So in honor of our big T-H-R-E-E year anniversary, we thought we’d tackle the BIG ONES. This is a pretty big one mate, dunno if ya heard.
By The Way – Red Hot Chili Peppers (2002)
RIGHT THEN. There’s not enough words in the English language (and I’m 85% sure in any other languages) to aptly describe how much I love this album. Right from wobbling around to Can’t Stop (still my favourite song of all time, btw) to listening to Warm Tape as I write these very words you are reading right now, the cocktail of nostalgia, emotion, joy and warmth I feel whenever I press play on this is amazing. With a primary songwriting influence of John Frusciante, By The Way feels different from the sometimes sexy, sometimes melancholy, often heroiny, atmosphere of RHCP’s discography — it feels pure. I could write a book on my feels about this album, I really could, but I better cut it off here and just tell you straight; I have no doubt that By The Way by Red Hot Chili Peppers is and, I think, always will be my favourite collection of recorded music in the history of the world.
…Like Clockwork – Queens Of The Stone Age (2013)
Whilst my heart will always say By The Way, my head often says …Like Clockwork. With their sixth record, QOTSA completely switched up the entire landscape of what their music and image was, and turned it into something perfect — symbolised by a pretty perfect album. The slow, lumbering gates of Keep Your Eyes Peeled open up to a dismal, dystopian wonderland of acidic break-up songs and desert rock masterpieces. I Sat By The Ocean and I Appear Missing are nothing less than poetry in their lyrics, while Smooth Sailing and My God Is The Sun bust a distorted nut over everything you held dear. It’s an eclectic rollercoaster of an album and, five years later, I’m still excited by it.
Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace – Foo Fighters (2007) – Far from what many would call their favourite Foos release (as in it’s not The Colour and The Shape), I vouch for this album in a big way, as the mix of hard rockers like The Pretender and Cheer Up Boys (Your Make-Up Is Running) merge with big ol’ ballads, such as Long Road To Ruin and Statues, is a lush, Foosey way. It’s, in my opinion, the most consistent and quality release from one of my favourite bands; what is their to argue?
Nevermind – Nirvana (1991) – My boy jprobichaud! Fear not, this perennial 90s classic would not go unmentioned here. Often regarded as a defining, perhaps obvious, choice album of all time, Nirvana, on the eve of taking over the world, released an amazing album, popularity aside. Sure, Teen Spirit is incredible and iconic and *snores*… However! This record is top-to-bottom hits, with songs like In Bloom and Lithium giving malice dressed in a smile, and Territorial Pissings throws shit through the grates like an ape made out of liquid angst.
Rage Against The Machine – Rage Against The Machine (1992) – YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. I’ll level with you — I haven’t listened to this album in a while, because, whenever I listen to RATM’s debut, I get filled with a political rage that can only be cured by calling right-wing politicians wankers over Twitter. The sonic firepower created by this pioneering, rap-metal four-piece on their *debut* album is astounding — so much raw energy. I’ll leave you with a quote Reuben made in his first Top Ten Bands article, back in August 2015:
“Man, I love this band. They’re powerful, they’re political, they’re pretty damn amazing. They make me want to rap and jump around like a mad man, when I haven’t even finished my Pepsi can, yo. Ya don’t know how it feels to hear the bass of Rage when you don’t see it comin’, and ya don’t know why, but I love it. Woah. I’m gonna become a rapper.“
The Mars Volta – The Bedlam In Goliath (2008)
If any of you bozos read my review of this thing, or my RANKED Mars Volta Albums post, you’ll know what I think of this album. Indeed, it is my favourite album of all time: an untameable beast, expertly crafted with the most mind-boggling brilliance, as all the madness and crazy time signatures are put together with such scientific precision to rival Einstein’s. Every minute of this album seems completely different to the one that comes before it, as every single song weaves through an unfathomable structure and every single little bit is awesome, and huge. It’s a non-stop stream of unorthodox and incredible music, with the ability to make you MOVE, and the ability to royally creep you out with its Ouija board-influenced story and concept bleeding through its veins. Every time I listen to this album, too, I seem to hear something new that I didn’t notice before. It’s a record that keeps on giving, and I can always come back to it.
Pearl Jam – Ten (1991)
Sometimes, too, I call this my favourite album. It purely gets this honour alongside The Bedlam in Goliath because it has made me feel so happy on so many occasions. Basically summing up the past year or two of my life, it has such a familiar, calming effect on me and it’s a wonderful, energising listen from start to finish, dripping head to toe in classic tracks ranging from Black to Even Flow, with barely a dip in quality from start to finish, some of the closest music to perfection that I’ve found. It’s got that gritty, angry side of it which comes from the charged Seattle scene the band came from, but also an intimate side which, to me, is beautiful in the truest sense of the word. The perfect example of grunge music and an album I truly fell in love with, Ten will always be special for me.
Aside from those two behemoths, the good ol’ Red Hot Chili Peppers get a very honourable mention with their 2002 effort By the Way, an album which has a similar effect on me to Ten and stands as the band’s magnum opus, a well-realised and lovely listen throughout all 16 of its tracks – providing a wonderful stream of romanticism and Chili Peppers goodness with a splash of magic. I’ll also give a mention here to another Mars Volta album, their first LP release, 2003’s De-Loused in the Comatorium, which, while less insane and huge than Bedlam, is an absolute masterpiece in progressive rock, relishing in its hardcore and jazz influences – an album which always gives me goosebumps and makes me smile. Finally, Porcupine Tree’s 2007 masterpiece Fear of a Blank Planet gets a very special space here as an expertly crafted progressive rock record which with moments of calm, metallic brilliance and sheer emotion, is an unforgettable ride.
Appetite For Destruction – Guns N’ Roses (1987)
Honestly there is not a bad moment on it. 12 songs any band would kill to have in their set. Yes, even Think About You. From sirens and Welcomes to sex noises and Rocket Queens, the only way they could mess this up would be to pad it out with B-sides and demo versions…
Vs. – Pearl Jam (1993) – A record so intense and visceral in its delivery it’s hard to believe it was the biggest selling record of its era. From the fury of Animal, Go and Leash to the ‘we’re all fucked’-ness of WMA, Dissident and Rats. Perfect in every way. Except it’s not Ten.
V – The Bronx (2017) – Hard as it is to admit a man of my age had one of his favourite albums of all time released in the last year, just listen to the 35 minutes of furious melody and metallic punk guitar vitamins that make up V and tell me I’m wrong.
Rain Dogs – Tom Waits (1985) – Holy moly, this record is bonkers, genius, unlistenable and utterly captivating in so many ways. I imagine Robin Williams’ character in The Fisher King heard these noises in his head.
Theatre Is Evil – Amanda Palmer (2012) – She’s weird and she’s kooky and she can’t help but be brilliant. Every song on Theatre Is Evil could be a single. In a better world, they’d have all been hits.
Led Zeppelin IV – Led Zeppelin (1971)
It is hard to name a single Best Album of all time. But Led Zeppelin IV deserves the title for first introducing me to the world of rock. The record is huge, from bangin’ tracks like Black Dog and When The Levee Breaks, to the overplayed but ever classic Stairway to Heaven. Besides, as any sane man who has learnt to embrace the art of hyperboles would proclaim, Led Zeppelin is indeed the greatest band in the world.
Rumours – Fleetwood Mac (1977)
Exile On Main St. – The Rolling Stones (1972)
Stay tuned for more Best Thangs of All Time!