aNewDomain — Like just about everyone else in the world, I am a music lover. As a member of the baby boom generation, my tastes in music gravitate toward what I would call rock and roll. Of course, I like the classic British Invasion rock groups like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who and The Kinks. And the great American bands and artists like Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Allman Brothers and The Eagles are all on my playlists.
But there are five great albums that remain on every MP3-playing device I own that I am willing to bet most of you have never heard of until now. Expand your musical horizons and take a listen to some good music created by someone outside of your normal comfort zone.
Five Albums for the Road
1. The Backsliders: Throwing Rocks at the Moon
I first saw the Backsliders, a band from North Carolina, on a warm summer night in Louisville, Kentucky on the banks of the Ohio River in Waterfront Park. It was a free concert and the Backsliders were the opening act. Joe Ely was the headliner.
The Backsliders put on a heck of a show and I went out and bought the Throwing Rocks at the Moon album soon after the concert. Some would call the album country music, but it is not the generic paint-by-numbers production that passes for country music these days.
2. Bad Livers: Industry & Thrift
It is difficult to classify the music produced by Bad Livers, but if forced to give it a name, I would call it “experimental bluegrass.” Danny Barnes is the head cook and bottle washer for the Bad Livers and he is willing to try just about anything when it comes to making music.
Want an example? The first song on the Industry & Thrift album, “Lumpy, Beanpole & Dirt,” is played with only three instruments: a banjo, a tuba and a percussion kit. Let’s see you work with that, Kanye.
I am fudging a bit on this choice, because the reality is that every single album produced by Webb Wilder is on my MP3 player, always. I picked Doo Dad because it is the one I heard first. This is foot-stomping, toe-tapping rock and roll at its very best. When you see me singing in my car waiting for the light to change, it is very likely I am singing a song from this album — I can’t help it.
For the record, I have adopted the Webb Wilder credo: “Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard, grow big, and wear glasses if you need them.”
Of all the albums on this list, this is the one I think at least some of you might have heard before. Hard Line was my personal choice for Grammy Album of the Year in 1985. It wasn’t nominated, of course, but it is by far the one I listen to most often. Yes, even more than Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA.
By the way, I want to take this opportunity to mention Dave Alvin — he is an American musical treasure and you should listen to his music whenever you can.
The V-Roys made a total of two albums in the mid-1990s with Just Add Ice being the first in 1996. This is a great driving album full of catchy riffs and playful lyrics. I wish the band could have stuck together for a while longer, but that’s rock and roll.
Scott Miller has continued to make some fantastic music since the breakup and he is definitely someone you should check out.
Good Music is Out There
Okay, here is my quick list of five great albums I never leave off my MP3 player. What are your five? Are they the same five as all of your friends or do you dance to the beat of a different drummer? If you claim to have known all five of my album choices before today — tell me how you discovered them.
For aNewDomain, I’m Mark Kaelin.
Photo Credit: Tom Comet 2009 courtesy of Webb Wilder
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Beth Herzhaft under CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
Featured Image: Courtesy of Moehre1992 via Wikimedia Commons
Some great suggestions here. Thanks. The best music never makes it to the radio for a reason…