My favourite albums – 81–90

The countdown continues…here’s the next batch of 10 for your delectation…

#90 Rod Stewart – Every Picture Tells a Story: Rod’s ceased to be relevant for a long while, although he has one of the best voices this country has ever produced. This particular album showed that he could handle any sort of material and the backing musicians are simply top notch. A couple of albums later it was downhill all the way. I gather that he and Jeff Beck may team up yet again – this time on Beck’s terms with new material. Now that should be worth hearing!

#89 Jonathan Richman – Jonathan Goes Country: Yes, he’s made better-known albums, but this very wry but affectionate stab at country is a particular favourite of mine. Is ‘Since She Started to Ride’ really what I think it’s about? If so, he’s even more subversive than I thought.

#88 Devin Townshend – Ziltoid the Omniscient: A (very) heavy metal album about an alien invading Earth in search of the “perfect cup of coffee”. Townshend is one of those guys who can play anything in any style, produces albums on a regular basis but has never really broken through. He’s doing all right though, Check out his band ‘Strapping Young Lad’ too.

#87 John Hiatt – Slow Turning: I must admit that I chose this album mainly because of Sonny Landreth’s exquisite slide guitar playing. The guy’s a genius. However, Hiatt writes great songs even though they can get a bit sentimental at times. ‘Icy Blue Heart; is the standout track here. Listen to it. NOW!

#86 Ry Cooder – Get Rhythm: Every Ry Cooder album is a favourite so this was a hard choice. “Rhythm” just snagged it for me with ‘Goin’ to Okinawa’ which makes me want to go to Okinawa too. He’s recorded with Okinawan musicians with great results. Ry…great voice, great guitar and a real eye for great material. His solo work seems to now play second fiddle to his film score work but with such a fantastic back catalog to enjoy, who cares?

#85 Extreme – Pornograffiti: Almost the perfect heavy rock album and I sometimes have phases where this gets played several times in a row. Nuno is an amazing player and the band’s mix of metal and funk is truly exhilarating at times. I defy anyone to listen to ‘Get the Funk Out’ and not be tempted to shake their booty a little. A shame about ‘the hit’ – ‘More than Words’ sucks.

#84 Mojo Nixon – Sock Ray Blue: Who? Mojo’s a definite ‘one off’. Crude, raucous and sparing of no-one; if he can take the piss out of someone, he will. How can you not like someone who wrote a song about Princess Diana called ‘Drunk Divorced Floozie’ after she died? It’s not sophisticated stuff, but it often rocks like a bitch and there’s always Mojo’s warped humour in evidence.

#83 Booker T and the MGs – Soul Dressing: Best known for ‘Green Onions’, this is a much stronger effort from this stellar bunch of Stax session men. The playing is edgier, Steve Cropper’s guitar pumps out maximum dirt and the whole thing just cooks. After this, they were never the same and ended up on Planet Bland.

#82 Steve Miller – Book of Dreams: Another guy who is probably better-known for other material – such as ‘The Joker’ – this is probably his most consistent album. Beautifully recorded with pioneering close-mic’d vocals and great guitar work from Miller and Les Dudek, amongst others, this follow-up to ‘Fly Like an Eagle’ set Miller up for a string of good albums. Mellow, maybe, but he still rocks.

#81 Dictators – Blood Brothers: This was another tough choice (every Dictators album is a must-hear) to make. A truly pioneering band still going strong under the leadership of their ex-roadie Handsome Dick Manitoba (who really isn’t).  This just clinched it because it seems to mark their transition from NY punks to heavy rockers without spoiling the original raw and uncompromising feel of their earlier work. When I play any Dictators album it makes me want to play guitar very loudly – ’nuff said…