Back in March, each of us set out to pick 100 of our favorite albums. The intention was simply to focus on personal favorites rather than trying to pick a list of the 100 greatest albums of all-time.
When we got done with those lists, we compared our choices, and 12 of our picks were the same. So we decided to rank those 12 picks in order and present them in descending order from No. 12 to No. 1. Today we present No. 1.
There is no bonus pick today as we shine a light on this amazing record all on its own to bring our Coronavirus Countdown to a close. Thanks for following along!
- Chuck Cox and Kendall Webb
ALBUM OF THE DAY
August And Everything After (1993)
1) Round Here
3) Mr. Jones
4) Perfect Blue Buildings
5) Anna Begins
6) Time And Time Again
7) Rain King
8) Sullivan Street
9) Ghost Train
10) Raining In Baltimore
11) A Murder Of One
I'll start by saying that if I absolutely, positively had to pick my all-time favorite album, this would be the one. Adding even more gravity to that statement is the fact that this is the California band's debut record. Wow. Every note, every lyric, every sound on this album is sheer perfection. Adam Duritz is one of my all-time favorite lead singers and songwriters because of this record. He conveys what he sings in stunningly convincing fashion, and tells a story in each song as though he's living each moment as he's singing about them. The first single, "Mr. Jones," reached No. 5 and launched the band's successful career. Perhaps the ultimate compliment I can pay this album is that my favorite song off of it often changes. I'm pretty sure that, at one time or another, each of the 11 tracks has held that distinction. It's a flawless album that I will cherish until the day I die. Even though Counting Crows set the bar impossibly high with August and Everything After, they are still churning out great music and touring. Once this pandemic is a thing of the past, I will eagerly await the day I can go see another Counting Crows show. I might even head to California to see them on their home turf. I think I should.
Amazingly, of the hundreds of thousands of recordings that have been made in popular music, I would have to agree with Chuck and say this is, arguably, on any given day, my favorite album of all-time. I would actually say it's a tie for me with Son Volt's 1995 album Trace which I also featured in our countdown.
That one didn't make Chuck's cut, so from a consensus standpoint, there's no doubt this is the right album to hold down the No. 1 spot in our consensus picks. I first heard it on a road trip to El Paso to see Texas play North Carolina in the 1994 Sun Bowl. We rode in my friend Greg Ritzen's car, and he put this in the CD deck, and we listened to it nonstop. I didn't want to hear anything else anyway, and when we got back to Austin, I bought my own copy of the album. I would suspect I have listened to this record more than any other in the 27 years since it was released.
Music is certainly driven by personal tastes, but I try not to be dismissive of something just because it's popular. And this album certainly was popular eventually selling more than seven million copies in the U.S. Most reviewers would probably object to me saying that I think this is as good an album as any band has ever made, but I'll put it up alongside the greatest recordings by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys and every other major act that's ever come down the pike. It's the perfect mix of uptempo tunes and ballads, and the songwriting is phenomenal - not to mention the emotionally-charged vocals by frontman Adam Duritz.
What really set it apart at the time, however, was the instrumentation with a focus on the organ and accordion that added unique textures to the band's sound that helped it stand out in the post-grunge era. It gave the band a rootsy feel that appealed to fans of the emerging Americana movement (like myself) while paving the way for acts like Hootie & The Blowfish to take over mainstream pop-rock in the years to come with their own roots-rock inclinations. This is a record that has stood the test of time and will still be heard a hundred years from now.