President Gerald Ford has the distinction of being the only person to hold both the office of the vice president and president without ever winning the Electoral College. He also has the distinction of having the shortest presidency without dying while in office. Lasting only 895 days, Gerald Ford was in office long enough to see some excellent music released during his administration, though.
A few of the following honorable mentions that didn’t crack the top ten are among the most loved albums of all time (and some of the best-selling): Jail Break, Thin Lizzy; 2112, Rush; Toys in the Attic, Aerosmith; Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, AC/DC; Hotel California, Eagles; Nighthawks at the Diner, Tom Waits; A Night at the Opera, Queen; Fleetwood Mac, Fleetwood Mac; Siren, Roxy Music; The Basement Tapes, Bob Dylan; Boston, Boston; Relayer, Yes.
10. The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway – Genesis
While The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway may seem longer than President Ford’s time in office; it isn’t. Don’t allow the album’s length (94+ minutes) dissuade you from listening, though. Peter Gabriel’s surrealistic dreams make for an interesting and entertaining concept album.
9. Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen’s current political preening may make him insufferable in 2017. But Born to Run is a reminder that The Boss once made some excellent music. As I previously wrote, “I’m irritated that I’m irritated by a musician whose music I’ve loved for decades.”
8. Red Headed Stranger – Willie Nelson
A country and western concept album was a bold move at the time, but it proved to be a smart move. Combining the best of fireside yarn spinning with down-home music, Willie Nelson demonstrated that country and western music needn’t be constrained by the “singles” model.
7. Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd
Track 2, “Welcome to the Machine,” is probably the most relevant and honest critique of the music industry set to music. And that’s not even the best song on the album. The just over thirteen minutes of “Shine on You Crazy Diamond, Part 1” that opens Wish You Were Here is one of the most brilliant songs ever recorded.
6. Physical Graffiti – Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin didn’t enter the studio with the intention of releasing a double album. But by virtue of the time limitations presented by the medium of vinyl and the band’s unintentional long-windedness, LZ recorded eight songs that didn’t fit on one record but also weren’t long enough to justify a double album. The solution? Include songs from previous recording sessions that didn’t make it onto previous albums. And that’s how the double album Physical Graffiti came into being.
5. Chronicle, Vol. 1 – Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Best of” lists don’t generally include greatest hits albums. However, most lists ranking albums (including this list, obviously) make an exception for Chronicle, Vol. 1. Unlike many other greatest hits albums, the tracks on Chronicle, Vol. 1 fit together seamlessly, as if they were all originally recorded together for a single album. As an aside, I don’t believe that I’ve ever met an individual under the age of eighty that doesn’t like this album.
4. Ramones – Ramones
If influence was the only variable considered for this list, Ramones may very well have landed at the number one spot. This album is the first face peeking out of the dingy, infant, NYC punk scene’s door that had been opened by Patti Smith a year earlier – just in time, too. Prog rock, although contributing some great albums over the years, had begun to be bloated and comical. And, need I mention disco? The Ramones possibly—or, most likely—probably saved rock from itself. Even if you don’t like punk music, you should at least be grateful.
3. Songs in the Key of Life – Stevie Wonder
Coming off of a highly successful three-album run that included Innervisions, Stevie Wonder released his masterpiece in 1976 and cemented himself as R&B’s reigning maestro. Songs in the Key of Life is 85+ minutes of silky smooth storytelling. Most R&B singers since are merely trying to recreate this masterpiece.
2. Horses – Patti Smith
Forty-two years old, Horses, the seminal album from punk music’s mother, ages incredibly well. Unlike most older “pop” music, it still sounds contemporary. As her debut studio album, Horses revealed Patti Smith to be a poet, powerful singer, and a creator of musical trends.
1. Blood on the Tracks – Bob Dylan
Blood on the Tracks was either inspired by Dylan’s own tumultuous marriage or Anton Chekhov. Regardless, the album resonates on a personal level that very few albums even come close to achieving. Dylan’s fifteenth album may very well be his best.