I only really heavily got into music around the age of sixteen. Before that I was simply content to play football with my mates every waking minute. Then I left school, had the most glorious summer ever in 1996, coupled with Britpop hitting it big time and I haven’t looked back since. Sure, my tastes have changed over the years, but that’s because I’m always looking for the next big thing, or something new that I’ve not heard before. It’s like when you hear the most perfect song and it brings a lump to your throat and sends a shiver up your spine. It’s an amazing feeling and you just want it again and again.
Because of the, mostly fruitless quest, for THAT song, I listen to a lot of music just hoping for that feeling again. It has led me down some interesting roads, some noisy roads, some boring roads and some amazing roads. These are some of those amazing roads.
Rage Against The Machine – Rage Against The Machine (1991)
I first heard this album when I was in Australia in 2002. One of my house mates was mad keen on RATM, and when I heard it I fell in love with them. The musicianship is insane, and although it might be heavy (musically and lyrically) for some people, the songs are still so damned catchy. Tom Morello is as good a guitarist as you could wish to hear I think.
London Calling – The Clash (1979)
An album that I had for a long time before getting into. Obviously I always skipped to the well known songs, such as the title track. Then one day, along with two mates I took a trip to London to hang out on a film set (Lesbian Vampire Killers in case your interested in knowing) for the day, and we listened to this album on hard rotation on the way up and back. There is so much variety across all of the tracks, and barely any filler.
A Hard Day’s Night – The Beatles (1964) Most people would probably go for a later Beatles album, but I just love this album. Every song is catchy as hell (obviously, this is The Beatles we’re talking about) and there is so much energy buzzing about. It’s the first Beatles album to feature nothing but Beatles songs as well, which is another plus. This album (along with all The Beatles albums) reminds me of being a teenager and buying a rather expensive Beatles Wooden Box Set in the Christmas sales, which I instantly reduced by at least half when my parents asked about it!
Chutes Too Narrow – The Shins (2003)
The Shins have rapidly become one of my favourite bands since I first heard this album, admittedly way after it’s release. It is amazingly melodic, with some great hooks and inspired lyrics. They have some fantastic albums and songs (not least the two featured famously in Garden State) but this is my favourite album because it reminds me of drives to work, stuck in traffic but loving being young, back in my mid-twenties.
Blue – Joni Mitchell (1970)
My favourite album by my favourite female artist easily. There are some moments of real beauty on here, especially River and Little Green which I believe is about Mitchell giving her daughter up for adoption. My personal favourites are Carey and California which offset the sad songs perfectly. Again, a classic album with no filler and a perfect length. They don’t make them like this any more!
Sunflower – The Beach Boys (1970)
I’m going against the grain and saying this is better than Pet Sounds! Maybe it isn’t, but there are some amazing, not so well songs on here that are so catchy and infectious and featuring that amazing Beach Boys vocal harmony. It even features the song I would happily have played at my funeral, Forever, written by Dennis Wilson. It is really amazingly beautiful.
Something Else – The Kinks (1968)
I love the Kinks, it was a hard choice as to what album to go for but in the end I went for this as there is a nice mix on here, and it includes Waterloo Sunset. The Kinks are one of those bands that are almost begging you to own a greatest hits instead because of the amount of quality songs they have. This album also features Dave Davies great Death of A Clown alongside Ray Davies awesome tunes. I first remember getting into the Kinks as a teenager at house parties during the Britpop days.
Moseley Shoals – Ocean Colour Scene (1996)
The first album I ever bought so it always has a special place in my heart, even if I don’t listen to it much any more. Most people preferred Oasis or Blur back in the Britpop era, but I loved the whole Mod thing so OCS were always my favourites, due to their comradeship with Paul Weller. That and they had some amazingly cool tunes that Oasis could only dream of (The Riverboat Song, The Day We Caught The Train, The Circle). This reminds me of the getting into music and the greatest summer I ever had, 1996.
Closing Time – Tom Waits (1973)
I love ‘growly’ Tom Waits as much as the next man, even more so perhaps, but his debut album has some beautiful songs on it, despite not featuring THAT voice. Ol ’55 creates vivid images in my mind and was later covered by The Eagles (don’t hold that against it though) and Martha is about as lovely a song as you are likely to hear about old guy recalling his lost love.
Nic Armstrong & The Thieves – The Greatest White Liar (2005)
No one seems to have heard of this, but it really is a gem. I recall seeing Nic supporting Paul Weller and promptly bought the album as soon as it was released. He hasn’t released one since, until a recent EP. If you like early Beatles and Stones, with a bit of Dylan thrown into the mix, then you will love this album. It’s diverse, the songs are well written, melodic, sometimes beautiful and always catchy.
Pacific Ocean Blue – Dennis Wilson (1977)
A lost classic by the Beach Boys drummer. His first solo album was a true labour of love and the production values on tracks like River Song are impeccable. Dennis truly showed that Brian Wilson wasn’t the only genius in the band. Some of these songs are breathtaking. Some are slightly cheesy and of their time, but overall a cracker. And if you buy the reissue you get Dennis’ Bambu album along with it, which was never actually released, as he died in 1983.
Imagine – John Lennon (1971)
Lastly, I’ve gone for Lennon. So many great songs on here (the classic title track, Jealous Guy) and it end’s with Oh Yoko! which is a song that brings a smile to my face every time I hear it. I could quite easily have chosen the slightly more hard edged Plastic Ono Band album instead, but seeing as the older I get the more emotional I seem to become, I have gone for Imagine.