My favourite albums – 91 – 100

In surprised response to some demand on Twitter, I’ve finally come up with a list of my favourite 100 albums of all time.

However, first a few ground rules.

  • No greatest hits albums – it’s cheating!
  • No live albums – these are often greatest hits albums in disguise.
  • Only one album per band or artist – this sometimes made the choice very hard indeed!
  • No bootlegs – all albums have to have been commercially released.
  • I reserve the right to change my mind about this list at any time and I suspect that if I had to do this again in a month’s time it might be quite different – especially in the lower reaches.
  • This is my list. If I haven’t chosen your favourite album then that’s because it isn’t my favourite, although it might be one day. However, I’ll really welcome your views on my choices.
  • Very few albums are perfect 10s in my opinion. The further down the list you go, the more flawed an album becomes.
  • No links given – far too arduous. So, if you want to find out more, Google is, as ever, your friend.
  • The list is in ascending order – far more suspense that way!
  • A brief resume is given for each album but nothing too descriptive.
  • It’d be great if you could seek the albums out and listen to them – there are all sorts of ways and means, with Spotify probably being the most legal and the cheapest. If you have ways of downloading the albums without paying, you are a bad person and will probably go to Hell or Cleethorpes or something.
  • 10 albums posted at a time – the list is ready so a new batch of 10 won’t be far away.

So, here we go!

#100 Cheap Trick – Dream Police: Power pop before it was called that. Heavier than their usual stuff but full of great melodies, harmonies and crunchy guitars.

#99 Wind and Wuthering – Genesis: A beautiful album with stellar compositions. You don’t miss Gabriel at all and it was simply their last good album. It’s autumn in song.

#98 Fatso Jetson – Stinky Little Gods: Classic stoner/desert rock. You can hear where QOTSA got a lot of their sound from.

#97 Doobie Brothers – Stampede: The band before they blanded out into AOR anonymity. The last great guitar-based Doobies album and if “I Cheat the Hangman” doesn’t make you shiver at times, check that you have a pulse.

#96 Fashion – Twilight of Idols: New Romantics before Duran Duran were even dreamed of. Great songs and production with more guitar than was usual with such bands.

#95 Sensational Alex Harvey Band – Next: Aging Scottish rocker teams up with young Scots heavy rock band and forms a monster outfit capable of everything from vaudeville to metal. Funny stuff too and Alex’s sense of humour triumphs. He does good pathos too!

#94 Eddie Hazel – Games, Dames and Guitar Thangs: A bit of a rag bag but it has its moments. “Lampoc Boogie” is 12 minutes of face-melting guitar that shows that P-Funkster Eddie was Jimi’s natural heir.

#93 Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – Black Music for White People: An old trouper from the 1940s, Jay had a long career mixing soul and R&B with crazed humour. Ever wanted to hear someone murder ‘Old Man River’? Well, here’s your chance.

#92 Wishbone Ash – Here to Hear: a bit of a comeback album which proved that dual lead harmony guitars could still sound good in the 1990s. Great stuff from a band I’d given up on. The last track (both parts) is sublime.

#91 Metallica – Master of Puppets: The chaps at their best – forget anything they’ve done after the ‘Black’ album. In fact, forget that too. This is the real shit and the riff in the title track still sounds monster to me. So, you can play it on guitar? Try it on bass, you goddam’ pusseh!

Cheap Trick revisited

One of life’s little pleasures is rediscovering music you listened to like crazy when it came out but then just filed away in the deep recesses of your memory only to find it still great after maybe 30 years locked away in there.

I make no secret of the fact that I like a good pop tune. Many of my favourite bands and artists are straight pop acts – XTC, Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys and Jellyfish to name just three – and I’ve just remembered another band like this – Cheap Trick.

They’ve never meant much in the UK, but they were big in the US and even bigger in Japan.

Still going, too.

They’re an unlikely looking bunch with a fairly normal-looking lead singer and a 12-string bassist, but the guitarist has a penchant for strangely-shaped guitars and the drummer looks like a business college lecturer.

I admit to being rather more interested in the guitarist’s unique collection of guitars than his playing, which is pretty average although he’s a great ensemble player.

Here’s a nice article on the Hamer Guitars site in which he describes some of his vast (250) collection of guitars.

I suppose ‘guitar-led power pop’ best sums up the band and although they had their biggest hits off the ‘Cheap Trick at Budokan’ album with ‘Surrender’ and ‘I Want You to Want Me’, my favourite album is ‘Dream Police’ (1979) where they seem to be a bit rockier than usual.

Hard to know which track to choose from the album but I’ll go with ‘The House Is Rockin’ (With Domestic Problems)’ which has a very easy but very original guitar riff that’s fun to play and is rarely performed live. The video isn’t too great, but it is a rare and good performance with Rick Nielsen opting for a Les Paul rather than one of the Hamer Explorer type guitars that he’s often pictured with.