This won't be as tough for me as the other lists because I'm a singles guy. My dad kept our house stocked with 45's when I was a kid, so that stuck with me. Most of my album collection is made up of greatest hits compilations. I get bored with album tracks, especially now that I'm old and have no attention span.
Only albums released during my lifetime were considered, but there are a few different rules here. First of all, no Elvis. I'd pick Elvis Country from 1970 if I had to, but would rather just provide my own album. Here's Elvis: The Best Album Tracks of the 70s. Picture him on the cover doing a Vegas move in a diamond-studded jumpsuit. Remember, Elvis rarely included songs released as singles on his studio albums, so you won't find "Burning Love" or the like here.
"I Was Born About 10,000 Years Ago" (1970)
"Cindy, Cindy" (1970)
"How the Web Was Woven" (1970)
"I Washed My Hands in Muddy Water" (1970)
"Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On" (1970)
"Love Me, Love the Life I Lead" (1971)
"If You Don't Come Back" (1973)
"I Got A Feeling in My Body" (1973)
"Talk about the Good Times" (1973)
"Your Love's Been a Long Time Coming" (1973)
As for the rest, nothing posthumous (sorry, Otis Redding; although Tell the Truth is outstanding and released about a year after I was born). Also, no compilations (that would way too difficult for me). And only one album per artist except where I cheat. These are listed in order by favorite.
1. Diary of a Madman (1981) by Ozzy Osbourne/Black Sabbath Vol. 4 (1972) by Black Sabbath
Although neither of these discs have the commercial appeal of Blizzard of Ozz (1981) or Paranoid (1970), I think they're better. Diary is my favorite album of all-time. It started everything for me. I can't hardly think about the songs without getting teary-eyed. Give the title track a listen. It's scarier than "Black Sabbath." It inspired every horror story I've ever written. After Elvis, Ozzy is (and always will be) my hero. The riffs on Vol. 4 are mind-blowing. I love Tony, Geezer, and Bill like family.
2. Cosmo's Factory (1970) by CCR/Blue Moon Swamp (1997) by John Fogerty
John Fogerty follows close on Ozzy's heels. His guitar playing is often overlooked because his scratchy vocals are a rock inspiration. Cosmo's Factory is the album every 50's artist (including Elvis) would've recorded if they'd stuck to their roots. Blue Moon Swap, part comeback/part throwback, has sentimental value (like all those listed here) and beats out Centerfield for me.
3. High Voltage (1976)/Stiff Upper Lip (2000) by ACDC
My younger brother told me he thinks every album Bon Scott ever recorded is better than any album Brian Johnson recorded (including Back in Black). I agree. But Stiff Upper Lip is fucking awesome and deserves a place here.
4. Business as Usual (1981)/Cargo (1983) by Men at Work
Men at Work was the first concert I remember. Even before Ozzy, I think. I love these two albums. I'm not sure anyone ever came out of the shoot with better back to back openers. Too bad they fizzled out as fast they hit (although my brother tells me Colin Hay's solo efforts are outstanding).
5. Flaming Pie (1997) by Paul McCartney/Abbey Road (1969) by The Beatles/Venus and Mars (1975) by Wings
The Beatles are the greatest band ever. No question. I'm glad I get to put one of their albums on my list (with a month and a half to spare!). I also love Wings. Flaming Pie is the best album Paul McCartney recorded as a solo artist. I'm not familiar enough with John Lennon's album tracks (or George Harrison's, for that matter) to give either a spot on the list.
6. Honeycomb (2005) by Frank Black
The Pixies frontman delivers my favorite soul album. The studio musicians who played on Elvis' 1969 comeback sessions are here. I've seen Frank Black live. He's a machine. Listen to "My Life Is in Storage" if nothing else.
7. River of Dreams (1993) by Billy Joel
Glad Billy Joel saved his best for last.
8. Graceland (1986) by Paul Simon
The title track is my life story (sort of). The pilgrimage I made when I turned 40 is everything Paul Simon told me it would be.
9. When We Were the New Boys (1998)/A Spanner in the Works (1995) by Rod Stewart
I went through a Rod Stewart phase in the late 90s (loved him in concert) and found these two works to be the equal of anything he'd done prior to throat surgery. I can't take the pop standard shit he recorded afterwards.
10. Yo Frankie by Dion (1990)/Mystery Girl (1989) by Roy Orbison
Two of my all-time favorite rock and roll pioneers made a run in the late 80s with these incredible albums. Too bad Roy Orbison died just as "You Got It" hit the charts. Dion's album rocks more and gets the slight edge.
11. Madonna (1983) by Madonna/She's So Unusual (1983) by Cyndi Lauper
Hard not to pick Like a Virgin but Madonna's debut album never fails. I remember falling in love with her the first time I heard her voice while driving to school. Cyndi Lauper, probably a better singer, created the soundtrack to my freshman year of high school with this one.
12. Lonely Just Like Me (1993) by Arthur Alexander/If I Could Only Fly (2000) by Merle Haggard
A couple of geezers by the time of these two country releases. Perhaps that's what makes them so special.
13. New Beginning (1995) by Tracy Chapman/In Between Dreams (2005) by Jack Johnson
When I need something mellow, these never fail.
14. Big Tyme (1989) by Heavy D/Fear of a Black Planet (1990) by Public Enemy/Knowledge Is King (1989) by Kool Moe Dee/It's a Big Daddy Thing (1989) by Big Daddy Kane
Yes, I went through a rap stage in the late 80s. These four are my favorite. I still remember all the words when I listen.
15. Every Album by The Furnace (1999 - present)
Now what kind of brother would I be if I didn't plug my brother's indie heavy metal band? Part Metallica, part Godsmack, part Creed, they've had two incredible singers during their run and both are equally talented frontmen. Their guitarists kick ass (I'm partial, yes). Their drummers reign supreme. They've been scorching the Valley of the Sun for almost 20 years now. Like them on Facebook.