Part 231: Top 5…of all time?

RECORD STORE TALES Part 231:  Top 5…of all time?

I put in just shy of 12 years at the record store.  That’s a lot of time to work retail.  If you’ve worked retail, you know what I’m talking about.  If you haven’t, it has its ups and downs.  The ups include discounts.  The downs entail being abused by the general public on a daily basis.

I have a nice plaque around here somewhere, commemorating 7 years at the store.  It was a pretty cool gift.  It was a total surprise, how it happened.  My boss phoned me out of the blue one day.

“Mike,” he said.  “I need a list of the top 5 albums of all time.  It’s for an article we’re doing.”

“Cool!” I responded eagerly.  “But what are the parameters?  Is it like rock, or all genres?  Because that’s just a wide-open question.”

“Just what you think are the top albums of all time, that’s all I really need.”

Cool!  I started work on it.  I wanted to be objective, fair.  If I were making a personalized list of a top 5, it would be easy, I know there would be some Kiss and Sabbath in there.  I wanted to discount my own personal biases and try to be as open as possible for this particular list.

First of all, I chose The Wall.  I admit that I chose this over Dark Side due to personal preference, also I think a double album like The Wall deserves many accolades.  I obviously had to give respect to two of the greatest bands of all time, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles.  I chose Zeppelin IV and Abbey Road.  I really couldn’t choose a Zeppelin, so I went with IV as kind of a default answer.  Abbey Road is arguably the most genius the Beatles ever were, so I could easily choose that over Sgt. Pepper’s.

OK, three down!  Even though all three artists I chose were different from each other, they were all rock, so I needed to go outside that box.  To represent country, I decided on Folson Prison by Johnny Cash.  Were this a more personalized list, I would choose San Quentin, but I went with Folsom as it seems to be the best known.

I didn’t know what to pick last, so I went with a cop-out answer.  Back In Black.  What a weak, spineless choice!  What am I a college student?  Anyway, again I decided to be open and think about how many copies it sold, not about the many superior AC/DC albums.

I submitted my list.  A month or two later, I was presented with this plaque!  And these five albums were on the plaque!  My boss had collected lists from a few of us who had been there a while, and given us custom made plaques, with the CDs and everything.  It was really cool and I treasured mine for years.

I only wish he had worded his question differently!  If I had known in advance what he was really asking (thus spoiling the surprise) I would have chosen these five:

5. Iron MaidenPiece of Mind

4. KissAlive

3. Kiss Hotter Than Hell

2. Deep PurpleFireball

1. Black SabbathBorn Again

The original plaque is packed up in a box, as Mrs. LeBrain and I are planning a move to a bigger place.  Here’s the five albums that made it onto the plaque though, at least all albums I proudly own.  And because I don’t do anything small, I own them all in some kind of crazy deluxe box set.  Enjoy.


  1. I flip between Abbey Road and the white album – I usually pick the white, likely for the same reason you chose The Wall in your original list, the double LP (however messy ‘The Beatles’ may be) is certainly worthy of praise!


  2. Basically, all anyone needs to know about why I, or anyone should, love your blog, is the fact “Born Again” is your #1 of your “Top 5…of All-Time”. That ugly duckling of an album, maligned by so many critics and wanna-be critics, but championed by Mike, is why I love this site (and why the Deluxe Edition of “Born Again” is now in my collection, too)!


  3. Wow looks like that Pink Floyd and Led Zep box had the same designer! I definitely prefer your own personal Top 5. All incredible albums and Born Again is incredible! An all-time classic underdog album. Hotter Than Hell’s an interesting KISS choice too! I like it!

    I’d do my own Top 5 but I’d need more time Captain!


  4. This would be a hard decision for me to make. I don’t know if I could do it, although I would have to agree that The Wall is an amazing album. Working in a record store takes its’ toll on the ol’ budget, though, doesn’t it? It reminds me of the old saying by some ancient Greek who loved books so much he said, “When I get a little money i buy books. If anything is left over, I buy food and clothes.”


  5. Your lack of Stones disturbs me…

    Haha. That’s the beauty of these lists, chaçun son gôut, non? (Each to his own tastes, for those who can’t be bothered to translate). I love lists like that. I did something similar on The KMA, at one time. Not sure if my list would be the same now – there might be a couple of changes. It’s a fun mental exercize though.

    I still need to get Born Again. Didn’t see it in Taranna.


    1. LOL! I love that “Your lack of Stones…” comment. Genius.

      Truthfully I kind of hope my list changes. I hope something I’ve yet to hear is so good that it cracks my top five. That would be a cool experience. I hope it happens.


  6. I’d probably go with Abbey Road too. Mainly because it’s a single album and therefore more concise. But I’d probably place The Wall over Dark Side due to personal taste. My personal top ten would have been way different. I’m much more into grunge.
    We could probably have a sitcom together. The Canadian who’s into 80’s metal and the American into 90’s grunge.


      1. That’s a terrible record! Goin’ Blind must be one of the worst songs ever – certainly the creepiest (I will be writing about that song soon).
        Presumably you like HTH because of the Japanese cover?
        I must tell you about the complete set of European Kiss Picture discs I bought in 1988 one day….


        1. “I’m 93 you’re 16”. I love Goin’ Blind. Can’t wait for your writeup!

          Hotter Than Hell was my very first Kiss album, so that’s how that happened!

          And I can’t wait to see these picture discs…hope you still have them!


        2. Very rarely so well done! I just got a Kiss rarity in the mail JUST NOW. Now lie. A CD called Deadly Demos. Can’t wait to spin this one. I specifically bought it for a demo called “Feels Like Heaven” which is notable for Gene’s ending: “Let me wrap your steaming piss flaps around my nose.” True. I may finally have acquired it.


Rock a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s