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Greatest Hits

My Top 31 Albums, in no particular order as my musical tastes change with my mood. For me, it is usually lyrics foremost, followed by the musical beat. Also, see my list of Celtic Traditional Punk, which is mostly Irish-inpired music.

1. The Queen is Dead by The Smiths 17. Jumpin' Jive by Joe Jackson
My favorite 1980's band bar none. Perfect combination of Morrissey's clever poetry with Johnny Marr's shimmying rockabilly guitar. A wonderfully swing music-inspired album way before anyone heard of the Cherry Poppin' Daddies.
2. More Bad Times by Ed's Redeeming Qualities 18. Crash by Dave Matthews Band
Their only album of theirs I truly loved and now out-of-print. A charming folk trio with quirky humor. Among the instruments on this album are ukulele, toy xylophone, bongos, and coffee can with rice. An intense, yet soothing album from one of the premier Jam Bands. Fusing together folk-rock, worldbeat, jazz, and pop. It is the music that draws me in, rather than the lyrics.
3. Exodus by Bob Marley 19. Talking Timbuktu by Ali Farka Toure
A masterful album full of insightful poetry and grooving reggae. Doesn't get any better. Bluesy, trancelike album from a West African musician of Mali. The music and singing has an enchanting, beautiful and exotic quality.
4. Back to Basics by Billy Bragg 19. The Ultimate Otis Redding by Otis Redding
Minimalist music with searing, social-political messages. Bonus, an English artist that actually sings with a British accent. Raw and gritty ballads from my favorite soul singer. I love that voice. He died in a plane crash in my hometown.
5. Joshua Tree by U2 20. Avalon by Roxy Music
Beautiful album both musically and lyrically. The album has an overall religious theme where the band as pilgrims still on a quest; not preachers who claim to have found answers. Avalon is hauntingly beautiful. This was the last Roxy Music studio album and is the perfect culmination of Bryan Ferry's constant striving for the ultimate sophistication.
6. Unplugged in New York by Nirvana 21. Laid by James
Phenomenal album by Seattle's king of garage bands. Surprisingly stripped-down, yet powerful acoustic songs with super-intense lyrics. Nirvana's last album before Kurt Cobain's death. Another Manchester, England alt-rock band. Sometimes (Lester Piggott), Low Low Low, Laid are highlights from this catchy, lyrical album.
7. Murmur by REM 22. High Land, Hard Rain by Aztec Camera
Garage band sound with almost completely unintelligible lyrics combined with hauntingly melodic sounds. Catchy, upbeat Britpop album with stellar acoustic guitar strumming. On par to The Housemartins London 0 Hull 4 album.
8. Cure for Pain by Morphine 23. Hell's Ditch by The Pogues
Unique trio playing sax, bass and drums. A guitarless band that plays off their singer's wry lyrics. Moody, dark, throbbing sound from mellow to frantic. Celtic punk played by the best. This is the last album of The Pogues with frontman Shane Macgowan.
9. Everything! by Tones on Tail 24. The Stone Roses by Stone Roses
Short-lived spin-off band of Bauhaus. This post-punk album is so unlike any I have heard elsewhere. Moody, haunting, experimental, strangely alien, catchy, dark, psychedelic. Manchester, England band featuring melodic guitar rock and psychedelic dance music. Great combination of rollicking, infectious music with pop lyrics.
10. Violent Femmes by Violent Femmes 25. Staring at the Sea by The Cure
Smell that dairy air. My home state band from Wisconsin scores hugely with this album. This odd trio plays what is best described as acoustic punk. Whiney, thrashing sound that gets you up on your feet. One of 1980's leading New Wave bands. A fusion of electronic dance and alternative rock. My favorite songs on this album: Close To Me; Love Cats; In Between Days; The Hanging Garden; Boy's Don't Cry.
11. White Ladder by David Gray 26. Kind of Blue by Miles Davis
The most accessible of his albums. Not as intense as earlier work, but much more beautiful. Decidedly poetic lyrics that create strong images. One of my favorite jazz albums. Clean, vibrant music. Other albums to check out: John Coltrane's A Love Supreme; Dexter Gordon's Go; Round Midnight soundtrack.
12. The Long, Black Veil by The Chieftains 27. The Wonder Boys soundtrack by The Wonder Boys movie
Interesting mix of traditional Irish music with guest performances from a range of famous musicians. The title track is the highlight. Solid collection of vintage rock and R&B from an interesting movie.
13. Simply Baroque by Yo-Yo Ma 28. Romanza by Andrea Bocelli
I love the sound of the cello. Yo-Yo Ma plays this album with such warmth with his usual rich sound. Lush pop opera from the romantic Italian singer. Family favorite song, Con Te Partiro.
14. Tomorrow the Green Grass by The Jayhawks 29. Fight For Your Mind by Ben Harper
Country alt-rock genre. Album has nice three-part harmonies with a yearning rock style. See Uncle Tupelo's No Depression for a more powerful sounding country alt-rock album. His album has influences of Bob Dylan, Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix in music and lyrics. Rootsy and raw. His ballads are lovely.
15. Buena Vista Social Club by Ry Cooder 30. King Of The Surf Guitar by Dick Dale
Special album comprised of a variety of forgotten veteran Cuban musicians. The music flows like a gentle river. Master of the surf guitar packs a punch with his dazzling and blistering guitar work.
16. London Calling by The Clash 31. Flutes de Pan des Andes, vol. 2 by Los Calchakis
The Clash expand the sounds of punk with hints of rockabilly, reggae, rock and pop mixed into the this superb album. Just as fun to listen to today as it was when they were the cool band of my high school days. South American group, mainly from Argentina, playing Andes pan-flute music with traditional instruments. They were a revelation to us as we traveled and wed in Peru. Perfect compliment to reminiscing about the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

Honorable mentions: Kate Bush: The Whole Story; Jack Johnson: Bubble Talk; Plasticland (Milwaukee band of 1980's): Plasticland; The Replacements: Pleased To Meet Me; Dexter Gordon: Our Man in Paris; Sade: Promise; Santana: Supernatural; Suzanne Vega: Suzanne Vega; Trashcan Sinatras: I've Seen Everything; Yo La Tengo: Prisoners of Love.

My Celtic Traditional Punk list for mostly Irish-inpired music.