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#1122721 - 01/18/17 05:53 PM Uncut's 50 Top Singer-songwriter Albums  
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This is kind of an addendum to Kurt Fortmeyers' thread "Authenticity In Songwriting."

From Uncut Magazine's December 2013 edition

"Uncut's 50 Greatest Singer/Songwriter Albums"

http://www.uncut.co.uk/features/uncuts-50-best-singer-songwriter-albums-68925

Note..the albums are arranged chronologically, not in order of preference.

1. Tim Hardin – Tim Hardin 1 – 1966
2. Leonard Cohen – Songs Of Leonard Cohen – 1967
3. Laura Nyro – New York Tendberry – 1969
4. Al Stewart – Love Chronicles – 1969
5. Dory Previn – On My Way To Where – 1970
6. John Lennon – John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band – 1970
7. James Taylor – Sweet Baby James – 1970
8. Loudon Wainwright III – Album 1 – 1970
9. Kris Kristofferson – Kris Kristofferson – 1970
10. Joni Mitchell – Blue – 1971
11. David Crosby – If Only I Could Remember My Name – 1971
12. Judee Sill – Judee Sill – 1971
13. Nick Drake – Pink Moon – 1972
14. Gene Clark – No Other – 1974
15. Jackson Browne – Late For The Sky – 1974
16. Neil Young – On The Beach – 1974
17. Bob Dylan – Blood On The Tracks – 1975
18. Joan Baez – Diamonds & Rust – 1975
19. Janis Ian – Between The Lines – 1975
20. Paul Simon – Still Crazy After All These Years – 1975
21. Al Green – The Belle Album – 1977
22. Marvin Gaye – Here, My Dear – 1978
23. Brian Ferry – The Bride Stripped Bare – 1978
24. John Martyn – Grace And Danger – 1980
25. Pete Townshend – Empty Glass – 1980
26. John Cale – Music For A New Society – 1982
27. Lou Reed – The Blue Mask – 1982
28. Richard & Linda Thompson – Shoot Out The Lights – 1982
29. Dexys Midnight Runners – Don’t Bring Me Down – 1985
30. Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Blood And Chocolate – 1986
31. Bruce Springsteen – Tunnel Of Love – 1987
32. Mark Eitzel – Songs Of Love – 1991
33. Nick Lowe – The Impossible Bird – 1994
34. Steve Earle – Feel Alright – 1996
35. Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – The Boatman’s Call – 1997
36. Elliott Smith – Either/Or – 1997
37. Paul Westerberg – Suicane Gratification – 1999
38. Ryan Adams – Heartbreaker – 2000
39. Rodney Crowell – The Houston Kid – 2001
40. Beck – Sea Change – 2002
41. Lucinda Williams – World Without Tears – 2003
42. Warren Zevon – The Wind – 2003
43. Amy Winehouse – Back To Black – 2006
44. Sun Kil Moon – April – 2008
45. John Grant – Queen Of Denmark – 2010
46. Josh T Pearson – Last Of The Country Gentlemen – 2011
47. Sharon Van Etten – Tramp – 2012
48. John Murry – The Graceless Age – 2013
49. Alela Diane – About Farewell – 2013
50. Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle – 2013

I know about 2/3rds of these albums well, and I'd say about 2/3rds of the work within them could fall into a "confessional" category, in that in many of the songs "only the names have been changed to protect the innocent" and these artists pretty much access their own lives and personal experience in a more direct way than others outside the "singer-songwriter" category.

Tim Hardin's work was 2/3rds about (or meant to be heard by a woman he loved) named Susan Morss. He was integral to the Greenwich Village scene in the early and mid-sixties, got strung out on heroin and died in his thirties.

Leonard Cohen's best work always felt like he was singing to one specific person, and most of the time he was.

John Lennon was learning how to scream primal-ly and let out his rage/pain/trauma while taking "Primal Therapy," and the song "Mother" was certainly borne of that. One of Lennon's most haunting songs, if not one of his best solo pieces.

Two glaring omissions are Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks" and Tori Amos' "Little Earthquakes" in which she sings one harrowing, haunting song acapella which was basically her mental impressions while being raped in "Me and A Gun" and it, "Crucify," the title track spoke almost autobiographically about her experiences and her life, and remains one of my favorite albums, along with Morrison's "Astral Weeks," Nick Drake's "Pink Moon," and Cohen's first three.

*****************************************************************************

Mike

Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 01/18/17 09:50 PM.

Fate doesn't hang on a wrong or right choice
Fortune depends on the tone of your voice

-The Divine Comedy (Neil Hannon)
from the song "Songs of Love"
from the album "Casanova" (1996)
#1122722 - 01/18/17 05:57 PM Re: 50 Top Singer-songwriter Albums [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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Jim Colyer Offline
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Jim Colyer  Offline
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Hmmm.. I'll have to think about this.

#1122728 - 01/18/17 06:58 PM Re: 50 Top Singer-songwriter Albums [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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couchgrouch Online content
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couchgrouch  Online Content
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The problem with lists like this is they limit
artists to one record in the cause of diversity. I can think of ten Dylan albums off hand. Five by Neil. Five by Bruce that don't include Tunnel of Love. Several by Cohen and Joni. Paul Simon needs a few more. Graceland in the best album of the past forty years. Isn't Robert Johnson a singer/songwriter? Hank Williams Sr? I guess those are before the "album" era. Band on the Run belongs on there. Musical complaining shouldn't be a requirement
for inclusion. I looked over a bunch of recent songs by a Nashville darling. She's getting drunk and smoking. She's drifting town to town. Dishes are piled up in her sink. She's getting drunk again. Her mama's po and she got cheated on. Zzzz...

Just a few cynical thoughts. They might also be authentic. smile

Ps isn't Jimi Hendrix a singer/songwriter? That's three albums right there not counting compilations and Band of Gypsies.

Pss I've sinned against my soul and should suffer. At least five Tom Waits albums should be on there.

Last edited by couchgrouch; 01/18/17 07:15 PM.

Nashville demos etc:

https://www.soundclick.com/bands3/default.cfm?bandID=431939

other demos:

https://soundcloud.com/wabash-cannibal

Amazon Kindle books by Robert George you may enjoy:

1) Americana

2) Teenage Graceland

3) The Will to Be

4) Fort Mystery

5) Wheel Sea

6) My One True Love
#1122730 - 01/18/17 07:31 PM Re: 50 Top Singer-songwriter Albums [Re: couchgrouch]  
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Michael Zaneski Offline
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Michael Zaneski  Offline
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California
Couch,

Take it up with Ben Fong-Torres, Lester Bangs, and the Rock Journalism in general that coined the term and decided who was in and wasn't. smile

And yes, I agree with much of what you say. The list is fifty albums, spread over fifty years, one artist per album. It's less about "what are the best fifty" and more about "what are fifty diverse, meaningful singer-songwriter albums that span the Rock Era."

Does that render the list null and void or useless and meaningless?

I think it's useful in the sense I'm using it. To show a list of examples that relate to Kurt's question in his thread. Some folks do write (a majority of) personal songs, and there's nothing wrong with that, and it's a style of writing that continues to this day. Yes, some of those artists aren't even considered singer-writers.

But does the fuzzy nature of such categories make them useless and meaningless? Of course not. They give a general idea of the nature of things, and that's all they are intended to do, anyway.

I'm thinking..you probably hated the ending of "Lost," ha.. smile

Mike

Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 01/18/17 08:08 PM.

Fate doesn't hang on a wrong or right choice
Fortune depends on the tone of your voice

-The Divine Comedy (Neil Hannon)
from the song "Songs of Love"
from the album "Casanova" (1996)
#1122733 - 01/18/17 08:37 PM Re: 50 Top Singer-songwriter Albums [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 122
BenJones Offline
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I agree with couchgrouch on this one. First of all, having dexys midnight runners, but nothing from Bob Seeger or joe Jackson is a travesty, I mean seriously now?

I suppose they go by sales at some point too.

Pete Townshends empty glass is a great album, it contains let my love open the door which you hear in movies, tv shows, commercials to this day. But if you don't own "all the best Cowboys have Chinese eyes" then don't own either of them. That album has some of the best soul bearing songs I have ever heard. Somebody saved me, and slit skirts to name two

And Bruce? Tunnel of love? Ok, it does tie into to Michaels point about confessional,miss considered "the divorce album" by fans. Yes it has that, but it's not the most entertaining record either

Listen to asbury park, or wild and the innocent, those two albums are just as much singer songwriter as tunnel, just not as commercial

And if you throw in Hendrix, don't you need to throw in chuck berry one of the most underrated lyricists of all, he's known for his guitar, but he was a great lyricist too

Ahh well, no point in getting worried about lists, there are more lists than people on earth


Last edited by BenJones; 01/18/17 08:38 PM.
#1122736 - 01/18/17 08:49 PM Re: 50 Top Singer-songwriter Albums [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 7,959
couchgrouch Online content
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couchgrouch  Online Content
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Mike, to me the list is meaningless because it says those are the 50 greatest singer songwriter albums and they're not. They nullify their own list striving for diversity. Quotas kill quality. Just say buy these albums and be done with it. Once you say "these are the greatest", you obligate yourself to present the greatest.

I quit on Lost early in season 3. smile

Last edited by couchgrouch; 01/18/17 08:50 PM.

Nashville demos etc:

https://www.soundclick.com/bands3/default.cfm?bandID=431939

other demos:

https://soundcloud.com/wabash-cannibal

Amazon Kindle books by Robert George you may enjoy:

1) Americana

2) Teenage Graceland

3) The Will to Be

4) Fort Mystery

5) Wheel Sea

6) My One True Love
#1122737 - 01/18/17 08:52 PM Re: 50 Top Singer-songwriter Albums [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 7,959
couchgrouch Online content
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couchgrouch  Online Content
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Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 7,959
Ben, Chuck's best stuff was done before the "album" era ushered in by Dylan, The Beatles, The Stones etc.


Nashville demos etc:

https://www.soundclick.com/bands3/default.cfm?bandID=431939

other demos:

https://soundcloud.com/wabash-cannibal

Amazon Kindle books by Robert George you may enjoy:

1) Americana

2) Teenage Graceland

3) The Will to Be

4) Fort Mystery

5) Wheel Sea

6) My One True Love
#1122740 - 01/18/17 09:17 PM Re: Uncut's 50 Top Singer-songwriter Albums [Re: couchgrouch]  
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 5,108
Michael Zaneski Offline
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Michael Zaneski  Offline
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California
Originally Posted by couchgrouch
Mike, to me the list is meaningless because it says those are the 50 greatest singer songwriter albums and they're not. They nullify their own list striving for diversity. Quotas kill quality. Just say buy these albums and be done with it. Once you say "these are the greatest", you obligate yourself to present the greatest.

I quit on Lost early in season 3. smile


Well shame on me, I suppose, for trying to continue a conversation using a list.

To me, it's obvious the list is not intended to literally mean the most critically acclaimed singer-songwriter albums by universal, critical consensus. Their title is "Uncut's 50 Greatest Singer/Songwriter Albums" so I guess I should have left their name in there, when I created the marquee (I just changed the marquee to reflect that). I figured nobody knew who "Uncut" was, but I can see now that leaving it is important. It's a list of Uncut's personal choices, year by year from the mid-sixties to the present.

Certainly there can be another kind of list with fewer artists with more albums, and some years would have several entries, and some years none. But I'd still expect plenty of arguing over THAT kind of list as well.

But again, why should that make the list meaningless?

My intention, again, was only to use the list to give examples to further a conversation. It is in NO WAY a reflection of my personal choices.

I have no great inner need to rewrite the list to reflect my personal taste. I can appreciate someone else's, even if it's the misguided attempt (spreading the albums throughout each of the last five decades) of perhaps a couple dozen folks who run a music website.

Quotas kill quality..perhaps true..but giving examples for every year also makes sure that one isn't choosing with a bias towards what Ben called "liking best the music you grew up with."

Truly, I don't know half the albums from the last ten years or so.

But I kind of like the idea they are mentioned. Now they are on my radar.

Like I said, I can see the value in such a list. I'm okay with the fact that you can't. smile

Mike

Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 01/18/17 09:54 PM.

Fate doesn't hang on a wrong or right choice
Fortune depends on the tone of your voice

-The Divine Comedy (Neil Hannon)
from the song "Songs of Love"
from the album "Casanova" (1996)
#1122742 - 01/18/17 10:13 PM Re: Uncut's 50 Top Singer-songwriter Albums [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 7,959
couchgrouch Online content
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couchgrouch  Online Content
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Posts: 7,959
No shame on you. I love these discussions with you and MAB and everyone else. It's not really about agreeing all the time or being right or wrong but just blowing your bazoo about music.
The kid at the record store in Tucson had never heard of Joy Division. That discussion won't be any fun. smile


Nashville demos etc:

https://www.soundclick.com/bands3/default.cfm?bandID=431939

other demos:

https://soundcloud.com/wabash-cannibal

Amazon Kindle books by Robert George you may enjoy:

1) Americana

2) Teenage Graceland

3) The Will to Be

4) Fort Mystery

5) Wheel Sea

6) My One True Love
#1122744 - 01/18/17 10:29 PM Re: Uncut's 50 Top Singer-songwriter Albums [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 122
BenJones Offline
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BenJones  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 122
Originally Posted by Michael Zaneski
Originally Posted by couchgrouch
Mike, to me the list is meaningless because it says those are the 50 greatest singer songwriter albums and they're not. They nullify their own list striving for diversity. Quotas kill quality. Just say buy these albums and be done with it. Once you say "these are the greatest", you obligate yourself to present the greatest.

I quit on Lost early in season 3. smile


Well shame on me, I suppose, for trying to continue a conversation using a list.

To me, it's obvious the list is not intended to literally mean the most critically acclaimed singer-songwriter albums by universal, critical consensus. Their title is "Uncut's 50 Greatest Singer/Songwriter Albums" so I guess I should have left their name in there, when I created the marquee (I just changed the marquee to reflect that). I figured nobody knew who "Uncut" was, but I can see now that leaving it is important. It's a list of Uncut's personal choices, year by year from the mid-sixties to the present.

Certainly there can be another kind of list with fewer artists with more albums, and some years would have several entries, and some years none. But I'd still expect plenty of arguing over THAT kind of list as well.

But again, why should that make the list meaningless?

My intention, again, was only to use the list to give examples to further a conversation. It is in NO WAY a reflection of my personal choices.

I have no great inner need to rewrite the list to reflect my personal taste. I can appreciate someone else's, even if it's the misguided attempt (spreading the albums throughout each of the last five decades) of perhaps a couple dozen folks who run a music website.

Quotas kill quality..perhaps true..but giving examples for every year also makes sure that one isn't choosing with a bias towards what Ben called "liking best the music you grew up with."

Truly, I don't know half the albums from the last ten years or so.

But I kind of like the idea they are mentioned. Now they are on my radar.

Like I said, I can see the value in such a list. I'm okay with the fact that you can't. smile

Mike
u

Michael, I can see exactly where you are coming from, it's frustrating to post something and have people kind of chit on it, even if they weren't meaning to chit on it, they are commenting on the content of the article not the person. But I feel ya

I think lists on best songs and songwriters and albums, are flawed, not because I may or not agree, but because somebody has to write that list, and then what makes his opinion

If you go in YouTube and just type in...best rock bands of all time, you will get a clear age influenced variety of lists.

I still make the early judgement sometimes, even if I'm not right.

But i think it's impossible to even write a list of "best of anything" all you can write is this is MY best of
List, which then becomes pointless, cause nobody has the same list.

I'm not sure how to make a completely objective list, because you are only going to mention stuff that you know, or like, how could you mention something you never listen to as being the best?

It's all opinion at the end of the day,miss kind of like political shows, at the end of the hour nobody stands up and says ....u k ow I've been a democrat my whole life, but after listening to you I'm now a republican, that has never happened and never will.

Same idea

Last edited by BenJones; 01/18/17 10:36 PM.
#1122748 - 01/18/17 10:49 PM Re: Uncut's 50 Top Singer-songwriter Albums [Re: BenJones]  
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Posts: 5,108
Michael Zaneski Offline
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Michael Zaneski  Offline
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Originally Posted by BenJones
Originally Posted by Michael Zaneski
Originally Posted by couchgrouch
Mike, to me the list is javascript:%20void(0)meaningless because it says those are the 50 greatest singer songwriter albums and they're not. They nullify their own list striving for diversity. Quotas kill quality. Just say buy these albums and be done with it. Once you say "these are the greatest", you obligate yourself to present the greatest.

I quit on Lost early in season 3. smile


Well shame on me, I suppose, for trying to continue a conversation using a list.

To me, it's obvious the list is not intended to literally mean the most critically acclaimed singer-songwriter albums by universal, critical consensus. Their title is "Uncut's 50 Greatest Singer/Songwriter Albums" so I guess I should have left their name in there, when I created the marquee (I just changed the marquee to reflect that). I figured nobody knew who "Uncut" was, but I can see now that leaving it is important. It's a list of Uncut's personal choices, year by year from the mid-sixties to the present.

Certainly there can be another kind of list with fewer artists with more albums, and some years would have several entries, and some years none. But I'd still expect plenty of arguing over THAT kind of list as well.

But again, why should that make the list meaningless?

My intention, again, was only to use the list to give examples to further a conversation. It is in NO WAY a reflection of my personal choices.

I have no great inner need to rewrite the list to reflect my personal taste. I can appreciate someone else's, even if it's the misguided attempt (spreading the albums throughout each of the last five decades) of perhaps a couple dozen folks who run a music website.

Quotas kill quality..perhaps true..but giving examples for every year also makes sure that one isn't choosing with a bias towards what Ben called "liking best the music you grew up with."

Truly, I don't know half the albums from the last ten years or so.

But I kind of like the idea they are mentioned. Now they are on my radar.

Like I said, I can see the value in such a list. I'm okay with the fact that you can't. smile

Mike
u

Michael, I can see exactly where you are coming from, it's frustrating to post something and have people kind of chit on it, even if they weren't meaning to chit on it, they are commenting on the content of the article not the person. But I feel ya

I think lists on best songs and songwriters and albums, are flawed, not because I may or not agree, but because somebody has to write that list, and then what makes his opinion

If you go in YouTube and just type in...best rock bands of all time, you will get a clear age influenced variety of lists.

I still make the early judgement sometimes, even if I'm not right.

But i think it's impossible to even write a list of "best of anything" all you can write is this is MY best of
List, which then becomes pointless, cause nobody has the same list.

I'm not sure how to make a completely objective list, because you are only going to mention stuff that you know, or like, how could you mention something you never listen to as being the best?

It's all opinion at the end of the day,miss kind of like political shows, at the end of the hour nobody stands up and says ....u k ow I've been a democrat my whole life, but after listening to you I'm now a republican, that has never happened and never will.

Same idea


Hey Ben, thanks for that. smile

Yes, the very nature of hierarchical lists is flawed, but again..the fact that critical merit can't all be agreed upon and so is somewhat subjective--that doesn't mean that the thing has no value. Plus..there's something kinda weirdly cool in how they DO rankle some folks so much. I mean..it IS one way into a conversation, but maybe not the one you are looking for, LOL.

Honestly, my only thought was "hey! I know a lot of these albums! Some of them are milestones or have songs that are milestones of the confessional variety of singer-songwriter. I can talk about a few of them, for sure."

It's all good, really. Couch and I are friends and with Rob I would expect nor want any less than a bit of bazoo blowing from him. smile

Couch, maybe no conversation from that Tuscon record store clerk, but a chance to say "listen to this" and put "Unknown Pleasures" in his hand. smile

Mike

Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 01/18/17 10:52 PM.

Fate doesn't hang on a wrong or right choice
Fortune depends on the tone of your voice

-The Divine Comedy (Neil Hannon)
from the song "Songs of Love"
from the album "Casanova" (1996)
#1122965 - 01/21/17 03:50 PM Re: Uncut's 50 Top Singer-songwriter Albums [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 2,760
MidniteBob Offline
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MidniteBob  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 2,760
Raleigh, ya'll
I missed this when first posted, so I'll chime briefly.

I love the fact that Tim Hardin made the list!

Someone mentioned the lack of Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks"....I couldn't agree more.

I couldn't agree less with "Tunnel of Love" being Springsteen's contribution..."Nebraska" anyone?!?!??!!!

I think these kind of lists are a hoot o' fun, in no small part because the conversations tend to take on a life of their own and we all get to know a tad more about each other:-)

Midnite


Satchel was right. Something is gaining on me.

The Shoebox & Dinner at Eight trailers available at:

http://www.twometer.com/Two_Meter_Studios/HOME.html

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