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Teachers’ Favorite Albums: A Review

Published June 3, 2024


Students know teachers in the classroom setting, but may not necessarily know them by their music taste. CHS teachers Barbara McBride, Brian Granbery, Steven Russell, Bill Schrier and Dawn Hatch’s favorite albums include collections of songs from the radical ‘70s, the wacky ‘80s and the melancholy ‘90s, but the real question is: Are they actually good?

(courtesy of REPRISE RECORDS)

“Blue” by Joni Mitchell (Ms. McBride’s favorite)

As one of the most beautiful breakup albums of all time, arguably in competition with Stevie Nicks’, Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” is known for its woody, powerful, wide-range vocals, complete with the folk singer’s iconic Appalachian dulcimer. Mitchell sheds light on the all-consuming feelings of longing in “California” and “Case of You,” the cycle of love and hate after a breakup in “All I Want” and the feeling of loneliness and deep sadness in “Blue.” With groundbreaking vocal technique as well as an impressive display of skill across multiple instruments, “Blue” is one of the most impactful and iconic albums of the early ‘70s, telling a cohesive story across every song of transformation and disillusionment. 


(courtesy of ATLANTIC RECORDS)

“Zeppelin III” by Led Zeppelin (Mr. Granbery’s favorite)

Inspired by the band’s time at the cottage Bron-Yr-Aur in Wales, Led Zeppelin’s “Zeppelin III” was a complete 180 from the group’s historically electric rock sound, with lyrics that targeted a male audience, that reached a peak right in ‘69 before the release of “Zeppelin III” in 1970. The change in sound was enlightening, consisting of percussive acoustic sound and impressive stacked harmonies. The album redefined folk music and was a massive, terrifying change for their sound. Their audience was shocked and intrigued upon its release, and although the album received some backlash, it includes impressive classical skill and some iconic tracks. It’s a criminally underrated Zeppelin album. 



“Fumbling Towards Ecstasy” by Sarah McLachlan (Mr. Russell’s favorite)

Something must be in the mountains when it comes to writing great albums because Sarah McLachlan’s “Fumbling Towards Ecstasy,” written in the mountains of southern Quebec, is an incredibly vulnerable collection of songs about the Canadian singer’s life traumas, including an account of her experiences with stalkers in the smash hit “Possession.” The album transcends the line between life and death with its heavenly stacked harmonies, lyrics about forbidden love and soulful, slow rhythm only enhances McLaughlan’s songwriting brilliance. As one of the ‘90s greatest soft alternative rock albums, McLaughlan’s “Fumbling Towards Ecstasy” does anything but fumble. 



“Sticky Fingers” by The Rolling Stones (Mr. Schrier’s favorite)

An album from a classic band that bespeaks of love, pain and desire, The Rolling Stones’ “Sticky Fingers” is a great album in terms of lyricism and holds a sound that is specific to the early ‘70s in the heavy use of acoustic instruments, matching the honky-tonk, quirky vocals. It’s home to iconic tracks such as “Wild Horses,” but the tracks seem to blend together. The Stones are definitely the kind of band where people seem to love them or hate them, but this album doesn’t seem to strike a chord with me. It’s classic rock, yet it lacks something in its sound and composition. Nonetheless, it’s criminal to rate the album too low, as The Stones’ “Sticky Fingers” is an album integral to ‘70s rock. 


(courtesy of ATLANTIC RECORDS)

“4” by Foreigner (Mrs. Hatch’s favorite) 

Foreigner’s “Waiting for a Girl like You” from “4” is a song that transcends generations and arguably transcends the quality of the rest of the album. “4” has a sort of redundant quality to its songs, ranging from whiny to screechy. It’s a little soppy, to be honest, but the appeal in the softest of “Waiting for a Girl like You” can be enticing. ‘80s music definitely wasn’t the best time for rock, and this album just doesn’t stand out from the same synth-y, redundant beats that characterized the era. 



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