1) America – America
The vocal harmonies and shimmering acoustic guitars on their debut album have always resonated strongly with me. Some “of the era” lyrics can be a bit heavy-handed, but the youthful confidence far outshines. This record has always sounded powerful, sad and beautiful – at times almost like acoustic heavy metal. All the passion of rock, disillusionment of war, struggle to be heard, yet drawing power from the natural surrounding beauty, make this an interesting snapshot of the birth of AM folk-rock.
2) Rush – Fly By Night
The power of Zeppelin with extra doses of Tolkien imagery, literary bravado, working class guts, and tight, stellar production. This record explodes from the speakers and would have me spending my precious energy air-drumming and guitar wind-milling when I should be foraging for coconuts and trying to fashion a spear out of driftwood.
3) Jim Croce – Home Recordings: Americana
This album covers two bases for me: 1) I would need to take some Croce and I have never been able to settle on a hands-down favorite for his three studio records 2) These are covers of some great classic country, folk, western, blues and just straight-up hilarious stories. This album speaks to being stuck in tough-luck situations, either through prison blues or funny tales of people and life that keep you chuckling and smiling in agreement. Hearing it all sung simply and honestly with such a voice and guitar playing as Jim’s makes it perfect.
*This is a video of “The Hard Way Every Time,” as there are no videos of Jim playing the songs from his home recordings. This happens to be my favorite Jim song.
4) Fleetwood Mac – Then Play On
Peter Green has that other-worldly thing that really makes you wonder what made him write and play the way he did. Although some of this album is quite experimental for perhaps the sake of only pushing boundaries, the majority of songs on this record are remarkably strong and powerful, yet delivered in a unique and original blues-rock manner. Peter makes you believe that something stranger than him is working those guitar strings.
5) James Taylor – Sweet Baby James
Being stuck on a desert island would mean a lot of time laying back watching the waves roll and the sky change. This is one of my favorite sad but sweet albums, speaking well to the absurdity yet beauty of life. Flawless, respectful production by a crack team of musicians and friends, James’ voice and lyrics sound so confessional yet strangely distant, like he’s watching and narrating his own sad story as a disembodied spirit. The New England connections and imagery would help me pass the hours in memory, oblivious to the fact that the man himself was yachting by.