Top Albums

Currently, for some reason I haven't yet discovered, BBC Radio 2 are doing a "Top Albums" season... That and the recent "most influential albums meme" on facebook, (on which I got a decidedly awful 7 out of 100 - clearly proving that the list was wonky) prompted me to look at my musical back-catalogue... So, in good old internet meme fashion I put my music player on shuffle to see what 10 albums (not counting greatest hits/compilation albums) floated to the top of the murky pool... They turned out to be:
 1) Reload - by Tom Jones (the old welsh geezer's re-invention of himself with a little help from some young talent)
 2) Traces - by Karine Polwart (her most recent album, raved about at length on this blog)
 3) War of the Worlds - by Jeff Wayne (the original, not the recent digital blasphemy)
 4) American Idiot - by Green Day (probably the only album in this list that my No1 son would deem to be cool)
 5) Unplugged - by Eric Clapton (as if to illustrate my previous comment)
 6) If this is Rock 'n' Roll, I Want My Old Job Back - by The Saw Doctors (think I actually owned this on tape rather than CD or vinyl - now ripped)
 7) Sigh No More - by Mumford and Sons (really will have to get round to buying Babel)
 8) Marchin' Already - by Ocean Colour Scene (the archetypal second album)
 9) Surprise - by Paul Simon (a couple of good tracks punctuated by long yawns)
10) Come Away with Me - by Norah Jones (proof positive that I'm a big girl's blouse)

but having done that I couldn't leave it there... It's just too embarassing... so I also trawled through the back catalogue again to pull out the albums that meant most to me over the years... I, couldn't keep it to 10, so here are 20 in no particular order:
 1) 461 Ocean Boulevard - by Eric Clapton. (Probably his best solo album)
 2) The Joshua Tree - by U2 (the most mature of their early work - I lost track of them for years after this though, and it was a toss-up between this and All that you Can't leave Behind for inclusion here, as that was where I picked them up again after about a 15 year gap)
 3) At the Budokan - by Bob Dylan (My only remaining Dylan album... superb live recording of his classics)
 4) Avalon Sunset - by Van Morrison (Purists probably hate this but, if you can forgive the appearance of Cliff, I think it's Ivan's most accessible album)
 5) Back to the Centre - by Paul Brady (again probably one of Brady's most commercial albums, but it intersected with my life at a crucial period, shaping how I thought about this province of ours at a time I thought I had left it behind forever)
 6) Bat out of Hell - by Meat Loaf. (Teens - what else can I say!)
 7) Catch a Bull at Four - by Cat Stevens (an introduction to poetic lyricism thanks to an older brother)
 8) Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs - by Derek and the Dominoes (perfect for a lovestruck teen)
 9) Eddi Reader Sings the Songs of Robert Burns - by Eddi Reader (an introduction to Burns by one of my favourite singers)
10) Songbird - by Eva Cassidy (if you can listen to this knowing the story behind it without a tear in your eye, you've got a swinging brick instead of a heart)
11) Greatest Stories Live - by Harry Chapin (again I was introduced to Chapin by an older brother - he genuinely is superb at telling compelling short stories in song, but this live version of some of his greatest ones, is on the list because of memories of a year on the Methodist Church's Youth Evangelism Team when it became a favourite of at least one other member)
12) Book of Invasions - by Horslips. (overblown celtic folk rock)
13) War of the Worlds - by Jeff Wayne (the only one to make it from the list above onto this one, due to it being the soundtrack to my O-Levels)
14) Only Visiting this Planet - by Larry Norman (strange following on from the last one, but this album, despite it's wonky theology in places, awakened me to the possibility of reconciling my young Christian faith, decent music and a social conscience.)
15) Graceland - by Paul Simon (a big contrast to the dullness of the album in the list above) 
16) The Wall - by Pink Floyd (not a Floyd fan, but what schoolboy at the time this was released couldn't list this)
17) Red Roses for Me - by The Pogues (despite being brought up in a solidly Orange home, the Dubliners were musical favourites of my mum - this was the Dubliners reinvented for the punk generation)
18) A Night at the Opera - by Queen (Freddie et al at their  theatrical best - so what teenage thespian rocker could possibly neglect this)
19) Hanx - by Stiff Little Fingers (lots of live concert memories and part of the soundtrack to my Edinburgh years)
20) Live and Dangerous - by Thin Lizzy. (another live album, reminding me of my first big live gig experience)

Reading it over I see it is devoid of many of those albums that the experts see as "seminal" (including anything by the Beatles, Stones, Bruce Springsteen or even Abba!). There are plenty of other albums that have long since disappeared from my collection (need to have a word with my lid brother about that), or singles that only now exist in compilations or my memory... 

So that's my list out in public... what about yours?



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