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 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.
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 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.
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 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!
- Fragile by Yes (1971)
- Permanent Waves by Rush (1980)
- The Sky is Crying by Stevie Ray Vaughan (1991)
- Version 2.0 by Garbage (1998)
- The 2nd Law by Muse (2012)
So … how did I do? Are any of these on your list? And if not, what is?
Lists people, lists!
🙂 😀 🙂