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The Very Best (According to Me)

This summer I did some deep musical soul-searching, which for the sake of avoiding repetition, I won't detail (if you need to, go read this, then come back). One of the results of that was a massive expansion of the list of my favorite albums. Previously, I had arbitrarily set the number at 20.

After considering nearly every album I own, that number now sits at 95. Since early August I have steadily been writing up my thoughts on each album for the sidebar link you can see if you just scan your eyes slightly to your right. As of yesterday, I'm done!

A few incidentals and disclaimers regarding the list:

A) As I stated before, this list is not intended to be a list of the greatest albums of all time. There are a lot of albums I would consider great that I didn't put on the list (for example, Paul Simon's Graceland or Def Leppard's Hysteria). I had to have a strong personal connection to the album for it to make the list. That's why, conversely, there are probably…

And in the End...

(Honks horn) "Ten years, man! Ten! Where have you been for ten years?!"* 

Well, I've been here. I started this blog in November of 2003. Friends were always asking me, "How's the new CD by blank?" I was a music obsessive who loved to write, so I decided CD reviews would be the best way to answer that.

Over the past 9 years and 10 months I have written 400 separate blog entries on 3 Minutes, 49 Seconds, nearly 300 of which were album reviews. I created a spinoff site dedicated to pop music films (Baby, I'm a Star; worth exploring sometime if I do say so). I got together with some friends and made lists of our favorite songs from the last four decades (and all of them, by the way, have way more visits than this main site). When I look back at what I've done, I'm really proud.

But it's no secret that my production on this blog has slowed way down. There are logistical reasons for this, as I explained in my last post, but it's more than just …

Time May Change Me

This November marks the 10th anniversary of this blog. When I started the blog (under its original name, Pop Life), I was 26-years-old and starting my first year as a teacher. I was perennially single, living in a one bedroom apartment near Uptown Minneapolis. I bought two or three CDs a week, minimum.

As I write today, I'm 36. I've been married for five years, and I have two sons, aged 3 1/2 and 4 months. I live in a three bedroom house in Saint Paul. I buy, at most, 5 physical CDs a year. I download one new album every 3 weeks, on average.

I share this to illustrate a couple of points. One is that my music consumption has declined significantly. There are a host of factors contributing to that decline, but above all it's time. I'll touch on this a bit more later, but it's not my main concern.

The other point involves technology, namely the rise of the mp3. The iTunes Store actually made its debut the same year as this blog, and the resultant availability of legal…

Rock Solid: The Beatles

"If you only own one album by The Beatles it's gotta be [insert masterpiece here]."

Welcome to Rock Solid, where we fill in the blank. Our goal is to pseudo-scientifically determine the best, the beloved, the most classic album in an artist's catalog.

Here's how it works: I've consulted two main sources. The All Music Guide provides the professional critical point-of-view and Amazon.com offers the fan perspective (because most people who choose to review albums on Amazon are adoring fans of the artist in question). The album with the highest combined rating from both sources is the one I'll consider the best.

An artist's entire body of work is eligible, with one exception: No compilations (i.e. greatest hits).In each case, I'll also share my personal favorite album by the artist in question, as if you care.

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For over 30 years - from 1967 to 2000 - there was a no-brainer answer to which Beatles album was considered the best: Sgt. Pepper's Lon…

Rock Solid: Madonna

"If you only own one album by Madonna it's gotta be [insert masterpiece here]."

Welcome to Rock Solid, where we fill in the blank. Our goal is to pseudo-scientifically determine the best, the beloved, the most classic album in an artist's catalog.

Here's how it works: I've consulted two main sources. The All Music Guide provides the professional critical point-of-view and Amazon.com offers the fan perspective (because most people who choose to review albums on Amazon are adoring fans of the artist in question). The album with the highest combined rating from both sources is the one I'll consider the best.

An artist's entire body of work is eligible, with one exception: No compilations (i.e. greatest hits).In each case, I'll also share my personal favorite album by the artist in question, as if you care.

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Let's start by acknowledging the fact that Madonna doesn't have a masterpiece album. There's no transcendent Thriller, no Rumours, …

Rock Solid: Jay-Z

"If you only own one album by Jay-Z it's gotta be [insert masterpiece here]."

Welcome to Rock Solid, where we fill in the blank. Our goal is to pseudo-scientifically determine the best, the beloved, the most classic album in an artist's catalog.

Here's how it works: I've consulted two main sources. The All Music Guide provides the professional critical point-of-view and Amazon.com offers the fan perspective (because most people who choose to review albums on Amazon are adoring fans of the artist in question). The album with the highest combined rating from both sources is the one I'll consider the best.

An artist's entire body of work is eligible, with one exception: No compilations (i.e. greatest hits).In each case, I'll also share my personal favorite album by the artist in question, as if you care.


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One could argue pretty convincingly that Jay-Z is a singles artist above all else, if only because it acknowledges his memorable guest appearan…