I honestly didn’t intend for this list of my all time favourite albums to span so many parts, but I’ve also found that the more I say about these collections of songs which have shaped, defined, influenced, and soundtracked my life, the more I actually want to say.
To be truthful, I could easily spread this over ten weeks, devoting thousand word essays to albums featured on this list.
But hey, I’ve got a life outside of this blog too, don’t you know?
So no, I won’t be doing that today, but what I will be doing, is delving into the final five, starting with my all-time favourite Bob Dylan album.
Before that, if you missed either of the earlier installments in this series, here they are below:
6: Bob Dylan ~ Highway 61 Revisited
I debated for a while as to which Bob Dylan album to include on this list. The good part about that, was that it gave me the perfect excuse to go back and listen to gems like Blood on the Tracks, Blonde on Blonde and Bringing it All Back Home again.
The bad (or not) part of all this, was that in the end I still couldn’t decide, and so you’ll find that both the latter of those three, and this one, both on the list.
Seriously though, could you blame me?
If you could, that tells me that you’ve never actually listened to Highway 61 Revisited before, and must do so immediately.
Right out of the gate, this truly fantastic piece of work starts with my two all-time favourite Dylan tracks; Like a Rolling Stone and Tombstone Blues before diving into….
It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry.
Despite taking a slower, more stripped-back approach than the previous two tracks, Laugh/Cry does a great job of epitomising the very essence of Highway 61; huge, rolling sing-alongs drenched in the blues and infused with equal parts playfulness and poignancy.
This is seriously just a joy to listen to, and deserves every ounce of the acclaim it receives.
7: Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
Speaking of albums that are a joy to listen to, there’s something about Fleetwood Mac’s most famous release which – despite the heartbreak and drama that lay at the heart of the recording – makes it such a wonderful listen.
A truly timeless album that never gets old no matter how many times I listen to it, Rumours is one of those albums I always return to when I need to feel good about things.
Not once has it ever disappointed me.
Opening track Second Hand News, along with cuts like
Don’t Stop and Go Your Own Way have a way of sinking through your skin into the darkest parts of the soul and turning a light on in there that is impossible to put out again.
Each one is a buoyant, beautifully crafted pop song, with lashings of melody and catchy lyrics splashed liberally over the one thing that holds the whole album together:
John McVie’s confident, animated basslines.
Ranging from the simple-yet-effective to the intricately masterful, it’s this bass that really elevates the songs on Rumours to a whole new level.
Of course, nowhere is this more true than on one of the album’s undeniable highlights;
The huge bass riff which sends The Chain hurtling towards the finish line was a huge influence on my decision to learn the bass guitar, though that’s only part of the reason why I truly adore not just the song, but everything around it.
Even when Rumours is at its most dark, reflective, or sombre, such as on Dreams and Gold Dust Woman, there’s still something about it that never fails to brighten a bad day, or to make a good day even brighter.
8: Tom Petty – Full Moon Fever
Tom Petty is one of the most important artists or his or any other time. His work with The Heartbreakers still stands up today, and this solo album, released in 1989, sounds as good today as I imagine it did back then.
I say imagine because, well, here’s the thing:
I was four years old when Full Moon Fever was released.
I didn’t actually discover it for myself until at least eleven years later, and even then it came into my life completely by accident as a result of a bootleg recording featuring Axl Rose singing the album’s hit single, Free Fallin’.
I tracked down the original version of the song which, naturally, brought me to this album.
Believe me when I tell you:
I fell in love instantly.
Free Fallin’ played a big part in my life as it was the first song my first band learned to play together. Today however, it’s the rest of the album that ensures I keep going back to listen to it every few months or so.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic called Full Moon Fever a minor masterpiece, and I have to agree.
From the solid rhythm of early album highlight I Won’t Back Down to the sheer eccentric joy of Zombie Zoo, every single track sounds fresh, alive, and -in short- wonderful.
Personal favourites includes the ferocious finale of Runnin’ Down a Dream (a karaoke favourite back when that was the sort of thing I did with my weekends), the huge rock sound of Love is a Long Road, and the jangly acoustics and jovial lyrics of Yer So Bad.
We’re almost at the end of my top ten favourites of all time by now.
In fact, forget the word ‘minor,’ Full Moon Fever is a pure masterpiece in every sense of the word. Though saying that, I feel exactly the same way about every album on my list, the last two of which we’ll talk about next week.
You can read Part 2 of My Top Ten Favourite Albums of All Time here. Part 3 will be published next Friday, March 3rd, 2017.