Forgive me dear blog friends, it has been far too long since my last post and I am totally willing to binge-watch season two of both Catastrophe and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt as punishment. (Since I have already finished Catastrophe this is going to one of the easiest penances ever.) For the last couple of weeks a local radio station has been asking listeners to send in their top ten essential albums. Essential to me means like the top ten records you would want to have with should you get stranded on a tropical island yet miraculously still had access to electricity or bucket loads of batteries to keep your Walkman powered up. I came up with a list but then I forgot my password and trying to remember what it could possibly be, or even resetting it, seemed like far too much work, hence this post.
Sometimes I feel a little sorry for the kids of today. They have no idea about one of the greatest ways ever to listen to music and no I am not talking about vinyl. Vinyl is the craft beer of music to hipsters and while I appreciate it, and still listen to records occasionally, my all-time favorite audio delivery system was and always will be the humble cassette. I loved just about everything about cassettes, their size, their portability, the familiar hiss and the sheer joy of spending hours on the floor in your bedroom, just you, a turn table and a couple of tape decks making the best mix tape ever. Sure you can make a mix CD but it is just not the same kind of DIY experience. Yes the tapes got eaten up by mean decks every now and again but unless the tape was completely torn apart you just needed a good ol’ number two pencil and some patience and that baby could be back up and playing sweet, sweet tunes in no time.
So here are the top ten essential albums I would have posted on the radio website if I cared enough to reset my password. These are the albums required for me to pass the time alone whilst stranded on a tropical island. FYI: I would also need some decent sunscreen, non-toxic bug spray and plenty of weather appropriate clothing because in my mind this is not some sort of wacky Naked & Afraid kind of scenario.
Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen: I have to be honest, I have not seen the Boss in concert since the 80’s and I am fine with that because I saw him many times up until Born in the USA came out which was about the same time all the dumb shits like Chris Christie and Tim Pawlenty started to be fans. Twenty years later when they found out Bruce was a progressive they were like what?? And I was like umm, have you ever listened to the words to ANY of his songs? I thought not. BTR was one of my most treasured record purchases ever and will definitely be coming along for the ride.
Horses, Patti Smith: Growing up in the 70’s there were not a lot of female artists to look up to that were not of the folksy variety. Patti Smith showed me and lots of others that girls could be punk rockers too and for that I am eternally grateful. The album cover photo by Robert Mapplethorpe is stunning and so was Patti. Interestingly a couple of years later she had her one and only “hit” song (Because the Night), which was penned by the Boss himself. Patti is not only a musician but also an accomplished artist, poet, writer and world-renowned cat lady. She is my spirit animal.
Appetite for Destruction, Guns & Roses: Not gonna lie, I am a rock chick through and through. When Appetite came out I was working in my first grown up corporate job with a bunch of middle-aged moms and ex-frat boy sales dudes. To say that I did not fit in is an understatement of epic proportions. Every day when I left my suburban office I got in my car and blasted GNR the whole way home. Don’t ask me to defend Axl Rose for any of his abysmal behavior throughout the years because I can’t but if I am going to be stuck on a tropical island without cocktail service (can there be cocktail service, pretty please?) then I am going to need to release some steam somehow.
Hysteria, Def Leppard: When I got my new car (that is no longer at all new), the one thing that I missed from my much beloved Accord was the tape deck. And in that terribly missed tape deck there was a cassette that had been in there for years, and years, and years, and it was this one. Hysteria was 80’s pop metal at its finest and I will fight anyone to the death who says otherwise. There was nothing like cruising around one of Minneapolis’s beautiful lakes at night, moon roof open, blasting a little Animal and remembering those times will help while away the time waiting to be rescued.
Don’t Tell a Soul, Replacements: I loved the ‘Mats like mad. I went to their shows whenever I could and even when they were bloody AWFUL (which often was the case) they were still ten tons of fun and twenty times better than the bands that were getting all the attention/money at the time. I only ever bought one of their albums (again, cassette) and that was part of the problem. Their fans did not buy their music and despite Paul Westerberg being on many critics BEST SONGWRITER EVER lists at the time, they made very little money. Don’t Tell a Soul has both I’ll Be You and Aching to Be on it, two songs that pretty much guaranteed Westerberg’s inclusion in the rock lyricists hall of fame. I will think of this often while listening to my cassingle of Alex Chilton.
Disintegration, The Cure: Robert Smith, he of the hair that has never seen a comb and proud graduate of the Whatever Happened to Baby Jane school of lipstick application. You were and still are my favorite depressed Brit (with Morrissey being a very close second). Pictures of You, Lovesong and Fascination Street are just three of the great songs off this one. When I am feeling sad and lonely on the island I will pop this baby in and pray desperately for a search party.
Nevermind, Nirvana: Remember how in my Appetite for Destruction listing I talked about working in suburbia with people I had nothing in common with? This came out during that same time period. I loved Nirvana from the get-go, finally music that I liked was not only getting airplay and attention but also making money. I specifically remember coming to work the Monday after Nirvana was on Saturday Night Live and all my co-workers were talking about was how awful they were and all I could think of was that I had to get the hell out of there stat. (That and the fact that they were moving to a suburb even further away, but the Kurt Cobain derision makes for a much better story.)
Rocks, Aerosmith: I grew up in a suburb where the houses were close together. The kind of place where you needed at least two people’s front yards to play baseball, three if someone was really good at hitting or the outfielder was really bad at outfielding. I went through a pretty severe Steven Tyler phase, I thought he was the BOMB and I played this record non-stop. So much so that my next door neighbor once told me that he never had to play his because he heard mine blasting through the window all the time. You are welcome ex-neighbor boy.
Seven Travels, Atmosphere: Hip hop is not my thing generally but there are a few exceptions and Atmosphere is one of them. My favorite song on this one is a hidden track Say Shh and when I am alone on that island I am going to be playing this one on repeat because of lines like “Minnesota is dope” and “I’m from Minnesota, land of the cold air” which is something I will probably be missing after all that time in the heat. (But then again probably not.)
Frosting on the Beater, Posies: There is almost nothing better to me musically than a perfectly crafted pop song. The Posies were one of the many underrated and overlooked bands of the 90’s who deserved so much better. I was torn between this and Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend but the Seattle boys won out. There is not a stinker on this album anywhere and when I want to belt out a song or two for me and the monkeys to play air guitar on it will probably be one from this album.
Would any of these albums be on your list? What records would you choose to be stranded on an island with? Let me know in the comments!