Thursday, December 13, 2007

My Favourite Albums

In my youth I used to keep endless lists of this sort; now I realise it's been many years since I've attempted the nearly impossible exercise of listing my favourite albums. I think it's only inevitable that the resulting music is heavily skewed to what I heard in my formative years. This period lasted a longer time than for most, largely due to the fact I was active as a DJ and radio producer, and was continuously exposed to lots of new sounds.

While compiling the list I was tempted to add some Stockhausen, Sly & The Family Stone, Oval, Augustus Pablo, Cabaret Voltaire, Beastie Boys plus a whole host of other artists I enjoy. But this is not a list of "most influential" or "best" albums, rather it's my favourites. In a way, it's a popularity contest. And these artists just haven't managed the sheer number of listens those in the list achieved.

I did bend this rule in a few cases. Louis & Bebe Barron's soundtrack for Forbidden Planet is one of those seminal albums that I have always heard without actually hearing it. Ditto for Delia Derbyshire's radiophonics. The fact I finally was able to hear them in their entirety and appreciate them only later in life does not take away from their mythic place in my canon. The inclusion of Get Up With It really represents about five Miles Davis albums from the same period in the seventies. Likewise selecting an Ivor Cutler album is completely arbitrary; I took the one that includes "I'm Happy". Ed's Redeeming Qualities are included since More Bad Times is the saddest funny record I know.

(But for those of you who wonder, yes, I have listened to W.S. Burroughs' cut-ups likely more than is good for me!)

What remains on the list is a good amount of pop, especially from the post-punk period where popular and experimental sounds were not at war with each other. In this century we have seen another rich fusion of sounds take place, due to the vast opening up of audio possibilities made possible by cheap recording and distribution technologies (hello internet!). I am sure that listeners much younger than myself will have an almost completely different list.

I have dropped some artists that would have been favourites in the past, since they have in fact dated so badly I never listen to them. So it goes. But I have allowed artists to have more than one title present, since this more truly represents the mind-share they possess. Even still, it was difficult stopping at four Brian Eno albums, even though I've also included several collaborations.

Finally, I imposed no arbitrary limit on how many albums I would list. After finishing I realised it could be a Top 100 if I cut a dozen or so titles. But I'm not going to do that. (Instead, I've added more.)

OK, so here it is, warts and all, in a fake alphabetical sequence to make sure you don't think it's in some sort of deliberate order. What are you supposed to do with this list? I don't know, but I suggest that if you like some of the records and don't recognise others, maybe you should check them out. You may just have found your next favourite album.

Aphex Twin: Selected Ambient Works Volume II
Arcade Fire: Funeral
Area: Fragments Of The Morning
Bark Psychosis: Hex
Big Star: Radio City
Big Star: Sister Lovers
Björk: Vespertine
Breathless: Three Times and Waving
Breathless: Chasing Promises
Brian Eno: Taking Tiger Mountain
Brian Eno: Another Green World
Brian Eno: Before and After Science
Brian Eno: Music For Airports
Bulgarian State Television Female Vocal Choir: Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares
Buzzcocks: A Different Kind Of Tension
Cane 141: Garden Tiger Moth
Ceramic Hello: The Absence Of A Canary
Cindytalk: Camouflage Heart
Cluster: Sowiesoso
Cocteau Twins: Blue Bell Knoll
Dalek I Love You: Compass, Kum'pas
David Bowie: "Heroes"
David Bowie: Low
David J: The Etiquette of Violence
David Sylvian: Secrets of the Beehive
Delia Derbyshire: BBC Radiophonics
Durutti Column: Another Setting
Echo and the Bunnymen: Crocodiles
Echo and the Bunnymen: Heaven Up Here
Echo and the Bunnymen: Porcupine
Ed's Redeeming Qualities: More Bad Times
Fad Gadget: Fireside Favorites
Gang of Four: Entertainment!
Gang of Four: Songs Of The Free
Harmonia & Brian Eno: Tracks & Traces
Harmonia: Musik Von Harmonia
Harold Budd: Lovely Thunder
Harold Budd: The White Arcades
Hawkwind: A Space Ritual
Hawkwind: PXR5
I'm So Hollow: Emotion, Sound, Motion
Ivor Cutler: Ludo
Jane Siberry: The Walking
Japan: Quiet Life
Japan: Tin Drum
John Coltrane: Living Space
John Foxx: Metamatic
Joy Division: Unknown Pleasures
Joy Division: Closer
Kate Bush: The Dreaming
Kate Bush: Hounds Of Love
Kraftwerk: Radioactivity
Laurie Anderson: Big Science
Louis & Bebe Barron: Forbidden Planet OST
Luxuria: Unanswerable Lust
Magazine: Real Life
Magazine: Secondhand Daylight
Magazine: Play
Martha And The Muffins: This Is The Ice Age
Miles Davis: Get Up With It
Modern English: After The Snow
Modern Eon: Fiction Tales
Moebius, Plank & Neumeier: Zero Set
Negativland: Escape from Noise
New Order: Movement
Nico: The End
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: Organisation
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: Architecture & Morality
Pale Saints: The Comforts of Madness
Philip Glass: Koyaanisqatsi OST
Pink Industry: Low Technology
Polyrock: Polyrock
Propaganda: A Secret Wish
Public Image Limited: Metal Box
Queen: A Night At The Opera
Red House Painters: Down Colourful Hill
Rheostatics: Whale Music
Rheostatics: 2067
Robert Rich and Lustmord: Stalker
Scott Walker: Scott 3
Scott Walker: Scott 4
Sigur Rós: ()
Simple Minds: Empires and Dance
Simple Minds: Sons and Fascination
Siouxsie and the Banshees: Kaleidoscope
Skids: Days in Europa
Skids: Joy
Spoonfed Hybrid: Spoonfed Hybrid
Steve Reich: Early Works
Talk Talk: Spirit Of Eden
The Beatles: The Beatles
The Beatles: Abbey Road
The Boomtown Rats: The Fine Art of Surfacing
The Clash: The Clash
The Clash: London Calling
The Cure: Seventeen Seconds
The Cure: Pornography
The Flying Lizards: Fourth Wall
The Glove: Blue Sunshine
The Human League: Reproduction
The Jazz Butcher: Bloody Nonsense
The Passage: For All And None
The Psychedelic Furs: Talk Talk Talk
The Raincoats: Odyshape
The Talking Heads: Fear Of Music
The Teardrop Explodes: Kilimanjaro
The Tubeway Army: The Tubeway Army
The Tubeway Army: Replicas
This Mortal Coil: It'll End in Tears
Tori Amos: From the Choirgirl Hotel
Two Minute Miracles: Volume II
Ultravox: Ha! Ha! Ha!
Ultravox: Systems Of Romance
Wire: Pink Flag
Wire: 154
Wire: The Ideal Copy
W.S. Burroughs: Nothing Here Now But The Recordings
XTC: Drums & Wires
XTC: Black Sea



quarello said...

I'm sorry for my bad English. I'm of Turin (Italy - Juventus!!!.I read your "Annotated discography" (Good!)about "Dalek I love You" and I was curious about your favourite Albums. I don't understand why You have put only Kilimanjaro of Teardrop explodes and more albums of Julian Cope (Bran Donor also).

robin said...

I could easily have included "Wilder", "World, Shut Your Mouth" and "Fried" as they are all fantastic records I have listened to countless times. But then I'd have to include more by Bowie, the second Luxuria record, the rest of Pink Industry, "Dazzle Ships", "Mesh & Lace", "Faith", way more Wire, etc. etc. in order to maintain the perceived "mind share" (perceived by me that is). It's a difficult balancing act.

And only one Cocteau Twins record? That is scandalous!

P.S. "Strasbourg" is one of my favourite songs ever. There is no rhyme or reason to it!

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