It’s no secret that I love music. So, for a recent photo series on Instagram, I shared my ten favourite albums of all time. A daunting task I know, but it was fun.
Kid A by Radiohead.
Released back in 2000, during my first year at University, but still so interesting and fresh that I can listen to it for weeks on end in my car.
There isn’t a bad track on it, but “Idioteque” and “The National Anthem” are highlights.
Achtung Baby by U2.
Yes they’re mediocre now, but U2 were once my favourite band (I even stalked Bono for his autograph when he was in Pretoria—I know). The pinnacle of their music output was Achtung Baby. The recording sessions apparently almost led them to breaking up, but that tension and pressure resulted in something truly great; and a sound that they've been unable to match ever since.
It’s a pretty solid album, but “Mysterious Ways”, “Until The End Of The World” and “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses” are highlights.
Graceland by Paul Simon.
Surely the ultimate road trip album of all time? I’d love to say that we listened to this on our family road trips back in the day, but we didn’t (my family was quite partial to Super Trouper by ABBA at the time). My wife’s family did listen to it though, and we’ve continued that tradition by playing this album on every road trip we’ve taken in our eight-plus years together. I will never ever get tired of it.
Highlights include “Graceland”, “The Boy In The Bubble” and “You Can Call Me Al”.
Debut by Björk.
Debut was released in 1993, but (apart from a brief encounter with “Human Behaviour” on one of my brother’s Pop Shop records in high school) I only really listened to the entire album in 1999. We were in Barcelona getting ready for a big night out, and our host (a friend of a friend) put it on to get us all into the mood. It was the start of a great evening, and it’s one of those happy moments that has just stuck with me all this time.
Highlights include “Violently Happy”, “Human Behaviour” and the fantastic “Big Time Sensuality”.
The Sound of Silver by LCD Soundsystem.
James Murphy must be the most reluctant, and relaxed, frontman of all time. And I guess that, and the fact that their sound is so unique, appeals to me. If there’s one band that ended everything too soon, it has to be LCD Soundsystem. I miss them.
All nine tracks are incredible, but “Get Innocuous”, “All My Friends” and the fantastic “Someone Great” are highlights.
(What’s the Story) Morning Glory by Oasis.
If I was forced to pick sides during the great Britpop rivalry of the early nineties, I would’ve picked Blur—they were more consistent and far more likeable. But none of their albums can rival (What’s the Story) Morning Glory. It defined much of my high school and university years and it still enjoys a spot in my top ten. Sadly, it was so massive that Oasis could never ever match it again (yet they limped on until 2009).
Highlights include “Some Might Say”, “Champagne Supernova” and, the simply massive, “Wonderwall”.
Automatic For The People by R.E.M.
This album is near perfect. Apart from the singles; “Drive”, “Man On The Moon”, “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight”, “Everybody Hurts” and “Nightswimming”, it features gems like “Sweetness Follows”, “Try Not To Breathe” and “Ignoreland”. Impeccable. What did I know back in 1992? Nothing really. I was a 12-year old kid living on a farm in the middle of nowhere and the closest town, just over 20 kilometers away, was the edge of my universe. But life was uncomplicated. And this album, which I use to listen to on cassette (this very one) in my brother’s Toyota Corolla on the way to and from primary school, is my time capsule to get back there.
The Suburbs by Arcade Fire.
Choosing your favourite Arcade Fire album is hard. Funeral, their debut, is great, but I find it hard to listen to in one go. And while Neon Bible has its moments, the hard choice for me is between The Suburbs and Reflektor. The Suburbs sneaks it, just.
“City with No Children”, “Ready To Start” and, my favourite Arcade Fire song, “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” are highlights.
Boxer by The National.
I was late to The National and to Boxer, their fourth album. It was released in 2007, but I can’t exactly remember how and when I got into it.
My favourites are “Start A War”, “Mistaken For Strangers” and “Fake Empire”. The latter being one of my favourite songs of all time.
Mezzanine by Massive Attack.
Released in 1998. They also toured South Africa in support of the album in 1998. So it’s frustrating that I only really discovered them and this album in 2000. Cue epic sadness. It’s 16 years old and still as good as anything you’ll hear today.
Highlights include “Inertia Creeps”, the excellent “Teardrop” (one on my favourite music videos of all time) and “Angel”, immortalised by the Brad Pitt burning caravan scene in Snatch.