Belles of the Bar

Counting down the top 10 albums haunting area jukeboxes.

Dojoji Cleveland Public Theatre, 6415 Detroit Avenue Through June 5, 216-631-2727
Bob Marley is as much a fixture in local bars as Red - Bull and Golden Tee.
Bob Marley is as much a fixture in local bars as Red Bull and Golden Tee.
There will never be a last dance for Mary Jane. The faded heroine of Tom Petty's 1993 hit has boogied a decade away at just about every watering hole this side of Bangor. Petty's Greatest Hits, the album that birthed the song, is among the handful of records that's standard equipment on jukeboxes everywhere -- and with all-American anthems like "Runnin' Down a Dream" and "Into the Great Wide Open," it's earned its spot. The same can hardly be said of countless other ubiquitous discs -- say, Live's Throwing Copper, a syrupy mess that's inexplicably everywhere. We researched dozens of local establishments, catalogued the contents of each jukebox, and compiled the 10 most universal discs. Going out for a beer? Here's what you're bound to hear:

1. Bob Marley, Legend (Polygram)

Only Bob could pen politically charged jams equally capable of raising fists and beers. His songs of poverty, oppression, and civil strife are the blueprint for roots reggae, and Legend is a sublime collection that's as intoxicating as the finest spirits. Keep the quarters popping.

2. Jimmy Buffett, Songs You Know by Heart (MCA)

For a guy who's made a career out of singing drinking songs, Buffett's half-baked tunes, unfunny yarns, and left-foot marimbas pack the punch of a Shirley Temple. Suffering through these tropical toss-offs feels like getting sand stuck in all the wrong places.

3. Fleetwood Mac, Rumours (Reprise)

Any band that can inspire Al Gore to cut a rug -- a feat akin to getting a juniper bush to do the worm -- deserves to be in infinite rotation. Populist and progressive, the Mac brought a sense of mystery to mainstream rock, as well as a shitload of rhinestone. Rumours shines just as bright.

4. Carlos Santana, Supernatural (Arista)

Santana throws a party, and Everlast and Matchbox 20 frontman Rob Thomas show up. That combination could clear the room like a chili fart. The trend-chasing, paranormal pop on this 1999 chart-topper is surprisingly disposable, an unwieldy pastiche of rap, electronica, and lukewarm rock that's more of a retirement fund than a proper record for this guitar legend.

5. Creed, Human Clay (Wind-Up)

The bar is a place for sin, self-indulgence, and foosball -- not for a God-fearing rock band whose messianic frontman struts about like Jesus with a waxed chest. This pseudo-spiritual disc, with one self-righteous, overblown tune after another, topped off by Scott Stapp's haughty howl, gives new meaning to the term "holy shit."

6. The Eagles, Their Greatest Hits (Elektra)

With a canon so lightweight it could float on water, the Eagles are often derided as fluff, but there's nothing wrong with breezy rock to blow away the bad times. Their three-part harmonies and anything-goes ethos (think "Take It to the Limit" and "Tequila Sunrise") bring back the debauchery of the '70s without the ugly specter of polyester pantsuits.

7. AC/DC, Back in Black (Atlantic)

Only women have made men drink more than AC/DC has. Back in Black's needle redlines on Brian Johnson's one-of-a-kind whinny and Angus Young's double-barreled guitar. If West Virginia brandy indeed comes in handy, as AC/DC argues here, the same can be said of this essential drinking album.

8. Counting Crows, August and Everything After (Geffen)

Nothing to Crow about here, just one overwrought tune after another on the debut from these self-parodying sadsacks. Frontman Adam Duritz's melodramatic lyrics read as if they were cribbed from an episode of Degrassi Junior High. It's powerful stuff -- if you're still in a training bra.

9. Van Morrison, Greatest Hits (Mercury)

All women love Van Morrison. His wizened, whiskeyed voice wields the force of a thousand pickup lines. Hell, Alf could get laid to "Brown Eyed Girl."

10. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Californication (Warner Bros.)

The Chili Peppers got all serious and sentimental on this sobering disc, but we liked them way better when they sang about Yertle the Turtle and wore socks on their cocks. This album's abundance of tear-in-your-beer ballads makes it a pub favorite, but ultimately it's a buzzkill.

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