15 irregular albums I have listened to repeatedly

In going back over my Facebook account I was thinking how different social media was in the late 2000s, that first decade of the new Millennium. Less ad driven perhaps. More creative and personal? Here’s a post I found in my neophyte days of social media. A lot of the sentiments here are still true about how I like to think about music. I did eventually find about forty copies of that first Jane Siberry record in a record store on Roncesvalles. Originally posted Tue (June 16th 2009) at 8:55am.

1. Randy Newman, Faust (1995)
This album ruined my ability to distinguish good music from bad music. I decided upon hearing this album that I had to either like it, because I liked Randy Newman, and it was obviously important to him, or else I had to be disappointed in an idol. I decided to become a lover, not a hater.

2. Elvis Costello, Goodbye Cruel World (1984, reissued with bonus material in 1995)
The man at the record store tried to dissuade me from buying this album. He didn’t understand I was on a completionist mission. Worth every second of the saxophone solos in “Not the Only Flame in Town” for the live bonus track “You Worthless Thing” on the Ryko copy. This album is a strong argument against the sanctity of the album versus the mp3 (context is everything), but then, clearly, endurance is my specialty.

3. Corey Hart, Boy in the Box (1985)
This was purchased for me in an attempt to give me some of my own music to listen to, rather than simply listening to my mother’s musical collection, as I edged towards teen-aged rebellion. Those who know me well will know that I never really got over Corey Hart’s fall from cool dude to adult-contemporary has-been. The threat of nuclear war was a character defining theme of my childhood, and “Komrade Kiev” still gives me chills.

4. 7 seconds, New Wind (1987)
I used to rewind “Man Enough to Care” and listen to it over again. I always had a soft spot for the pop side of hard core and punk. I only ever had this album on cassette and I think it belonged to Casey Wike, who said he didn’t want it back when I told him about it a few years ago. I’ve got to get my tape deck fixed.

5. Spirit of the West, Save This House (1990)
When did I realize I no longer liked Spirit of the West? At first it was just that I was no longer interested in the sound, then there was that terrible concert with The Mahones in Halifax in 1994 or 1995… But I don’t think I actually grew to hate their sound until the mid-1990s at the earliest. There is no way I could endure listening to this album now. And yet I really did care about the discrimination suffered by the Joneses. Was “Last To Know” really 6 min. 27 sec. long? How did anybody ever sit through that? Amazing. I must have been a completely different being. Thank goodness all the cells in my body have been replaced by new ones now.

6. Northern Pikes, Secrets of the Alibi (1988)
Now this band I’d almost completely forgotten about until I was researching The Band Name Book for my uncle Noel. When I came across their website and saw they had some new songs, and realized instantly how cool they still were, and remembered how awesome they had been, I realized that the only thing that stopped me from listening to The Northern Pikes now was the changeover from cassette to CD (see note number 4, last sentence). I wonder how many bands got lost in this shuffle. The bass lines are inspired. Eighties pop driven by a good time groove, from the last era where rock and roll was still a dance genre.

7. The Doors, Waiting for the Sun (1967)
I tried to bring this to a grade seven dance and the teacher kindly suggested that, while he might like it, most likely none of my peers would. It was not deemed appropriate music for my generation. Maybe I wanted to play “Spanish Caravan” instead of “Hello, I Love You”. It hadn’t really occurred to me that there was a distinction between music for my generation and my parent’s music. My mother had pretty good taste in music. She was listening to Billy Idol, Elvis Costello and The Pretenders, so how was I supposed to know that The Doors, The Eagles and Bob Seger were not contemporary? Funny thing is that I was never that into the Doors or Pink Floyd after grade seven. I suppose a resurgence of interest is about due, but there is something so goofy about Jim Morrison. Maybe it’s all about the organ.

8. The Rolling Stones, Some Girls (1978)
My first real introduction to the Rolling Stones. It was this and Hot Rocks, but I liked this album and the pictures of the vintage lingerie on the cover. I thought “Far Away Eyes” was just how country sounded. I didn’t know until years later that “Just My Imagination” was not a Rolling Stones song.

9. Bob Marley & the Wailers, Live (1975)
Nothing embarrassing about this one really, as far as live records go, but it doesn’t hold up as well as the regular albums. Some people would disagree. I used to think the lyric was “my fear is my only courage, so I’ve got to push on through”. Good lyric, but not the right one. Emilie Coyle was the one who knew better. It wasn’t until I bought Natty Dread that I heard the studio version of “No Woman, No Cry” and realized that Bob Marley & the Wailers was an R&B group.

10. Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers, Live at Berkeley (1977)
This was my first record. It sure ain’t the Modern Lovers that recorded “I’m Straight” and “Roadrunner” but I still feel like a grooving eight year old dancing fool when I hear “I’m a Little Airplane Now”. The album sounds innocent enough, but it is clearly all about turning your children into wild unmanageable free thinkers. Parents with toddlers be warned–they could turn out something like me if you purchase this record.

11. Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Zuma (1975)
My favourite album of all time. Released the year of my birth. I have probably listened to this album more than a thousand times. 90% of those times would have been between the ages of 13 and 15. It defined me. It hurts me to turn this album off without listening all the way through. It doesn’t belong on this list, except that maybe it isn’t the album for which Neil Young is best known. It absolutely should be. If people are making lists of the perfect albums–Led Zeppelin (four), INXS (Kick), Sex Pistols (Never Mind…)–you know, flawless from start to finish, then Zuma should be on that list.

12. Lou Reed, Magic and Loss (1992)
I used to play this in Macondo Books when I was Sunday Simon (I think Greg Denton took over that role, minus the alliteration) because it had the right vibe for Sundays. I went with J. Wallace and Malcolm Sutton to see Lou Reed in Toronto and he was very cool for an old guy who couldn’t really sing very well and kept screwing up his songs that he was reading from a music stand. Maybe his eyes were bad. Rob Wasserman was all over Lou’s stuff in those days and that bass sound just didn’t have lasting appeal for me in retrospect. We were pretty into New York as an album too. I liked the story aspects of this album… mortality as an open wound. Anger over death and how powerless it makes us.

13. Jackson Browne, Lawyers in Love (1983)
I guess I wasn’t the only completionist in the family, because although Running on Empty or maybe Late for the Sky got top-billing in the home, I definitely heard a lot of 1980s Jackson Browne growing up. I didn’t even realize how many people don’t like Jackson Browne until I started trying to sneak a few tracks onto mixed CDs at the Victory Cafe. I guess I just have to learn to keep the real gems at home for my own listening pleasure. Maybe it was all my mother’s indoctrination, but I still think Jackson Browne is one of the most consistently excellent living song writers. The debate at the bar was between Bruce Springstein versus Jackson Browne and I had to be honest, the boss seems one dimensional to me in comparison.

14. Jane Siberry, self titled (1981)
If ever there was an album that was close to home, this was it. What great songwriting. There’s something too in that cross-over from folk to synthesizers that may never really come back around again in the great recycling of genres. This album makes me wanna open up my heart real big until I can’t get through doors. It probably helps knowing most of the lovely people involved in putting it together. I’m pretty sure I’ve been down “The Strange Well” and yes “Writers are a Funny Breed”. Anybody want to sell me their vinyl copy?

15. Eurythmics, Revenge (1986)
Probably the fourth best Eurythmics album, it is still better than any of the solo efforts since. This was the year I saw the Eurythmics on tour. I had a little pin with a lowercase “e” on it. Might have been the first time I was a fan of anything in the commercial sense of fandom. I really wanted their product more than just their music. Oh, Annie “Why” indeed and wherefore did everything go so wrong between us?

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