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
The idea that electronic music is a recent invention of celebrity DJs or as an off-shoot of hip hop is false. Electronic music pre-dates the second world war, and thrived in post-war Europe, where artists like Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Schaeffer created the blueprint of modern avant-garde music. It’s no accident countries like France, Germany, … More The Album List: # 192 The Avalanches “Since I Left You”
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”
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”
I was two and a half months old when this album was released. A lot of great music stuff happened in 1977 that had nothing to do with John Travolta in a white suit. No, 1977 is the year of Rumours came to us, and it was the number one album the week I was born. … More The Album List: #51 Talking Heads “Talking Heads ’77”
This one has been difficult for me to write. Because when push comes to shove, I worship Chrissie Hynde. I wanted to be Chrissie when I didn’t want to be Debbie or Stevie or Patti. But Stevie did drugs, and Patti was out of the industry raising her kids, and Debbie was somewhere only she … More The Album List: #52 The Pretenders “The Pretenders”
Putting this list together was a nightmare. I had to make a bunch of arbitrary rules and stick to them, and then there is the mood one is in when you create the master list. At the time I was kind of annoyed with Morrison, who is actually among my top twenty artists of all time. … More The Album List: #53 Van Morrison “Moondance”
I like odd. Beck is very odd. Therefore I like Beck. I’m usually above using syllogism.
Yes, Syd has come back. This album is a mess, erratic, and difficult to listen to. This doesn’t make it less beautiful. Syd, descending into madness quickly, somehow managed to create two solo albums of quality before completely retreating. This one is the better record. With help from former Pink Floyd band mate Roger Waters … More The Album List: #55 Syd Barrett “The Madcap Laughs”
This band has oddball lyrics, horns that make the Chi-Lites envious, and a sense of time and place that make them endearing. They are clearly Liverpudlian 1980s. They cannot be from anywhere else in history. I mean, they are very 1980s. The album released at the cusp of the decade, is full of odd keyboard … More The Album List: #56 The Teardrop Explodes “Kilimanjaro”
This is a story about an album I listened to only one time in late 1994, then promptly ignored for a decade before I listened to it again and fell in love. See, the much praised cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” irritated me at the time. I never like Cohen’s own very 80s arrangement. But … More The Album List: #57 Jeff Buckley “Grace”
There are moments in my life in which I snap out of the greyness and the sadness for brief seconds. Lemon sponge cake with raspberry sauce. A good margarita. Doctor Who episodes. A record store that sells vinyl. Proper Sunday Roast dinners. Call of Duty marathon playing sessions in which I actually improve on my … More The Album List: #58 Jimi Hendrix Experience “Are You Experienced?”
Some bands exist purely to have me love them. I am convinced of this fact. Magazine is one of these bands. The project Howard Devoto was in after leaving the Buzzcocks was the apex of post-punk bands. The fact that the members of these bands would also play in British acts like Visage, Swing Out … More The Album List: #59 Magazine “The Correct Use of Soap”
Once upon a time, there was a little tow-headed girl child with big brown eyes who grew up in a house with her mother, a kind and music loving woman who was nevertheless very conservative in her views about male-female roles in the world; and her father, a distant man who dismissed rock and roll … More The Album List: #60 Patti Smith “Horses”
She is Aretha. And that is all I really need to say.
To those who proclaim that sampling is the refuge of the criminal and the creatively bankrupt, let me introduce you to a little album called Fear of A Black Planet. Honestly, hip hop was crucial to my musical development, particularly in the Wild Wild West early years of sampling. The genre introduced me to soul … More The Album List: #62 Public Enemy “Fear of a Black Planet”
I grew up listening to my parents music. It involved a deep hatred for country music. My father preferred classical music, but his favourite non-classical artist was the late Johnny Horton, the nasally whiner who sang “Battle of New Orléans” and “North to Alaska” but died before he did much else. As that was my … More The Album List: #63 Johnny Cash “At Folsom Prison”
Minneapolis in the 1980s must have been interesting. Yes, there was Prince, the massive superstar with a superego whom I have developed a hate-love-hate relationship. Then there were the rock bands that played on college radio. Soul Asylum, Hüsker Dü, The Jayhawks, Babes in Toyland, The Suburbs- basically 99% of Twin/Tone’s line-up- these bands are … More The Album List: #64 The Replacements “Tim”
Steve Albini is afraid of girls. Girls, however, love Steve Albini and Big Black. Well, this one does, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. Albini is known now as a confrontational ass and a “music producer” * of note ( he has worked on albums for Nirvana, PJ Harvey, Helmet, Manic Street … More The Album List: #65 Big Black “Songs About F***ing”
There was a moment in my life where this album, a live adventure done at the end of the 1970s when I was a mere two years of age, became the album that defined my 1994. It was by accident, for sure, at least, in a way. Kurt Cobain purposefully quoted Neil Young’s line “It’s … More The Album List: #66 Neil Young and Crazy Horse “Rust Never Sleeps”
Soul. A music with its roots in gospel and the blues, a rich tapestry of takin’ it to church and deep grooves. And on top of it all was Marvin Gaye, smooth voiced and charming. The man who followed Sam Cooke was a troubled man, but he could sing. Man. Could. He. Sing. Through out … More The Album List: #67 Marvin Gaye “What’s Going On?”
Many of my best friends are Pink Floyd fans. I have spent more time in my life listening to Dark Side of The Moon than I ever actually cared to. I hate Pink Floyd. Okay, hate is the wrong word. I do strongly dislike Pink Floyd. Aside from the cheeky “Money” and the lovely “Wish You … More The Album List:#68 Pink Floyd “Piper At The Gates of Dawn”