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My Top 5 Albums PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chris Thompson   
30 07 2012
What came first, the music or the misery?Being the newest member of the Floatation Suite music team, it would only be fair to give some insight into myself, and what better way to do so than to give my Top 5 Albums, with reasoning on why they are up there, and specifically to me, why I value them so highly. So in no particular order...

ImageThe Bends - Radiohead (1995)

After the release of Pablo Honey, Radiohead could easily have been pigeon-holed as just another grunge band, and with only one outstandingly successful track on the album (Creep) they were expected to fade away into the one album alternative rock club. The release of The Bends 2 years later however set the music world on fire, with the band's sound becoming much more layered and sophisticated, setting the tone for future Radiohead albums, as well as a shift in lyrical muse from lead singer Thom Yorke, opting to tackle more global issues than the self-angst themes from Pablo Honey.

The album offers up real heavyweights such as 'Just' and 'Black Star' but still shows signs of Radiohead's acoustic sound present on Pablo Honey with the more mellow 'Fake Plastic Trees' and 'Nice Dream'. The album's stand-out track for me would be the aforementioned 'Fake Plastic Trees' whose lyrics capture the mundanities of a mediocre existence, conveying a level of romantic cynicism whilst still reeking of desperation. The song's crescendo could indeed also be Radiohead's finest moment.

ImageOutlandos D'amour - The Police (1978)

I often get a bit of stick when I reveal that my favourite band is The Police. What I fail to understand though, is how people do not appreciate The Police as the revolutionary music-makers that they were. Combining elements of punk, rock, jazz, reggae and ultimately pop music to engineer a sound with an energy unheard of from any 3-piece band previous to them, this album captures The Police at their very best.

The album opener 'Next to You' couldn't be more reflective of The Police at their finest, with Sting's expansive range on show, the crunchy guitar from Andy Summers, as well as the iconic fleeting beats from Stewart Copeland that The Police were renowned for. 'So Lonely' and 'Can't Stand Losing You' inject reggae into an otherwise punk/pop sound, and of course the anthemic 'Roxanne' gives the album a track which really puts The Police on another level from any other New Wave Punk band to come out of that era.

ImageNevermind - Nirvana (1991)

I have to admit, it was a coin toss between Bleach and Nevermind, but ultimately I believe the right decision was made, based on both the glossy production that Bleach never had (which I suppose could be part of its appeal) and the impact of Dave Grohl's drumming. It has become a bit of a cliché to include Nevermind in your top 5 album list, but there is a reason why everyone likes it; because it's fantastic. This was an album which defined a generation of people and did what REM could never do; bring Alternative Rock to mainstream attention.

Without even mentioning 'Smells like Teen Spirit', this album is a masterpiece. The Pixies' influence shining through, Nirvana perfect shifting sound dynamics as well as producing memorable guitar riffs as seen in 'Come as You Are'. What is special about this album though is how it manages to capture the frustration and tragedy of a Nirvana live performance and translate it into the polished entity which is a studio record, something which was never before done, and has never since been done as well, by any band.

ImageA Rush of Blood to the Head - Coldplay (2002)

Whilst achieving general praise and commercial success from their first album Parachutes, Coldplay were still often described as a pop man's Radiohead or Jeff Buckley, something which lead singer Chris Martin has since described as a painful compliment. However, Critics were only filled with regrets when this album was released, as with a less self-indulgent, more accessible sound which is often likened to the stadium rockiness and guitar jangliness of a U2 record, along with the flow of an Echo and the Bunnymen track, Coldplay had found their winning formula with their second release, and it was only reflected in their success as a musical outlet from then on.

The juxtaposition of delicate piano hooks with a rocky chorus is shown best in album opener 'Politik' which along with the following track and fan favourite 'In My Place', sets the tone of the album. The dissonant 'God Put a Smile Upon Your Face' as well as 'Daylight' give the record a haunting texture whereas charmingly acoustic 'Green Eyes' as well as the enigmatic 'Warning Sign' prove to be the album's unsung pop heroes. The only frustration stemming from this album is how good the B-sides are, as if they did make the final cut, this album could have been even greater.

ImageThe Clash - The Clash (1977)

There's a reason that 1977 is regarded as the year of punk, and in that respect, The Clash have a lot to answer for. Yes, the natural way to describe punk would be to name drop The Sex Pistols, but The Clash were more than just a label. What they lacked in safety pins and bloody noses, they made up for with bodacious guitar riffs, lyrics drowning in accurate social commentary, and a variation of musical styles which proved a breath of fresh air to the then 3 chord compulsive punk scene.

The Clash's debut album captures them at their most raw both musically and lyrically. Fresh from the anguish of maturity, released into a world of domestic unrest, fascism and unemployment, the timing could not have been better in a lyrical sense, with tracks ‘White Riot' and ‘Career Opportunities' reflecting this perfectly. ‘I'm So Bored with the USA' boasts all the impulsiveness of a jive song, whilst The Clash's signature guitar tone ensures the maintenance of its grimy punk roots. In my opinion; one of the most important albums ever, triggering not only a more prominent punk scene but also giving other bands the courage to explore further corners of music which would otherwise have been labelled an alien to the punk regime.

Honourable Mentions:

A Hard Days Night - The Beatles (1964)

The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses (1989)

Document - R.E.M (1987)

Pablo Honey - Radiohead (1993)

Bleach - Nirvana (1989)

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