This is part 52 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 and thousands of songs during that time. Because the question isn’t the best album of all time or the one that’s made them the most money in sales, or the most clicked-on review, 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.
Paul Wilson, Owner/Vice President/General Manager, 105.7 WROX and AM 1450
Elton John, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
I love the variety of this disc, from the sadness of “Candle In the Wind” to pure energy of “Your Sister Can’t Dance” to the textures of “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding”. Throw in the hits like “Saturday Night’s Alright”, “Bennie and the Jets” and the title track and you’ve got more than an hour of solid entertainment.
Paul Cantor, blogger
Ghostface, Supreme Clientele
Trying to explain exactly why you love something is hard to do — love isn’t explainable, it just is. And that’s how I feel about Supreme Clientele. On paper, it’s not an album you look at and think: this could be amazing. At the time of its release, Ghostface was merely another spoke on the Wu-Tang wheel, and seven years after the group debuted, that wheel had increasingly fallen off the track. But the record really caught everyone by surprise. The production eschewed what was then en vogue — syncopated, skittering drum tracks topped by melody-deficient synthesizer keystrokes — for soulful, neck-snapping beats; the rhymes fused stream-of-consciousness ramblings with Ghost Deini’s unique blend of street poetry. It was the Wu-Tang formula on the most premium of steroids. But that’s just a description of the album itself. Why it’s my favorite, why I love it — most of all, it’s because I’m from Staten Island, and in the late 90’s, after years of dominance, it felt like my hometown was on a real cold streak in the broader rap climate. Kids in my school, kids in my neighborhood, they’d moved on to Jay-Z, DMX, Noreaga, whatever was on DJ Clue mixtapes at the time. And then Ghostface came with the video for “Mighty Healthy,” and it felt like the streets — at least the streets where I was from — drew from that. The big, chunky “Synthetic Substitution” drum break, the minor-key loop, the chorus-less rhymes. It was a throwback to another era, before the bling and the bullshit. There was no fluff involved; the whole album reflects that ethos. Today, I can put it on and transport right back to the moment I first heard it. It’s a time in my life I rather enjoyed, it inspired a lot of what I’d go on to do in music. For that, Supreme Clientele will always be number one in my book.
Jeff Long, Morning Host, Max 104.9
U2, Achtung Baby
Waiting for that release was three years in the making & it was a feeling of a kid at Christmas when i finally had it in my hands. From the opening note & distorted vocal sound of Zoo Station to the shimmering fade of Love Is Blindness, there is not a weak moment among the 12 tracks. Singles like One & Mysterious Ways were as good as anything they ever released & tracks like Ultra Violet (Light My Way) signaled a new sonic & lyrical breakthrough for a band already strong in those areas. An album that plays as well today as it did in 1991, Achtung Baby will always have a place in my musical heart & playlist!
Douglas Wolk, Music Critic
World of Pooh, The Land of Thirst
The sole album by a late-’80s Bay Area guitar-bass-drums band: one of the bleakest things I’ve ever heard, and also one of the sweetest. It goes straight to very uncomfortable emotional places–so much longing, so much loathing–and bits of it are always pinwheeling around the back of my consciousness.
Conor Bezane, Writer, Producer, Author
Nirvana, In Utero
It pounces. It pummels. It thwacks. In Utero is a jolt of nitro glycerin straight to your heart. Avant-garde. Rock ‘n’ roll. Pure and simple. The album is the unsung hero of Nirvana’s catalog. Kurt Cobain is the wizard of clause — and genius turns of phrase abound on In Utero. “Look on the bright side, suicide. Lost eyesight, I’m on your side,” he wails on “Milk It.” “Angel left wing, right wing broken wing. Lack of iron and/or sleeping… Obituary birthday, my scent is still here in my place of recovery.” When In Utero came out, I was 14 years old. I wanted to emulate Kurt, so I picked up a Fender Stratocaster. My dream of rockstardom was a dream deferred. But I did end up writing about rock. Listening to In Utero is not unlike viewing painter Edvard Munch’s famous work The Scream. You can feel his pain, his melancholy, his suffering, his hurt. The most ugly, beautiful album of all time.