Hey, welcome to my "guide" to a few of my favorite rock and pop records. This isn't a definitive list, by any means, just some random comments about a few records that have stood out over the years, or that I've found the time to review.
This page covers the letter "V"
Dino Valente "Dino Valente" (Epic, 1968)
Dino Valente's 1968 solo album is as authentic a relic of the underbelly of the "SF Sound" as you'll ever find. Yeah, he has some weird and engaging arrangements, but there's also a strong element of the Mrs. Miller-y, so-bad-it's-good phenomenon going on. Let's be honest - Dino sounded good when he fronted a loud band like Quicksilver Messenger Service, but as a folk-tinged crooner, away from the electric guitars, it quickly became apparent that he couldn't sing his way out of a paper bag. That's one of the things that makes this album a "classic" of sorts: Valente, in all his super-stoned, spaced out romanticism really pioneered the DIY self-expression of the 1980s/'90s "lo-fi" scene. This is a very personal, very uncommercial record -- a huge flop at the time, but an album that exerts an odd, enduring appeal. If you enjoy artistic excess, you may really like this album. Perversely, it remains one of my guilty pleasures.
Violent Femmes "Violent Femmes" (Slash, 1983)
Violent Femmes "Violent Femmes (Deluxe Edition)" (Rhino, 2002)
Singer Gordon Gano and his Milwaukee cohorts were one of the first and most influential bands to capitalize on the "post-punk" era
Violent Femmes "Add It Up: 1981-1994" (Warner Brothers, 1993)
This best-of collection really does have all the hits, and if a good quick look at some of the stuff off their later albums. I'd still go with the first album, but if you want to give these guys some actual thought, then this might be a good option.
Rocky Votolato "A Brief History" (Your Best Guess, 2000)
It's nice to find that, in a post-Elliott Smith-as-indie-icon universe, that folk-flavored lo-fi pop is alive and well in the Pacific Northwest. Votalato, who regularly hangs his hat in the band Waxwing, shares the same sense of elegant insularity as Smith and fellow Seattle-ite Damian Jurado, but unlike those two, he doesn't come off all angst-ridden and overwrought. Votolato achieves dreaminess without lapsing into either sugary vacuuity or angry detachment. Oh, to be sure, this is a pretty dark album... it just doesn't feel as dark as they do... Rather, this is a nice, straightforward album which will grow on you with repeated listenings. And with an opening verse as strong as "Here it comes again/I'm watching myself through everybody else's eyes/Same old s**t again/If this is my heart, why is it still beating, 'cause I'm dead inside?", this is an album that offers -- and lives up to -- great promise. (PS- don't worry. I've never heard of Waxwing before, either, but now I'm going to go check them out...)