1. Bad Brains--Attitude. "These tracks from the ROIR sessions (before Ric Ocasek watered them down on Rock For Light) feature the hardest, most visceral, air-tight punk rock ever created, leavened by several groovy reggae numbers. Guaranteed to raise your pulse and pump YOU up."
2. Elvis Costello--Get Happy. "Elvis was my gateway to alternative rock, and I learned the lyrics to every one of his first six albums. Recorded after his run-in with Bonnie Bramblett (when he rudely disparaged Ray Charles), he wrote it under the influence of Stax and Motown, and though I've vacillated at times, this is the Costello album I always come back to."
3. The Saints--Eternally Yours. The perfect cross of Stones-ish rock punch and the Sex Pistols' attitude and energy, it's an angry shot across the cultural bow, assailing commercialism ('Know Your Product'), conformity ('Do The Robot'), and hipster smugness ('Private Affair')."
4. Mountain Goats--Tallahassee. "Great albums are not about the first listen but the 500th. Like a book that never grows old, this gripping story of dysfunctional alcoholics whose relationship, like their lives, is circling the drain, features some of the best writing I've ever heard, and sounds equally wonderful."
5. N.W.A. --Straight Outta Compton. "A half-dozen albums vied for this slot, and it was darn difficult, but it's impossible to discount the album that really got me interested in rap. Funny and lyrically rich, you can't underestimate the impact, or great lines such as 'meditate like a Brutus.'"
You can reach Chris Parker at email@example.com.