25 albums

yes, i’m compensating for quietness with a second post today. however, this one is a bit of a cheat. one of the memes going around facebook is:

“Think of 25 albums that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life or the way you looked at it. They sucked you in and took you over for days, weeks, months, years. These are the albums that you can use to identify time, places, people, emotions. These are the albums that no matter what they were thought of musically shaped your world.”

and because this is about me and music, i thought i’d cross post. but here are a few disclaimers:

  • i wrote this over a few days, so it’s a bit dodgy in quality.
  • i just took the first 25 albums that came to mind, so this isn’t a complete list of albums that fit the criteria or even necessarily the top 25 in said list.
  • some of this stuff might show up again in later entries. i’m not going to apologise.
  • this is all about whole albums, not about individual songs. that’s a different list. and just having one song that owns me on it is not enough to make this list.
  • these are not in any particular order. just the order they fell out of my brain.

that said, here’s my rather verbose response. feel free to share some of your own albums that fit this criteria in comments. you might even inspire me to drag out something i had forgotten about or to find something new.

  1. david bowie – the rise and fall of ziggy stardust and the spiders from mars. first album i recall hearing as a kid. first record i owned (still have the vinyl). probably did a lot to shape what i think of as great music and attractive men…plus, before itunes, this was the album i put in when i was trying to decide what i wanted to listen to. it is always the right choice.
  2. placebo – placebo. in actuality, it was a crappy bootleg recording of a show in late 1995 that my mate went to. he mailed a copy to me, sure i’d love the music and–though there were not yet pictures–the singer. oh. my. stars. this was the best thing i got out of that friendship.
  3. nine inch nails – pretty hate machine. it was really the first of its kind. and i still think it’s his bet work. it so clearly expressed the anger and betrayal i was feeling when it came out. and the live show when he toured in 1991 was intense.
  4. the cure – disintegration. i’m a huge cure fan in general. and if this hadn’t come along, i’d be listing some other album by them here. but there were a few weeks when i listened to this and pretty hate machine over and over…i was a mess and i really felt like all the depression and loss and longing i was feeling were adequately summed up here.
  5. manic street preachers – generation terrorist. i feel really lucky that i had mates in the uk years ago so that i didn’t miss out on all the good music. this was just one of those albums that spoke to me. yeah, it sounds cheesy, but that’s the way it was. and this was before i saw richey. yum. even now, i listen and i remember that moment of feeling like, yeah, someone understood. i mean, the punks got my anger and the goths got my depression…but the manics just got the jumble of all that together.
  6. ac acoustics – victory parts. i don’t just like them because they share my love of lowercase. i am a fan of the poetry and the fuzziness and the way that sometimes it builds and crashes around me. this was their first album that i heard. again, bless the mates in the uk…it echoed both the issues i was going through at the time and the way that they felt…like everything else on this list, i still listen to it loads and find it’s great for listening to as i fall asleep. kind of settles me deep into who i am and have been and still has songs that are too relevant to where i am now…
  7. lamb – lamb. i got this in the mail from one of my oldest friends right after he got it. he knew it would connect with me as it did with him. and the track he pointed out as amazing was the first to put hooks in me and leave marks. but the whole album is that way now. it very quickly became that, in fact. the drums are amazing. and the lyrics…man, some of these songs still make my throat get tight after all these years…
  8. placebo – black market music. i’m going to feel bad for only pointing out a couple of the placebo albums, because i really did listen to each way too much when it first came out. and continue to do so. i just found this one striking because it was still clearly placebo, but there was this updated and danceable twist on some tracks. whilst other tracks carried through the brooding tones that let me know that this band might just understand my damage.
  9. pj harvey – dry. i know that a lot of girls will note sonic youth as what blew their mind in terms of how they saw women in rock. for me, it was this album. this girl was raw and open and saying things i totally got. she was the one who pushed my whole concept of women in rock over the edge. i mean, sure, there was patti smith. but that was punk. this wasn’t quite punk, so i hadn’t suspended my expectations and such for this one…and, really, every album she has put out has kept pushing at my ideas.
  10. yazoo – upstairs at eric’s. long before alison moyet became how i taught myself to sing, this was a staple of my youth. it had everything….i could dance, i could cry, i could lie on a friend’s bed as he clicked the lights off and on to “i before e except after c” and i tripped out without drugs. (thanks, phil.)
  11. peaches – the teaches of peaches. first, i laughed. not because it was funny. wow. the mouth on this broad…i think it was the audacity of her, though she wasn’t saying anything that hadn’t been said. but, you know, women still seem to pull back from being this…blunt most the time. the first track on this album has been stuck in my head the last few days, so that may be why this is bumping out other albums that could be on this list. but, yeah, i listened to it over and over and never grew less delighted.
  12. amanda palmer – who killed amanda palmer. i love dresden dolls, but this solo album really caught on me. it started with a few songs that really dug in and can still make me choke up, but the whole thing eventually owned me for a few days. hmz…i’m actually kind of surprised and pleased to see that there are recent things on my list.
  13. ours – distorted lullabies. i was blown away when i first heard this. the boy has range (when i saw him in the fall, it was insane to see it live) and writes great lyrics. and the music has this sort of anthemic quality for me. it is far too often relevant to where i am, keeping it in regular rotation when i’m not just using shuffle to decide on music. for added points, when i saw ours in the fall and they played my favourite song–which is on this album, it’s the only time i’ve been standing next to someone who was singing along and felt like my experience was better because i could hear the person singing along.
  14. portishead – dummy. admittedly, the first time i heard portishead, i turned on the radio in the middle of some girl whining “nobody loves me” and i quickly switched channels. but soon after i was having tea and talking deep stuff with a friend and this album was on. and i could barely pay attention to the conversation. too many songs to past hurts and present hopes for me to just listen once.
  15. nick drake – five leaves left. this was the first nick drake i heard, and it sort of wound its way into me. i can’t easily say which my favourite nick drake album is. but this was sort of a timeless melancholy. and we all know i’m a fan of that sort of thing. and yet, there was a sweetness. i think i loved that. so often, people miss that there can be a sweetness in all the downs.
  16. the sugarcubes – life’s too good. before everyone knew bjork, some of us got an earful of the sugarcubes (her band prior to going solo, just in case you missed it). it’s a much rougher, rawer version of her. she yowls and yodels and shrieks….i was just so intrigued by her technique, or lack thereof. i felt like she was improvising in the studio, like they’d never played these songs before.
  17. patti smith – horses. i feel like this is one i shouldn’t even need to explain…
  18. the velvet underground – the velvet underground and nico. i had this on cassette and had to replace it often. it isn’t just considered an essential and standard album that all us non-normal kids ought to check out for nothing. this isn’t hype. this is the root of a lot of where we went with underground music. also, it got back into heavy rotation when i was 16 and a boy that i was all unrequited for cruelly wrote me a love letter he didn’t mean (though i didn’t know it at the time) that included lyrics from the album.
  19. tricky – pre-millennium tension. this album made me feel dirty, in a really good way. it made me (and often still makes me) want to shag someone. and i don’t mean tenderness or making love. i mean steamy, sweaty, moan-filled, filthy sex. and then sometimes it makes me want to cry. none of the other albums that make me want to grab someone and get dirty make me want to cry….weird.
  20. siouxsie and the banshees – the scream. at this point, we didn’t have goth. this was punk. and this broad was one of the few female voices that stood out to me. and one of the only ones where i liked a whole album and not just individual songs. i was so used to music that i liked, that was strong, having male voices. or, like patti smith, feeling more like poetry to music….this kicked my bum.
  21. the stranglers – black and white. what can i say? i am a little punk rock girl at heart. this album was one that made me bop around as i listened. and, you know, not all the albums i listen to over and over need to make me cry.
  22. johnny cash – american. yeah, it was multiple cds. but it’s all one piece of work, so shove it. i always dug on johnny cash. the original man in black. the “country” singer who was punk in his attitudes. but this set of cds that took songs from others and gave them the johnny cash treatment…wow. i admit freely that i sobbed my way through “hurt” the first time i listened, for instance. it just proved his continued relevance and talent, that he could be himself and so clearly connect with these songs.
  23. sinéad lohan – no mermaid. stumbled across her the first time as i walked in to the first lillith faire. yeah, that’s right, i went to the first and second lillith faires. suck it. as i recall, i was in the midst of some hurt and her songs spoke to that. and this album was hypnotic when i got it. everything just felt like…wheels turning. like on a train where it seems slow and steady and lulls you into peace. the lyrics aren’t always easy, which leaves room for my current troubles. i like that.
  24. the sex pistols – never mind the bollocks here’s the sex pistols. yes, yes. it’s a cliché for a girl with punk roots. but if you were there…you remember how it just ripped through things. no, they weren’t the best or anything. but this was great when you were pissed and just wanted to kick things. or those moments you thought maybe all the world needed was to be shocked out of complacency. plus, if johnny rotten could be a singer, so could i….
  25. falco – 3. yeah, i know, you only know rock me amadeus and der kommissar. but this is one i really need to buy, instead of just having the greatest hits. he wasn’t just humorous. jeanny always stabbed my heart, for instance, even though i didn’t understand much of it. (i asked my mum to translate once, and that only made it ache more.)