The Albums Etched In To My Soul

There are albums that I know better than my own mind. That’s probably not that bold a statement, because anyone who knows me well could probably tell you more about my mind than me… I am sure we all have these amazing collections of music which we know word-for-word and beat-for-beat. We know every rise and fall in the melodies and we probably have a built in metronome that measures the gaps between each song. Please tell me in the comments if you have an album that you feel like that about!

So, in no particular order, here are my top ten (eleven!) albums and a bit about them all. Now that I have put them all down on a list I am shocked to discover that I really am still stuck in the nineties! But then who cares, there were clearly some awesome albums released in that decade! Ask me on another day and this list may slightly change, though there are some definite constants. Let me know your favourite albums too. I’d love to hear!

Manic Street Preachers- The Holy Bible

The first time I heard this a lad I was in college with lent it to me on a cassette. Everything Must Go had been out for a few months and I loved it, but it turned out that I was too late to the Manics party as the creative genius that was Richey was already missing, never to return. The Holy Bible blew me away. The way the words fell on top of each other over disjointed guitars really woke me up. In an instant it became my number one. It is still my favourite album and I have been lucky enough to see the band perform the album in it’s entirety twice.

Yeah 4st. 7, an epilogue of youth
Such beautiful dignity in self-abuse
I’ve finally come to understand life
Through staring blankly at my navel.

Ben Folds Five- Whatever And Ever Amen

Ben Folds bashing a piano like a punk-rock Chopin, while throwing out a mixture of self-deprivation, apathy, anger, and wit, what else could a boy ask for? My older sister was often the source of my musical learning during my youth. She was off in university and coming back with these interesting CDs. Like this guy, Ben, that sung amusing by evocative songs in his three piece piano rock band. It went against the grain of the grunge I was soaked in at the time. I have loved Mr Folds ever since and through his influence have been turned onto the amazing talents of Regina Spektor and Amanda Palmer.

Give me my money back
You bitch
I want my money back
And don’t forget to give
Me back my black t-shirt

The Smiths- The Queen Is Dead

While I have disowned the sad old bigot Steven Morrissery (go and read this article I recently had published on Queen Mob’s Teahouse) it is an undeniable fact that The Queen Is Dead is amazing album and I will arm wrestle anyone who says otherwise. I remember getting so into this album that I used to go and sit and read in a local graveyard for several weeks one summer. That’s the kind of influence The Smiths had one me. While I grew up having The Smiths and The Cure drilled into me, I was far too young in the eighties to understand or appreciate them. But, come my teenage years I was ready for a double-dose of satirically sombre serenades and The Queen Is Dead became my (elderberry) jam.

Frankly, Mr. Shankly, I’m a sickening wreck
I’ve got the twenty first century breathing down my neck
I must move fast, you understand me
I want to go down in celluloid history, Mr. Shankly

Nirvana- Nevermind

Too late to the party again I got into Nirvana just months after Kurt’s death. I probably listened to this album twice or three times a day. I bleached my hair and grew it long. I had a pair of jeans that had about fifty different tears in it and I lived in checked shirts. Grunge was probably my first ever opportunity to express myself. In a kappa tracksuit town where rave was the go-to sound, I genuinely got some serious abuse for the way that I looked and dressed. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t care what people thought; because I did. But I was not going to be like them. Later in my life I realise that my individuality was just a photocopy of so many other off-beat teenagers and had all the originality of the cloned drones in their shell suits. Nirvana inspired me to pick up the guitar and form a band which was originally called Nemesis. We were utter shite. All my songs had four chords and went quiet, loud, quiet, loud but never had the true grit of grunge.

With eyes so dilated, I’ve became your pupil
You’ve taught me everything without a poison apple
The water is so yellow
I’m a healthy student
Indebted and so grateful
Vacuum out the fluids
Chew my meat for you
Pass it back and forth in a passionate kiss

Pearl Jam- Ten

The drummer in my bad teenage band gave me a badly copied tape of Ten when we were still in school together. He said someone gave it to him and he didn’t like it. A few years later I realised just how badly recorded it was- there were parts of songs missing and parts of it sounded as though they were underwater. ‘Black’ is a beautiful track that really makes that album. I’d go on to enjoy other songs more that many of the album tracks on Ten, tracks such as ‘Rearviewmirror’ and ‘Spin the Black Circle’ on Pearl Jam’s second and third albums are up there in my all time favourite songs. But as an album, Ten has a feeling that reminds me of a time. But it also feels distant and ethereal.

I know someday you’ll have a beautiful life
I know you’ll be a star in somebody else’s sky, but why
Why, why can’t it be, oh can’t it be mine?

Suede- Dog Man Star

Suede sounded like David Bowie and The Smiths shoved in a blender. ‘The Wild Ones’ was the hauntingly romantic suburban ballad that I bought on single and proceeded in listening to on repeat for weeks. For Christmas that year my parents bought me three albums which got played to death, Dog Man Star, Pearl Jam’s Vs., and White Zombie’s Astro Creep 2000: Stories of Love Destruction and Other Synthetic Delusions of the Electric Head. All three albums covering the specrum of my sixteen year old tastes. Guitarist, Bernard Butler, left Suede after this album, and though I still enjoyed their work, they were never quite as dramatic or romantic in my view.

And there’s a lifeline slipping as the record plays
And as I open the blinds in my mind I’m believing that you could stay
And oh if you stay I’ll chase the rain blown fields away
We’ll shine like the morning and sin in the sun
Oh if you stay, we’ll be the wild ones running with the dogs today

The Beatles- Abbey Road

Although released before Let It Be, Abbey Road was the final studio album by The Beatles. The amazing second half mega-mix always stunned me as a piece of songwriting excellence. An album that reminds of train journeys and cold days. I feel as though my teenage years my Beatles preferences moved in a delayed thirty-year parallel. Starting off enjoying the jangling early career stuff in my early teens, through to the psychedelic mid career Beatles in my mid-teens, before moving onto the likes of Abbey Road at the end. Top picks for me include ‘Golden Slumbers’ and ‘You Never Give Me Your Money’. and ‘The End’

And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make

Radiohead- OK Computer

The first time I heard this album was the day it was released. My college lecturer brought a copy of it in and we all listened to it over-and-over. He told us stories about vividly remembering the day that Houses of the Holy by Led Zeppelin was released (also an amazing album). This album reminds me of hand-me-down musical histories. Belonging to the set of anti-rockstars like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, Radiohead were the music without the ego and the pomp. As Oasis carbon copies began dominating the ‘non-pop’ music industry in the UK, it was getting hard to escape the lad culture that began appearing in the indie and Britpop scene. Radiohead were the antidote, and to a gangling geeky kid like me who was at odds with how to behave as a ‘lad’, Radiohead offered an alternative. The exciting noises of this album were structured and haphazard, cascading and crashing, beautiful and angry. For every softly played moment came a new way to distort a guitar.

It’s always best when the light is off
I am the pick in the ice
Do not cry out or hit the alarm
You know we’re friends till we die

The Clash- London Calling

Released in the year of my birth, London Calling was punk evolved. I didn’t like this album when I first listened to it. I tried a few times, but for some reason I just didn’t get it. Then , in my early twenties, something clicked and this album became a constant familiar favourite.

There’s a solitary man cryin’, “hold me!”
It’s only because he’s a-lonely
And if the keeper of time runs slowly
He won’t be alive for long

Stereophonics- Word Gets Around

Being Welsh, in the late nineties we made listening to the Stereohonics a matter of national pride. Even the cheesy-flavour-quaver-ravers dropped their Dreamscape and Fantastia tapes and joined in listening to some guitar music. The rise in popularity of the Manics, and other Welsh bands such as Super Furry Animals, and Catatonia heralded in the glory years of ‘Cool Cymru’. ‘Local Boy In A Photograph’ catches the back of my throat, ‘Traffic’ reminds me of a short-lived band I was in around that time, and ‘Billy Davey’s Daughter’ reminds me of drunken walks home with one of my best friends growing up, and ‘Last of the Big Time Drinkers’ was the song to start the night.

You see it in the class room in the
Swimming pool where the matchstick men
Are made at the scouts hall at the football
Where the wise we trust are paid they all
Honor his name he did a lot for the game
He got his name knocked up above the
Sports ground gates but now they are
Ripping them down stamping the ground
Picture gathers dust behind the bar in the
Lounge it takes one tree to make

Super Furry Animals- Mwng

In 2000, after Creation records closed down, the Super Furry Animals decided to release an album on their own record label, Placid Casual. Reaching number 11 in the UK album charts, this would be their first entirely Welsh album and it would be the first time that the chart would feature an album recorded in Welsh. The beautiful paired down lo-fi vibe on this album differs from most of the Super Furry’s more psychedelic output. The album took Welsh language rock to a completely new level and the album even got a mention in parliament. Lead singer, Gruff has gone on to record solo albums in both Welsh and English, in fact the last record I bought was a signed copy of his most recent album ‘Pang’ released just a couple of weeks ago.

Digon I ddweud
Enough to say
Ond neb, neb I wrando
But no, no-one to listen
Digon I roi
Enough to give
Ond neb, neb I gymrd
But no, no-one to take it
Pan ddaw’r wawr
As dawn breaks
Dwi’n furddun hen ei lawr
I’m an abandoned ruin
Heb siw na miw
No sight or sound
Na chlychau ar yr awr
Nor bells upon the hour

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

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  1. Animal Crackers SNDTRK, Hair SNDTRK, Animal House SNDTRK, Reservoir Dogs SNDTRK, Jackie Brown SNDTRK, Paul’s Boutique, Check your head, Let it be, St Peppers lonely hearts club band, The Chronic, Whipped Cream and other delights, The turtles presents battle of the bands, Pet Sounds, Animals, More SNDTRK, Dark side of the moon, wish you were here, the wall, three imaginary boys, skylarking, KISS ALIVE II, Hotter than Hell, Music from the elder, Led Zeppelin 4, Houses of the holy, Are you experienced ?, Bob Marley Legend to name a few πŸ™‚


  2. Even without the line up of their ‘heyday’ – but that gig was an absolute delight.

    It inspired me to write a couple of wee posts on here actually – no idea how to link to them but I think they would have been posted on the 16th August if you wanted to check them out.. πŸ˜πŸ–€


  3. Haha!! You’re not the only one! I’m far too old now to jostle for position in the moshpit nowadays! πŸ˜‰

    I agree that certain bands can appear a little lack lustre as the members age.

    Although I managed to fulfill a lifelong dream of seeing The Cure live in Glasgow earlier this year. I have to say – even with their somewhat ‘advanced’ years – the energy of their playing was never in question. That was one epic show!! An absolute highlight of my gig going career!! πŸ‘πŸ–€

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I bet they do. The problem is that all the greats are now middle aged- their gigs may be more polished, but the energy is not quite the same! I remember seeing the manics about ten years ago in birmigham and getting annoyed about some old thuggy guy trying to push people around at the front. I guess he was still living the spirit of punk and if it was a manics gig around 1990 that behaviour would have been the norm – hell, even the last gig with richey the band tour trashed the stage πŸ˜€ I just like to calmly sip my coffee and sit down and enjoy my gigs these days πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Haha! A questionable choice perhaps, but we all have them. It doesn’t make you a bad person!

    Yes, it certainly sounds like we’re around the same age. Shame you missed out on the gigs back then. Some of them still rank as the best gigs of my life – even now!! πŸ˜πŸ–€

    Liked by 1 person

  6. would I be a bad person if I admitted that I really like ‘The Love of Richard Nixon’?! (Unpopular opinion! )

    I wish I had seen them back then. I didn’t actually get to seeing them for the first time till 2006 (I’ve done my best to see them as often as possible since then) They were still keeping a space for Richey on stage even then. I missed out on going to gigs when I was a teenager- (I’m guessing you and I are a similar age). I would have loved to have seen them in the 90s!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yeah, just one for the collection that album! πŸ˜‚

    I’m glad I saw them with Richey on the original Gold Against The Soul tour as opposed to The Holy Bible tour to be honest . That was a cracking gig as I remember it!

    They came back to my town for THB tour the next year but I never went – I was just a kid and pocket money didn’t stretch to too many gigs back then! 😁

    Although I’d loved to have gone, in hindsight, I think I would have found it too sad to see them at the time. Plus, my teenager angst was already in full swing by that point so it was probably for the best that I didn’t go! πŸ˜‚

    I next saw them a couple of years later for the Everything Must Go tour – complete with an empty spotlight where Richey would have been standing πŸ˜” I remember JDB’s rendition of ‘Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head’ being poignantly sad πŸ–€


  8. I’m a completist when it comes to them so it will be hard for me to not buy. I probably won’t give it too many listens though πŸ˜€

    And yeah, they are hard going. I know on THB20 tour they performed some of the songs for the first time ever.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Yeah, that’s true. I’m just not sure what every performance of that album takes out of them – I know how much it takes out of me just hearing it!

    And yes, I totally agree about a potential Lifeblood reissue. Surely not even the most ardent of fans would want that! πŸ˜‚πŸ–€

    Liked by 1 person

  10. they managed it for the 20th anniversary. They were awesome when they did the album back-to-back five years ago- it’s probably more an overkill issue now. They actually need to stop doing the nostalgia tours in reality, or we’ll end up with a lifeblood reissue in a couple of years πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I don’t know about a discerning ear – I just like what I like! And the 80’s /90’s / 00’s have so many gems to offer! 😁

    It’s nice to know your feelings about bands / albums / songs are shared with others though. It’s just one of the things that makes music so magical.

    I agree – a 25th Anniversary reissue of The Holy Bible should most definitely happen. Sadly I think a tour of that material may just be too painful for the guys to undertake though – no matter how fan pleasing it would be πŸ˜”πŸ–€


  12. Mine are not really in any order – aside from The Holy Bible- that is always hands down my favourite (why no 25th anniversay reissue and tour?! I will never get fed up of buying new copies of that album!) I love the first suede album, but it was the second that made me fall in love with the band so it has kind of stuck with me. Hard choice between the bends and ok computer for me- I was on the fence about which I prefer! Slightly edged with OK computer for me- but ask me on another day and I may be all over the bends!!. I actually love Pulp more than Stereophonics- and after ‘word gets around’ I don’t have a lot of interest in the band. Whereas Pulp were amazing throughout and ‘His N Hers’ was by miles their best work! If this was a top 12, it would have been there! I love the cure too- pictures of you, and lovesong are amazing tracks! I actually had ‘Love Cats’ as my first dance at my wedding (obvs not from that album though!)

    it’s great to find people who have a similar taste- you clearly have a discerning ear!! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I agree with most of your choices and it’s great to read your reasons behind them. However…

    I’d put The Queen is Dead at the top (even though I sadly, now, share your opinion on M), switch ‘Dog Man Star’ for ‘Suede’, switch ‘OK Computer’ for ‘The Bends’, swap The Stereophonics for Pulp – ‘His N Hers’, swap SFA for The Cure – ‘Disintegration’ and just get rid of Ben Folds Five completely (just not my thing) πŸ˜πŸ–€

    Liked by 1 person

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