Wilson and Alroy's Record Reviews We listen to the lousy records so you won't have to.

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Alroy's Top 10 And 20 Lists

Okay, so you've heard all these guys a million times, you're sick of the 60s, and you'd rather bang your head to the latest "alternative" rock (= semi-incompetent by-the-numbers corporate retro drivel that's as much of an "alternative" as Burger King vs. Macdonald's). But here's a bunch of my Top 20 and Top 10 lists anyway. No, I am not a Dylan fan, I don't know a nearly enough about Motown, and I think the infamous San Francisco scene just sucked (so sue me).

If you're looking for a short-cut to the most highly rated records on the site, try our Five-Star Records page.

My Top Whatever lists are organized into the following categories:

10 Favorite 60s Rock Records

I list the records in chronological order; those who care about such things will want to see our 60s timeline, roots of 60s rock, and/or 60s rock overview pages; and budding numerologists should consult our semi-statistical ranking of 60s acts. Each artist is allowed no more than one entry (otherwise the list would consist almost entirely of Beatles records). The list includes a few early 70s records, but they're all by major 60s artists.

The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds (1966)
Jimi Hendrix, Electric Ladyland (1968)
The Kinks, Village Green Preservation Society (1968)
Crosby, Stills and Nash, Crosby, Stills and Nash (1969)
The Band (1969)
The Beatles, Abbey Road (1969)
The Velvet Underground, Loaded (1970)
Derek and the Dominos, Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs (1970)
The Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers (1971)
The Who, Who's Next (1971)

10 Favorite 70s Rock Records

Many of these acts got started in the 60s, but the discs are quintessentially 70s. (JA)

Elton John (1970)
Carole King, Tapestry (1971)
Todd Rundgren, A Wizard, A True Star (1973)
Stevie Wonder, Innervisions (1973)
Joni Mitchell, Court and Spark (1974)
Davie Bowie, Hunky Dory (1974)
Jeff Beck, Wired (1976)
Television, Marquee Moon (1977)
Elvis Costello, This Year's Model (1978)
The Jam, All Mod Cons (1978)

10 Favorite Post-70s Rock Records

Everything else. Also in chronological order and also based strictly on date of release, regardless of whether the artist has earlier roots. I consider this list far weaker than the previous ones; the 90s were particularly miserable, with none of the new acts really grabbing me other than Radiohead and the Posies. But I've left a spot open because I'm still trying to catch up with this period after really going overboard with the 60s and 70s. (JA)

King Crimson, Discipline (1980)
Midnight Oil, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 (1983)
U2, War (1983)
REM, Lifes Rich Pageant (1986) (or Murmur or Reckoning)
XTC, Skylarking (1986)
Adrian Belew, Inner Revolution (1992)
Richard Thompson, Mirror Blue (1994)
Radiohead, either The Bends (1995) or OK Computer (1997)
The Posies, Amazing Disgrace (1996)

10 Favorite Self-Contained Bands

Not my favorite bands per se, but bands that are more than the sum of the parts and don't rely on any one gimmick or frontman for success. Acts that are dominated by a single songwriter (e.g., the Kinks and the Who) or are revolving doors (e.g., Fairport Convention and King Crimson) don't count.

The Beatles
The Rolling Stones
Midnight Oil
The Band
The Jefferson Airplane

10 Favorite Self-Producers

Jack-of-all trades types who put together crafted records from not-so-spectacular components. Not just production, but arrangement, writing, personality, and ability to either recruit interesting players or play everything alone.

Stevie Wonder
Brian Wilson
David Bowie
Pete Townshend
Frank Zappa
Robert Fripp
Paul McCartney (minus credit for the Beatles)
Steve Stills
Joni Mitchell
Elvis Costello

10 Favorite Outside Producers

Mostly covers the acts that don't fall in the last two categories, with a few conspicuous exceptions. Arrangers are included. Expect the list to change because some of these guys are marginal.

George Martin
Brian Eno
Todd Rundgren
Gus Dudgeon and Paul Buckmaster
Steve Lillywhite
Jim Messina
Jimmy Miller
Tom Dowd
Ashford & Simpson

10 Favorite Composers

Just the music; they could be singing in Swahili for all I care.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney
Stevie Wonder
Brian Wilson
Jimi Hendrix
Joni Mitchell
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards
Elton John
Pete Townshend
Frank Zappa
Adrian Belew

10 Favorite Lyricists

Just the words; dumb chord progressions don't cost points, but routine unintelligibility does (that explains why Kristin Hersh, Curt Kirkwood, and the Posies won't make this list). Numerous runner-ups including Adrian Belew, Jim Ellison, Robyn Hitchcock, Jonathan Richman, Paul Weller, and (collectively) Midnight Oil.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney
Joni Mitchell
Pete Townshend
Ray Davies
Lou Reed
Andy Partridge
Richard Thompson
Jim Morrison (really, I'm serious)
Frank Zappa
Elvis Costello

10 Favorite Singers

Not just raw talent, but in most cases an ear for harmony arrangement as well. I could go on forever with runner-ups, especially Motown stars like Marvin Gaye and Eddie Kendricks, gorgeous pure singers like Philip Bailey and Thom Yorke, quirky stylists like Peter Garrett and Michael Stipe, and guys like Adrian Belew and Todd Rundgren I just hype too much in general.

Paul McCartney
Stevie Wonder
John Lennon
Brian Wilson
Joni Mitchell
David Crosby
Elton John
Otis Redding
Mick Jagger

10 Favorite Guitarists

I thought about separate lead and rhythm categories, but artists like Hendrix show how artificial that distinction really is. Many also-rans in this category, including Duane Allman, Adrian Belew, the Edge, Jerry Garcia, Warren Haynes, Allan Holdsworth, Steve Howe, Jorma Kaukonen, Curt Kirkwood, Richard Lloyd, John McLaughlin, Jim Messina, Andy Partridge, Vernon Reid, Carlos Santana, Neil Young, and Frank Zappa.

Jimi Hendrix
Eric Clapton
Jeff Beck
Jimmy Page
Keith Richards
Pete Townshend
Richard Thompson
Robert Fripp
George Harrison
Steve Stills

10 Favorite Bass Players

Lots of points for ego, but the top players are all solid rhythmically. Plenty of also-rans again: Bruce Foxton, John Paul Jones, Andy Metcalfe, Jaco Pastorius, Chris Squire, Bruce Thomas.

Paul McCartney
James Jamerson
Stevie Wonder (played bass lines on keyboards)
Bill Wyman
Jack Casady
John Entwistle
Jack Bruce
Tony Levin
Bootsy Collins
Colin Moulding

10 Favorite Keyboard Players

This was hard for me to fill out because I'm a guitar/bass player.

Stevie Wonder
Keith Emerson
Elton John
Steve Winwood
Rod Argent
Ray Manzarek
Nicky Hopkins
Max Middleton
Brian Wilson
Ian McLagan

10 Favorite Drummers

Each of these guys (and gals) has a very distinct sound that makes you sit up and notice.

Ringo Starr (Beatle loyalty strikes again)
Charlie Watts
Stevie Wonder
Mitch Mitchell
Bill Bruford
Ginger Baker
Keith Moon
John Bonham
Stewart Copeland
Moe Tucker

10 Favorite Multi-Instrumentalists

Just for fun. Eclecticism and ability to convincingly pull off the one-man-band thing are the key factors in the ranking.

Stevie Wonder (keyboards, drums, bass, harmonica)
Paul McCartney (bass, keyboards, guitar, drums, etc.)
Adrian Belew (guitar, drums, bass, keyboards, electronic mania)
Todd Rundgren (guitar, keyboards, sax, bass, drums)
Steve Stills (guitar, bass, keyboards, drums)
Steve Winwood (keyboards, guitar, bass)
Brian Jones (guitar, harmonica, sitar, you name it)
Pete Townshend (guitar, keyboards, bass, drums)
Frank Zappa (guitar, orchestra, kazoo)
David Bowie (sax, guitar, whatever)

10 Most Overrated Acts

Gotta have some real flame-bait in here somewhere. Acts I've listened to really, really hard and still can't figure out.

The Grateful Dead the sine qua non of overratedness

The Eagles bad taste meets flawless professionalism

Led Zeppelin Wilson thinks even less of them - at least I dig Jimmy Page

Jackson Browne the worst of the L.A. singer-songwriters, bar none

Genesis the most overrated prog rock band, bar none

The Doors another act that sounds less and less interesting the older you get

Van Morrison boooooo-ring

The Talking Heads good, but not that good

Prince I have about ten of his records and can't bring myself to review any of them

Bob Dylan I like him, but he's still overrated

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