1. "The Glory of Gershwin" - Larry Adler (& Guests)
After discovering an old Larry Adler 78 RPM record, I started searching for more, and was amazed when I found that this harmonica virtuoso from the 1930’s had recorded an album with Sting, Peter Gabriel, Meatloaf, Cher, Elvis Costello, and a host of others. Produced by George Martin, this is a fabulous set of Gershwin classics, performed in a variety of musical styles. There just aren’t many octogenarians who can record with those ‘younger’ artists.
2. "Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of War of the Worlds" - Jeff Wayne
The ultimate concept album, narrated by Richard Burton, and featuring a cast of 1970’s vocal talent that included Justin Hayward, Phil Lynott, and Chris Thompson. The sound effects remind me of Old Time Radio shows, and the music is on a par with the best of the progressive rock groups. After 30 years, this is still being performed in concert.
3. "Through Children's Eyes" - The Limeliters
This live recording of children’s folk songs was made back in 1961. Besides transporting me back to my early childhood, this recording captures the intimate way that the Limeliters involved the audience in their performances.
4. "Aerial" - Kate Bush
I’ve been a Kate Bush fan since she released Wuthering Heights, and this recent album keeps calling me back for more. Who else could sing the value of Pi out to 50 decimal places and keep it interesting? My favorite though is The Coral Room.
5. "Music of the Spheres" - Mike Oldfield
Mike’s styles have changed dramatically since 1973, when as a teenager he recorded Tubular Bells. As a huge fan, I found it hard choosing just one album. But if I’m stuck on an island, I wanted at least one recording that features an orchestra and choir, and so this is it.
6. "Telluride Sessions" - Strength in Numbers
A bluegrass ‘supergroup’ analogous to rock’s Blind Faith. The varied songs and the synergy and emotion from these fine musicians keep these songs sounding fresh and engaging.
7. "This is the Moody Blues" - The Moody Blues
This collection features songs from their first seven albums, and blends them together seamlessly, with each song flowing into the next. Bonus points for being a double album.
8. "Schoolboys in Disgrace" - The Kinks
Ray Davies stands alone with his ability to tell stories through songs. This particular album is often overlooked, but offers a humorous glimpse at those long gone school days. It’s the last of the concept albums, right before the Kinks moved on to the arena rock sound.
9. "King David" - Alan Menkin & Tim Rice
This ‘oratorio’ had a very short run on Broadway, but the music and lyrics are incredible. I’m glad I found my copy of this out of print CD years ago, before the going price hit $100.
10. "Dreams of Children" - Shadowfax
My favorite Shadowfax album, this offers a fine mix of jazz/rock/folk fusion, and features the lyricon, an electronic wind instrument that the band helped to invent.