My Top 10 albums of all time. Well, of today anyhow…
I never realised how hard it would be to come up with a Top 10. Ten albums that satisfactorily represent my somewhat eclectic tastes in music. I’ve had the opportunity to listen to some amazing artists over the years, but in hindsight, I’ve also subjected myself to tunes that were best classified as aural torture. Growing up in a small rural town, my formative years were essentially a mix of country and Aussie pub rock, with intermittent doses of grunge. As many who went through their teenage years in the 90s did, I discovered myself in the latter, while the former is best not spoken about – if I ever hear “Boys From The Bush” again, it will be too soon.
Before unleashing my Top 10, I need to advise of the following caveats:
1. The albums below are not in any specific order. While they are numbered 1 to 10, the allocations of the aforementioned digits are not representative of how highly I rate the albums. It was more a case of writing the numbers on a sheet of paper, and scribbling down contenders as they came to me. I guess that one could argue that the album that popped into my head first would, by definition, be my all-time favourite: if that’s the case, it’s Nevermind.
2. I change my mind a lot, so by the time you read this, the list may have changed.
3. This list is the Top 10 albums that I’d play from start to finish, without skipping forward. While a lot of the individual tracks on the albums below would never make my Top 100 songs, the albums themselves have a the ability to be played in their entirety, without me becoming bored of what I’m listening to. For those that know me, something that can hold my attention for more than an hour without interruption is pretty special.
1. Nevermind – Nirvana
Even as we approach the twentieth anniversary of its release as single, I still can’t listen to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” without banging my head furiously and singing along. Who said that we had to grow up? With tracks like “Lithium”, “Lounge Act” and “Territorial Pissings”, for me at least, it will be hard to ever top. Kurt Cobain remains one of the five people, living or dead, that I’d invite to a hypothetical dinner party.
2. Ten – Pearl Jam
From memory, there was a period in the very early 90s where the only music I listened to was this album, in rotation with Nevermind.
Clearly I remember
Pickin’ on the boy
Seemed a harmless little fuck
3. (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? – Oasis
When Liam and Noel Gallagher weren’t beating the crap out of each other, they really did make great music. Unfortunately, the boys from Manchester were rock ‘n’ roll excess personified, and they were never going to be able to play nicely with each other for long.
4. Throwing Copper – Live
I’ve been a huge fan since I first bought the album, yet I still have no idea how to correctly pronounce Ed’s last name. My vote for best track? “Waitress”.
5. Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morissette
This was the first album that I ever purchased. On cassette. For a brief period, I was infatuated with Alanis. Like many, I pondered whether or not he thought about her when he fucked her. For those that think what I’ve just written is nothing more than a nonsensical gathering of pronouns, check out track two, and everything will suddenly make sense.
6. Ten New Songs – Leonard Cohen
I didn’t have any real exposure to LC until a few months before I went to see him in concert last year, but seeing him live changed my musical outlook altogether. I rate the show as probably the best live act I’ve ever experienced – bar a small intermission, the 76-year-old poet was on stage for over three hours, and had the audience engaged for the entire time. He is incredibly passionate about his music, yet the most humble performer you’re likely to encounter. Unlike many current artists, he doesn’t rely on special effects to wow his fans – he does it with pure talent, and an obvious love of making music.
7. The Boatman’s Call – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Nick Cave is probably the quintessential songwriter: how many other artists would tell the powers that be at MTV to stick their accolades where the sun doesn’t shine?
8. Americana – The Offspring
For me, this album was the late 90s. For many of us from small towns, it felt like the boys were speaking to directly to us in “The Kids Aren’t Alright”. Although the kid on the cover artwork looks like a prepubescent Gerber Baby, it’s one hell of an album.
When we were young the future was so bright
The old neighbourhood was so alive
And every kid on the whole damn street
Was gonna make it big in every beat
9. Grace – Jeff Buckley
Every time I close my eyes and listen to this album, I’m immediately transported to a smoky cigar lounge, with a 30-year-old single malt in my hand.
10. The Doors – The Doors
Jim Morrison belting out “Light My Fire” – no more needs to be said.
Because it was so hard to come up with a final ten, I’ve decided that I’m going to allow myself an eleventh album or super substitute if you will. Why? Well most importantly, it’s my list, so I can do whatever the hell I want with it. Additionally, every team worth its salt has a standby, in case of accidental CD breakage.
Super-sub: The Marshall Mathers LP – Eminem
Before this album came out, the only thing I knew about Eminem was that he sang “My Name Is”. He also struck me as an angry little son of a bitch. While his lyrics are undoubtedly crude and designed to offend people’s sensibilities, they are incredibly well thought out, and send a strong message about life and the harsh reality of personal experience. He’s a lot smarter than people give him credit for, and he doesn’t care what anyone thinks about him. Purists will probably crucify me for saying this, but I put his command of lyrics up there with Leonard Cohen. That’s right: Marshall Bruce Mathers III is rap’s equivalent of the Canadian master.
So there are my Top 10 albums – let’s hear yours.