23 Songs

My 23 favorite albums...my number 1 is pretty clear, the rest is in approximate order of coming to mind. Yes, you can infer that I like Pet Sounds more than Toxic....did I say I wasn't a fan of Britney Spears?

1)PET SOUNDS (Beach Boys): My number one, and unlikely to ever be surpassed. Unbeatable combination of musical arrangement and personal lyrics. No wonder Brian Wilson battled after this...he peaked so early!
2)I TRAWL THE MEGAHERTZ(Paddy McAloon): A brave first solo effort that just shows how much meaning can be transferred outside the conventional song. At times chilling, at times reassuring...just brilliant.
3)BLOOD ON THE TRACKS (Bob Dylan): Combines Bob Dylan's normal power with words with some of his best tunes and personal heartache and you get the album that is, for me, clearly Bob's pinnacle.
4)FOREVER CHANGES (Love): A cult album that is well-worth the billing combining some inventive and beautiful songs with moments of power and despair. Now seen as the flipside of the hippie dream, I was able to see much of this performd in 2004 in Nottingham by Arthur Lee.
5)MEET THE BEATLES(Beatles): I'm going to be perverse here and say that three of my favorite Beatle line-ups were created in the USA -yes, I know they weren't approved by Lennon and McCartney, but this one shows the pop power and songwriting skills of Lennon and McCartney more explicitly than any UK release. And it revolutionalized the album as an art form by dominating the charts!
6)SCOTT 4(Scott Walker): The most ambitious of the classic series of Scott albums at the tailend of the 60s. This one took too many chances to make the charts but is now seen as a classic by many.
7)SMiLE (Brian Wilson): Worth the wait, and I was there at the first performance, so at a personal level this rises several notches. Not as personal as Pet Sounds, but with many moments of brilliance, it surely would have challenged Sgt. Pepper had it been released.
8)LAND'S END(Jimmy Webb):Jimmy Webb has been involved in many brilliant albums, so hard to choose one, but this one has solid, meaningful songs throughout including the epic title song and the impassioned "Just This One Time."
9)LIVING TOGETHER(Burt Bacharach): With many songs in common with Lost Horizon soundtrack, this was a troubled period in Burt's career that produced some peaceful and inspired, almost spiritual music. I've put this one in, because I really enjoy the whole track line-up, including non-soundtrack songs such as Something Big and The Balance Of Nature.
10)WHAT'S GOING ON(Marvin Gaye): You probably know this one...brilliant combination of the personal, political, ecological and spiritual.
11)LOW (David Bowie): This Berlin album has an incredible introspective mood, and for my money, remains Bowie's best work by some distance.
12)SWOON (Prefab Sprout): Really, all of Prefab Sprout's work could feature here, but their first album is a curiously lo-fi work that grows on you...at first it sounds flat and uninspired, but the arrangements are compelling, the tunes curiously addictive and the lyrics strangely meaningful.
13)RUBBER SOUL (USA)(Beatles): Yeah, perverse, I know but it was the USA version that inspired Pet Sounds and advanced the folk rock movement.
14)SOUND AFFECTS (Jam): Paul Weller's best work...takes the power and passion of the Jam with some 60s sensibilities, and a bit of alternative spirit.
15)HAWAII(High Llamas): A long sprawling work, invoking what Brian Wilson might have done in the 90s, but also very different and creative.
16)BOOKENDS (Simon and Garfunkel): Can do without Voices Of The Old People but the rest is consistently brilliant folk/pop/rock.
17)ABBEY ROAD(Beatles): Especially for Side 2, and Something...this one was the same in the UK and USA!
18)CIRCLE(Swan Dive): For their three fabulous pop songs, Rome Will Fall, Goodbye September and the title song.
19)TOO RYE AY (Dexy's Midnight Runners): Don't Stand Me Down is the one the critics seem to rate, but I prefer this more accessible album that contains all of the power and passion of this outfit.
20)MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR(Beatles): Part 3 of my American Beatles perversion, although this one has now been accepted as a line-up on both sides of the Atlantic. The inclusion of Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane, gives this an edge of Pepper in my view.
21)ODESSA (Bee Gees): Another album made in difficult circumstances (temporary splitting of the group), it features a diversity of styles but has some great songwriting and production.
22)ODESSEY AND ORACLE (Zombies): Another 60s classic that lives it up to its cult status.
23)ALL THINGS MUST PASS(George Harrison): George had so many songs stored up after the Beatles split that he could create a double album of high quality, even if you ignore the jam on the third LP.

Back to main music page.