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Old 5th Aug 2007, 23:13   #1
Stewart
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Default Stewart's Top Ten Albums

I've been thinking long and hard on this one and while there's ten albums, I don't know if I can actually rank them. So let's just call this my top ten albums, in no specific order:
  • August And Everything After, Counting Crows
  • Debut album that contains eleven perfect songs of rock, sometimes with a soft tinge of blues. And it has my favourite song of all time, Anna Begins. Other tracks include Omaha, Mr Jones, Perfect Blue Buildings. The definitive Counting Crows album and nothing they've done since comes close to this.
  • 69 Love Songs, The Magnetic Fields
  • Stephin Merritt is probably a candidate for a greatest genius thread. This album from 1999 showed him at his most productive when it contained, as you've probably guessed from the title, sixty-nine love songs. It's a three CD album. The songs are a mixed range, usually lo-fi, but there's forays into jazz, country, blues, and even something rather medieval. Despite it's lo-fi nature, it's a grand project and a grand listen.
  • Mellow Gold, Beck
  • His first record for a major record company, Beck brought his experimental folk/blues/hip hop style to this, with a mashup of different songs that were all over the place yet strangely sat well together. The slacker anthem Loser comes from it.
  • Toward The Within, Dead Can Dance
  • A live album featuring otherwise unrecorded tracks by this sadly defunct Australian group. The two vocalists have wonderful voices, Brendam Perry's simple acoustic tracks work well against Lisa Gerrard's loud glossolalias, in addition to some traditional folk music. A must have.
  • Angel Dust, Faith No More
  • Simply the best Faith No More album, coming at the midpoint in their musical career. There's not much to say on this one. It's just a classic.
  • Ende Neu, Einstürzende Neubauten
  • Noisy metal bashers go mellow. And the string instrumenation backing such noises as a metal plate being whipped by a chain (Stella Maris) really works. It's mixed language, some English, some German, and was a real departure (to the better) for Blixa and co. Although there's only eight tracks, the lengthy NNNAAAMMM weighs in at twelve minutes and is suitably varied. Well, as varied as you can get when a chorus sings over cars getting hit and pneumatic machinery.
  • White People, Handsome Boy Modeling School
  • Aside from the skits (which are okay on first listen) this album nicely takes a lighthearted approach to hiphop. It features a wide range of guest vocalists (Mike Patton, Alex Kapranos, Chino Moreno) and each track is memorable in its own way, whether it be a laidback beat or something with samples and a great pop hook.
  • The Boatman's Call, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
  • Understated album with minimal instrumentation and that is all about the lyrics. Reminds me a little of Leonard Cohen, perhaps, and the songs here all consistent in keeping with the mood of the album where other albums by the Cavester may jump between full on rockouts and melancholy crooning.
  • Wild Mood Swings, The Cure
  • It's said by everyone that Disintegration is the best Cure album. But I'm going to beg to differ. Wild Mood Swings has it all and none of that guitar feedback wankery nonsense and just gets on with this finely arranged collection of goth-pop.
  • Greatest Hits, Leonard Cohen
  • I shouldn't strictly allows this since it's a compilation rather than an album release, but it's just too good a collection of songs to leave out. Pretty much just old misery guts himself with a guitar, occasionally joined by female backing vocals.
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Old 6th Aug 2007, 1:11   #2
Beth
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Default Re: Stewart's Top Ten Albums

Eclectic list there. I've only one of them, August... and it's very fine, not a bad spot on it. It's one of the albums I enjoy listening to when I'm going to be busy in the kitchen. Funny, I read not too long ago a reviewer's comment that it's the only CD that he's never taken out of rotation on his car CD changer since it was released. Anna is such an unassuming little song, isn't it? The delicate percussion, the haunting refrain. You've mentioned it as your favorite a few times and I'm wondering what it is about it that keeps that song consistently at the top of your list. Who knows, maybe that's something that just can't be quantified or explained. Hmm, Faith No More's Angel Dust. Will have to give it a listen sometime.
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Old 6th Aug 2007, 13:44   #3
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Default Re: Stewart's Top Ten Albums

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beth View Post
You've mentioned it [Anna Begins] as your favorite a few times and I'm wondering what it is about it that keeps that song consistently at the top of your list.
It's the lyrics and the conflict there, about letting the mind win out over the heart in spite of the strong case made by the latter. A Pyrrhic victory for the mind. It's just the song that, since I heard it way back when, has become my personal little anthem.

Quote:
My friend assures me, "It's all or nothing."
I am not worried, I am not overly concerned.
My friend implores me, "For one time only,
make an exception." I am not worried.
Wrap her up in a package of lies,
Send her off to a coconut island.
I am not worried, I am not overly concerned with the status of my emotions.
"Oh," she says, "you're changing."
We're always changing...

It does not bother me to say this isn't love.
Because if you don't want to talk about it then it isn't love.
And I guess I'm gonna have to live with that.
But I'm sure there's something in a shade of grey,
Or something in between,
And I can always change my name
If that's what you mean.

My friend assures me, "It's all or nothing."
But I am not really worried, I am not overly concerned.
You try to tell yourself the things you try to tell yourself
To make yourself forget. To make yourself forget. I am not worried.
"If it's love," she said, "then we're gonna have to think about the consequences."
But she can't stop shaking and I can't stop touching her and...

This time when kindness falls like rain
It washes her away. And Anna begins to change her mind.
"These seconds when I'm shaking leave me shuddering for days," she says.
And I'm not ready for this sort of thing.

But I'm not gonna break and I'm not gonna worry about it anymore.
I'm not gonna bend, and I'm not gonna break. And I'm not going to worry about it anymore.
It seems like I should say, "As long as this is love..."
But it's not all that easy, so maybe I should
Snap her up in a butterfly net and pin her down on a photograph album.
I am not worried cuz I've done this sort of thing before.
But then I start to think about the consequences,
And I don't get no sleep in a quiet room and...

This time when kindness falls like rain
It washes me away. And Anna begins to change my mind.
And everytime she sneezes I believe it's love and,
Oh lord, I'm not ready for this sort of thing.

She's talking in her sleep.
It's keeping me awake. And Anna begins to toss and turn.
And every word is nonsense but I understand and,
Oh lord, I'm not ready for this sort of thing.

Her kindness bangs a gong,
It's moving me along. And Anna begins to fade away.
It's chasing me away. She disappears, and
Oh lord, I'm not ready for this sort of thing.
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Old 6th Aug 2007, 14:03   #4
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Default Re: Stewart's Top Ten Albums

Good list Stewart, August ...is indeed fantastic beyond all compare and I'm glad to see another fan of 69 Love Songs, I've only ever met one other! Absolutely Cuckoo is my favourite I think... but there are soooo many good ones. I found that all my favourites are concentrated on one of the disks, but I can't remember which.
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Old 6th Aug 2007, 17:12   #5
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Default Re: Stewart's Top Ten Albums

Mr Jones and Me is in my favourite songs folder -- I love it. Counting Crows are one of the only bands in that folder twice -- the other of theirs there is Accidentally in Love -- the one that was used in Shrek. But it's also just fabulous to sing along with. They really do have some great lyrics (maybe not in accidentally in love although 'I surrender/ to this strawberry icecream' does at least always make me smile).
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Old 6th Aug 2007, 17:45   #6
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Default Re: Stewart's Top Ten Albums

Great list, Stewart. I'll add on my agreement about August... I've burned through several copies of that CD over the years and still listen to it quite often and Anna Begins has always been my favorite as well. I've always liked the line,

Quote:
And everytime she sneezes I believe it's love and,
Oh lord, I'm not ready for this sort of thing.

I was glad to see The Cure on your list as well. Wild Mood Swings is an interesting choice. I like it quite a bit but don't remember ever seen it atop someone's list. I especially like Jupiter Crash.
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Old 7th Aug 2007, 0:08   #7
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Default Re: Stewart's Top Ten Albums

Quote:
Originally Posted by Digger View Post
I'm glad to see another fan of 69 Love Songs, I've only ever met one other! Absolutely Cuckoo is my favourite I think... but there are soooo many good ones.
The tracks I like most are, given that there's so many to pick from, probably these:
  • Papa Was A Rodeo
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Zebra
  • Let's Pretend We're Bunny Rabbits
  • I Shatter
  • My Sentimental Melody
  • Kiss Me Like You Mean It
  • Acoustic Guitar
  • When My Boy Walks Down The Street
  • The Night You Can't Remember

But then I listen to it again and there's another fifty-eight I like. I'm not too keen on Love Is Like Jazz.
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Old 7th Aug 2007, 0:31   #8
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Default Re: Stewart's Top Ten Albums

I fell in love with 69 Love Songs when I happened to see the Magnetic Fields at a festival. I caught the first song, then the second, and then I just stood there transfixed for an hour, before running straight to the merch table and overbidding another convert for the last remaining copy. Amazing album.
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Old 11th Feb 2011, 12:32   #9
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Default Re: Stewart's Top Ten Albums

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stewart View Post
  • August And Everything After, Counting Crows
  • 69 Love Songs, The Magnetic Fields
  • Mellow Gold, Beck
  • Toward The Within, Dead Can Dance
  • Angel Dust, Faith No More
  • Ende Neu, Einstürzende Neubauten
  • White People, Handsome Boy Modeling School
  • The Boatman's Call, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
  • Wild Mood Swings, The Cure
  • Greatest Hits, Leonard Cohen
Looking back over this I noticed a glaring omission, that being Boys For Pele by Tori Amos. So here's that ten again, this time with a few changes:

  • August And Everything After, Counting Crows
  • 69 Love Songs, The Magnetic Fields
  • Boys For Pele, Tori Amos
  • Toward The Within, Dead Can Dance
  • Rage Against The Machine, Rage Against The Machine
  • Ende Neu, Einstürzende Neubauten
  • Medulla, Bjork
  • The Boatman's Call, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
  • Wild Mood Swings, The Cure
  • Greatest Hits, Leonard Cohen
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Old 11th Feb 2011, 12:51   #10
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Default Re: Stewart's Top Ten Albums

Good call on Medulla - that's the first Bjork album I could love every track on. That said, standout for me is 'Desired Constellation'. So delicate at the beginning, so powerful at the end.
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