The 50(ish) Greatest Albums Of All Time…

Weekly reviews of ‘the classics’ I’ve never bothered to listen to.

Hello. Happy New Year!

Ok, so, for 2021 we’re going to do something different. Lord knows we don’t need a repeat of 2020. The new plan is to review a ‘classic’ album every week. Some of them I have heard before (some of them many, many times), but most I have never clapped ears on.

So many records, so little time… until now! (Photo by blocks on Unsplash)

I am hoping that I will actually be able to do things in 2021 and so this structure will keep me accountable when I don’t have time to dawdle and will force me to write weekly. …


Album #24 : The Smiths — The Queen is Dead

I had my covid vaccine on Saturday. I was a bit worried about the reaction I would have to it — some people have been laid up in bed for days with swollen glands and pounding headaches. Personally, I was looking forward to lots of sympathy and feeling sorry for myself, flouncing around, and swooning like a Morrisey-inspired dandy. Somewhat disappointingly I actually felt absolutely fine.

Wait, I didn’t get a sticker?! (Photo by Marisol Benitez on Unsplash)

Since that didn’t work, I decided to get drunk. There’s a lyric in a Smiths song (which sadly is not on this album) that goes: “I was happy in the haze of a drunken…


Album #23 : Stevie Wonder — Fulfillingness’ First Finale

Clearly I needed a Stevie Wonder album on this list but wasn’t sure which one. So I consulted my Stevie Wonder expert friend, sure he would say Songs In The Key of Life. He didn’t, obviously. He said Fullfillingess’ First Finale was Wonder’s seminal album. Are you sure? I asked.

Trust me, he said.

So, I had a little faith and boy did it pay off. What a record this is. At times it has the pomp of Wonder’s funky hits but what really sets it apart is the subtilty. Songs like Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away and…


Album #22 : Kate Bush — Hounds of Love

I learned two things about Kate Bush very early on. One, this album is not called Running Up That Hill, as I had originally thought. Two, at the height of her fame Bush took a 35-year break from touring. Because of that first point, I was all ready to write about running. And, honestly, if you thought the fact that it is now a humungous non-sequitur would stop me talking about running then, mate, you don’t me at all.

However, linked to the second point, I feel like I have been taking a (admittedly slightly shorter) break from pounding the…

Album #21 : Led Zeppelin — Led Zeppelin IV

Expectations can be dangerous things. For example, last week I was ready and raring for moving down a level in Covid restrictions here in Scotland. Then on Friday afternoon, it was announced that Glasgow had stumbled and wouldn’t be taking the next step towards freedom. Honestly, it was pretty gutting. It felt a bit like a miniature Christmas announcement — having things whipped away at the last minute. That is, obviously, a selfish reaction and I realise that. The decision was made for a reason and just because I haven’t (to my knowledge) caught the virus doesn’t mean I’m immune…


Album #20 : Fleetwood Mac — Rumours

Last weekend, my fiancée and I went home to see family and friends for the first time in months (which, by the way, was absolutely lovely). We stayed in an Air BnB which at first seemed perfectly normal — it didn’t look quite like the pictures but that was ok, people are allowed to redecorate. Then, the longer we stayed there the more bizarre the experience became. There was so much stuff, it was like an escape room. …

The 50(ish) Greatest Albums of All Time

Album #19 : Kendrick Lamar — To Pimp A Butterfly

Long term readers may have noticed the elephant in the room. Of all the subjects 2021 has thrown up, one has been conspicuously absent from these weekly reviews. I could have mentioned it the week I reviewed Beyoncé, or maybe Mary J Blige, probably Love, definitely Michael Kiwanuka.

Don’t mind me… (Photo by James Hammond on Unsplash)

If this Kendrick Lamar album hadn’t coincided with a long weekend social media blackout from sporting stars and institutions, intended to highlight the impact of online abuse, I probably would have found a way to avoid the subject again. Whether or not that boycott was a success remains to be seen (although…

The 50(ish) Greatest Albums of All Time

Album #18 : Nirvana — Nevermind

This week, I saw my mum and dad for the first time in 7 months. It was brilliant. (Admittedly, I still haven’t seen my sister, brother or sister-in-law but you know what they say about beggars and choosing…) It goes without saying really, but the last year has been really tough for families living apart — especially over winter and the festive period. The soul-destroying boredom of lockdowns made the prospect of spending Christmas together even sweeter than usual and to have that ripped away at the last minute was, honestly, absolutely devastating.

Soon… (Photo by Kevin Delvecchio on Unsplash)

Fortunately, I am not someone who has…

The Greatest 50(ish) Albums of All Time

Album #17 : Mary J Blige — What’s The 411?

I really didn’t want to write about football this week. Especially after I have written about my relationship with the beautiful game previously. But, to be honest, I haven’t been able to summon much interest to write about anything else, and this album didn’t exactly help to inspire me.

Although it is widely recognised as a seminal album, What’s the 411? is not exactly enthralling. It is one of those records that suffers because it was the first to do what it did. Nobody had really fused hip hop beats with R&B melodies before. Today, it sounds tired, like it…

The 50(ish) Greatest Albums of All Time

Album #16 : Arctic Monkeys — Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not

This album reminds me of everyone’s favourite topic — the past. The songs are about going on nights out, jumping taxis, rubbish college band nights and, of course, being afraid to speak to people you fancy. The experiences in these songs are my experiences (with the exception of that song about the prostitute, I should add).

For me this album was released at exactly the right time. I am the Arctic Monkeys generation. I would listen to lyrics like “anticipation has a habit to set you up, for disappointment in evening entertainment but,” whilst getting ready to go out nights…

James Beck

(n): Glasgow-based Stopfordian. See also; Books, Sport, Nonsense

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