Friday, 1 January 2010

And be a model pupil tonight babe, I wanna get ten out of ten...

King CreosoteImage via Wikipedia

I've written before about the joys of discussing music and musical tastes and it's a topic that never fails to arouse my interest. It can, at times, give vent to one's inner totalitarian as you question how someone could possibly have all the Coldplay albums yet have no time for The Reindeer Section or how anyone, anyone could find anything positive to say about James Blunt (other than the fact that he seems to have been quiet for a fair old while now).

The oft-mentioned (on this blog at any rate) Tom Morton has, in traditional end-of-year-reflective-stylee produced a couple of "best of" lists over the last few days on his Beatcroft blog, Top Ten Live Albums and an End Of The Decade inventory. Both contain albums I think I'd enjoy, both contain artists I've never listened to before (Elvis Perkins - great name! - and Leo Kottke, though I have always meant to follow up old Leo having had him recommended to me by a colleague around 13 years ago now!) and both have got me thinking.

Certainly in terms of live albums I've never been a fan - I used to buy bootleg tapes at the Barras of gigs in and around Glasgow that I'd been to. The sound quality was generally awful but because I'd actually been to and enjoyed the gigs I was buying recordings of, I could forgive that and relive the event. In terms of live stuff now, it's fairly easy to find mp3s online and you can often acquire great live cover versions - King Creosote and The Bluebells doing "Cath" together, Ray La Montagne and Damien Rice with the Bee Gees "To Love Somebody" spring to mind as great examples but otherwise I tend to avoid live stuff unless I'm hunting down something I've actually heard (KC as mentioned above having seen him do the song at Oran Mor as part of the Homecoming after show party being the most recent example).

As for just general "best of" lists, well Nick Hornby has long recorded the male obsession with lists, best ofs, top tens and so on and, as he so often does, has hit the nail right on the head. It's not done for competition - though the Barry character brilliantly played by Jack Black in the movie version of 'High Fidelity' certainly uses his lists as a "look how much I know" musical obscurist snob exercise - which can sometimes be no bad thing; I particularly love the exchange in High Fidelity between the outrageously opinionated Barry and the mild mannered Dick around "Little Latin Lupe Lu". If you've neither read nor seen High Fidelity, Barry namechecks the song and Dick says "Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels?" to which Barry snaps "No, the Righteous Brothers!" "Oh" says Dick with a look you can even picture in the book which just seems to say "oh, you poor soul, you've never even heard what I regard as the definitive version and your life is undoubtedly the poorer for it" - I get that feeling a lot...

Anyway, onwards to the lists! Now, I reckon that if you're going to be going for the whole "of all time" thing, then, very much like Desert Island Discs, it needs to be something you'll not tire of; the kind of thing where if you only had those records and nothing else to listen to, you'd still be happy. My (and as Tom says "It'll change tomorrow"!) top ten albums of all time just right at this very minute and in no particular order...

King Creosote - KC Rules OK - Faultless genius
Roddy Woomble - My Secret Is My Silence - Haunting, beautiful, very Highland without being twee
The Kevin McDermott Orchestra - Mother Nature's Kitchen - lyrically wonderful, in live format the songs are incredible, Kevin's a lovely guy, what else need I say?
The Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am That's What I'm Not - has there ever been a better debut album? I came to this late but by jings it's a belter
David Kitt - The Big Romance - under-rated Irish genius
Foo Fighters - Foo Fighters - brilliant first album and the perfect snowboarding accompaniment
Frank Black - Teenager Of The Year - ex-Pixie with an eclectic 20 track masterpiece
Son Volt - Straightaways - Alt country cracker from ex-Uncle Tupelo man
Elvis Costello - My Aim Is True - This would probably get in just for Alison to be honest
The Lemonheads - It's A Shame About Ray - With or without 'Mrs. Robinson' on the reissue, it's just brilliant. 'Frank Mills' and 'Alison's Starting To Happen' would grace any album

Elvis CostelloElvis Costello via

Close but no cigar (today at any rate): Stone Roses - Stone Roses - It may be sacrilege to say this but though I love the Roses (once trekked round the country to see them four times in twelve days) the whole album's not perfect, I can't be doing with 'Elizabeth My Dear' or 'Don't Stop'; Guns N Roses - Appetite For Destruction - One of the first albums I played to death (I've owned 3 copies now!) but I don't think it's a Desert Island job; Kate Nash - Made Of Bricks - Not my usual bag but I've played this to death too and it's great, 'Foundations' and 'Mouthwash' are already pop classics and 'Mariella' is magnificently eccentric; Kris Drever - Blackwater - I never tire of listening to this but if I'm taking Roddy to my island this is a wee bit similar; Idlewild - anything by them, impossible to choose between their albums, not a duff track amongst them.

Top ten for 09? That's tricky too and I can only think of five...but off the top of my head (and, again, just for today) Airborne Toxic Event - a majestic, soaring record calling to mind early U2, The Smiths and The Jam. Enough said. Ian Brown - My Way - A great album, thumping basslines and that legendary swaggering delivery; Idlewild - Post Electric Blues - superb fan-financed rock monster; Paolo Nutini - Sunny Side Up - A great feelgood album, standout tracks all the way and 'Comin' Up Easy' could easily be vintage Al Green; Vetiver - Tight Knit - Lo-fi acoustic chill out is a dreadfully lazy way to describe an album, the sort of thing The Observer Music Monthly might do but there you go: Vetiver, Tight Knit, Lo-fi acoustic chill out.

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