Top Ten Albums of All Time
Well honestly, where do you go after compiling your top ten albums of 2009 and your top ten albums of the Noughties? Once again, the usual disclaimers and lame excuses apply. One additional thought: Maybe this list should be refreshed yearly. Might be interesting to see how it mutated year after year.
Sorry if the descriptions below are a little defensive – they all seem to say “everyone reckons this album is crap but it’s actually a classic because…” Bubblegum Cage III hereby acknowledges that you know most of these albums are generally considered to be fairly obvious classics.
1. My Bloody Valentine – Loveless
Indeed, this is a staggeringly obvious choice for number one but what are you going to do? The fact that My Bloody Valentine’s peerless masterpiece is one of the most imitated albums of all time only goes to show how utterly inimitable it remains. As physical as it is ethereal, Loveless is, in fact, anything but obvious.
My Bloody Valentine – “Loomer”
2. The Fall – The Wonderful & Frightening World of The Fall
As a consequence of the now-tiresome post-punk revival, a critical consensus has developed that puts The Fall’s best before date at 1984. But from ’84 to ’86 the band developed a truly singular sound that could never be generically pigeon-holed. Wonderful & Frightening represents the pinnacle of this period.
The Fall – “Lay of the Land”
3. Scott Walker – Tilt
The Drift my be a fuller realisation of Scott Walker’s late-period avant garde song style but Tilt is ultimately a richer, more rewarding listen. Maybe this is precisely because it displays more willingness to meet the listener halfway, providing at least a modicum of conventionally musical reference points.
Scott Walker – “Farmer in the City”
4. Fennesz – Endless Summer
Fennesz’s master-work is the only LP to make into both the Noughties list and this one. Like a lot of albums on this list, Endless Summer represents an artist’s most individual statement. Though it owes debts to everyone from The Beach Boys to Oval, Endless Summer sounds like nothing else on earth.
Fennesz – “Caecilia”
5. Arthur Russell – World of Echo
Talking of singular artistic statements… Arthur Russell spent most of his career playing with genres ranging from modern classical to disco via folk and pop. This collection of heavily processed voice-and-cello songs shows us Arthur’s true vision – the sound of a dreamer lost in his own World of Echo.
Arthur Russell – “Place I Know/Kid Like You”
6. Disco Inferno – DI Go Pop
The legendary Five EPs contain Disco Inferno’s best work but seeing as those singles have never been officially collected, DI Go Pop will have to do. Certainly, this album represents the band’s most original statement – few traces of traditional instruments are audible above the barrage of sampled sound.
Disco Inferno – “New Clothes for the New World”
7. Oval – 94 Diskont
Oval’s Systemich introduced the digital glitch into the lexicon of recorded music and proposed a challenging new form of experimental electronica that was neither ambient, noise nor electro-acoustic composition. It was the follow-up, 94 Diskont, that harnessed this new form in the service of timeless beauty.
Oval – “Do While (✂)”
8. Wu-Tang Clan – Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
It’s not easy to pick a favourite Wu-affiliated album – Tical has the best production, Only Built for Cuban Linx has the best rhyming, Iron Man has… well… Ghostface! Still, Enter the Wu-Tang conveys a palpable sense of artists discovering their powers – something that only a debut album can capture.
Wu-Tang Clan – “Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber, Part 2”
9. Kate Bush – Hounds of Love
Kate’s career has been – pardon the pun – dogged by the slick manoeuvres of slimy session musicians. To a great extent though, Hounds of Love is the sound of a genius at home with her Linn Drum and her Fairlight. It’s all Kate, in other words and Kate is a true visionary, best left unencumbered by fussy technique.
Kate Bush – “Cloudbusting”
10. Sonic Youth – Sister
Mark K-Punk’s infamous evisceration of Sonic Youth seemed to suggest that Thurston and co’s innovations were purely technical and that their music had no ontological resonance. Has he actually listened to Sister? Here, the guitar is re-invented in the service of sheer nerve-racking, life-affirming panic.
Sonic Youth – “Tuff Gnarl”
Antipop Consortium – Arrhythmia
Basic Channel – BCD2
Bark Psychosis – Hex
Tim Buckley – Starsailor
Can – Tago Mago
Fairport Convention – Liege & Lief
Steve Reich – Music for 18 Musicians
Scritti Politti – Songs to Remember
Tujiko Noriko – Make Me Hard
Neil Young – Zuma (Controversial!)