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. …


THE 50(ISH) GREATEST ALBUMS OF ALL TIME

Album #31 : David Bowie — Hunky Dory

Who better to opine on the nature of change than David Bowie? The man was the master of reinventing himself. He has had more hairstyles than I’ve had haircuts. Apart from maybe Bob Dylan, he is the all-time go-to change-merchant.

This project was supposed to be a log of my life over 2021 — but sometimes to look forward you have to go back. So, what has changed in the last year? Well, quite a lot really.

This time last year we were just emerging from the first major lockdowns — the rule of 6 meant we could see friends…


THE 50(ISH) GREATEST ALBUMS OF ALL TIME

Album #30 : Van Morrison — Astral Weeks

When listening to this album this week, I thought to myself ‘I’m not 100% sure what astral means. So, I looked it up and Google gave me two options, ‘relating to or resembling the stars’ and ‘relating to a supposed non-physical realm of existence to which various psychic and paranormal phenomena are ascribed, and in which the physical human body is said to have a counterpart’.

In other words, taking a holiday from yourself. Fittingly, I had a long weekend this week, taking Monday and Tuesday off work. It was brilliant. Not only because we had the meal tasting for…


THE 50(ISH) GREATEST ALBUMS OF ALL TIME

Album #29 : NWA — Straight Outta Comptom

What does it mean to be proud of where you come from?

Being English is, at best, complicated. At worst, it is embarrassing. The international behaviour of some of my fellow countrymen and women is astounding in its ignorance and bigotry. And I am not just talking about football fans.

Then, throw into the mix the issue of what constitutes being British. Is it a stiff upper-lip stoicism? Is it a marauding colonialism? Is it quaint tea parties and good humour?

And what separates Englishness from Britishness? How is it different from being Scottish, Irish, Welsh? Living in Scotland, I…


THE 50(ISH) GREATEST ALBUMS OF ALL TIME

Album #28 : The Velvet Underground & Nico — The Velvet Underground & Nico

Are The Velvet Underground any good? Or are they just cool? In a way, they represent everything this project is about — at parties years ago, I would nod knowingly:

“Oh yeah, obviously The Velvet Underground & Nico, yeah, they changed rock and roll!”

“Hm? What’s that? What’s my favourite song? Oh, I like them all man. They’re all great.”

The truth, in case you can’t tell, is that until this week I probably couldn’t have named a single song. But I could have told you that the album cover was a banana, because I’ve seen it on a hundred…


THE 50(ISH) GREATEST ALBUMS OF ALL TIME

Alnum #27 : The Beatles — Revolver

The sun shines. The sky is a clear azure. The occasional cloud drifts lazily across — a welcome friend offering a moment of cooling shelter from the beating down of the equinoctial sunshine.

Home workers abandon their laptops, depart from their once-but-no-longer- temporary indoor ensconces and creep, blinking, into the warmth. A long lunch today, an early finish tomorrow. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Where did I leave my sunglasses? (Photo by Ethan Robertson on Unsplash)

All that is to say; it’s hot out, innit?

Summer, it seems, has finally reached Glasgow.

But wait, what’s this? A sniffly, snotty nose? Itchy eyes? Tissues, everywhere you look tissues? An uncontrollable and irrational rage…


THE 50(ISH) GREATEST ALBUMS OF ALL TIME

Album #26 : Blur — Parklife

When I pulled this quintessentially English album out of the tin on Friday (the morning before England played Scotland at the Euros), I was all ready to write about being an Englishman living in Scotland. Then, on Monday morning, my grandma died. She had been very ill for a very long time but it was still a shock, as it always is.

I thought long and hard about whether to write about Grandma, it seemed such a personal thing to put on the internet, but I started by saying this project should be a reflection of the year I have…


THE 50(ISH) GREATEST ALBUMS OF ALL TIME

Album #25 : Pink Floyd — The Dark Side of The Moon

There is a theory that if you manage to start The Dark Side of The Moon at exactly the same time The Wizard of Oz, specifically the third roar of the lion in the MGM vanity card, the two line up perfectly. This is, of course, absolute nonsense. For a start, The Wizard of Oz is more than twice as long as The Dark Side of The Moon. So don’t waste your time.

However, it turns out there is another theory which is that if you manage to start The Dark Side of The Moon at any time in the…


THE 50(ISH) GREATEST ALBUMS OF ALL TIME

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…


THE 50(ISH) GREATEST ALBUMS OF ALL TIME

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…

James Beck

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

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