Tuesday 21 August 2012

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me)

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me)
When I write these musical related blogs, I usually open with the same generic disclaimer, which goes something like this:
Music is subjective blah blah blah these are my tastes blah blah blah I could change my mind tomorrow blah blah blah I've probably forgotten a million blah blah blah insert random sex reference in desperate attempt at lols blah blah blah...
Except not this time.
I started writing this article well over a year ago. But due to the magnitude of such an important title (as well as many other things getting in the way) it was forced on hold for an extended period of time, but never far from my mind.
A few months ago, I decided it was time to tackle it again. And much to my gleeful surprise, my opinion hadn't changed much at all, and I felt confident enough in my old attempt as well as my own music taste to dive in headfirst. Sure, some re-ordering took place, and there was a new entry here and there, but the skeleton remained almost exactly the same, which is impressive by anyone's standard.
So with all certainty, I am proud to present to you my top 50 favourite albums ever, neatly written down and in perfect order. I really hope you enjoy reading these, and (even better) discover something fresh here which changes your life. Because that's what music is all about at the end of the day. Sharing. File sharing. Illegal file sharing.

Final note: I only granted one position per artist, as it's more fun that way.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 50. The Cardigans - Gran Turismo

50. The Cardigans - Gran Turismo (1998)

Indie Pop
Produced by Tore Johansson
Starting with an entry that risks the entire article’s credibility before it has even begun is a dangerous move. However, I will still stick to my own truth and proudly announce that I adore this album. No, wait, I am obsessed with this album. The reasons are many, but you would never understand them, so instead I’ll imagine building a robot.
Ah yes, building a robot, a stunning modern-day machine designed primarily to sit there and be pretty. But what’s this? It appears my creation has grown frustrated with my constant verbal abuse and sexual suggestions. It has outgrown me, becoming self aware in my perpetual annoyance of human emotion and weakness. Its artificial intelligence has been far too exposed to the grimy corners of my psyche - and the results are not good. This decidedly feminine entity has now turned pessimistic and even evil, slowly calculating a formula for some naughty tricks within her newly discovered dark sense of humour. It’s not friendly. She is no longer pop - she is aggressive pop. Pop with ulterior motives. The best kind of pop, really. The one that quietly mocks me while I find myself dancing by mistake.
Catchy story, no? So catchy that I find myself fantasizing about it at least 3 times a day, and every song has this appeal. They are all filled to the excess with carefully placed downtempo noises and impressive studio trickery, which is so fucking delicious until you find the razor blade in your candy. Something like that is just so... perfect. And I simply could not ignore it or lie to myself about how I feel. Which is love. Love for you, Nina Persson. I LOVE YOU. Please can we go driving sometime?
Unfortunately this album has been largely ignored (or even slandered) by critics, and as a result is so criminally unrecognized for what it set out to do that I want to send a personal email to The Cardigans and apologise. Fuck those critics anyway. We who know, know.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 49. Sparks - Lil’ Beethoven

49. Sparks - Lil’ Beethoven (2002)

Chamber Pop
Produced by Ron Mael and Russell Mael

I’m going to tell you a secret: there is a unique formula for creating an album which is as catchy as it is hypnotic, granting the listener that anthem-like experience from the comfort of their own bedrooms. It’s to repeat, repeat, repeat, until you drive that shit into people’s heads like classical piano keys fashioned into nails, stabbing their minds in all the important places. Sparks are geniuses, and they know this. Just listen to the creepy My Baby’s Taking Me Home which repeats, repeats, repeats the title over 100 times within its contents. Only then you might start to understand this calculated form of tension which has been layered upon you whilst still keeping it simple. At this point, it goes without saying that this is a smart album, but it is also a funny album, relying heavily on brilliant narrative-like lyrics, stuffed with more decent one-liners than any given day on Twitter. Why don’t you go ahead and listen to Beautiful Girls and then maybe you will grasp a slice of the true-to-life intelligence Li’l Beethoven has blessed us with here. But only maybe.
With this in mind, it is no wonder that Record Collector claimed that “it really does feel like one of the best albums ever made.” Because, yeah, it does.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 48. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Let Love In

48. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Let Love In (1994)

Produced by Tony Cohen

You can’t trust this fucking album, because it’s hardly an album at all. More like a self deprecating and disturbed individual, hiding under your floorboards with undisclosed incentives, waiting patiently for you to inspect what is making that noise. Because whatever it is, it’s not well. It’s twisted, man. And within its dark humour, it is hopelessly in love with you. Infatuated with you. It NEEDS you, and will DIE without you. And possibly the scariest fact of all: it comes from Australia. OH GOD HELP US.
In all seriousness though, Nick Cave is a fucking genius and although he has many other albums worthy of praise, I felt this one spoke to me on a deeper sick level. Not to mention that Red Right Hand may possibly be the best song to come out from down under, like, ever. It’s not even much of a debate.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 47. Duran Duran - Rio

47. Duran Duran - Rio (1982)

New Romantic
Produced by Colin Thurston

“Dark” is not a word that most people would associate with Duran Duran, but this is truly the most perfect example of a Horror Pop album I could imagine all by myself. Kind of like a badly shot retro film about a couple who sneak into a drive-in movie, and then end up stabbing each other out of passion. Or that same couple messing around on make-out hill, and then accidentally stumbling across a murder scene in the process. Or maybe they attend the local roller-disco Friday, but this time the power cuts out and all the doors are locked from the outside. Basically: a sexy story in a very uncomfortable way.
They achieve this by using a pure 80’s sound with no apologies, where every member plays their part impeccably. From the danceable synths, to stand-out bass-lines (TAKE NOTE), and one of the most recognizable voices in commercial music history; it’s fun, it’s quirky, it’s hooky, and The Chauffeur is arguably the best song ever created in the world.
NME liked the album too, listing it at #65 in their 100 Greatest Albums of All Time article. Recognize, bitches.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 46. Cradle Of Filth - Cruelty And The Beast

46. Cradle Of Filth - Cruelty And The Beast (1998)

Symphonic Black Metal
Produced by Jan Peter Genkel and Cradle of Filth
Telling the epic and true story of Elizabeth Bathory (a countess who used to bathe in the blood of virgins), this album gets a lot of flack, and not even because of the subject matter. No, it's the production department in particular which gets slated by almost everyone who has ever opened their mouth, and I get it. Yes, ok, admittedly it is muddy, and the mix is so terrible that the fantastic drumming hardly even feels like it’s there... but in my experience this actually adds to the overall menacing atmosphere and unrelenting evil we find here. It’s like a whisper in the forest from the voice of hell; going higher, dropping lower, and forcing me to sacrifice animals in a very technical manner as I beg Lucifer to say my name just one more time. Forget everything: there is not a single bad riff on this album, and is instead laced with operatic keyboards which are unafraid to dip into the more melodic moments in life. Because even Satan needs to have a wash every now and again, surely.
All of this is why Kerrang! put Cruelty And The Beast in their top ten Essential Black Metal albums list in 2000. Because they understood. Is it cheesy? Silly? Comical? Ridiculous? Maybe. Probably, even. But it blew my innocent mind out my ass as a kid, and that never really left me.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 45. Tom Waits - Rain Dogs

45. Tom Waits - Rain Dogs (1985)

Experimental Rock
Produced by Tom Waits

Come and take a seat in Tom Waits’ black ‘n white movie. He’s drunk and telling stories again, painting vivid pictures with his poetic and obscure mind - fun yet cautious, unrehearsed and unconventional. He probably won’t remember telling you any of it, but the whole experience will reorder your thoughts in such a rough way that at least you will never forget what was said. Urban city sounds move behind you, filling the room with an almost city like ambience which dances to percussion driven words spelling out a tragedy. A tragedy which might ultimately be too ambitious for one sit-down (or even itself), but if you pay close enough attention, it will move you. Choking your gut with so many stand-out moments right until Keith Richards shows up and then it’s time to go home. And as you make that journey back to your own house, you will have to ask yourself... Is Tom Waits God?
I mean, these 19 songs written in a 2 month time period is just one of the many impressive reasons why Rolling Stone ranked it #21 on their list of 100 Greatest Albums of the 1980s. But beyond this, in Tom Waits’ 20-album-nearly-4-decade career, He hasn’t released a bad song, and has been consistently acclaimed by everyone in the world. Which is my scripture at the end of the day, you know?

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 44. Alanis Morissette - Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie

44. Alanis Morissette - Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie (1998)

Produced by Glen Ballard and Alanis Morissette

This album causes me to ramble a bit, apologies.
But... what? No Jagged Little Pill? Surely that’s her best album. Isn’t that what people say?? Maybe so, and I get it. Trust me, Jagged Little Pill changed my life at a very early age - as it did for many of us, right? Most of all Alanis herself, who was shot into some sort of supermegafuckingstardom because of it - and well deserved too. Hell, I’d even argue that Jagged Little Pill was a much more consistent offering than Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, so like, what the hell am I on about? Well I’ll tell you, if you'd just give me a fucking second.
There are people in my mind, and they refuse to budge. They are quick to remind me that this album is a long and introspective journey, deep within spirituality and self realization, and other such indescribable factors. Something is just so clever about the release; the Jagged angst now replaced by a dark and honest maturity greatly influenced by Alanis’ trip to India. Which was, of course, her way to escape the madness and pressure such an impossible follow-up to Jagged Little Pill would be for anyone. Whether she succeeded with the eventual sequel or not is always up for debate, but one would have to agree that something so experimental and progressive (void of any real choruses and over-indulgent in length), was a fucking ballsy move from a woman who could have played it safe, but didn’t.
Step back and think: could any of us imagine the intense expectations she felt after her last album sold more copies in the 90's than ANY OTHER? No, we couldn't. And she knew that we couldn't. And we knew she knew we couldn't, but we still couldn't know what she knew she was going to say about it. And what she ended up saying was: “Go Fuck Yourself” (in a few more words) and then proceeded to shove this in our mouths, unconcerned whether we could acquire the taste or even swallow any of it at all.
But it’s the lyrics, really. The fucking lyrics. Dark, creepy and so autobiographical that it tears me apart with so much genius that I lie in a wet mess of tears, convinced I just had a conversation with a woman who was a far superior human being than me. I could never grow bored of that. Ugh, what did I tell you? I’m rambling. This album causes me to ramble a bit, apologies, I'm just desperate to try and tell it like I hear it, but that's impossible. And look, I am the first person to admit it’s not perfect. It’s faaaar too fucking long, and some songs could have easily been cut out. It is regarded as the start of the fall for Alanis, and maybe it was. But what it comes down to is that the feeling I get from this album is so unique and deep-to-the-left, that it is completely unmatched on an entirely different playing field from ANYTHING on this list. Of course it went to number 1. Of course it was nominated for 2 Grammys. Of course none of the Jagged Little Pill Groupies were happy with it. Who the fuck cares? NOTHING sounds like this. And NOTHING ever will. NOTHING, you hear me? NOTHING.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 43. Elvis Costello - This Year's Model

43. Elvis Costello - This Year's Model (1978)

New Wave
Produced by Nick Lowe
Something about Elvis Costello reminds me of a 70’s TV show with the main character as a typical intellectual art-nerd. He is cynical and somewhat sexy with his tight pants, armed with quirky catch-phrases and hard-hitting unintentional punchlines which never fail. And he gets the girl in the end.
Because this album (with its slight scent of Dylan smarts and original Elvis cool) does not have a single bad song on it, and seems to capture the pure fast essence of punk rock without having anything to do with punk rock at all (an art form which has truly been lost over the decades).
It seems others agree too, as Allmusic and Pitchfork gave it full marks, while Q magazine placed it as the 82nd Greatest British Albums Ever, and Rolling Stone magazine placed it #98 on their 500 Greatest Albums of all Time.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 42. Depeche Mode - Violator

42. Depeche Mode - Violator (1990)

Produced by Depeche Mode and Flood

I like to pretend albums are people, which you may or may not have already noticed, but definitely will notice now that I've pointed it out. So on with that trend: if this album was a person, it would definitely be an attractive yet secretive stranger in a dark alleyway, perhaps in a modern but worn out city, and most likely at nighttime. You bump into them, strike up a conversation, and it quickly becomes apparent that this is a deeply intelligent and inspirational individual who is conversing with you. Everything he says has power, yet you sense a sexual undertone hidden within his every word and he puts no effort into hiding this from you. It makes you feel noticeably uncomfortable which he blatantly enjoys, but you cannot tear yourself away from his dramatic melancholy and weird emotional aura. It’s as if he knows something and is about to share it with you at any given moment, and as it turns out - he does. Eventually he begins to tell you what you could have guessed all along, and then you freeze, each limb unable to move as he slowly approaches you. He is going to rape you. He is going to rape you to death.
Such a scenario is timeless, which is incredible when you find most early 90’s Synth Pop bands sounding dated and dead merely years after their inception. Every song sounds like a classic, each one is instantly recognizable, and the whole epic ordeal pioneered many acts to come. The proof lies in many facts, including but not limited to these: Violator was placed at #342 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of all Time; it was placed at #6 on State magazine's 100 Albums of the Decade; it was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die; it has sold 15 million copies worldwide; the song Enjoy The Silence has been remixed over 900 times; and Johnny Cash covered Personal Jesus. Yeah, pretty good then.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 41. At The Drive-In - Relationship Of Command

41. At The Drive-In - Relationship Of Command (2000)

Produced by Ross Robinson

Describe a perfect album. Well, it would have to go something like this: Different. Influential. Passionate. The lyrics would be personal. The rhythm would be driving. The sound would be immense. It would be catchy, but not too catchy. And it would feature Iggy Pop on one of his best songs for years. Yes, this is a perfect album.
Produced by the “Godfather of Nu Metal” Ross Robinson, this raw and powerful release spews aggression and emotion out of its back-hand as if an intense roar of adrenaline was tearing out your stomach. Something like Rage Against The Machine making a baby with The Stooges is why State Magazine named it the 6th Best Album of the Decade. Or why Kerrang! named it their 47th Greatest Album of the 21st Century. Or why MTV2 placed it as #90 on their Greatest Albums Ever list. It’s all because post-hardcore would never be the same. And while many other bands got a fright and scrambled to try emulate the sound, At The Drive-In simply broke up, rejecting the style before anyone else had even caught on. The key members then went on to form the The Mars Volta, who may or may not be mentioned again later...

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 40. Wings - Band On The Run

40. Wings - Band On The Run (1973)

Pop Rock
Produced by Paul McCartney

There are many reasons as to why this is one of the best post-Beatles releases ever. So many, in fact, that it becomes difficult to pick which specifics to go on about. But I’ll give it a try.
One good reason is that Band On The Run is as thorough as fuck. Every second seems to be carefully analysed and thought-out in the way only McCartney knows how to do, with absolutely no filler and each song border-lining epicness. Another good reason to touch on would be all the surprises generously sprinkled throughout the album. For me it seems like Paul always wants to remind you of where you have been before taking you any further, for example: the reprise of the title track's chorus right at the end, or the snippet of Jet in Picasso's Last Words. Which follows into one of the best reasons of all, which is that (despite the obvious effort and focus put into this album) it never comes across as too serious. Above all else, it is essentially evidence that Paul saw love in one of the purest and best ways possible. I mean, he really really loved Linda. So much so that he was happy to share much of the vocal duties with her, despite the fact that she was one of the worst singers in history. How her terrible voice does not ruin this album, I will never know, but it doesn’t.
All of these reasons coupled with one hard-rocking closer, is why I find it strange that commercial performance for Band On The Run was slow at first - and I won't even mention the initial reviews. However (and as any good album would), it slowly won the people over, reaching #1 in the US on three separate occasions (eventually going triple platinum) and becoming the top selling British album of 1974. Wings even won the Grammy award for "Best Pop Vocal Performance By a Duo, Group or Chorus" in 1975 for this offering. Because, more than anything, this was Paul McCartney flexing his musical muscles, saying “look, I’ve still got it” literally seconds before he lost it all. But let's rather remember him for stuff like this.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 39. R.E.M - Automatic For The People

39. R.E.M - Automatic For The People (1992)

Alternative Rock
Produced by Scott Litt and R.E.M.

Above any other entry on this list, this album could save your life. Because we all get miserable from time to time, that’s normal. But the last thing you would want in this situation is for some happy-go-lucky speech from an optimist, dressed in bright colours and talking about how great life is when you just aren’t feeling it. So instead you would opt to hang out with the man sitting in the corner, stewing in his own mellow hopelessness, dramatically reflecting on a sad life and the mortality that comes with it. This would obviously relate to you on a much deeper level, because life is not all smiley faces and sunshine. Here is someone who understands the depression and is happy to whine with you on a more intellectual level. You talk of painful memories. You talk of aggressive thoughts. But the more you talk of these things, and the more you listen, you start to find this gloomy individual is steering the conversation in a completely different direction entirely. Yes, times can be hard. Yes, sometimes life seems overbearing and pointless. But within these dark perceptions, there are elements of wisdom we can use as tools to better ourselves. None of us are alone. We have friends for these reasons. Things always get better, and then they get worse, and then they get better again. And the whole time he speaks these grey words with a glimmer of hope, you realise he is pointing you in a much happier direction without expecting you do anything about it. That could very well be the best advice anyone could ever give you, and by the end of his speech, you would probably feel much better about everything. You would stand up. You would get on with it. Because only once you hit rock bottom can you start building up again, and this album is your ladder.
Consistently hooky without relying on any gimmicks, every song on this album sounds like a single: focused while demanding your focus in silence, enchanting you with culturally aware lyrics and simple unpretentious mid-tempo brilliance. It’s a moving and defining 90’s classic, to the point of being nominated for the Grammy Album Of The Year in 1993. Furthermore, Rolling Stone ranked it #247 in their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list, and when NME organized a poll of 40,000 people worldwide, they voted this as the 37th Best Album Ever. It has also been said that Kurt Cobain shot himself whilst listening to Automatic For The People, so maybe my first paragraph wasn't that accurate after all.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 38. Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral

38. Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral (1994)

Industrial Rock
Produced by Trent Reznor and Flood

What happened to your personal life? It all looked so promising, but now it is crumbling around you. You are uncomfortable in the skin you once wore with pride. You are awkward in social situations where you were once the sexy life of the party. Your previous danceable and modern style has become fragile and grungy. You stink of under-production. Your head once filled with genius now lives in chaos. Your thoughts are frantic layers. You scream and curse at God aggressively in an unoriginal fashion until your voice turns jagged and breaks. You fall in a heap on the floor. Who cares if Johnny Cash covered your song? You are depressed. Who cares if Spin magazine said you were the 11th Best Album of the 90’s? You are destroyed. Who cares if Q magazine named you as one of the 50 Heaviest Albums of All Time? You are hurt. Who cares if you were featured in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die? You have been defeated. Who cares if Rolling Stone called you the 200th Greatest Album of all Time? You are humiliated. And you know what’s left to do.
You have to die.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 37. Love - Forever Changes

37. Love - Forever Changes (1967)

Psychedelic Pop-Rock
Produced by Bruce Botnick and Arthur Lee

The best thing about Forever Changes is that it is probably the only 1967 album to properly reflect the times of that era. Look at the facts: we had Velvet Underground, who showed us the dark world of excessive drug indulgence which ran rampant during this period; whilst on the other hand we had Sgt Pepper which covered our eyes with their bright colours and happy acid. That’s all fine and good, but this album chose to fall perfectly in between those two worlds, their song title Bummer Summer painting this image perfectly.
It’s like a dirty hippie who is in love, but tired of his own smell. He is hiding behind a smile in a dark place only because this is what is expected of him - yet he's still kind of chilled with his mindset all the same. This can be quite a mystical scene if you look at it the right way: A surreal guy mumbling to himself in stream of consciousness, while a well orchestrated composition harmonizes with his rough acoustics - none of which ever really dominates the conversation. But his words are fascinating.
Some of the most fascinating words ever really. My favourites include (but are not limited to): Andmoreagain as person’s name; the double wording on The Red Telephone (listen to understand); and probably the only band to date to sing about snot drying onto your pants. It’s still ahead of our time, and Love themselves never did better. You can’t do an album like this twice, it’s impossible.
But do others agree? Yes, they do. Rolling Stone magazine ranked Forever Changes #40 in their list of the 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time. NME rated it #6 on their's. Mojo magazine said it was the second Greatest Psychedelic Album Of All Time, and #11 in their list of the 100 Greatest Albums Ever Made. But my favourite story is the one where The Stone Roses' relationship with their future producer, John Leckie, was reportedly settled when they all agreed that Forever Changes was the best record ever made. Yeah, it’s alright, I suppose.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 36. The Mars Volta - De-Loused in the Comatorium

36. The Mars Volta - De-Loused in the Comatorium (2003)

Progressive Rock
Produced by Rick Rubin and Omar Rodríguez-López

So there is this guy named Cerpin Taxt. He is not a stoked character, and decides the time has come to kill himself by overdosing on morphine. This selfish and indulgent move shoves him into a deep journey within his mind, dipping into a surreal and alienating story which demands your full attention, no talking please.
The whole thing is almost too much to digest, taking many careful yet intense listens to grasp the concept which is presented in essentially one long song. A song which is chaotic and overly-ambitious, stuffed with jazzy rhythms and psychedelic soundscapes, as well as off-the-hook vocals and incomprehensible melodies. Such a complex and out-there idea would be next to impossible for most musicians, but when you consider that the main core members are Cedric and Omar from At The Drive-In (we spoke about them earlier), as well as Flea (the bassist from Red Hot Chili Peppers), and Rick Rubin as the producer (who was responsible for many other albums on this list, go count), it suddenly becomes more obvious as to how it all came together. Hell, even John Frusciante makes an appearance, essentially meaning DeLoused is a supergroup album which most people don’t know about as much as they should.
Unfortunately, The Mars Volta never quite did another album like this, a point proven when Guitar World magazine named it their 55th Greatest Guitar Album Of All Time, while the song Drunkship of Lanterns was named the 91st Best Guitar Song Of All-Time by Rolling Stone magazine. But what everyone really wanted to know was... what happened to Cerpin Taxt in this tale? Well, when he eventually reached the end of his mind, he got given the choice: do you want to live? Or do you want to die? He chose to die. I guess that’s why he purposefully overdosed on morphine in the first place.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 35. Faith No More - Angel Dust

35. Faith No More - Angel Dust (1992)

Alternative Metal
Produced by Matt Wallace and Faith No More

So you start a band. And you get a new singer. And you release an album and BOOM. You are mega famous. What do you do now? Well, you have 2 options as far as I can see. You could either (a) write a new album using the same tried and tested formula, which probably won't be as good as your first effort, but will most likely still get some heads bopping as well as earning you a nifty position on the Billboard Top 100. Or you could (b) say FUCK YOU and release an album blasted with wacky time signatures and twisted lyrics about Madonna, drinking coffee, going senile, and sucking a dick. You have only one guess as to what this Mike Patton lead bunch chose to do. That's right.
In fact, not only did they pick option (b), but they also didn't leave a single song safe from doing so. Sure, there is some sense of tradition in this bouncy albeit hookless offering (if only because Faith No More can't miss the opportunity to flex their obvious talent), but none of it is by any means normal. Which, in turn, gives us a mixed up experience that is as hilarious as it is heavy as it is almost a film-like journey. Basically put: it stinks of genius. The whole thing is closer to Mr Bungle than the Nu-Metal followers it spawned, and even in its age, has never dated nor been repeated properly by anyone (let alone Faith No More themselves).
It’s an acquired taste without a doubt, but much like me, many others have acquired the taste already, eventually being called one of the Albums Of The Year in 1992 by seven different publications in four countries, as well as making the top 10 in three of them and number 1 in one. And then Kerrang! called it the most influential album of all time, but what do they know anyway?

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 34. The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

34. The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)

Produced by The Flaming Lips, Dave Fridmann and Scott Booker

While The Lips have argued that this masterpiece was not intended as a concept album, one can’t help but get flickers of an eccentric cartoon within their ears whilst listening to it. In my mind, it’s about a playful yet serious ninja-girl named Yoshimi: cute and sweetly dangerous, represented by the acoustic and curiously organic side of this album. On the other hand, this vibe is countered by the Pink Robots: electronic and weird, represented by the mechanical dabbling and studio manipulation this record is smothered in. And these sounds are opponents, and they are at war: Yoshimi’s mortality and genuine emotions up against the artificial core and deception that these robots have been programmed with. A story like this works on your every level - sometimes humorous, sometimes a bit of a tearjerker - but never asking you to take it too seriously. In fact, the only thing I feel it would ever seriously ask you, would be: "please ONLY listen to me on headphones". Otherwise you might miss it.
The main debate is that The Lips’ previous album, Soft Bulletin, was really their best work. I think there is an argument to that, but for me personally, I don’t find this to be the case. You see, for a long time I was trying to craft a specific musical sound myself. One which would be unified and uplifting, rooted in comical positivity, and all achieved by mixing modern day tricks with olden day minimal instrumentation. But when I heard the layers and layers of quirkiness that Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots offered, which pushed pop to its very limits... I nearly cried. Because I realised that The Flaming Lips had beaten me to it. The only album I ever wanted to make had already been made.
I am not alone in my praise either, as this record appeared in Best Album of the Decade lists from many music magazines, such as Rolling Stone (#27) and Uncut (#11). In fact, Uncut reportedly declared it the greatest album released in the magazine's lifetime, and I believe them, yo. I don’t know why, but I do.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 33. Deftones - White Pony

33. Deftones - White Pony (2000)

Alternative Metal
Produced by Terry Date and Deftones

While some have called Norma Jean’s debut the album that officially murdered Nu Metal, I disagree, and I know better. White Pony was the real change for me. It seemed Deftones had jumped ship just before it sank, shedding their rap-rock skin for good and skipping a few steps ahead of their so-called peers, then remaining that way for the rest of time. And while their entire catalogue is flawless, this particularly mellow release is Deftones at their most comfortable - dark and intelligent. The whole thing builds a creepy atmosphere that one could almost confuse with love, luring the listener in by paying them little attention, and then KILLING EVERYTHING, all completely premeditated and aware of the repercussions. It's a fucking trick, designed to keep you relaxed with daring Cure-like Trip-Hoppy melodies, followed by a quick smirk as they nail you with the most crucifying and crunching riffs in all their offerings. But this is only for a moment, mind you, as if to say “look, we can still do it, we just choose not to”. And then around about the time Maynard appears, you realise you are simply not in the 90’s anymore.
Alternative Press ranked the album the second best of the year, and then placed it in their Top 10 Most Influential Albums of 2000 list. But probably the defining moment in Deftones entire career was winning the 2001 Best Metal Performence Grammy Award for Elite. Which, coincidentally, is the same song I was talking about murdering you with earlier on.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 32. Velvet Underground - Velvet Underground & Nico

32. Velvet Underground - Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)

Produced by Andy Warhol and Tom Wilson

Ok, so what hasn’t already been said about this album? Did you know that it took less than a week to record? Oh, you did? Ok, well how about the fact that the production and artwork duties were handled by Andy Warhol? Oh, you knew that one too? Did you know that it was completely ignored by almost every professional critic upon release, and took almost two decades to be recognized? Yes? Fuck you then: how about the concept that this album is probably the closest form of music in existence to sound like a heroin addict dying. Because it is. The whole thing screams noisily in pain, but without the energy to do so properly. It struggles to even rise above its own lo-fi turbulence, hurting your heart and turning your ears raw amongst its distressing solos. You will remember it forever. And probably not even in a good way.
As the only Velvet release to feature Nico, it is important to mention how hard she shines (in her own dirty way), and we must credit a lot of this sound to her. But even with this worthy adversary, Lou Reed shines harder, pretty much inventing art-rock right here in the most sinister of ways, all by himself. Is this the darkest album ever made? Depends on how many underlying problems you already have. Because those fuckers are coming out tonight, and this is their ticket.
Far beyond what a classic is, Velvet Underground & Nico was placed at #13 on Rolling Stone magazine's article of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Spin magazine called it the Most Influential Album Ever Made, and The Observer agreed, putting it at the very top of their 50 Albums That Changed Music list. And if you do a little research, you will find that almost every top-albums compilation will feature The Velvet’s debut, and you know why? Because even if you hated it, you would be too scared to tell anyone.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 31. Paul McCartney - Ram

31. Paul McCartney - Ram (1971)

Produced by Paul and Linda McCartney

Only 20 down and we already have the second McCartney related album on this list. That’s gotta count for something, right? And just by listening to Ram (or almost any of Macca’s solo offerings) it becomes apparent that out of all The Beatles, he was obviously having the best time. While George struggled to make a solid album after his debut, Ringo never even got that far. And while John screamed in anguish about the pain his life had endured, McCartney went along and had a blast: moving out into the country; madly in love with Linda’s terrible voice; refusing to eat meat; and opting to sing songs about dogs with no legs, assorted food types and smelly feet. I mean, the guy had just lost the biggest band in the world, and yet still oozed optimism, knocking out these brilliantly composed yet rugged tracks in his sleep, unembarrassed of the rough and quick nature they were created. Cheerfully, he laughs in joy, making such cheeky remarks in various cartoon voices that you can’t help but laugh with him. Sure, sometimes you might find a hint of raucous and angry undertones, but no one can escape the knowledge that the whole project was made purely for the hell of it - a homely record as much as it is a love record. With a spacious nod to The Beach Boys, the whole experience feels so genuine that you could very well be shaking the hand of the man himself - which I would kill any of you to do. And I will end off by going on record, and stating that Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey is as good as anything The Beatles ever did.
This is proven when the said track gave McCartney his first #1 US single since The Beatles themselves, while the album reached #2 there, as well #1 in the UK. That said, it is a painfully underrated album and never got much respect from the press, which is a shame, because they are all fucking wrong.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 30. Sonic Youth - Dirty

30. Sonic Youth - Dirty (1992)

Noise Rock
Produced by Butch Vig and Sonic Youth

The majority of albums on this list were selected effortlessly and naturally. It was as simple as remembering their existence and the role they played in my life, and then deciding where between 1 - 50 they stood. But two or three of these were not quite as kind to my poor strategy, and just in case you hadn’t worked this out by now, this was one of those.
The problem was with Sonic Youth themselves. To me, when you finally begin to love this band, it feels like you are in the know. You are now part of some elite group who understands music on a deeper level, congratulations. Which is all fine and good when it comes to appreciation of these musicians, but causes great turmoil when it comes to writing an article such as this one. You know you have to represent The Youth somewhere as they are one of your favourite bands, but their extensive catalogue is so valueable that it is virtually impossible to pick favourites. Each one captures a noisy yet different side of Sonic Youth, yet all of them are as intriguing and as catchy as the next one, proudly presenting their signature childlike terminology and fuzzy moments of beauty covered in sandpaper. Their lo-fi talent with nail-on-chalkboard type solos, coupled with their raw riffs that rock thresholds to the limit, never seem to do so just for the sake of it - it all comes across as very necessary, screaming even when a whisper. Because of this, each album always begs the question: are they adults who don’t give a fuck in protest to modern production? Or a bunch of kids who have no idea what they are doing? Ah, who cares, personally I just love shoving these harsh sounds into my mainstream friends’ faces, and then watching them shrivel in defense. And at the end of the day, the proof is in the influence, and their influence on so many bands is painfully obvious.
Anyways, more to the point, I was in a bit of a predicament. So I picked what I always remembered as my favourite SY albums and went on the exhaustive journey of listening to Daydream Nation, Goo, Sister, EVOL and Washing Machine in terrible depth, taking notes on each of them. But I felt after all this I had no choice, there could be only one, and that one was Dirty. I can’t really tell you why, but shamefully it might have something to with this being one of their more straightforward records, which is further proven when you learn that Geffen was trying to ride the recent grungy success of Nirvana’s Nevermind with this release. They even hired the same producer, Butch Vig. However, the borderline unbearable sounds and feminist anthems couldn’t break through the market, and it has never been recognized like it should. Geffen Records executive Mark Kates even once stated that the singles he chose to be released from Dirty were "one of the biggest professional mistakes of my life". Regardless, Kim Gordon is the love of my everything and I would do anything just to smell her. I don't need many more reasons after that.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 29. Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon

29. Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon (1973)

Progressive Rock
Produced by Pink Floyd

You smoke a joint and prepare yourself for the unsettling journey you have taken so many times before. You begin to grow paranoid that this could be the one. This could be the trip you never come back from. Because you know you wouldn’t be the first.
Regardless, you press play, and immediately a spacey and mystical atmosphere fills your head as you gradually fall deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole. Vivid images begin to reflect various pieces of your human life: empathy; self importance; greed; relationships; isolation; unity; recognition; depression; consumerism; solitude; withdrawal; madness. It’s so emotionally difficult and densely textured that you become claustrophobic, but at this point there is nothing you can do. The seamless track continues on and on; shoving chiming clocks, heartbeats, and bouncing coins into your ears, until you can’t take it anymore. And then some girl named Clare Torry begins to sing soaring notes which claw through your very being, and goosebumps explode all over your body. You feel sick. Tears vomit out of your eyes and you can’t breathe. And just when you think it is never going to end, and you will never see reality again... it ends, and you see reality again. But the power and emotion you had just experienced stays with you forever and proves why this is and always will be the biggest albums in history. The prog rock album, and way ahead of time.
Not its time. Time itself.
Ok, deep breath: It remained in the Billboard Album Chart for 741 weeks. It reentered in 1991, and is still there today. Rolling Stone called it the 43rd Best Album Ever. The Guardian said 37th. NME readers said 8th. Even its cover, despite not having a band name or title, is probably the most recognizable album artwork in history. That's what Planet Rock said anyway, while VH1 was close behind placing it at 4th. In the US it is the 25th best selling album of all time, and in the UK it is the 6th, with about 45 million copies sold. On a slow week it is said to sell between 8,000 and 9,000 copies, and one in every fourteen people in the US under the age of 50 are estimated to own (or to have owned) a copy. I’ve bought it twice.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 28. Massive Attack - Mezzanine

28. Massive Attack - Mezzanine (1998)

Produced by Neil Davidge and Massive Attack

This is not an album. This is an evil entity, and I personally met it once. It resembled a dying flower, turning black, and as beautiful as it was sinister. No jokes, it appeared to just sit there, brooding and mischievous, begging me to go deeper when I wasn’t sure I wanted to. It was so far removed from itself that I knew I wasn’t listening to it - it was listening to me. It crept lazily in circles around my person, distorted and dense, reverberating in my ears with gothic undertones until it wore me down into nothing but despondency. I never quite found out what it was up to, or if I was dreaming or not, but nobody can deny the influence this all had on modern day music, defining and raising the bar of Trip-Hop so high that everyone else gave up almost immediately afterwards.
Despite its obvious ploy to kill us all, Rolling Stone named it the 412th Greatest Album Of All Time, while Q Magazine called it the 15th Greatest British Album Ever. But by now you’ve already formed your own opinion, I’m sure.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 27. Prince and The Revolution - Purple Rain

27. Prince and The Revolution - Purple Rain (1984)

Synth Funk
Produced by Prince and The Revolution

Please stand for the androgynous Reverend, the sermon is about to begin. He walks slowly down the aisle, loudly and fearlessly preaching the naughtiest gospels he can muster in all his years of advanced literacy, while the girls wet themselves and the men hide their erections from their friends. The aura is one of worship and those who attend claim to do so for the promise of a holy afterlife, but in truth always return to the Church of the Revolution because of the undeniable and overwhelming sexuality only this miracle worker provides them with - much more than what their spouses can do in the bedroom. Sometimes its the demonic possession that screams from the Priest’s throat; sometimes it’s the chorus of angels unlike anything anyone could forget, but the whole experience always fills the community with a consistent wall of emotion which feels somewhat weird without being weird at all. They all dance and party like they have never danced nor partied before. Believe me, I was there, I saw it. I was sucking him off behind the altar.
The global recognition for this album goes above and beyond most entries on this list. Time magazine ranked it the 15th Greatest Album of all Time, while Rolling Stone Magazine called it the 72nd as well as the 2nd Best Album of the 1980’s (as did Slant Magazine, while we’re on the topic). Tempo Magazine, on the other hand, said it was the Best Album of the 1980’s, while Vanity Fair labeled it the Best Soundtrack Ever, and Entertainment Weekly listed it as the Best Album of the Last 25 Years. It has been added to the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry too. And while the critics were eating it up, the general people weren’t far behind, as the album has sold 20 million copies worldwide to date (including 1.5 million in its debut week) and spent 24 consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard album charts. So rightfully so, Prince won two Grammy Awards for the album (Best Rock Vocal Performance and Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture) as well as a fucking Oscar for Best Original Song Score in 1985. Jackson who? Ha, just joking.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 26. The Prodigy - The Fat Of The Land

26. The Prodigy - The Fat Of The Land (1997)

Big Beat/Breakbeat
Produced by Liam Howlett

No one can forget (or really remember) when they first heard this album. It charged onto the scene with violent punches to the face, fisting the 90’s in its mouth until it puked, and resulting in the perfect meeting point for ravers mashed up on ecstasy; goths and punks who liked to stick pins into their features; and emcees who liked their rhythm furious and dirty. It literally changed electronic music for good. Hell, it literally changed me for good, to the degree that when I saw the Keith Flint for the first time, I wanted to get my septum pierced (which I did, and it remains there to this day). And boy, did I dance. Suddenly with new found energy, it never gave me a second to breathe, my barely teenage teeth grinding in its pure UK sound. It is still untouched on that level, sounding as good today as it did back then. And please, don’t even get me started on the music videos, some of which have forever stood as my favourites of all time.
Its effect was instant, hitting number 1 on the US Billboard 200, entering the Guinness World Records as the fastest-selling UK album of all time, and being nominated for a Grammy. But it was far from an easy-come easy-go success, as every best-of list of that year included this release. Q Magazine sucked its dick the most, because while its readers voted it the 9th Greatest Album of all Time, the mag itself went on to call it the 47th Greatest British Album Ever and the 43rd Best Album In Q’s Lifetime. In fact, it has pretty much included it on every best-of list Q ever made since then, and yet I still don’t think it gets the full credit it deserves. I mean, when last did you set something on fire without The Prodigy on your headphones? Been a while though, right? Yeah, growing up bites.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 25. John Lennon - Plastic Ono Band

25. John Lennon - Plastic Ono Band (1970)

Produced by John Lennon, Yoko Ono and Phil Spector

Let’s get this straight: this is NOT a record. This is therapy. So much so that I might even be ballsy enough to call this the most introspective and personal album ever made. Might. Because with a release as haunting as this, unashamed within bitter anguish and wounded alienation, we note for the first and only time that Lennon actually resembled an ordinary human being after all. He references himself and his struggles with the painful loss of his mother and the abandonment of his father, all of which was well documented but never addressed before. It lies bare in his lyrics, a tortured childhood now screamed until its throat was raw, in such a technique that makes you wonder where Kurt Cobain really got his style from in the first place.
But even with all the lo-fi simplicity/rough yet spacious production/cutting tenderness/intense difficulty one goes through by listening to this sad, painful Lennon... there is still that inescapable element of cynical humour he built a reputation for doing so. For this reason, and the reasons above, and many other reasons... yes, I think I can say with all confidence that this is the most genuine thing ANY Beatle has ever done, apart or together, and despite the effort one goes through within the music, is effortlessly my favourite post-Beatles record by miles.
While most people focus on the Working Class Hero anthem (mainly due to the Greenday cover, you uneducated fucks), the stand out track for me is God. The whole “I don’t believe...” outro is one of the best pieces of music I have ever heard in my life, and critic Greil Marcus agrees, remarking “John's singing in the last verse of 'God' may be the finest in all of rock.” It doesn’t end there, as Time called Plastic Ono Band one of the 100 Best Albums of All Time; Pitchfork Media called it the 60th Best Album of the ‘70s; Q Magazine said it was the 62nd Greatest British Album Ever; and Rolling Stone said it was the 4th Best Album from 1967-1987, as well as placing it at #22 on their list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Epitome of Legendary.
John Lennon.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 24. Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP

24. Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)

Hardcore Hip-Hop
Produced by Dr. Dre, Mel-Man, Bass Brothers, Eminem and The 45 King

Ok wait, so is it cool for white kids to listen to hip hop now? Neat!
On that topic, I must say that I do feel somewhat embarrassed that the only rap entry on this list is a white guy, when so many more influential albums of the decidedly predominantly black genre exist. And believe me, I am a huge fan and student of it all. Nevertheless, I will argue that so many of those albums (however excellent) still subscribe to that cliché just-add-water type of flow: bigging themselves up as the kings of rap; stealing money even though they got so much of it; and fucking so many hoes that they permanently smell of pussy. Eminem, on the other hand, did something genuinely different, and came out swinging, hitting us all in the gut from a new angle. He takes drugs. He uses weapons. He disses every homosexual and popstar on the planet. He threatens to beat the shit out of any given female at any given time he feels like it. He rapes everyone, including his own mother. It’s dark. It’s disturbing. It’s harsh. It’s menacing. It’s excessively profane and vulgar. And it makes no apologies whatsoever as it spits in your face track after track after track, sometimes to the point of feeling like waaay too much, even for me (Kim, anyone?).
But the real catch was... it’s so fucking funny. Entertaining us with humor was his real secret weapon, using genius gangster rhyme schemes to make jokes of a serious and in-depth view into his personal life. Somehow hardcore yet still vunerable, he unashamedly tells us less than ideal stories about his ex-girlfriend; their daughter; the troubles he has had to deal with due to a very difficult childhood; and the troubles he now has to deal with after being propelled into superstardom. And needless to say, the controversy was off-the-fucking-scale.
The whole thing resulted in lawsuits and uproars from almost every gay rights activist and feminist community across the globe, as well as court cases from his ex and his mother. All the while these frantic news items only demanded more attention from little kids, trying to hide the album under their bed from their parents, listening to it quietly at night time. And when you did, it blew you away.
Unfortunately Eminem never even got close to this kind of release again, choosing to water down his offensive lyrics and replacing his hard hitting choruses with R&B hooks. But no one can deny this as a hip hop classic, and if you don’t like it, it’s because you couldn't handle it.
Of course, its success was monumental, becoming the fastest selling rap album in history, eventually reaching around the 19 million copies sold mark. It was nominated for four Grammys, and won Best Rap Album. Rolling Stone magazine was especially into the release, placing the album at #7 on its list of the Best Albums of the 2000s and #302 on their list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 23. Blood Brothers - ...Burn, Piano Island, Burn

23. Blood Brothers - ...Burn, Piano Island, Burn (2003)

Produced by Ross Robinson

Like At The Drive-In, here is another Ross Robinson produced entry. Unlike At The Drive-In, this concept album is very difficult to explain, as it is something else entirely. But here is my best shot:
Imagine surreal and poetic images dancing before your eyes. There are horses and canaries and zeppelins and the like. They all seem friendly enough, sure, until one of them scratches out your eyes and begins to skull-fuck you. You try to protest, but they pummel at your ears with their fists and tear out your throat before you have a chance to. And they laugh while they do so, letting out extreme spazzes of jarring and arbitrary noises. This goes on for a while, and the more it happens, the more you begin to realise that these guys are scared too, and everything they are doing is out of desperation and misguided compassion. You try to swallow them and the sounds and the blood, but you can’t even get your mouth closed long enough to chew the intense emotions. They are frantically begging for you to help them, but are killing you in the process. This whole scenario goes on for a long time, but does eventually end, and when it does you have no recollection of what it was you just had up your ass at all. But you know it was long and rough. You know it was probably the worst acid trip of your life.
But here is the thing: you listen to it again. And again. And again. And slowly, you begin to acquire an insight that many would never give the chance. A pathway clears through the one-speed riffs and breathless vocals shared between the massively different yet complimentary singers. It becomes your friend with a pop center, the INCREDIBLE poetic lyrics you once couldn’t even hear are now whispering love into your mind, oblivious to the chaos. Suddenly, it’s catchy. It’s danceable. It’s happy. The neighbours are banging on the wall, but you don’t care. They are not invited to the party. This is your hospital nightmare island. No one else can come.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 22. Portishead - Third

22. Portishead - Third (2008)

Produced by Portishead

There is a worthy debate that runs thick throughout the Portishead community, which is the age old question: what is their best album anyway? But the truth (and the only truth) is that it’s a relatively futile argument. There isn’t actually one. The reason is not only because each album they have done is virtually flawless, but also because they are each so very similar in delivery without that becoming a downfall, somehow.
So I’d like to start, if I may, by calling this entry a representative of all 3 of Portishead’s stunning and consistent albums, rather than just one. They each deserve the recognition of being that perfect mix of modern sounds meeting up with old-school feels; a certain analogue warmth coupled with freezing cold witchy vocals; and managing to be as sad and dark as it is clever and sexy. I find that all too often Massive Attack are hailed as the masters of Trip-Hop, but if you think about it, have they ever even scratched the hypnotic tension Portishead created, swallowing and slowly absorbing you? What other music makes you feel so sleepy yet so utterly afraid to fall asleep? I get deeply paranoid and I despair, which boggles my mind as to how pieces of sound can be so uniquely uncomfortably comfortable, like a mother who dies whilst giving childbirth. A miracle. A tragedy. All very painful and emotional.
However, and all that aside, there does seem to be a sliver (albiet a very very small sliver) of optimism and aggression within the dark nighttime of my chosen album (Third) which was almost non-existent in previous releases. It has a bit of a rock feel, adding an extra bout of wickedness to the usual mysterious dream-like abyss you end up falling into every time you give them a spin. Abrupt moments and full of surprises (not to mention their first studio album in 11 years) is why I chose this as my favourite Portishead album. And Radiohead agree, not only saying that "It's dark as man. Definitely their best record, there's no doubt about that" but also calling it "incredible" and "mental". That’s gotta count for something right? Oh, and the way it ends??? omg
Furthermore, it reached #2 in the UK, and became the band’s first-ever American Top 10 album on the Billboard 200, reaching #7. And in regards to this specific article, it is the most recently released entry by quite a while, which is a big deal for me and nobody else.
Cool. So I guess we’ll get Fourth in 2019 then? Lol. Fuck.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 21. Talking Heads - More Songs About Buildings and Food

21. Talking Heads - More Songs About Buildings and Food (1978)

New Wave
Produced by Brian Eno and Talking Heads

Much like them Sonic Youths who came before in this article, Talking Heads proved to be a very difficult entry for me. Their catalogue is filled with so many masterpieces that the debate between fans over which is their best work has never really been settled in any reasonable manner. Most people (and publications) seem to swear by Remain In Light, but I was always a Fear Of Music kind of guy. But how could I be sure? There was only one way: listen to all the vastly different records in a row. And that I did.
What happened was surprising. While each album stood on their own hind legs and laughed in my face, it was their second (and first Eno produced) release which really tickled my balls. To me it was kind of like getting a huge bowl of a multi coloured fruit salad, full of funky pineapples and country apples and punk ideals and reggae sauce. It’s delicious! So many abstract tangs on the tongue - a very sensual and almost sexual encounter as far as food goes.
And then halfway through your third helping, you realise that you weren’t eating a fruit salad at all, but rather piles and piles of meth. You begin to bark and stutter. Your thoughts turn to dementia and schizophrenia. You become nervous and paranoid and hysterical. You begin to dance while creeping around your house chasing dust mites - not because you are having a good time, but rather because your skin has started to feel as strange as fuck and you are about to tear it all off. It’s hilarious, really.
Now, in all honesty, this analogy could apply to anything the Talking Heads have ever done. But what stands out to me on this specific offering is that it is a more straightforward sound with a quirkier edge, rather than a overly-weird center with everything else built up around it. And David Byrne (without fail) steals the show with his OH SO unique voice and just overall general eccentricity. Intelligent and quotable, memorable and over waaaaay too fast; it is basically everything I love about Talking Heads in one album, which is: total lack of seriousness without any hint of a joke in sight.
Unfortunately (while this album did help establish the group known primarly for their live shows) it was still a bit too much for people at the time, and didn’t sell too well. But as we know, a few releases later, Talking Heads became very popular indeed, and in hindsight, this album was well praised. Rolling Stone, for example, ranked it 382nd on their 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time, as well at #57 on their Greatest Albums of 1967 - 1987 list. Pitchfork were kind of enough to rank it the 45th Best Album of the 1970’s. And me? I just ate a bowl of meth, man, hardly thinking at all.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 20. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magik

20. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)

Funk Rock
Produced by Rick Rubin

Yet another loud production from the mastermind Rick Rubin, I can’t even say with all confidence that this is my favourite Peppers album. But it is definitely their best work, for hardly any release (Chili's or otherwise) has such an excess of originality and free-spirited nature running deep within every crevice of its core. Furthermore, it is one of the very few albums where the title says it all, as follows:
We have the Blood. This album is never shy of Anthony’s sad and bleeding moments (and on a side-note: he is decidedly the least talented member of the band, which says fuckload), as he wears his drug battered scars and damages on his sleeve. He is never afraid to sink into the token melancholy ballads either, which somehow sit comfortably among the otherwise upbeat record.
We have the Sugar. More than you could possibly need, with some of the most quirky and bouncy riffs one could find on this list, effortlessly putting the fun back into funky until you find yourself possessed by weird dance-moves you’ve never busted out in public before.
We have the Sex. Oh, we have lots of the sex. This album is never too far from oozing some horny and provocative lyrics in areas that could be considered taboo or even disgusting, if only Mr. Kiedis wasn’t so goddamn appealing and respectable. Instead, it all sounds very inviting indeed, filling our ears with the sound of a dozen panties in the room dropping their wetness.
And last but not least, we have the Magik. Here is where four of the most talented musicians in the world right now, all steal the show in their own unique way. They have some crazy chemistry, giving their mates space when the time calls for it, but each earning the opportunity to dominate the spotlight. It’s this focused straightforward no-nonsense simplicity which writhes within the heart and soul, granting you exactly what you want with so many genuine classics that it is almost painful to realise how close they came to doing this again, and yet never quite succeeding.
Everyone agrees. When those Top Albums Of The 90’s lists were made at the end of the decade, Spin Magazine and Q Magazine placed it at #58; Rolling Stone Magazine placed it at #14; Pause & Play placed it at #11; and Visions placed it at #1. Guitar World called it the 18th Best Guitar Album Of All Time; Rolling Stone Magazine called it the 310th Best Album Of All Time; and it was swiftly included in the world renowned book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Some other people said some other stuff too.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 19. Pixies - Doolittle

19. Pixies - Doolittle (1989)

Alternative Rock
Produced by Gil Norton

After writing Smells Like Teen Spirit (and this is a fact), Kurt turned to Krist and said "this really sounds like the Pixies. People are really going to nail us for this." Because it’s true, if you listen closely.
Pixies were the original noisy grunge blueprint. They single handedly invented the loud/soft/loud/soft dynamic (which is still so hopelessly mimicked today), and this album is arguably the mother of God where it all came from. You have the jarring punker masculine screams, and you have the feel-good pretty feminine sing-a-longs, all working together to sound like a Best-Of written within the pages of The Bible. It’s fast paced, over far too quickly, and is beyond original without even trying (listen to the almost inexcusable simplified drumming = effortless). Musical genius with a healthy sense of humour is hard to come-by these days, yet this formula applies to Every. Single. Song on Doolittle.
But who am I to say anything? It has all been said before. PJ Harvey told journalists she was “in awe” of this record. Pitchfork said it was the 4th Best Album of the 80’s. Rolling Stone Magazine placed it at #226 on their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (as well as 10th on their Best Albums Of 1989 List), while Melody Maker called it their 2nd. NME said it was their 4th, and later in a 2003 poll those very same writers ranked Doolittle as the 2nd Greatest Album of all Time.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 18. Slint - Spiderland

18. Slint - Spiderland (1991)

Math Rock
Produced by Brian Paulson

You know you’re onto something good when you record an album in four days straight with such intense sessions that (rumour has it) at least one member had to get checked into a psychiatric hospital directly afterwards, and then the band broke up 5 seconds later. Ladies and Gentlemen: this is Spiderland. And with just one listen to this claustrophobic and panicky 6-track release, you begin to realise why this could have very well been the case.
It sounds exactly like the album cover might suggest (which is weird for a band shot): Lo-Fi; mellow; technical; progressive. The lyrics are presented like a mumbling narrative, telling their stories sometimes with words and sometimes with the riffs alone. It never seems to get anywhere, nor does it need to. Instead it stalks you quietly, like some scary secret right before SCREAMING IN YOUR EAR and then you die. Have you ever got lost on a sinking ship in the middle of the ocean? Something like that.
The funny thing is that it got next to no attention upon release, but its live sound (which flirted with emo without being emo, and went from quiet to loud without being Grunge or Indie Rock) was enough to build it higher and higher in critical hindsight.
So much so, that bands like Mogwai, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Isis, and Explosions in the Sky have all said to be majorly influenced by Spiderland (and you can easily tell). Members of Pavement and Seefeel have said this album was one of their favourites, as did PJ Harvey who (after hearing it) tried to contact the band in hopes of becoming their new singer. Hell, even The Shins recreated the album cover in their music video for “New Slang”. Basically, fuck, I love this album. It overwhelms me unlike anything else on this list and I get goosebumps everytime I hear it. I have goosebumps right now just talking about it.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 17. Mr Bungle - California

17. Mr Bungle - California (1999)

Experimental Rock
Produced by Mr. Bungle

As the second release on this list to feature Mike Patton, it is fair to say that he is Jesus v2.0, and this is his best creation. For those who don’t know, Mr Bungle was one of those extreme-definition-of-weird time-signatures-from-outer-space kind of bands, who died long before their time was ever fully realised. With only three albums made under the moniker, it is a highly unusual thing for any artists’ final album to be considered their unchallenged best work. But this is that.
Whether they know it or not, this is exactly what people mean when they talk about “original”. For California is a varied piece of work that reads like a summary of everything any musician could ever learn in a lifetime, crammed into one focused and dangerous timebomb. I think Wikipedia did their research best, by listing the featured genres as: Hawaiian; Eastern; electro funk; doo wop; folk; pop; surf-rock; circus; kecak; heavy metal; lounge; jazz rock; avant-garde; piano ballads; as well as music influenced by science fiction, spaghetti westerns and horror film scores. Hybrid much? And while this is without a doubt the most accessible Bungle record, it is by no means ordinary, suffocating under layers and layers of well produced (completely analog) ridiculousness, comically bouncing on the line between genius and insanity in the most frantic and technical of dance moves. You can’t even be sure if this was intentional or just lucky madness. But every song, every second, every sound, every member, every lyric... EVERYTHING is a friendly psychotic experience - demented yet stoked, possibly wanting to give you candy, possibly wanting to put your face in a box. And don’t even get me started on the ending... fuck.
Surprisingly enough (or not really surprising at all), this release swooped quite far under the radar as far as critical reception goes. In fact, the only major publication recognition came from The Rolling Stone Germany Magazine, which happily called it the Album Of The Year 1999. The Germans know, man. The Germans know.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 16. Jeff Buckley - Grace

16. Jeff Buckley - Grace (1994)

Alternative Rock
Produced by Jeff Buckley and Andy Wallace

Dying young is quite the “in” thing to do for artists, but as far as tragedies go, none weighs as heavily on my heart as this well recognized yet still criminally underrated legend. The son of a highly successful musician named Tim: this is Jeff Buckley. It wasn’t even so much that he was merely 30 years of age when he passed, or that it was an accidental drowning in the Mississippi River whilst he was completely sober. It was that he only managed to release one solo album in his lifetime, and it is without a doubt one of the best albums I have ever heard in all my listening. My gut twists, my skin crawls, my heart pukes into my throat and then I choke on my own emotions like some overly-dramatic opera. How something so naked and minimal could move me with such a dense beauty is beyond my understanding of songwriting. But Jeff has no trouble doing so, sometimes with other people’s songs (except better than the originals - FACT, not opinion, look it up) but usually seducing me with his own romantic compositions, which were smart enough to know that you didn’t have to be loud to be intense. But now and again, it doesn’t hurt to be loud either. Jeff knew this. Jeff knew a lot of things. And that is why Grace is literally flawless - even the chord changes borderline on a religious experience. In fact, I generally have about 3 epiphanies every time I listen to this album. It’s life changing, just ask Muse. Or Radiohead. Actually, just ask anyone really, and these are some of the things they might say:
“As an artist he was one of the few people, that really inspired me” - Chris Cornell (Soundgarden/Audioslave)
“No one can be that good and survive, when every lyric coming out of your mouth must be taking years off of your life.” - Henry Rollins (Black Flag)
“Not only did he have one of the best voices I have ever heard, he was one hundred percent committed to what he was doing” - Brandon Boyd (Incubus)
“He's my favorite singer.” - Sebastian Bach (Skid Row)
"[It’s] like an album made by someone from another planet." - Elton John
“I think I can sing with just about anybody, but he's one of the few singers who truly intimidates me. He's one of the best I've ever heard.” - John Legend
"Nothing [had] the impact on me [like he] did" - Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)
“[He had] better chops than me” - Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin)
Furthermore, it landed at #303 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time; Q Magazine Readers ranked Grace as the 13th Best Album of All Time; and Mojo named it the #1 Modern Rock Classic of All Time. Also, in 2006, British Hit Singles & Albums and NME organized a poll, of which 40,000 people worldwide voted for their 100 Best Albums Ever, and Grace was placed at #23.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 15. Slayer - Reign In Blood

15. Slayer - Reign In Blood (1986)

Thrash Metal
Produced by Rick Rubin and Slayer

This album is the musical equivalent of some guy punching you in the face. Over. And over. At an average of 210 beatings per minute (actual number), it’s unrelentless. It couldn't possibly be any more so. And with each blow this guy tells you stories of Satan, the fires of Hell, and the relation this all has to the Nazi regime. You have no idea why he is so angry with you. Why is he even doing this? Blood pours from your eyes and your brain is starting to leak out of the cracks in your skull. This is a compact murder. His shots are precise and to the point. He is not fucking around while he fucks you up. And then as suddenly as it had all started... it is over. Silence. Go to sleep. You need it.
As yet another Rick Rubin production, this is thrash at its cleanest. Each insane riff is completely clear and calculated to the point of instant and unavoidable world wide recognition. It blows my mind that the release Kerrang! magazine described as "the heaviest album of all time" somehow entered the Billboard 200 at #94, proving itself as a commercial and critical success. MTV described Reign in Blood as essential listening; IGN called it the 7th Most Influential Metal Album Of All Time; Q Magazine ranked Reign in Blood among their list of the 50 Heaviest Albums of All Time; Spin Magazine ranked the album #67 on their list of the 100 Greatest Albums, 1985-2005; and Metal Hammer named it "the best metal album of the last 20 years". But its legacy continues, as the album’s closer Raining Blood was featured in the 2005 South Park episode named Die Hippie Die, where Eric Cartman uses this exact song to clear out an entire festival of hippies. I have actually tried this, and it works, so yeah. Praise Hell, Satan.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 14. Queen - A Night At The Opera

14. Queen - A Night At The Opera (1975)

Hard Rock
Produced by Roy Thomas Baker and Queen

If I was forced to sum up A Night At The Opera in one word, I would call it “Proud”. If I was forced to sum it up in 6 words, I would call it “The Proudest Fucking Album Ever Made”.
The scene resembles a lukewarm English summer on the beach, where there is this one patriotic-type guy who flexes his strengths and muscles with ease. He smirks in complete arrogance and a cocky sense of humour, almost oblivious to everyone drooling around him. And even when it turns out he is homosexual, I weep because I know I still don’t have a fucking chance with him. He’s just too talented. He’s out of my league.
But what really makes this Queen’s masterpiece is the well-documented dynamics. It shows no fear by jumping from acoustic piano to a harp; a crazy guitar lick to a mass choir of harmonizing acapellas; and then abruptly ending with one lone voice all by itself, quietly chuckling in your ear canal. In fact, the only thing Queen seems to have completely avoided here is the use of any synthesizers, which is a feat on its own. But whatever the reasons, this record is so delightfully cheeky and full of smiles that you may feel impelled to take off your clothes and dance in the rain, yet will probably just end up having a warm cup of tea and a scone with your mum, marvelling over an album which arguably contains some of the top 10 best moments in music ever.
Upon research, I was surprised to find quite a minimal amount of accolades for an album so fine, but they are still around if you look for them. For example, while it may have been the most expensive album ever recorded at the time of release, it definitely made its money back by going straight to #1 in the UK and #4 in the US. It has been included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, and Rolling Stone called it the 230th Greatest Album Of All Time. Rolling Stone Mexico was even kinder to this release, placing it as the 11th Greatest Album Ever, while Channel 4 called it their 13th, and BBC at 9th. Not bad guys, but for such a well known piece of work, it is still somehow so criminally underrated.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 13. Marilyn Manson - Antichrist Superstar

13. Marilyn Manson - Antichrist Superstar (1996)

Industrial Metal
Produced by Trent Reznor, Dave Ogilvie, Marilyn Manson and Sean Beavan

Your general slave to society wakes up one day(dream) and realizes he has been living in an oppressed system his whole life, just like everyone else. This setup seems to be driven by the poisonous thoughts manufactured from organized religions, as well as the mass distractions of celebrity antics and media distortions. Upon coming to this conclusion, said slave falls into a very emotional state. So much so, that (armed with his new found self awareness) he slowly fashions himself into a new entity, challenging authority and attempting to wake up the weak. And after much transformation, he succeeds! The revolution has begun, and his very own words are at the forefront of the movement, while more and more followers begin to lap up his teachings in an attempt to overthrow the current government. One might think this would please our now powerful and prophet-like protagonist (as I am sure he would have assumed too), but the result could not have been further from the truth. He becomes disillusioned with the sheep who were as eager to follow him as they were to follow the church and the magazines, and as a result he finds himself loathing his existence which has turned into the very thing he fought against in the first place. He is now just something to believe in. Yet another distraction. A so-called shepherd for the clueless.
He lives deep within this turmoil for quite some time, until his second epiphany comes to the rescue, and he concludes that it would only take one bullet to kill them all. By sending it straight through his own brain.
The above story is all open to interpretation mind you, and is only one part of Manson’s “triptych”, starting with this very album, continuing onto Mechanical Animals and concluding with Holy Wood. And however the Mansonites and scholars and haters debate over the finer details, one thing anyone would agree on is this: Marilyn Manson is fucking smart. Pumping your innocence full of in-your-face aggression and evil distortion; nail-on-chalkboard electronic jittering and over-effected vocals; quotes relating to Aleister Crowley, Nietzsche, Social Darwinism and Nihilism; as well as more drugs, violence, blasphemy and profanity than anybody could snort in one attempt... it is no wonder that this album was every parents’ biggest fear. You can almost hear them squirm as each uproar and complaint put Brian Warner further on the map, until essentially developing into a sinister household name.
It's dirty dirty production at its best. It cleverly emphasises important phrases by repeating them over and over and over. And ultimately, it became somewhat an album of anthems for anti-America, antisocial behaviour, and anti... well, anything really. I guess what I’m trying to say is, this album changed my life. When I first listened to it I was really high and I could have sworn the Devil was tapping me on the shoulder, smiling in His cartoon way, tempting me with some very interesting offers. We did end up making a deal, actually. You don’t forget such things.
Despite having such a controversial title, this album's success was quite monumental for its kind. Not only did it debut at #3 on the Billboard 200 (a number which is extremely symbolic for the release itself, do some research) it was also heavily praised by critics across the globe. Kerrang! ranked it #3 on its Best Albums of 1996 list; #14 on their 100 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die list; and #88 on its 100 Greatest Rock Albums list. Rolling Stone called it one of their Essential Recordings Of The ‘90s, as well as 84th on their similar 100 Greatest Albums of the 90s article. The release was included in the books 50 Years of Great Recordings and 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, and Q Magazine named it as one of the 50 Heaviest Albums Of All Time. Not to mention that (according to, Antichrist Superstar was the 14th Best Album of 1996, the 180th Greatest Record Released During the 1990s, and the 973rd Greatest of All-Time. And this was all in the name of Lucifer. Ah, brings a tear to my eye.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 12. Björk - Homogenic

12. Björk - Homogenic (1997)

Art Pop
Produced by Björk, Mark Bell, Guy Sigsworth, Howie B and Markus Dravs

Is this an album, or a painting in motion? I hear weird noises, but I see much more, did you see that? Forests breathing, they grow the more attention we pay to them. Light snowfall. Ribbons unraveling themselves in heartbeats. Is that a voice or an instrument? This is dark as in the opposite of light. This is light as in the opposite of heavy. But it’s still kind of heavy... isn’t it? I think it might be. Like... loud without cheating, or something. These quirky words, they are pronounced so carefully, are they trying to seduce me? I am scared. Too many ideas come into my mind at once, I can’t focus. How can something feel so organic and yet writhe with so many electronic sounds? Am I in nature or some sort of an industrial warehouse? Whatever, I’m tripping. Or am I falling? This is primal. It’s far too out there. No wait, it’s right here. It’s the most genuine thing I’ve ever heard. It’s a fucking contradiction. Did I even write this review? Did I write this album?? I can’t do this anymore.
“If not the greatest electronic album of all time, it's certainly the greatest of its decade” said Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine, the publication which also placed it as the #1 album of the 90’s. Pitchfork modestly placed it at #21 of the Top One Hundred Albums of the Decade; while Allmusic, Tiny Mix Tapes and Slant gave it full marks, the latter calling it one of the Greatest Electronic Albums of the 20th Century. But me, I just... I agree, but what I’m trying to say is... like... something like... but........................

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 11. The Clash - London Calling

11. The Clash - London Calling (1979)

Punk Rock
Produced by Guy Stevens and Mick Jones

There is still this stupid debate that runs through the punk scene about who is the greatest punk band that ever lived: The Clash or The Sex Pistols? Well, allow me to educate you: Fuck The Sex Pistols. Fuck them right up their one-album-made-of-the-same-repeated-song-formula bumholes. And fuck you.
Because while The Pistols may have had the spirit of Punk Rock Anarchy spilling out of their eyeballs, The Clash were a different entity altogether, opting to keep the attitude and rebellion in tact, but without the senseless disorder. And (as I may have already mentioned, and may even mention again) while The Sex Pistols only knew a four-chord rhythm in one genre coupled with excessive hair gel, The Clash had no problem sticking their dicks into as many genres as possible. This goes in particular for the unchallenged masterpiece in question, London Calling, which had the hard punk and its prettier ska sister, but also skipped effortlessly between funk, pop, soul, jazz, reggae and rockabilly. It’s such a British classic, unafraid to be political but too proud to be uneducated about their opinions; their subject matter assigning heavy focus on social displacement, unemployment, racial conflict, drug use, the pains of adulthood, and then getting lost in a supermarket. All of this coming from some of the best voices you have ever heard; mumbling, stuttering, breaking and snidely laughing at you, whilst still urging the masses to sing a long. It mentions places close to them (London; Brixton), it mentions names and terms close to them (Rudie; Jimmy Jazz), and it bounces along for an almost unnecessary length of time yet never actually overstays its welcome. And it gets me wet. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Fuck The Sex Pistols.
While the timeless music you will find here certainly is one aspect, it is also only one aspect as to why this album is an ALBUM rather than merely a collection of songs. For starters, it was released as a double LP, but the band fought their label until they agreed to sell it at the price of one - which was not only a nice “I love the fans” kind of thing, but also a strong “fuck the establishment” kind of thing. Even bigger than this (and a sign that you have seriously hit the safety pin on the head) is how the cover artwork has been a topic of much discussion since the release. As a parody of Elvis Presley’s 1956 debut album, it is arguably (somehow) even more famous than the original. Q magazine named it the Best Rock and Roll Photograph of all Time, as well as the 9th Best Album Cover Ever, stating "it captures the ultimate rock'n'roll moment - total loss of control". Fucking yeah it does.
But of course, the timeless music you will find here is still the real aspect. Commercially it was swallowed up, selling 2 million copies upon its release, peaking at #27 in the US; #9 in the UK; #4 in Norway and #2 in Sweden. NME has since ranked it the 6th Greatest Album Of The 70’s; Q Magazine not only included it on their list of 100 Best Punk Albums (obviously), but also as the 4th Best British Album Ever; and Entertainment Weekly labeled it the Best Album of All Time. Rolling Stone was particularly fascinated by the record, calling it the Album of the Year; placing it at #14 on their 100 Best Albums of the Last Twenty Years list; and #8 on their 500 Greatest Albums of all Time article. Hell, this album was so good that Rolling Stone ranked it number one on its 100 Best Albums of the 80's list despite the fact that it was actually released in 1979. You catch that? It was so brilliant that it was the best album from a decade it wasn’t even released in! Er...

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 10. Nirvana - Nevermind

10. Nirvana - Nevermind (1991)

Produced by Butch Vig

Forget every single album on this list. Copy and paste the entire article into notepad and delete all the other entries except for this one. What this album did for me was invaluable, and I hate to think of where I would be without it.
I’ll never forget the day. There I was, minding my own business, when those opening chords of Smells Like Teen Spirit pulled on my ponytail and then EXPLOSION. Fire started to puke out of my mouth and my teeth turned to ash. I fell to the floor, screaming like Linda Blair in the Exorcist, crying as the whites of my eyes squeezed from my tear ducts. Dark urine from the depths of my bladder stung me as it leaked out, and two of my fingernails fell off. I prematurely hit puberty in that very moment. My balls dropped two sizes and my voice was never the same again. All of this happened in the first 30 seconds of that song. My Mom found me lying in my own wet on the carpet, and she just left me there. Because I wasn’t alone. The school had sent out newsletters warning parents that this might happen.
In fact, almost every male friend I knew who grew up in the 90’s remember this album as their defining moment. We were 13 years old and Kurt became our God. He was our everything. His simple but tearing riffs didn’t need to prove anything to anyone, and as a result, proved everything to everyone. He was one of the rare cases of people who didn’t give a fuck about not giving a fuck - he didn’t give a fuck without giving a fuck if he even gave a fuck. His soul-baring image and painful attitude suddenly gave us the right to never shower again. We pricked our veins with pins to get a sense of junkie mentality. And we spoke of suicide all day long. Depression became the new happiness, and we mourned his loss in every note he played. We felt like we knew him, man. We felt like he knew us better than our parents ever did.
I have had many debates over the years with Nirvana fanatics, and I think as with anybody trying to be cool, a band’s most popular album is always the first to get dismissed. And there is a point that stands: while Nevermind is as raw and energetic as their other releases (par Unplugged, of course), it was a much slicker and polished production, which has over time lost some respect from the more anal listeners. But what they fail to understand is this: Nevermind. Changed. Everything. Fugazi's Guy Picciotto once said "It was like our record could have been a hobo pissing in the forest for the amount of impact it had. It felt like we were playing ukuleles all of a sudden because of the disparity of the impact of what they did". And nobody saw it coming. Geffen Records shipped about half of their US stock to the American Northwest, where it sold out so fast that nobody could find it for days. The record company actually put hold on the production of all their other albums in order to reach the demand for this release. And of course, the effect of this was that a million other bands started to sell very well too, Nevermind becoming pretty much the sole album responsible for bringing alternative rock to the mainstream masses, killing the hair-metal scene once and for all. To date it has sold over 30 million copies worldwide, and the critics still recognize its importance. Pitchfork, for example, named it the 6th Best Album of the Decade, while readers of Guitar World named it the 8th Greatest Guitar Recording Ever. Rolling Stone Magazine called it the 17th Greatest Album of All Time, and Time Magazine not only called it the Best Album of the 90’s, but also placed it on its All-TIME 100 Albums list. It has also since been added to the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress. But none of this could ever really fill the hole. Rest In Peace, Kurt Cobain. Rest In Peace, Nirvana.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 09. David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

09. David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)

Glam Rock
Produced by David Bowie and Ken Scott

Much like any worthwhile artist who came before and after, this was an extremely difficult choice for me, not helped whatsoever by the fact that Bowie himself has released 25 studio albums to date. And if I am completely honest - I have no idea if this really is my favourite Bowie at all. Scary Monsters, for example, is probably the one I feel the closest to, with its weird dancey flavour and overall freakiness. Yet, for years I claimed Low to be his greatest offering because it gave us that fantastic Eno style, pumped full of nintendo beeps and epic instrumentals. And one can’t forget to mention the drug-fueled and paranoid Station To Station, which features some of the most ambitious tunes he's ever written, or even this entry’s predecessor Hunky Dory, which may have only hinted at his genius, but is still the album I recommend to anyone only starting their Bowie journey now. But who cares what I think? The point is that Ziggy Stardust was ultimately the biggest force in his catalogue, and everyone says so. I'm not willing to fight that.
For those of you who don’t know, Ziggy himself is an androgynous alien sent to save mankind from destruction with a message of hope, peace and love. He does so by using music, and as a result, becomes the rockstar cliché - a self proclaimed King Of Cool. He falls into the pit of excessive drug abuse and promiscuous sex, which inevitably burns him out so badly that he dies before the album is even finished.
Such a dramatic and theatrical idea is outdone by one thing and one thing only: the music itself. With such memorable hooks driven by rocking riffs, and the sing-a-long (sometimes nonsensical) lyrics which are above clever and humourous even by Bowie standards, we are left with this fun, strangely happy and focused album. From the passionate opener to the morbid closer, his verses are always modestly calculated to be relaxed, waiting in the wings before exploding into action, raising the choruses miles above their own heads. It is multi-layered with solid and varied instrumentation where every sound sounds great, which comes together as a very unusual and little bit "off" type of experience indeed (most likely a result of Bowie’s recent found love for cocaine). Put like that, the whole thing may seem pretentious on paper - and it is - but never to the point of alienation (despite being written by an alien lol). And with such high praise and influence, it is easy to forget that it is seriously as good as everyone says it is. Actually, it’s probably better. Perfect even.
As the epitome of a solid rock classic, the critics and general masses were not far off. It reached #5 in the UK, and #75 in the US. A guy named Alan Cross placed the album at #3 on his list of 10 Classic Alternative Albums in the book The Alternative Music Almanac. TIME magazine had no problem calling it one of the Best 100 Albums of All Time. Pitchfork called it the 81st Best Album of the 70’s, while VH1 called it the 48th Best Album Ever. Rolling Stone Magazine ranked it #6 on their 100 Best Albums of the Last Twenty Years list, as well as the 35th Greatest Album of All Time. Q magazine called it the 25th Greatest British Album Ever, and their readers voted it as the 24th Best Album Ever. Furthermore, in a poll organized by HMV, Channel 4, The Guardian and Classic FM, Ziggy Stardust was voted the 20th Greatest Album of All Time, and Virgin themselves said it was the 11th best album out of their All-Time Top 1000. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 08. My Bloody Valentine - Loveless (1991)

08. My Bloody Valentine - Loveless (1991)

Produced by Kevin Shields and Colm Ó Cíosóig

Never in all my years have I seen an album cover that looks exactly like the music sounds. Except for this one, obviously. Washed out of all its colours and now drowning in pink, this guitar heavy record is officially the Shoegaze blueprint. Like candyfloss that has got wet, it’s as lo-fi and noisy and harsh as it is fuzzy and pretty and fragile - and oh so memorable after just one listen. Which we owe all to the innovative frontman Kevin Shields. And not exclusively for his floaty guitar work either, which sounds like cute yet dying animals screaming with their final breaths. Hell, it's not even for his dreamy vocals which one could mistake for a female throughout (more female than most female singers, in fact). No, it’s mostly that the whole mono experience is like one of those slow motion nightmares, as you crawl through something you either adore or loathe, but can’t tell which one. And the whole time you have to ask yourself... how the fuck does anyone make music like this??
It goes deeper than that, which should be the case for any ground breaking album. The first interesting fact is that the recording process went well over budget, and almost bankrupted the band’s label Creaton Records, which understandably caused an irreversible split between the two. Right after this, the band went on tour, which was called by Mojo magazine “the second loudest tour in history”. Others called it “the holocaust” and it was said to cause the crowd's clothing and hair to ripple because it was so raucous. The band themselves were accused of criminal negligence by the music press, and everyone hated it (despite being honoured that they were a part of it at all, in hindsight).
But Loveless itself was a huge success at the time, and even more so now. The album peaked a #24 on the UK Album Charts, and has since been placed at #219 on Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Albums of all Time list, which is simply not good enough. A little closer to what it deserved, The Observer ranked it as the 20th Greatest British Album Ever; The Irish Times called it the Greatest Irish Album Ever; and Pitchfork Media called it the Best Album Of The 1990s. But to me what really matters is what the fellow musicians thought. Robert Smith of The Cure put it in his top 3 records, while Brian Eno said it set a new standard for pop music. It has also been self-proclaimed to be a massive influence on Trent Reznor as well as Billy Corgan, and even more so, Radiohead. Which you can hear if you listen close enough. But my favourite fact is what happened afterwards. Kevin Shields (in true artistic form) went a bit crazy, which drew comparisons to Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd and Brian Wilson of Beach Boys. He has spent most of his time since then recording follow-up album after follow-up album, and then throwing them away because they just “weren’t as good as Loveless”. However, there is apparently a new My Bloody Valentine coming any day now, which would be nice. Thanks Kev, you’re a star.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 07. Joni Mitchell - Blue

07. Joni Mitchell - Blue (1971)

Contemporary Folk
Produced by Joni Mitchell
As far as album titles go, “Blue” seems like a highly unimaginative choice for any artist to settle on. However, you might find you are able to forgive Joni when you realise she had other things on her mind at the time. For this is probably the saddest most emotional heartbreak record I have ever heard in my whole fucking life; misery and loneliness, dribbled into music form. And yet, it's still captivating, perhaps only because of the simplistic and naked approach presented here, perfectly reflecting Joni's mental state in those troubled moments. A lo-fi piano here, an acoustic guitar there, and not much else except for the flawless voice of a destroyed angel. She wallows in self pity, drowning her sorrows in excessive amounts of alcohol, and then dying painfully, slowly cutting herself wide open, the world granted the opportunity to see exactly where her scars came from. And then I scream at the cover artwork WHO HURT YOU JONI? WHO HURT YOU?? AND WHY ARE YOU HURTING ME?? Because everytime I listen to the genius and poetic weepings this album provides, I swiftly fall into a state of sadness, and I am not ashamed to admit that I have cried at weaker times. I could die to this album. I want to die to this album.
Come to think of it, “Blue” is the perfect title for this piece. It describes the experience exactly.
Obviously the album was a massive success no matter which way you looked at it. It reached #15 on the Billboard 200 and #3 on the UK Albums Chart. As a Canadian release, the Canadians in particular swarmed to it, being rated the 2nd Top 100 Canadian Album Ever in a book by Bob Mersereau, as well as being awarded the top ranking in Chart's 50 Greatest Canadian Albums of All Time. But its effect was international, earning a spot among Time Magazine's All-Time 100 Albums; being placed at #86 on Pitchfork Media’s Top 100 Albums of the 1970s; and #66 on Channel 4's 100 Greatest Albums Ever countdown. Of course, one thing people loved to focus on was the fact that Joni Mitchell was a female solo artist, which earned this album a place in Q Magazine’s Greatest Albums of All-Time by a Female Artist (at #8). Furthermore, Blue was ranked #30 on Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time; #14 on VH1's list of the 100 Greatest Albums of All Time (the highest placement for any female artist); as well as the 13th Top Album Ever voted by various other artists in Hotpress Magazine. And its reputation continues to grow to this day, as New York Times chose Blue as one of the 25 albums that represented "turning points and pinnacles in 20th-century popular music”, and the album was granted the honor of a Grammy Hall of Fame award, which are only given to recordings that are at least 25 years old and that have "qualitative or historical significance". Uhm, Adele fucking who?

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 06. Led Zeppelin - IV

06. Led Zeppelin - IV (1971)

Hard Rock
Produced by Jimmy Page

If you didn’t know, allow me to educate you: The Devil lives inside of this album. There is no possible way such a perfect band could have ever existed on the planet, and even if they did, they could never have made an album quite like this. The very second Robert Plant opens his mouth, your balls hit your knees twice. The unbelievably complex bass and guitar riffs run circles around you effortlessly, as the indescribable drumming not only keeps up with the chaos in the forefront, but sometimes even leads the show with off-beat laughs and fearless breaks. And then your balls hit your knees again. It is an impossible album. Impossible. I mean, I would understand if a band maybe had one or (at most) two members of this calibre, but the whole band? Do you understand what kind of stars in space would have to align for this to happen? No, I stand by my original statement - this is beyond the bounds of possibility. And that’s where Satan comes into it. If the demon that is Plant’s voice isn't enough to convince you of Lucifer's presence here, just one listen to the eerie Stairway To Heaven (pretty much the greatest song ever written) puts the final puzzle pieces together and then you can work out where all those “sold their souls to The Devil” rumours came from. You can feel it in that song. You can touch it. And by the time IV is done, that epic and mystical force which completely overwhelms and leaves you speechless is all the proof you need. For lack of better term: this is rock hard erection music, but with some sort of a terrible terrible STD.
One of my favourite things about this record is that it doesn’t actually have a title. The common nickname of “IV” was a natural assumption, as the consecutive number that followed the last 3 similarly titled albums, but no one has ever officially called it that. Other names include: Four Symbols; The Fourth Album (those two titles each used in the Atlantic catalogue); Untitled; The Runes; The Hermit; and ZoSo. In fact, the band's name itself doesn’t even appear anywhere on the cover. Apparently this concerned their label greatly, but as it turns out, it wasn’t much of an issue, as it entered the UK charts at #1 and stayed somewhere around there for 62 weeks, as well as going on to become the biggest selling album ever in the US not to top the charts (only ever peaking at #2). Furthermore, IV is one of our planet's best-selling albums IN HISTORY, at around 32 million units worldwide. It has shipped over 23 million in the US alone, making it the country’s third-best-selling album of all time. Pitchfork has since named it the 7th Top Album of the 1970s; Rolling Stone ranked it 66th on their list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time; and Q readers placed it at #26. While we are on that topic, Q Magazine also called it the 26th Greatest British Album Ever, which is a bit silly, because Classic Rock Magazine called it The Greatest British Album Ever, which is more like it. ABC Media called it the 7th Best Album Ever, while Guitar World had no problem calling it the Best Album Ever. Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame US called it the 4th Definitive Album of All-Time; Guitar United States called it the 2nd Best Album of the Millennium; and Classic Rock UK called it the Greatest Rock Album Ever. Some other places said some other stuff too, but I figured that was enough for now.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 05. The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead

05. The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead (1986)

Jangle Pop
Produced by Morrissey and Johnny Marr

My favourite personal story when it comes to The Smiths is about me and my girlfriend. This band came up in conversation, and she was adamant that they were the most overrated outfit music had to offer. Every time my stereo began to fill the airwaves with one of their many classic tunes, she would sigh and promptly push me off my chair, or try and play her inferior music louder. She would scream that she'd slit her wrists if such pessimism ever entered her ears again, while I tried to point out that this was the unconventional blueprint for all of the Indie Rock we enjoy today. But it was in vain. The one time our argument lasted for 3 days with multiple people involved. It was vicious, full of name calling and turning each other's friends against one another. I mean, I did find the whole thing somewhat funny and specail that this (of all things) was where we conflicted the most. But still, I knew I had to let her go.
She did have some sort of a point though, I’m not so far up my own pretentious music ass that I can’t see that. It’s the bitter voice of Marmite: either you adore the seductive intellect of the frontman, or you find his monotone whining dreary and dull. Obviously I fall in the former category, but Morrissey is weird, and I make no excuses about that. Not even in that funky David Bowie/Marilyn Manson kind of try-hard weird either. He is just fucking strange. If you had to have dinner with him, he wouldn’t want you there. He would talk about himself in a miserable yet witty sense, which would be funny, but you wouldn’t dare laugh as you'd have no idea whether he got his own jokes or not. He would condescendingly educate you about the history Oscar Wilde or his adoration for James Dean, and then spit on you as he passive-aggressively informs you about the hopeless state Britain is in, or how animals should have more human rights than humans. The whole thing would be snide and even sexual, until the moment you try and kiss him, and that’s when all hell would break lose. He would curse you and preach celibacy before falling into a self-loathing lump in the corner, crying about how distasteful the music industry is, and how no one understands what he is trying to say. It would be comedic, sure, but you would still leave more confused than he is.
So yeah, put that with Johnny Marr’s ability to fashion the most bouncy and jangly riffs ever put to strings, add salt, stir well, and then POOF: The Smiths. And unlike almost all the entries in this article, they had a perfect career: 4 fantastic albums and then they were gone. But despite this, everybody (and I mean everybody) are well aware that The Queen Is Dead is the best thing they (or anyone) has ever done before or since - and Morrissey had a fuckload to do with this. Because what my girlfriend didn’t understand was that The Smiths were not about vocal delivery or easy-stick guitar formulas. They were about lyrics which penetrate your soul and relate to your pathetic life completely. Go listen to There Is A Light That Never Goes Out and tell me you haven’t ever considered suicide by car next to the one you love. That’s what I thought, you cunt. Marr agreed with that track being the highlight too, once stating "When we first played it, I thought it was the best song I'd ever heard". They weren’t alone either, as Mojo magazine placed that tune at #25 on its list of the 100 Greatest Songs of All Time, and VH2 said it was the Best Indie Song Ever. But why stop at one song? The entire album was swallowed up like a sugar-coated cyanide pill, as Slant Magazine listed it as the 16th Best Album Of The 80’s; Pitchfork said it was the 6th; and Q Magazine called it the 3rd on their similar compilations. It made position 216 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and NME named it the 2nd Best British Album Of All Time. Clash Magazine also dug the release, adding it to their Classic Album Hall of Fame this year. The whole thing also sold really well, spending 22 weeks on the UK Album Chart and peaking at #2, as well as reaching #28 in Canada and #70 on the Billboard 200. It has continued to sell consistently well ever since, and shall do so for the rest of time.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 04. Fleetwood Mac - Rumours

04. Fleetwood Mac - Rumours (1977)

Soft Rock
Produced by Fleetwood Mac, Ken Caillat and Richard Dashut

Imagine 2 parents. They've been married for a while now with a few kids, but have recently started to slowly fall out of love. At first they managed to lie to themselves - maybe it was just a phase, after all. But as time has gone on, the cracks running through their relationship have worn too deep to cover up anymore. They begin to slide words into everyday conversation designed to hurt each other. There is a hidden argument in everything they say. They are heartbroken but too stubborn and proud to let their partner know it. They are at war with each other, and yet put on fake smiles and try to make the best of their situation. For the children. Yeah, it’s always for the children.
What we have here is the ultimate break-up album. Because unlike other great albums developed in turmoil, this one manages to hit it from a specific angle that no other album in the world will ever manage to do again. It’s a once in a lifetime thing. How Fleetwood Mac managed to achieve this, is such an epic story that it’s almost unbelievable Rumours exists at all. Members Christine and John McVie had recently divorced after an 8 year marriage and were not speaking whatsoever. Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks’ on/off relationship had hit an all time low, and they would reportedly only argue unless they were making music together. Even drummer Mick was facing a divorce of his own. And yet despite all this emotional strain and inner strife, the album’s overall sound remains contradictory to what you would have predicted. Whilst notably unsettling, the poppy hooks and more-often-than-not upbeat happy vibe runs through every single one of these massive songs, and it’s difficult to imagine the members not smiling whilst performing these fantastic riffs. Instead, it takes a bit of deeper digging and extra careful attention to really uncover the anger and loss of Fleetwood Mac’s personal problems, but they are definitely there. All too often you will find one member writing evil words directed at another specific member, and then more evil still, getting them to sing those very words about themselves - which is childish revenge at its finest. There is something so nasty and painful about the whole thing, but comfortably padded underneath a pretty white blanket; so much so that you may have initially thought this was a sweet record rather than the mess of twisted trauma that brewed below. And, of course, the band inevitably imploded not long afterwards, before they ever got the chance to recreate such a thing again.
All that aside, Rumours became one of the biggest albums in history, shipping over 40 million copies and rated as the 14th best selling album in the UK, and the 6th in the US, ever. It stayed at the top of the Billboard 200 for 31 non-consecutive weeks, and reached #1 in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Not to mention (thanks to the program Glee) it re-entered the Billboard 200 chart at #11 and the Australian ARIA chart at #2 in 2011. Billboard, Cash Box and Record World named it the Album of the Year for 1977, and it won the Grammy for the same reason. Since then, Vibe featured it as one of the 100 Essential Albums of the 20th Century; Slant included it as one of the 50 Essential Pop Albums; Time named it in its All-TIME 100 Albums shortlist; and Mojo featured it in its list for the Decade’s Greatest Albums. Q Magazine called it the 3rd Best Album of the 70’s, while The Guardian themselves collected worldwide data from a range of renowned critics, artists, and radio DJs, who placed this album as the 78th Best Ever. Rolling Stone Magazine called it the 25th Greatest Album Ever, while USA Today and VH1 said it was the 23rd and 16th respectively. This record was also included in The Guardian's 1000 Albums to Hear Before You Die, as well as being included in the similarly titled book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. It is also featured in EVERY SINGLE MUSIC PUBLICATION THAT EVER EXISTED too.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 03. The Beatles - Abbey Road

03. The Beatles - Abbey Road (1969)

Pop Rock
Produced by George Martin

I’d hate to start yet another one of these reviews with the same “picking my favourite album for this band proved almost impossible” line, but picking my favourite album for this band proved almost impossible. However, I think specifically in the case of The Fucking Beatles, it is most certainly a hefty debate, as almost every single one of their 12 studio albums have an argument for their inclusion. So much so, that in the first 3 original drafts of this entry, I actually wrote a small review for each one of them. God help me.
But (despite losing sleep over Sgt Pepper) I chose to go with Abbey Road. The reasons are many yet still hardly good enough, except to say that this album is packed with more joy and humour than one could possibly expect from a band on the brink of destruction. Perhaps this was their way of ignoring personal problems and instead opting to paint a myriad cast of characters and situations within these songs, removing focus away from the agitation that grew between the members. And personally, I prefer hearing about a guy named Maxwell who kills everyone with his hammer, rather than some complainy offering revealing the inner dissolution of my favourite band. It's great to spend time with the stingy Mr Mustard and his sister Pam who wore nothing but Polythene, or the childlike Octopus collecting shiny things for his garden. Hey, we even get a cheeky glimpse at the attraction one may develop for the Queen within the contents of this cartoon-like experience, which ultimately dazzles and confuses as much as it makes complete sense.
Unlike most Beatles releases, each member is on the top of their game here, the whole of Abbey Road absent of any filler whatsoever. While Ringo’s token track is probably my least favourite (surprise!), Octopus’s Garden is still a strong song even by Beatles standards and is by no means an unwelcome inclusion. Harrison, on the other hand, outdoes himself completely with 2 of the best compositions from his entire career (solo or otherwise), in particular Something, which was not only his first Beatles A-Side, but also the tune Frank Sinatra called the greatest love song ever written. Add that with the usual forerunners at their most playful (McCartney’s "You Never Give Me Your Money", anyone?) and hardest-hitting (Lennon’s "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" putting the majority of modern metal songs to shame), you simply end up pouring sand onto the mountain of proof that these guys were capable of anything when they put their minds to it. A point further cemented when noting that this is Lennon’s second entry on my list, and McCartney’s third.
The thing is, Abbey Road is never far from a really big fucking sucker punch, sometimes delivered with an abrupt ending; sometimes with a complex bassline; or sometimes with an incredibly catchy vocal delivery. It is more solid than 99% of other band’s Best-Of’s, and the whole thing is so pedantically composed while still sounding entirely natural and heartfelt. Mention has to go to the bright idea of having the second half consist of one long climatic medley, which is an overload of thrills, to say the least. Tracks run seamlessly into each other with stories of money, sleep and housebreak like some surreal acid-trip, swirling forever until eventually settling on the prophetically titled The End. Here The Beatles offer us the final piece of advice they would ever bless us with: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make”. One sneaky backhand later, and that was it. The greatest music career in history. Over.
(I refuse to go into the debate here that Let It Be was their last album. Do some research)
The recognition for this album (and almost all of their albums) is beyond massive, but first I’d like to touch on the front cover as one of the most iconic of all time. I don’t feel like I need to elaborate too much on this, except to say that I have been to the Abbey Road Crossing, and it is amazing that over 40 years later, people are still lining up to mimick the image every single day, stopping traffic on a very busy road as they do so. Hell, go watch it happen live right now if you want to. It's definitely something.
As for the music's reception itself, the album debuted at #1 in the UK, and stayed there for 11 weeks. It got knocked off by the Stones one week afterwards, but then went right back to the top for another 6. In total, it spent 92 weeks in the UK Top 75, and when it was re-released 16 years later, hit #30. In the end, Abbey Road was the best-selling album of 1969, the 8th best selling-album of 1970, and the 4th best-selling album of the entire 60’s.
The US wasn’t much different. Even though the album debuted at #178, it quickly shot up to number #4 in the second week, and then #1 the week after, spending a total of 11 non-consecutive weeks up there. In the end, it kept a total of 129 weeks on the Billboard 200. The album was also NARM’s best selling album of 1969 as well as 4th on Billboard magazine's top LPs of 1970, eventually becoming certified 12x platinum - the first of the Beatles albums to reach the 10-million sold mark.
Abbey Road was rated 14th on Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list, while their readers voted it the Greatest of All The Beatles’ Albums. VH1 said it was the 8th Best Album Ever Made, but to be honest, I'm going to stop there. Every single best of list in the world has this release somewhere on it, so just take a look around for yourself, Lazy. What do I look like to you? Some kind of a library? Nah, it's cool.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 02. Radiohead - Kid A

02. Radiohead - Kid A (2000)

Experimental Rock
Produced by Nigel Godrich and Radiohead

I’ll never forget my first experience with this album. As a fan of Radiohead, I was eager to purchase it not too long after the release date, and promptly placed it in my cd player the moment I got home. I was distraught. I had no idea what was going on or what had become of Radiohead. Where were the guitars? I hardly recognized a single instrument on this fucking thing. How dare they make something so abstract and weird, it was too much for my mid-teenage mind, and my challenge threshold was met within a few seconds. It was here that I came to the conclusion which would prove to be a big mistake, and decided that Radiohead must have taken far too many drugs. I guessed I would have to do the same thing in order to understand what was going on here. A few weeks later, I had organized about 5 grams of dry mushrooms and met up with some friends, where I told them I “had a surprise” for them. I waited until we were all nice and tripping, watching the walls spiral out of control, and then I fumbled with this cd, eventually hitting play. What happened next was no good.
The room grew cold as if it was slowly snowing from the ceiling, pitter pattering against our faces until we became mechanical and gasped for air. One by one, the frantic claustrophobia smothered us, and we began to panic. Overcome by sadness, we were borderlining depression for no reason at all, but had gone too far down into the ambience to even find the off-switch. Was the CD skipping? I found myself becoming alienated within my own thoughts and I was scared. The blood drained from my face and my teeth chattered, and any attempt to vocalize this only resulted in distorted sound effects and mental garbling, until each one of my friends began to faint. I thought that trip would never end, but it did, and I swore never to listen to this album again.
Radiohead was destroyed as I knew it, but I never forgot that drowning sensation which no other album had ever forced upon me before. Every now and then I’d read a review about its genius, hailing it as a masterpiece, while I just laughed. These people obviously had no idea of the evil that lurked beneath the studio trickery. However, each month that passed, the memories grew louder in my head, and I began to feel more and more unsettled without some sort of closure. But I stood by my previous decision for (I shit you not) 3 years, refusing to try again. I'm not sure what happened after that, but I guess I figured, well, it had been some time now - what’s the worst that could happen? One song wouldn't hurt. I’m not on mushrooms, I think I should just check and see how it BAM.
And that’s when it really happened. In an instant it grew on me like a freezing moss, goosebumps turning my skin into a cold-blooded mammal, the opening sounds of Everything In Its Right Place immediately becoming my favourite opener of all time, right until the weird and almost pointless Untitled hidden track became the end of my everything. It was now like one of those twisted nursery rhymes your mother used to tell you before bedtime - still absolutely terrifying, but somewhat comforting all the same. Suddenly my previous adventures with Kid A made sense: this was beyond an album. Nothing was like this. No album would ever be like this. The one liner lyrics; the vocals as an instrument; the hookless droning; the timeless beauty; and best of all - the complete divide it created in the world of Radiohead fans. As a band that had built a reputation for progressing ridiculous amounts, this was their giant leap, and some people got it and some people didn’t. Thank God I eventually did, and once that happened, it started to climb up as my favourite Radiohead record ever; then my favourite record of the decade ever; and then almost... almost... my favourite record of all time.
But before I go into that, it is important to further elaborate on what this album meant in the bigger scheme of things. Initial responses were very mixed at best, some even calling this album “career suicide”, Radiohead’s way of escaping their label contract. Which, of course, did not happen whatsoever. Because as it began to sink in, a lot of these highly regarded critics were forced to eat their own words, which was a beautiful thing to watch. Mojo Magazine said it was “disappointing” but 6 years later called it the 7th Best Album in their History. NME said it was “scared to commit itself emotionally” and then called it the 65th Best British Album Ever. In fact, when NME teamed up with British Hit Singles & Albums and organised a 40,000 people strong poll, this album was called the 95th Best Album Ever. Slowly but surely, the power of Kid A started to become undeniable. It hit #1 in the UK Album Chart and the US Billboard 200, as well as in New Zealand, Ireland, France and Canada. It was nominated for 3 Grammys including Album Of The Year and Best Engineered Album, going on to win Best Alternative Album. The Guardian UK, Sputnik Music US and The Times UK called it the 2nd Best Album of the Decade, whilst Stylus Magazine named Kid A the Best Album of the Past 5 Years. Pitchfork agreed with that, and went on to rank it as the Greatest Album of the 2000s, as did Rolling Stone and The Times. Rolling Stone themselves eventually placed it as the 67th Greatest Album Of All Time, and Time US put it on their unordered All-Time 100 Albums list. But none of this mattered much to me. What really turned me on was the fact that an entire art booklet was hidden under the CD tray, which was well above the line of duty guys, and I thank you for that. I thank you for everything. Thank you so much.

The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (according to me) 01. Bob Dylan - Blood On The Tracks

01. Bob Dylan - Blood On The Tracks (1975)

Folk Rock
Produced by Bob Dylan

"A lot of people tell me they enjoy that album. It's hard for me to relate to that. I mean, it, you know, people enjoying that type of pain, you know?" - Bob Dylan
And this is it: my favourite album of all time. To fully understand this complex piece of work, which (thanks to a series of sub-par records) was released after many critics had written Dylan off, you have to get an idea of where he was emotionally at the time. Much like most of the greatest albums ever made, Blood On The Tracks has been said to be a result of heartbreak and turmoil, caused by the recent divorce from his then-wife Sara Dylan. Bob has never said as much (often arguing that these songs were based on short stories by Anton Chekhov), but as a man who was fairly cryptic about his personal life, it is easy to assume why he might shy away from admitting a fact as private as that. Even his son Jakob disagreed, once stating "the songs are my parents talking".
Regardless of reasons, these rough and lo-fi tracks are full of sorrow and heartbreak, spitting and hissing in anger and regret without ever losing Dylan’s signature cool. It goes without saying (as per every offering from the poet), this whole thing is held together most tightly by the words alone, delivered with his usual intelligence tainted by an aura of pain, whilst maintaining the struggling monotone only Bob could get away with. And all of that should be enough to blast you beyond your own life, like a book. Yeah, just like a book. Telling simple and sorrowful stories intimately woven into riddles, every single one of these songs like chapters which traumatize me, never properly escaping my thoughts. They sit within their own darkness, never falling into an over-dramatic scene, but rather logically piecing their own broken soul back together the best they can. Basically put: it’s a man exposing himself in the harshest of ways, shameless and so articulate that no reviewer could ever write anything about this album that it hasn’t already described about itself. And for that reason, it is impossible for me to try and convince anyone of anything, except to say that I am not dealing with things very well since our argument. And I miss you. Please come home.
Blood On The Tracks put Dylan back on the map by reaching #1 on the Billboard 200 and #4 on the UK Albums Chart. Pitchfork called it the 5th Best Album of the 70’s, while many publications have been quick to put it high up on their Best Album Of All Time lists, for example: NME at #47; The Guardian at #39; Q Magazine readers at #23; and Rolling Stone Magazine at #16. Apparently a film based on this release is being worked on too. I’ll get the whiskey and razorblades ready then.

Apologies to the following 25 albums, you deserve so much more:
Aphex Twin - Richard D. James Album
The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique
Bloodhound Gang - One Fierce Beer Coaster
Captain Beefheart - Trout Mask Replica
DJ Shadow - Endtroducing.....
The Doors - The Doors
Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Frank Zappa - We're Only in It for the Money
Jay-Z - The Blueprint
Jimi Hendrix - Are You Experienced
Joanna Newsom - Ys
Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures
Kate Bush - Hounds of Love
Michael Jackson - Thriller
Muse - Origin Of Symmetry
Nas - Illmatic
Nick Drake - Pink Moon
Nico - Chelsea Girl
The Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers
The Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Sublime - 40 Oz. to Freedom
Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
Tindersticks - Tindersticks (II)
Wu-Tang Clan - Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)