Racing to the end of my 100 Favorite CD countdown, after this set I start going track by track on these incredible albums. Before we get there, we have to get through numbers 7, 6 and 5.
7. Lynyrd Skynyrd - Gold & Platinum (1979)
Although we had the Skynyrd's Innards single CD hits set, it was the double album Gold & Platinum that really gave me something to dig in to. There are songs that are a given on a Skynyrd set, "Freebird", "Sweet Home Alabama", "Gimmie Three Steps" and "That Smell" all make appear here. And though it lacks some killer tunes like "Call Me The Breeze", Gold & Platinum uses it's length to show more variety from their catalog. The rambunctious "I Know A Little", the attitude driven "Down South Jukin", the stately "Simple Man" and the fiery "Comin' Home" show the breadth and range of this fantastic band. Eventually I had to have more Skynyrd and would get the box set, before that this set was the best rounded collection of their music I had heard.
6. Tom Petty - Greatest Hits (1993)
I didn't get into Tom Petty's music until I was in my 20s, when I copied his Greatest Hits off a friend onto a cassette tape (remember those?). The simplicity and directness of approach balanced with economical musicianship and brilliant songwriting finally clicked with me after ignoring his stuff for over a decade. Starting with the man on the street feel to "Breakdown" and working to the big hits era of "Don't Do Me Like That" or "Even The Losers" and eventually landing in his solo record Jeff Lynne produced phase of "Free Fallin". Years after it's release, the song "Listen To Her Heart" became a personal favorite of mine. Maybe it's that part about not winning her over with your money and your cocaine. Through it all, sharply drawn observations matched with indelible melodies made the 90's more bearable for someone like me who wanted rock that didn't have rap in it. It was like water to a man in the desert.
5. Van Halen - For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (1991)
I'm not superstitious for the most part, but one superstition I do have is this album. It is my lucky album. It's a great motivator, listening to this album gets me fired up to tackle the bigger challenges in life. Musically, it's the, ahem, best of both worlds as it features Sammy Hagar on vocals yet has a Classic VH sound to the music (could be because Ted Templeman produced for the first time since the DLR era). That could be because cuts like "Top Of The World" and "Runaround" owe a debt to DLR era winners "Dance The Night Away" and "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love". The lack of a power ballad is a huge plus, VH does not do power ballads well, the closest they get is the piano driven "Right Now". And "Poundcake" was all over the radio with its burgeoning groove. Air guitar fanatics had something to jam to on high flying "The Dream Is Over". The short and sweet acoustic guitar solo "316" was stretched out live to contain all his great solos. While some of the songs on this disc were just passable (Let's not call 1-900 SPANKED), it's my favorite in style and for personal reasons. My lucky tape / CD!