Two friends on Facebook challenged me (separately) to name 15 albums that will always stay with me. Here was the challenge:
The rules: Don't take too long to think about this. List 15 albums you've heard that will always stick with you.
There’s a lot more crap about tagging people etc. but you get the gist. I decided to have a go and actually managed to find 15 albums out of my collection. But it was hard, dear reader, very, very hard.
I published the note on Facebook but the note simply contained the albums. I have decided therefore to give you, dear reader, a bit more background into why each of the albums will always remain close to my heart. In many cases, the music on the album invokes memories and emotions that simply cannot be replaced; in others cases the album is listed simply because it is a classic.
Here they are (in roughly the order that they came to my attention):
Supertramp - Crime of the Century (Released 1974)
I love Supertramp and this is quite simply my favourite album by the band. At the tender age of eighteen, I escaped the clutches of my parents with three mates and spent a fun filled weekend at a cottage in Wales. There are many classic tracks on this album, like School, Crime of the Century and Hide in Your Shell. My favourite song is Dreamer.
Click here to listen to Dreamer.
U.F.O. - Strangers in the Night (Released 1979)
“Hello Chicago! Would you please welcome from England – U.F.O!!!!”
These are the words that send a shiver down my spine even to this day. Strangers in the Night is a double live album from a British rock band called UFO and it has pride of place as the very first rock album I ever bought. It changed my musical direction and for that alone it will always remain in my heart. And of course it contains Rock Bottom one of the best live rock songs ever.
Click here to listen to Rock Bottom in all its glory
Deep Purple - Made in Japan (Released 1972)
“What’s that bloody screaming racket?” howled my father when he heard Ian Gillan screaming on Child in Time.
“It’s the future,” I decreed.
“Well if that’s the future then God help us,” he replied in disgust.
This is Deep Purple at their very best, performing in Japan, live and raw, with the Mark II line up.
Click here to listen to Highway Star
Rainbow - Rising (Released 1976)
The greatest rock album of the 70's is Rising by Rainbow. You only have to look at the line up on this magnificent magnum opus: Ritchie Blackmore, Ronnie James Dio and Cozy Powell, arguably the greatest guitarist, singer and drummer of that time.
The opening bars to Tarot Woman send shivers down my spine and the Stargazer and Light in the Black combination portray rock music in its purest and best form.
Rest in peace Ronnie James Dio.
Click here to listen to Stargazer
David Bowie - Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) (Released 1980)
There had to be a David Bowie in my list and I really struggled to decide which one. Aladdin Sane almost made it but it was edged out by Scary Monsters simply because it reminds me of a transitional time in my life when I was studying for A-levels and hoping to go to university but having to juggle life with mates who wanted to drink and chase girls.
I wanted to do that too but my dad led me on the right path. I hated him for it because I thought I was missing out. Of course, in the long term I can’t thank him enough.
It was just such a shame I never got to tell him – he died in 1981.
This was the last great David Bowie album.
Click here to listen to Scary Monsters
Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin (Released 1969)
Led Zeppelin’s debut album is the greatest blues rock album of all time in my humble opinion. I didn’t really get into Led Zeppelin until university so I was a late developer in that sense. When I had finished my final exam in my final year, I went back to my room and played Communication Breakdown at full volume – all the stress of revision and hard work was unleashed with Robert Plant’s magnificent vocals.
Dazed and Confused is one of the greatest blues rock songs of all time.
Click here to listen to Dazed and Confused
Rush - Signals (Released 1982)
Regular readers will know that Rush are my favourite band and Signals will always be special because it was my first real exposure to the power trio from Canada.
On the strength of this album I blew a large amount of money to see the band for the first time in 1982 as a student. They have been with me ever since.
Click here to listen to Subdivisions
Tears for Fears - Songs From the Big Chair (Released 1985)
I loved Tears for Fears in the early 80’s. Their first album had some great pop songs that still remind me of my time at university.
Nevertheless, it was nothing compared to their second album, Songs From the Big Chair, which in my humble opinion is the greatest pop album of the 80’s.
There are so many great tracks on it including Shout, The Working Hour and Mother’s Talk.
However, I think my favourite is Head Over Heels which is a wonderful song that quite simply stirs my emotions and brings a tear or two to my eyes.
Click here to listen to Head Over Heels
Rush - Power Windows (Released 1985)
In 1985, I had a touch and go long distance relationship with W (who ultimately became my wife).
I lived in Manchester and she lived in Harlow (a town about 30 miles north of London). The relationship was struggling because of the distance and each of us commuting alternate weeks.
Power Windows helped me to cope with the train journey to London every fortnight and I played it over and over again and it allowed me to forget the trauma of this challenging relationship. I knew every second of every song on the album and it was probably the first album that caused embarrassment for me, when I sang it aloud without thinking.
Eventually W moved up to Manchester and all was well – until the divorce some years later that is.
Anyway, every song on the album is legendary. Particular favourites are Marathon, Territories and The Big Money. My overall favourite is Mystic Rhythms.
Click here to listen to Mystic Rhythms
Queensrÿche - Operation Mindcrime (Released 1988)
I love a good concept album and concept albums do not come any better than Operation Mindcrime by Queensrÿche.
It tells the story of a man who becomes a political assassin and is accompanied by some of the finest music you will hear from a heavy metal band. It spawned a sequel a few years ago which, while good in its own right, didn’t quite live up to its predecessor.
If you love progressive heavy metal and haven’t heard Operation Mindcrime, you simply MUST. I urge you. You won’t regret it.
Click hear to listen to the introduction and Anarchy-X/Revolution Calling
Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral (Released 1994)
Trent Reznor is a genius. I love the guy – he can do no wrong. His band, Nine Inch Nails, first crossed my radar when I heard Closer, a very intense and controversial song that was a single containing a few expletives.
It was a fusion of the electronic music I loved from the early 80’s with a hard rock edge and I instantly became a huge fan. Closer is just one of a plethora of powerful songs that appear on The Downward Spiral, a wonderfully dark and malevolent album that takes no prisoners.
It is Trent Reznor’s finest masterpiece.
Every song is brilliant, from the opener Mr Self Destruct through to the wonderful Hurt, a song so enthralling that it was covered by the legendary Johnny Cash with an accompanying video will make you cry (well it made me cry anyway – but I can be a soppy git sometimes). My dad was a huge fan of Johnny Cash and I think he would have loved it.
Click here to listen to Hurt by Nine Inch Nails
Click here to listen to Johnny Cash’s incredible version of Hurt
Metallica - Master of Puppets (Released 1986)
I dismissed Metallica as “too thrashy” in the 80’s mainly because they were a little too heavy for my taste. However, with the release of the Black album, I decided to have another peek at them.
A mate recommended Master of Puppets as their magnum opus – I gave it a try and realised that Metallica were more than just a thrash metal band – they were fantastic musicians. Master of Puppets is quite simply one of the greatest heavy metal albums of all times.
Yes it’s heavy but it is in places extremely tuneful and shows that the band are quite diverse.
Highlights include Battery, Master of Puppets, Welcome Home (Sanitarium) and the instrumental track Orion, which shows the musicianship of the band.
Click here to listen to Orion
Air - Moon Safari (Released 1998)
As I get older, I am drifting more and more into mellow music, the kind of chill out tunes that you can listen too in a dimly lit room full of candles and watch your stress fade into a cloud of ecstasy.
It all started in Hong Kong when I first heard La Femme d’Argent on a CD that came with Q magazine. I listened to it while doing some work in the hotel room and I found myself floating away with the subtle tune. Before I knew it, I was lying on the bed and smiling.
Mrs PM remarked that the song was totally unlike anything I championed in the music world. And I agree. It isn’t loud andheavy and it doesn't have a stomping beat. It is mellow, tuneful and wonderful.
I was so struck by this new style that I bought the album the next day – and it blew me away. Songs like All I Need, Talisman, You Make It Easy and New Star in the Sky will destroy stress and tension in a heartbeat. La Femme d’Argent is still my personal favourite.
Click here to listen to La Femme d’Argent, preferably in a dimly lit room with candles and a glass of wine.
Watch the tension vanish.
Rammstein - Mutter (Released 2001)
In complete contrast to Air, I present to you Rammstein, a German industrial rock band who are as brilliant as they are controversial. Most of their songs are sung in their native German and their lyrics can be offensive. I have met two German people, both women, who found them objectionable and told me their opinion in no uncertain terms. That said, their music is wonderfully heavy and utterly crazy.
The album Mutter is the best of their albums and includes Feuer Frei (from the movie XXX) and Sonne.
The less said about Zwitter the better (in terms of lyrics).
My favourite is a storming tune called Links 2-3-4 and I personally think that even if you claim not to like heavy metal or German lyrics sung in a growling voice, you will deep down at a primeval level put the song in that vault labelled “Guilty Pleasures”. Trust me – I know what I am talking about.
Click here to listen to Links 2-3-4
Dream Theater - Images and Words (Released 1992)
For many years friends who love heavy metal or progressive rock have been urging me to listen to Dream Theater. I capitulated last year and listened to Images and Words on Spotify.
Not since Rush has a band had such a profound effect on me.
After listening for the second time, I bought it and I still haven’t stopped playing it almost a year later. In fact, I have gradually been buying all their albums ever since and only have two to go to complete my collection. Like Rush, Dream Theater are masters of progressive rock but with the added bonus of having a more metallic tendency (some have called their style progressive metal).
Also like Rush they are virtuosos and play their instruments technically and flawlessly. Each song is a mini symphony (and some are very long, lasting ten minutes or more in a lot of cases).
Images and Words is one of the greatest rock albums of all time with Pull Me Under, Take the Time, Learning to Live and Metropolis Pt 1.
Here for your listening pleasure is another classic song from the album: Under a Glass Moon
And now, dear reader, over to you.
That just about wraps it up from me. Finding 15 albums from my collection that will always stick with me was very difficult to be honest and could really have been 100 albums.
I challenge you, dear reader, to name 15 albums that will always stick with you either in a comment or on your own blog if you have one. I don’t care whether you like Abba or Eminem; Beethoven or Black Sabbath, Jazz or DJ Jazzy Jeff – name your albums and then let me know.
I think you will find it very difficult.