“And if you are not going to lionize the transposition of creation and emotion — if you’re not going to lionize the ability of a musical band to matter more as a concept than as a mere producer of sound — I’m not sure what we’re pretending to do here.” — Chuck Klosterman
I’m not sure what Cambridge Analytica’s end game is regarding their data mining scheme on Facebook and frankly I don’t care. A five minute glance at the entirety of my posts will reveal only three things:
- An inordinate amount of references to the film ‘A Few Good Men’
- An inordinate amount of parallels drawn between the film ‘A Few Good Men’ and the Essendon supplements saga during the years 2013 to 2016
- Hyperbolic claims that <insert song/album here> is the greatest of all time.*
*I once laid claim that Rod Stewart’s version of ‘Downtown Train’ was the peak of pop music. In my defence I was (probably) drunk and also correct.
If a firm believes that is enough information to tailor an ad to get me to vote for a candidate or buy an Ed Sheeran album then good luck to you sir. Don’t think for one second that you can come down here, flash a badge, and make me nervous.
Every couple of years a variation of a chain post will come along nominating you to name your top 10 favourite albums. I am fairly sure I have completed this at least 3 times now, each time they have been knocked up within a few minutes. If I could be bothered to wade through my entire output on FB (can you do me a solid Bannon?) my previous responses on this topic would be almost the same each time — give or take an album or two.
This time the challenge was to reveal an album each day by posting the album cover. This provided me the chance to have another look at this list and perhaps do some data mining of my own. Had I been too hasty in the past? Or were my initial choices correct?
My first task was to take the entire history of music and filter out any album that I didn’t at least own twice over: First on CD then on Vinyl where it sounds exactly the same just with an added layer of pretentiousness.
This narrowed things down somewhat.
From there I automatically added my favourite album of all time to my list.
Marvin Gaye’s 1971 masterpiece What’s Going On is not only the definitve musical statement about the war in Vietnam but doubles as the most successful thing the Detroit Lions have ever been associated with.
Along with Marvin, the other soul figure that looms large in my life is Sam Cooke. The issue with Sam is that he performed in an era when albums weren’t as essential as singles. Thankfully his live album Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963 is the best iteration of sweet Sam. This album was a no-brainer to make the list.
The next 6 albums were then drawn from a more intensive project that I undertook a few years ago. This project was for my own purposes and one that I update each year. I created a list of my favourite album for each year since 1990.
As you can imagine, such a project is of no interest to anyone but myself and it is one that took me a few weeks to complete. As a quick exercise, try working out which is your favourite album of 1994. No one gets out of that one without feeling like an arsehole. You would have a tough time making a top 10 of that year alone let alone selecting just one.
I selected the years 1991 to 1996 as inclusions because they also represent my more formative years of music listening: ages 11 to 16.
So we have:
1991 Achtung Baby U2
1992 Automatic For The People REM
1993 Together, Alone Crowded House
1994 Definitely, Maybe Oasis
1995 Hi Fi Way You Am I
1996 Everything Must Go Manic Street Preachers
All six albums have the added bonus of being purchased at least three times over. Once on CD, once on vinyl and a third time in a super bonus deluxe anniversary edition where it is exactly the same album just with less interesting versions of the original songs.
Springsteen was always going to make the list but the problem I had was that depending on what mood I was in would determine which of his albums from his classic stretch from 1975 to 1987 would get the nod. As I move into my late 30s, The Boss’ album that he recorded at the same age (Tunnel of Love) is what resonates most. If you excuse all the references to divorce that is.
However I had to go with the one that I would play in a car heading out on a Saturday Night. That album is Darkness on the Edge of Town.
So this leaves one spot.
Those familiar with my writing will know I have had plenty to say about Ryan Adams over the years. Whilst his second album (Gold) was my real entry point into his work, his debut (Heartbreaker) has stood the test of time.
Any album that starts with two friends having a friendly argument about the source of a Morrissey song is my kind of record.
The only artist I truly care about that doesn’t make this list is a guy named Teddy Thompson. Teddy is unlikely to ever be as famous as those mentioned above which I think is fine by him. He did make my previously mentioned list of favourite albums for each year since 1990 (2008s A Piece of What You Need) but he has yet to make a stone cold classic.
Until then we have this, and this is better than most.
Sometimes that is enough.