You’ve probably seen the thing going around Facebook asking you to share one image per day of the covers of the 10 albums that defined your musical tastes. My lovely sister Hel nominated me and ordinarily I don’t do this sort of chain letter shit. But because it was her I responded but lumped them all together as I knew I wouldn’t be arsed doing one album cover at a time.

As it happens it was a difficult choice. I got down to my top 12 – possibly because there were two by Fleetwood Mac (although they were very different bands at the times) and I felt like I had to have one each from the Beatles and the Stones. I had to ditch at least one album by Frank Sinatra, another jazz collection, something from the Police, Beach Boys and a Soul/Tamla collection sadly.  No room either for Canned Heat, ZZ Top, Jethro Tull etc nor from Cliff Richard funnily enough. Michael Jackson and Gary Glitter should have made it but…well you know.  I would also have gone for a film soundtrack compilation but I did my own in this earlier posting if you fancy a browse.

Anyway here’s my top 12 albums and I’ve decided to add to it to describe why I like the albums or why they mean something to me. You’re very welcome to let me know of any others that really meant something to you…

Beatles, Rubber Soul 1965

Now the Beatles were of course huge in the 60’s and brought out albums every 6-8 months. I had 4 of the early ones; this one plus With the Beatles, Beatles for Sale and Hard Day’s Night. This seemed to me the most sophisticated because John Lennon was really getting into his stride as a songwriter, whilst Paul was always doing his moon in June, let’s croon stuff. I really liked Norwegian Wood, Girl and the increasingly dark Nowhere Man and In My Life. The drugs were impacting on John’s life and he wasn’t afraid to write about their effect on him. Poignant.

Rolling Stones, Let it Bleed 1969

So this was the battle of the bands and people were very much pro Beatles or the Stones. Personally I’ve always preferred the Old Bones because they were edgier and the music closer to the rock blues sound I liked. I’ve had loads of Stones albums and they always seem to be built on 2 great songs and 8 so-so ones. Now I’m a nut for their real rocking songs like Brown Sugar, Start Me Up and JJ Flash etc but nothing as storming as these appeared on this album, produced around the sacking and death of original band leader Brian Jones. I must have been a difficult time for the band yet they delivered many songs that the Stones have continued to play as a core part of their live performances ever since; the brilliant Gimme Shelter (fantastic female vocal support), You Can’t Always Get What You Want and the countryesque Let it Bleed. The  title is just so the Stones.

Jimi Hendrix, Are You Experienced (US Edition) 1967

I loved Hendrix. He just blew away every guitarist around at the time. The US edition of the album is better because it incorporated the tracks Hey Joe and Purple Haze and Jimi much preferred the album cover to the darker English version. I saw him perform at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool (as did Carol though we didn’t know each other at the time) and his performance was just amazing. I’ve never seem anyone steal a show like he did.

Rod Stewart, Every Picture Tells A Story 1971

Carol and I met each other around the time of  this album and we both loved Rod and the Faces who he’d kinda left by this stage. We had all of his albums over the next few years but this was unquestionably his best featuring the incomparable Maggie May and great supporting songs like Reason to Believe, Mandolin Wind and the title track. What a great live performer too (until he started doing the American songbook crooner stuff).

(Peter Green’s) Fleetwood Mac, Greatest Hits 1971

Oh wow I thought the early FM led by Pete Green’s brilliant songwriting and guitar playing were a sensational bluesy rock band. So many great songs on this album; Albatross, Black Magic Woman, Green Manalishi, Man of the World as well as my favourite Oh Well Parts 1 and 2. They can play Oh Well at my funeral.

Free, Fire and Water 1971

Another great hard rock band from around the same time, Free. Saw them perform at Blackpool again and they were sensational. Great vocalist in Paul Rodgers, brilliant and fragile lead guitarist in Paul Kossof. Ultimate anthem All Right Now still sounds cool.

Rumours, Fleetwood Mac 1977

So the Mac had been through various iterations but this was the iconic revised line up and the album is full of great songs which we loved to play in the car with our girls singing along. We loved Don’t Stop, Go Your Own Way and the iconic The Chain, which remains as the F1 theme tune  all these years later and never sounds dated. Daughter Emma remains a huge fan of the band and Stevie Nicks in particular (who isn’t?)

Traveling Wilbury’s, Vol 1 1988

Another holiday anthem album for our family. Every song a blinder especially Dirty World, Last Night, Congratulations (not the shit Cliff Richard thing) and End of the Line. Was Dylan ever better or indeed any of them? They sounded like a bunch  of guys having so much fun gigging together without egos.  We loved it and still do.

Three Tenors in Concert 1994

This is just for me. Nessum Dorma by Pavarotti was the theme tune to the 1990 World Cup and it was one of the great tournaments apart from the final. Gazza’s tears and all that. It must have been the first operatic song to break into the charts big time. What a singer Luciano was. And the live performance he, Domingo and Carreras gave with Mehta conducting a little later was just spine tingling. I still get goose bumps listening to it and especially watching it. It never fails to move me. They can play this at my funeral instead.

Oasis, What’s the Story Morning Glory 1995

Well after many years listening and getting bored by balladeers and boys/girls bands a Manc-based guitar-playing rock band burst onto the scene and have been there or there abouts ever since despite the two frontmen brothers going separate ways. Oasis. What a band. Heavily influenced by Lennon’s songwriting and singing style they brought some grit back to the music scene and recorded some great songs. This album contained some of their best –  Roll With It, Don’t Look Back in Anger, Some Might Say and the inimitable Wonderwall. A favourite of my daughters too

Cream, Royal Albert Hall 2005

Now I was a big fan of Cream when they came out and this morphed into a later thing for everything that Eric Clapton did. I don’t know how many times we saw him perform at the Royal Albert Hall and he never failed to deliver.  Ginger Baker was always a bit mad and poor old Jack Bruce became pretty ill of course. But before he died the band reformed for a series of concerts at the RAH and having kicked the drugs they played all their old songs brilliantly. This album captured it all, not least Badge, I’m So Glad, Spoonful, NSU, White Room and one of the all time great rock anthems Sunshine of Your Love. What a riff.

Led Zeppelin, Mothership 2008

Now I’d been a fan of the Zep from the first album and to be honest loved them all. Everybody raves that Led Zep IV was the greatest album – largely because it contained Stairway to Heaven I suspect. But there were so many great earlier songs and this compilation album did it for me. I know it’s a cop out but I don’t care with a song list which includes Dazed and Confused, Immigrant Song, Black Dog, Kashmir, StH of course and Whole Lotta Love.  I saw the band perform at Aberystwyth at the Kings Hall – the very last gig in a two year world-wide tour as one or two of the guys at the time lived locally. I wrote about it here if you’re interested. The loudness nearly pulled the skin off my face that night!  Fab memories


So there you are, the top 12 great slices of album music for me. Unfortunately I couldn’t fit in anything from my favourite genres from the the last few years like Garage, Rap, Dubstep etc. Funny that. As a final sign off I’ve included one of my favourite single songs I couldn’t fit onto the album list, so atmospheric. This is how to sing a song. Enjoy…


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About Paul

Having decided on a change of life by moving home from the UK to Italy, this is the story and thoughts of a man on a personal journey from the Blackpool Tower to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, in search of la dolce vita. After several olive harvests he's now back in London but en route he shares his very personal perspectives on life.

12 thoughts on “Albums

  1. So in no particular order:

    1. Band On The Run – Macca
    First album I remember listening to at home that was a new release. Confession – I didn’t own it at the time, it was Col’s. I think he was given it as a birthday or Christmas present but it had a huge impact on me. Had to buy my own copy when he moved out to Uni. Inconsiderate git.
    2. Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles.
    Me and my best mate from school Jim bonded over our shared love of the Fab Four. I played bass and he payed rhythm guitar and we formed the best (only) band in our school that year. He used to write “poetry” in the back of his maths book and I was so impressed with his style and unusual use of language. That is until I bought more Beatles albums and discovered they were actually Lennon album tracks he was passing off as his own. Bastard!
    3. Blonde on Blonde – Bob Dylan
    Another Jim influence this one. My investigation into how many of the songs he was “writing” that were not his own compositions meant I had to check his other favourite. Bob Dylan. I used to think Dylan was a shit singer till puberty set in and I discovered the blues (like only a schoolboy at and all boys Jesuit school could) and immediately sensed Bob was singing to me. Then one day around 1979, as my mates were listening to angry shit singers fronting bands like the Pistols and the Clash I was able to draw on my own personal shit singer with a new found respect.
    4. Songs In The key of Life – Stevie Wonder
    In and alternative universe this album is taught as part of the school curriculum and they have no crime.
    5. The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses
    When I first met Jackie we embarked on an email based courtship and with every message my attempts to impress seemed increasingly to fall on literally deaf ears. So I played my Joker. My trump card as we would say back then (before the term became synonymous with racism, sexism and rank stupidity). I used to be in a band. There. I used it. My nuclear chat up line had never failed me before. “Oh yeah, my ex was in a band”, she replied. In an effort to regain control of the situation and focus back on me I layered the story with some tales of our gigs and birthday parties, finally smashing it out of the park with the news that I’d played at my own wedding. “Oh that’s nice”, she patronised. “My ex played in a band with Ian Brown”…… Bugger!
    6. Setting Sons – The Jam
    At last, my own music. Not handed down to me by my big brother. Not recommended to me by my serial plagiarist best mate. I found them, they were mine. And my dad got tickets for me to see them live at the Rainbow in Finsbury Park. I had arrived.
    7. Stanley Road – Paul Weller
    Oh my god. What a comeback. Out of the blue. Superb. I wanted to send a copy to Paul McCartney to encourage him.
    8. Hunky Dory – David Bowie
    Tribalism at City and East London College. Post disco soul vs Goth. I could’ve gone either way but I didn’t. I went a third way. And Hunky Dory was my soundtrack.
    FYI – Canadian Craig went a fourth way choosing Creedance Clearwater Revival. That didn’t go down so well with the common room brothers.
    9. Backless – Eric Clapton
    Eric the racist nearly never made the list. Before the internet I didn’t research my idols quite so thoroughly as I do these days. Maybe I didn’t care so much, maybe I have more time these days, who knows? Anyway I’ve been wrestling with the decision to include him and exclude Jackson’s Off The Wall for his anti social behaviour. Whats worse? Paedophilia or Racism? Life was so much simpler before the internet.
    10. Trick Of The Tail – Genesis
    This is what stereo was invented for. Memories of it blaring from our radiogram as an 11 year old who absorbed musical influences from his older brother like a sponge. Post Gabriel Genesis was never supposed to be better, but let’s face it. It was.
    11. American Idiot – Green Day
    I have taken all three of my kids to Green Day as their first concert. Quite simply I think they’re the best live act of the last two decades. American Idiot is the only album we can all agree on in the car and was the soundtrack to many a family outing.
    12. Pretzel Logic – Steely Dan
    Steely Dan set me apart musically from my senior school classmates. Although unbeknown to me the similarity of their name to Steeleye Span meant that for many years I was perceived as more Wurzel than Jazz Fusion sophisticat.

    Honourable mentions go to Springsteen, Cat Stevens, Carole King, Paul Simon, ELO, Rolling Stones, Boomtown Rats, Madness, Ian Dury, Arctic Monkeys and my guilty pleasures; Sting and U2.
    Keep going guys, you nearly made it.

    Thanks for sowing the seed Paul. Been wanting to get this list out of my head for a while now. And as for the Cream concert at the RAH? One of my “I was there” moments. Up there with Live Aid and the last Arsenal game at Highbury.
    Thank You.

    • Hi John

      What a list and great comments mate. I particularly liked the ‘I’m in a band story’, ha! It’s amazing the time shift of what, 15 years, between us does in terms of selection. But still a few connections – Beatles, Dylan, Clapton (just) and Cream of course. What a concert eh. Great to hear you share some music with the kids too. I love that. Hope you guys are all well. Stay safe mate – Carol sends her love


  2. Here’s my daughter Emma’s great list…I wish I’d remembered Nirvana!…

    I compiled a loose list on day 1 and haven’t stopped thinking about it/listening to loads of old records (which I’ve loved – so many memories) since! ❤️
    Here is my current top 10, I’m posting them all at once to stop me changing my mind again (it’s so hard to stick to just 10)! 😂✌️
    Have a go (if you haven’t already)! X
    – Rumours, Fleetwood Mac, 1977
    – Madonna, Madonna, 1983
    – Legend, Bob Marley and the Wailers, 1984
    – Tango in the Night, Fleetwood Mac, 1987
    – Whitney, Whitney Houston, 1987
    – …But Seriously, Phil Collins, 1989
    – Nevermind, Nirvana, 1991
    – Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morissette, 1995
    – (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, Oasis, 1995
    – Back to Black, Amy Winehouse, 2006

  3. Hi mate, just seen your comment on my FB post – doh! I used to get emails alerting me that you’d posted something on here, but I don’t now (don’t know why not), so only remember to log in infrequently…actually just clicked the notification box so should happen again. S

  4. OK Paul. As you know I have been doing the Artist, Films and Albums in reverse order and this is by far the hardest – trying to get it down to 10 was extremely difficult – I could easily have managed ten before we left Uni in 1976! I have taken the liberty therefore of saying that I agree with at least 8 of the albums you have chosen – great minds/similar tastes – including both the Fleetwood Mac (just brilliant and still listen to them now), Beatles (because of coming from Liverpool, although close run thing with the White album), Stones, Rod, Free (the first live concert I went to at the Liverpool Stadium – Heartbreaker great as well), Cream and Led Zeppelin (IV possibly edged it for me), but what great art work on all their album covers, and I seem to recall buying it at that second hand record shop in Porthmadog that we would stop at on the way to football at Bangor. Zeppelin was my second live concert at Liverpool Empire. So having said all this it does free me up a little to mention some others – in chronological order.
    1) 1968 – Motown Chartbusters Vol 3 – one of my earliest album purchases and just full of great tracks and I played it to death (my first was actually Lulu’s To Sir with Love, but only because I had a huge crush on her)
    This is were I would have included Beatles, Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin and Free – so thanks for doing this for me
    2) 1971 – Wishbone Ash “Pilgrimage” – Lynne introduced me to WA and their first 4 albums including There’s the Rub and Argus were played an awful lot in Alexander Hall.
    3) 1973 – Elton John “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”
    4) 1973 – Stevie Wonder “Innervisions”
    5) 1973 – David Bowie “Aladdin Sane”
    There is another chunk of great albums from the 70’s that I will have to omit here including Queen II, Pink Floyd “Darkside”, Santana “Abraxas”, Moody Blues and the Police – Outlandos d’Amour, who you and Caz introduced us to on a visit to your first home in North London.
    6) 1985 – Dire Straits “Brothers in Arms”
    7) 1987 – U2 “Joshua Tree”
    I will miss out on the 90’s unfortunately – must have been working too hard – but these would have included Lionel Richie,Tina Turner, Lighthouse Family and Bon Jovie
    8) 2002 – Maroon 5 “Songs about Jane”
    9) 2005 – Coldplay “X&Y”
    10) 2005 – Jack Johnson “In Between Dreams”
    Also on the fringe from the new century would be Snow Patrol, Bruno Mars and George Ezra
    Another top ten worth considering on a similar theme may be Best Album Covers?
    All the best. Phil

    • Wow, great response thanks Phil. Some super choices – I especially like the Motown collection and would have happily included that in my selection but it is incredibly hard to narrow it down to a top 10 eh. Album covers not a bad idea although all artistry disappeared once CDs replaced the vinyl album methinks. An old mate of mine (who also went Aber and school with me) used to buy albums based on the artwork on the album cover. Because he loved designer Roger Dean’s work so much he had an album collection featuring a lot of Osibisa, Yes, Uriah Heep. Lots of flying elephants with evil red eyes. Happy days (but v intense music). Good to chat if only virtually. Stay well guys

  5. So I can’t do only a Top 10 or Top 12 because, unlike Paul, some of my favorites are from the 21st Century 😉
    I will go a decade at a time, starting with the 70’s as I’m also younger than PP.
    70’s – in no order:
    Santana Abraxas – wow – saw them at the Hammersmith Odeon -Oye Como Va, Samba Pa Ti and Black Magic Woman
    Van Morrison -Everyone says Moondance but for me – It’s too late to stop Now. Didn’t get to see him until the 2000’s but this really shows what a marvelous live performer he is (when he feels like it)
    Joni Mitchell – Miles of Aisles and Blue. Blue still gives me goosebumps but I saw her perform at Wembley stadium and what a voice live, OMG
    Neil Young – After the Goldrush. Seen Neil in good and bad times (strung out on H and mixing the words of songs) and although a huge CSNY fan, this album is the DB’s.
    Television – Marquee Moon – like nothing I’d ever heard before
    Sticky Fingers – Mick & the Boys.I had to pick one of theirs – had the original YKK zipper one stolen but replaced recently by wonderful son Nic.
    Elvis Costello – My Aim is True – saw him in a small venue before he hit – energetic doesn’t do it justice. He’s stood the test of time too
    Bob Marley – Live – all the great stuff – live
    Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland – or anything else
    Honorable mentions to: Steely Dan, The Eagles, Jackson Brown, Fleetwood Mac, The Stranglers, David Bowie, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Simon & Garfunkel, Bonnie Raitt

    80’s – Born in the USA – the year we came here, what an Anthem.
    Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams – brilliant 2nd album
    Prince & the Revolution – Purple Rain, master musician and showman
    Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms. Saw them in The Admiral Nelson in the 70’s.This made them deservedly huge.
    U2 – changed everyone’s impression of Irish music…Pride, Bullet the Blue Sky, In the name of love not too bad
    The rest of the Eighties was pretty horrendous

    Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Into the great wide open – sad he’s gone
    Sinead O’Connor – I don’t want what I haven’t got – Prince’s Nothing Compared to you by her is haunting.
    Alanis Morisette – Jagged Little Pill – caught my mood at the time; more You oughta know than Ironic
    Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik – my kids turned me on to these guys
    Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill – as close as I get to Hip Hop but I love her voice
    This was a decade my boys grew up and this influenced them more than me – RAP, Hip Hop etc. is their’s not mine
    Alicia Keys – Songs in a Minor – 20 years old – OMG what a talented lady
    Norah Jones -Come Away With Me – I know another solo lady but this is just a lovely album
    Amy Winehouse – Back to Black – what a loss, what a voice
    Lily Allen – cheeky Cockney
    Duffy – Warwick Ave. Some great songs, great voice and I used to hang out around WA. Awful what happened to her..
    Mayer Hawthorne -A Strange Arrangement – vintage Tamla from a white guy
    Jack Johnson – In Between Dreams – laid back Hawaiian happy music
    John Mayer Trio – Try – grew up nearby, liked his pop stuff but this is a step up IMHO
    Adele – 19 – couldn’t leave out the brilliant debut from a proper Tottenham girl COYS

    Blak & Blu – Gary Clark Jr – the MAN. Blues, soul, funk, reggae, shredding – this lad has it all.
    St Paul & The Broken Bones- Half the City – old school soul from an Alabama band with a great front man
    DMB – Live in NYC – gotta see them live, great summer grooving
    Leon Bridges – Coming Home – old school soul from another youngster
    Allen Stone – Allen Stone – soul-based hippy

    PP – those last 4 are ones from the Saturday night no one’s making any good music anymore discussion

    I’m sure I’ve missed some folks but those that have had multiple great albums I only picked once

    • Wow thanks mate. I would have been surprised if you hadn’t bitten and given me your fave albums. I don’t feel so bad now at just struggling to reach a top 10. I make yours a top 33 with 10 honourable mentions. V comprehensive. Some great albums I hadn’t spotted and a few classic ‘whiney women’ albums as son Matt christened them many years ago. Ha! this is me smiling whilst typing. That said you’ve probably only excluded some 40 odd albums from the total recorded during those 50 years. Nevertheless many thanks for the reminder on the recent albums which I much enjoyed during those fab w/e’s at your place. Always a great time. If we didn’t have music and football what else would we argue about (apart from art, politics, religion, wine, food, cooking, women, beer, cars, films, travel destinations, people, tv, comedians, books, reporters, newspapers, pundits, architecture and dogs – HK excepted of course)? It’s what make us mates

      stay safe guys


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