Sunday, February 15, 2015

Best Albums of all time

Best Albums of all time? All time?? Really, am I going to do this? It seems so!

Music is a wonderful thing to have in your life. It can energize you when you are feeling low, calm you when you feel tense, make you feel happy when you might feel down. As we go through life our musical tastes can change and broaden, well, that is certainly what happened in my case.

To make it on this list these albums all have some things in common. The first is that I am happy, delighted even, to listen to them at any time. I also like to listen to the whole album, not just a song or two. They have stood the test of time too, these are not things that have been out a few weeks, many are decades old.

Clearly this is my list, and come from my tastes and experiences. You may or may not like any of these, however, I will say, if you have not HEARD these albums I think you owe it to yourself to check them out. They are all excellent. I would also recommend headphones to really hear them properly - many have strong stereo effects that are lost otherwise.

There are a couple of genres you will NOT find here - Country and Western or Heavy Metal for example. If that is your thing, more power to you, but I've never gotten into it. However, there is a fairly large mix of stuff here, let the journey begin!


Best Albums of All time

If I was stuck on a desert island with only this music to listen to, I'd still be a happy man.

Roxy Music - Avalon

This is probably my favorite album of all time. Do I like everything Roxy Music made? Absolutely not. But they really nailed this one. It is a calm, dreamy album that I listen to when I want to chill out. It makes me feel good, and it is a great album to put on when preparing a meal, reading, or just sitting around talking with friends. It takes you somewhere else too if you let it, some faraway place.








St Germain - Tourist

This is a more up-beat album, although I am not certain what genre I would end up putting it into. Modern Jazz maybe? Most of St Germain stuff is pretty good, they have other albums worth checking out too, but I think this is the best. You might hear this in a hip cafe or background to a casual dinner party or something like that. That might put you off - don't be - it is one of the great albums of all time.








Tom Middleton - Lifetracks

I discovered this only a few years ago, but it has become a staple when driving or again, just chilling out at home. This album does not have a single harsh note in it, but yet gets up a pace in places and also has a decent base note at times. It is an instrumental, no singing in this. But it is all very gentle and agreeable, and I have listened to this one over and over and I still love it. This is soul food, it can heal and calm you.

Simple Minds - New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) 

One of the artists that resonated with me as a teen was Simple Minds. I have seen them in concert, and for a time they we almost as big as U2. A minor criticism would be that some of the lyrics are hard to understand because of the accent Jim Kerr has, but you just have to go with it.

INXS - Shabooh Shoobah

This is almost certainly the most commercial album here, and you probably know it, depending on your age, or at least some of the songs. I find that it is an exquisitely balanced 80's rock album. There is not a dud song in the bunch, and Michael Hutchence (RIP) has a unique voice which is flexible and allows for a lot of passion to come through, like some people think of Mick Jagger (who I don't like in particular). There is some great guitar work, and the base is always keeps you toe tapping. This is from 1982, but I think it still sounds fresh.

Christopher Lawrence - Rise

This is a cat amongst the pigeons! A dance trance album in the top of all time? Well, when I want a great rhythmic beat to get energized from, but don't want to go all the way to Deadmau5 or one of the Ministry of Sound compilations, I often turn to Christopher Lawrence. He has some really good other albums too - Around the World, United States of Trance are both good. Actually, I have a recording called "Live at the WEMF 2000" which is my all time fav of his, but it not a real album as far as I can tell. If you want to disconnect your consciousness and drift along to an melodic, ever changing sound - this is the one. On the face of it you might think this is repetitive, but I can assure you that it has complexity and depth to rival the best.

John Dowland - Complete Lute Works, Vol. 1

OK, well let's slow things down a bit, and wind back the technology and electronic music all the way back to a LUTE. That's right, this is an album of lute music, and it is fantastic. My children have grown up to this as a soundtrack, particularly when they were toddlers and is known as the "quiet music". It is like throwing a warm blanket of calm over the house whenever you put it on, and although it might sound all the same on first listen, after a few you get to know it and understand how brilliant it is. I'm happy to listen to this at any time, if nothing else to re-feel the magical time when my kids were small. There are other volumes actually, but we never got past the first one - don't ask me why, considering we love it so much.






Honorable Mentions (almost as good)

If I was stuck on the same desert island and had the albums above, I would be glad to have the additional albums below to fill out the styles and add some variety. Depending on my mood, I might have mixed some of these into the top list.



Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon

You could argue that this should be in the top list, and I would have trouble arguing against it. The only reason it isn't, is simply that I find I don't actually listen the album much. Pink Floyd have a lot of great albums (I like Animals, and Wish you were here), and we have seen them in concert, and that was awesome. 


Miles Davis - Kind of Blue

If you are going to own just one Jazz album in your entire collection, this is the one to get.  It is from all the way back in 1959, but boy, what a cracker.

Radiohead - Kid A

This is a great album but the only issue is that it is depressing! It has a lot going for it, much like Pink Floyd "The Wall", but I will only listen to it if I am in the right mood. 



ABC - Lexicon of Love

This is a new wave album from the 80's, and yeah, is one that probably shows my age a bit. Sorry.



Icehouse - Primitive Man

Another album from the mighty musical year of 1982. This has an Australian flavour, which is partly why I am fond of it.





Monolake - Polygon_Cities

This is very much ambient electronic music.I find that it goes to unexpected places, and I enjoy the sound a lot. This is a fairly recent discovery.

Tosca - Suzuki

This is similar to St Germain in many ways, and almost as good. I've written much of this Blog entry while listening to this, and it just bounces along happily.



Alan Parsons Project - The best of (vol 1)

What can you say about this? Hmmm. It is a fairly dated sound now, but there is something sing-along about most of the songs, or perhaps whistle along.



K.D. Lang - Ingenue

I almost didn't include this, but really, it is a standout album.The reason I rank it lower than it perhaps should is simply due to the fact that I don't really like female vocals. But she is an exception, I think. This is quite an emotional album.



Ferry Corsten - L.E.F

Well, this is a superb dance/electro album, if you are into that sort of thing. Perhaps more commercial than Christopher Lawrence, and with vocals. 



The B-52's - The B-52's

My lucky last pick, and it is a very weird one really.  This is a mind-expanding experience, and it helps if you are somewhat already in that state when you listen to it. It also reminds me of some old and departed friends, and the wild times we had together.