There are 16 albums covered in this blog, and brings me right up to date with all that I’ve listened to so far. As luck would have it, it doesn’t quite conclude the first 50 on this list which means that I can’t start the New Year with number 200 – but I am near enough. Now just to decide whether to continue with this daft enterprise. The joy of the undertaking is directly proportionate to how much I enjoy listening, but I’ve found that it’s also a bit of a chore going through all the streaming options I can think of trying to find the albums if they are not available on Napster or Spotify. In future, I think I’ll just have a quick check of those two and leave it if they’re not there.
I promise I’ve listened to all of these, except the unavailable ones, although I will admit that some got more of my attention than others as quite a lot were just on as I was going about other things.
Robert Plant & Diana Krall – Raising Sand (2007) My intention in this project was to discover or rediscover the music and also see what memories and stories get stirred up either by association with the time or with the content. As I think about 2007 I largely think of it as a best forgotten – it seems like some sort of limbo land where an old life was in the process of destruction and whatever was going to happen hadn’t got round to happening yet. During that year I got involved with someone and I think basically spent months kidding myself that it was a working relationship. Overall it wasn’t particularly satisfying and in my recollection now was just a period of very short highs and horribly long lows. This of course has nothing at all to do with dear Robert and Diana who put together a highly acclaimed album which I’ve listened to a couple of times, liked a couple of tracks while they were on, and then subsequently completely forgotten about. Actually that could be a metaphor for 2007. Go with that. I went to Barcelona though, that was fun and I’ll go back there. Just with someone else please.
Paul Simon – Graceland (1986)
Must be about the earliest album on this list as it was reviewed in the very first issue of Q. It reminds me of living in my first flat in Edinburgh – although the timing seems a bit out as I didn’t move in there until the end of 1987. 1986 was the year I left school (don’t do the maths, I know) and although I remember this album being a big deal it wasn’t something I was in too much, probably not edgy enough for where I was at the time. Ha Ha! Of course ‘You Can Call Me Al’ had Chevy Chase in the video and there’s every possibility that’s the first time I’d ever seen the guy. Paul Simon I knew – the Simon & Garfunkel Greatest Hits album was one of our family’s long car journey tapes and whenever I hear ‘The Boxer’ I’m immediately back in the back seat.
Elliot Smith – XO (1998) I’m surprised this is from so long ago, if I’d had to guess I’d have gone for mid 2000’s somewhere. I like Elliot Smith and should probably seek out more of his work, as this is the only album I’ve heard and seems to include all of the songs I’m already familiar with.
Fugees – The Score (1996) More enjoyable than I thought it would be but I wasn’t unhappy when it was over.
Madonna – Like a Prayer (1989) Listening to this now t’s hard to relate to the controversy that there was when this first came out. My girlfriend at the time was a huge fan of Madonna (bigger Michael Jackson fan actually) so this album got played a lot. Remember when music videos were a big deal? The one for ‘Like a Prayer’ was a really big deal.
Weezer – Pinkerton (1996) I can’t think of a single thing to say about this.
Dido – No Angel (1999) I’m pleased to see this on the list as there’s always the danger that something as hugely popular and ‘mainstream’ as this debut album from Dido gets kind of washed away as to uncool. There’s loads of good stuff in this album, really nice (I know – like ‘neat’ yeah?) to hear it again. That track that Eminem sampled for ‘Stan’ is actually quite twee – amazing that it was responsible for much of the success.
Kula Shaker – K (1996) This album reminds me of nosebleeds; specifically nosebleeds that occur on the way to a wedding.
We were trying to navigate our way around where ever it was we were; sort of Maidenhead area I think; and this album was on the stereo, and I had a nosebleed. Actually I went through a period of several months when this was happening with regularity and I even went and had myself checked up – had my head x-rayed etc. Then they stopped. Not sure if this was as a direct result of the x-ray. Perhaps I was accidentally lasered.
Joanna Newsom – YS (2006) & De La Soul – 3 Feet High and Rising (1989) Two albums that I’ve been unable to find for streaming. Bizarrely the only track I can find when searching for Joanna Newsom is the The Muppet Show Theme. Go figure.
Alice in Chains – Dirt (1992) Did nothing for me. It’s OK I guess.
Oasis – Dig Out Your Soul (2008) I will save further comment on Oasis for later on in the listings. I mean if this one is there then there’s got to be at very least two more.
However, I do remember where I was when I heard that Oasis had actually properly called it a day, rather than the ‘break up’ being another one of Liam and Noel’s brief brotherly spats. I’d just finished a programme called ‘JumpStart’ run by The Concord Institute. It was a residential course so I’d not been on internet or heard the radio to catch up with any news. This was the first bit of outside world information that I heard, delivered by one of my course colleagues. It was not really much of a surprise. As for the album – it’s not their best work but there are some decent tracks. ‘Shock of the Lightning’ is a rollicking great tune. But then Status Quo had a few of those too and I don’t expect to see any of their albums in this list.
Bruce Springsteen – Tunnel of Love (1987) I had this on in the background and found I could listen quite happily without getting annoyed or bored. When it comes to Bruce Springsteen, that’s been a new experience.
Belle & Sebastian – The Boy With the Arab Strap (1998) When this first started I thought it would be one of those exciting new finds. Two tracks in and I was enjoying this a lot. By the end I was bored a lot. It’s just a little bit too much of the same.
Radiohead – Pablo Honey (1993) I honestly got this album when it was released, before they were the band they became, based on ‘Anyone Can Play Guitar’ which I think I had on a compilation tape, and of course ‘Creep’. I don’t think I’ve listened to it more than once though and although there are more good tracks on here than I remembered I doubt I’ll be revisiting this as much as I have all of the other albums released since. Tell you what though – I reckon Travis got a career out of remaking this album.
Arctic Monkeys – Humbug (2009) I’m rather pleased that this is the last one I’m doing before getting in to the New Year properly. Arctic Monkeys haven’t yet failed to match my expectations with each new album – not that they’re all perfect, just that each one has delivered great tunes and hit singles and it can’t be said that the band have stood still or just tried to recycle an old formula. This album got a bit of stick for going too far in to heavy rock territory. It’s certainly slower paced than there prior two albums but in ‘Crying Lightning’ and ‘Cornerstone’ this collection includes not just two of the best Arctic Monkeys tracks, but two of my all time favourite songs.