Looking for something fantastic to listen to or watch? Continuing our constant, now over 20-years-long quest to entertain your ears and eyes, we thought it might be fun to have some of our employees who have been here the longest come up with top 10ish lists (it's virtually impossible to get a record store employee to stick to just 10) of their favorite releases over the past 20 years that Amoeba has been around. Please read on for their recommendations!
Beyond these lists, get further immersed in our 20th Anniversary! To check out our first Anniversary blog post, with testimonials from some of our favorite customers, click here! Our second Anniversary post is an interview with co-owner Marc Weinstein about getting the Berkeley store off the ground all the way back in 1990 and what Amoeba means to him. Read it right here.
To get info about the Anniversary Events scheduled at the Berkeley store on Nov 13 & 14 with DJs, live performances from Foxtails Brigade and Lyrics Born, and prize giveaways, click here! You can also get involved by entering our contest -- share your own Amoeba story for a chance to win a shopping spree and more! Read about it here.
And now, for the employee Top Ten lists of the best in music and movies of the past 20 years!
I started at Amoeba Berk in 8/1995, and began working at SF before opening day 11/1997.
1. Toy Love - Cuts
2. Clinic - Walking With Thee
3. Orlando "Cachaito" Lopez - Cachaito
4. Built To Spill - Keep It Like A Secret
5. Jeff Buckley - Grace
6. Tipsy - Trip Tease
7. Neko Case - Blacklisted
8. Mermen - Food For Other Fish
9. 3Ds - Hellzapoppin'
10. Ry Cooder/Manuel Galban - Mambo Sinuendo
2. Heavenly Creatures
3. Other People's Lives
4. The Hangover
5. Being John Malkovich
Used buyer SF & LA since 1999.
1. The Outsiders- Beat Legends Photo Sound Book (2010, Psuedonym book + cd)
Amazing photo book and cd of Holland's legendary sixties beat gods.
2. Dragnet 1968 (2010, Shout Factory dvd)
Finally! Joe Friday and Bill Gannon in color with bonus 1966 pilot movie.
3. Pisces- Lovely Sight (2009, Numero cd)
Nice 60s psych from Rockford Ill.
4. Hank Williams- Revealed: The Unreleased Recordings (2009, Time-Life cd set)
Time-Life's second installment of Hank's recordings from the Mother's Best shows.
5. Ernest Stoneman- The Unsung Father of Country Music (2008, 5-String cd set)
Wonderful 2-cd set!
6. Porter Wagoner- The Cold Hard Facts of Life (2008, Bear Family cd set)
Bear Family's collection of Porter's classic albums of songs from the darker side of life.
7. One Foot In The Grave Seasons 1.2.3 (2007, BBC Video dvds)
Hilarious black comedy from the BBC.
8. The American Folk-Blues Festival- The British Tours 1963-1966 (2007, Reelin' In The Years dvd)
Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, do I have to say more?
9. Desperate Man Blues (2006 Dust-to-Digital dvd)
Documentary about 78 collector Joe Bussard.
10. McCloud Seasons One & Two (2005, Universal dvd)
Santa Fe lawman Sam McCloud on special assignment in New York. Where's Season 3?
11. The Misunderstood- Lost Acetates 1965-66 (2004, Ugly Things cd/lp)
Early recordings by the creators of "Children of the Sun," "Find A Hidden Door," and the feedback drenched "I'm Not Talking."
12. The Lords- Smash! Boom! Bang! The 60s Anthology (2001, Bear Family cd)
Great cd collection of Germany's legendary beat group.
Started in May 1999 @ Berkeley as a used buyer. I moved down to start the LA store in April of 2001.
1. V/A - Anarchy In The UK Vol. 1 1990
2. Cramps - Stay Sick 1990
3. V/A - Beat Of The Traps 1992
4. Trashwomen - Spend The Night With 1993
5. Jaks - Hollywood Blood Capsules 1995
6. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Murder Ballads 1995
7. PJ Harvey - To Bring You My Love 1995
8. Geraldine Fibbers - Butch 1997
9. Natacha Atlas - Halim 1997
10. Diamanda Galas - Malediction and Prayer 1998
11. Joe Maneri - Paniots Nine 1998
12. V/A - Women of Istanbul 1998
13. Los Zafiros - Bossa Cubana 1999
14. Add N To X - Avant Hard 1999
15. Raymond Scott - Manhattan Research Inc 2000
16. Vromb - Episodes 2001
17. Lydia Lunch & Anubian Lights - Champagne, Cocaine & Nicotine Stains 2002
18. Bobby Beausoleil - Lucifer Rising 2004
19. Autonervous - s/t 2006
20. Charanjit Singh - Synthesizing: Ten Ragas To A Disco Beat 2010
Vinyl Pricer at Amoeba Los Angeles. Started at Berkeley in the summer of 1997 to train and help open the San Francisco store. Then moved to Los Angeles in the summer of 2001 to help open the Hollywood store. I have been buying records for 30 years and skateboarding for 26 years.
1. Melvins Houdini 1993
This is my favorite Melvins album, hands down. Has to be the vinyl version because a cover of MC5 "Rocket Reducer No. 62" can only be found there.
2. Cypress Hill Cypress Hill 1991
Read a review for this album in Source magazine immediately went out and bought a copy then preceded to play it non-stop for 6 months.
3. Massive Attack Blue Lines 1991
Another album that I bought because of a review I read. This album is beautiful and stunning. So is their second album, Protection.
4. Dwarves Blood, Guts and Pussy 1990
Bought this album in 1990 because of the cover art alone. I had no idea it would become one of my favorite albums of all time. 14 minutes of brutal punk crudeness. Just what I was looking for.
5. Coldcut 70 Minutes Of Madness 1995
This is absolutely one of the greatest DJ mixes ever. It may have not been done live but if you know anything about Cut-Up innovators Coldcut...you won't care.
6. Alice In Chains Dirt 1992
This is not a grunge album, nor is AIC a grunge band. They are just a rock band that released one of my favorite rock albums of the last 20 years.
7. DJ Shadow Endtroducing... 1996
I like to consider this album as Avant-Garde. It challenges Hip-Hop fans to like something weird and not necessarily funky. It really ends up being a beautiful and tough album.
8. Helmet Betty 1994
The first three albums from this band are essential to me. This just happens to be the one I listen to the most.
9. Too-Short Get In Where You Fit In 1993
Short Dog has so many good albums it's unfair of me to pick just one. Not one skip worthy track on this album and I love playing it when my upstairs neighbors are loud.
10. The Verve Urban Hymns 1997
Such a great band with two other great albums. Some really stand out songs here. "Lucky Man," "Sonnet" and "The Drugs Don't Work" are just a few that I don't mind getting stuck in my head.
11. Hexstatic Rewind 2000
Sick Electro album that wears its influences on its sleeve. P-Funk, Wu-Tang Clan, Newcleus, Man Parrish and even some Ministry can be heard on this album full of samples and break beats. Ninja Tunes for sure.
12. TSOL Disappear 2001
First album in fifteen years with three of the four original members and it sounds like it could have come out in 1981. Blazing SoCal punk that kicks you in the balls.
13. Z-Trip & DJ P Uneasy Listening Vol. 1 2000ish
One of my favorite DJ mixes because it's goofy, weird, funky and technically amazing. Two of the best DJ's in the world and I'm not overstating that.
14. Public Enemy Fear Of A Black Planet 1990
It's hard to explain how good this album is except to say that it's the best Hip-Hop album since It Takes A Nation Of Millions, the other greatest Hip-Hop album of all time.
15. Poison Idea Feel The Darkness 1990
To me Poison Idea is the greatest Hardcore band to ever walk the earth. No matter what line up, this band has been consistently delivering brutal Hardcore Punk for 30 years. I saw them this year and nothing was different. Straight forward, well written songs that are relentless. This band does lots of covers and one of my favorites is "Death, Agony and Screams" by GISM.
16. Ice Cube AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted 1990
This album and Ice Cube's second, Death Certificate, are just essential Hip Hop. Neither are to be ignored or underrated.
17. Ice-T O.G. Original Gangster 1991
The first four albums by Ice-T are amazing but this one takes the gold. Ice-T might be the first artist/band I obsessed over besides Devo or Minor Threat. I bought this on cassette the first week it was out because I had to hear it immediately. The two 12" subs in my car were bumming that day.
18. N.W.A. Efil4zaggin 1991
What can you say about the most anticipated album of 1991? Why say anything when you should just shut the fuck up and listen to it.
19. Nirvana Nevermind 1991
This album means a lot to me. I listened to it full blast in my car with the subs pounding on my move from Pennsylvania to San Francisco in the spring of 1992. Their other two albums are kinda good too.
20. Dr. Dre The Chronic 1992
Remember, this album was released in December of '92 so it dominated all of 1993. This is one of those albums that really captivated me -- kind of like the way Devo's Are We Not Men or Dead Kennedy's Plastic Surgery Disasters or even Funkadelic's America Eats Its Young did when I first heard them. It's just that bad ass and intriguing. Amazing that this album came out less than two years after Efil4zaggin. Axl Rose wishes he was as talented as Dr. Dre, let alone Snoop Dogg.
10 more great albums of the last 20 years:
1. Snoop Doggy Dogg Doggystyle 1993
2. Jesus Lizard Liar 1992
3. Dynamix II Electro Megamix 1998
4. Yeah Yeah Yeahs Fever To Tell 2003
5. Nightmares On Wax Smokers Delight 1995
6. De La Soul Bahloone Mindstate 1993
7. DJ Craze Bass Session 2007
8. DJ Food & DK Now, Listen Again 2007
9. Fila Brazillia Mess 1996
10. Maxwell Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite 1996
Started as a buyer in Berkeley in 1994. Now at the SF store.
2. Royal Trux - Cats & Dogs
3. Unrest - Imperial F.F.R.R.
4. Roy Montgomery - Scenes From the South Island
5. Fushitsusha - Live II
6. Barbara Manning - One Perfect Green Blanket
7. Caroliner Rainbow - Rise of the Common Woodpile
8. Pavement - Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
9. Sun City Girls - Valentines from Matahari
10. Guided by Voices - Bee Thousand
Started at the San Francisco store in March 1998. Now at the Hollywood store.
My 20 Picks of 20 Years: Music & Film
Top 10 Favorite Albums 1990-2010:
1. Coil The Ape of Naples (2005)
John Balance’s tragic passing in 2004 was especially sad, as one of his greatest works was to be released posthumously. The recordings on The Ape of Naples and its (later-released) sister album, The New Backwards (collected together in the limited Ape of Naples LP box set), date back as far as 1993 when the band was briefly signed to Trent Reznor’s Nothing label, but went unfinished until 2004 when the group returned to the abandoned material for their new album. Gorgeous Funeral-Folk, Third-Eye Electronics and captured transmissions from beyond The Threshold.
2. Queen Adreena The Butcher and The Butterfly (2005)
Since their salad days in the early '90's with Daisy Chainsaw, KatieJane Garside and Crispin Gray have bled a-great-many slabs o' wax, but with 2005's The Butcher and The Butterfly they created the soundtrack for an apocalypse and a stellar classic rock album. Garside's voice rides a dark line between the ethereal and the visceral on themes of Innocence Lost. Buzz-saw riffs of terror and delight, sexed-up coos and cacophonous shrieks collide with genuine ethereal beauty.
3. Slowdive Pygmalion (1995)
Sovereign shoegazers' non-shoegaze magnum opus. Ditching the cascade of guitars for warm ambiance and blissful, drifting vocals, Slowdive made my generation's come-down soundtrack. If only they had carried on in this manner in lieu of splitting to form the sun-kissed, however, less spectacular, Mojave 3.
4. PJ Harvey To Bring You My Love (1995)
It's hard to pick just one PJ Harvey record. Harvey is her generation's Bowie and Dylan, so each of her records holds something different yet they are equally impressive. To Bring You My Love was the record that first let us on that Harvey was a chameleon (both visually and musically) and ultimately peerless in her ability to deliver a classic record time and time again. Gothic blues cabaret that rang the death knell for the Grunge-era. I still can't imagine how that large, magnificent voice comes out of that tiny package.
5. Huggy Bear Weaponry Listens to Love (1994)
Their glorious swan song. Huggy Bear was different than most celebrated bands of the Riot Grrrl-era in that they were more experimental and had a higher ratio of males in their ranks, and maybe that's some part of what made them the inside outsiders that they were. Weaponry was also the band's biggest departure from their previous experimental 'boy-girl' pop with its rougher edges and a ferocious but wounded poetry. "Erotic Bleeding" is still the jam that blisters my libido with its weathered, scarred hands.
6. Hole Pretty On The Inside (1991)
Courtney Love is beyond polarizing as a celebrity and persona, but that shouldn't be a shock to anyone familiar with her 1991 ground-floor statement, Pretty On The Inside. The album is an untidy Sonic Youth/Birthday Party/Lydia Lunch-inspired masterstroke of Feminist thrashings with a darkly sexual and violent stream-of-consciousness. Love immediately established her importance as an artist here and displayed her prowess as a lyricist. She eventually proved her skills as a poet and lyricist to be peerless within her generation, despite the hounding misogynist myths that circulated and her inability to stay off the darker and dumber roads of life. She moved from a Sexton to a Plath and then Hole eventually sublimated their darkness into shimmery intellectual Californian pop. Love may be her own worst enemy and Haters will hate -- It's just too bad they don't know this is the perfect soundtrack for it.
7. Bethlehem Sardonischer Untergang im Zeichen irreligiöser Darbietung (1998)
One of the most insane vocal deliveries I've ever heard is on this LP full of bleak, melancholic and atmospheric metal that should be listened to in its brutally beautiful entirety as one majestic, horrible piece. This is the best in the band's catalog and is in a complete class of its own as far as Metal, or any other genre for that matter, is concerned.
8. Morrissey Vauxhall and I (1994)
Morrissey's perfect album. Dreamy, hazy production that glides along with Moz on 11 of his finest and essential songs including "Now My Heart Is Full," "Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself" and "The More You Ignore Me..." Dude was at his peak here and though he released many good-to-great albums after, he never achieved the perfection of this flawless album again.
9. Tori Amos Boys For Pele (1996)
A sprawling and intense double album that set the bar too high for even Amos herself. Harpsichord, church choirs, pseudo-industrial beats, dark Southern swampy swagger, and Amos's sweet to wicked voice make up the singer/songwriter's crowning achievement: An experimental Feminist song-cycle on patriarchal religion and its effects inside relationships...that you can hum along to. She was labeled a Kate Bush-imitator in the early stages of her career, but Pele proved she had other ideas and through her ambition and experimentation she proved to be more like Bush than anyone thought -- a true and revelatory artist. Unfortunately, Pele was her highest artistic peak.
10. Suede Dog Man Star (1994)
Suede were the Art-Fags in the Britpop Class and Dog Man Star is them revealing in that fact; it's the band at their most bombastic and grandiose. Bowie's Glam flare and pop sensibility frame fragmented imagery of rebellious & drug-addled boys, disaffected youths, unhappy suburbanites, and corporate giants meeting in a prevailing sense of sadness cloaked with a youthful hope. Made in the wake of the original line-up's apocalypse, which likely helped with the LP's edge. Teenage Heartbreak classic.
Top 10 Favorite Films 1990-2010:
1. Mulholland Drive Directed by David Lynch (2001)
A recent transplant to Hollywood, Betty Elms (played by Naomi Watts), meets an amnesiac and insanity ensues. Lynch’s Hollywood Fever-dream masterpiece. The Best Film of the last 20 years, hands-down.
2. Mysterious Skin Directed By Gregg Araki (2004)
A boy believes he was once abducted by aliens, but the truth is much more horrible. No film has had a greater affect on me. Araki’s adaptation of Scott Heim’s stunning novel is pitch perfect.
3. Eyes Wide Shut Directed By Stanley Kubrick (1999)
or “Dr. Bill’s Sexual and Occult Misadventures.” It goes without saying, but Kubrick was a genius. Really. How’d he get Cruise and Kidman to make a movie psychoanalyzing their own relationship? Unsettling yet beautiful.
4. Dogville Directed By Lars Von Trier (2003)
A woman finds refuge from mobsters in a seemingly idyllic small town. This film pushes you through the darkest rooms of humanity until you cry “Uncle!” and with not much more than the actors’ remarkable performances.
5. My Own Private Idaho Directed By Gus Van Sant (1991)
One of Gus Van Sant’s masterstrokes, starring the late River Phoenix as a narcoleptic street hustler, Private Idaho is a restructuring of Shakespeare’s Henry IV. Incredibly moving and rife with pinned emotion despite being willfully but wonderfully obscure.
6. Inland Empire Directed by David Lynch (2006)
Lynch’s Fever-dream continues but this time Hollywood converges with Poland. Laura Dern’s greatest performance. “I Don’t Take That Kind of Behavior!”
7. All About My Mother Directed By Pedro Almodovar (1999)
A mother’s journey after the death of her son. Existential Comedy? Life is ridiculous, but no one constructs and treats their characters with as much sympathy as Almodovar does. Moving yet absurd, just like life.
8. Safe Directed By Todd Haynes (1995)
1980’s period piece in which a Valley Housewife is diagnosed with “multiple chemical sensitivity.” Julianne Moore with the director who uses her best. Hypnotic, bleak, gorgeous, funny.
9. The Reflecting Skin Directed By Philip Ridely (1990)
A young boy is convinced of the existence of a vampire in his rural town in Idaho. All the while a gang of child murderers lurk. Philip Ridley is not as prolific a director as I would like, but to be fair, his debut film -- The Reflecting Skin -- is a masterwork and tough to follow. Bonus: Viggo Mortensen in a very early starring role.
10. Let The Right One In Directed By Tomas Alfredson (2008)
A young bullied-boy and his undead friend. You’ve probably seen the American remake. Now see the colder yet sweeter Swedish original.