National Album Day


Hello, and excuse that brief hiatus - I have one hell of a story to explain it but that's for another post. Today is National Album Day in the UK and I'm going to thoroughly indulge my love of music in this post. Here are some of my absolute favourite no-skip albums in order of their release:

This was an album very much of my childhood. It was released six years before my birth, and my parents quite rightly seemed to play it right through the 1980s. Desire, then, has a strong nostalgic pull for me - in the 80s I knew nothing of the riots, the strikes, the disasters, the politicians, nor indeed the yuppies, the coke, or the aerobics. It was, ironically, a time of innocence and relative peace, and it wasn't until after I left university (nearly 30 years after its release) that I began to appreciate it for itself. It begins with the relentless and at times almost frantic Hurricane, a song protesting the conviction of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter in 1966 (he would be released in 1985), goes into Isis, an allegorical tale of the discovery of the value of love, which is followed by Mozambique, One More Cup of Coffee, and Oh Sister, Sister (the latter two are duets with Emmylou Harris). Then, I am old enough to remember turning over the vinyl to side two - Joey (the longest track on there, one my mother found dismal but one I loved perhaps the most on the album, telling the story of the gangster Joe Gallo who was shot dead in 1972), Romance in Durango, Black Diamond Bay, and the final track Sara, written about his first wife Sara Dylan. And that final song I remember playing over and over and over again lying on the living room floor next to the record player.

Aside from Bob Dylan I was raised on Kate Bush, which my mother played a great deal. I love the albums preceeding The Sensual World - The Kick Inside, Lionheart (both 1978), Never For Ever (1980), The Dreaming (1982), and Hounds of Love (1985), but it's this one that stands out the most for me. I have dim memories of buying it on cassette (in Hexham, Northumberland, in case you were wondering - the old Robbs, which I doubt means much to anyone reading!) and playing it with my mum on the way back home in the car. I was far too young of course to realise that the opening track The Sensual World was inspired by James Joyce's Ulysses, but the whole album is almost hypnotic, dreamy, but yet grounded. To quote Ben Hewitt for Pitchfork,
But she’d never sounded more grounded than she did on these 10 songs, most of which are about regular people in regular messes, not disturbed governesses, paranoid Russian wives or terrified fetuses. It was, she said, her most honest, personal album, and its stories play out like intimate vignettes rather than fantastical fairy tales. Unlike the otherworldly synth-pop-prog she pioneered on 1985’s Hounds of Love, she used her beloved Fairlight CMI to produce lusher, mellow textures, complemented by the warm, earthy thrum of Irish folk instruments and the pretty violins and violas of England’s classical bad boy, Nigel Kennedy. 
It is a masterpiece and does, despite what that quote suggests, devlve into the surreal at times in Rocket's Tail (she becomes a rocket), Heads We're Dancing (in which she dances with Adolf Hitler), and Deeper Understanding in which she becomes hopelessly obsessed with her computer (a warning, perhaps, of things to come). My favourite song of all - Never Be Mine:


I remember hearing Garbage's first single on the Top 40 - I'm Only Happy When it Rains. That week (I've just looked, alas this is not from memory!) Fairground by Simply Red was at number 1, knocking off Shaggy's Boombastic, and there was in the top 40 Mariah Carey's Fantasy, Stayin' Alive by N-Trance, I'll Be There For You by the Rembrandts, Berri's Sunshine After the Rain, and Who the F**k is Alice by Smokie and Chubby Brown. I'm Only Happy When it Rains was made all the darker for its light pop surroundings! And it intrigued me, Shirley Manson's rich voice full of defiance - "I only smile in the dark / My only comfort is the night gone black". I didn't buy the album that year, but I know I had it before their second album Version 2.0 came out in 1998. And I loved it, their debut album, a mixture of dark rock and dance; it opens with Supervixen, with almost Gothic sounding lyics such as -
And I'll feed your obsession
The falling star that you cannot live without
I will be your religion
This thing you'll never doubt
You're not the only one
You're not the only one
And As Heaven is Wide's -
Nothing that you say will release you
Nothing that you pray would forgive you
Nothing's what your words mean to me
Something that you did will destroy me
Something that you said will stay with me long after you are dead and gone
If flesh could crawl
My skin would fall
From off my bones and run away from here.
It appealled to ym Sylvia Plath-loving adolescent self, but though I may be getting close to 40 I still love it, each and every track. My favourite track - Stupid Girl, which for reason I never liked until these past few years!


This album I bought on a whim because I liked one of the tracks Hide U, which I first heard on a compilation cd. When I bought it it was very cheap, I wouldn't probably have bought it otherwise having not heard any of the other tracks, but it's probably my most favourite album ever. It's a mixture of trip hop, drum and bass, and electronica (I realise the mention of D&B might put everyone off) but it's a wonderful album, haunting, melodic, and very beautiful. I was to be honest in a rather bad relationship when I first started listening to it, and the melancholic feel soothed me. It's impossible to pick a favourite track, so here's one picked at random:


Everyone needs some pop in their life, and my current pop favourite is Taylor Swift. I bought 1989 after hearing Shake It Off, loving it, and following the excitement of 1989's release on Twitter. It did not disappoint! It's a mixture of light (though not necessarily throw-away) tunes, 80s style synth, and some of the confessional (sometimes plaintive) tracks Swift does so well. It's hard to pick a favourite, so here's Bad Blood, which won the Grammy Award for Best Music Video:


And to finish, here are a few more of my favourite no-skip albums that I don't have time to write about:






Comments

mudpuddle said…
i was out in the garage and singing to myself; mrs. m came in and heard me and we both started belting out "Get a Job": a great hit by the Silhouettes released in "57... amazing how those oldies stick with you...
Oh my goodness, Mudpuddle, I wish I could have seen the two of you. Next time, please take a video ... ;-)
Good to see you back, O! And I can't wait to hear the story!
Jean said…
Yeah, what's the story? Hm, I never heard of National Album Day, but my favorites are all things like Oingo Boingo and Sarah McLachlan. And the Chills and Erasure. I do love Peter Gabriel!
o said…
mudpuddle - it's a great song! Listening to it now for the first time :)

Cleo, Jean - nearly wrote something on it a few days ago but it all kicked off again. It's a row, basically - it's all ridiculous. I hate blogging about other people and personal things but I'll attempt something. It's been awful, actually, bitter, petty, nasty, and it's bordering on downright dangerous. Gosh, I thought Brexit was bad!

And Jean - National Album Day - it's a new thing here. Think that was only it's second year :)