Some of My Best Friends Are Records

SF Weekly writers pick their favorite Bay Area records of all time

Hello, My Name Is: Tamara Palmer

Here are some of my top souvenirs from a life spent marinating in the Yay Area's funky music stew. While I wouldn't suggest that these are everyone's meat and potatoes, they still stick to my ribs just fine. And this isn't a highfalutin music-critic chart -- as OutKast's Andre 3000 says, I'm just being honest.

Digital Underground

Sex Packets

(Tommy Boy)

More than a decade and a half after Sex Packets' release, its freaky humor still pokes out like nipples through a wet T-shirt. DU opened for Public Enemy at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in 1990, and seeing who I'd later learn was Tupac Shakur humping a blowup doll to the title track really sealed the deal for me.

Pointer Sisters

Break Out


Damn, I wish the Pointer Sisters were still busting out electro-jams like "Automatic." R&B has never been that cool since. These Oakland sisters were really very much quite hyphy back then. I even love the bigger hits like "I'm So Excited," "Jump (For My Love)," and "Neutron Dance."


Trip Tease


This debut from a group of San Francisco-based digital knob twiddlers is the soundtrack to the cutest little cartoon you never did see. Bright and buoyant, it's a sure-fire mood elevator.


All Eyez on Me

(Death Row)

While Eyez includes Tupac's solo joints like the passionate post-prison missive "Ambitions Az a Ridah," it also features some of the bay's most distinctive underground rappers. It's great to hear E-40, B-Legit, Rappin 4-Tay, Richie Rich, Dru Down, and C-B0 sounding like one big happy family.

Sly & the Family Stone

Greatest Hits


I wasn't around when Sly originally did his thang and so have this impression of him as a platinum-mohawked crazy. But this is one hell of a Greatest Hits. It's got "Everyday People," "Dance to the Music," "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)," and "Stand!"

Huey Lewis & the News



I'd be lying to myself if I didn't come clean and simply admit that I got a lot of singing practice belting out these tunes along with Huey at age 9. "I Want a New Drug," y'all. I'm just sayin' ....


In a Major Way


E-40 is pretty consistent; I like all of his albums, but this is the one that made me a fan. It's got several of his most enduring songs (including "Sprinkle Me," "1 Luv," and "Sideways"). And smell what he's cooking on the cover, too -- that shit's raw.




Steve Perry had the shiniest hair. I wonder what type of hair products he used? And did you know Randy "American Idol" Jackson used to tour with Journey as a bassist? Journey rocked and did us proud with this masterpiece. I never stopped believing -- until I had to, that is.

Pete Namlook and Jonah Sharp

Namlook IV


This is a live recording from Germany's Namlook and S.F.'s Sharp (known for his ambient-jazz experiments as Spacetime Continuum). I was lucky enough to be in the house (at the old King Street Garage), and it remains a treasured time capsule of the San Francisco rave scene at its most chill.

Jefferson Starship

Red Octopus


My father owned this album as well as Volunteers (back when they were still the Jefferson Airplane). Volunteers had the kick-ass cover art and the gatefold that had all kinds of stuff to look at, but Red Octopus had the fly, textured cover. And "Miracles." Starship wins.

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