Loudon Snowden Wainwright III (born September 5, 1946) is an American songwriter, folk singer, humorist, and actor. His sister is Sloan Wainwright. He is the father of musicians Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright, and Lucy Wainwright Roche, and is the former husband of the late folk singer Kate McGarrigle.To date, Wainwright has released 24 studio albums, 4 live albums, and 6 compilations, as well as appearing in at least 18 television programs and feature films. Reflecting upon his career in 1999, he stated, “You could characterize the catalog as somewhat checkered, although I prefer to think of it as a tapestry.” In October 2017, Wainwright released his autobiography, Liner Notes: On Parents & Children, Exes & Excess, Death & Decay, and a Few of My Other Favorite Things. Here are all of Loudon Wainwright’s albums ranked.
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10. Unrequited, 1975
“A curious album, the first half is all studio recordings with Loudon’s songs couched in a variety of clothes including on the first 2 tracks some porn movie funk and cheesy reggae. Its quite off-putting at first, but the rest of the album settles into a more relaxed style with the piano ballad ‘kick in the head’ and the ragtime jazz style ‘kings and queens’. I really liked ‘crime of passion’ as well, with its eerie arrangement.”
9. Loudon Wainwright III, 1970
“The great man’s début album – sometimes referred to as “Album 1”. Loudon Wainwright III’s first album came out in 1970 on Atlantic. Which was unusual for Atlantic because this album just is one man and his guitar. It is also 11 perfect songs from the opening “School Days” onwards. And there are elements of the humour – sometimes very black – that were to become associated with LW3. “I Don’t Care” & “Hospital Lady” for example. In fact as a songwriter Loudon started off brilliantly and has remained so for the last 43 years. This album was championed by John Peel – just another reason to thank him.”
8. Attempted Mustache, 1973
“The majority of the tracks on Wainwright’s fourth album are enjoyable, however, I’d say that none of them is great. There are some uninteresting but not unpleasant by any means, especially on the A-side, so it’s a record that doesn’t achieve very high and neither very low points. Worth mentioning the guy’s humor, Attempted Mustache isn’t supposed to be a masterpiece, Loudon conceived it in his own way. Nice intention.”
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7. Haven’t Got The Blues (Yet), 2014
“You gotta hand it to louden, how he can find so many funny, bizarre, touching and horrible things to write about so consistently just blows me away. His vocals on this album are superb as well.
6. More Love Songs, 1986
“I dearly love Loudon’s songwriting and I’ve owned the Demon/Rounder compilation from this period for a long time- probably since the nineties at least so finally tracking down another couple of these albums was cause for celebration. Side one is flawless – the added bonus of Thompsons – Richard and Danny – adds a whole new dimension to Loudons sound. Unfortunately side two is a big disappointment, although it starts out with the wonderful “Unhappy anniversary” before falling away into a handful of throwaway songs – which have the drive but seem somehow unfinished.”
5. Album III, 1972
“Fully in his stride here and with a bona fide hit to boot in Dead Skunk, which does get wearisome very quickly so at least its the first track and you don’t have to listen to it ever again, besides there’s much better, meatier stuff further into the album. Red Guitar being an exceptional highlight but really its all good. I guess as far as landmark albums go this is one for Loudon but not in the history of music. But that’s fine by me, his writing and musicianship had accelerated far beyond his rather plain (but still essential) debut of several years previous. You need to own this record.”
4. Last Man On Earth, 2001
“The more I play this the better it gets – Loudon’s never going to be an artist that everybody likes, he just too temperamental. Here he has an album of startlingly honest songs about his late Mother and their relationship. Its been interesting to follow his private life through his music, like a secret diary of a close friend lost and then you found it but you’re not going to give it back.. Even when he’s at his most pedestrian he’s more interesting than just about any other writer out there. Disfunctional? Yes. A son of a bitch? Yes. But thats what makes his writing so damn good. This ones almost embarrassingly personal, but he brings it off. The closing track, Homeless, is one of the best things he’s written.”
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3. History, 1992
“History is a very appropriate title for the album finds him looking back and casting a wry and sometimes scornful eye over his life up to that point. Family figures very much in this collection of what have to be some of his best songs, as well as a nod (Talking New Bob Dylan) to his own humble origins as a performer signed because labels were in a frenzy of hunting down Dylanesque singer-songwriters. Sometimes I Forget brings closure to the surreal emptiness of loss, and to the album and is followed by the melancholic humour of the philosophic Handful of Dust which acts as coda for the collection.”
2. Album II, 1971
“Loudon (Dad of Rufus Wainright) has existed in the backwaters of American music for three decades. Most of his records are worth a few listens, and are in places very funny. But I like to go back to this album – its naked – just Loudon on guitar mostly, and funny in a very dark way. Sounds like the work of a guy who’s been living alone in a shack for too long. And that’s something you don’t hear every day. Extra half star for having the whiniest vocals ever.”
1. Career Moves, 1993
“Loudon playing to a very receptive crowd at the bottom line. The recording is lively and Loudon sounds great, the audience is almost over-enthusiastic at times but that’s ok, they could have indifferent which would be awful because he really plays his heart out on this one. Not as intimate as the earlier Live One, but by now he’s expanded his catalogue somewhat and manages to balance the touching with the bawdy. It’s a long album, but then it’s not far off the length of a one man show so if you never got to see Wainwright in the early 90’s, this is a great opportunity to catch up on one of his more lively periods.”