I love music and have purchased an iRiver i799 MP3 player (Much cheaper now, and well worth the money. Mine was $100 more. Read my Review.) to be able to enjoy music when I’m out hiking, paddling or when I’m out on an expedition. It took me a long time to find the perfect MP3 player, but as you can read in my review, in found this one to fit the bill. So, which albums do I have loaded on it, you ask. It changes from time to time, but the following albums have stayed on. I’ll tell you why I like them.
If you choose to buy one of these albums, the picture on the left will take you to Amazon.com where you will be able to buy them. A small amount of the sale, which costs you nothing extra, goes to help support Paddlinglight.com.
Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique, Ill Communication, and To the 5 Boroughs
For me, the Beastie Boys are timeless. The rhymes -even off of their old albums – strike me as original, outlandish, and fun. I can’t help but to want to move my leg up and down to the beat. I’ve listen to the Boys since high school and they still don’t get old. I still remember one summer; our wake-up song before heading out canoeing was Hey Ladies.
Jay Farrar – Sebastopol and Stone, Steel & Bright Lights
You’ll probably notice that in the next few albums that I list they all have Jay Farrar in common. For some reason, I could listen to anything with Jay Farrar in it nonstop. I can relate to his songs, and they all seem to have to do with traveling, America, or both. His solo albums are outstanding, and these two are my favorite. Sebastopol was his first solo album and took his music to the next level of perfect. Stone, Steel & Bright Lights is a live album, and I had a chance to see him on this tour. He played in a small bar called the Mill in Iowa City, IA. I loved the show. Very good. When he plays 6 String Belief solo with just a guitar, it is a spiritual experience. Buy these two albums, today!
Hum – Downward is Heavenward and You’d Prefer an Astronaut
These two Albums by Hum are mellow, alt-rock from back when alt-rock was good. They follow in the footsteps of early Smashing Pumpkins, like that off of Gish, but with a slightly more psychedelic turn. This might have been a better place for Billy Corgan to have taken the Pumpkins, and may have been where it would have gone had he not been so arrogant. Both albums also have a playful way of combining riffs, songs, and calling back and forth between different tracks. Sometimes, it almost feels like you’re in the middle of a Bach symphony, but with guitars, drums, and rock.
Phish – Lawn Boy, A Picture of a Nectar, and Farmhouse
I’ve never been much of a Deadhead and I’ve never had the desire to follow a band around the country, and I’ve never been into drugs or psychedelic experiences, but for some reason I love Phish. These three albums of theirs are my favorite. I really like Farmhouse, but one of my friends a huge Phish fan said the songs on that album were too short. When I first picked up the Farmhouse album, my significant other was working at Crex Meadows in Wisconsin and was living in a small farmhouse. I’d have to drive 6 hours every weekend one way to visit her, and the title song on the album reminds me of the house she lived in. Back on the Train just reminds about traveling and fun. From A Picture of a Nectar, Guelah Papyrus has to be one of my most favorite songs by Phish ever. Very enjoyable. And from Lawn Boy, who can forget Bouncing Around the Room. The melodic singing combined with piano just makes you feel good.
Smashing Pumpkins – Gish
If you read about Hum above, you know that I love this album. It is by far the best album that Smashing Pumpkins ever made. I remember first seeing these guys open for Swinging Teens at Gabe’s in Iowa City. None of my friends I saw the show with, who happened to be in Joe Christmas, could stand them, but I thought they were great and was very happy when they came out with an album. I’ve been listen to it every since. There is not a bad song on this album.
The Pixies – Doolittle
It was very hard to pick just one Pixies album to put on my MP3 player, but I decided on Doolittle for a couple of reasons. The first is that the band really matures, comes together and gels perfectly for the first time on this album. Their previous albums where good, but this was the Pixies at their best, and this album has pop-like songs like Here Comes Your Man, and heavy songs like Wave of Mutilation, and songs like Monkey Gone to Heaven that explores the meaning of life, and it does it lightheartedly. What more do you need?
The Stone Roses – Second Coming, and The Stone Roses
I remember hearing the Stone Roses for the first time. I was sitting in the back of a friends red Escort and we were drive down Grandview Ave in Dubuque, IA listen to World CafÃ© on NPR, and they played Shoot You Down. I had never heard anything like it before and had to get the album. In that first summer, I had to buy two cassettes of The Stone Roses, because I wore the first one out. With songs like Don’t Stop, full 1980s Acid House backwards guitars, a dancy drum beat, you can fade out just listen at the same turns in the music. These songs are deep and full of layers and layers that never get old or boring. From the first song on the album, I Want to Be Adored to the last monster long dance track, Fools Gold, this album takes you on a mind trip roller coaster.
Their second album, although not as original and groundbreaking and the fact that it came out many years later still is a good listen and a lot of fun. Between the two albums, you get the feeling that John Squire, the guitarist, listened to a lot of Led Zeppelin, and that they all listen to a lot of Grateful Dead. The Acid House beats of the first album are louder and more pronounced and this album rocks a lot more. It’s hard to believe that it’s the same band sometimes. It’s too bad that the band self-destructed on the tour supporting this recorded, because none of the band members have made any great music alone as they had together.
Uncle Tupelo – March 16-20, 1992, No Depression, Anodyne, Still Feel Gone
These four albums are indescribable in how they make me feel, especially March 16-20, 1992. I listened to these in college and loved them, and now 12 years after I graduated they still speak to me, and I imagine that in 40 years they still will. They feature Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy, two of the pioneers in alt-country or flannel rock, or whatever you want to call this type of music, which combines country, folk, and rock together with very meaningful lyrics. On March 16-20, 1992, which was produced by REM guitarist Peter Buck, they take original songs and mix them up with traditional folk songs. The album was recorded in only 4 days so it feels alive and raw and is one of my favorite albums of all time. When Farrar and Tweedy do Moonshiner, you can just sit back and enjoy a masterpiece of guitar and lyrics that are hard to come by in almost any song. Although, I think that March 16-20, 1992 is the best out of all the Uncle Tupelo albums, I’d have a hard time leaving the others at home, because they are all good.
Widespread Panic – ‘Til the Medicine Takes
I’m not sure why I like Widespread Panic, because none of my friends really do, and like I said with fish I’m not really into following bands, drugs, or stuff like that, but Widespread Panic, to me, combines a lot of different instruments in a pleasing counterpoint to each other, and when they jam they have always seemed to be more together than other bands like the Grateful Dead and Phish. The only reason that I put this album on the MP3 and not one of the bootlegs that I have is that I could download the song names from the Internet for this album, and Christmas Katie.
Son Volt – Trace, Wide Swing Tremolo, and Straightaways
This is Jay Farrar’s band, and if you’ve read above you can figure out that I like everything that he does. Out of these three albums, I like Trace the best. I like this album, because no matter where you go, it makes the perfect road trip album. It starts with a song called Windfall, which is about trying to get ahead by playing by the rules, and just wanting to travel and by traveling having all your problems disappear. The slide guitar and drum and Jay’s voice make this song reach into your heart, and once there it tugs and makes you want to hit the road. Then the album heads into a song that starts with New Hampshire’s state motto “Live Free or Die.” The next few songs lead eventually into Drown, which is a hit if I’ve ever heard one. It has a nice pop-like rock feeling to it, but with enough of a Jay Farrar twist that it feels new and original. And when the album ends, it does it on a song called Mystifies Me, which will do the same to you.
Wilco – Summerteeth
While, I’ve never been as big a fan as Jeff Tweedy as I have of Jay Farrar, this album by his band Wilco, is about the best that he has done since Uncle Tupelo broke up. I leave it on the MP3, because it is a fun album to listen to, but I don’t think that it stands up to the test of time as well as the other albums that I keep on my MP3.