Is this what we’ve come to on this blog? Well… yeah. It is.
I’ve done one of these type of lists before, but that was a few years ago; times have changed, maybe my tastes have too? Plus, recent releases and all that jazz. No jazz, though. Never any jazz. I definitely have no illusions about being cool either… you’ll know that by the end of this list.
Without further waffle and rambling, let’s get into. Do not expect this to be in any form of order, it’s just a list of 10, no ranking of them. I don’t think I could honestly list any one record as my favourite. It’s like choosing your favourite child. Easy for me, I only have one kid, but you get my meaning…
There are some records that just make you feel good, some that are indicative of the time they were released, and some? Some become the soundtrack to your life. Backstreet Symphony would be the latter in my case. It was released in 1989, and there’s barely a week gone by since where I haven’t listened to at least one track from it.
A blues/rock record, set off by that amazing voice of Danny Bowes, this is an all time classic that any rock fan should be familiar with. The songs have got me through the good times, and plenty of bad times too, and for that reason, it’s always going to be in any list I make.
Classic tracks like Love Walked In, Higher Ground and the title track still make it into Thunder live sets to this day, and for good reason.
Ginger Wildheart is one of the hardest working man in rock today, and this could well be his finest hour. His solo work, while eclectic and always interesting, pales into comparison when held against this record. It covers a ton of different styles, yet never fails to hit a target that it’s aiming for.
Every track on the album makes you tap your feet, nod your head, or just smile at the turn of phrase that the Geordie genius inserts into your psyche. The last minute or so of the title track at the end of the record is spectacular and inspiring in equal measure. Destined to be a future classic.
The Frankie Miller Band
Released in the year I was born – yes, I am that bloody old – this record will be 40 in September. The supremely talented Frankie Miller might well be Scotland’s biggest gift to the music industry, but this album’s heart is very much in America; it was recorded in San Francisco, and features the Memphis Horns from Stax records, and even Edwin Hawkins gospel singers.
It’s bluesy at it’s heart, the songs are written with real passion behind them, but that voice… the voice of Frankie Miller dominates it. It drives the record, lifts it, and makes the songs soar. An absolute belter of a record that flies under the radar, criminally. A Fool In Love, Ain’t Go No Money and Drunken Nights In The City are highlights, but every song is superb, really.
If you know me well, you’d know there was going to be a Bon Scott era AC/DC record in my list, but the fact it’s this and not Highway To Hell might be a surprise. It shouldn’t be; I think this is AC/DC’s best record with Bon. Might be controversial, and you’re free to disagree, but I love this record.
The songs have a greater depth, all the while maintaining the standard AC/DC formula, and tracks like Riff Raff and Sin City have a slight air of menace to them – an edge that makes them dangerous; like going for a drink in THAT bar on the shady side of town where nobody looks anybody else in the eye… the kind of place Bon would have been in his element.
Pocketful Of Kryptonite
Oh HELL yes. People may scoff at the Spin Doctors – but this record is outstanding. The unique vocals of Chris Barron place it apart from the pack of alt-rock albums that were unleashed in the early 90s, but the rest of the musicians on the record more than held their own. The guitar licks are razor sharp, even with the undoubted edge of funk in there.
With emphasis on lyrics that were snappy and memorable – yes, even Two Princes, and you know it – this record still remains in rotation on any of my playlists. Jimmy Olsen’s Blues is nerdvana to the extreme, Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong launched a thousand karaoke careers the world over, and the epic 12 minute long live jam that closes the record is spectacular. I am an unashamed Spin Doctors fan, and there is no cure.
Number Of The Beast
Here’s a true story. For the longest time in my early years, I didn’t “get” rock music. I just didn’t listen to it. I had a phase where I listened to rap, to middle of the road blue eyed soul (Curtis Stigers, anybody?) and classic Stax Volt soul. The Stax Volt stuff remains in my library, but not much else. Then, one day, I took a lift from a friend and he put this cassette on the stereo in his D-reg plate bright red, rusted out Vauxhall Cavalier saloon… and this record set me on the path I walk now.
I’d never heard anything like it. The vocals, the galloping bass, the thundering drums and the dual guitars… they just spoke to me. I became a Maiden fan almost overnight. I devoured their back catalogue. If you want to define an era, a genre even – this is one of the records you would play to describe heavy metal. The title track is legendary, Run To The Hills foreshadowed Maiden taking on historical topics, but Hallowed Be Thy Name stands out as perhaps Maiden’s finest hour. Still legitimately brings shivers to my spine when I hear it.
I Get Wet
Ah, your party host with the most, the man to whom party is a verb, a noun AND an adjective, the one and only Andrew WK. Or the second, maybe… but that’s a whole other blog post for a whole other day. What is for sure, is this record is astounding. There’s no hidden agenda. There’s no underlying social commentary, no reading between the lines to decipher the meaning and concept.
It’s exists for just one reason – to PARTY! This record celebrates the art of partying, and it just oozes fun. At the end of the day, we all need a little bit of fun in our lives, and this record is chock full of it. Party Hard is a stone cold classic, and every track on the record speeds along at 100mph, only stopping long enough to chug a beer, inhale a slice of pizza and jump on the bed, whether there’s anyone in there or not.
If you’ve never heard of The Union, then you’re missing out. Luke Morley is one of the best songwriters in modern rock music, as well a mean axeman in his own right, and Peter Shoulder? An amazing voice, sounding like he was raised on the streets of Memphis, weaned on Jack Daniels and BBQ sauce. His voice just drips emotion and feeling, raising Luke’s songs even higher to the stratosphere.
This record, their second, is their high point. Everything comes together in one amazing package. The songs are strong, the playing is smooth, the vocals are hot… and riffs? Oh man, the riffs. Siren’s Song itself is one of the finest rock songs of this century with a hook that sets up camp in your mind and won’t leave. Obsession might be just as good, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Another Scottish band, fronted by Justin Currie, one of music’s best and most consistent songwriters. This was their breakthrough record (I use the original cover that I have on my cassette version, fact fans) that launched them into the big leagues. Containing the massive – and fairly maudlin – Nothing Ever Happens and Kiss This Thing Goodbye, those two songs alone would make almost any late 80s hits compilation.
The strength of the writing stands out, but the guitar of Iain Harvie stands shoulder to shoulder with that and Currie’s soulful vocals; The guitar solo on Move Away Jimmy Blue still sounds amazing to this day. This is a strong record, with depth and heart and a twisted view of the world that sucks you in like a Dyson on speed.
Guns n’ Roses
Appetite for Destruction
For all I said that the Thunder record soundtracks my life, I’ll argue that this record soundtracks a generation. Guns n’ Roses took hair metal and killed it stone dead with this mash up of rock, metal, punk, sleaze and attitude. From the opening jagged chords of Welcome To The Jungle, this record was like nothing else I’d heard when I bought it. I didn’t have it when I was first released, I was a latecomer to that party, but it still had a huge effect on me.
Sweet Child O’ Mine and Paradise City are in the upper echelon of rock songs; they genuinely deserve to be called genre defining – they have a riff and a groove and a swagger to them that moves you to your core; Axl’s one of a kind vocals complete the package, but the band itself is often an amazing unit. A record I still listen to and cherish to this day.
So there you go. That’s my favourite ten records… at the moment. These could change, and probably will in the near future. No place for Eclipse, Halestorm, Alice Cooper, Little Angels, The Blue Brothers, Thin Lizzy and many more I could have picked, but for now, this list just about covers it.
Have a listen, and if you like something you’ve never heard before, you’re welcome…