This is part 56 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.
Galen H. Brown, Music Writer and Senior Editor at Sequenza21
The Cure, Pornography
I have loved The Cure’s 1982 masterpiece “Pornography” from the moment in 1994 when I took it home from the record store and heard the opening drums and guitar riff and Robert Smith wailing that “It doesn’t matter if we all die.” I was in high school, I finally had a real group of friends, for the first time I was figuring out how to be my own person, and believe it or not I was probably happier than I had ever been. Of course, some of that happiness and self-discovery was certainly tied up in a healthy exploration of gothic teenage angst. My friends and I wore an awful lot of black, and had the kind of parties where you sit around in the dark listening to Depeche Mode and feeling things. The Cure wasn’t my favorite band at the time (that honor goes to The Sisters of Mercy) but they have had the most staying power. And The Cure’s 1989 release “Disintegration” is arguably an even better album, but “Pornography” is the sentimental favorite. It almost shouldn’t work, and indeed the critics in 1982 were generally unimpressed. The guitars are slightly out of tune, the drums sound like they were recorded in a stairwell with the worst microphone the engineers could find, and if you can’t get into a vocal style that involves over-the-top wailing of barely coherent lyrics about creatures kissing in the rain and dust on the lips of a vision of hell, Robert Smith’s performance might not be for you. But somehow those things combine into a perfect epic distillation of bleak despair. The guitars sound like they are alive and in pain. The drums are raw, primal, and urgent. The lyrics are like T.S. Eliot on an angry bender, and Robert Smith sells them with utter conviction. Every song on the album is perfect, and while it isn’t a concept album it has an emotional and sonic consistency and a structural coherence that makes it greater than the sum if its parts. And it still speaks to me, more than twenty years after I first heard it and more than thirty years after it was released.
Gayle O’Brien, 107.5 Dave FM, Kitchener, ON
U2, The Unforgettable Fire
No matter how many times I pick up and put it down over the years it still blows me away every time. I get lost in this album…it drifts and flows like a river. The entire album is made up of masterpieces — moody and dreamy but fun and energetic all at once. It helps that ‘A Sort of Homecoming’ has to be in my top three fave songs of all time. I will sing along to that for the rest of my days. It’s a song I would truly miss if it weren’t in my life. I go to it to be happy, reflect or just escape. Highlights for me would be the floaty aura of MLK, twangy guitar riffs in Wire and singing along to Promenade feels like reciting poetry. This album is thirty-two years old!! Even with the passage of time it’s magic hasn’t faded for me. Amidst the flashy sunglasses and rock star lifestyles I sometimes forget that U2 became rock stars because they make great music. This album always brings me back to that. Great music, it’s that simple.
Frito, Music Director, KJ103, Oklahoma City, OK
John Mayer, Continuum
John Mayer is my favorite artist and I remember the first time I saw him live was when he was on the Continuum tour. It was a show in the middle of summer that took place at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavillion in the Woodlands, TX (just north of Houston). The humidity was probably 100% and it was unbearably hot. Mayer came out, took off his shirt, and made love to the guitar for 2 hours. After that, I have always been a fan of his and believe that he is one of the greatest guitar musicians of our generation. I still listen to that album all the time and think it’s his best work to date.
Tony G, Faded4U
N.E.R.D., In Search Of…
I could of chosen Nas, Biggie, Tupac, Tragically Hip, Jay-Z, Wutang, or even DMX etc, but the real album that I really felt had an affect on me was NERD “In Search Of”. Little did I ever know that this influential group was ahead of its time. A lot of people don’t know that Timberland and The Neptunes were one group at one point in time, all hailing from VA. Ten years ago you couldn’t change your radio station without hearing a Neptune or Timberland production. I have a good ear for talent and I knew these brothers were destined for greatness. I had the opportunity to meet Pharrell and hang out with Shae and Chad. I still have the photos to this very day. I think it’s great to see artists that you grew up with and maybe even related to, become successful and do great things for their community and the world. That album affects me in many ways, as soon as hear any track from that album, I am taken on a ride threw memory lane. They never stick to the rules they make their own, they stay different while everyone stays the same. N.E.R.D. – Nothing Ever Really Dies, we just return to where we once came from.
David C. Coleman, CLG Music & Media
There was one thing I wanted to be when I was a young kid – a drummer. I grew up an avid listener of FM radio and my brothers’ record collections. So I developed a strong love for music. In my early teens I started to explore music on my own and a friend of mine introduced me to the band Rush. As a guy who wanted nothing more than to become a drummer, I was blown away by the prowess of the band’s drummer, Neil Peart. Over the next several years I began buying albums from the band and the album Hemispheres became my absolute favorite. When I finally started playing drums, my favorite thing to do was play my favorite albums from my favorite bands and play along with the music. Anyone familiar with Rush knows that Neil Peart is considered one of the top drummers in the rock genre. Hemispheres became my all-time favorite album due to the complexity of the music and the “concept album” format.