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FUV Essential Albums: Staff Picks

We asked our listeners to tell us the albums they can't imagine living without [results here], so it's only fair that we had to do the same.

Scroll down or jump to:
Claudia Marshall | Julianne Welby | Darren DeVivo | Dennis Elsas | Corny O'Connell | Rita Houston | Russ Borris | Pete Fornatale | John Platt | Don McGee | George Evans | Bob Sherman | Maggie Dolan | Cara Tobin | Laura Fedele

Claudia Marshall

FUV Weekday Morning Host

Here is a handful of records that have moved and amused me over the years.

  • Ella and Louis Again - Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
    The combination of Ella and Louis seems like a natural now but was somewhat unlikely at the time. Still they compliment each other beautifully with playful renditions of (now) standards by Berlin, Gershwin and Porter.
  • Gorilla - James Taylor
    James in his prime, transcending time and genre. There are so many beautiful, tender and joyful songs here - plus, producer Russ Titelman has just the right touch. See also October Road for fine work from Titelman, who gets that James doesn't need four backup singiners and heavy strings for his songs to shine.
  • Comes a Time - Neil Young
    Harvest may be more influential, but this record really hold a place in my heart and covers a lot of emotional territory, from the poignant divorce song "Already One" to the raucous "Motorcycle Mama." Great harmonies from Nicolette Larson.
  • Abbey Road - The Beatles
    I could have just as easily chosen Rubber Soul or Let it Be; this work remains unparalleled and I am still in awe of the musical suite that includes "You Never Give Me Your Money," "She Came In Through the Bathroom Window," "Golden Slumbers," "Carry that Weight," and "The End."
  • Court and Spark - Joni Mitchell
    and Bookends - Simon & Garfunkel
    These are simply classic records, and both came to me at a formative time in my life. I listened to them again and again, and they still amaze me.
  • The Nightfly - Donald Fagan
    This album includes two of my favorite all-time songs, "Walk Between the Raindrops" - which is so happy-making - and the similarly playful "Goodbye Look." No shortage of wit and whimsy here.
  • Hearts and Bones - Paul Simon
    Brilliant, heart-breaking, perfect.
  • Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros - Global a Go-Go
    I was late to the party with the Clash, but have so much admiration for Joe Strummer, his politics and his integrity. Plus this record is just so fun and sophisticated.
  • Slow New York - Richard Julian
    I wanted to include at least one new record on this list and this one is a 'new classic.' A literate and whimsical songwriter with a broad musical palette, Richard Julian is a latter-day Paul Simon. This record simply delights me.
  • Welcome Interstate Managers - Fountains of Wayne
    Like Richard's record, FOW cover a lot of musical territory here - but mostly, it's a ton of fun. Great pop, rock and there's even a country song here. A great rocker, "Bright Future in Sales" has a naughty word and I can't play it on the radio.

Julianne Welby

News & Public Affairs Director/FUV Weekday Morning Host

In alphabetical order:

  • The B-52's, Wild Planet
  • The Beatles, Rubber Soul
  • The Clash, London Calling
  • Ella Fitzgerald, Ella and Louis
  • Nirvana, Nevermind
  • Pixies, Surfa Rosa/Come on Pilgrim
  • Radiohead, Kid A
  • Tom Waits, Rain Dogs
  • Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
  • XTC, Skylarking

Darren DeVivo

FUV Weekday Host

  • Abbey Road, The Beatles
  • Aja, Steely Dan
  • Band On The Run, Paul McCartney and Wings
  • Chicago VII, Chicago
  • Close To The Edge, Yes
  • Crosby, Stills & Nash, Crosby, Stills & Nash
  • The Dark Side Of The Moon, Pink Floyd
  • First Circle, The Pat Metheny Group
  • Girlfriend, Matthew Sweet
  • Hearts And Bones, Paul Simon
  • In A Silent Way, Miles Davis
  • Larks' Tongues In Aspic, King Crimson
  • Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs, Derek and the Dominos
  • A Love Supreme, John Coltrane
  • Madman Across The Water, Elton John
  • Minute By Minute, The Doobie Brothers
  • New York, Lou Reed
  • OK Computer, Radiohead
  • Pet Sounds, The Beach Boys
  • Rain Dogs, Tom Waits
  • Seconds Of Pleasure, Rockpile
  • Thirty Three & 1/3, George Harrison
  • Turnstiles, Billy Joel
  • Tusk, Fleetwood Mac
  • Welcome, Santana

Dennis Elsas

FUV Weekday Host

  • The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds
  • The Beatles, Meet the Beatles
  • Crosby, Stills & Nash, Crosby, Stills & Nash
  • Bob Dylan, Blonde on Blonde
  • ELO, A New World Record
  • Elton John, Elton John
  • Carole King, Tapestry
  • Joni Mitchell, Blue
  • Van Morrison, Moondance
  • The Rolling Stones, Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!
  • Bob Seeger, Night Moves
  • Simon & Garfunkel, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
  • Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run
  • The Who, Who's Next
  • Neil Young, After the Gold Rush

Corny O'Connell

FUV Weekday Host

  • Miles Davis, Kind of Blue
  • The Rolling Stones, Let It Bleed
  • Van Morrison, Moondance
  • Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Déjá vu
  • Stevie Wonder, Innervisions
  • Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here
  • Bob Marley, Legend
  • Lucinda Williams, Sweet Old World
  • Nick Lowe, The Impossible Bird
  • Emmylou Harris, Wrecking Ball

Rita Houston

Music Director/The Whole Wide World Host


  • The Band plus Various Artists, The Last Waltz
  • David Bowie, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
  • Elvis Costello, Imperial Bedroom
  • Bob Dylan, Blonde on Blonde (vinyl version only)
  • Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, Ella and Louis
  • Stan Getz/Joao Gilberto, Getz/Gilberto
  • Gomez, In Our Gun
  • Norah Jones, Come Away With Me
  • Marti Jones, Used Guitars
  • Shelby Lynne, I Am Shelby Lynne
  • Pretenders, Pretenders
  • Frank Sinatra, The Capitol Years
  • Gillian Welch, Time the Revelator
  • Lucinda Williams, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road

Also: The Clash, London Calling; Bebel Gilberto, Tanto Tempo; Barbra Streisand, The Broadway Album; Emmylou Harris, Wrecking Ball; Talking Heads, Talking Heads '77; Chicago, Chicago 2; Whiskeytown, Pneumonia; John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, Coltrane/Hartman

Russ Borris

Assistant Music Director, FUV Weekday host

In alphabetical order by artist:

  • Beck, Mellow Gold
    When it was released, I'd never heard anything like it. Still haven't.
  • Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath
    "Evil will always triumph over good because good is dumb," Dark Helmet
  • Johnny Cash, At Folsom Prison
    As real and raw as it gets. Is there a better live record than this? Seriously, is there? And don't say Frampton Comes Alive.
  • Depeche Mode, Violator
    If "Enjoy the Silence" was the only song on the album, it'd still be essential.
  • Nirvana, Nevermind
    When Alternative took over the world.
  • Tom Petty, Wildflowers
    Anybody would be perfectly happy to rock out to the Heartbreakers, and with good reason. But, I'll take Wildflowers every time.
  • R.E.M., Automatic For the People
    I remember writing a review of this when it was released in '92 and I called it their best album ever. It still is.
  • Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols
    Talk about changing a generation.. (and not giving a &*@# about it either!)
  • Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska
    Spare and brilliant. For my money, it's Nebraska over Born to Run. I may have been born in Jersey, but I'm no tramp.
  • Tom Waits, Rain Dogs
    Best of both Tom's here: The graveled howler ("Big Black Mariah") and the sweet balladeer ("Time").

Pete Fornatale

Host of Mixed Bag

Ask me tomorrow and I might give you ten different ones!

  1. Simon & Garfunkel, Bookends
  2. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Born to Run
  3. Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited
  4. The Band, The Last Waltz Soundtrack
  5. Derek and the Dominoes, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs
  6. Van Morrison, Moondance
  7. The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds
  8. The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
  9. The Who, Tommy
  10. Various Artists, Woodstock Soundtrack

John Platt

Marketing & Communications Director/Sunday Breakfast Host

Subject to change without notice:

  • The Band, The Band
  • The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds
  • The Beatles, Revolver
  • Miles Davis, Kind of Blue
  • Bob Dylan, Bringing It All Back Home
  • Van Morrison, Moondance
  • Original Broadway Cast, Sunday in the Park with George
  • The Rolling Stones, Let It Bleed
  • Paul Simon, Still Crazy After All These Years
  • Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run
  • Stevie Wonder, Innervisions
  • Norah Jones, Come Away with Me
  • Joni Mitchell, Blue

Don McGee

FUV Weekday Guest Host

Some of my Essential Albums:

  1. The McGarrigle Sisters, Kate & Anna McGarrigle
  2. The Band, The Band
  3. The Kenny Rankin Album, Kenny Rankin
  4. Ella and Louis Again, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
  5. For the Roses, Joni Mitchell
  6. Late for the Sky, Jackson Browne
  7. Songs for Swingin' Lovers, Frank Sinatra
  8. Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen
  9. Abbey Road, The Beatles
  10. Crosby, Stills & Nash, Crosby, Stills & Nash

George Evans

FUV Weekday Guest Host/Operations Director

These albums go with me everywhere...on CD before there was an iPod, and now on iPod, of course.

  1. The Sundays, Blind
    Their previous "Reading, Writing and Arithmetic" introduced me to their music. When I heard this album, I came up with the phrase, "swirly music" because many of their songs just swirl and soar and make we want to dance around. It's one of the few albums that enhances the happy mood I'm in or comforts me when I'm sad.
  2. Innocence Mission, Glow
    Another album of "swirly music" that just puts me in a special place and another of the few albums that enhances the happy mood I'm in or comforts me when I'm sad.
  3. Coldplay, Parachutes
    I have a great story for this one. Rita Houston gave me a pre-release copy of this and said that I'm going to love it. Well, I listened and I loved it! Then I filed it with the rest of the CD's that were to go in the car. Guess what? I forgot to put it in the car! A few months later, I heard "Yellow" and was wondering where I heard this tremendous song. I searched through piles of CD's before it dawned on me! It's with the CD's that were to go in the car!!!
  4. Josh Rouse, Under Cold Blue Stars
    My first Josh Rouse album and certainly not my last. I just love his sound and his lyrics. After this, I bought the rest of his CD's and he's really one of my favorite artists.
  5. Joni Mitchell, Blue
    It's the Joni...need I say more?
  6. Erin McKeown, Grand
    What a great album! And talk about great lyrics and imagery. I love the sound of her voice and the way she enunciates...strange, I know! I'd love to hear her do an album of spoken word. A live album would be nice too!
  7. John Mayer, Room For Squares
    I love most of the songs on this album and even enjoy this album more than his second one! Some may call it cheesy, but that's the kinda guy I am.
  8. Jamie Cullum, Twentysomething
    I enjoy the album for it's covers and "showtunes." Also, this album is easy to sing to because he's in my vocal range and I wont be too embarrassed if someone catches me singing.
  9. David Gray, A Century Ends
    The first David Gray album...raw, gritty and acoustic!
  10. Charlie Haden & Pat Methany, Beyond The Missouri Sky
    An album full of beautiful melodies. I love the images in my head when I listen to it. It's also a great album to test subwoofers with! The album covers is beautiful too.
  11. Honorable Mention: Norah Jones, Come Away With Me and Ivy, Long Distance

Bob Sherman

Woody's Children Host

  • Joan Baez, Gone From Danger (Guardian)
  • Oscar Brand, Presidential Campaign Songs (Smithsonian Folkways)
  • Tom Chapin, Live in Concert (Gadfly)
  • Judy Collins, Forever (Elektra)
  • (Priscilla) Herdman, (Anne) Hills and (Cindy) Mangsen, At the Turning of the Year
  • John McCutcheon, Live at Wolftrap (Rounder)
  • Odetta, Lookin' for a Home (MC Records)
  • Tom Paxton, Live in the U.K. (Pax)
  • Pete Seeger, Pete (Living Music)
  • The Weavers, Kisses Sweeter Than Wine (Omega)

Maggie Dolan

Ceol na nGael Co-host

  • The Chieftains, An Irish Evening
  • Various Artists, Long Journey Home Soundtrack
  • The Saw Doctors, Sing a Powerful Song
  • Paddy Reilly, 32 Counties in Song
  • The Clancy Brothers, In Person At Carnegie Hall
  • Shilelagh Law, Good Intentions
  • Heidi Talbot, Heidi Talbot
  • The Dubliners, 30 Years A Greying
  • The Wolfetones, The Best of
  • The Pogues, If I Should Fall From Grace With God
  • Cherish the Ladies, The Girls Won't Leave the Boys Alone
  • Eileen Ivers, Eileen Ivers
  • Frank Patterson, More of Ireland's Best Loved Ballads
  • The Irish Tenors, Ellis Island
  • Gaelic Storm, Herding Cats

Cara Tobin

Membership Director

  1. Neil Young, After the Goldrush
    Neil singing his heart out, loved it when I was 15 and still do.
  2. Paul Simon, Graceland
    I think I was swayed by the show at Radio City Music Hall, one of the best concerts I ever went to.
  3. Nirvana, Nevermind
    Played really loud.
  4. Howlin' Wolf, Real Folk Blues
    If you only have 5 albums one of them has got to be a great old blues record
  5. Sinead O'Connor, Faith and Courage
    It's my housecleaning CD. if you hear this in the hallway, you can almost guarantee a dust-free apartment.

Laura Fedele

Web Director

One to Ten:

  1. Ani DiFranco, Little Plastic Castle
    This one may not have either of my overall favorite Ani songs, but it does have "Fuel," "Gravel," "Swan Dive" and "Pulse," so that pushes it to the top. Although if I were depressed today, I'd pick Dilate.
  2. R.E.M., Document
    Setting: A university in Virginia. Saturday night. Small party. Big speakers. Much jumping up and down. Stick a fork in me. And it's still good 20 years later, as much for the jumping as for the dead-on political commentary.
  3. Gomez, In Our Gun
    I know it would be cooler to pick Liquid Skin, but this one grabbed me by the throat most. Plus the other albums have songs that have changed a lot in live performance, while this one is a straight-up studio masterpiece. Headphones, please.
  4. Joe Henry, Kindness of the World
    A perfect album of perfect songs. The title track, beautiful. "Fireman's Wedding" is like a scene from a great book. Trust me.
  5. Van Morrison, Saint Dominic's Preview
    Sweeping, grand, majestic, complex, loose, soulful, snarky, joyous. Repeat.
  6. Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville
    Revolutionary! Everything from pure bitchy fun to the great achy-indie-ballad "Divorce Song."
  7. Neil Finn, Try Whistling This
    How to pick just one thing, from Split Enz to Crowded House to a whole solo career? This one sticks to my CD player the most. Love "Sinner."
  8. Rickie Lee Jones, Flying Cowboys
    I hear something different every time I listen, plus it's brilliant live, plus there's that part that you can only sing in the car with the windows closed, tight.
  9. Citizen Cope, Citizen Cope
    I am so obsessed with this album that even Clarence himself knows how obsessed I am with this album. Ask me sometime how it's the perfect score for a brilliant piece of theater, Track 1 through "Comin' Back." His new one might take over, though!
  10. Shelby Lynne, I Am Shelby Lynne
    This one is just as good to hear alone when you need a good kick in the a** as it is to play when you have a house full of drunk women and it's 2am and time to saaang.
    Honorable Mentions: Indigo Girls, Rites of Passage; 10,000 Maniacs, In My Tribe; Son Volt, Trace; Tim Finn, Before and After; k.d. lang, Ingenue; Matthew Sweet, Girlfriend; Lucinda Williams, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road; The Smiths, Meat is Murder; Sarah McLachlan, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy; Genesis The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway; Frank Sinatra's Christmas Album.