My Top 20 Albums

I have compiled a list of my favorite 20 albums. These are all bands and performers that have influenced me greatly over the years.

Blonde on Blonde – Bob Dylan
I just love the mood of this album. It has some of his most beautiful love songs and lyrics. For me, it represents Dylan at his peak both lyrically and musically. It ranges from folk ballads to dirty blues to driving rock and roll. I love listening to this album on a dark, rainy day.

Revolver – Beatles
I think this album contains some of the most obscure Beatle's songs. Many of the tunes on this album are not songs you would normally hear on the radio and I like that. It also represents the beginning of their psychedelic and experimental phase. I like all the backwards tape looping on it. It is also very electric guitar driven!

Disraeli Gears – Cream
This album is also very psychedelic and definitely showcases Clapton's genius on the guitar. On this album in particular, Clapton makes heavy use of the "Woman Tone" which can best be described as a sweet, crying sound. This is one of my favorite guitar tones of all time. There isn't a bad song on this album and definitely helped shape me as a guitar player.

The Beano Album – John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers
This album also highlights Clapton's early style of playing. This is the first blues album I ever bought and probably the first album to really touch me as a musician. I used to spend hours playing along to it and trying to get that warm sustain that Clapton had. On many of the songs, you can feel Clapton just letting it all out. Every feeling of joy, anger and heartbreak. He isn't holding back at all.

Truth – Jeff Beck
I love the complete rawness of this album. Jeff Beck's guitar along with Rod Stewart's vocals are just a perfect combination. It's raw, heavy and sexy. I also love this album because it is one of the rare appearances of Beck playing a Les Paul as he switched to playing Stratocasters right after this. This album should definitely be played loud!

All Things Must Pass – George Harrison
I've always felt a connection to George both musically and personally. I really find his spirituality and viewpoint on life to be very interesting. I think his songs definitely reflect that on this album. Many of the songs are spiritual and probably are an insight as to what was going on at this point in his life. George is also one of my favorite guitarists and I find his slide technique to be very fascinating. I like that at times his tone doesn't even sound like a guitar but instead sounds like a vocalist or a horn.

In The Wee Small Hours – Frank Sinatra
The way Sinatra sings about lost love and heartbreak on this album is incredible. You can feel every lyric and every note he is singing. Frank was no doubt going through a tough period in his life when he recorded this record and I love that as an artist he expresses himself through song so very convincingly.

Calling Card – Rory Gallagher
This is the first Rory Gallagher album I bought so it's kind of sentimental to me. Gallagher is one of my favorite guitarists of all time and this album demonstrates everything I love about his music. Great songs, lyrics and musicianship all together. It's a very diverse album too with songs ranging from heavy rock, blues, jazz and ragtime.

Blues From Laurel Canyon – John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers
This album reminds me of a time I spent driving around LA and Laurel Canyon. It brings back some great memories and whenever I hear it I am brought back to that particular time and place. The album is sort of loosely based on the time John Mayall spent in LA and all the fun adventures he had. It's a very entertaining album and is perfect for just cruising around on a sunny day. Mick Taylor plays some brilliant guitar as well and his tone is rich and warm. The guitar isn't the showcase on the album but it is there in all the right spots. Every time I hear him play, it leaves me wanting more.

Fillmore East – Allman Brothers
I love live albums. In the case of the Allman Brothers they are meant to be heard live. This is their natural habitat and where they are most musically free, stretching out and demonstrating their improvisational abilities. The album perfectly captures the band on a night where they were definitely on the top of their game. I love listening to Dicky Betts and Duane Allman play off each other. It doesn't sound like they are competing against each other at all. Just making music.

Blue Train – John Coltrane
This record is just burning with solos and as a musician you just want to put the instrument down and listen. Very soulful playing from everyone and of course you can never go wrong with Coltrane.

Houses of the Holy – Led Zeppelin
This record brings me back to my early teens when I first started listening to rock. It truly is an amazing album. The band was at an extremely creative stage in their career and this record really shows that. They were dabbling in a bunch of different genres which include reggae, folk, rock, funk and psychedelia.

The Doors – The Doors
This is one of the best debut albums of all time. It's an album that never grows old and sounds fresh and exciting each time I listen to it. Whenever I hear songs on this album, my mind conjures up images of LA in the '60's. They had an unusual sound for that time too. Robby Krieger brings out those flamenco-jazz like guitar lines. John Densmore utilizing many jazz and latin percussion techniques. Ray Manzarek providing those carnival like organ passages. Then of course there is Jim Morrison as the charismatic singer and frontman who created so much excitement because you never knew what to expect.

Get Yer Ya Ya's Out – Rolling Stones
Because I love live albums I had to include this one. The Stones sound so raw and full of energy. Some of the tunes may sound a bit unpolished at times but that is what makes it so great. I love the merging of styles between Mick Taylor and Keith Richards. They are such different players with a different approach to the instrument which definitely adds to the bands sound.

Pet Sounds – Beach Boys
This is such a beautiful album. It always brings me a happy feeling every time I listen to it because you can tell its creator Brian Wilson was making music from his heart. He knew exactly the sound he wanted and was determined to do what it took to get the collection of sounds he wanted onto the record.

Layla – Derek & the Dominos
This album features two of my favorite guitarists just digging deep into their repertoire and giving it all they had. It sounds like they were always pushing each other on this album. This album I think has some of Clapton's most heartfelt songs. He is another artist where you can feel every note he's singing and playing.

Live at the Regal – B.B. King
One of the greatest tones of all time. I love King's vocals and the way he tells those stories is amazing. You can definitely feel the powerful connection between him and the audience. Even when he plays just two notes, you can hear women shouting and and screaming his name. He's got that magical tone that's just ringing off the walls of that theater.

Crosby, Stills & Nash – 1st Album
Another album that reminds me of LA in the 60's. Stephen Still plays some amazing guitar on this record. Really great acoustic and electric guitar playing. A fine example of the late 60's and early 70's folk rock sound.

My Labors – Nick Gravenites with Mike Bloomfield
Bloomfield is just a monster guitar player and especially on this album. He sprinkles that amazing tone all over this record. It's a live album too! I love Nick Gravenites voice as well. The record has a brass section which really pushes Bloomfield's guitar playing. I've always thought he played guitar like a horn player so it's cool to hear.

Forever Changes – Love
This record and this band are not very well known but I think this album could be in the ranks of Sgt. Pepper as well as any other amazing album that was released in 1967. Love employs string sections, loud and fuzzy guitars and strange lyrics. There is also some very interesting acoustic guitar work too. I think this band was very talented and this is one of their masterpieces.