This is part 25 of an ongoing series where the kind folk of the music business reveal their favourite album of all time.
Ask people in the music industry the seemingly simple and straightforward question, “What is your favourite album of all time?” and you’ll find that it’s not always easy. After all, my industry peers listen to hundreds of albums a month – thousands of songs during that time. Because the question isn’t the best album of all time – the one that’s made them the most money in sales – but the one release they personally can’t live without, that one title they have two copies of in several formats, in case one breaks. It’s also about that album that for them has the best back stories and the one that has the most meaning in their lives.
Angelo Barovier, Creative Director, Studio Diversity
Mezzanine, Massive Attack
Until then, my taste had been largely classic rock, acid rock, reggae, and a side of pop. The pensive blend of Massive Attack’s various influences was a stark eye-opener to world of trip hop. Now, I cannot imagine life without those deeply rhythmic and pseudo-philosophical sounds. That album spurred interest into other trip hop acts like Portishead and then deeper into the alternative and synthetic sounds of electronica which I had until then spurned as crappy Nintendo music. Mezzanine was the Rosetta Stone which broke the language barrier.
Katherine Brodsky, Random Minds PR
Batman Soundtrack, Prince
Philip Martin, Features Editor, Columnist & Chief Movie Critic, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Proof Through The Night, T Bone Burnett
T Bone Burnett was kulturkampfing before kulturkampfing was cool. This is a deeply intelligent and baldly moral work of art, a folk rock chiaroscuro that bit deep into the smugness of early Reaganism. Some thought it was bitter and judgmental because it was tough on the age’s blooming hedonism. Burnett’s lyrics seemed influenced by Thomas Merton and e.e. cummings, and his guitars — Pete Townshend, Ry Cooder and Richard Thompson played on the album — were immaculate. There were at least three classic pop songs on the record, “Baby Fall Down,” “After All These Years” and “Fatally Beautiful,” that should have been big hits. And the rest of the record was thrillingly deep. And weird as it seems, Proof Through the Night might not even be his best work — that might be the Trap Door EP that immediately preceded PTTN.
Marc Mangapit, The5thelementmag.com
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Lauryn Hill
There is a reason why L Boogie’s timeless album is on the top of many charts, it spoke in musical poetry that everyone related to and understood. Her ability to convey the sadness of broken relationships in “Ex-Factor” and the upbeat warnings from “Doo Wop (That Thing)” gave the album many different faces. What stood out to me the most was how she brought back the classic uses of skits and interludes in between songs. It was a journey she wanted us to take, a roller coaster of emotions we went on a ride with, and at the end we felt like we were closer to her than ever before.
Jamie Frey, The Brooklyn What/Jersey Beat
Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness, Smashing Pumpkins
Recently my friends and I engaged in a music nerd list making tradition that we have, that involved picking the 15 best albums ever. Being someone as insane about music in the sad John Cusack kind way, I have already thought very much on this topic. Throughout the years, I have cemented that my number one choice, though this is obviously a very hard decision, is the album that tucked me into bed every night as a teenager, the most emotionally cathartic sonic trip that I can possibly go on, the 128 minutes and thirty two seconds of youth, romance, outer space, Shakespeare, heavy metal and lullabys of Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness, the magnum opus of Smashing Pumpkins, one of the most ambitious, iconic and maligned area rock bands of the 1990’s. Unlike say, The White Album, this album has two major points against it to the music world hive mind. Number one: It is an overlong and meticulously produced indulgence, taking every possible Electric Light Orchestra, Phil Spector or Brian Eno studio trick and Pink Floyd or Queen arena cliche and weaving it through tracks that go from the sad boy folk of “Stumbaline” to hysterical guitar rage of “Where Boys Fear To Tread.” In the age of keeping it real, this was an album that exists in the delusional rock n’ roll fantasy of Billy Corgan. This is the number two discredit: Corgan’s immature and confusing personality has caused him to age less gracefully than say, Dave Grohl or Thom Yorke, in the eyes of the public. He subscribes to bizarre religious beliefs, dated Jessica Simpson and owns his own wrestling federation. To most people, however, Corgan is seen as a hack, and is often used to give the example of death made Kurt Cobain so much more ubiquitous: “If he lived, he might be just like Billy Corgan.” There are also some who prefer Siamese Dream, which is another great work, but this is two discs of pure adventure. I’d like to say my favorite record ever is something bonafide classic or obscure and hip, but that’s not the truth. The truth is that I love rock n’ roll, and this is rock n’ roll exploited to it’s most cinematic scope and potential. When the opening piano instrumental finishes and the record kicks into “Tonight, Tonight” you are kicked off on this journey and it is the journey of your life. On this journey, you encounter extreme violence like in “Bodies”, where love is suicide, and you encounter heady baroque moments like “Cupid De Locke” and “Galapagos”, where love is a weird dream. These are the sounds of growing up, the thesis of rock n’ roll incarnate, a young lost soul searching for intellectual, spiritual and emotional satisfaction. You can never leave without leaving a piece of youth, but some moments are captured forever in sound, and for me they live infinitely in this record.