My favourite albums – 61–70

Well, here goes with another batch of my 100 favourite albums…

#70 Al diMeola – Scenario: Forget his recent albums – you might as well listen to Kenny fucking G – but when Al had some fire in his belly he was pretty bloody good! This album is a particular favourite of mine with a good variety of material ranging from Beckish jazz rock to flamenco-style acoustic pieces and not a duff track to be found. I used to listen to a lot of jazz fusion when I was younger and this album from 1983 has stuck with me.

#69 Bob Marley and the Wailers – Natty Dread: Again, I’m going for early material and this appeared just as the buzz about Bob was really building. It contains the original version of ‘No Woman No Cry’, which beats the better-known live version into a cocked Rastafarian hat. Hardly a bad track to be heard and ‘Lively Up Yourself’ and ‘Rebel Music’ sparkle as brightly now as they did 36 years ago.

#68 ELO – Out of the Blue: ELO used to be a very good pop band, which a lot of people seem to have forgotten. Jeff Lynne was clearly a Beatles fan and my favourite track on this rather bloated double album is the very Beatlish ‘Mr Blue Sky’ which has one of the best bass lines ever. It’s the last track of ‘Concerto for a Rainy Day’ which took up a whole side on the original vinyl release. It still holds up today – have a listen!

#67 Amadou and Mariam – Dimanche a Bamako: World music from Mali that has a relentless groove with simple but effective guitar work. Joyous stuff which always has an uplifting effect on me. ‘La Realite’ is a great track with lovely guitar, whilst other tracks have a sort of John Lee Hookerish boogie feel to them. Their other albums are worth checking out, but this one is the most consistent and a little more rock than the others.

#66 Davey Graham – Folk, Blues & Beyond: The late DG was possibly the most influential folk guitarist that there’s ever been. He cut across jazz, classical, traditional and world music at a time when you just didn’t do that kind of thing. Bless him, he couldn’t sing but his stellar guitar work makes up for it. He popularised DADGAD tuning and established a school of British acoustic guitar playing that had a wide ranging influence on, amongst many others, one James Page of Led Zep. Get the expanded version for the extra tracks which include the original version of ‘Anji’ – now a folk guitar standard.

#65 David Lindley and El Rayo-X – Win This Record: Another relatively unknown artist although if you’ve ever heard Jackson Brown’s version of ‘Stay’ you’ll have heard Lindley – singing in a very high voice. It’s as a guitarist that he excels though and his talent sprawls right across this album. Combine this with a great band and an inspired choice of material and you have a great ‘fun’ album. New Orleans meets reggae meets rock…’Make it on Time’ is a good track to start with – a high octane rush boogie with great distorted lap steel guitar.

#64 ZZ Top – Eliminator: Yes, they made some great records before this mainstream breakthrough album but nothing quite so relentlessly shiny and downright nasty. Gibbons has a monster tone and is on top form and the tracks are all good, with the usual quirky subject matter such as ‘TV Dinners’. It contains all the singles you liked at the time, but check out the lesser-known tracks such as ‘Under Pressure’.

#63 The Faces – Long Player: I’ve only just recently got back into the Faces and it’s a pleasure to become reacquainted with their sloppy tightness. Rod and the band was a marriage made in heaven and they were second only to the Stones with that certain style of rock ‘strut’. Ronnie Wood impresses on lead, but everyone else isn’t too shabby, with the late Ronnie Lane a forgotten bass hero. ‘Had Me a Real Good Time’ just about sums the band up.

#62 Sir Millard Mulch – How To Sell The Whole F#@!ing Universe To Everybody, Once And For All!: Totally uncategorisable…it’s chamber rock, heavy metal, Zappa-style satire…It’s available here FREE! How can you not admire a guy who records a song called ‘The Boy With The Perfectly Square Butthole Strikes Back’? His YouTube videos are pretty funny, too. Seriously, check this guy out – a neglected genius!

#61 Focus – Moving Waves: I just keep coming back to this album and it still seems as fresh as when I first heard it. Jan Akkerman’s guitar and Thijs van Leer’s keyboards, flute and yodelling predominate and at times it veers towards the artsy-fartsy but it has some balls-out rock, ethereal textures and great ensemble playing that mostly lifts it out of the self-indulgent. They seemed to like the title ‘Focus’ for their compositions and ‘II’ here doesn’t disappoint. Focus are still around, but without Akkerman who’s still a phenomenal player.