Guest Writer Dana McDonald, Morning Host – WNCL (Cool 101.3)
Over the summer while my family and I were on vacation in New Hampshire, I got into a conversation with the neighbor next door (John) about music, and ultimately, the greatest Rock and Roll album of all time. I had a few minutes to kill before my family’s dinner reservation, and as we talked, a virtual machine gun of album titles came flying out of our mouths. Albums like ”Rumours” from Fleetwood Mac, “Led Zeppelin IV”, “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” from The Beatles, “Moving Pictures” from RUSH, “Hotel California” by The Eagles, “Dark Side Of The Moon” from Pink Floyd…on and on we went. Our measure of a “great” album was based on nothing more than personal opinion. We talked about guitarists, drummers, vocalists and concerts more than charts and hits.
After about 15 minutes John said the greatest rock album of all time was “At Fillmore East” by The Allman Brothers Band. It was recorded over the course of three nights in March 1971 and features the band performing extended jam versions of songs such as “Whipping Post”, “You Don’t Love Me” and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.” When it was first released, it was issued as a double LP with just seven songs across four vinyl sides. John said “At Fillmore East” was the band’s artistic and commercial breakthrough, and has been considered by some critics to be one of the greatest live albums in rock music. It has also been ranked among the best overall albums by artists and continues to be a top seller in the band’s catalog, becoming their first album to go platinum. In 2004, the album was selected for preservation in the Library of Congress, deemed to be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important” by the National Recording Registry. But beyond all of that, John said “it’s just a great #@*&ing album”! I agreed it was a great album, but agreed to disagree that it was the “greatest”.
Now it was my turn. If you have ever listened to my morning show on Cool 101.3, you know that I consider RUSH to be THE greatest rock BAND of all time,period. And while I consider their albums “2112”, “Moving Pictures”, “Permanent Waves”, “Hemispheres” and practically every album in their catalog to be a masterpiece, I said that in my opinion, “The Wall” from Pink Floyd is, without question, THE greatest rock album of all time.
The Wall was the eleventh studio album by Pink Floyd, released as a double album in November of 1979. The album, a rock opera, initially received a mixed critical response, but was commercially successful, reaching number 3 on the UK Albums Chart, and topping the US Billboard 200 chart for 15 weeks! It became the band’s second-best selling album, behind “Dark Side Of The Moon”, one of the best-selling albums of all time, and one of the most well-known concept albums ever produced. It was composed primarily by vocalist and bassist Roger Waters, and was produced during an increasingly difficult time for the band. Roger Waters made it clear that it was his project and he was in charge, and it’s production even included the firing (and rehiring) of keyboardist Richard Wright. By 1999, the album had sold over 23 million units, making it the third-highest certified album in the US. In 2003, Rolling Stone placed “The Wall” at number 87 on its list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time”. Songs like “Comfortably Numb” with David Gilmore’s amazing guitar work, “Run Like Hell” and “Mother”, bring back great memories of high school, parties, and friendships that have lasted 40+ years. But beyond all that, it’s just a great #@*&ing album! The next time you have 90 minutes and nothing to do, sit back, put on a pair of headphones, listen to it from beginning to end, and remember what an amazing piece of music history it is! Thanks for reading this, and check me out weekday mornings between 5:30 and 10 on Cool 101.3 and Cool1013.com.
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