Last week, I started to tell you about my top ten favourite albums of all time, beginning with two debut albums from the early 1990s; Pearl Jam’s Ten, and Counting Crows’ August & Everything After.
This week, I’m going pick up where we left off, with more ’90s goodness, before expanding to prove that yes, even those of us who grew up in the age of grunge and alternative rock can appreciate music that was “before our time.”
3: R.E.M ~ Automatic for the People
I’ve talked a bit about Automatic for the People just recently, when I included opening track Drive in my list of the 52 songs that changed my life forever.
What I didn’t mention, is that this 1992 release was more than just an important record from my childhood, it remains a firm, regularly-played favourite in my house, even 25 years after it came out.
From the moment that opening snarl of Drive comes on, to the moment that closing track Find the River (easily one of the most beautiful songs on the whole album) comes to its end, everything about Automatic for the People is easy to fall in love with.
I love the moments when the album is edgy and brooding, such as on Monty Got a Raw Deal, I love the moments when its at its raucous, rock ‘n’ roll best, such as on Ignoreland, and I especially love the more tender moments, such as the aforementioned Find the River and one of my all-time favourites, Nightswimming.
I love the way all of those tracks flow, as though the gentler moments towards the end of the album simply could not exist had the earlier rock tracks not kicked off a chain of events that caused them to happen, as if they were divinely intended to be in that order.
In other words, I love this album, always have, and likely always will.
4: Alanis Morissette ~ Jagged Little pill
The funny thing is that I wouldn’t exactly call myself the biggest Alanis Morisette fan in the world. I could tell you the names of only a handful of her songs that aren’t on Jagged Little Pill, and even then I couldn’t tell you much more about those songs other than the fact that they exist.
That, ladies, and gentlemen, is my loss. If the rest of her output is even half as good as this album, then I’m missing out on some seriously good music.
Ultimately, that’s what all of this comes down to. I know that many people write lists of The Greatest Albums Ever and base them on things like critical reception, historical significance, how technically superior the songwriting is. With this list, I care about one thing and one thing only:
Albums that make me feel.
That’s all I ever care about when I’m finding good music. If it makes me feel something, I’m attaching myself to that music and never letting go.
I haven’t let go of Jagged Little Pill since I first heard it back in 1995.
I adore this album so much that at one point I owned two copies, one just in case. For the most part, I kept ‘Pill for the summer months. With its huge basslines, sprinkling guitars and massively buoyant chorus riffs, it always strikes me as being the perfect summer album, albeit one set ablaze by angst.
True, it works perfectly in that regard, but honestly, I could listen to this album in the middle of January and still feel it, that insatiable need to stand up, the move, to be with that music.
If that’s all it takes to be deemed a great album, then Jagged Little Pill is seriously one of the greatest ever.
5: Metallica ~ Master of Puppets
I know, right? A far cry from the 90s alt-rock that has dominated the early half of my list. True, I’m a child of the ’90s, I’m not ashamed of that, we had some great music, but I’m a child of the ’90s who got quite quickly and heavily hooked on heavy metal, and they don’t come much heavier -nor more brilliant- than Master of Puppets.
I’ve spoken about my love of Metallica several times on this blog, and you expect to see me do so a lot more as I continue to post entries in my 52 Songs list. As a teenager, they were my number one, my heroes, the band I idolized and listened to more than any other.
To pick just one album from this band and include it her however, now there was a challenge. Do I go with Ride the Lightning because it was the first Metallica album I listened to in full? …And Justice for All because its probably the one I listen to the most these days? How about Load, because it was the one album I listened to the most during my late teens and the first Metallica album I bought ‘in real time’ as it came out?
I could have chosen either of those, but instead I chose Master of Puppets because, well, because it’s Master of Puppets, and it f’n rocks.
I’ve already told you that Welcome Home (Sanitarium) is just about my favourite Metallica song of all time, and when you add the likes of the title track, the full-frontal assault of Battery and the menacing march of The Thing That Should Not Be to the equation, ‘Puppets really starts to stand out as being the best of the bunch.
That’s not even mentioning the likes of Disposable Heroes and Leper Messiah, both mighty tracks in their own right, and ones which Master of Puppets certainly wouldn’t be complete without.
You can read Part 1 of My Top Ten Favourite Albums of All Time here. Part 3 will be published next Friday, February 24th, 2017.