Sunday, 14 October 2018

Do you want to feel how it feels?



Yesterday was apparently National Album Day, and was heavily promoted by the BBC (of course). I missed it, being somewhat occupied at John-John's "film show" yesterday, at which we were treated to a mammoth "Marvel-fest": back-to-back viewings of Avengers: Infinity War, Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Age of Ultron - a faboo day, indeed!


The best disco in town

However, let's make up for it, a day late. I thought I'd treat you, dear reader, to a little snapshot of ten of my all-time-fave albums - and then it's your turn...

I have excluded "Various Artists" anthologies (of course) and "Greatest Hits" collections from this list, so that means that certain albums that were never off my player such as Madonna's Immaculate Collection, Siouxsie & the Banshees Once Upon a Time, The Best of Bowie, and those by Queen, Abba, Bananarama, Dusty Springfield, Amanda Lear, Vicki Carr, X-Ray Spex, Blossom Dearie, Celia Cruz, The Supremes, Dalida, Petula Clark, Noel Coward, Erasure, Eartha Kitt, Max Raabe, Doris Day and so on (and on and on - they're probably the bulk of our music collection) do not count. The same goes for soundtracks, so that's Gypsy, Saturday Night Fever, Hairspray, Moulin Rouge, Cabaret, South Pacific, Chicago, Sweet Charity, Side by Side by Sondheim, Rocky Horror and many more (probably the second-biggest part of our collection) off the list.

However, by a process of whittling down the "long-list" (which included Ofra Haza - Yemenite Songs; Scissor Sisters - Scissor Sisters; Paul Anka - Rock Swings; Alison Moyet - Alf; Texas - White on Blonde; Dame Shirley Bassey - Performance; Elaine Stritch - Stritch; Freemasons - Unmixed; and Human League - Dare), here is my Top Ten (not in strict order of preference):



10: Beautiful South - Blue is the Colour.
There is not a single duff track on this delightful - and the band's most popular - album. Top tracks: Artificial Flowers, Blackbird on the Wire, Alone, Don't Marry Her (Fuck Me), and this one:






09: Kylie Minogue - Light Years.
The ultimate party album; it includes On a Night Like This, Disco Down, Loveboat, Kids (with Robbie Williams), Please Stay, Spinning Around, the wonderful title track, and this - the "Gay National Anthem"!






08: Blondie - Parallel Lines.
What can I possibly say about this album that hasn't already been said in droves? It is undoubtedly the one that would feature in just about anybody's Top Ten; it contains no fewer than five mega-hit singles (six were released, but I'm Gonna Love You Too never made the charts) - Sunday Girl, Heart of Glass, Hanging on the Telephone, One Way or Another, Picture This - and also includes this one:






07: Liza Minnelli - Results.
Darling Liza-with-a-zee found herself suddenly back in vogue with this one, thanks to the estimable hit-making talents of the Pet Shop Boys. I loved it when it came out, and love it still. Every track is a winner, including Losing My Mind, Love Pains, Twist in My Sobriety, Don't Drop Bombs, So Sorry, I Said - and this fragile version of a PSB classic:






06: Bronski Beat - Age of Consent.
Coinciding neatly with my own coming-out explosion onto the gay scene in a cloud of pink glitter and poppers, Jimmy Somerville and the boys really broke the mould with this sumptuous array of passion and anger, including the huge hits Smalltown Boy, Why? and I Feel Love/Johnny Remember Me (with Marc Almond), as well as Need-a-Man Blues, Love and Money and this:






05: Pet Shop Boys - Actually
Yes, them again. The Boys were probably the biggest thing to come out of the UK throughout the late '80s and early '90s; their music was everywhere, and they worked with loads of other favourite artists (cf Miss Minnelli at #7 on this very list, as well as Dusty Springfield, Patsy Kensit, Queen Madge (on Sorry), Robbie Williams, Kylie Minogue (In Denial), David Bowie, Tina Turner (Confidential), Boy George and Pete Burns). But this album, in my opinion, was their finest hour. Every track here is a classic - from the opener One More Chance to the closing number Kings Cross (which was an "earworm" for me just the other day), via Shopping, Rent, What Have I Done to Deserve This? (with Dusty), It's a Sin, and another eternal fave:






04: Soft Cell - Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret.
There never was before, and will never be another band quite like Soft Cell. The combination of Northern Soul, Marc Almond's tearfully-broken-diva vocals, loads of sleaze, and Dave Ball's absolutely-of-the-moment synthesizers was an instantaneous and massive hit both sides of the pond. It is the magnum opus of synth-pop, against which those who followed would be judged [and Nine Inch Nails, Goldfrapp, Suede, Róisin Murphy, Scissor Sisters all owe Marc and Dave some debt for their own success] - with such world-conquering numbers as Tainted Love, Say Hello Wave Goodbye and Bedsitter, as well as Frustration, Entertain Me, Seedy Films, and this controversial classic, I played this album to death!






03: Grace Jones - Nightclubbing.
After spending a large part of the 1970s as a "Disco muse"/Studio 54 icon/art-house model, at the beginning of the '80s Miss Jones truly hit the zeitgeist when she was spotted by Island Records' entrepreneur Chris Blackwell, teamed-up with Sly & Robbie - and this masterpiece [her second for Island, after Warm Leatherette] was the result. Like just about all the albums on this list, every track here could have been a stand-alone single - and indeed, quite a few were, including Walking in the Rain, Demolition Man, I've Seen That Face Before (Libertango), Use Me, Feel Up [the latter two in the US only], and this:






02: David Bowie - Hunky Dory.
An artist who simply must appear in any countdown of the all-time greats, David Bowie is indeed here. As any regular reader will know, Mr Bowie is, was, and always will be my favourite artist of all time. On the occasion of his 65th birthday, I posted a huge and in-depth pair of features on his back catalogue:And following his untimely death I posted a week of Bowie tributes (the final one here has links to the preceding six).

Unsurprisingly, as I have mentioned my love of the album so many times over the years, it is his 1971 masterpiece Hunky Dory [which I described previously thus: "...on balance - even with strong competition from 'Station to Station' - in my opinion it is his greatest album, across a five-decade career"] that is almost-but-not-quite at the top of this list. Its tracklist alone features several of the songs that could be considered "definitive Bowie" - including Changes, Oh! You Pretty Things, Queen Bitch and Life on Mars?, and the rest of the album is track after track of masterpieces such as Fill Your Heart, Song for Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, Kooks, Quicksand, and the one that contains one of the most-quoted of all his lyrics ("He's chameleon, comedian, Corinthian and caricature"):






01: Kate Bush - Hounds of Love.
David Bowie is indeed considered to be "god" round these parts, but even he is pipped to the post by what is, definitely and definitively, the very best album ever released! [OK, OK, that is in my opinion - others out there will argue for their own, and indeed, as far as "popular" taste may be judged, the likes of Michael Jackson, Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, Pink Floyd and - ahem - The Eagles will always appear in such "Top Ten" lists in the meejah. Not in mine.]

Miss Bush began as a bit of a "novelty act" - all unusual and often squeaky vocal warblings and arty "interpretive dance" steps, she became the butt of many a "comedic" impersonation and pastiche - but eventually the British public realised what a fantastic talent she has, and nowadays she couldn't really be higher up the "national treasure" ladder. When she released this work of genius, it had been three years since her last (commercially unsuccessful) album The Dreaming, and no-one had huge expectations of her. Yet it became a massive success, and proved the defining moment of her career - with hits from it such as Cloudbusting, Hounds of Love and The Big Sky. Side two of the album (separately titled The Ninth Wave) included some of her most mysterious yet captivating work on tracks such as And Dream of Sheep, Waking The Witch and Under Ice. However, it was this track, the opening salvo of the double-album, that really was the ground-breaker:


It doesn't hurt me.
Do you want to feel how it feels?
Do you want to know that it doesn't hurt me?
Do you want to hear about the deal that I'm making?
You, it's you and me.

And if I only could,
I'd make a deal with God,
And I'd get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
Be running up that building.
If I only could, oh...

You don't want to hurt me,
But see how deep the bullet lies.
Unaware I'm tearing you asunder.
Ooh, there is thunder in our hearts.

Is there so much hate for the ones we love?
Tell me, we both matter, don't we?
You, it's you and me.
It's you and me won't be unhappy.

And if I only could,
I'd make a deal with God,
And I'd get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
Be running up that building,
Say, if I only could, oh...

You,
It's you and me,
It's you and me won't be unhappy.

'C'mon, baby, c'mon darling,
Let me steal this moment from you now.
C'mon, angel, c'mon, c'mon, darling,
Let's exchange the experience, oh...'

And if I only could,
I'd make a deal with God,
And I'd get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
With no problems.


Well, that's quite enough self-indulgence.

What are your favourite albums, dear reader?

16 comments:

  1. They are all great albums.
    Well chosen.

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  2. I agree with all of the above and I'd add Arrival....by you know who?

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    1. Errrm. Let me guess. Are they Swedish, perchance? Jx

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  3. What a splendid collection! I knew I'd find one or two (and more) artists I liked here: Kylie, Pet Shop Boys, Grace Jones, Kate Bush.
    I'm going to have a think about my top ten now (which can serve as a new blog post) - thank you, Jon!

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    1. P.S. I forgot to ask: Which was your favourite Marvel film? Mine is Phwooaaar!! Um, I mean, Thor ;)

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    2. I'm very pleased to be passing the proverbial baton, and look forward to reading about/hearing your selection, Mr DeVice!

      Jx

      PS as for the Marvel cinematic universe, well I haven't actually seen that many of them (nor the X-Men, Spiderman and FF ones released by other studios), truth be told. However, of the ones we watched on Saturday - although both "Age of Ultron" and "Infinity War" were absolutely superb, I think "Thor: Raganarok" takes the prize, mainly for the utterly delicious portrayal of "Hela" by Cate Blanchett... How camp?!

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    3. PPS And yes, Mr Hemsworth is rather pleasing on the eye...

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  4. I even know some of these albums, sugar! ;) xoxo

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  5. We must stay in one night and listen to music together! I have a Beautiful South album... I'm sure I do... oh my goodness I must go and check.... Think for a Minute, that's the Beautiful South.. isn't it?
    I love that track.
    Sx

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    1. Well, Beautiful South did release nine albums and a greatest hits collection over an eight-year period, so chances are you may have bought one... Jx

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  6. Parallel Lines nearly made it onto my list too!!
    Sx

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  7. The Housemartins!!! Easy mistake to make :-)
    Sx

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    1. The Beautiful South was born out of the remnants of The Housemartins [after the artist-soon-to-be-known-as Fatboy Slim and the others departed for pastures new], so yes, easy mistake. Jx

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