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5 Albums I Can't Live Without

5 Albums I Can’t Live Without: Tom Maginnis of Buffalo Tom

(Credit: Kelly Davidson Studio)

Name  Buffalo Tom / Tom Maginnis

Best known for  The quiet Buffalo.

Current city  Newburyport

Really want to be in  It’s a toss-up between the French Riviera and the Amalfi Coast. Eat, drink, swim, sleep, and breathe, and somehow avoid the tourists!

Excited about  Buffalo Tom’s 10th album, Jump Rope (releasing May 31), finally coming out and touring again.

My current music collection has a lot of  I’ve been replacing or filing in the gaps in my collection on vinyl, realizing I’m missing a great indie rock/punk record that my brother or roommates owned and I suddenly realize that I don’t have it! Loaded by The Velvet Underground and New Day Rising by Hüsker Dü are recent examples.

And a little bit of  Jazz, mostly cool jazz and Brazilian jazz/samba these days. Also, a decent amount of ‘60s folk, pop, ‘70s rock, and some classic country records.

Preferred format  I prefer vinyl at home and streaming in the car for obvious reasons. There is nothing like vinyl on big home stereo speakers that can fill a room with sound. CDs do sound much better in the car than streaming, just not as convenient. I’ll keep a few in the car and pop them in once in a while.

5 Albums I Can’t Live Without:


The Beatles 1967-1970, The Beatles

This is a bit of cheat, picking a compilation. But it is foundational and the second album I ever bought (the first one being The Beatles 1962-1966!). It covers all the songwriting greatness and studio mastery in one double LP. There is so much written about this group, I’ll just leave it at that. This is the foundation for me. 


Let It Bleed, The Rolling Stones

I’m tempted to pick Hot Rocks, 1964-1971, for the same reasons as stated above, but let’s go with what I think is the Stones record that captures them at their peak. The sound quality is just amazing and song for song, note for note, it never falters, never disappoints.


After the Gold Rush, Neil Young

This where I’m supposed pick a Dylan record, and I’m sure Chris [Colbourn, Buffalo Tom bassist] will be incredulous that I’m not, but this record scratches all the folk, country, and rock ‘n roll itches in one album for me. Inspired by a screenplay Dean Stockwell never got made (at least, I don’t think so) it has moments of real heartache, a few snarling rockers, folksy strummers, and a few protest songs to boot. What more do you need? Well, there’s the beautifully slowed down version of the Don Gibson country classic, “Oh, Lonesome Me.” Again, this one is just perfect from beginning to end.


Fun House, The Stooges

Believe it or not, I actually started out [as] a solo Iggy Pop fan. It wasn’t until I started digging deeper that I discovered he was the leader of what would become a musical revolution, before the masses were ready for it. Released in 1970 with little fanfare and underwhelming sales, The Stooges’ influence slowly grew over the years until they were eventually crowned the godfathers of punk. Both The Stooges self-titled debut and 1973’s Raw Power have some of the band’s most iconic songs (“I Wanna Be Your Dog,” “Search & Destroy”), but it’s the second album that captures the visceral impact of these musical primitives best. It’s not a perfect album, I could live without the acid rock jazz fusion freakout, “L.A. Blues,” that ends the album, but as the kids say, Side One just slays! Every song is delivered with brute force, the band determined will to make something powerful, raw, and beautiful, with few tools they had. No tricks, no sleight of hand. Special nod to drummer Scott Asheton who somehow manages to make these rock song swing.


You’re Living All Over Me, Dinosaur Jr.

I figured I’d have to include a record from my own college/post-punk/indie rock era. While there are quite a few milestones of the epoch, Zen Arcade (Husker Du), Let It Be (Replacements), EVOL (Sonic Youth), Surfa Rosa (Pixies), Nevermind (Nirvana) to name a few, none of them quite match the towering statement that is Dinosaur Jr.’s second album, released in 1987. This record somehow blended everything I loved in rock music, spawning something altogether new, like if Neil Young, The Cure, and Black Sabbath had a baby?!? Ok, maybe not. 

The low-budget recording actually benefits the overall vibe of the record lending the instruments a uniquely warm sound, providing the perfect bed for J [Mascis] to add various levels of volume and distortion at just the right moments for maximum impact. J’s twisting, yet melodic solos, perfectly express the youthful emotions the lyrics repeatedly struggle to communicate. It’s impossible to listen to this record passively. It just demands my full attention every time I hear it.