Making A List, Checking It Twice (part 1)

When I relaunched this blog in January, I did mention that I do love a good list and forewarned my non-existent readers that I might be prone to writing a list or two in the form of a blog post (or is that a blog post in the form of a list?). Well, I’ve recently been tagged in a couple of Facebook posts asking me to “List 12 albums (no particular order) that have stuck with you over the years and mean a lot to you”. So, I figured that I might as well pop over here to the old blog to answer the question, in a bit more detail. There’s always a temptation in these listy meme things*, to include a bunch of things that you think will impress other people, well, I make so such compromises here. The following is purely based on how I’m feeling about music right now… tag me in a Facebook post in a year’s time and you might end up with a different list entirely. (‘Listy Meme Things’ is a patented expression). So here goes with my first six….

  1. The Greatest Hits of 1985” by Various Artists. Okay, straight off the bat and I am cheating with a compilation, but this is an album I had on cassette tape and played over and over again in my room as a 15 year-old. Just at that stage in my life when I was rebelling against the music that my parents played and made me listen to during my formative years. However, check out the track listing, and nod admiringly at the fact I’ve managed to sneak in my two favourite 80’s pop tunes in my first selection… The Rah Band’s “Clouds Across The Moon”, and Strawberry Switchblade’s “Since Yesterday”.
  2. The Take Off and Landing of Everything” by Elbow. Bang up-to-date now (almost) with this sublime feast of music. Guy Garvey, who has a voice that deftly bridges the gap between gravelly, working class hero and velvety seducer of the senses. Every song is a poem. Every listen uncovers previously unrealised depth. Every lyric will provoke an emotional response, and whether that be jumping on your chair and cheering (“New York Morning”) or punching you in the gut (“Lunette”), this album never fails to deliver.
  3. Jazz” by Queen. Probably not everyone’s first choice of album by the greatest band that ever was or ever will be, but Jazz is a triumph. This album is one that I best remember being heard through the wall that separated my bedroom from that of my brother’s. His music system was louder than mine, so I would generally have trouble drowning out the noise, meaning I was stuck listening to slightly the muffled sounds of John Deacon’s “If You Can’t Beat Them” among others. It was years before I would even admit to my bruv (a huge Queen fan) that I even liked what he was playing, but it was a great rock music education.
  4. Jagged Little Pill” by Alanis Morissette. This album made me a feminist, before I even knew what a feminist was. Before this album came out, the female singers I had listened to in my life and sung sweetly about standing by their man or never falling in love again. Alanis came along, picked me up by the scruff of my collar and told me in no uncertain terms to get my shit together. It was just a bit of a bonus that *every* song on here was instantly brilliant on first listen and who the hell cares if lots of the things that happen in “Ironic” are not strictly ironic, may be it’s called “Ironic” ironically?!
  5.  “Lonely Avenue” by Ben Folds and Nick Hornby. This has everything that I want an album to possess… a wonderful story about how the album itself came into being, a bunch of songs with some great hooks that you draw you in, lyrics that make you gasp in wonder at how majestic the English language can be, and a certain sadness that there’ll probably never be another album like this again. The final track on the album is “Belinda” it’s about ageing star whose main hit record was about a girl he loved and lost, but who then has to sing the song at every show he ever puts on and re-live the regret of losing her. It is majestic.
  6. River Of Dreams” by Billy Joel. I went to see Billy Joel live at the Hammersmith Apollo a few years ago… I think it will always be ‘My-Best-Gig’. However, while Billy’s music had always been on the periphery on my musical world, it was really, ironically, his last (pop/rock) album that made me a fan. This was my gateway into his back-catalogue and learning to love all those tucked away album tracks that no-one other than the fans really get to know. So, I am very grateful to River of Dreams for opening that door and also “Famous Last Words” is probably the best final track that anyone has ever made (until Bowie delivered Lazarus to us a couple of months ago).

I will return with Part 2 of the list, soon.

1985

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