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Published: Sunday, 10/8/2006

The 5 must-have albums


Rock is dead, deceased, done.

We can agree, right? Good.

The day of the guitar hero, of 20-minute drum solos on 200-piece kits, of righteously believing when Roger Daltry cried Long live rock! Grandmaster Flash hammered the first nail, Nirvana dragged the rotting corpse, and, well, the culture itself dug a deep, dark gravesite.

Which means it s time to get nostalgic about nostalgia. It s time to recreate the experience of classic classic rock radio before it played U2 and R.E.M. and dabbled in System of a Down.

What follows are five albums you need to buy right now if you hope to think you know what the classic rock experience was about. Forget the lava lamps, the tie-dye, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Dylan, Springsteen, Hendrix even The Who. Classic rock radio was not proud, and it wasn t encumbered by quality or genuine classics though all of the above acts are staples of classic rock radio.

Wayne's World got it right: it was about guys in old cars with questionable taste and so much repetition, one might actually start to believe ELO was as important as the Stones.

For the sake of young listeners who think there s no 70s in their own CD collection, I ve included a contemporary alternative to ease them into those high times:

wBoston Boston (1976). Pop-inflected fueled by Toledo-native Tom Scholz s bright guitar licks, the Thriller of classic rock, with every song in rotation. Also, so plastic it sounds conceived by robots and music industry executives. The epitome of arena rock (though the band rarely toured). A 2006 alternative: Built to Spill s arena-perfect Perfect From Now On.

Cheap Trick At Budokan (1979). A subset of the classic-rock era was the live-album era. Kiss Alive II might be more representative of the excess of the genre, but Budokan captures the grandstanding thrill of a big show at a hockey rink, the Are-You-Ready-to-Rock of it all. A 2006 alternative: Hold Steady s rollicking Separation Sunday.

Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin II (1969). The quintessential classic rock album: indulgent, varied, packed with air-guitar riffs ( Whole Lotta Love ), over-the-top sexuality, and a hint of the blues. A 2006 alternative: Sleater-Kinney s riff-heavy, start- and-stop chugging One Beat.

The Allman Brothers Eat a Peach (1972). A grab bag of pastoral acoustic tunes, never-ending jams, with a roadhouse stomp for suburban kids who dreamed of their own shotgun shack. A 2006 alternative: Wilco s double-live Kicking Television: Live in Chicago.

Pink Floyd The Wall (1979). What would classic rock be without a concept album, easily pulled apart into massive, emotional, operatic tunes, with a dose of the experimental? Not the best Floyd, but the band at its paranoid best. A 2006 alternative: Radiohead s angsty Kid A.

Contact Christopher Borrelli at: cborrelli@theblade.comor 419-724-6117.

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