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Friday, March 25, 2011

15 Albums I'd Take to a Desert Island

Mr. Jim Suldog posted this, at the end of which, he asked that his readers do the same. Being an opinionated music snob, I couldn't resist but take up his call!

Music, for me, is more than just something to listen to, it pokes at nerves. It's in many cases as potent as a drug for me. As I approach this post, I sort of wonder if I will be able to choose only 15 albums. We shall see!

Ok, so I'm finishing up this post, and I have to apologize, I could not stick to the rules... I can't pick 15 albums, and I think it's because of the way the music industry works these days. It used to be you bought an album, and you listened to it. It was a pain in the ass to skip tracks, cause you had to line the needed up on the vinyl just right, or you had to fast forward through the tape and sometimes you missed it, etc... These days, you make your own albums, you buy songs one at a time, you don't have to GO to the record store, you just punch in a few numbers and you have your song immediately on three or four devices...

Another great thing about an album used to be that after listening to it a few times, it became associated with whatever you were doing, so when you hear certain tracks now, it brings back memories of what you used to do when listening. Now, You listen to just songs, not albums, and half the time, I'm not even sure what the name of the album whatever I'm listening to came off of!

So, sorry for deviating, but I had to, otherwise this would have been a very short post.

15 - Red Hot Chili Peppers "Stadium Arcadium"

This is a two CD album, and I have listened to the entire thing without skipping a single track countless times. Like Mr. Dog, I absolutely love a solid bass line, and Flea plays the base better than most people do anything.

Although the first popular single off this album (I think?) was Dani California, I picked up this album specifically for these tracks: (don't worry, they're clothed in these videos. ...mostly anyway).

Alright, so I posted three youtube videos here, and when I did a preview of the page, it completely bogged down. If I'm going to do 15 albums, I'm going to want to share some of the music, but even at one or two videos per, this post would be unreadable... So I'll just link to them.

Tell Me Baby and  Snow (Hey Oh) and Hump De Bump. I do not dance, but if I ever did, Hump De Bump might be the song that'd get me to do it.

I could probably post a video for every single song on that album, but there are 28 tracks in total... Do yourself a favor and poke around on youtube for them yourself.

14.Queen - A Kind of Magic

Queen is without a doubt (in my opinion) one of the most under rated bands of all times, and it sickens me that their defined by "We will rock you" and "We are the champions"... And I cringe whenever "You're my best friend" comes on the radio. 

I was born in the last 3 months of the 70s, so I missed a lot of good music when it was new. When I discovered Queen, I was probably around 12 or so, and I was playing a lot of video games.

I can't listen to this album without thinking about Mario Kart, or Road Rash, two racing games.

Gimme the Prize makes me want to get in a 80s style mustang and just drive really fast somewhere.

13. U2 - Achtung Baby

When I was young, long before I was old enough to head out to the record store to buy my own stuff, my mother would go to concerts from time to time with a friend of hers. She went to see U2 on their Achtung Baby tour, and I've been jealous ever since. This is probably my favorite album of theirs.

I don't know what I like so much about U2, perhaps it has to do with my Irish roots.

The first track Zoo Station has got to be one of the best songs to start an album with. I love the build up it has... very simply bass line, weird sound, some creepy ambient noises, then some one drumming on something that sounds like a cast iron soil pipe, then some kind of "red alert" noise... Then Bono just making sounds, as is his way... The song itself gets your foot tapping, gets you in the mood to listen to more music. Makes you think "I'm ready" which is a theme repeated over and over again in the lyrics. 

12. Tom Petty

Ok, so no album here. I can't choose, so I'd probably go with a greatest hits album.

Tom Petty was probably one of my first favorite artist as a kid, when I stopped listening exclusively to the Monkees... I Full Moon Fever was the first album I ever bought myself, followed by Into the Great Wide Open.

Really, there's nothing exactly incredible about his music. I can't point to something and say "he's the best at this part right here", except that he writes music that's catchy, nice, unpretentious, and appeals to just about anyone. He seems like a very normal American guy with ordinary, every day wants and desires. I'm willing to be that he could relate to most average Joes.

Still though, I can't help but think of the girl at the beginning of the Silence of the Lambs singing (badly) along with American Girl

11. The Eagles - Any. I'll take whatever Eagles album you choose for me. I like it all, even "Hotel California" which is also one of those songs that sort of defines the band for people who don't know them very well...

10. Alice In Chains - Dirt

This is the best album when you need to smash something, or wanna just plain yell at someone. Them Bones is exactly that kind of song. Dam That River is a great followup to that song.

They show another side of their skills with a slower song called Down in a Hole on that album too. This link I gave is to their unplugged version.

9. Pink Floyd
I'd have to find a compilation or something, I can't choose an album... 

Again, another defined by their lesser fans for a song or two. Another brick in the wall is one of those songs that everyone knows by the age of 12, and can't really remember listening to it. It's not so much the song that I like, although I do, but the video of it strikes a chord with me. If you haven't watched it, just click that link and skim through it. There's a bunch of nameless faceless people slowly drudging along, walking in a line, and they walk off the end of the path and into a meat grinder.

I was commuting to work one day when I worked in down town Boston, and that video became quite understandable to me. I got off the commuter rail with the hundred or so other people, and we walked the length of the platform, only as quickly as the slowest person in front of us. Everyone looks down as they walk, no one is looking around, cause things are just so important that they don't have enough brain power to enjoy or absorb anything that is of no consequence. Only difference between my day and that video is those people got ground up, and escaped the drudgery.

Wish you were here is a great tune that's full of pearls of wisdom, and it's easy / fun to play on the guitar.

8. The Vince Guaraldi Trio - It's Christmas Charlie Brown
I'm going to be honest, I'm not much for Christmas music. Actually, there are maybe two or three I don't mind. Christmas is going to happen whether I want it to or not, I've come to learn, so I might as well enjoy something that suits the season.

7. Lynyrd Skynyrd
Once again, I can't choose just one album. I'd have to just cobble something together on a DVD to bring or something, because there's just too much to choose from, and it's all really good.

I say "Once again" here once again (twice!) cause once again, this is a band who is recognized by songs that I could do without ever hearing again. While I don't mind Free Bird, or Sweet Home Alabama, they are NOT the difinitive Skynyrd anthems that they're made out to be.

Simple man was one of the first songs I learned to play on the guitar, and I have to say, it's a simple song, but sounds great and gives a strong message.

If I ever get off my ass and really learn to play the guitar, I hope I'm able to play things like "I know a little" and "I need you". I already play the latter there, but it's bad.

The thing I like best about Lynyrd Skynyrd is that they embody the southern sort of bad ass tough guy image, but if you listen to their music and how good they all had to be with their instruments and how much work it would have taken to get all seven of them to work so well together... These guys had to have no life what so ever. "Let's go kick those Yankee asses! ...right after my guitar lesson...".

6. Celine Dion - My Heart Will Go On. I'd definitely bring this album to my desert island so I could grind sand into it, and stomp on it and smash it with a rock. I'm glad her heart will go on, i just wish her vocal chords would stop.

5. Jimi Hendrix - Experience Hendrix

I think this probably goes without saying, but Hendrix was quite an amazing guitarist.

Most of his best stuff isn't in the mainstream of course, but even the stuff you hear on the radio all the time is pretty damn good.

One of the greatest boxed sets I have ever had, was a Jimi set, and I can't find it to save my life. I don't remember what it was called, I don't remember where I left it and I can't find it on the Internet... But it was great.

Jimi was playing a lot of his songs, and many songs that were just great old blues songs with other great blues artists like BB King, and Stevie Ray Vaughn. THAT would be the one I'd bring with me to my island, if I could find it again!

Little wing is one of my favorite tunes that he does, I just wish it was a little longer.

4. The Counting Crows - August and Everything After

This album was probably best known for the track "Mr. Jones" and I remember that you couldn't get away from that song when it came out. At the time, I was not a fan, and I found it extremely frustrating that the song was on everywhere I went.

I don't remember why I ended up listening to the album, but I'm glad I did. Since then, The Counting Crows have been one of my favorite bands of all time. I can't think of a single song of theirs that I don't like. I think what I like about them is sort of the same thing that I liked about Tom Petty, most of their music is just plain nice. Nothing pretentious, nothing abrasive, etc... Their lyrics are often very clever and deep too.

3. The Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream

The Smashing Pumpkins were a solid favorite of mine back in high school, and this is probably one of the few albums I've had that really brings me back to listen to.

I was just getting into music, just learning how to play the guitar, and really loved the feeling of the total wall of distortion that they played with.

Billy Corgan, back when he had hair, used to look somewhat like I did some 60 pounds and 15 years ago. I actually had a couple of the kids believing that he was my uncle.

He doesn't have the best voice, I will admit that. It's high pitched, and very nasal, and by those descriptors, I really would expect that I'd hate it... but I don't. I have no explanation.

Mayonnaise is my favorite track on this album.

2. Clutch - The Elephant Riders

While this is not exactly one of my favorite bands, I think it fills a void that I haven't covered with the other albums yet.

One of my favorite tracks on there is the Soapmakers. It's very bass-heavy and strong over tones of Frank Zappa.

When this album came out, I was in high school. Similarly to the Smashing Pumpkins album, when I listen to it, it reminds me of hanging out at the house with my friends, watching MTV and making model cars.

I also smoked a pipe for a little while back then, tobacco only, of course. Even though the tempo of the album is quick and heavyish, it makes me think about easier times, and relaxes me.

1. Pearl Jam - Ten
This was one of my favorite albums for a very, very long time. This album defined Pearl Jam for years, and they've done everything they can since then to not come close to repeating it.

Pretty much every single track on this album was good, so I won't link any one, cause I'd have to link them all.



Ok, good, so there. I'm done. 

That was actually a really difficult post to make, I had a very hard time coming up with albums, as I'm sure you noticed!