I’m not sure why it took me so long to start on this particular post. It’s so smack-in-the-face obvious. Perhaps that’s the reason why I didn’t to be honest. I’m not a fan of obvious. Nonetheless, here we are.
I have a lot of albums that I could define as favourites. This post nods towards albums by single artists or bands. If I was to include compilation albums then I’d be here until next week choosing even twenty favourites. This list is more five that spring immediately to mind than five absolute favourites.
Single artist or band albums have never really been of massive importance to me as I always preferred compilations growing up. The rise of the internet and the joys of downloading and streaming have rendered buying an album something of an extreme rarity. There have been many, however, that have really hit the spot over the years. Here are the five I’ve chosen:
Supertramp ‘Crime of the Century’ (1974)
This was the album that put Supertramp on the map and justly so. It’s a masterpiece! If there’s one album that has basically everything a person could want then this is it. There isn’t a track on it I don’t like. In fact, it’s perhaps the most commercially known song on the album, ‘Dreamer’ that I like the least, and even that is a great one. I think what makes ‘Crime of the Century’ so good is that it’s perfectly sequenced. Each track takes you through certain moods and they flow seamlessly into one another. ‘School’ is an amazing opening track with one of the best piano riffs I’ve ever heard. You can feel the insanity in track four, ‘Asylum’. The outro of track six, ‘Rudy’ still haunts me to the day. The eighth and final track, ‘Crime of the Century’, might well be Supertramp’s best song ever on a technical level. All the others are magnificent too. I urge you to listen to this album if you never have. It sounds like very little else coming out around that time.
Jamiroquai ‘The Return of the Space Cowboy’ (1994)
I’ve changed my mind a few times over the years about what my favourite Jamiroquai album is. At one time or another it’s been ‘Travelling Without Moving’, ‘Emergency on Planet Earth’, ‘Dynamite’, and/or ‘Synkronized’ (sorry ‘A Funk Odyssey’ and ‘Rock Dust Light Star’. I haven’t listened to ‘Automaton’ yet—and I call myself a Jamiroquai fan!). ‘The Return of the Space Cowboy’ is magnificent; there’s no other word for it. It was the perfect follow-up to what was the perfect debut album in ‘Emergency…’. Track two, ‘Stillness in Time’, is a bouncy, happy treat. Track three, ‘Half the Man’, is delightful cheese, an element missing in ‘Emergency…’. Track five, ‘Manifest Destiny’, is one of the best songs ever made! Click the link if you don’t believe me. Track nine, ‘Journey to Arnhemland’, is this album’s didgeridoo-infused track, something we get in all of the first three albums; this is arguably my favourite of them all. Then there’s ‘Space Cowboy’, which is arguably Jamiroquai’s biggest hit, although it’s the David Morales remix most people remember that has eclipsed the album version. That’s not to say the album version isn’t brilliant. This entire album is a delight from beginning to end. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Killswitch Engage ‘Alive or Just Breathing’ (2002)
When I mention that I’m a fan of Killswitch Engage, the reaction of most people is “Who?”. When I go on to tell them KSE are a metalcore band I receive an odd look. Firstly, most people associate me as being a fan of dance music only. Secondly, metalcore is very shouty and surely only people who wear black and are full of tattoos and piercings like that kind of music. The fact is that I’m a genuine fan of KSE. They’re superb. ‘Alive or Just Breathing’ is my favourite album by them. Track eight, ‘Temple from the Within’, track nine, ‘The Element of One’, and Track twelve, ‘Rise Inside’ are my favourites on the album by a mile, though the whole thing is pretty special. I find it extremely easy to listen to and the hard, fast, and loud nature of the music fills me with adrenaline. No offence to Howard Jones, who is a tremendous vocalist, but I prefer Jesse Leach, who quit the band after this album. The subsequent albums, while all brilliant, haven’t touched this one.
Todd Edwards ’Full On Volume 2’ (2003)
I was already a fan of Todd Edwards before I purchased this album. After listening to it, I was settled on the fact that he’s arguably the greatest producer in dance music. It’s an opinion I uphold to the day. Even listening to his earlier stuff it’s clear to see that the devout Christian DJ is a genius! This particular album is stunning. I bought it on the strength of having heard and loved track three, ‘You’re The One’, on a ‘Pure Garage’ compilation. I quickly came to realise that wasn’t the best this album had to offer. From the opening track, ‘I Hear Him’, you know you’re about to hear something very different, very special, if you’ve never heard Todd Edwards’ music before. The guitar-laden ‘Thank You’ (track four) is simply lovely. My only criticism of this album is that it peaks at tracks seven and eight with ‘Restless Soul’ and ‘You Came To Me’. Those that succeed these two just aren’t as good. That’s not to say they aren’t good, only that those two tracks are so utterly superb that it couldn’t get any better from there and subsequently didn’t. I’ve since listened to ‘Full On Volume 1’ and ‘Odyssey’. They too are brilliant albums, it’s just they aren’t as good as this one.
Ice-T ‘O.G. Original Gangster’ (1991)
I shan’t mince my words here: ‘O.G. Original Gangster’ is the best hip-hop album I’ve ever heard. Ice-T was an artist I never paid much attention to for the longest time. He just struck me as another rapper-turned-actor like so many others. Then a friend of mine one day urged me to listen to this album and gave me a copy of it. I will be forever grateful to that man. Ice-T has something that no other rapper before or since has had. ‘O.G…’ is filled with interludes, which ultimately give the album a whopping twenty-four tracks in total. Some of those interludes are really good, such as ‘The House’ (track eleven) and ‘Fried Chicken’ (track fifteen). My favourite tracks on the album are as follows: ‘Home of the Bodybag’ (track one); ‘New Jack Hustler (Nino’s Theme)’ (track six); ‘Bitches 2’ (track eight); ‘O.G. Original Gangster’ (track ten); ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Infamous’ (track seventeen); ‘Body Count’ (track eighteen). If you’re a fan of rap and you haven’t heard this album then I insist you do. I’ll give a special mention to ‘Bitches 2’. This track heavily samples Parliament’s ‘Dr Funkenstein’, as well as a few others, and is quite possibly the best hip-hop track in existence.
That concludes the list of five albums and links to each of the mentioned tracks are provided. I’d say that’s a nice, eclectic mixture of artists and genres, which proves I’m most certainly not a musical one-track pony.
I have a few other albums listed that I was going to mention in lesser detail. Instead what I’m going to do is compose another post in the future with the same theme. Besides, this one is plenty long enough without me rambling further. ‘Til next time everyone!