10 influential albums

There is a meme going round about influential albums. I could probably list well over 100 albums that have influenced me a great deal, and I don’t really have any meaningful way to choose between them other than to just go with what feels right at the time.

But then I figured that maybe there is a way, and so I approached it from two different directions. The first is to take a list of albums that I’ve bought multiple times, be that replacing worn vinyl or cassettes with CDs or MP3s, or where I’ve bought multiple special editions or remasters. My thinking is that these records must mean a lot to me because I can’t bear to not to own the latest and greatest version of them. I’ve cheated a little in that I’ve bundled together records by the same artist that were made fairly close together, but it’s a list of 10 that makes sense. Of course, by using this criteria I’m going for things that were made a long time ago – I’ve owned most of these on either vinyl or cassette, and as I’ve not bought music in either format for over 20 years then there is a very strong 1980s bias to this list.

  1. Pink Floyd – Animals
  2. David Bowie – Low
  3. New Order – Power, Corruption and Lies/Low Life/Brotherhood/Substance
  4. Sonic Youth – Evol/Sister/Daydream Nation
  5. The Smiths – Strangeways Here We Come
  6. David Sylvian – Secrets of the Beehive
  7. Talk Talk – Spirit of Eden
  8. The House of Love – The House of Love
  9. The Fall – The Frenz Experiment/I am Kurious Oranj
  10. Manic Street Preachers – The Holy Bible

The second take was to just list my all time favourite records – the ones that at some point in my life were the thing I would reach to first when I wanted to listen to something familiar and flawlessly brilliant. This also seems very biased towards the period of time where I was discovering music, but there are also a few more recent choices there.

  1. Television – Marquee Moon
  2. Pixies – Surfer Rosa/Doolittle
  3. Cardiacs – A Little Man and a House and the Whole World Window
  4. The Cure – Faith/Pornography/Disintegration
  5. Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures/Closer
  6. Mr Bungle – Disco Volante/Faith No More – Angel Dust
  7. Jim O’Rourke – Bad Timing
  8. Radiohead – Kid A/Amnesiac
  9. Destroyer – Kaputt
  10. The National – Trouble Will Find Me

I could write about why I’ve chosen each one of these, but I fear it would be rather long.

10 things beginning with S

There is a meme going round where people are asked to name 10 things beginning with a certain letter that mean something to them. I was given the letter S, and will attempt to come up with 10 things that are not people I know ( I could probably add another 10 if I include people, and I’m always wary of missing people out).

1. Spotify – It’s revolutionised the way I listen to music, and also the way I discover music to a certain extent. Before Spotify I always had to own things I like, and now I find I am perfectly content with streaming music. I also like the fact that I can save songs to my phone/iPad for offline listening. Not that I’m ever offline for long, but the functionality is very useful for those times when I am.

2. Sennheiser – Both sets of headphones I use at the moment were made by Sennheiser, and I suppose I have a certain amount of brand loyalty. I particularly like times when I’m able to wear my huge over-ear headphones, but am increasingly finding that they are too bulky for anything but listening to music in the house.

3. Substance – Two great compilation albums from the 80s – one by New Order and one by Joy Division. Between them they contain some of the best music I’ve ever heard, and tell the story of one of the most interesting (and tragic) musical transitions.

4. Sunrise – I like the sun. I like it being light and being sunny. The sun energises me, and the rising of the sun (which I see all too often) is something that I really like to watch and occasionally photograph. Sunrise is also the name of the calendar app I use on my Mac and iPad to keep my life organised, as well as being the name of a New Order song I really like.

5. Slackware – Not the first Linux distro I installed myself (that honour goes to Debian), but the one that lead to me learning a lot about how computers work when I was cramming IT knowledge into my brain about 10 years ago.

6. Sonic Youth – A band that have been with me since I was at school. They were probably my introduction to American guitar music, but also to the avant-garde. I could probably also say the same about Swans, who I discovered around the same time.

7. Summer – My favourite season, and the season I was born in.

8. Sideways – I’m astrologically Cancerian, which I supposed to mean I’m good at moving forwards whilst appearing to move sideways. I can relate to that, and  very much see it as a viable way to move through life.

9. Study – I like to study new things, and have really never stopped learning new things since I left University. I also have a physical study now – it’s the smallest front bedroom in our house, and it allows me to have somewhere to read, write, listen to music, and otherwise interact with things in an environment that I can totally control.

10. Sleep – I’m one of those strange people who doesn’t really enjoy sleep. It’s not that I sleep badly, or have particularly horrible dreams, I would just rather be awake, upright, and doing something.

My recent reading habits

Over the last couple of months I’ve been reading The Nearly Complete Works of Donald Harington, which is a three volume collection that I downloaded from Amazon for 99p per volume (while they were on offer – they are slightly more now, but still very reasonably priced). I’d not read any of Harington’s novels before, but I had heard good things about them, and so thought I’d wade in at the deep end.

I’m still only on volume 2, but apart from three other short books I’ve read nothing else for the last couple of months. I’ve enjoyed every page a great deal, and was actually expecting stand alone novels, rather than series of books that formed a definite chronology. Everything I’ve read so far has been set in or near a place called Stay More, and I would strongly recommend reading these books in the order they were written, and persevering with all of them, even those that seems unconnected or difficult at first.

The books I’ve read so far are:

Lightning Bug
Some Other Place. The Right Place.
The Architecture of the Arkansas Ozarks
The Cockroaches of Stay More
The Choiring of the Trees
Butterfly Weed
When Angels Rest
Thirteen Albatrosses (or, Falling off the Mountain)