1. Miles Davis, Kind of Blue. Kind of Blue is the greatest album of all time. I really believe that. Obviously, I haven't listened to all of them, and there may be some obscure release sitting in the bargain bin of a used record store in a back alley in Cleveland that would impress me even more, but I kind of doubt it. Think about it: what's the greatest album in the history of rock 'n' roll? I certainly have my opinion, but there would be a lot of debate, and if you asked 10 rock critics you'd probably get 8 different answers. But ask 10 jazz experts to name the greatest album in jazz history, and I think they'd all say the same thing.
Kind of Blue was recorded and released 50 years ago this year, but sounds completely timeless. An album for the ages if there ever was one, with a sound that's elemental, pure, complete. It came out around the dawn of rock 'n' roll, and has had a lasting influence on rock, jazz, and other musical styles. And it was recorded in two sessions, with minimal rehearsal. That's right: two sessions. Like Miles Davis had simply tapped into the primal fountainhead of music and let it pour out of his trumpet, or something like that.
Well, I could wax on for hours about this album, without ever really going anywhere, but I will end my Top 50, this nearly year-long endeavor, by asking my many readers out there to just go listen to it. If you've never listened to Kind of Blue before ... what the hell is wrong with you???And if you haven't listened to it in a while, then it's time to catch up. And even if you listened to it recently ... were you really listening? Or was it just playing in the background while you drove to work or made dinner? C'mon, go really listen to it.
As for completing the Top 50, I have to admit it's a bittersweet moment. I never thought it would take this long, or be so taxing. But I really did rediscover some of the things I loved about my favorite albums. And I took pleasure in the fact that nobody was able to guess what Number One would be, despite the clue. (Did anyone figure that out, by the way? You know, "Godzilla," like the song by Blue Oyster Cult. Blue Oyster Cult -> Kind of Blue. Simple.) Some might say that Brian actually did guess it, when he aired his grievance with my Number Three selection; but no, he didn't really. He was just being snarky. And if you're impressed that he at least came close, don't be. I lived with the guy for something like half my adult life, and never tried to hide anything from him. He knows my tastes, and I know his. I could even tell you what would be Number One on his list if he ever put together his own Top 50: Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King by the Dave Matthews Band. He just can't get enough of it ...
I also know that some of you out there will take issue with the fact that I chose a black artist for my Number One pick. And not only that, for Number Four as well! And a few other spots in the Top 50. Well, first of all, I just want to say that Jimi Hendrix was also part Native American. And second of all, that we're living in a different age now. We have a black president in this country, and everyone can vote now. And finally, I stand for racial equality and judging people by the content of their character and their artistic endeavors, and not judging them based on physical characteristics alone and whatnot. And if you don't also believe in that, I challenge you to a fight, because this is something I believe in strongly.
And some of you may be surprised that Number One isn't a rock album! Well, I never said this was the Top 50 *rock* albums - just the top 50. And I included Philip Glass a while back, so that should've tipped you off. And Kind of Blue has influenced rock music, in ways both subtle and profound. There are probably other jazz albums out there that belong on my list, and maybe some classical and R&B, maybe even a little old-time country. Rap? Got that covered with Public Enemy. Reggae? I don't really care for it that much. Klezmer? Oi? Chorale? Classical? Bring it on, people, if you have suggestions. Bring. It. On.
I don't know - there's probably some stuff I missed. But it's a moot point now: I'm done here. Thank you all for participating in the Top 50. Time to pack up and move on with the rest of our lives ...