10 – Fat and Frantic – Live at the Wonky Donkey Bar and Grill
The first of three albums on this list that I didn’t actually own, but instead had a copy of on a c90 cassette that was recorded for me by the older brother of a friend (I won’t name names just in case the law want to get involved). I only found out the name of the album (and that it was an album, not a bootleg) while trying to work out what the first ten albums I owned were. I listened to it this afternoon for the first time in over twenty years and there were little twinges of nostalgia along the way. It really isn’t my cup of tea any more but I’m not going to spend any time describing why. Tastes change. People change.
Interestingly, most of the band are pastors or clergymen now, which should mean they’ll forgive me for the whole illegally recording their album thing.
9 – Half Man Half Biscuit – Back in the DHSS
While I wasn’t inclined to say anything mean about the first album on my list, the lead singer of Half Man Half Biscuit did a voiceover for a BP advert two years after the company pleaded guilty to dumping hazardous wastes on the Alaska North Slope, so I have no sympathy for him and he will just have to take what’s coming to him. Here it comes… I don’t like Half Man Half Biscuit very much. There. I said it. There is an unkindness to their lyrics. While not exactly punching down they definitely sneer in a downward trajectory. And yes, I’m sure that you can probably list songs they have done that are inspirational and kind and charitable and what have you, and that’s great and everything, but tell it to the Alaska North Slope, yeah?
8 – Huey Lewis and the News – Fore!
You can blame Back to the Future for this one, I guess, though I did at one point own three Huey Lewis and the News albums, so I must have liked them quite a lot for a little while. I now rank them among those bands that you know are a bit naff but you can’t really stay angry with. Eighties gonna eighty. You can’t fight it.
7 – Huey Lewis and the News – Sports
Told you I owned three of them. I reckon the third one was the twelfth album I owned though, so this is as high as they’ll get on this list.
6 – Billy Idol – Billy Idol
My Aunt asked me what I wanted for Christmas and what I wanted for Christmas was Idol Songs: 11 of the Best by Billy Idol. What I got (presumably because it was a bit cheaper) was Billy Idol’s debut album, Billy Idol, an album which only features two of the eleven songs that were, at that point in time when Idol Songs: 11 of the Best was released, deemed ‘the Best’. One of those is White Wedding though, and that is a solid gold banger.
5- Whitney Houston – Whitney
A few years after I got this for Christmas, when the teenage hormones started kicking in, I had nothing but contempt for Whitney Houston. Now that I am fully grown, it is stunningly obvious to me how much better So Emotional or I Wanna Dance With Somebody is than something like, say, Head Like A Hole by Nine Inch Nails, but that’s teenagers for you, eh? Always going for the grumpy songs.
There is a fair bit of filler on Whitney. It is by no means a classic. But it does have its moments.
4 – The Fall – The Frenz Experiment
In hindsight, The Frenz Experiment isn’t even the best album that The Fall released in 1988, but it was the first album that I went into a shop and bought for myself so it will always have some sort of place in my heart. I know that sounds a bit ‘look at me buying Fall albums when I was twelve or thirteen’ but back then I don’t think I had really worked out that the music John Peel played was in any way ‘different’ to the music Gary Davies played. It was just music. Plus, I bought it for about a pound from a WHSmith clearance bin, so I wasn’t exactly queuing up to buy it from Bridge Street Records on the day it was released or anything.
3 – They Might Be Giants – They Might Be Giants
The third, and best, of the three albums taped for me by my friend’s older brother. I loved this album so much. It was weird and silly and fun.
This was probably the first album I heard that I would later mention while suggesting a band’s earlier stuff was better than their newer, more popular stuff, which is kind of interesting, I guess, though arguably They Might Be Giants’ best album was John Henry, which they released nearly ten years later, so there is an important lesson for all of us here. Somewhere. Perhaps.
2- Madonna – True Blue
OK, I admit it, there are a fair few clunkers on True Blue. But there is also Live to Tell, which is one of the five best Madonna songs of all time so the album is easily number two in this chart.
(The others are Borderline, Crazy for You, Like A Prayer, and Hung Up, in case you were wondering. You’re welcome.)
1 – Pet Shop Boys – Introspective
Left to My Own Devices, I Want A Dog, Domino Dancing, I’m Not Scared, Always On My Mind/In My House, It’s Alright. Every song on Introspective is pretty much perfect. This is the only record on this list that I still listen to regularly. It has consistently been one of my favourite albums throughout my life, one of very few constants among an ever changing lineup. But because it has been a part of my life for so long, I find it very hard to describe what makes it so great. It just is. You will just have to take my word for it.