1001 Albums (1-20)

At the end of December, I came across the 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die website, based upon the book of the same name. After signing up at the site, you receive a daily album suggestion. There's an app for Logitech Media Server which links to a copy in your local music library, or failing that to your streaming service of choice, making it easy to listen to the album.

So far, I've had 22 albums - several of which I own in some format or other, some were new to me, and some have been added to my collection. As far as I understand it, the albums from the list are presented in a random order. Here's what I've had in order of appearance. Here are the first 20 albums.

1. Live! by Fela Kuti and the Africa '70 with Ginger Baker (1971)

Live! Fela Kuti

I think this music would be absolutely terrific to see live - certainly the band in this live recording are really going for it. I'm not sure what role Baker had in this. Saved to my Qobuz favourites, and I will probably add this to my collection in time as I think it is a grower (I already have some Fela Kuti music).




2. On The Beach by Neil Young (1974)

On the Beach by Neil Young album sleeveNo, sorry, I really don't like Young's vocal style. I kind of get the songs, and can situate them in the early 1970s (having been there as a kid), but I really don't like this musical style.





3. Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton (1971)

Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton album sleeveI dislike country music, and while I can appreciate the clarity and rhythm of the singing, I wouldn't add this to my streaming library and nor am I likely to play this again. Not to my taste.





4. Electric Warrior by T. Rex (1971)

Electric Warrior LP sleeveBonkers lyrics, choogling guitar, a sprinkling of glitter - what's not to love? The album where Tyrannosaurus Rex goes electric, becomes T. Rex and which brings a clutch of top notch pop-rock LPs, dominating the charts for a couple of years with some stellar singles.

This album in in my local library, and along with The Slider is a lovely early 70s pop album.



5. Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits (1985)

Brothers In Arms album sleeveTechnically proficient and well-produced AOR music. I find this rather unengaging. Money for Nothing came at just the right moment with the advent of digital music, MTV and the like. A smash album.

This one is in my local library. I guess it's fair to say that it is a classic album but not one to my taste.



6. All Directions by The Temptations (1972)

All Directions album sleeve A nice enough album. Has the feel of a label product - only a few songs written by The Temptations, and according to the Wikipedia page, the band strongly resisted some of the stand out tracks.




7. Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) by The Kinks (1969)

Arthur LP sleeveAccording to Wikipedia, this is one of those albums that was not particularly well received by critics on release but which has seen something of a reappraisal over the years.

I've not really listened to The Kinks, though I have played a couple of their albums and I know a few of their singles. I think this is a workmanlike concept album - it may have made more sense had the projected TV play that it was intended to accompany been made. I'm not generally keen on concept albums as they can often be a bit forced.  I don't see why critics seem to laud the quality of the lyrics, which seem rather so-so to me. Of course I'm more familiar with 'Victoria' owing the the cover by the mighty Fall. 3/5

8. Everything Must Go by Manic Street Preachers (1996)

Everything Must Go album sleeveManic Street Preachers are another of the worthy bands that for one reason or another I have never really connected with over the years, so I was pleased this came up as the daily suggestion.

I think this is a bit of a transitional album for the band as it was the first to be released after Richey Edwards' disappearance.

I really enjoyed playing this, and I've added it to my Qobuz favourites. It's an album I plan to investigate more fully in the future. 4/5


9. Stand! by Sly and the Family Stone (1969)

Stand! album sleeveI liked this album - once it got into its groove after the title track which I didn't care for. The version streamed had a bunch of bonus tracks that didn't add much. Still, a good album, though I prefer the darker toned There's a Riot Goin' On - which came after a 'lifestyle change' for Sly after the success of this album.

Added this one to my Qobuz favourites.



10. Fever To Tell by Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2003)

Fever To Tell album sleeveThis is another album (and band) which completely passed me by at the time of release.

I really enjoyed this album and eventually bought it on CD (about half the price of a lossless download). 




11. The Yes Album by Yes (1971)

The Yes Album sleeveI have never liked this band. This may be a consequence of developing my musical taste in the punk/post-punk era. And having a room-mate back in my student days who loved the band while I really wanted to be out there with Magazine, Joy Division and so forth. 

So I've played this album a couple of times, and I still don't like it. As I say, maybe it's a generational thing. I can see the musicianship and the craft involved in the LP but it leaves me a bit unengaged. Perhaps back in 1971 I might have had a different opinion.


12. Beggars Banquet by The Rolling Stones (1968)

Beggars Banquet sleeve A bona fide classic album.

The first of the four great Stones albums, this is really great stuff. Favourite track - Sympathy for the Devil, but really the Stones are on form throughout.




13. Queens Of The Stone Age by Queens Of The Stone Age (1998)

Queens of the stone age album sleeveI'd never listened to QOTSA before, though I kind of knew what to expect after Josh Homme's collaborations with Iggy Pop (Post Pop Depression and the live album). I think this is a pretty strong album, particularly given this is a debut album.

Horrible sleev design.

Added to my Qobuz favourites


14. Le Tigre by Le Tigre (1999)

Le Tigre album sleeveAnother band that completely passed my by at the time!

This is a splendid debut album, exciting and challenging. I bought this as a download.




15. The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter by The Incredible String Band

My initial reaction to this album after a few plays was "I think this is a horrible album. I played it several times and it just set my teeth on edge. I just dislike folk rock.". I rated it 1/5.

I need to revisit this, as the album has subsequently grown on me a bit, maybe now 3/5. But I still don't like folk rock.

16. Siamese Dream by The Smashing Pumpkins (1993)

Siamese Dreams LP sleeveI didn't leave a review on this album on the site but I did score it 4/5. I added it as a Qobuz favourite, so it's something I did like.





17. Machine Gun Etiquette by The Damned (1979)

The Damned released the first UK punk single back in 1976 - this is their third studio album. This album is pretty good fun with a few standout tracks, but not essential I think.


18. Junkyard by The Birthday Party (1982)

Junkyard LP sleeveI bought this album on release and its been a regular listen ever since. It's hard to believe this is the same Nick Cave who releases albums like Ghosteen!

With this album I think the band lifted their game but were moving into self-destruct mode. Bassist Tracey Pew was unable to play on some of the tracks and was replaced by the great Barry Adamson, later of The Bad Seeds.



19. Blunderbuss by Jack White (2012)

Blunderbuss LP sleeveI bought this as a download on release. A good solo album from Jack White, though I think at the time I preferred The White Stripes!





20. Out Of The Blue by Electric Light Orchestra (1977)

Out of the blue LP sleeve

Highly polished complex pop/rock music. Unfortunately, it's too smooth and just passes me by. Inoffensive.


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