My Top Five

Brian Golden

One of my favorite actors, all-time, has got to be John Cusack. I honestly can’t think of one movie I’ve seen him in that I didn’t like, but one of the best has got to be High Fidelity. I’m singling this one out because throughout the movie, Cusack, Jack Black and Todd Louiso, while working in Cusack’s record store, are constantly running Top Five lists. Even the movie’s main plot line revolves around Rob’s (Cusack) top five break-ups. So in honor of John Cusack and High Fidelity, I’m blogging my own top five, my top five favorite albums of all time (at least for today).
Number Five: “Already Free” – The Derek Trucks Band (2009) Many people I speak to have never even heard of the DTB, and that is a crying shame. This band, and guitarist Derek Trucks in particular, have matured with every album they produce. This, their sixth, starts with a bang and just keeps on coming. One of the most emotional and heartfelt studio performances I’ve ever heard.

Number Four: “Dose” – Gov’t Mule (1998) The second album by the original three members of the Mule, and next to last album with bassist Allen Woody. This album is the epitome of a three-piece band recording “live” in the studio. Raw, unfiltered blues/rock performed by three masters of their respective instruments. “Thorazine Shuffle”, “Blind Man in the Dark” and a cover of the Beatle’s “He Said, She Said” particularly stand out. Listening to this album takes me back in time.

Number Three: “At Fillmore East” – The Allman Brothers Band (1971) Blistering two CD set which captures the original band at the height of their powers. Instrumentally one of the best live albums ever produced. Duane Allman and Dickey Betts play with such unique ability that a true fan has no problem discerning which guitar is which, and yet they mesh perfectly. Gregg Allman showcases why he is one of the best white blues singers ever, and Berry Oakley’s bass guitar is so good, well, let’s just say he will always be missed (not that current bassist O’teil Burbridge isn’t amazing, he is).

Number Two: “Couldn’t Stop the Weather” – Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble (1984) It was a tough choice between this and “In Step”, but I had to go with this, Stevie’s second album, if for no other reason because of the band’s cover of Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)”. This entire album is one big lesson in tone, ability, performance and soul. One of the greatest guitarists to ever live, Stevie literally saved the blues. Stevie is one of the only guitar players to revolutionize the way the instrument is played (along with Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads and a few others).

Number One: “Electric Ladyland” – The Jimi Hendrix Experience (1968) The third and final album by Hendrix and the Experience represents the culmination of the group’s studio efforts. A dazzling display of raw power mixed with angelic musings, this album, and Hendrix himself, changed the way music was recorded, composed, performed and experienced (no pun intended). Hendrix was the master, and it’s amazing how his legacy has remained so strong through the years (in fact, there is a new CD being released in the near future, including previously unheard studio recordings). Like others before him, the impact Hendrix had on music worldwide cannot be underestimated. In all honesty, music would not be the same today if it were not for his contributions.

That’s a wrap folks, keep an eye out for future “Top Fives” and don’t forget to support live music wherever you may reside. In the words of Jimi Hendrix, “If I don’t see you again in this world, I’ll see you in the next one, don’t be late.”