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.
- Pink Floyd – Animals
- David Bowie – Low
- New Order – Power, Corruption and Lies/Low Life/Brotherhood/Substance
- Sonic Youth – Evol/Sister/Daydream Nation
- The Smiths – Strangeways Here We Come
- David Sylvian – Secrets of the Beehive
- Talk Talk – Spirit of Eden
- The House of Love – The House of Love
- The Fall – The Frenz Experiment/I am Kurious Oranj
- 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.
- Television – Marquee Moon
- Pixies – Surfer Rosa/Doolittle
- Cardiacs – A Little Man and a House and the Whole World Window
- The Cure – Faith/Pornography/Disintegration
- Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures/Closer
- Mr Bungle – Disco Volante/Faith No More – Angel Dust
- Jim O’Rourke – Bad Timing
- Radiohead – Kid A/Amnesiac
- Destroyer – Kaputt
- 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.