Forget the whales – save these poor, neglected albums

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I like music. I listen to it frequently. (My current obsession is Anne Murray‘s Duets — Friends and Legends. It is soooo good!) I believe it’s even fair to say I appreciate music — which is a good thing, apparently, because it seems that not all music is appreciated. I just read a seemingly random list of “10 Unappreciated Albums” on Musicouch.com. The author did not provide any context or standards, and I kind of agree with the only comment posted in response to the list: “I hav[e]n’t even heard of most of those bands. This article is pointless.” Yet I feel like making my own similarly pointless list.

So I’m considering my own CD collection and pondering which CDs are unappreciated — or at least underappreciated. And I mean which albums are unfairly maligned, or, more likely, unjustly ignored? Here are six, because that’s how many came to mind.

1. A Cheap and Evil Girl (2000) — Bree Sharp

Bree Sharp had one fairly big single off this album: “David Duchovny,” a catchy gimmick song that got her some attention, and probably led to her second album, More B.S.. Her first album, however, should have been bigger than the one song. It is absolutely fantastic. I stumbled across it at at a record store (remember record stores?), listened to a few tracks, walked away and then went back the next day to buy the album. I still listen to it regularly. The tracks “America,” “Walk Away” and “Faster, Faster” floor me every time.

2. Really Rosie (1975) — Carole King (story and lyrics by Maurice Sendak)

I suspect that Really Rosie, the soundtrack to the Maurice Sendak television special, is often dismissed as a children’s album. While it is a great children’s album — and listening to it brings me right back to the television special — it is also a clever, interesting album in its own right. As a review put it,

“Carole King’s 11 songs for the Really Rosie TV special … from characters found in Maurice Sendak’s books The Sign on Rosie’s Door and Nutshell Library, but it can easily be argued that the characters never really lived until given voice by King.”

I’m not going to argue that this is Carole King’s best album. That’s Tapestry. But it’s great listening.

3. Suzanne Vega (1985) — Suzanne Vega

Suzanne Vega hit it big with her second album, Solitude Standing, in 1987, but her eponymous debut was an album worth recognizing. Three singles made it to the charts in the U.K., but I believe that only “Marlene on the Wall” was at all big in the U.S. I would argue, however, that “The Queen and the Soldier” is one of her all-time best songs.

4. Grease: A New ’50s Rock ‘n’ Roll Musical — The Original Broadway Cast Album (1972)

The soundtrack from the movie Grease is one of the best selling soundtracks of all time. But I am among the few who prefer the original Broadway cast album to the movie soundtrack. The Broadway recording is consistent with the ’50s theme of the show. There are no anachronistic, disco-era songs. The album provides a rare opportunity to hear Adrienne Barbeau sing. And, frankly, although “I’m All Shook Up” has never had its own mega-mix, I think it’s a better song than “You’re the One That I Want.”

5. Maria McKee (1986) — Maria McKee

Former Lone Justice lead singer Maria McKee is another underappreciated performer. (It probably wouldn’t be fair to call her unappreciated.) Her debut solo album has some strong country influences and is bookended by two great songs, “I’ve Forgotten What It Was in You (That Put the Need in Me)” and “Drinkin’ in My Sunday Dress.” This album is also the source of the single made famous by the Dixie Chicks, “Am I the Only One (Who’s Ever Felt This Way?)”. She followed up with the bluesy You Gotta Sin to Get Saved in 1993 and the alternative Life Is Sweet in 1996, but she’s never gotten the appreciation I believe she deserves.

6. There Goes the Wondertruck (1989) — Mary’s Danish

Mary’s Danish was one of the great bands of the late ’80s/early ’90s that never really went anywhere. I may be biased because I went to college with (but did not know) singers Julie Ritter and Gretchen Seager. In fact, I stumbled across a free concert on campus, bought the tape that afternoon and have been listening to their rock/funk sound ever since. There Goes the Wondertruck is a rare perfect album. Every song, beginning with “Don’t Crash the Car Tonight” and ending with “Dodge City” is excellent, and I wish the album was generally recognized as the thing of beauty that it is.

So those are my picks from my CD collection. What are your picks? What poor unappreciated albums deserve the recognition they’ve been denied?

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