I know I said no posting for a while. But… I am a simple girl with simple pleasures. Skippy on vinyl. One more must have record down. I wish it was the original Columbia recording instead of the Sundaze re-release, but I like my kidneys.
I started writing this before all the hell of November began, so I decided to finish it. I’ll write the 2016 year-end stuff next month and then that’s it until I find some sort of joy or purpose. When I discussed Skip Spence’s exquisite and underappreciated OAR, I mentioned a fondness for the broken and lost geniuses … More Soundtrack of my Life: “War In Peace” by Skip Spence
I don’t think the Kinks get enough credit. Yeah, yeah, yeah, the Beatles blah blah whatever. I still think the Kinks were better. People I love think I say that to just cause an argument. I don’t. I genuinely believe it. I think the Kinks are a better band than the Beatles. Please send hate … More The Album List #1: The Kinks “The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society”
Few things on this earth are guaranteed. Death. Taxes. The fact that Starbuck Caffe mochas will always taste better with full fat milk instead of no-fat milk. The only thing more sure than those three things is that I love the Clash. There is only one band I love more than the Clash. But that … More The Album List #2: The Clash “London Calling”
My politics were shaped as much by the music I heard as a teenager as the life experience I have suffered through. I’m a left-wing Nutter, if you haven’t clued in, and quite proud of it, thankyouverymuch. Yeah, whatever, bite me. I grew up with conservative, religious parents who were dismayed by my leftist world … More The Album List #4: Billy Bragg “Talking With the Taxman About Poetry”
My love for the Manchester quartet knows no bounds. Everyone has those bands that implode but you remain devoted to simply because they were so very important to you when you were thirteen. I’ve listed about a dozen of them on this list alone. But the Smiths were special. They were always so very special.
Picking one Elvis Costello record from the reams and reams of worthy Elvis Costello records should have been a nightmare. But it wasn’t. King of America has always been my favourite album by the awesome and brilliant Declan MacManus. There was never any question in my mind it would be on this list, and that it … More The Album List #6: Elvis Costello “King Of America”
Radiohead went from being Britpop runner ups to unequivocal geniuses in three albums. Talk about ambitious.
I’m still recovering from the September announcement of R.E.M.’s end. They were hugely important to me in my life, and even though I know they made the right decision, I’m still trying to get my head around the idea that there will be no more R.E.M. I have every album. This is the one that … More The Album List #8: R.E.M. “Fables of the Reconstruction”
It really comes down to one thing and one thing only. He’s John Lennon. You are not.
I am probably the only Manic Street Preachers fan in all of North America. I am devoted. 164 songs on my iTunes devoted- only a few bands top them in sheer volume. They are a band with a bit of a sad history, having lost member Richey Edwards a couple of years into their successful … More The Album List #10: Manic Street Preachers “This Is My Truth Tell me Yours”
I listen too much music. But even those of us who listen to a lot of music sometimes miss amazing records, usually debuts, from small labels simply because most people want to hear about how much Britney Spears’ album sucked ass. The problems with music criticism is the increasing need to draw in eyeballs ( … More The Album List #11: Arcade Fire “Funeral”
Love is a mysterious thing. It strikes you down, consumes you, eats you from the inside out. When you just cannot take one more second of it…
Bruce Springsteen playing “Born To Run” is pretty much as holy roller as my life gets. Music is my heart and soul, after all. A song like “Born To Run” is the greatest hymn for those who think that, with its grandiose wall of sound production, insane Clarence Clemons solo, and of course, lyrics about cars … More The Album List #13: Bruce Springsteen “Born To Run”
Yes, Parklife would probably be the one you own, if you happened to be a person from the nineties with a modicum of taste. Blur never made a huge impact over in America ( they fared slightly better in Canada), and they never had the breakthrough Oasis had with “Wonderwall”. In the eternal battle for rock … More The Album List #14: Blur “Blur”
One of the greatest songs ever written about loving music was written by one Ted Leo. A spry, punkish tribute to ska, the lyrics drip with references to the Rude Boy era of British music, particularly the perfection that were the Specials. It has the benefit of being one of the greatest songs ever written, … More The Album List #15: The Specials “The Specials”
There are just some artists you know you should drop from the discussion. I did it with the Beatles. But Bob Dylan is so important to me I couldn’t cut him with the big 5. And this album is just so magnificent I had to put it on my list. It really is an arbitrary … More The Album List #16: Bob Dylan “Bringing It All Back Home”
The Ramones are the be all and end all of punk rock. Everything that comes after is punk rock mixed with something else. The Clash used ska and reggae. The Sex Pistols were a glorified boy band. Blondie was disco, Television was arty, the New York Dolls were an excellent drag act, the Adverts could … More The Album List #17: The Buzzcocks “Singles Going Steady”
Rock history is littered with perfectionist geniuses. Brian Wilson comes to mind immediately. But Kevin Shields, the mastermind behind My Bloody Valentine, holds a special place in the hearts and minds of music fans. Because he nearly ended Alan McGee. McGee founded Creation Records. A crucial label in 1980s Brit indie music, he signed MBV … More The Album List #18: My Bloody Valentine “Loveless”
The pianist in me wants to be amongst the greatest jazz pianists. Peterson, Baisie, Carmichael, Corea, Dearie, Ellington, Gershwin, Hines, Henderson, Jobim, Ibrahim, Legrand, Monk, Mingus, Strayhorn, Tatum, Toussaint, Waller- these are just the ones who have albums sitting in my Sunday morning jazz playing queue. But I always save a special place every Sunday … More The Album List # 19: Dave Brubeck Quartet “Time Out”
One of the best things about the recent OWS protest in Zuccotti Park was that Jeff Mangum, NMH’s erstwhile leader, played music. In the twelve years since the band famously just stopped, Jeff has been a mercurial creature. Recent activity might indicate a future for the brilliant man to come back to. He curated ATP … More The Album List #20: Neutral Milk Hotel “In The Aeroplane Over the Sea”
Hip hop and I were born around the same time. We grew up together. We once trawled disco beats before discovering life was hard and listening to new music that felt as alienated and angry as we were. There were moments of sweetness, moments of pain, and a lot of fantastic music. But it wasn’t … More The Album List #21: Jay-Z “The Black Album”
Name yourself after the infamous quartet that held on to Chinese power only to be brought down after Mao’s death and you might get labelled. Create a new sound full of jagged guitars and disco squawking, you might get labelled. Be totally awesome and you will get my vote as one of the most vital … More The Album List #22: Gang Of Four “Entertainment!”
Like everyone else born of the 1970s, U2 were my 1980s. Specifically, The Joshua Tree was my 1980s. It’s one of those albums. It looms large, much like Nevermind. It colours an era. It’s a fine album, a great album. It’s just this one, out the ashes of a newly reunited Germany and a band nearly … More The Album List #23: U2 “Achtung Baby”
I am in love with the city of Manchester. It has a lot to do with Manchester United, certainly, but my love affair with the great northern English city started before David Beckham made me a football fan. See, Manchester is the home of some of the greatest bands that ever existed. Most of these … More The Album List #24: Joy Division “Closer”
Everyone who bought this album started a band. So goes the myth. There are albums who influence far outstrips the record sales. This album is exhibit “A”.
There are some albums that appear on this list that are beyond obvious and tread into cliché. As a Canadian woman born in the late seventies, there will be a Joni Mitchell album on the list, and it will be Blue. This cliché wouldn’t exist if the album wasn’t simply one of the most beautiful … More The Album List #26: Joni Mitchell “Blue”
It won the very first Mercury Music Prize. How some random indie Scottish band that could never keep it’s membership turned out the greatest of the house records remains a mystery. The singer was once the drummer for the Jesus and Mary Chain, ferchrissakes. But here it is, the best album to pull out during … More The Album List #27: Primal Scream “Screamadelica”
David Bowie is one of the great loves of my life. I adored him when I was young and “Modern Love” was a hit, with its sixties inspired harmonies and bright pop. I loved him even more when I discovered “Heroes” as a teenager, and Low in college. There is a beauty in “Space Oddity”‘s story … More The Album List #28: David Bowie “The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars”
I would follow Tom Waits to the end of the earth. Then, when he would say “Jump”, I’d probably do it. Swordfishtrombones is the album that took Waits from the gruff voiced crooner to the ravaged, rough style that would be his later records. The genius of it is, the songs got better.
To me, as big an influence as the grunge scene was, the early 1990s for me means Britpop. Specifically, it means the mighty trifecta of Blur, Oasis, and Pulp. Sure, I’ll take arguments for Suede or Sleeper or whatever, but those three were the big three. Of those three, though, I found Oasis derivative of … More The Album List #30: Pulp “Different Class”
Rock and roll is full of mythology. Elvis is alive. Paul McCartney’s dead. Robert Johnson made a deal with Satan. This insanity therefore transfers to the music itself. Say you are a very popular 1960s Southern Cali band who are being overworked to the point of collapse. In the three years of your career, you … More The Album List #31: Brian Wilson “Smile”
T. Rex and I have a long love-hate relationship. I hate the twee, “Ride A White Swan” nonsense, where Marc Bolan was done up in so much glitter he looked like a disco ball. I love the riffs of “Children of the Revolution” and “20th Century Boy”, the love of cars and girls that makes … More The album List #32: T. Rex “Electric Warrior”
This album is legendary. The crash and burn tale of the Zombies is a favourite among music geeks. A simple tale of St. Alban’s lads form band, then release a single called “She’s Not There” that I consider to be among the greatest songs ever recorded, and within four years released three albums and completely … More The Album List #33: The Zombies “Odessey And Oracle”
Some things in life are total surprises. I talk about 1977 a lot. Since it was the year I was born, I kind of admit to liking a lot of really bad things simply because I was born in 1977. Avocado kitchen appliances is a major sticking point of taste. I have somewhere in the … More The Album List #34: Dennis Wilson “Pacific Ocean Blue”
What I remember most about Prefab is the ridiculousness of their single “King Of Rock and Roll”, which doesn’t appear on this album, but deserve a mention for the completely random lyrics: ” I am the king of rock and roll completely, up from suede shoes to my baby blues- hot dog, jumping frog, Albuquerque.” … More The Album List #35: Prefab Sprout “Steve McQueen”
Rarely does a band enter its recording career as assured in their sound as Moby Grape. The quirky sunshine pop and harmonies of this Cali band are perfection. Sure, they were undone a bit by hype and marketing overkill, but still, the songs are fantastic.
This is where the phrase “No shit, Sherlock” comes into play.
Some records loom over your life with the ferocity and personality of a Madonna or an Axl. These records are great records, but they never let you forget it, and they have the ability to swamp lists like this. Hell, I’ve mentioned several. Then there are the greater records that are subtle, that sneak into … More The Album List #39: Love “Forever Changes”
Jesus, what a statement. Lou is nothing ever but Lou. Even as he shifts, he is always Lou. He wants to be other people, but he can’t. Lou always comes out. I mentioned earlier a fondness for John Cale’s solo masterpiece Paris 1919. It is a magnificent album, and it is very John Cale. This … More The Album List #40: Lou Reed “Transformer”
I have tried to figure out how to exactly write this piece. Then I decided to simplify to the basics. I love Outkast. I love André 3000’s spaced out, hippy dippy self. I love Big Boi’s muscle and swagger. I love their inventiveness, their boldness, their samples, their lyrics, their sense of history. I love … More The Album List #41: Outkast “Stankonia”
Madness have never been considered an “album band”. They released so many classic singles, but their overall albums were ignored. The Rise And Fall is a really great record from a really great band. I wish people took them seriously. In the U.S., the band has always been treated as a novelty, if the deep … More The Album List #42: Madness “The Rise And Fall”
The Pixies are what Kurt Cobain wanted Nirvana to be, and they are the foundation of all that is good about the last twenty years of rock and roll. Doolittle is their masterpiece. Okay, it’s ridiculous for me to even remotely talk about the Pixies. They are one of those bands. The ones everyone talks about. Smarter … More The Album List #44: The Pixies “Doolittle”
This might be a clever way to get more Ray Davies on the list. See, a lot of British bands cover the lesser known, but better, Kinks songs released post “All the Day and All of the Night”. I mean, so massive and definitive are those first Kinks singles that one might forgive the lack of … More The Album List: #45 The Jam “All Mod Cons”
“Rock and roll is dead. Long live rock and roll.” That’s what the Who said. The music press, though, has announced the demise of the genre since Elvis was King. It seems that every ten years or so some high and mighty music writer declares the genre dead. This is usually based on album sales … More The Album List: #46 White Stripes “Elephant”
I am a girl. Born in 1977. Seriously? You knew she’d show up eventually, right?
This one is different. I can’t spew forth the usual “This is an awesome song, this is an awesome band, this vocal is fantastic and just listen to these guitars” bulltwaddle I usually bring to these proceedings. This is jazz, one of the two true American art forms that developed wholly from the New World. … More The Album List: #48 John Coltrane “A Love Supreme”
When Alex Chilton died last year, I was quite devastated. He was still relatively young, still touring with both a version of Big Star and his earlier band, the Box Tops. But it was also very much about the lost opportunities. Alex Chilton could have been the biggest thing in music. He never quite got … More The Album List: #49 Big Star “#1 Record”
This is twenty-two songs over thirty-seven minutes. It’s fast, precise punk rock. The Ramones may be the band that did it first and best, but Wire was equal in their minimalism. This album is simply fantastic. Literally. It is simple, and it is fantastic. Wire, the London-based purveyor of short bursts of punkish guitars and … More The Album List: #50 Wire “Pink Flag”