5 studio albums that could be Greatest Hits albums [by Will]
It seems these days buying CDs is becoming as archaic as buying movies on VHS. And why spend money on something you can get for free (unless your morals forbid you to pirate music)? But even then, why buy a disk when you can use the iTunes store since the music is going straight to your iPod anyway?
For whatever reason, I have a hard time thinking this way. Admittedly, few things hurt more than watching my money disappear into a stranger’s cash register, but there’s just something special about owning an album you really enjoy. But that’s the thing. How often does an album come about that you love beginning to end?
I’d argue that most artists have at most have two, maybe three, good tracks on the majority of their albums. However every so often, as we all know, comes along an album that you can play through beginning to end and belt out all the words to every track along the way. And then lower the volume at red lights and pretend like you were just yawning. I’ll share five of my favorites, but rather than running through multiple genres, to make this easier on myself, I’ll stick with five albums from the seventies.
1. The Stranger, Billy Joel (1977)
One of my all time favorite singer/songwriters. Even children who grew up hating the piano after traumatizing flashbacks of forced afternoon lessons have a favorite Billy Joel song. It should come as no surprise that Billy Joel’s fifth studio album, The Stranger, would be a memorable one when more than two thirds of the tracks on the album actually do appear on his two Greatest Hits compilations. No, it doesn’t have Piano Man on it, but if that’s the only Billy Joel song you know then when will you realize… Vienna waits for you?
It’s scary to think of the places this band could have gone if not for the plane crash that took the lives of Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines in 1977. But at least they went out on top. Their first album only paved the way to many more fantastic songs, but it’s impossible to overlook Tuesday’s Gone, Simple Man, Gimme Three Steps, Poison Whiskey and oh… Free Bird. When’s the last time you went to any concert and someone didn’t scream “FREE BIRD!” in between songs? All eight tracks on this album are great and if you like Rock music, there are few, if any, better cds to listen to while driving.
3. Led Zeppelin IV, Led Zeppelin (1971)
Eight tracks: Black Dog, Rock and Roll, The Battle Evermore, Stairway to Heaven, Misty Mountain Hop, Four Sticks, Going to California, When the Levee Breaks. Forrest Gump said it best: “That’s all I have to say about that.”
4. The Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd (1973)
This one’s too obvious. The seventh best selling album in the world and despite being 36 years old, the infamous prism logo from Dark side of the Moon’s album art is still a common poster in
college dorm rooms. But that’s the great thing about Pink Floyd. It seems like every new generation discovers the band, and the album, and it’s still inspiring people. If someone was to ask me to make them a mix of the best Pink Floyd songs, I’d just burn the entire album. Because what track could you leave out? And well, I was going to write a bunch of specific things I like about Dark Side of the Moon, but why sell an album to an audience that’s already heard it?
5. Running on Empty, Jackson Browne (1977)
While I’m slightly cheating here because Running on Empty is technically a live album, it’s unique
because none of the songs on the album were on any album before it. It’s a live album written on the road, about being on the road. And that’s exactly what it delivers. I don’t even play an instrument but after listening to Running on Empty, I feel the same elitist sense of understanding about touring on the road in the seventies that psychiatrists must have when dealing with their patients. From loneliness and women (Rosie/The Road) to drug use and traveling (Cocaine/Nothing But Time) to living the dream (The Load Out/Stay) – this album has all the emotions. And they’re revealed through some of the best written lyrics you’ll ever come across. I just wish Jackson Browne got more credit.