As The Big List approaches No. 100, I’m getting more excited. More people are responding more positively, which makes sense. The albums are more recognizable, and some peoples’ favorite have already been posted.
Imagine how much fun it will be when even more popular albums are posted.
But then I looked at the top 100 with a more discerning eye. As I eyeballed it and got right down to it, I discovered a full quarter of the top 100 could easily been seen as “obscure.” There are going to be albums coming up that few, if any, will recognize.
Maybe the people who complain about my obscure tastes are exactly right.
I’ll show you the 10 most obscure, but only after explaining why 14 albums I thought might be the most obscure didn’t make the cut. In reverse order:
86. “Pink Pearl,” Jill Sobule – Sobule had an MTV hit with “I Kissed a Girl.” This was five years after that.
84. “Randy Newman’s ‘Faust’ ” – It’s an obscure album of his, certainly. It didn’t reach Billboard’s Top 100.
83. “Dog Problems,” The Format – Nate Ruess formed fun. after this. The Format, kind of unknown. Ruess’ voice? You’ve heard it.
59. “I’m With Stupid,” Aimee Mann – You might recognize Mann from Til Tuesday’s “Voice Carry” from MTV’s early prime, or from her appearance on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” or “Portlandia.”
58. “I Often Dream of Trains,” Robyn Hitchcock – Not released in the U.S. But there’s another album for which he’s responsible higher on the list.
56. “Singles ’96-‘06,” Hooverphonic – Same as Hitchcock: There’s another album of theirs higher up.
50. “The Right to be Italian,” Holly and the Italians – This was my last cut to get to the final 10.
49. “100 cc,” 10cc – “Rubber Bullets” charted here, and “I’m Not In Love” was on the charts when this early best-of was released.
48 “The Pilgrim,” Marty Stuart – Stuart jokes about this as his lowest-selling record.
47. “whitechocolatespaceegg,” Liz Phair – Phair has been on the cover of Rolling Stone and hit Billboard’s singles chart.
46. “Love Junk,” The Pursuit of Happiness – “I’m An Adult Now” was kind of a hit. Kind of.
43. “Rough Mix,” Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane – Pete Townshend is the leader of The Who,
30. “Psonic Psunspot,” XTC/Dukes of Stratosphear – Only fans knew these 1960s-style songs were by XTC.
27. “Sound Affects,” The Jam – They charted late in their career, and had two British No. 1s on this album. By this point, we’re excluding stuff by degree of obscurity.
And now, the top 10 obscurities
So there’s stuff more obscure than those? You betcha. Four of these albums weren’t released in the U.S. (although they should have been), and there are a couple that are a challenge to find even now.
91. “She,” Willie Wisely – Perfect power pop. The genre isn’t adored by the masses, and certainly not loved the way I love it.
82. “Stands for Decibels,” The dB’s (1981) – Another power pop classic that never charted.
68. “Peggy Suicide,” Julian Cope – You couldn’t be blamed for ignoring this because of its title, even though I think it’s the greatest album title ever.
54. “Pretty Little Lonely,” Michael Petak – They were so desperate to break this guy, they attached a VHS tape to some copies of the CD. The guy left the music business after this came out. I and others have sent e-mails to a person we believe is him. No responses.
53. “Hooverphonic Presents Jackie Cane,” Hooverphonic – (1) They’re a Belgian band. (2) They play trip-hop. (3) They were severely style-hopping with this album. (4) It’s a concept album. I don’t blame anyone for skipping this one.
45. “The Bis-Quits” – They wrote a version of “Johnny B. Goode,” called it “Yo Yo Ma” and included a guitar solo I once described as sounding l”like Derek and the Dominos on a bender.”
37. “Jam Science,” Shriekback – I loved this band dearly for a stretch in the mid-1980s. There were multiple versions of this album because of disputes with their record company. I own them all. I’m the only one I know.
36. “Message from the Country,” The Move – I supposed I could have disallowed this based on the Electric Light Orchestra connection. (They were recording the first Electric Light Orchestra album at the same time they recorded this.)
5. “Underwater Moonlight,” The Soft Boys – Robyn Hitchcock’s masterpiece. What a great album title, for starters. And the cover is an illustration of the title song.
2. “World So Bright,” Adam Schmitt – I can and will make a case for this being the greatest American album ever, even though (a) it’s power pop and (b) the only reason anyone reading this has heard of Adam Schmitt is because of me raving about him.