While there’s a tonne of music I’d like to take with me to the proverbial desert island, there are precious few albums that fit my criteria of ‘anytime, anywhere’ listen-ability. Those few are listed below. That they were all released within a two-year window in time? Pure coincidence, but I will say that I believe an album needs a good decade or so to establish its place in an all-time best list. What’s no coincidence is that there’s no Australian music on here (sorry, Aussie friends). They’re very good at sport though, wouldn’t you say?
The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses
Surely one of the best debuts of all time. Every time I hear this, it blows my mind to think it was a first release. Includes one of the best jams ever (“I Am the Resurrection”) which, despite running at over eight minutes, manages to be not in the least bit self-indulgent or wanky. Just why would you stop playing if you sounded this good?
It glides, it grooves, it shuffles, it soars, it floats, it flies. A heady mix of gospel, acid house and dub, Screamadelica is a kaleidoscopic trip without drugs. It’s made so many ‘best of’ lists it’s not even funny, and although Primal Scream have produced a shitload of amazing material since, nothing can touch this for its ground-breaking, ethereal wonder. Featuring cover art just begging to be turned into acid tabs.
Faith No More, The Real Thing
Though I make no secret of my general disdain for metal and hard rawk, I find Faith No More to be way too eclectic and listenable to sit comfortably in either grubby hole. Although not the best showcase of what I consider to be one of the smoothest, most versatile voices in the business—check King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime for that—this album is a cracker, and a rare example of keyboards integrated into rock without sucking.
A beautiful, soaring mix of melodious rock, and capturing the band at its synergistic best, before the departure of Andrew Brough who brought pretty balance to Shayne Carter’s raw, angsty volume. “Cast Stone”, a tragic ode to a lost friend, never fails to bring a tear to the eye and contains some of the best use of feedback since Hendrix.
A remixed compilation of some of Kraftwerk’s finest (although how “The Model” failed to make this I’ll never understand). Fantastically geeky, it’s the closest thing the famously unconventional group ever did to a Greatest Hits album. I was loaned a cassette copy of this in my teens about a year after its 1991 release, thus making for the most memorable CBD-to-suburban Auckland bus trip ever. “Autobahn”, a nine-plus minute epic which beautifully captures the feel of driving on a motorway, features what I’m fairly sure is music’s only vocoder barbershop middle eight, or as one YouTube commenter puts it, a “vocoder orgasm”. Every time I hear it, I have to stop what I’m doing. Check out the full track here; the goodness is at 6:33: