A friend nominated me for a Facebook challenge, the “Albums that changed your life”. It also appears on social media as the “Ten album challenge”, the “Pictorial music challenge”, and the “Seven all-time favourite albums”. Or more matter-of-factly as the “what-the-heck, I’m posting my favourites LPs!”.
The rules seem to vary less than the challenge’s names: one post per day, no explanations, post a photo of the cover art and nominate a new friend to start posting their favourites to Facebook.
Now, asking a writer to post something WITHOUT an explanation is more than a challenge — it’s cruel! Plus, I’ve got hundreds of LPs, CDs, cassettes and MP3s. Restricting me to ten albums is like asking me to choose my favourite child. (Luckily for my son, he’s an only child!) And while the friends who nominated me were well-intentioned, I recall newspaper reports of “chain letters” as a kid, with ominous warnings to forward on the letter OR else! It’s left me with a nervous tick about nominating friends to take up challenges.
So, I bent the rules. I didn’t nominate a new friend every day, and I posted eighteen albums, not ten. But I did stick to the rule of not explaining my choice of favourites. And that hurt! Which is the purpose of this blog post: to let me stretch my handcuffed writing muscles with a few words about my favourite albums.
Like most nowadays, my music isn’t just on vinyl. The last three albums on the list are from my other music media: MP3s, CDs and cassettes. The artwork of these media can’t compare to the visual and tactile pleasure of a 12-inch LP. But to paraphrase Bill Clinton from his 1992 presidential campaign, It’s the music, stupid!
My Favourite Albums
Here are the first ten of my eighteen favourite albums on vinyl, MP3, CD and cassette, in the order in which I posted them to my #AlbumsThatChangedYourLife series on Facebook:
1. The Beatles, 1967-1970 (“Blue Album”)
In a blog post on the Tall And True writers’ website about My Favourite Beatle, I confessed to an obsession with the Beatles, starting as a kid, listening to their songs, reading their biographies, and trying to play their hits on my guitar. I couldn’t afford Beatles records. So one year, I asked for the “Blue Album” as a birthday gift. And from the moment I put the needle on the first track, I was in John, Paul, George and Ringo heaven!
Let me take you down ’cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields.
2. An Evening with John Denver
I never owned up to it in the schoolyard, but I liked John Denver as a kid. His songs offered visions of a simpler, Rocky Mountain high life, which had a calming effect on this turbulent teen. Listening to his live record was like sitting in the front row and making eye contact with him at a concert. And boy, could John Denver hit the high notes!
3. The Babys, Broken Heart
Oh, to be sixteen again. Sitting around with my long-haired schoolmates (though none of us had hair as long or as coiffured as the Babys), playing air guitar and singing along to the Broken Heart album. And pretending we knew the pain of thwarted love oozing from the Babys’ lyrics!
4. Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon
Thanks to a naïve purchase decision and more trusting times, I got my first Floyd album as a fifteen-year-old. I’d bought the Star Wars movie soundtrack, thinking it would be cool, but back home, I discovered it was classical music (the London Philharmonic Orchestra on the cover should have been a clue). When I explained my mistake to the record shop owner, he let me swap it for Dark Side of the Moon.
And then one day you find FORTY years have got behind you!
5. Joan Armatrading, Me Myself I
FM radio came to Perth where I grew up in 1980, at the perfect time to get into Joan Armatrading and “Me Myself I”. A girlfriend gave me the album. I recall we balanced a twenty cent coin on her record player’s tonearm to stop it from jumping tracks. It’s funny the things old songs help you remember.
I sit here by myself, And you know I love it.
6. Boz Scaggs, Hits
I had Boz Scaggs’ Silk Degrees on cassette, but the tape got mangled in my car stereo. Rather than replace like-for-like, I got his Hits record instead. It had all my old favourites and surprised me with some new ones.
Hey, Miss Sun, What could I say?
7. Electric Light Orchestra, A New World Record
Who didn’t like ELO in the 1970s!? I had three of their albums before I was out of my teens, A New World Record, Out of the Blue and Discovery. They may have lost their way with Xanadu and beyond, but they were top pop tunesmiths in the 1970s!
Hello! How are you?
8. Stevie Wonder, 1963-1974 Wonderland
I lived in a one-bedroom flat when I was seventeen-years-old. Friends who still lived at home would take turns to doss out on my living room sofa on weekends. One friend used to wake and play Stevie Wonder on my record player at full volume first thing in the morning. It earned me a “quiet word” or two from the concierge of the block of flats!
Living just enough, just enough for the city.
9. Tracy Chapman (Self-titled Debut)
The 1980s were all about deregulation, bear markets and rampant greed. Tracy Chapman was the bellwether for the stock market crashes and recessions of the late 1980s and early-mid 1990s. Her songs reminded us that not everyone was benefiting from capitalism.
Talkin’ ’bout a revolution.
10. Muddy Waters, Chicago Blues
One evening, I was in a pub in England, having a beer with an older work colleague, when he stopped talking to listen to some Blues guitar music. “Muddy,” he told me. “Muddy?” I asked, confused. “Muddy Waters, haven’t heard you of him? I thought you were learning the guitar?” The very next day, I bought a copy of Chicago Blues and started learning the Blues.
Well, I wish I was a catfish.
Albums That Changed Your Life – Part 2
Phew, now I know why the Facebook challenge stipulates no explanations! I’m going to wrap up part 1 of the Albums That Changed Your Life blog post with the first ten albums I posted to Facebook.
Part 2 will have the last eight: five more vinyl LPs, one MP3, a CD and a cassette.
It’s been fun stretching my writing muscles, waxing on about my favourite albums in part 1. But what’s made it even more enjoyable is listening to them while writing this post!
© 2018 Robert Fairhead
N.B. I hope you also enjoyed part 1 — here’s a link to part 2, More Albums That Changed Your Life.
Welcome to the blog posts and selected writing of a middle-aged dad and dog owner. Robert Fairhead is writer and editor at Tall And True, an online showcase and forum for writers, readers and publishers. His book reviews and other writing have appeared in various print and online media. And he has published two collections of short stories, Both Sides of the Story (2020) and Twelve Furious Months (2021).