The staff of the College Football America Yearbook is on the road every weekend of the college football season, shooting games and gathering information for the following year’s book. That means a lot of driving and listening to a lot of music.
Earlier this year our College Football America Yearbook publisher Kendall Webb and our director of editorial content Chuck Cox put together ‘The Coronavirus Countdown – 100 Days of Great Music.’ Each of them sat down and compiled a list of 100 great albums. Their goal was not to select the ‘100 greatest albums of all time.’ It was simply to select 100 great albums to write about as they passed the time during quarantine and shelter-at-home orders.
This 2020 college football season will be unprecedented in so many ways. It’s very likely none of us will be on the road for games because, like most people, we’re trying to stay healthy. And we hope you are too.
So, for the next 100 days, we’re going to publish their countdown here at CollegeFootballAmericaPR.com (the list was originally published on Webb’s personal site, kendallwebb.net). Consider it the ultimate playlist for the ultimate college road trip — music for every taste, from every genre and from every decade of the modern era of music. When the staff of the College Football America Yearbook is back on the road, you can bet these will be some of the tunes we’re listening to.
And, if you missed the previous installments of our series, just click here to head to the Coronavirus Countdown — 100 Days of Great Music home page.
Here’s Day 56
Our albums of the day were released a decade apart in 1977 and 1987 — but, sonically, there’s even more distance between them.
Ronnie Milsap’s It Was Almost Like A Song became a crossover smash in 1977 that catapulted him into the country music stratosphere while expanding his audience to the pop and adult contemporary charts.
By the time Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite For Destruction came along a decade later, the era of the pure vocalists like Milsap was largely in the rearview mirror. Guns N’ Roses, meanwhile, reclaimed the hard rock wing of the rock music world from the hair metal bands while paving the way for the grittier sound that was brewing in Seattle and would soon take the pop music world by storm.
By the time another decade had passed, Seattle’s grunge revolution had already mostly come and gone bringing alternative rock out of the college radio era to rock music’s mainstream. Country music, meanwhile, had long since embraced the kind of pop crossover success pioneered by Ronnie Milsap, and 1997 would see one of the biggest crossover albums in the history of the genre. Shania Twain’s Come On Over turned the Canadian songstress into an international superstar. It’s also your bonus pick of the day.
– Chuck Cox and Kendall Webb
CHUCK’S ALBUM OF THE DAY
Why I Love It
After compiling my list for this countdown, I realized how difficult it would be to pick my favorite 100 albums, as opposed to 100 albums that I love. But it would be hard to keep this album off any list of 100 greatest albums. Guns N’ Roses took the metal scene by storm with this crossover classic that was like the gritty cousin to the hair metal bands of the day. It’s hard to believe this debut record was released in 1987 because it’s so far ahead of its time. The album spawned a few monster hits that dominated the airwaves and put the band on the map, but there is not a bad track on it. In fact, some of my favorites are deep cuts like “Mr. Brownstone,” “My Michelle” and “Rocket Queen.” It’s a tour de force if I ever heard one.
“Welcome to the Jungle,” “Paradise City” and “Rocket Queen”
Kendall on Chuck’s Album of the Day
By the time this album hit the market, hard rock had been mostly hijacked by hair metal bands singing party anthems with little or no attempt to conceal their blatant commercialism. But Guns N’ Roses was sleazier and grittier — they at least gave you the impression they didn’t care what you thought (and probably didn’t) while creating music that shared a lot in common with the kind of classic rock perfected by The Rolling Stones a couple of decades prior. Laugh all you want at their excesses, but this is one of those rare perfect albums that also happened to arrive at the perfect moment in time.
KENDALL’S ALBUM OF THE DAY
Why I Love It
Ronnie Milsap was my favorite artist growing up, and there are any number of albums I could have picked here.
The first Ronnie Milsap album showed up in our house in 1980; his original Greatest Hits collection with the new hit “Smoky Mountain Rain” was finally enough to convince my father to buy his first album by Milsap. I considered that one for my list, but mostly tried to stay away from hits collections by artists in the album era.
So that took me back even farther into the ’70s, and it finally came down to his 1976 Ronnie Milsap Live or the album I ultimately chose here. Both albums won the CMA’s Album of the Year award in back-to-back years, but It Was Almost Like A Song yielded two No. 1 hits — the unforgettable title track and “What A Difference You’ve Made In My Life.” It captures the artist at a key moment as he transitioned from being a dependable country hit machine to a true pop phenomenon.
“It Was Almost Like A Song,” “Long Distance Memory” and “The Future’s Not What It Used To Be”
Chuck on Kendall’s Album of the Day
Considering how much Ronnie Milsap’s music was played in my household growing up, it’s a wonder that one of his albums didn’t pop up on my list. I’ve always considered him one of the most talented musicians to ever enter a recording studio. His piano playing is sublime, but his incredible voice is the instrument that made him a country legend. He has always had the ability to pick great songs to record. This album features some of his most iconic songs, which I have known by heart for most of my life. In my opinion, the title track might be his best ever, which is saying something.