Island in the Sun’ and ‘Hiroshima Mon Amour’. The record was released in 1983 and sounds exactly like what you think it is – pre-hair metal rock with some metallic edge on the guitars and a lot of melodies.
Acquired: San Diego Metal Swap Meet Audio
51. Lou Rawls – Live!
A killer live set from Lou Rawls – and if my research is correct a key live record produced by David Axelrod that led the way for many great ‘recorded in concert live’ records produced by him. The record catches Lou in top form, belting out killer vocals and working the audience to a pitch. When I turned over the LP I figured my least favorite song would be ‘Tobacco Road’, but that song and it’s great lead-in are probably my favorites. I don’t own a lot of soul but with records like this I don’t need to.
Acquired: Sonic Boom Records (Seattle WA) Audio
50. Ian Carr’s Nucleus – In Fragranti Delecto
Superbly groovy jazz-funk fusion from 1977 – this era was a bit hit or miss – but the groove stays pretty dialed in for the album, with drops of funk and demonstrations of excellent musicianship. Definitely an ‘album’ listen in the truest sense – the entire record consists of four jazz-funk workouts and everything is solid so nothing really stands out… because you should really just listen to the whole thing.
Acquired: Standards (Vista CA) Audio
49. D.R.I. – Four of a Kind
A fresh listen after attending the San Diego Metal Swap Meet, I was able to pick up something close to D.R.I.’s entire discography (which I had back in my teens). This record is one of their lesser-known albums – the punkish debut and thrash-punk crossover classic (titled… wait for it… ‘Crossover’) get more attention but this is every bit as good. The songs are long by D.R.I. standards (three to four minutes) but the record still sounds great.
Acquired: San Diego Metal Swap Meet Audio
48. Can – Tago Mago
I’ve been aware of Can as a huge band among the breaks and beats community, and while I really enjoy their minimalist break monster ‘Vitamin C’ I never really got into their catalog and stayed for long… clearly my entry point should have been Tago Mago! There are drums all over the place on this LP, but not necessarily drums that can be sampled for your next hip-hop production. These drums are just the backbone of semi-experimental rock drum jams, propelling the band along on three-to-14 minute tracks. Highly recommended if you just appreciate drums as an instrument, with highly groovy German rock to boot.
Acquired: Standards (Vista, CA) Audio
47. Inazuman Flash soundtrack
There was a second Inazuman show in the 1970s – this one – that continued the Inazuman story with funky new music. I just got hold of this record after not realizing it even existed, and while it’s really good unfortunately two thing work against it for me: (1) it’s somewhat expensive and (2) being an obsessive fan of Japanese TV show soundtracks I’be heard almost all of the music already. That said it is super funky and worth checking out for those into this.
Acquired: online through Japan Audio
46. Michael White’s Magic Music Company – Go With the Flow
While shopping in Utah recently I stopped at an awesome store (Diabolical Records), and when the owner saw my purchases he recognized they came from the same seller, then referencing another ecord the person sold that they loved and regretted letting go. I bought it sight unseen – it’s this record… and whoa! The record varies among different subgenres but stays funky through most of it (released in 1974!) and brings sick levels of funk on the tracks ‘Spaceside’ (sick opening break) and two versions of the title track, one a ten minute opener and the other a five minute closer. The track ‘In the Silence (Listen)’ is a funk beast as well, meaning easily more than half the record is a straight-up funk bomb. Highly recommended.
Acquired: Diabolical Records, Salt Lake City Audio
45. Mighty Diamonds – Right Time
Incredible (and cheap) roots reggae record combining nice reggae rhythms with sweet singing and multi-part harmonies. Last night I needed a record to throw on that was interesting and that engaged my brain but was also mellow enough to chill out to and I reached for this. It’s another one of those albums where I could single out tracks worth listening to (“I Need a Roof” is the track that seems to endure), but it’s more about being an enjoyable album experience that captures your attention from start to end with no real low points.
Acquired: Princeton Record Exchange, NJ Audio
44. Johnny Almond – Music Machine
You know how Danger Mouse chopped up the Beatles’ white album to create a whole album’s worth of beats for that Jay-Z record? Well this record might get you two albums’ worth. This is a sample hunters’ delight – some tracks have funky, varied breaks on them (with sick drums) while others are free-form without drums, opening up even more possibilities. The retired hip-hop producer hears all kinds of potential great stuff when I listen to this – I’m sure some of it has been mined but there’s no doubt plenty more where that came from.
Acquired: Groove Merchant, San Francisco Audio
43. Tito Puente and his Concert Orchestra
Essential Latin jazz record that’s a nonstop phenomenal listen all the way through. This record is from 1973 so you know it’s at peak funkiness – if you’re a breaks junkie and don’t own the record a few songs will definitely sound familiar from either sampling or compilations (one such track being ‘Black Brothers’). I’d recommend a particular song here but they’re all so good I’m not sure it matters.
Acquired: Dusty Groove, Chicago IL Audio
42. Janko Nilovic - Soul Impressions
A really solid library record from one of the library music masters, this features Janko Nilovic at his funkiest. The dope tracks for me are ‘Hippocampus’, ‘Soul Impressions’ and ‘Drug Song’ while ‘Man of Genius’ is good, psych rock. This album’s probably been sampled a few times so it has cred for that but to be real, for me it’s a ‘pretty good’ record as opposed to a great one. Another way to put it is, if for some reason you wanted to read this list of 100 records and trust my judgment implicitly, start by buying anything I mention as essential then either make this the last record you buy or the first one you pass on.
Acquired: Dusty Groove, Chicago IL Audio
41. Big Deal! Weinberger Funk Library
A solid collection of what you’d expect from the title – mellow, funky, groovy library tracks from 1975-1979 highlighting the funkiest stuff from this Library label. The whole record is a satisfying listen beginning to end and for me the standout tracks are ‘Make No Bones’ by Midas Touch and ‘Focus on the Middle East’ by Ishfahan Farid, a track that sounds like a funky outtake from the movie The Warriors.
Acquired: Dusty Groove, Chicago IL Audio
40. Wolfcop Original Soundtrack – Shooting Guns
Something spoke to me about this record when I came across it in the shop and I’m glad it did: this is an interesting rock instrumental soundtrack that delves into some atmospheric electronics, moogy synths and even some funk (for rock, anyway) grooves. Apparently this is a real movie? I’m not exactly up on movies but based on the soundtrack alone this has to be some quality B-movie stuff, be it actual vintage or a new movie that nods to the old style of flicks. The record starts with some rock grooves then morphs into more electronic stuff – and both aspects are interesting. Definitely not for everybody, but a rather engaging listen.
Acquired: Sonic Boom, Seattle WA Audio
39. Kiss – Dressed to Kill
I cued this up on a recent road trip for the first listen in a while, and even though I've listened to this album 50+ times the following things stood out: (1) many of the songs are just okay and a few are stupid ('Anything for my baby' really grates on me since it's essentially a chorus repeated the entire song) and it's far from their best record. (2) The overlooked dinosaur -crusher 'She' is on this record, my absolute favorite Kiss riff and one of their heaviest. (3) 'Rock and Roll All Nite' is a near-perfect song that not only deserves its place in the rock canon but jumps out at you and punches you in the face at the end of side two, given the lackluster content of much of the album.
Acquired: Diabolical Records, Salt Lake City UT Audio
38. AC/DC - Flick of the switch
If there’s such a thing as an AC/DC purist record, this is probably it. The band is clearly in their audio prime here – the guitars rip through with the right level of distortion (more than on records that came both before and after) and the production is excellent. All the songs are good and there are no weak links… but no song is great and nothing went on to be any kind of hit for the band, so nearly every track here remains under the radar.
Acquired: Sound Warehouse, Houston TX Audio
37. John Coltrane – The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings
When I think of jazz I think of John Coltrane, even though the level of musicianship he exhibits is a few levels above the limit of my understanding. For a long period of time I didn’t like Coltrane stuff at all, but beyond all else Coltrane is ultra-listenable, especially for students of the form. This multi-CD set covers all the takes and versions of the tracks so to say you have a ‘favorite’ disc or track is random more than anything. That said, the versions of ‘India’ are my favorites and Disc 4 for whatever reason is also my favorite. I just went on a long trip and these discs kept my brain the ‘right level of occupied’ on my pre-dawn portions of my drive. Yes, this is a CD set but man!
Acquired: Poo Bah Records, Pasadena CA Audio
36. Ray Barretto – Acid
A Latin Jazz classic, and an enjoyable listen from beginning to end. The record is a perfect blend of incendiary instrumentals, smoother instrumentals and vocal-tinged tracks that grab your attention in a way even the illest instrumentals don’t. ‘A Deeper Shade of Soul’ and ‘Espiritu Libre’ are the standouts to my ear, but seriously the whole record itself is a standout.
Acquired: Dusty Groove, Chicago Audio
35. Piero Umiliani – To-day’s Sound
As good an entry point into the goodness of Piero Umiliani, this record showcases his diversity across multiple genres and types of tracks. As is the case with Italian library-style records, some songs are cheesy but it’s a good cheese (a phrase I’m pretty sure I stole from Calamity Jade). My favorite tracks are ‘Green Valley’, a slow mellow groove, ‘To-Day’s Sound’, a faster track with a surf feel, the funky ‘Truck Driver’ and the even funkier sure shot ‘Lady Magnolia’. This record is now ubiquitous digitally so you should be able to check out all these tracks quite easily and see if Umiliani is right for you (hint: it probably is).
Acquired: Dusty Groove, Chicago Audio
34. Iron Maiden – Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
I could write about any and all Iron Maiden releases through 1990 but chose this one because (1) it’s legitimately my favorite album by them and (2) it gets acknowledged as an essential album but not necessarily praised the way its predecessors are in terms of classic Maiden canon. It’s worth multiple listens though – for one the album comes full circle in terms of the beginning and the end, making it feel like a concept album (even though it’s really not). The opener ‘Moonchild’, second track ‘Infinite Dreams’ and lead single ‘Can I play with Madness’ set the tone for an album with no weak points and lesser-known gems in the Maiden portfolio (I’m also a huge fan of the title track and ‘The Clairvoyant’).
Acquired: Factory Records, Costa Mesa CA Audio
33. Tito Puente – Top Percussion
A stone latin jazz classic! I’m not exactly ranking the records on this list or anything (since there are so many genres represented) but if you could only buy say three records on this list (and hey, thanks for trusting me with your money) this is one of the three. Essential percussion record with enough track-to-track variance to make the entire thing a great listen, though the cleanest theme is percussion workouts (Conga Alegre, Hot timbales etc). As much as I enjoy those I’m a bigger fan of tracks like Obaricoso – a mid-tempo groove – and Night Ritual – a multi-art excursion with a simple but great minimalist groove in the first few minutes.
Acquired: Dusty Groove, Chicago Audio
32. Donald Byrd - Chant
Byrd is in nice form here and delivers a groovy, jazzy record very much in step with its era. If you see Blue Note and 1961 on a record it’s a really smart idea to get it and this doesn’t disappoint – I’m not a jazz expert but the main influence seems to be bop, though there are other influences at work. This is a smooth, relaxing record that may not command the attention of non-aficionado listeners, but anyone with an ear should enjoy this record, even if it’s just something to throw on while you do whatever thing commands most of your attention. A solid attention to any record and/or jazz collection.
Acquired: Beautiful World Syndicate, Philadelphia Audio
31. James Brown – Sex Machine today
The Godfather rips a funk set at his mustachioed best… and if James has a moustache on the cover the record is a funk monster. Critics take away from this era of records, painting James as a waning star clutching at the remains of his stardom – and though that was true in the US, James’s opulatiry globally was still at its peak in this era. The weakest song on the record is an updated take on ‘I feel Good’ but it’s still good and funky, and while the new version of ‘Sex Machine’ is good, the originals on the record still shine and bring the funk goods you need. Perhaps not Brown’s best but that still makes it better than damn near anything else.
Acquired: Turntable Lab, NYC Audio
30. Metal Massacre V
Just one volume of the essential Metal Blade compilation series that launched many heavy metal careers and served as the high point of many careers that never launched. This volume features early tracks by Overkill, fates Warning and Hellhammer (the band Celtic Frost was before they were Celtic Frost) in terms of notable bands…. and bands such as Attacker, Final Warning and Future Tense as well. All tracks are interesting – especially if you’re a scholar of heavy metal history – but not all the tracks are actually good. Worth it if you’re that type of scholar and collector / not worth it if you’re anything else, really.
Acquired: Josey Records, Dallas Audio
29. Judas Priest – British Steel
This is my favorite Priest album, it’s perfect intersection of early and mid-period Priest when they were good and rockin’ without being too heavy (though I like Priest from damn near any era, really). This captures the band at their hookiest, with standards like ‘Living After Midnight’ and ‘Breaking the Law’, rockers like ‘Grinder’ and ‘Metal Gods’ and even early attempts at anthems (‘United’) before Priest went all-in for smash hits in the 80s. I usually dislike remastered albums but the remastered version of this is quite good as well and sounds great on any stereo.
Acquired: Rhino Records, Claremont Audio
28. Gatecreeper – Sonoran Deprivation
Whoa how did I miss this band? A modern take on two of the most relevant death metal acts (Entombed and Obituary), produced by Kurt Ballou (of Converge and ‘the guy who produced the Nails records’ fame), released in October 2016 that could have been written in 1992. Well, the riffs anyway, the vocals sound very 2016 but here’s what you get with this – a massive, wall of heavy guitars that sound like a cross between a death metal concert and an actual military battle. If you don’t like your music really heavy (in the vein of the Nails) then don’t check this out, but if that sort of thing is your bag, baby then this record fits the bill.
Acquired: online Audio
27. Ron English – Fish Feet
I think in the record collecting game we as collectors tend to overuse the word ‘banger’ or ‘gem’ since in many cases we mean ‘good to very good record with something redeeming about it’. In this case, I’ll stick with the latter – this is a pretty good record with a few redeeming tracks and an overall funky, jazzy vibe. The title track is probably the ‘banger’ of the record, a winding jazz-funk guitar opusthat clocks in over 8 minutes and highlights some really good jazz-funk drumming that stays right there in the pocket with a minimal, Meters-esque beat. Other tracks are nice enough (I’m personally not a fan of the track ‘You Make me Feel Brand New’ so covers of it don’t do much for me) but they work as pleasant background music without really jumping out of the speakers to command my attention away from whatever the thing I’m doing is. Worthwhile for jazz aficionados, a likely pass for others.
Acquired: Fingerprints, Long Beach Audio
26. Deep Purple – Stormbringer
Almost completely ignored record from Deep Purple’s discography during the wildly unpopular David Coverdale era – this is the period where the band replaced Ian Gilliam (the singer you know from all their hits) with David Coverdale, then leaned heavily enough in a funk direction to make Ritchie Blackmore quit and form his own band (Rainbow). That setup makes it unlikely that this is my favorite Deep Purple record but the reasons hardcore fans hate it are why I love it – the record is FUNKY (vintage 1974) and has a great blues feel as well. The title track lays a groove with an ultra-catchy riff and the record alternates between blues rock, ballads and funk rock throughout. Of note is the B-side track ‘Gypsy’, which I dig. An absolute gem waiting for you in the $3 bin.
Acquired: Rhino Records, Claremont Audio
25. Criminale, Volume 4 (Violenza)
I got the first Criminale compilation a few years back and wasn’t really feeling it – then again I hadn’t dipped in to the library genre of music at all. This record – very much tapping the same vein of the first three compilations – is an excellent compilation of funky, groovy and spooky library tracks featuring compositions by the most noted contributors of the genre. Every track is a sure shot, and there are beats breaks and excellent grooves all over the thing.
Acquired: Dusty Groove Audio
24. Larry Nozero – TIME
There’s mellow and then there’s MELLOW. This record, an initial rarity through Strata Records has been reissued on 180 Proof, is a mix of a few jazzed-out funk tracks (Tune for L.N. being my favorite) and breezy jazz excursions without any drums. Those tracks without drums work in certain times of my life but for me all of those times involve sleep or the process of getting ready to do so. The tracks are super-chill and demonstrate nice musicianship but they’re mostly just good for relaxing or unwinding.
Acquired: Online Audio
23. Celtic Frost – Morbid Tales
If, like me, you sometimes have a hard time connecting the current forms of extreme metal to the 1977-83 era (and further back to Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer etc) this record is a pure missing link that makes your go “ohhhhhhhh”. The debut from Black Metal pioneers (formed from their previous band Hellhammer) Celtic Frost proves a useful connection between the present and the past… and more importantly, it’s a great record. It has the raw energy and speed of many of the best punk records and comes off as “raw” without sounding crappy, as is the case with some early metal (sorry, Venom) and punk.
Acquired: Discogs Audio
22. S.O.U.L. – Can you Feel It
An absolute monster of a soul/funk record with some wound out jazz tendencies, the original is highly sought after (for good reason) and represses don’t stay in bins for long. Hell, I might buy it every time I see it in a bin just on principle! The record sounds great in terms of the recording, as you would expect from a soul record made in 1972. I’m not kidding when I say every song is good, though the title track and the slow soul torch-jam ‘To Mend a Broken Heart’ seriously catch my ear when I listen through.
Acquired: Mono Records, LA Audio
21. Redbone – Redbone
A dollar bin gem that’s an enjoyable listen throughout but is known for the excellent monster smash ‘Come and Get Your Love’ and lightly known for the equally excellent and bittersweet ‘Clouds in my Sunshine’. Like a lot of records from this era, the recording sounds great (of course, it was released in 1973) and as mentioned is easy to find given the prevalence of its hit single coupled with the fact that nothing else on the record really sounds like said hit single. It’s interesting to hear the band explore their music through the album and sums up why I love albums so much – it says a lot about range of emotion when you can excel at songs with such diametrically opposed moods as the two I mention (and the others in between).
Acquired: Zulu Records, Vancouver Audio
20. Angel Witch – Angel Witch
Like Diamond Head ‘Lighting to the Nations’ this is an influential record from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal period that influenced every thrash band whether they realize it or not. Iron Maiden, Saxon and Def Leppard are the known bands from this wave, though Judas Priest could probably be part of it as well depending on your definition. Dozens of heavier bands like Angel Witch, Diamond Head and Blitzkrieg are mostly forgotten but albums like this deserve attention. The sound on these records is part fast, aggressive and very heavy for the time, part ‘hair metal’ at least in terms of sound, with catchy riffs and high-pitched vocals the general flavor (excepting Venom). Standouts on this record are the title track and the closer ‘Angel of Death’ (not the Slayer song but still pretty great).
Acquired: online (Amazon) Audio
19. Incredible Bongo Band – Bongo Rock
If you’re reading this, you probably own this record already as this album spawned the ultimate b-boy anthems ‘Apache’ and ‘Bongo Rock’ as well as aficionado tracks ‘In a Gadda da Vida’, ‘Pipeline’ and ‘Last Bongo in Belgium’ (the drum foundation for ‘Looking down the Barrel of a Gun’ by the Beastie Boys. Because I’ve listened to those songs so much I favor ‘Okey Dokey’, a ridiculous stank-funk jam straight out of a cop flick. BUY THIS RECORD
Acquired: Fingerprints, Long Beach CA Audio
18. David Byrne – Rei Momo
An interesting excursion by David Byrne into world music and percussive rhythms, which he did quite frequently in the post-prime era of the Talking Heads. The record is pretty much what you think it is, world music with David Byrne-style vocals on top straight off a Talking Heads album. His wordplay is particularly striking on a few songs and despite my best intentions the track ‘Independence Day’ is stuck in my head like all the best hooks in pop music.
17. Diamond Head – Lightning to the Nations
Whoa, a Metallica cover band how cool! Actually of course it’s the other way around, this record is a sort of ‘Velvet Underground LP of heavy metal’ as its grooves influenced tons of heavy bands (primarily thrash) that followed, most notably Metallica (they have covered three songs from this album!). The record is excellent on its own, not just for the songs you know if you’re a Metallica fan but because this record was and is widely slept on yet its influence continues to resonate 35 years after its release. Much like the first time you heard an original tune sampled in rap and thought to yourself ‘wait someone else wrote this awesome riff?’, listening to this takes the lid off Metallica’s creative process around the classic first three albums.
16. Sheila E / Pete Escovedo / Tito Puente – Latina Familia
The names alone should be enough to let you know this record is a percussion monster, featuring three giants of percussion, playing together… and the record does not disappoint. Strong latin jazz with massive percussion breakdowns (which I probably didn’t need to tell you), this platter bombs you with percussive fury at a high intensity, letting up very little throughout (to great effect, the slow songs are equally incredible). This record is an absolute bargain at the price (it should be under $10) and might find its way onto your favorites list.
Acquired: Beautiful World Syndicate, Philly PA Audio
15. Church of Misery – Volume 1
The most important thing about Church of Misery: they are a doom metal band (think Black Sabbath’s heavy cuts) whose every song is about serial killers. If that sentence interests you, read on: this is apparently their first record – previously unreleased but given a fresh mix in 2010 and released on vinyl. Being their first (or prior-to-first album) the band doesn’t make the usual connection to serial killers in their song titles but the tracks are everything that’s right about doom metal – big, groovy mammoth riffs played slowly for vibing or rocking out. This sort of thing is my bag, baby.
Acquired: Jackpot Records, Portland Audio
14. Wilbur ‘Bad’ Bascomb – Upright Bass Riffs for DJs
Including this more as a curiosity because it’s not a record you’d really sit down and listen to – it’s nothing but ‘Bad’ Bascomb playing upright bass – no other instruments, no anything. However, those of you who make your own music and perhaps produce music based on samples might want to dig this up – Tuff City put out a series of LPs aimed at “DJs”, though the audience clearly is hip-hop producers (there’s an excellent one with horns on it as well). Again, not an album to listen to but rather an album to use for sampling… if that’s your thing.
Acquired: Penny Lane Records, Upland CA (No audio on line)
13. Bobby Byrd – I Need Help
A relentlessly smokin’ ‘live’ set from another member of the James Brown stable, though the record really plays out more like a soul revue show. As with a typical soul revue show, there is a balance between soulful, mid-tempo tracks, slow ballads and pure funk scorchers. I prefer the scorchers, and ‘I Need Help’ is a typical James Brown burner and another track that’s so hypnotic and dope you’re almost surprised it ends. Additional tracks I really dig are ‘I’m not to blame’, a slow, horn-driven track that rises throughout and ‘Hang ups we don’t need’, a stuttering funk call to arms. The record is more soul than funk, but if James Brown is your thing you need this one.
Acquired: Reckless Records, Chicago Audio
12. BadBadNotGood and Ghostface Killah – Sour Soul
Hip-hop over live instruments! I’m partial to hip hop played with an actual band (that’s what my band Big Pimp Jones was for 10 years before we went instrumental) and this record is right up my alley. The title track is freaking ridiculous – a rim shot beat plus a nasty picked riff, plus rhyme flows = the kind of track you want to just slink around to. The other standout for me is ‘Raygun’, a duet with MF Doom that switches into a spy-style instrumental for the last part of the track. That’s said the whole album is solid front to back, by this point you know what you're going to get with a Ghostface Killah record and his style fits perfectly with a band playing soulful tracks and a nice addition to anyone’s hip-hop LP collection.
Acquired: online Audio clips
11. Def Leppard – On Through the Night
The very reason my 13-year old self disliked this record (but loved High n’ Dry and Pyromania) is the reason the current version of me loves it – it’s Def Leppard before the pop glossiness of the latter two releases. This is Def Leppard in their protoplasmic form, you can hear the places they were going and the future of the band, they just weren’t there quite yet. Nice harmonies in places, but in general the record is much more raw and fast-tempo without the slick pop hooks. ‘Wasted’ is great, but the most interesting song to me is ‘When the Walls Came tumbling down’, a track that shows some Iron Maiden tendencies that sounds like no other track in their discography.
Acquired: Crossroads Record Co-op, Portland Audio
10. The Other Side – Behind the Shack
The third album ever from Desco Records (the funk label that led to Soul Fire and Daptone), this helped the ‘modern raw funk’ movement along its path. The record is chock full of raw, funky instrumentals that sound like they came from James Brown session outtakes in the early 1970s – creating a vibe that sounds equally at home on a club dancefloor and through your headphones as you study. The music is pure groove and naturally unobtrusive but funky enough to snap you out of whatever you’re doing to get down. Worth checking out for the music and for the genesis period of a musical template that would lead to the Dap-Kings and Daptone family.
Acquired: Direct from Desco Audio clips
9. Living Colour – Stain
Living Colour’s third album (and final album of their first run), this album goes largely ignored as most people remember the ubiquitous smash ‘Cult of Personality’ form their first album and perhaps ‘Type’ from the second. The band changed their lineup a bit and vented their frustrations on this record, a satisfying and diverse record with tracks equally beautiful (Nothingness), furious (Auslander and Postman) and socially demanding (Go Away, Bi). The band found a nice groove on this album, but not many people stayed around for the ride. Absolutely worth a listen for guitar rock fans.
Acquired: Tower Records, Nashville Audio clips
8. New York Trouble / Electric Progression (KPM)
Unreleased material from the KPM vaults that just saw the light of day recently, this is a two-on-one album featuring excellent library session work. Electric Progression is an interesting listen (especially for library junkies) but New York Trouble is more accessible and funkier, even though most of the music is bare-bones bass and drums. If breaks are what you’re after this record – especially the New York trouble side – delivery the goods.
Acquired: Dusty Groove, Chicago Audio clips
7. Iron Maiden – Iron Maiden
Fast and punky first effort from Iron Maiden, released in 1980. The first of two albums with singer Paul Di’Anno, it’s a fascinating listen because (1) the songs are good, (2) the sound is raw and sounds great loud, (3) you can hear the future, more sophisticated direction of the band in the longer tracks, and (4) Di’Anno isn’t a particularly good singer (he sounds like Alice Cooper). Even though you can hear the future of the band this record sounds the least like other Maiden records and has standout tracks ‘Prowler’ and ‘Running Free’.
Acquired: Factory Records, Costa Mesa CA Audio clips
6. Khemmis – Hunted
High on many heavy metal critics’ ‘best of 2016' lists, this record serves up super-heavy doom metal (slow-tempo power guitars that owe a debt to early Sabbath for those outside the genre) with varying vocal styles. The predominant style is a clear signing style reminiscent of 70s rock bands, with some death metal ‘cookie monster’ style vocals thrown in to mix things up. This record somehow manages to be very heavy without being particularly offensive to non-metal believers. I don’t know how much I’d enjoy sitting around attentively listening to this but it’s excellent music to write to and (in my case) organize your comic and record collection to.
Acquired: mail order Audio clips
5. The Git Down! (Soul City Records)
If you’re the kind of person who loves the taste of funk 45s but doesn’t want to plunk down lots of dollars for them this is a nice compilation to have in the collection. If I was a DJ I’d make a point to own this, damn nearMy favorites are ‘Do it, Do it’, a soul/funk breakdown with a super-nice break, ‘Shake That Thing’ by Wynfield Parker, a killer upbeat mid-tempo soul joint and ‘Noise with the Boys’ by Al White and the Hi-Liters (only because the intro break is so good and sloppy).
Acquired: Fingerprints Records, Long Beach CA Audio clips
4. The In Sound from Scoctopus Records
This record isn’t worth much but it’s one of my favorite ‘digging’ finds; I came across this double LP compilation of lounge, jazz, funk and library music from Italy in the bargain bin and had that whole ‘slowly getting more and more excited the more I looked at the LP’ vibe. Credited artists include Sandro Brugnolini, Amedeo Tommasi and Alessandro Alessandroni. Every track sounds great, the whole thing is a beast of a record (library beast anyway). It came out in 1997 (so it’s now 20 years old!) and cost me $3, but that $3 turned into a favorite in my collection. The jewel of the release is a special remix done for the LP of ‘Games’ by Pasquale Castiglione and Paolo Casa, and if you’re in to this genre of music this record is a bargain at its normal price.
Acquired: Josey Records, Dallas TXAudio clips
3. Budgie – Impeckable
Groovy rock by a band known as one of the first ‘heavy metal’ bands out there (they were a huge influence on early metal bands and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal). This record is from 1978 and showcases some really nice grooves and riffs. Many tracks sound ‘pure 1978 rock’ but some proto-heavy ideas are on here, the kind of ideas that were to be repeated dozens of times as heavy music itself evolved. The songs I keep coming back to are slow track ‘Don’t Go Away’, the multi-faceted groove ‘Don’t Dilute the Water’ and ‘Pyramids’, which has a faster tempo and multiple riffs.
Acquired: Puget Sounds, Seattle WA Audio clips
2. Esterno Notte
An incredible compilation of Italian library music, specifically tailored for nocturnal and urban settings. The heavyweight composers (Sorgini, Alessondroni, Umiliani) are all here with a track but the album is beginning to end good, perfect for kicking back with a glass of wine (or beer if you're me) and surrounding yourself with sound. All tracks are either previously unreleased or unreleased on vinyl so odds are there's something here for even the deepest collections. Purchased direct from Four Flies records.
Acquired: Direct from Four Flies Audio clips
1. Powerhouse - Five Plus Four
Yet another seldom-seen library funk monster from the obscure Music Library catalogs of Europe, this time from the Bruton label. Originally issued in 1975, it was re-issued in 1996 and varies its style between predominantly funk and funky jazz. Clean production all the way and tightly mic’ed buttery drums are the constant of the record.
Acquired: from Music Library vendor in Europe Audio clips