I am not a person that can group a top 5, top 10 in anything. I mean I like Movies. I like Music, I like rugby. I like all facets of those but can I list my favourite movies of all time? The best Albums I ever heard? Top rugby players? Gah!
No I can’t!
BUT. I will attempt to do a sort of ‘Top five albums’ and what they meant to me. They are not the best in the world according to Rolling Stone magazine, Nor the hippest in terms of The Source. But they affected me and there is a lot of love for them. This is not a definitive list, this is my list now, in a years time it will change.
So here goes my attempt at securing my ‘Top 5’.
DJ Shadow – Entroducing.
This could very well be one of the greatest albums ever released. The very first album to be made completely by sampling and to go platinum. From the first track ‘Best foot forward’ to the last track ‘Transmission 3’ this album alludes to something that can cause emotion in you. It has everything from scratching to sampling to the finest piano I have heard. Simple yet emotive. I use that word ‘emotive’ - a lot when describing this album. Because it is. It was my last year in high school and dealing with all of the pressure of exams etc. when this album came out, it was recommended to me by a friend and when I heard it, I was blown away. I had never really heard anything like it at that point. There were some DJ albums I had looked into at that point – Executioners, Straw People and DJ Yella’s Solo effort in the same year. But this, this was different. This was………Perfection. There is not a wrong missed beat, skewed sample or a track that is out of place on this album. The start of the song ‘Midnight in a perfect world’ has the sample of someone saying “Insight, foresight, moresight, the clock on the wall reads a quarter past midnight”. An amazing intro to an amazing song on an amazing album. Sums it up really……..
GZA/Genius – Liquid Swords
From the opening salvo of ‘Shogun Assassin’ this album grabbed me immediately with its grimy beats from RZA and laden heavily with Chinese Martial art movie quotes this was the first follow up from The Wu Tang Clan’s 36 Chambers debut. GZA, one of the original members of the Wu Tang and in my mind a lyrical Genius had poise, shape and delivery on every tune……..Hence the name I guess? The production on this album is some of the most epic I have heard. RZA outdid himself on this arrangement and it could very well be his finest to date. The beats are so intense and loops are timed to perfection. It was almost as though Feudal China was the birthplace of New York Hip Hop. This album was one of the first hip hop albums that I really had true love for. I mean I really liked Enter the Wu Tang but this album was huge. It had it all and more. Better production, better songs and a more intense feel. Because of Liquid Swords my love for hip hop and Wu Tang remained strong and forever.
Sepultura – Chaos A.D
In my younger days I was not a metal head. I had a brief dalliance with Metallica before I realised they were shite but I never found anything that really stopped me in my tracks. I was given Chaos A.D by a school friend when I was in 5th form and the rest is history. So a little bit of a back story, around this time I was into Punk music – Mostly Dead Kennedys and British fare such as 999, Sham 69, Anti Nowhere League and Angelic Upstarts. None of this lolly pop So-Cal stuff which saturated the market in the late 90’s. So when I read the liner notes in class ( likely to be mathematics as I hated that ) I saw the Jello Biafra from the DK’s had input into the album. This excited me. I threw it on when I got home from school and the sound of Zion’s heartbeat at the start and then the Brazilian drumming of Igor Cavelera grabbed me instantly. The guitaring was superb and lyrics were profound. Tribal conflict, culture, Israeli/Palestinian relations and forest devastation were just some of the topics. It opened my eyes, not only to these issues but also to the world of metal.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Freaky Styley
I don’t know where to start with this album; May be one of my all-time favourites before they went commercial? Everything about this albums works. The production by George Clinton, the amazing guitaring of Hillel Slovak on what proved to be his finest effort, the horns and bass of Michael Balzary ( Flea ) and the virtualistic vocals from Antony Kiedis. This whole album is all killer, no filler. I remember the first time I heard the Chili’s, I was around 9 years old and a family friend was playing ‘Catholic School Girls Rule’. I loved it but never really got into them until Mothers Milk came out. But this album, Freaky Styley was the first of the back catalogue that I brought and was amazed at the musical aptitude these boys had, the energy and the style. This one album started my obsession with Funk music forever. Sadly the Chili’s have now become a shadow of their former selves but this album, this one album…………..Perfection.
Fat Mannequin – Bigger than Buddha
Before I heard Shihad and other good New Zealand acts I heard Fat mannequin. The now defunct Wellington outfit headed by Bill Hickman was a big favourite of mine. They only released 2 CD singles, 1 EP and 1 full length album. Fat Mannequin was not a huge NZ band, nor did they garner much fame but they were a huge influence on me and the type of music they played rocked. They were epic. I remember how excited I was seeing them in Napier at ‘The State’, a small crowd but the most unreal gig, so much energy and rawness about them, they were tight and did not disappoint. The album Bigger than Buddha was an EP that was 5 songs of a time that showed the talent emerging from Wellington and the style was intense. I still listen to the EP on a regular basis to this day, it comes out several times a year with the volume up. I still would love to know what the term ‘Fridgecutter’ meant though……………
So there you go. 5 of the best as I viewed them. A great collection of past albums that really mean something to me. Not too many new albums but hey, this is an ever changing list in an ever changing world.
Take care y’all.