GUEST RADIO HOST GRAHAM DONLON offers his 101 classic albums

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GUEST RADIO HOST GRAHAM DONLON offers his 101 classic albums

Responding to Elsewhere's recently posted all-inclusive Cornerstones collection -- 101 albums which could be the building blocks of a decent CD collection -- my 101 list includes all genres, it's just that the albums that I have never got sick of tend to lie outside popular music.  This is my cornerstone collection, the discs that have sustained me over the years.  As requested, I have got rid of some compilations, aside from some which were compiled from 78's and singles or which have some "conceptual continuity".

[Editor's note: Where Elsewhere has written about one of Graham Donlan's choices or there is some relevant story, I have added the link to it. Interestingly a number of Graham's choices are in our Essential Elsewhere pages.] 

gaye1.     Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On

2.     Miles Davis – Kind Of Blue

3.     Van Morrison – Astral Weeks

4.     Love – Forever Changes

5.     The Band (eponymous 2nd album)

6.     John Coltrane – A Love Supreme

7.     Blind Willie Johnson – The Complete Columbia Recordings

8.     Don Cherry – Relativity Suite

9.     Jack Bruce – Songs For A Tailor

ayler_albert_34_l10.  Albert Ayler – Spiritual Unity

11.  Miles Davis – Sketches Of Spain

12.  Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland

13.  Leon Thomas – Spirits Known & Unknown

14.  Art Ensemble Of Chicago – Bap-Tizum

15.  Dollar Brand (Abdullah Ibrahim) – African Piano  

16.  Horace Silver – United States Of Mind: That Healin’ Feelin’

17.  Lonnie Liston Smith & The Cosmic Echoes – Expansions

18.  Terry Callier – Time/Peace

19.  Orchestra Baobab – Pirate’s Choice

steely_dan_aja_album_cover20.  Steely Dan – Aja

21.  The Real Bahamas Volumes 1 & 2

22.  War – The World Is A Ghetto

23.  Human Arts Ensemble – Under The Sun

24.  Salif Keita – Soro

25.  Frank Zappa – Hot Rats

26.  Stevie Wonder – Talking Book

27.  Santana – Caravanserai

28.  Julius Hemphill – Dogon A.D.

29.  Ornette Coleman – The Shape Of Jazz To Come

santana30.  Devadip Carlos Santana & Turiya Alice Coltrane – Illuminations

31.  Bunny Wailer – Blackheart Man

32.  Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band – Trout Mask Replica

33.  Fela Kuti – Alagbon Close

34.  Miles Davis – In A Silent Way

35.  Azteca (1st)

36.  The Wailers – Catch A Fire

37.  Randy Weston – The Spirits Of Our Ancestors

38.  Chick Corea – Return to Forever

39.  Pink Floyd – The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn

ayers40.  Kevin Ayers – Whatevershebringswesing

41.  The Gipsy Kings – Roots

42.  Herbie Hancock – Mwandishi

43.  Shivkumar Sharma, Brijbushan Kabra & Hariprasad Chaurasia – Call Of the Valley

44.  Sly & the Family Stone – Stand

45.  Isaac Hayes – Hot Buttered Soul

46.  Funkadelic – Maggot Brain

47.  Rotary Connection – Aladdin

48.  Bobby Bland – Two Steps From The Blues

49.  Serge Gainsbourg – Histoire De Melody Nelson

santana_welcome50.  Santana – Welcome

51.  Gary Burton – A Genuine Tong Funeral

52.  James Brown – Live At The Apollo

53.  Osibisa (1st)

54.  Bill Evans – At The Village Vanguard

55.  Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get It On

56.  Ahmad Jamal – At The Pershing/But Not For Me

57.  Gary Bartz NTU Troop – Harlem Bush Music: Uhuru

58.  Pharoah Sanders – Thembi

59.  Robert Johnson – The Complete Recordings

sam60.  Sam Cooke – Live At The Harlem Square Club 1963

61.  Aretha Franklin – I Never Loved A Man

62.  The Staple Singers – Respect Yourself

63.  Stan Getz & João Gilberto – Getz/Gilberto

64.  John Martyn – Solid Air

65.  Sly & the Family Stone – There’s A Riot Goin’ On

66.  Terry Callier – TimePeace

67.  McCoy Tyner – Extensions

68.  Alice Coltrane – Journey In Satchidananda

69.  Minnie Riperton – Come Into My Garden

Winter_In_America70.  Gil Scott-Heron – Winter In America

71.  Georgie Fame – Rhythm And Blues At The Flamingo

72.  Ray Charles & Milt Jackson – Soul Brothers

73.  Mississippi John Hurt – Today!   

74.  Charlie Haden – Liberation Music Orchestra

75.  Thelonious Monk – Live At the Five Spot

76.  Billie Holiday – Greatest Hits (Decca recordings)

77.  Charlie Parker – Yardbird Suite: The Ultimate

78.  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Requiem (Schreier)

79.  Dr. John The Night Tripper – Gris-Gris

dolphy80.  Eric Dolphy – Last Date

81.  Sonny Rollins – Saxophone Colossus

82.  Marion Brown – Geechee Recollections  

83.  Frederick Delius – Beecham Conducts Delius (Beecham/RPO)

84.  Henry Purcell – The Fairy Queen (Christie/Les Arts Florissants)

85.  Mose Allison – Greatest Hits (Prestige)

86.  Lambert, Hendricks & Ross – The Hottest New Group In Jazz

87.  Miles Davis – Bitches Brew

88.  Santana – Abraxas

89.  The Beatles – Rubber Soul

sly90.  Sly & the Family Stone – Fresh

91.  Kuumba Toudie Heath – Kawaida

92.  Tim Buckley – Greetings From L.A.

93.  Carla Bley – Escalator Over The Hill  

94.  Miles Davis – Steamin’ With The Miles Davis Quintet

95.  Al Green – I’m Still In Love With You

96.  Randy Weston – Tanjah

97.  Van Dyke Parks – Discover America

98.  Ann Peebles – I Can’t Stand The Rain

99.  Louis Moholo – Spirits Rejoice

otisblue100. Otis Redding – Otis Blue

101. Louis Armstrong – Best Of The Hot 5 & Hot 7 Recordings  

Graham Dolan tells us "I was born in a chapeau in the South of France (an obscure village on the edge of Manchester). My father was from Lancashire and my mother from Yorkshire, so, as a result, we had a miniature 'War Of The Roses' several times a month.  Subsequently, my family dispersed and I came to Godzone at the tender age of seventeen. This was a big step for a young, naive lad, especially with the language difficulties, bizarre customs and lack of double-decker buses.

"My immense love of music really began during the 'Beat Group' era, I fanatically monitored the progress of hit singles up and down the UK charts, but later I tried to obtain every Motown and Stax soul single ever released in Britain.  This caused such great trauma to my fragile young mind that I then worked my way through psychedelia, folk-rock, jazz-rock, heavy metal, progressive rock, soft rock, etc. before finally discovering jazz, blues and world music.  My life has gone to hell ever since.

"I have worked (among other things) as a journalist, factory hand, guillotine operator (industrial sadly!), as a clerk in the British civil service, as a postie and I managed music retail outlets before finally winding up in the health sector because nobody else would have me.

"I have hosted a three-hour radio show called "Music Without Frontiers" on The Most FM (Sunday, 10am) for almost 12 years, I have received very few complaints and the ones that did 'moan' disappeared under bizarre circumstances."

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Your Comments

Duncan - Jul 27, 2014

Interesting list. Half are albums I know and love. But I must admit I don't know many. In the jazz realm, I'd make a shout out for Wayne Shorter Speak No Evil. Interesting to see Aja in your top 20 (I'm not disagreeing, I love it) but I don't see it high in many such lists. Also interesting to see Talking Book before Innervisions, if the latter is there at all. I'd have some Little Feat on mine. BTW, couldn't you decide re # 18 and # 66???

Sludgie - Jul 27, 2014

An interesting list (I agree with much of it) but it certainly seems to have a time barrier to it - thereby missing much great music in the last 20 or even 30 years. I will give you my go in time

Graham Donlon - Jul 27, 2014

Terry Callier's "TimePeace" at 18 and 66 was a balls-up! Number 18. was supposed to be Terry Callier's compilation "The Essential."

Re the absence of albums from the last few decades, I have many that I enjoy, but just not as much as the ones that made the final cut. It is an eclectic mix and I wouldn't recommend that anybody buy any of the odder choices without checking it out first. However, if I manage to put somebody on to something they would never have investigated otherwise, I would consider my job well done!

Re the inclusion of "Aja" and "Talking Book," I bought them on the day they were released and have never got sick of them, this comment applies to this whole list.

Some of the odder choices I had to work hard before I started to fully appreciate them...these are sometimes the discs that last, and last, and last!

Relic - Aug 2, 2014

Such lists for wide appreciation in my opinion need a brief – ie. greatest ever, genre, vinyl, CD, digital. Also quality – ie. unassailable bulletproof albums without a dud track. A golden music age happened in 60s/70s that was similar to visual arts. Where do you go next after wrapping buildings in black plastic or bulldozing landscapes? Music is similar in that linear progression turns into ever multiplying side roads.

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