See Nikki Hill at 191 Toole. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3. 191 Toole Ave. $12. 21+
Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963
As hard as it was choosing five favorite albums, this album is definitely in my top five favorite live albums. To me it is the definitive rock and roll show. The grit, the frenzy, the fucking VOICE. I love it so much. This album was shelved for over two decades as it was too raw to RCA at the time. It's amazing how much even the most successful black artists of our time have been silenced and not allowed to be varied and true to themselves without threat to their careers. I listen to a lot of music of this era and prior, so it's impossible for me to not see these parallels constantly within my favorite albums.
Back to Black
I'm so glad that we live in a world where Amy Winehouse, The Dap-Kings, Salaam Remi, and Mark Ronson were able to come together and make art. I adore the girl group nod. I love the songwriting, the melodies, the attitude. I can put this one on any time. It is right there with the classics for me.
This is a complete album from start to finish. Creates such a great vibe, I love turning this one on and cranking it up loud in the beginning and at the end of a tour on some part of the drive when it's just me and my husband in the van and we just absorb it all in for the thousandth time. Link Wray is a North Carolina native like us, so the album also gives me a sense of nostalgia, and a boost of morale while I think of all the great artists that come from my home state.
Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul
Honestly, if it says Stax (especially between the late '50s to mid 1970s), I'm likely to give it a listen. So many of my favorite artist's releases are on the Stax label. Otis is a huge inspiration, and it's hard to really narrow down a favorite album of his, but I love every song on this album, from the ballads to the uplifting dance songs. Otis Redding reaffirms my love for Little Richard, with that distinct phrasing and influence of rock n' roll straight from the gospel, while adding his own touch. His voice is just so damn cool on these songs.
The Chess Box
This is a box set compilation that features Howlin' Wolf, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Etta James and Willie Dixon. I highly recommend collecting all of them. 'Nuff said right there. My favorite part about these box sets is the rabbit hole it has sent me down over the years! If a song or album opens up the door for me to learn about even more songs and albums, it instantly becomes a favorite.