25 Albums

Last week (or so) was the Grammy Awards. I haven't paid attention to the Grammys since the early 80's, when Michael Jackson was cleaning up. Back in the days when he was accompanied by Brooke Shields, Emmanuel Lewis (that cute kid from "Webster") and a chimpanzee. Naturally, musical genius is of course paired with major eccentricities. Anyway... back to this year.

I nearly choked when I heard that Arcade Fire won Album of the Year for The Suburbs. A phenomenal album for sure, but I can't believe it won an American prize in a country that worships pop music like Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga. Arcade Fire! Whoo hoo! It got me thinking about music that has been important to me in the past, and the 25 albums that made a profound difference to my life.

Many of these albums evoke a particular time, memory, or person to me when I think of them now. I've included albums all the way from childhood to adulthood. Looking over this list, it's obvious that music played a much bigger role in shaping my life in the '70s, '80s and '90s than today. I wonder if that's because now my life is already shaped; do I listen to less music, am I stuck listening to things of the past, or does a lot of today's music just suck?

They are not ranked in any particular order, nor are they listed chronologically. I grouped some for ease of explanation only. These are 25 albums that helped shape me.

1. Michael Jackson - Thriller. This one is a no-brainer. I was 12 when it was released, and can remember each single, each video, each magical moment as if it was yesterday (ok, sorry for the cliche). I remember watching Motown's 25th Anniversary, where Michael debuted the moonwalk - my friend Andrea was having a sleepover party and we all screamed and danced and sang and laughed.

2. The Pixies - Doolittle. I LOVE the Pixies. This album came out over 20 years ago, and I still listen to tracks almost daily.

3. Jane's Addiction - Nothing's Shocking
4. Grateful Dead - Workingman's Dead
5. Billy Bragg - Worker's Playtime
6. Bob's Your Uncle - Tail of 2 Legs
7. Crash Vegas - Red Earth
These albums were played so much I think I wore grooves in the vinyl. Luckily now I have them all on CD and digital files on my computer, but I still have the records tucked away. They were late 80's/early 90's favourites, and bring to mind people and places like no other.

8. The Beach Boys - Endless Summer. I grew up listening to the Beach Boys in the 8-track, and later cassette, player in my Dad's car. Drives out to the sailboat were always done listening to the Beach Boys. I think I knew the lyrics to almost every song before I was 3 years old.

9. Weezer (self-titled/blue album). Not only is it a great album, but every time I hear "My Name is Jonas" I think of Ken, who every time he walked in the door would select that track and play it at full volume.

10. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Californication. Another album I've played to death. Love it. Loves me some Chili Peppers.

11. U2 - The Joshua Tree
12. REM - Life's Rich Pageant
13. The Smiths - The Queen is Dead
14. Midnight Oil - Beds Are Burning
15. New Order - Low-Life
16. The Cure - The Head on the Door
17. Paul Simon - Graceland.
I grouped these together because these all scream "high school" to me. I still listen to tracks from these albums on a pretty frequent basis. How I long for The Smiths to get back together and do a reunion tour; too bad they all hate Morrissey. Bury the hatchet, gentlemen, do it for your fans.

18. Duran Duran - Rio. I lapsed into Duran Duran-fanhood at about 13 years old. Still love their music, actually, but back then it may have been more about how cute they all (most) were.

Other albums I listened to waaaay too much as a kid:
19. The Beatles - Sargent Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
20. Abba - Voulez Vous
21. Music from the Broadway Musical Hair

These final albums are special for many reasons: the music, the time, the people, and generally the memories they evoke. But mostly the music.
22. Violent Femmes (self titled)
23. Spirit of the West - Labour Day
24. David Bowie - Let's Dance
25. Bruce Cockburn - Stealing Fire

Every now and then, Jason and I have "music and wine night" where we pull out old classics and pair them with a smooth bottle of wine. Come share your music with us sometime!


  1. WHAT- how could your overlook the greatest album ever AC/DC BACK IN BLACK. I need to reflect on this, we may need to break up!

  2. Well... this is not a greatest albums list. If it was, the list would look very different, believe me - there would definitely be Radiohead, Arcade Fire, etc. This is a list of albums important to my life. AC/DC has it's place, but not in making me who I am today!