Feb 222016

I am not feeling the DDO this morning. I didn’t even play over the weekend – guild night Friday and that was it. So instead, a classic question: If you were stranded on a desert isle, and could only bring five records*, what would they be?

* Back in ancient times, records were round flat things that had music scratched onto the surface that could be released by putting the record on a “record player”. Then records went away and became tapes, and then tapes went away and became CDs. Now CDs are going away. If you know the record at all, you probably know it as downloadable collections of songs. Perhaps called an “album”?

This is a classic question. All the world of music from which to choose, but only five choices will make the cut. I truly believe that most of the people who answer this question don’t actually answer with their five favorites, but rather with choices that will make them look better. Musical taste is like that, a sort of snobbery really, where there are right choices and wrong ones and some that immediately make you seem smarter and better just by making them.

You won’t find any of those kinds of choices in my list. Yes Lou Reed was wonderful, and Eddie Vedder, Bob Dylan, Beck, Radiohead, Green Day, and Mumford and Sons too. But I only get to take five albums, remember? And I am not using one up just to show how superior my musical taste may be.

The other thing about this list is that it shows my age. Most of you won’t even recognize some of these, and if you go give them a listen, I am sure you’ll find that their time has passed. I am not selecting for general timelessness, but rather for my personal timelessness. I will need to play each of these many, many times there on my tiny desert island. Where I somehow have electricity with which to play albums but not a phone that I may use to call for rescue.

Fortunately, logic is not required. Just five choices. And that is hard enough. Five. Out of all the music in the world. Or at least, that subset consisting of all the music in the world that I have heard and can recognize.

Not the five best albums. Not the five most important albums. None of that. Just the five albums I will want to hear the most, forever.

I’m including links to each album on Amazon. I wish I could find a link to some other service, I am not an advertisement and I am not trying to sell these. But I do want you to be able to listen to a sample of the albums if you are so inclined. If anyone knows a listening service that plays each album, that isn’t Amazon or iTunes, please let me know in the comments and I will change the links.

But enough words. Here are the records, in chronological order. Narrowing the list to five was hard enough; there is no way I am going to try to rank them. I’d be here all day.


I Robot

I Robot by The Alan Parsons Project (1977)

Alan Parsons was a producer who worked on Beatles albums. He had some ideas as to how synthesizers could be blended with traditional and electrified instruments into something new. Being an influential producer who worked on Beatles albums gave him the cachet to borrow a bunch of seriously good artists and this is what came out. Prog rock at its finest; deep, layered, but still subtle and gentle and surprising. And very, very melodic.

The Cars

The Cars by The Cars (1978)

Suddenly there was The Cars. Clean, simple, the opposite of prog rock, it sounded like something you could do yourself, in a garage, if only you had the talent. This is my most purchased album; I’ve had to buy it due to loss (once), wearing out the tape (once), theft (once), and every time music formats change (five more: album, eight-track, cassette, CD, MP3). Hopefully that last purchase, the MP3 version, will be the last version I need. But regardless, I must always have this album.

The Real Thing

The Real Thing by Faith No More (1989)

There is one song on this album that all by itself contains about six different musical styles. The album wanders from hard core to pop to … crooner? So diverse, so eclectic, but so nicely done. Faith No More always finished their albums with one song everyone was supposed to hate, sort of a permanent fuck-you to those stupid enough to buy their work, but in this case they misjudged: their cover of Black Sabbath’s War Pigs was so awesome it resurrected Ozzy Osbourne’s career.


Elastica by Elastica (1995)

The classic tale of rock and roll; brilliance, then heroin, then the discount rack. Elastica put together one of the all-time great rock records but fell apart under the stress of fame and addiction. By the time they got it together enough to make a second album, six years had gone by. The world (and the sharpest edge of their talent) had moved on. Still, every time I hear this album I am amazed at how they were able to take such a simple approach, with such simple components, and put it together into something so wonderful and perfect.

Baby Darling Doll Face Honey

Baby Darling Doll Face Honey by Band of Skulls (2009)

Late one night, I was aimlessly wandering Bonneroo with my brother, wondering sadly if rock had mostly worn out and withered away. Then I heard a snarling guitar; I followed it like a rat to a piper and found Band of Skulls. A three-piece power set that plays rock and roll they way it was meant to be played: with anger, and passion, and talent, and surprising musicianship, and even better songwriting. If I Know What I Want doesn’t get your feet tapping and your head nodding with the beat, check your pulse: you have died.


Without discussion, here are five more that almost made the list. Cutting to just five was hard!



So … how did I do? Are any of these on your list? And if not, what is?

Lists people, lists!

🙂 😀 🙂

  21 Responses to “Just Another Desert Isle Music List”

Comments (21)
  1. Wow that’s difficult but I ended up with:-

    Blackbird – Alterbridge
    The Planets – Holst
    Heaven and Hell – Black Sabbath
    Karmacode – Lacuna Coil
    Little Earthquakes – Tori Amos

    • You are fast! It took me days to get down to five 🙂

    • With honorable mentions to:-

      Hoodoo – Alison Moyet
      Dark Adrenaline – Lacuna Coil
      ABIII – Alterbridge
      Born Into This – The Cult
      Vol I – Hurt

      and way too many others to mention….

    • Kudos for “The Planets” – few people truly seem to appreciate classical music. I don’t know how many times I’ve had the argument with some musical Philistine that classical music IS NOT the same thing elevator music…

      P.S. – Besides, some of Rock’s greatest anthems are based on classical music. “Mars” is probably the best known example…

  2. Do greatest hits albums count?

    • Yes! I probably should have put The Essential Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble up instead of The Sky is Crying – I listen to it more often – but for some reason I thought it might be confusing.

  3. Hard choices to make
    * Alive – KISS (its a double album cheat!!)
    * Sleeping my day away – D.A.D. (formerly Disneyland After Dark, until Disney said NO!)
    * The Delicate Sound of Thunder – Pink Floyd (another double album cheat!!)
    * Electric – The Cult
    * Master of Puppets – Metallica

  4. and if for whatever reason I could not have one of those, I would add
    * Wasting Light – Foo Fighters

  5. Okay I am in

    Acoustica – Scorpions, they have always given me great pleasure and bands I have seen live make this list.

    Born in the USA – Bruce, saw him on this tour and just one incredible memory.

    Slippery When Wet – Bon Jovi, the break through album and have to have one of his as I have seen him 15 times.

    Club Ninja – Blue Oyster Cult, not one that people would normally pick but it is one I always go back to.

    Silk Road – Kitaro, okay not seen him live but as I have been pondering I sort of realised I needed an album outside of my rock roots.

    So Zepplin, Floyd, Sabbath and Heart could have all made the list along with Jeff Wayne’s war of the world but I will leave it here.

  6. American Idiot – Green Day
    Valley of the Shadow of Death – The Tossers

    Not sure if game or movie sound tracks count, but if so… The Legend of Spyro game series soundtracks (there’s three games). If not, then I might come back later with the other three.

    • A tattoo artist once told me she played Irish punk while working on dudes because it made them whine about the pain less.

  7. 1. Tago Mago – Can
    2. Inner Visions – Stevie Wonder
    3. The Grand Wazoo – Frank Zappa
    4. Moonmadness – Camel
    5. The Headless Children – W.A.S.P.

  8. Big Great Symphony Box – Vol 1 –> this is probably 10 whole records full of the real classics, but hey, it is all under one title

    Depesche Mode – “101” – Live from the Rose Bowl and yes, a double album, but hey…

    Bare Naked Ladies – “Stunt”

    Led Zeppelin – “IV” –> “When the Levee Breaks” is one of the best songs ever made, in my humble opinion.

    Queen – “The Greatest Hits”
    I would also like to put on this list – U2: “Joshua Tree”, but I would have to take off so much more to put them on.

What do you think?

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