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Bold Forbes and Rock Lists: Thoroughbred Daily News Writer/Reporter Jon Forbes’ Top Ten Albums of All Time

March 18, 2009
Jon Forbes and fellow Kinks fan Smokey Stover

Jon Forbes and fellow Kinks fan Smokey Stover

I was delighted for so many reasons when Jon Forbes joined the staff of Thoroughbred Daily News:

– I was no longer the staff newbie
– Jon Forbes likes mule racing even more than I do
– Like many TDN staffers, Jon loves excellent rock music

And he’s got quite a bright future in sports writing. Winning the Horseplayer Magazine’s inaugural “Blog Yourself to a Job” contest led Forbes to write several features for the magazine in 2007. Jon was a Blood-Horse intern and contributor to California Thoroughbred,, and AQHA’s Racing Journal by the time he graduated the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program.

Fresh out of college, Jon made the trek from the San Francisco Bay Area in California to the Jersey Shore. He may know Black Ruby race calls by heart, but you should see the California Kid struggle with New Jersey snow on his car.

Ask him about Bay Meadows. Or ask him about any of the dozens of racetracks he’s visited. Ask him for the winner of the final race at any track that has closed since 1992. Or ask him for his top ten albums of all time:

1. The Who Sell Out-The Who (1967) The third LP by the ‘orrible ‘oo, a mock pirate radio broadcast, was the group’s first concept album. Included with the songs are fake commercials and “borrowed” jingles from Radio London broadcasts. Although the pirate radio broadcast concept loses steam at the end (apparently the group ran out of fake commercials and were in a hurry to finish production), it’s much more of a concept album than Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The album is full of sharp social criticism, but the album never ceases to lose its goofy sense of humor.

2. Ramones-The Ramones (1976): Thanks to bands like Yes; Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and the band that brought us the #4 album on this list, rock ‘n’ roll had become bloated and needed a spark of energy. Which was exactly what The Ramones self-titled debut album offered. Rock, I believe, has fun at its core, but the genre had become so darn self-serious by then. I mean, how can’t you love a band that doesn’t “wanna go down to the basement” or “walk around with you”, but does “wanna sniff some glue”? Note the irony of a Jewish Brooklyn native singing about a “Blitzkrieg bop” and how he’s a “Nazi schatzi” who fights “for the fatherland. “ 1-2-3-4!

3. Who’s Next-The Who (1971): Anyone who listens to classic rock on FM radio is probably sick of hearing Baba O’Riley, Behind Blue Eyes, and Won’t Get Fooled Again. I mean, those are great songs, but I have this album ranked highly because I really like a lot of the lesser-known tracks. The Song is Over successfully combines poignant soft rock with harder stuff. Getting in Tune is simply, well, a good tune. And Going Mobile is a fun song to sing while driving. Not that I sing in the car or anything…

4. Wish You Were Here-Pink Floyd (1975): Real Pink Floyd fans may a disagree with me, but this is by far my favorite Pink Floyd album. Actually, it’s the only one I listen to. I know a serious Pink Floyd fan who thinks its “cliché.” And granted, it’s not as adventurous or ground-breaking as some of their other efforts. But that’s why I like it: It isn’t so damn obtuse! The songs make sense. The theme of Syd Barrett’s downfall after falling into the trappings of rock ‘n’ roll success is easy for feeble minds like mine to follow. (Actually, David Gilmour and Richard Wright agree with me. Said Gilmour: “I for one would have to say that it is my favourite album, the Wish You Were Here album. The end result of all that, whatever it was, definitely has left me an album I can live with very, very happily. I like it very much.” And Wright: “It’s an album I can listen to for pleasure. And there aren’t many of the Floyd’s albums that I can say that about.”)

5. Revolver-The Beatles (1966): On this single album, you’ll find the childish fantasy of Yellow Submarine and the hard rock psychedelia of Tomorrow Never Knows. The latter track still kicks ass nearly 43 years later, and they didn’t have modern luxuries like synthesizers or computers to produce the trippy effects. On the other end of the complexity spectrum is For No One, a melancholy two-minute tale of a romantic breakup that lacks of the excessive saccharine-ness of some of McCartney’s later efforts.

6. Rubber Soul-The Beatles (1965): Really, the five and six spots are interchangeable. This LP was the Beatles’ last effort before Revolver. It does have a much more organic feel than the preceding album, however, but still was a tremendous move forward from their early albums. Gone are the “boy meets girl” and “boy loses girl” songs, replaced by songs about seduction, jealousy, adultery, and isolation. The Word is their first song about love as a broader concept, and I prefer it vastly over the pretentious All You Need Is Love, which came two years later.

7. Leave Home-The Ramones (1977): This is the Ramones’ second album, which is a lot like the first. Except now they prefer sniffing Carbona cleaning products to glue. And we should now fear opening that door, instead of going down to the basement. And while Jackie is a punk and Judy is a runt, Suzy is a headbanger. Gabba gabba hey!

8. The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society-The Kinks (1968): When young people were tuning in, dropping out, and turning on, the Kinks were singing about village greens, steam-powered trains, and picture books in this concept album, which about small-town British culture. There is an irony to Ray Davies’ lyrics, granted, but it’s an affectionate irony. God save Donald Duck, vaudeville and variety! (Except I don’t know why the American Donald Duck made Ray Davies’ list of British things that should be preserved, but I’ll grant him some artistic license.)

9. The Last Waltz-The Band (The concert was in 1976. Soundtrack released in 1978.): This album is about as “live” as Richard Manuel and Rick Danko now are (yeah, I went there), but hey, I like it. This soundtrack to the film of the same name is from The Band’s final concert with their original lineup. The album and film are filled with studio overdubs, but apparently Levon Helm’s drumming is live, so that’s good enough, right? And his vocals are pretty damn good on Up on Cripple Creek and The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. Except that hack Martin Scorsese truncated a lot of the songs in the film and took out the verses in Up on Cripple Creek that were about going to the racetrack. Those were the best verses!

10. Bringing It All Back Home-Bob Dylan (1965): I like Bob Dylan a lot, but on most of his albums, I love half the songs and never listen to the other half. But on Bringing It All Back Home, I’ll listen to nearly all of them, except I do prefer the live version of Maggie’s Farm. Also, I don’t think it’d be a stretch to say Subterranean Homesick Blues was one of the first rap songs.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Jonathan permalink
    March 18, 2009 8:01 am

    Great list, even if it implies that rock history ended abrubtly in 1977. The classics are classic for a reason and it’s good to see someone of a later generation who appreciates the contributions of the giants of classic rock.

    As I understand it, Levon Helm was so disgusted with Robbie Robertson’s coked-up delusions of grandeur about his position as The Band’s “leader” – dig all the long shots that his drug buddy Marty included in the film of him singing inaudibly – that he refused to perfom any overdubs whatsoever for The Last Waltz film or soundtrack. So not only is his ace drumming live, but all of his vocals as well.

    Robertson may have written their best material, but Helm’s emotive singing and perfect drumming, both on stage and in the studio, prove that he was the beating heart of The Band.

  2. March 18, 2009 10:06 am

    The Who, The Kinks, The Beatles and Floyd.
    Now we’re getting someplace.

    Girl. You reeealy got me now. Excellent addition to the list.
    The self-proclaimed “Barbara Livingston of the “po-dunk tracks” . LOL


    And yep I was asking him if he brought over his parka this winter.
    I can see it now – mumbling to his windshield every January morning 😀

  3. March 18, 2009 10:13 am

    Cool list, AND … I have to say there are few things in racing more fun than listening to Trevor Denman call mule races at Fairplex after Del Mar ends.

  4. March 19, 2009 10:24 am

    AirForbes1 wrote:

    3. Who’s Next-The Who (1971): Anyone who listens to classic rock on FM radio is probably sick of hearing Baba O’Riley, Behind Blue Eyes, and Won’t Get Fooled Again. I mean, those are great songs, but I have this album ranked highly because I really like a lot of the lesser-known tracks.


    Hey we never get tired of hearing that triumvirate/
    As a matter of fact their definitive set (with Zak Starkey on drums)
    took place at Madison Square Garden in the Concert for September 11th victims.

    It made me appreciate more about The Who’s talent, longevity, verve
    and charisma. They made The Rolling Stones pale by comparison on the
    same evening. I can only wish I was a fan of this band in my early teens,
    as I still have to sample more of their works.

    kick arse set: 😀

  5. lensjockey permalink
    March 22, 2009 8:49 pm

    interesting comments about Martin Scorsese. (Who also I’m afraid dropped the ball with NO DIRECTION HOME by thinking that any interview footage of Joan Baez is worth cutting any of the live Bob Dylan footage from that tour – it speakes louder of rock and roll than any of the interview sessions in that movie… AND Levon Helm, who was always the most interesting member of The Band as far as I can tell.

    Although I can’t help but wish he made it to England with Bob Dylan in 1966 (when that awesomely awesome bootleg was recorded) –
    The Who Sell Out had the BEST mod graphics on the cover – who can forget those baked beans? EW!

    mule racing is cool.

  6. lensjockey permalink
    March 22, 2009 8:51 pm

    Sarah, I LOVE these!

    Revolver is one of my faves too. really a mind-blower, Rubber Soul almost goes there… Revolver is tangy and metallic.


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