An email from Maureen at Joseph Beth Booksellers on the South Side that I received while vacationing in Destin:

The reason for my e-mail to you today is because we’re putting together a display here in the store surrounding the release of a Workman Press title, 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die by Tom Moon, and I’m looking to get playlists from some of the best known Pittsburghers. Basically, all I need is a list of your top five favorite CDs, the recordings that you feel everyone should hear before they die.

First, I’ll let you finish chuckling about PittGirl being considered a “best known” Burgher.

You done?

You know, it sounds easy enough … what are your five favorite CDs of all time … but seriously.  Sit down and try to do it.  Really.  Do it.  Put your list in the comments section and tell me how easy it was to come to just five.

So I got the email, thought about it, knew two CDs right away I wanted to include and then got stuck.

I posed the question to the entire PittGirl family and the sisters were like, “Tim McGraw.  Yummo!”

This dissolved immediately into a discussion of Tim McGraw’s ass and whether that ass can make leather pants look good.  I got nowhere.

But boy, you want to see my brothers-in-law in animated discussion, you either ask them about grilling meat or ask them this question about the top five CDs of all time.

“U2.  U2 without a doubt must be on that list.”

“Two words.  Garth. Brooks.”

“Garth Brooks?!  He’s so …. what the hell’s wrong with you?”

“Wait wait wait.  Pink Floyd.”


“The Eagles.”

“Not bad.”

“I got it.  I got it.  Michael Jackson.”

“Too bad he’s such a freakcase now.”

“Something from Bon Jovi?”

“Elton John!”

“Dudes.  R.E.M.”

“No.  Guys, Guns ‘n Roses.  Bam.  Right there.”

“Oh. Oh.  George.  Strait.”


I didn’t take a single one of their suggestions.

My list will be displayed at JoBeth for I guess a week or two, so if you’re around, stop in and check it out.

As for here, we’ll count down one album a day so that we can spread out over the the space of five days your chance to make fun of me for my hideous taste in music.  I can take it.

There is only one country album on my list.

Here is your first opportunity to laugh at me but only on the condition that you have actually listened to the album.  You don’t get to make fun of something you’ve never heard before.  Putting aside any political affiliation you might hold dear to your heart:

5.  Dixie Chicks.  Fly.



  1. Magnus Patris
    August 14, 2008 11:17 am

    The Who – Who’s Next
    The Who – Who Are You
    The Clash – London Calling
    The Jam – Snap!
    Rush – 2112 (Yes, geeky white-boy music, ’cause I’m a geeky white boy)

  2. Jeff the Speech Therapist
    August 14, 2008 11:23 am

    Magnus, is your real name “Keith?”

  3. bucdaddy
    August 14, 2008 11:40 am

    Kelli, Maybe we can hook up for three-four hours next time DBTs are at Small’s (not soon enough). (I’ll try to resist putting my tongue down your throat.) Only band I leave town for anymore. Glad somebody’s making rock music for adults.

    Yeah, I’m familiar with the background for “The Wind,” I just haven’t had the heart to get it and hear it. “Mr. Bad Example” is a very good record too. Also “Sentimental Hygiene.” But “Stand” is terrific.

    frittob, I gave a passing thought to “Eat’n Alive” but it’s just so poorly recorded. Then Norm went off in a country direction and I didn’t have the heart to follow.

  4. Loopy
    August 14, 2008 11:55 am

    1. Bad English – Bad English
    Self titled album, #1 on my list, dating my future wife at the time.
    2. Def Leppard – Hysteria
    every track rocks
    3. Richard Marx – Repeat offender
    Again, dating my future wife
    4. Evanescence – Fallen
    5. Metallica – Black Album

    Now, if movie scores count, then my top 5 looks VERY different.

  5. Sooska
    August 14, 2008 12:04 pm

    The whole albums I listen to regularly, which of course are my top 7, are in no particular order:

    Beatles: Abbey Road and The White Album
    Mary Chapin Carpenter: Come On,Come On and Party Doll
    Michael Franks: The Art of Tea
    Paul Simon- Graceland
    Rusted Root – When I Woke

    honorable mentions: Amy Winehouse, Springsteen’s Essentials and Linda Ronstadt’s Very Best, anything by Mike Doughty

    unsatisfied is right- I only buy songs for almost all other artists-not whole albums.

  6. Kelli
    August 14, 2008 12:13 pm

    Sounds like a plan, Bucdaddy. Whenever it is that they finally come back. They don’t visit nearly enough.

    Don’t worry – I’m not as hot as PittGirl, so I’m sure your tongue will have no trouble staying in your mouth.

    I know you taste in beer is as fancy as your taste in music – I hope you can forgive me for my Iron City habit.

  7. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
    August 14, 2008 12:27 pm

    Late to the show, but anyways:

    New Order – Substance
    U2 – Joshua Tree
    The Clash – London Calling
    Garth Brooks – The Hits

    and I know everyone is going to go “huh”, but I this is one of my absolutely all-time favorites because of its cheesiness…

    Movie soundtrack to Street of Fire (A Rock and Roll Fable.

  8. ultraviolet
    August 14, 2008 12:29 pm

    This is difficult. but, here are mine in chronological order
    lou reed – transformer
    clash – sandinista
    pixies – doolittle
    bjork – post
    of montreal – hissing fauna are you the destoyer

    very close runners up (i know thats cheating):
    sigur ros – Ágætis Byrjun, radiohead – ok computer, and pretty much everything with Jon Spencer/Blues Explosion

    and yes, people still listen to full albums. in the age of ipods its the one scrap of sanity music lovers can still hold onto.

  9. Jeff the Speech Therapist
    August 14, 2008 12:41 pm

    “Streets of Fire?” The one with Willem Dafoe?

    That’s such a great movie!

  10. Heather
    August 14, 2008 12:45 pm

    These are the first 5 CDs that come to mind as ones that I can listen to from the first to last track without skipping songs.

    Licensed to Ill – The Beastie Boys
    Appetite for Destruction – GnR
    Thriller – Michael Jackson
    Purple Rain – Prince & the Revolution
    Doggystyle – Snoop Dogg

    I also have a holiday list (I know…I’m a dork)

    A Charlie Brown Christmas – Vince Guaraldi Trio
    Merry Christmas – Mariah Carey
    Christmas Portrait – The Carpenters
    A Winter Romance – Dean Martin
    Elvis’ Christmas Album – Elvis Presley

  11. A Model Citizen
    August 14, 2008 12:46 pm

    In no particular order:

    the clash-the clash (uk version)
    Beatles-White Album
    Operation Ivy-Energy
    Stiff Little Fingers-Inflammable Material
    Desmond Dekker-Best of
    just missed: AC/DC, Rancid, the Who, Stones, Zepplin

    and I must say, some excellent other choices! Pixies, Dinosaur Jr, GBV, Sex Pistols…Some of you have great taste

  12. Brian
    August 14, 2008 12:46 pm

    Ultraviolet, great, great list. And I love “Hissing Fauna.”

  13. efw_west
    August 14, 2008 12:50 pm

    1) U2 – Joshua Tree
    2) REM – Automatic for the People
    3) Bruce Springsteen – The Rising
    4) K.D. Lang – Ingenue
    5) Nirvanna – Nevermind

  14. parking chair
    August 14, 2008 12:52 pm

    this is the hardest list ever. and yes, i agree – compilations are for cheaters. because i am such a child of the 80’s (the Metropol/Graffiti crowd), I have to be fair and do 2 top 5’s. one from that era and one for eveyrhting outside the golden age of alternative music. even doing that, my list would be a chameleon, changing every day depending on my mood.

    80’s alternative list:

    1. the smiths – the queen is dead
    2. the cure – the head on the door
    3. joe jackson – look sharp
    4. r.e.m. – reckoning
    5. echo & the bunnymen – ocean rain

    just missed the cut:
    psychedelic furs – forever now
    depeche mode – music for the masses
    new order – brotherhood

    everything else list:

    ben kweller – ben kweller
    bob marley & the wailers – exodus
    lloyd cole – love story
    idlewild – the remote part
    sarah vaughn – sings george gershwin

    just missed the cut:

    jellyfish – spilt milk
    lyle lovett – lyle lovett & his large band
    matthew sweet – girlfriend
    radiohead – pablo honey
    the sundays – reading, writing & arithmetic
    trash can sinatras – cake

    as for garbage like Josh Groban and Nickelback, I heard a comic once put it best:

    “I hear a lot of older people saying that listening to rock music leads to violence. And i always thought was bullshit.

    But now i think it might be true. Because every time I hear Nickelback – it makes me want to kill Nickelback.”

  15. Molly
    August 14, 2008 12:56 pm

    My top five:

    1) Scorpions – Love at First Sting
    2) Indigo Girls – Indigo Girls
    3) Brandy – Never Say Never
    4) Purple Rain – Prince & The Revolution (Agreed, Heather!)
    5) Blues Traveler – Blues Traveler

  16. DeutschtownFrau
    August 14, 2008 1:18 pm

    My rock choices would be pretty conventional, and really, why not branch out a little bit into other genres?

    Alison Krauss & Union Station — Now That I’ve Found You

    Kirk Franklin — God’s Property

    Soundtrack for Robert Duvall’s “The Apostle”

    anything by George Shearing

    Brahms Piano Trios — The Beaux Arts Trio
    (Who can listen to the first 32 measures of the B minor trio without eyes welling with tears? The whole piece — don’t let your attention wander during the slow movement — is for me — I’m not exaggerating — the epitome of Western civilization. More even than the Beethoven 9th. This is it. Don’t just listen to it, memorize it. Takes hold of despair and kicks its ass to kingdom come.)

  17. Tony N
    August 14, 2008 1:54 pm

    1. Meat Loaf-Bat Out Of Hell
    2. AC/DC-High Voltage, Let There Be Rock, High Voltage (I can’t decide)
    3. Blackfoot-Highway Song Live
    4. Georgia Satellites-Let It Rock (Best of)
    5. Warren Zevon-The Wind. It’s impossible to listen to this album without being moved. Kudos to Kelli and Bucdaddy for the Zevon discussion. Far too many people know him only for Werewolves of London.

    Special Mention: Stevie Ray Vaughan-all of them, live and otherwise.

    Bubbling under the top 5: (ie. those I couldn’t not mention)
    6. The Cars-The Complete Collection
    7. ZZ Top-Eliminator
    8. Joan Jett-Up Your Alley
    9. Boston-Boston
    10. Albert Collins/Johnny Copeland/Robert Cray-Showdown
    11. Norman Nardini-It’s Alive It’s a cryin’ shame this guy never got more famous than he did.

  18. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
    August 14, 2008 2:07 pm

    @Jeff the Speech Therapist — you are correct sir. Such a steller cast — besides Willem, you have Bill Paxton, Vingh Raimes, Rick Moranis, Diane Lane (who throws a hissy fit anytimes she’s asked about it), Amy Madigan, Mykelti Williamson (Bubba from Forest Gump) and the great Michael “Eddie and the Cruisers” Pare. I dare you to find a better sledge hammer fight in another movie.

  19. Thee Dude
    August 14, 2008 2:08 pm

    I am astonished that the Pittsburgh band Robespierre is not in any of the lists. :(

  20. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
    August 14, 2008 2:09 pm

    oooo, and I forgot about Rick Rossovich of Top Gun/ER fame. I have no idea why a sequel was never made.

  21. Sarah
    August 14, 2008 2:11 pm

    1) The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper
    2) Jimmy Buffett – Meet me in Margaritaville
    3) Sarah McLaughlan – Solace
    4) Regina Spektor – Begin to Hope

    And as for 5? I’m not sure… Clearly, something. But this is a really hard notion.

  22. lovesthenorthside
    August 14, 2008 2:12 pm

    no compilations! that’s cheating, and if you care to “debate,” i moon in your general direction.

    however, i admire you, pg, for choosing 5, even if you did pick compilations. it isn’t easy. since i’m not a famous pittsburgher, i picked 10 and this only scratches the surface.

    fountains of wayne, traffic & weather
    james taylor, jt
    jill sobule, jill sobule
    harvest, neil young
    old 97’s, hit by a train
    the shins, oh inverted world
    steely dan, aja
    stevie wonder, songs in the key of life
    kanye west, the college dropout
    outkast, speakerboxx/the love below

    i never get tired of little feat, waiting for columbus but since it’s a live album, it could be a compilation.

  23. Sarah
    August 14, 2008 2:12 pm

    And sometimes I can’t spell artists names.

    Sarah McLachlan.

    Goodness, I need a nap

  24. Moe the Dog
    August 14, 2008 2:14 pm

    Here I go, in no particular order…

    David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

    The Replacements – Tim

    John Lennon – The Very Best of John Lennon

    Elastica – Elastica

    Public Enemy – Fear of a Black Planet

  25. Magnus Patris
    August 14, 2008 2:43 pm

    Five albums if you could never come back to Pittsburgh:

    Donnie Iris – Back on the Streets
    Rusted Root – Send Me On My Way
    The Clarks – Between Then and Now
    The Silencers – Rock n’ Roll Enforcers (Just for Peter Gunn Theme, if nothing else)
    Jimmy Psihoulis – The Steelers Polka ; )

  26. Spud's dad
    August 14, 2008 3:05 pm


    Mozart, Le Nozze di Figaro, Act IV, “L’ho perduta, me meschina”; “Contessa, perdono”/”Piú docile io sono”

    Beethoven String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Op. 132, Molto Adagio, “Heiliger Dankgesang…”

    Brahms String Sextet No. 1 in B-flat Major, Op. 18, Andante, Ma Moderato

    Finzi Eclogue in F Major for Piano and String Orchestra, Op. 10

  27. Dave
    August 14, 2008 3:41 pm

    it is hard to come up with just 5, but here goes (in no particular order)

    – G n’ R – Appetite for Destruction
    – Metallica – S&M
    – Tristania – Illumination
    – Vivaldi – Four Seasons
    – Within Temptation – The Silent Force

  28. rach
    August 14, 2008 3:44 pm

    1. Guns N Roses: Use Your Illusion I

    2. Led Zeppelin: Physical Graffiti

    3. AC/DC: High Voltage

    4. Black Sabbath: Paranoid

    4. Iron Maiden: Powerslave

    No country. Ever.

  29. Jeff the Speech Therapist
    August 14, 2008 5:10 pm

    @ex-pat PGirl–

    I watched this with my dad in like, my NES hey-day and was thinking that it’d’ve made a great video game. I like that the princess-rescuing was only the beginning of the movie, and that Rick Moranis was such a TOOL in that movie instead of the Nerd he’s perpetually cast as.

    And agreed to the hammer fight.

  30. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
    August 14, 2008 5:54 pm

    @Jeff the ST — there actually is a game based on. The classic arcade game Final Fight is pretty much the video game version of the movie.

  31. Kater
    August 14, 2008 6:01 pm

    I personally can’t believe there’s only one person with Beck as a part of their list. (And ‘Jack-Ass’ is a good tune, you just have to be in the mood for it. Like a lot of his music. The sampling of Van Morrison’s ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’ is beautiful, and no one else could do it but Beck.) I know he went all Scientology on our asses, but the man’s still a genius. I’ve loved his stuff since back in the day when I was the only kid with a copy of Steropathetic Soulmanure. …come to think of it, I probably still am…

  32. Goob
    August 14, 2008 6:31 pm

    In no particular order:

    * _Mule Variations_ – Tom Waits

    * _Uncommon Ritual_ – Edgar Meyer, Bela Fleck, Mike Marshall

    * _Motets_ (Machaut) – The Hilliard Ensemble

    * _New Favorite_ – Allison Krauss & Union Station

    * _Endtroducing…_ – DJ Shadow

  33. Xena
    August 14, 2008 8:05 pm

    I tried to avoid compilations but Springsteen’s really feels like a body of work rather than a “greatest hits.”

    Van Morrison–Moondance

    Bruce Springsteen–The Essentials

    The Beatles–Rubber Soul

    Willie Nelson–Willie and Family Live

    Mary Chapin Carpenter–Come on, Come On

    for jazz, Stanley Turrentine (Pittsburgh guy)–Upstairs at Minton’s

  34. Xena
    August 14, 2008 8:06 pm

    Oh, and PS–“Fly” is a great cd.

  35. Stacey in AZ
    August 14, 2008 9:43 pm

    Jeff – AMEN on Radiohead’s OK Computer. Best. Ever. Period. This was released 10 years ago and still sounds ahead of its time.

    GNR – Appetite for Destruction
    Pearl Jam – Ten
    Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced?
    Stevie Ray Vaughn – Live at Montreux

    Honorable mentions to Prince – Purple Rain, Rage Against the Machine (self-titled), and for compilations I love The Very Best of Marvin Gaye and The Beatles: 1967-1970

  36. Still A. Fan
    August 14, 2008 11:05 pm

    pittgirl…..compilations? huh? what? HUH? (sigh). Compilations should never ever be used when discussing lists of albums.

    I speak for my people – males in the age band of 37-40. From the time I purchased KISS Alive II in 3rd grade and played it on an orange suitcase record player with a quarter taped to the end of the needle arm, to listening to an iPod while at work kicking out Audioslave and Velvet Revolver to name a few….. I give you, my list. Note: it is not filled with “look how cool I am” titles which some people throw out (especially celebrities on iTunes) just to sound cool or “in the know” – I know those bands too – but when the chips are down – which discs can I play over and over and over…not right now, but 10 years from now and forever….and they just keep kicking ass with every play….

    In No Particular Order

    Pearl Jam – 10
    Nine Inch Nails – Pretty Hate Machine
    U2 – The Joshua Tree
    The Cure – Disintegration
    Led Zeppelin – II

    Honorable Mention

    Rush – Moving Pictures
    AC/DC – Back In Black
    Buddy Guy – Damn Right I Got The Blues
    Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes
    The Beastie Boys – Licensed To Ill
    Radiohead – Pablo Honey
    Leslie West – Guitarded

    And as far as Christmas Albums Go….I’m not sure if Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Trilogy has ever been topped with Christmas Eve and Other Stories being my favorite of the three.

    Would I sound dated if I said if forced to name my favorite compilation it would be Foreignor – Records?

  37. Dash
    August 14, 2008 11:36 pm

    Whew, this was tougher than I thought, but here we go (in no particular order)

    (1) Mercury Living Presence – Tchaikovski 1812 Festival Overture. The best recording of this great piece ever.

    (2) Enya – Watermark. Still the CD that I listen too when I must calm down. Just beautiful

    (3) Clann an Drumma – Tried and True. Gotta Have some Bagpipe music, and this is some of the best

    (4) Johnny Cash – American IV: The Man Comes Around. A great singer singing some of his best, most emotionally charged stuff.

    (5) Lynyrd Skynyrd – Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd. Just about every song on this one is a classic.

    Now you’ve caught me on a mellow day. Another day might have Dropkick Murphys, AC/DC, Early Metalica, Kiss and Twisted Sister. What can I say, my musical tastes change quicker and more drastically than a woman’s moods! :)

  38. MountaineerHoo
    August 14, 2008 11:46 pm

    This is too difficult! *sigh* In no particular order…

    Dixie Chicks — Taking the Long Way (Fly is fantastic, but I think they reached a whole other level with their latest)
    the soundtrack to Cabaret (please don’t kill me!)
    Sarah McLachlan — Mirrorball
    Bruce Springsteen — The Rising
    Coldplay — A Rush of Blood to the Head

    I spent entirely too long thinking of that. And I’m not satisfied leaving out Billy Joel, U2, or DMB.

  39. Burghthing
    August 15, 2008 9:02 am

    Alright, here goes nothing…

    Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon (obviously)
    Elvis’ Oliver’s Army
    Zevon’s My Ride’s Here

    Both of those last 2 could have been replaced by a Greatest Hits collection, but I was trying to stay in the spirit of the thing.

    The last 2, I had to go the GH route.

    Dead’s Skeletons in the Closet &
    Frankie Yankovic’s Greatest Hits!

    How can anyone NOT be happy listening to a good polka?

  40. Kathleen in Moon
    August 15, 2008 9:05 am

    King Crimson — Discipline
    Beck — Mutations
    Peter Gabriel — Passion (Soundtrack from Last Temptation of Christ)
    California Guitar Trio — Invitation
    Morphine — Best of 1992-1995

  41. DeutschtownFrau
    August 15, 2008 9:11 am

    @ Spud’s Dad — Thanks! You’ve given me a couple of new things to find and listen to particularly the Finzi — completely unfamiliar.

    My list would never include any opera, but that’s just me.

    Since you only chose four, I’ll stick something at the end of your list: the complete Rachmaninoff piano preludes as recorded by Barbara Nissman. (Her technique and sound are so huge that I thought she was a man till I found out otherwise. And she’s local.)

  42. bucdaddy
    August 15, 2008 9:20 am

    Kelli, There are worse things to drink (A-B product, for instance). Small’s has a decent beer supply, we’ll work within those parameters.

    Also, I neglected to h/t you on Dinosaur Jr. I’m not real big on guitar-wanking, but J came through town with the Fog a couple years ago and me and maybe 49 other people who showed up I think enjoyed it a lot. I really like his guitar sound, very sweet. Saw Jr. once, opened for Neil Young.

    Dash, h/t on the Murphys. Would like to see them if they ever pass through.

    And h/t to all the other Zevon fans.

    Hi, Hoo, good to see you again.

  43. Eden
    August 15, 2008 9:34 am

    1. Rumours (Fleetwood Mac)

    2. Highly Evolved (The Vines)

    3. The Invisible Band (Travis)

    4. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (The Beatles)

    5. Jesus Christ Superstar (20th anniversary recording)

    Just five ;)

  44. Sofa King
    August 15, 2008 11:43 am

    I love what I’m seeing so far from everyone…tons of good records listed here and not a lot of pretense. I’m with Still A. Fan, I can’t take trend-humping hipsters who jump on the bandwagon of any “here and now” group that the alternative media forces on them. We can thank pseudo-elitist schmucks like that for the current “nu-nu-wave” rock revival that’s going on.

    Unfortunately, I still have not grabbed a copy of Zevon’s “The Wind,” but I heard it in its entirety a few years back on a radio special. It gave me chills…still does, just thinking about it. I can’t think of anything more powerful than a dying man trying to encapsulate all of his fears, wishes, and regrets on one final work. Just incredible…

  45. Still A Fan
    August 16, 2008 8:04 am

    sofa king….i am seeking out that cd just on your description. thanks. i LOVE me some music.

    sort of on topic plug…over on my site (click name) a few articles down is a link to KISS tribute site that my good friend belongs to. they redid songs with a different take on them and we did Beth up-tempo. I just played drums, but I’m happy with the track since we did it in different cities and then he mixed everything.

  46. REHuntJr
    August 18, 2008 1:47 pm

    Unbelievably tough task …

    1) U2 — The Joshua Tree
    2) Bruce — The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle
    3) The Clash — London Calling
    4) The Who — Who’s Next
    5) REM — Automatic For The People

    Can’t believe I have to leave off … Van Morrison, Warren Zevon, Prince, Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, Queen, …

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