My Favorite Albums

From an early age, music has always been an important part of my life. Running home from elementary school, I would throw my backpack in my bedroom, turn on the radio and listen to a mix tape that my friend Robert made me. He was older than me so I always listened to his suggestions attentively.  Robert knew his shit.

When I was about 8 years old, I remember asking my mom to buy me the cassette of Mötley Crüe’s album Shout at the Devil. She said yes, until she saw the cover and she was convinced that it was the devil’s music. She was terribly upset and obviously didn’t buy me the tape. At first, I couldn’t understand why she was so angry. It was only Rock and Roll! She demanded that I give her all of my tapes (with quite the emphasis on Twisted Sister) and she hid them.

Take my toys away but not my music! So that’s when I started to develop a rebellious attitude. I was a grade-schooler sporting an over-sized jean jacket giving the middle finger to the man. People started to look at me differently. Made me realize that I was onto something. That Rock and Roll wasn’t about the music. It was about so much more.

Growing up in the 80s, I was witnessing the greatest Glam Rock era of Rock and Roll. Bands likeSkid Row, Poison, and Kiss were my every day staples in my Sony Walkman. My friends and I used to make each other mix tapes. I remember crying when one of my magnetic tape accidentally got caught in the radio and when I pulled it out, I ruined the cassette! I swear, I thought that I was going to die.

I remember being fascinated by the art work of Iron Maiden’s cover albums. I remember seeing my best friend’s brother’s bass for the first time. I didn’t even know what a bass was! The feeling I had when he plugged in his bass and played the intro music of the sitcom Night Court. I fell to the floor…

In the 90s, grunge was all the rage. I loved every second of it. Alice in Chains, Mother Love Bone,Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots were now playing in my Sony Discman.

Even today, music is still a great joy in my life. I hate it when people ask me what kind of music I listen to. My honest answer is all of them! From Reggae to Heavy metal to Yo-Yo Ma. Music hits my soul. It transcends stereo types. It has a universal language that anyone can enjoy. Whenever life brings me up or down, my iTunes collection is where I head for celebration or comfort.

My favorite albums having nothing to do with sales or popularity. Some of them aren’t well liked by the critics. I don’t care. These are the albums that are special to me. For each one, I can remember when and where I was when I first listened to them.

My 10 most favorite music albums of all-time

10. The Trouble will Find Me by the National (2013)

I have to admit, I recently discovered this band from Ohio. At first, I found their music a little too soft and then I realized they aren’t soft. They evoke emotion but not in a sappy way. The song “I Need My Girl “is a great example of this. Great melody and great lyrics too. The whole album feels like one great song. The singer, Matt Berninger, is a gifted singer blessed with a great voice. People don’t realize how good he is. Berninger is notable for his classic baritone voice. I’m sure he can sing opera. He’s that good. Favourite song: “Sea of Love.”

9. Thriller by Michael Jackson (1982)

Which kid didn’t try to dance like Michael? I know I did. I had the glasses, leather jacket and the glossy white glove to boot. And yes, I did grad my crotch many times as well. Until this day, whenever I hear the beat from Billie Jean, I’m up and dancing. Favourite song: “Want to be Starting Something.”

8. Rubber Soul by The Beatles (1965)

My dad used to have a vinyl collection. From The Rolling Stones to the Drifters to Elvis Presley. He had it all. I listened to them all. Rubber Soul stood out for me. I remember discovering the album when my regularly scheduled episodes of the Flintstones was cancelled due to the Challenger Explosion. Nothing upsets a child like a news report. So I shut off my television, turned on my record player, and played this album. At that very moment, my Beatles addiction began. Favorite song: “Run for Your Life.”

7. The Score by the Fugees. (1996)

I remember driving in my friend’s Honda Accord and having this album on repeat. Love everything about it. The lyrics, the beats, the rhythms. It’s an underrated album in the world of Hip Hop. It’s an intelligent album with meaningful lyrics. Not plagued by the world of Cristal champagne and club with bitches and hoes. For a while, I was sure that it was the beginning of a new era of Hip Hop. And then Drake happened. Like WTF? . Favourite Song: “How Many Mics

6. Blood on the Tracks by Bob Dylan (1975)

I was listening to this album over and over while I was getting over my first breakup. There’s so much emotion in this album. I remember buying a bottle of whiskey and a pack of cigarettes. Listening to this album, plotting my way back in my ex’s life. But a weird thing happened, I learned something from this album, I learned to let go. Some things weren’t met to be. This album was about game before it was called game. If you ever suffered through a tough breakup, listen to this. A pack of smokes and a bottle of whiskey wouldn’t hurt either. Favourite Song: “Simple Twist of Fate

5. Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys (1966)

The melodies, ohh the melodies! This is The Beach Boys’ 11th album and by far the best. I have to admit, I don’t remember where I was the first time I heard this album. I may have been reading a 1001 best albums book and for some reason or another, this one stood out for me. So I hopped on my iMac DV SE (my favourite computer ever!) and went to Napster (who didn’t!?) and downloaded every song off the album. Then I sorted it out in sequence and started to listen to it. This album has every imaginable sound. This album has it all: pop, jazz, exotica, classical, and the avant-garde. Favourite song: “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulders.”

4. A Rush of Blood to the Head by Coldplay (2002)

This is Coldplay’s Magnum opus. It is because of this album that I’ve seen Coldplay in concert three times. Their July 2012 concert in Montreal was the best concert that I’ve ever attended. One hit song after another. Favourite Song: “Green Eyes.”

3. Ten by Pearl Jam (1991)

The first time I heard Eddie Vedder’s voice, I remember thinking to myself that I can hear this guy read the phone book and it would be pleasurable. My friend Lucio gave me this tape and said “listen to this”… and I did… and I haven’t stopped since 1993. Pearl Jam was there for me when I graduated high school, when I completed my CEGEP, when I got my first job. When I smoked my first cigarette and when my dad passed away. There’s pain in Eddie’s voice. I can feel it with every song. Favourite Song: “Black

2. Nevermind by Nirvana (1991)

I was in Vermont with my first ever Sony Discman. It was kind of a big deal for me because all of my friends still had cassettes. I was so happy! But I didn’t have any CDs to play. So I dragged my dad to the music store, and Lord knows he wasn’t a patient man. He gave me 20$ and told me that I had three minutes to buy something. I ran into the store. Look at the first album that stared at me and there is was, a dangling penis of a baby submerged in water. I thought: “What a stupid idea for an album cover”. Little did I know that it would take the music world by storm. Favourite Song: “Drain You

1.Appetite for Destruction by Guns N’ Roses (1987)

The best Rock and Roll album of all time. Full of great lyrics, angry performances and “fuck you attitude”. Haven’t heard this much fury on an album since. Too bad Axl couldn’t keep it together because they could have been my generations’ Rolling Stones. Favourite Song: “Out ta Get Me

There you have you it! I enjoyed writing this essay because it brought back many memories.

In health,

Joe

This essay originally appeared on Brothers & Whiskey.

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