My Desert Island Albums
As you may have seen, there are countless top ten lists popping up on the web. I always regard those with suspicion especially if it comes with a “…of all time” claim, but there’s an element of fun in comparing notes.
So, not to be outdone (and not without irony), here is the first half of my 10 “Desert Island Discs” list. We’ll try to get Mart to come up with one soon. Feel free to share your opinion on the subject.
10- Gentle Giant- Interview
9- Tom Waits – The Black Rider
Old Tom at his most strange and deranged. Writing for theatre really made him dig in his Kurt Weill influences with flair and taste. Far from being a Three Penny Opera pastiche, Waits is having fun and it shows. The presence of William S. Burroughs had probably a big part in this obvious enthusiasm.
People will favour Swordfishtrombone and Bone Machine probably.
Standout track: Just The Right Bullets
8- Robert Wyatt – Rock Bottom
Former Soft Machine drummer, Robert Wyatt delivers a masterpiece that sounds nothing like what’s expected from a drummer’s solo album. Contrary to what has been said, most of the songs were written prior to the tragic accident that confined him to a wheelchair. It could well be argued the his interpretation of the material probably acquired some extra depth, however. Listen to this if you want to know the reason why Wyatt is considered one of the most underrated artist in rock.
Standout track: Alifib
7- King Crimson – Discipline
The album that seemed to be the only hope for progressive music. Remember that in 1981, most big names in prog had either given up (Yes and Van Der Graaf had disbanded), went pop (Genesis, Asia) or both (Gentle Giant threw the towel after failed attempts at accessibility). Punks were sneering at anything that had more than 3 chords and any journalist looking for street creds took the party line. With the new Discipline lineup came a new sound. Chapman Stick and Roland GR-300 guitar synth were added to the mix and cymbals were (mostly) shown the door. Unlike most music from the 80’s, it doesn’t sound dated one iota.
6- Talking Heads – Remain in Light
Roxy Music member and ambient music precursor Brian Eno meets New Wave New Yorker David Byrne; their interest in african music melding into something truly original. I’m not a fan of either what came before and after this album with My Life In the Bush of Ghost as the only exception. Granted, it was not even a Talking Heads album, but a Byrne / Eno one. Nevertheless, since it was done under the same creative impulse, it belongs to the same canon in my opinion. Note that Adrian Belew was asked to become a permanent member of the group during that period. I think the band wanted him to counterbalance Byrne’s overpowering control. Seeing this as a trap, Belew elected to join forces with Robert Fripp and formed what was to become King Crimson Mark IV.
Standout track: Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)