OK -- you're going to be stuck on a desert island and can only have 10 albums to last you the rest of your life.
Whatcha gonna bring? No box sets allowed, although multidisc single titles are OK.
Here's mine (in no particular order) --
1. Brian Wilson “Live At The Roxy
This one is in order; this is my all-time favorite album. Brian’s in excellent voice here, and his backup band, The Wondermints, supports him
better than even The Beach Boys did. Musical selections cover the highlights of Brian’s Beach Boys and solo careers, standouts are “How Deep is
the Ocean,” “Darlin’,” and the Instrumental “Pet Sounds.” A running highlight throughout the album is hearing what high spirits the
normally stage-frozen Brian Wilson is in. What a blast it must’ve been to be there. Thank God for this record.
2. The Beach Boys “The Pet Sounds Sessions
The greatest pop music album of the rock era. It’s a beautiful and heartbreaking work of art, its composer, Brian Wilson, calls it “a teenage
symphony to God.” Highlights are the stunning “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and the heartbreaking “Caroline, No.” Paul McCartney, who routinely
gives this record as a gift, claims that no one’s musical education is complete without hearing “Pet Sounds.” This three-disk set not only
contains Brian's stereo remastering, but stacks and stacks of alternate backing tracks, vocals, and other fascinating minutia.
3. Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner, et al. “Star Trek -- The Astral Symphony
Goldsmith’s score for the first Star Trek film was rightly called a symphony. This album combines the best of his and James Horner’s work in the
early part of the movie series. It represents some of the best American symphonic music composed in the last half of the 20th century. It’s also
way-beautiful space music, perfect for listening during those starry starry nights on that desert island.
4. Talking Heads “Remain In Light
I had to include music by Brian Eno. This collaboration with David Byrne is a masterpiece. Both musically and lyrically complex, it mixes African
rhythms with ’80s American New Wave rock, achieving a kind of ecstatic groove that is almost spiritual in its intensity.
5. Sir Adrian Boult (conducting) Gustav Holst -- “The Planets
“The Planets” is my favorite orchestral work, and Boult’s work here with the London Philharmonic Orchestra is the best recording extant. Boult
was a student of Holst, and worked for him at the beginning of his career, so he had a special insight into how this material should sound. He
especially nails the delicate choral work on “Neptune.”
6. David Arnold “Tomorrow Never Dies” (Original Film Score)
Being the James Bond that I am, I couldn’t very well make a list and not include some James Bond music. David Arnold writes the best John Barry
scores that John Barry never wrote, and this, a rerelease of the entire score, sans the vocals, is his best. The most consistently Bondy of all the
Bond film scores.
7. The Beatles “1966-1970
Like James Bond, the Beatles represent something of my culture and of my childhood. I’m choosing this half of the compilation mostly because this
phase of the Beatles career was musically richer; “A Day in the Life” and “Across the Universe” are two songs that I require on my desert
8. Frank Sinatra “Sings the Select Cole Porter
Cole Porter is the god of popular music, and Frank Sinatra is his prophet. Most of these recordings are from the apex of Sinatra’s career: his
recordings for Capitol Records featuring those great arrangements by Nelson Riddle. This is absolutely essential stuff.
9. Laika and the Cosmonauts “Instruments of Terror
I love surf music, and this Finnish combo is the best surf band in the world. This is deceptively simple stuff, played with consummate musicianship
and exquisite taste. This particular album contains the song “Endless Summer,” a perfect gem of instrumental rock, polished to a high sheen.
10. Stan Kenton “Kenton in Hi-Fi
Largely forgotten today except for by big-band aficionados, Stan Kenton, in his day, was a hugely popular and controversial bandleader. A lot of
people just didn’t “get” him, but to modern ears, his music just seems like really great jazz. This album was kind of a “greatest hits”
project as the recording industry was changing from mono to stereo as a standard. “Intermission Riff,” “The Peanut Vendor,” and “Eager
Beaver” are now all standards, and “Concerto To End All Concertos” is the type of symphonic magnum opens that Kenton enjoyed confounding the
fuddie-duddies with. Way-cool, inventive, exciting, noisy big-band jazz.
That's all I'm allowed; I think I've chosen wisely. How about you?