Monday, 30 April 2018

Facebook Challenge: Top 10 Albums

(aka "another blog post idea that I may have nicked from somewhere (or should that be inspired by?")

The connected world of Social Media means that I have more virtual friends than actual, living friends (and I mean "real" friends that I actually converse with using breath, words and facial expressions).
I do however take solace in the fact that around 80% of my Facebook friends I have actually sat in a pub with sometime in the last couple of years
Facebook is awash with Quizzes and Personality Tests, often designed to harvest personal data and feed Cambridge Analytica and the US Election (or something like that - wasn't Facebook also responsible for the relegation of Sunderland to League One?).
But sometimes, there is some all inclusive activity that appeals to the inner-nerd.
I was challenged (may be too strong a term?) to post 10 Albums that "mean something to me".
So, like any normal bloke the first thing I did was make a list, and then edit that list, and then re-edit that list.  But no matter how many revisions took place, I just couldn't get it to them magic 10 - so what did I do created an eleventh posting (or in this case a prequel) showcasing those that I had to leave out.

I was nominated to post 10 albums in 10 days.
These 10 albums are the very fabric of my being and are hard wired into my brain.
They still get regular listening time, despite knowing every word, phrase and drumbeat (and for vinyl geeks: every hiss, crackle and scratch)
I've done the sensible thing and made a list.
But first ... here are 12 albums that didn't make the cut:

Having decided on the final 10, I then did a bit of analysis and statistics to understand my personality, preferences and musical motivation.
(Not really, but it sounds like the nerdy sort of thing I might've done).

"Peak Music Buying", and therefore influence is probably in the years 15 to 22.  With this in mind, my list should've been stuffed full of records released between 1985 and 1992.  Some just fell slightly earlier (forgivable, but just as likely to "influential"), only one of my all-time Top 10 was from the 21st Century, but a lot of them were from a lot earlier than my peak (or even "knowingly listened to" years).  In my defence, only one of them was released before I was actually born.  And I will also blame a well-stocked, relatively cheap second hand record shop that opened when I was 14 and proceeded to relieve me of most of my Paper round earnings.

10) Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine - 30 Something (1991)

When an album opens with a quote from Red Dwarf, you just "feel" it's going to be good.

"When you're younger you can eat what you like, drink what you like, and still climb into your 26 inch waist trousers and zip them closed. Then you reach that age, 24 25, your muscles give up, they wave a little white flag, and without any warning at all you're suddenly a fat b*stard"
Top Tracks: "Billy Smarts Circus", "Shoppers Paradise"

9) Dexys Midnight Runners - Searching For The Young Soul Rebels (1980)
If you listen to Radio 2 or Commercial Radio, you may believe that Dexys Midnight Runners only did 2 songs.
Wrong - this was their debut album (1980), and was a near perfect mix of Northern Soul, Mod, Ska and Punk.

"For God's sake, Burn It Down"
Top Tracks: "Burn It Down", "There, There My Dear"

8) Henry Priestman - Chronicles Of Modern Life (2008)
30 years after his first attempt at the big time with Yachts, and 20 years after The Christians, Henry Priestman's debut album is like a bible for the Grumpy Middle Aged Man.
Folky-poppy tunes delivered with wisdom, humour, a bit of anger (more "frustrated annoyance" than "anger") and a dollop of self-deprecation.

"There I was in all my naiveté"
Top Tracks: "Old", "Did I Fight In The Punk Wars For This?"

7) Marillion - Misplaced Childhood (1985)
Who releases a Prog Rock Concept album in 1985?
Into a world with the first whiff of manufactured pop courtesy of Stock Aitken & Waterman, an increasing US influence and a general move towards MOR/Coffee Table blandness, Marillion thought it would be a good idea
(and credit to EMI, who were still looking for a return on their investment, for letting them).
33 years on, it's still the best thing they ever did.

"Huddled in the safety of a pseudo silk kimono"

Top Tracks: "Heart Of Lothian", Childhoods End? / White Feather"

6) Big Country - The Crossing (1983)
The sound of bagpipes is not too dissimilar to the sound of strangling a cat.
But listening to faux-Bagpipes when played on an electric guitar is a really worthwhile experience (honest).
Released in 1983, and having no synthesisers at all, put them at odds with much of the rest of the pop charts.
Their nearest contemporaries were probably U2, and there was a brief moment when it seemed the Scots may outsell and outlive the Irish.
(If you're not sure what happened next, they didn't)

"I've never seen you look like this without a reason"

Top Tracks: "Chance", "Porrohman"

5) The Beatles - Abbey Road (1969)

A popular Beat Combo from the 60s who had their share of success.
The last album they recorded together, but (confusingly) not the last they released (how does that work?).
Note: if it wan't for a throwaway 23 seconds of nonsense about The Queen, the last recorded words would be: "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make" - that's philosophy that is
Little is known what happened to the band members after they split up.

"Here come old flat-top, he come grooving slowly"

Top Tracks: The Medley on Side 2 culminating in "Golden Slumbers" / "Carry That Weight" / "The End"
(I'm also a fan of "Octopus's Garden", but don't tell anyone)

4) Pink Floyd - The Wall (1979)

Some say Wish You Were Here. Others say Dark Side Of The Moon.
I say "Pah! This is the ultimate Pink Floyd platter".
Some suggest it is self-indulgent, navel gazing tosh. Others bemoan it's extravagance, or suggest that the album is padded with 50% good stuff and 50% filler.
If Marmite made albums, this would probably be one of them.

"So ya, thought ya
Might like to go to the show
To feel the warm thrill of confusion
That space cadet glow"

Top Tracks: "Mother", "Comfortably Numb"

3) Stiff Little Fingers - Inflammable Material (1979)

The first album released on Rough Trade, and the first independently released album to make the UK Album Chart Top 10 - recorded relatively cheaply in a Cambridge studio that was basically 2 terraced houses knocked together.
From the very outset, an all out attack on the senses (in a good way).
One of THE essential albums from the 77-79 period.

"Inflammable material planted in my head, it's a suspect device that's left 2000 dead"

Top Tracks: "Suspect Device", "Alternative Ulster"

2) Sex Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks (1977)

Not just the ultimate Punk Rock album, but surely one of the greatest Rock albums ever.

The sheer force, energy, tightness of the band, and most importantly power of the songs themselves.
Re-issued, re-packaged and re-configured several dozen times, and always a thrill to hear it.

"A cheap holiday in other peoples misery"

Top Tracks: "God Save The Queen", "EMI"

1) The Who - Quadrophenia (1973)

A Rock Opera by The Who ... but not that one. The one with the believable story line.
After the success of Tommy came Pete Townshend's failure to repeat the trick with Lifehouse. He laboured over it, and then culled the best songs into Who's Next (another potential candidate for the Greatest Rock Album ... Ever).
He then tried again with a long form story set to song with the story of a disaffected Mod with multiple personalities, seemingly at odds with everyone and everything.
Pete Towshend produces some of his strongest songs, Roger Daltrey inhabits the character, Keith Moon's drumming is all over the place and spot on timing always, and John Entwhistle's bass underpins everything like rolling thunder.

"Can you see the real me? Can you? Can you?"

Top Tracks: "The Real Me", "Doctor Jimmy"


  1. Somebody in the office asked me to do this, and I gave him the following frustrating response...

    BS – BTR (although some days it would be N, and occasionally TOL)
    P – TIHC
    TS – TQID
    TI – AD
    HL&TN – F
    EC – PTC
    LC&TC – RS
    Q – SHA
    ML – BOOH
    BB – VOG

    He won't ask me again.

    Oh, and thanks, I just bought that Henry Priestman album on the strength of the last few words of your opening sentence.

  2. Q - LK would be my Q choice (is it wrong to pick a Live album as their best?).
    As for the rest - my brain hurts at the moment, I'll be back