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…