Top 100 Greatest Music Albums by desh79 (2022)
- Chart updated: 07/25/2022 10:15
- (Created: 12/22/2016 10:22).
- Chart size: 100 albums.
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I have no idea whether that makes me a pessimist or simply a realist, but it might help to explain why I love Forever Changes so much. Yes, a very many people have waxed lyrically about Forever Changes's "prophetic" qualities - how it more or less "foresaw" all the stuff that would follow that great big party the year 1967 was supposed to have been (looking at that year's musical output, I'm actually inclined to agree) - thus it's not an entirely original thought to put down here, but this album is basically the musical embodiment of the idea that All Is Not Well so it makes perfect sense to rank an album that reflects a very significant personal outlook of mine as my favourite album of all-time.
Forever Changes was an album I listened to over and over again when I was in my mid-teenage years. I loved the way it juxtaposed beauty and ugliness. The way the music would suddenlt jolt and turn. I was already at a stage where the traditional verse-chorus-verse structure started to bore me, and so I absolutely jumped at anything that had something approaching disruption, pianoforte, anything that broke the mould.
Forever Changes has these moments aplenty. The way The Good Humour Man ends, or the way The Daily Planet's entire verse structure suddenly changes tack into something else entirely. There are "old-fashioned" pop songs too, like Alone Again Or, but not without some very bittersweet lyrics where the hippie outlook of "You know that I could be in love, with almost everyone/I think that people are the greatest fun" is immediately followed by a straightlaced "And I will be alone again tonight, my dear". All Is Not Well.
Some lyrics are, admittedly, signals from Captain Obvious. "Sitting on a hillside/Watching all the people die/I'll feel much better on the other side" was something I deemed the epitome of cool at the age of 16, now I feel like Arthur Lee is beating me to a pulp with the Metaphor Stick, but still, as far as allusions to the Vietnam war go there are certainly weaker lines of prose out there, and all things considered The Red Telephone - particularly its final third - is still a majestic, magnificent and haunting piece of work.
There are other reasons I love this album. For instance, its willingness to be unashamedly sentimental every now and then, like on Andmoreagain. That song is cheesy as hell, but then again there's a part of ME that is cheesy and sentimental and sappy-romantic. Plus, behind Forever Changes's layers of cynicism, Andmoreagain illustrates that there's a childlike innocence that makes the whole thing even more endearing to me.
Chances are the juxtaposition between beauty and ugliness are prone to some kind of personal demons Lee was fighting at the time (and his later biography tragically suggests that this battle went on for several decades), but as with so many very personal works of art, Forever Changes has a universal quality that means that even some German kid living in Cambridge in the mid-1990s could feel addressed and comforted by it. [First added to this chart: 12/22/2016]
In Cambridge - Cherry Hinton, to be precise - lived an old man called Roger. According to local folklore (and thus something to be taken with a sizeable pinch of salt), he installed bear traps in his front garden to repel unwanted visitors from far and wide. Apparently he liked a pint at the Six Bells pub, somewhere in the area around Mill Road (the "wrong" side of Reality Checkpoint - the C.O.M.M.O.N. that Alt-J, another great Cambridge band, sang about in Bloodflood). He passed away at some point in the mid-00s, news which caused no little despair since this old man, who by all accounts was a bitter recluse in his final years, also happened to be almost singlehandedly responsible for one of the greatest works of art of the 20th century.
Wind back to the mid-90s, when I was 16 or 17 - a colleague of my dad's gave me a copy of Piper on tape. I had heard about this album. I already owned some of Pink Floyd's discography. I loved The Wall, had not quite dug deep enough into Dark Side to really appreciate its genius, thought Careful With That Axe Eugene was a really funny song. I was aware that the group was once led by a guy called Syd Barrett, who took too much acid and was kicked out of the band, End of Story.
Little did I know that Piper is just incredible. Lyrically it's on a level with Lord Byron and Lewis Carroll. Whimsical and profound at the same time - that weird mixture of earthiness and grandiosity that, for some reason, only the English can manage to pull off. And musically, it was such a revolution that it practically invented the genre of Psychedelic Rock. That stuff was already 30 years old, yet I had never heard anything like it! Yes, Revolver had Tomorrow Never Knows, but Piper had Pow R Toc H, it had Bike, it had Astronomy Domine. While Sgt.Pepper-era Beatles and other psychedelic acts consciously searched out their influences, the Floyd almost existed by themselves, in a vacuum. The best art usually does.
Said colleague, by the way, claimed to have been a member of Jokers Wild, the band David Gilmour belonged to before Pink Floyd beckoned, as it became clear that Syd's mental decline was simply too much to handle for everyone involved (and the way Syd was treated was something everyone involved came to regret bitterly later on). Of course, in Cambridge you're always going to meet somebody who claims to have hung out with least one member of the Floyd in the 1960s, but I'm actually inclined to believe them, because Cambridge really is the sort of town where everybody knows each other, especially within the same age group.
Anyway, Roger? The old man, who was once known as Syd? I hope he won his decades-long battle against mental illness and that he died a happy man. It's the least he deserved. [First added to this chart: 12/22/2016]
But that's not the point. Actually, whenever I think back to my years in Cambridge, I don't think about *that*. I think of warm Summer evenings drinking really terrible Newkie Brown Alie by the Mill Pond, or snogging Girl X on Christ's Pieces (she was embarrassed about it and a few weeks later went out with a supposed mate to humiliate me, but, again, FILTER!), or just night-long sessions playing Resident Evil on my newly acquired PS1. Music plays a huge part in that, I think. Soundtrack of your life, that kind of stuff.
Enter the Stone Roses. When we moved to England in April 94, I, being a huge fan of British rock music, immediately jumped at the music weeklies. NME and Melody Maker, but also the monthlies (Q, etc). I stopped reading MM after a while because they were mean-spirited as f***, but other than that, I entered that particular world at just at the right time, when the so-called Britpop explosion - in spite of all its obvious flaws (the jingoism, the chauvinism, etc) - served as the gateway to some absolutely astounding music.
One band in particular was hyped relentlessly. A band that had released this amazing debut in 1989, had a few hits at the height of the Madchester craze, and then more or less disappeared from view, preparing their then-anticipated second album. I was very glad for that hype since at some point I sauntered to Cambridge Central Library, borrowed a copy of The Stone Roses on tape, sat in my room on a warm Summer afternoon and heard the first few seconds of I Wanna Be Adored, immediately *knowing* I was listening to a masterpiece.
Seriously, this album is flawless. There isn't a single track I skip here. I can listen to this from beginning to end and, not only am I that 15-year old optimistic kid again, I am experiencing an utterly flawless album. So that's why it's no.3 on my list. It's a great album and a remanent of a lost era for me. [First added to this chart: 12/22/2016]
Whenever I listen to Antennas To Heaven I'm back on the 381 bus from Rotherhithe to Waterloo. I'd pass the dodgier parts of Bermondsey. That pub with the sign reading "ACCOMADATION PROVIDED", a clear case for the Queen's English Society. The motor cyclist bleeding on the ground after an accident outside Elephant & Castle station. The man hit by a bus and getting up again like nothing had happened outside the same station. A lot of things happened outside Elephant & Castle station. The skinhead shouting racist filth on the deck below, one evening before the bus reached South Bermondsey station. Not all of these memories are good, but they're memories.
Context: I'd just moved into a cosy little two-storey flat ("maisonette", as they call it in estate agent speak) with my girlfriend at the time, and started a job as a VT assistant in a shoddy two-bit company/soulless international conglomerate (a mere prelude to my current profession as a documentary film editor, I'm glad to say). It was a period of low income for me, of not much in the way of material things, but it was an optimistic time. I got my first iPod for Christmas 2005. It seems a lot of people did, because in January everybody seemed to be wearing these white headphones on the 381 bus. Or the Jubilee Line. Or the Central Line. Or any line, really. These things were everywhere.
Digressions aside, my commute was a long one, and so music was a steady companion, including this rather strange album with a rather strange title that the folks on RYM couldn't seem to get enough of. Turns out long bus rides are very useful for checking out lengthy post rock albums, as this was also the period I discovered Mono and Explosions And The Sky, but Lift Your Skinny Fists was something else entirely. This was one of the last albums that actually taught me one or two things, things I perhaps acknowledged but never seemed *entirely* open to. That a good rock song doesn't need a vocalist. That *rock* music doesn't need a steady verse-chorus-verse structure and can in fact be arranged like a classical piece and still WORK. That samples work in conjunction with heavy guitars. That this sort of stuff can actually move you like nothing you've heard before. That field recordings and other obscure samples can do even more to signify the corruptions of modern neoliberal capitalism than anything Radiohead or Zappa have ever attempted. It's simply one of these albums that simply has to be listened to to be believed, from beginning to end if you can, otherwise the overall effect is tempered.
This is a masterpiece, both on an objective "Does this work as a piece of music"-level, and on a very personal "Did this album accompany me during a very distinctive period of my life?"-one. [First added to this chart: 12/22/2016]
Oh, the soundtrack? One of the greatest works of the 20th century if you ask me, but again, that's probably just me. [First added to this chart: 12/22/2016]
Kurt Cobain? What if he had lived and we, through some off chance, would have met in Bryant Park or Piccadilly Circus or a Munich beer garden or wherever my mind takes me? Frankly, I have no idea what I would say to him. I love his music, but what would I ask? What would I say? I genuinely have no idea. Cobain usually came across as a bit tight-lipped and monosyllabic in interviews, so he's a total contradiction in that his art had elements that were profound and essential, yet the guy who made it frankly seemed a bit of a dope (though that is not counting the Jon Savage 1993 interview, which I recommending googling and then listening to in full, it's absolutely fascinating from beginning to end). One could blame the drugs, of course, but that's a topic for another day.
As is so often the case with music (and any other art form), it's the wider, meta repercussion that matters, and Nirvana's second album was basically a moment in history where a style of music that had been part of the underground for the best part of a decade suddenly became mainstream, and in spectacular fashion to boot. Nevermind replacing Michael Jackson's Dangerous at the top of the Billboard album charts was a symbolic moment, make no mistake about that; one that kickstarted a golden era where genres like alternative rock and industrial metal entered the mainstream radar and effectively replaced the poodle rock which had dominated the scene up until that point (as Henry Rollins put it, "Nirvana slayed the hair bands"). I could go on about how the early 90s were generally such an optimistic period with the end of the Cold War, Clinton in the White House, Twin Peaks on the telly, etc, etc, but... again, that's also a topic for another day.
Though I will freely admit that Nevermind initially passed me by when it was released. I knew about it, saw the cover, thought the naked baby was a bit silly and naff, and didn't really pay much attention when Teen Spirit came on MTV. Heck, I was 12 years old at the time, I was too busy playing Monkey Island on my Atari ST and trying to figure out (and mostly failing) how to talk to girls. It was two years later, when the grunge wave had reached Germany proper and both Pearl Jam and Nirvana were about to release their second albums, that I realised something was afoot here. I was 14, just about to enter the Angry Young Man phase of my life, that I found myself slap bang in the target group for this type of music. So the significance of this album only came to me a couple of years late, and Cobain's eventual suicide embellished it, albeit in very tragic circumstances.
Part of the album's commercial success obviously was due to the fact that musically, underneath the layers of guitars, this is very much a pop album, something even the band themselves acknowledged (Cobain initially wanted to call Nevermind's follow up-album "Verse Chorus Verse"). Cobain's self-awareness and self-reflection, apparent through much of his work, not to mention all the diary entries and lyrics that have been posthumously released, suggest that there was a deeply intelligent and thoughtful man hiding underneath this Northwestern lumberjack-shirt-wearing dope. I kid, of course. There's a very good chance I would have liked him a lot and that we would have gotten on like a house on fire, in that parallel world where he decided not to pull the trigger, got himself together, made a few rather non-commercial but absolutely brilliant albums before leaving the music industry, watched his daughter Frances grow up, and lived a long and happy and fulfilled life. That parallel world exists, I'm sure of it. And the beer's on me, of course. [First added to this chart: 12/22/2016]
Admittedly, I was alone in making that point (and come to think I was actually the person who started the argument every single time), but I was right, dammit!
That aside, I was exposed to this album at a relatively young age and it undeniably had a massive influence on the way I approach music. [First added to this chart: 12/22/2016]
But that aside, the White Album is the Beatles' magnum opus. It's definitely a masterpiece. It even has the obligatory annoying singalong ditty that you really ought to dislike but can't help but, well, maybe not love but at least appreciate (Revolver had Yellow Submarine, Sgt. Pepper had Mr. Kite, this has Obladi Oblada). [First added to this chart: 12/22/2016]
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|Rating||Date updated||Member||Chart ratings||Avg. chart rating|
|06/16/2021 08:47||CA Dreamin||134||88/100|
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This chart is rated in the top 3% of all charts on BestEverAlbums.com. This chart has a Bayesian average rating of 89.9/100, a mean average of 90.4/100, and a trimmed mean (excluding outliers) of 90.4/100. The standard deviation for this chart is 6.9.
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Cool list with a lot of fun picks and a lot of similar choices. Maybe a little rock-centric, but thats just me
Great list (and agree with CharlieBarley that I also like the included notes!) Always good to see Devo in a list on here and amazing to see The Residents included, one of my favourite bands! Definitely got some more bands / albums that I'll be checking out from your list too, and also revisiting some classics that I haven't heard for a while - starting with The Madcap Laughs (it's been too long since I heard that fantastic album!)
I don't know why I never rate people's charts; especially one's that I like. Better late than never I suppose :) Loving the Susumu Hirasawa pick, and your notes are well done.
Very interesting choices! Love the work you put in some of these texts.
Great chart! i love that you included some OST's from movies and games. There are some pretty interesting picks, i gotta listen to a lot of these records!
charis missing, good taste
Commenting again! Haha. I need to listen to that Love album again. Godspeed is great! Love REM. Love Big Science by Laurie Anderson, keep moving it up my main chart. White album is fantastic obviously, I even use to consider it my all time favorite but I rarely listen to the Beatles anymore. 17 artists in common, nice!
Excellent mix of albums. I own 90% of them and will definitely check one of the Japanese artists, based on the evidence of our mutual good taste.
Interesting that there are just two German albums in the list......
Pretty good chart, LOVE FFVII
excellent, diversive selections ......
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