15 is not enough…

15 Albums what a ridiculous number that is but keepsmealive picked the number.

Those ones you cannot live without. The Desert Island albums, the essentials etc. etc. etc. Or really the compromises you make when faced with an arbitrary number. At any time the list may change and I am already having regrets.

My rules,

1.Well they had to be records that meant something to me of course.

2. Compilations count because the two I chose are carefully thought out retrospectives ( not really, see rule 1)

3. I had to own them and be able to sing along in an out of tune but enthusiastic voice to every song (practiced this in the car all week)

4. Bootlegs count because I said so (see rule 1 again)

Neil Young  – Decade

decade

Fake country, psychedelic jams it’s all covered here. Neil’s greatests moments in noise production in his first ten years. I know it’s cheating as it is a compilation but it is the second best compilation made, covering ten years of creativity and soul searching.

Fairport Convention – What We Did On Our Holidays

holidays

The absolute best English Folk-Rock album from the 60’s. Yes better songs appear later in the band’s career but nothing ever holds up as a whole again. Traditional songs and original compositions all make for a perfect album. Yes Liege and Lief was more groundbreaking but everything on What We Did fits so well and the show stealing fiddle is not there yet.  

Hawkwind – Hall of the Mountain Grill

hawkwind-hall-of-the-mountain-grill-non-sticker-lp

Some claim this is Hawkwind lite but it is for me the best album, great songs enough blanga to melt the brain and electronic blips and bleeps as well as Simon House squawking away on electric violin. I almost went with Space Ritual but that can at times be too much Hawkwind.

Roy Harper – Stormcock

cock

Four long songs covering everything from religion to the gaseous emissions of critics. An album of contrasts and all acoustic, in fact it has Jimmy Pages finest acoustic appearance on any album as he shreds his way through Same Old Rock. This is one of those albums that you have to play all the way through.

The Beatles – Blue Album

blue

This may be cheating again with a compilation but this is how I first ever heard The Beatles, this album nestled in my parents radiogram as the only album from the Beatles. My mum sang along to every song and  I can play this album through in my head without it being on. I know there may be better or at least real Beatles albums but this is the one you need, or rather I need.

Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks, the New York Sessions

new blood

Again it may be a cheat, as it’s a bootleg, but the versions are so much better sounding, more direct and less muffled, also there is something about hearing Dylan’s buttons rattling against the guitar body that makes it special. It is essential at some point in every list it is important to be a little pretentious.

David Bowie – Hunky Dory

hunky dory

There are many other choices but this for me is Bowie right before he entered the stratosphere, still paying homage to his heroes and still with a unique voice. He is still a little wide eyed on this album if not innocent. The future however is there with the searing Queen Bitch and The Bewlay Brothers to end the album.

David Crosby – If I Could Only Remember My Name

crosby

If you have this you don’t need another album from San Francisco. Containing most of the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and CSNY this is an album that reeks of lazy afternoons and evenings smoking and jamming. It is a musical tour de force and no wonder it took him forever to record a second solo album this may have just run the well dry. Full of obscure guitar tunings and meandering vocal harmonies it is a wonder with Jack Casady’s bass holding it all together at times when it looks like it may disappear in a cloud of smoke.

The Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin

bulletin

At times sounding like Burt Bacharach joined Pink Floyd with Neil Young as a singer, well that sums it up. They have never sounded so consistent although they have been more fun at times.

Richard and Linda Thompson – I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight

lights

A wholly excellent album at times uplifting other times harrowing and bleak. The whole album flows with a strange sense of completeness and spirituality.. Moving from one observation to the next with the constant searing guitar lines imposing themselves over crumhorns, mandolins and accordions and that is just the first track. Has there ever been a better beginning of a song than Calvary Cross? Also any album with a silver band on deserves to be heard

Pink Floyd – Animals

animals

Anger, angst and solos. Floyd’s best moment in many ways sandwiched between the musical genius of Wish You Were Here and the mega selling Wall. It was the second Floyd album I ever heard after A Saucerful of Secrets and the one I can return to again and again along with Atomheart Mother which almost made the list.

Genesis – Duke

duke

My go to genesis album, enough prog to keep a nerd happy and some really emotional ( sappy ) songs to keep you grounded. It also has in Heathaze one of the great Genesis songs nobody every really rates.

The Icicle Works – Blind

blind

A confused album ranging from all out Led Zep homage rock to Prince pastiche via a little Byrds flavored country rock. Somehow it all hangs together and is the best of the original Icicle Works albums, although a really good compilation may do it in, they have not made one of those yet.

I Often Dream of Trains – Robyn Hitchcock

Robyn_Hitchcock_-_I_Often_Dream_Of_Trains

An album that is difficult to define, songs about buildings, trains, personality disorders, death and insects. Need I say more really. It is the quintessential obsessive compulsive English album. 

The Yes Album – Yes

yes

Beatles references, harmonies, guitar solos switching speakers and a big big sound. Four of it’s songs are classics that still stay in the Yes live show and it has a delightfully creepy cover.

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17 thoughts on “15 is not enough…

  1. Great list, Neil, with a lot of depth. I like your rules and your write-ups for each selection. Very thoughtful and inspiring. The meaning and significance of your selections are evident and a pleasure to read.

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  3. Nice list! A neat mix of albums unknown and known to me. Along with “Red”, “Blue” was also my first Beatles — and the only place in which I own “Ballad of John and Yoko” to this day — and both hold strong pulls on me to this day. and, YES!!

  4. Really enjoyed this little lot, you pretentious dilettante! I’m with you all the way on Decade and Animals (my fave Floyd too, most of the time).

    Is the Dylan bootleg really that good? I’ve never heard it.

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  9. I love a lot of this stuff – only ones I’m not familiar with are the Genesis (although I have most of their earlier albums), Hawkwind, and Icicle Works. And most of the ones I do know are great – especially Stormcock, Trains, and The Soft Bulletin. I like the Blood of the Tracks bootleg better than the final version, simply because that repetitive bass-line in ‘Lily, Rosemary…’ kills the song for me.

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