Top 15 Albums (plus 54 others)
Stephen over at the excellent music blog 1001albumsin10years threw out this challenge:
“Happy September to all,
On September 15th, many bloggers in this community (myself included) are planning to post about their “Top 15 Albums.”
I love a good list, especially ones that could change by the hour.
So an open invite, the more posts the merrier: on Tuesday, September 15th, let’s write/read/talk Top 15s, looking forward to it!”
I, of course, accept! In order to complete this insanely difficult task I came up with a few simple rules to make life easier on myself. One, no “big 4” bands allowed in the top 15. So, even though The Beatles, The Stones, The Beach Boys and The Who have albums that I absolutely adore you will not see them in the top 15. We all know how good they are, no need to rehash their brilliance. Two, no compilations. Three, only one album per band. This one was more difficult as you can imagine. Five: I came up with a total of 69 (Freudian?), so I am listing the remaining 54, just because they deserve to be there. Lastly, I stuck to the Rock/Pop genre, so no Jazz, classical, Sinatra (sigh…), etc. The following are my top albums today, as opposed to next week, which would be assuredly different. Except for the top slot. That ain’t goin’ nowhere.
Other than that, I’d like to thank Stephen for the idea and the prompt, and ask you to head on over to his site when you’re done here to see what he has listed! The link is over there on the right. Oh, and as always, I’d like to read your opinions, positive and negative, and if you’re so inclined to do so, your top 15 list as well. Cheers!
#1. Boo Radleys, Giant Steps: This album has remained in my #1 slot since about 1994, and I don’t see it budging from its perch anytime soon. It’s the most fantastic example of modern psychedelic pop I have ever heard. The musical ideas are varied in style and legion in number, and the songs that Martin Carr wrote for this album are on another level altogether. Imagine The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, and Massive Attack in a studio together with George Martin holding everything together as head knob twiddler and you still won’t be close to describing what this masterpiece sounds like.
#2. Prefab Sprout, Steve McQueen: Or as I knew it when it was first released in North America, “Two Wheels Good”. I am still unable to separate the lush production of Thomas Dolby from the amazing songs of Paddy McAloon; both are equally responsible for the success of this recording. The lyrics are some of the best I’ve ever heard, too; clever, but not to the point of arrogance.
#3. Nick Lowe, Jesus Of Cool: This is the better title, but the other one describes the music much better: Pure Pop For Now People. A little new wave, a little roots, a little pub rock (from his time with Brinsley Schwarz, I suppose), a little punk, all fantastic.
#4. Underworld, Dubnobasswithmyheadman: In my opinion the best electronic album of the last 30 years. The kings of the slow burn, each song an epic in miniature, complete with lyrics that, at worst, make you go “WTF?” and at best add to the bliss.
#5. Supertramp, Breakfast In America: Why Steely Dan has seen a critical reevaluation and not Supertramp is beyond me. The four albums from Crime Of The Century to this, in 1979, are some of the finest sophisto-pop/progressive music moments ever recorded. Period. And this is their masterpiece.
#6. Clash, Sandinista!: OK, so I’ll concede side 6 (of the original vinyl) is mostly crap. Sides 1-5, however, well lets just say I’d put the best of them against the best of the debut or London Calling. That should be a pretty good indication of how I feel about this record. The Clash at their most fearlessly progressive.
#8. Happy Mondays, Pills, Thrills and Bellyaches: If this were a “Best Albums Of The ‘90’s” list this would be in the top 3. Manchester hooligan druggies discover the dance floor and create an album that still sounds fresh 25 years on.
#9. Super Furry Animals, Guerrilla: I could have picked any SFA album and I would have been justified, but this is the one I listen to front to back the most often, so here it is! More of an electronic tinge than some of the others, but the weirdness remains, and the hooks are aplenty. Abfab!
#11. Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots: I bought this album because I fell in love with the cover, and after listening to it dozens of times I quickly became a super fan. I bought and devoured everything from The great Soft Bulletin to Embryonic, and then the floor fell out. But at least we have this record, to me the Flaming Lips most poignant and experimental moment.
#12. Pulp, Different Class: Jarvis Cocker and his merry crew never aligned themselves with the Britpop movement, yet they were really the most British of all the bands from this time frame (or maybe tied with Blur). Common People just might be my favorite song of the 1990’s, just the perfect anthem for that decade. It is one of those rare perfect 10 albums and I still get chills whenever I listen to it.
#13. Jazz Butcher, A Scandal In Bohemia: I was obsessed with everything the Jazz Butcher recorded in the 1980’s and my obsession hasn’t waned one bit. I think that Pat Fish and Max Eider are two of the most criminally underrated songwriters, and they are still doing it and doing it well. A lot of the JB’s best songs of the 1980’s were scattered around various EP’s, singles and compilations, but A Scandal In Bohemia is a perfect pop moment where everything just fit like a glove.
#15. Queen, Sheer Heart Attack: A Queen album had to make the top 15, and this is my favorite. News Of The World, back in 1977, was where I started my obsession with Queen, and I still own virtually everything they ever did while Freddie was alive, but SHA was where I truly think the band came into their own. The prog/boogie of Brighton Rock,, the anthemic sing along Now I’m Here, the rock/pomp of Killer Queen, the proto-thrash of Stone Cold Crazy…just a fantastically creative record all around.
And the rest…
The Dead Kennedys, Plastic Surgery Disasters
The Who, Tommy
Beach Boys, Pet Sounds
Primal Scream, Screamadelica
Saint Etienne, So Tough
Simple Minds, New Gold Dream
Sloan, Never Hear The End Of It
Specials, More Specials
Stereolab, Emperor Tomato Ketchup
Steve Miller Band, Sailor
Stone Roses, Stone Roses
Stranglers, The Raven
Supergrass, In It For The Money
Television, Marquee Moon
Thomas Dolby, The Golden Age Of Wireless
Velvet Underground, Velvet Underground and Nico
Waterboys, Fisherman’s Blues
The Who, Tommy
Zombies, Odyssey and Oracle
Housemartins, London 0, Hull 4
Hawkwind, Space Ritual
Blur, The Great Escape
Rush, Moving Pictures
AC/DC, High Voltage
Happy New Order, Power, Corruption and Lies
David Bowie, Hunky Dory
E.L.O., New World Record
English Beat, I Just Can’t Stop It
Funkadelic, One Nation Under A Groove
Paul McCartney, Band On The Run
10cc, The Original Soundtrack
Super Furry Animals, Guerrilla
Hall and Oates, Abandoned Luncheonette
Icicle Works, Icicle Works
Paul Weller, Paul Weller
Lou Reed, Transformer
Men Without Hats, Rhythm Of Youth
Motorhead, Ace Of Spades
Thin Lizzy, Jailbreak
My Morning Jacket, Z
Orange Juice, You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever
Orchestral Maneuvres In The Dark, Dazzle Ships
Pet Shop Boys, Introspective
Pink Floyd, Animals
The Pogues, Rum Sodomy and the Lash
Pop Will Eat Itself, Cure For Sanity
Steven Wilson, The Raven That Refused To Sing
Psychedelic Furs, Forever Now
Ramones, Rocket To Russia
Roxy Music, Country Life