Thursday, 13 February 2014

My top ten albums ever

UK album cover
Jane's Addiction - Ritual de lo Habitual. The filthy pervs.
What’s your favourite album of all time? Is it really the best album evah? ‘Course it’s not, but all objective discussions about this are pointless because:

a) everyone has different tastes, thank god.
b) peoples’ favourite genres inform their choice of favourite albums.
c) you can only listen to what is available to you in the time you have available to listen to it.
d) your opinion changes, so what you think is your favourite album ever is only really your favourite album right now.
e) everyone believes the music they listened to when they were young forms a large chunk of the best music ever made, which tends to limit their choice to what they and their friends were listening to at that time.

Chances your favourite album is something you listened to as a kid. Much as nowadays I think Simon le Bon is a bit of a schlong who can’t sing, I still get a thrill when I hear the opening bars to any track off Duran Duran’s Rio, because at the time it was for me the most exciting pop record ever made.

Your choices for the ten best albums will not match any published list (unless you wrote it) because the records which mean the most to you are not really about the music. They’re about what that particular album opened up inside you, at a time when you were highly receptive to that happening. 

We all go through intense and emotional periods in our lives, but that stretch from the first blush of puberty to the age of nineteen or twenty, when the hormones are rushing round our bodies, and the very intensity of life itself is carving new pathways into our brains… that's when the music we love tattoos itself into our synapses and stays with us until we die. Very little of what we hear after that has the capacity to move us so profoundly. As we head towards our thirties and forties, music doesn't get to us in the way it did when we were young because our brains aren’t capable of letting it.

Which is all a roundabout way of saying you will likely disagree with/loathe/dismiss with contempt my top ten albums. 

I am going to tell you why they mean so much to me, and why I think you might get something out of them, but if you already hate them or the band that made them, don’t worry, it doesn’t mean we can’t get along.

Not all of them come out of the eighties/early nineties (my adolescent era). Not all of them have stood the test of time. I am not pretending they are the greatest records ever made. But they are all significant, and I still listen to some of the songs on some of those albums on a daily basis. 

If reading this persuades you to dig out any of the music I mention, and if by listening to those albums you discover, or re-discover something which comes to mean something to you, then this list has served its purpose.

I’ll put this up album by album. To help you guess what might be in my final ten, I have put together a list of also-rans: waving around in the higher branches, but not at the top of the tree. In no particular order:

The Real Ramona - Throwing Muses 
The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion - The Black Crowes
Hatful of Hollow - The Smiths
The Queen is Dead - The Smiths
Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me - The Cure
Concert - The Cure
Disintegration - The Cure
Japanese Whispers - The Cure
It’s My Life - Talk Talk
Meat is Murder - The Smiths
Prince Charming - Adam and the Ants
Kings of the Wild Frontier - Adam and the Ants
Complete Madness - Madness 
The Life Pursuit - Belle and Sebastian
So Far So Good…. So What? - Megadeth
Tender Prey - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Wonderland - The Charlatans
Star - Belly
The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses
Bug - Dinosaur Jr
Vertigo - Groove Armada
The Head on The Door - The Cure
Dare - Human League
Ritual de lo Habitual - Jane’s Addiction
It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back - Public Enemy
Attack of the Grey Lantern - Mansun
Furnace Room Lullaby - Neko Case and Her Boyfriends
Welcome to the Pleasuredome - Frankie Goes to Hollywood
A Pagan Place - The Waterboys
The Waterboys - The Waterboys
Hup - The Wonder Stuff
Abbatoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
In Rainbows - Radiohead
Surfer Rosa - Pixies
Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not - Arctic Monkeys

What have I missed?