THE 50(ISH) GREATEST ALBUMS OF ALL TIME…
A Review of Reviews
A round up of weekly reviews of ‘the classics’ I had never bothered to listen to.
What a year it has been.
The year is ending, the choosing tin is empty, we have reviewed the last album. It has not been an easy year for anyone but let’s have a little look back on what we’ve done this year, shall we?
We started off by taking a look back to 2020 with Michael Jackson, that was a terrible mistake. But we had a lot of time to think about stuff in lockdown, which we wrote about not once (with Radiohead), but twice (with Jimi Hendrix). All that extra time to think also got us talking about conspiracy theories (and Love).
Jimi Hendrix also led us to think about how old we are getting, and self-reflection was a subject we revisited with a summery David Bowie and a spring-time Paul Simon. That self-reflection made us realise not to take anything for granted (like Black Sabbath) and to appreciate the little things (with Chic). All of that led to more than one conversation about mental health, (see Nirvana, and Prince), difficult conversations about race (Kendrick Lamar) and our favourite topic, the past (Arctic Monkeys).
Perhaps being too serious was the reason my stand-up career never took off, as Bruce Springsteen will attest. Of course, it wasn’t all deep and meaningful. We had fun too, didn’t we? Like when we put Metallica to the sword, when we tried to be controversial with Eminem or that time we went and got a haircut with Joy Division. Or remember the time we stayed in a joke house with Fleetwood Mac?
Sometimes we actually talked about music! Whether it was seeing The Chemical Brothers live, playing in our own bands like The Rolling Stones, simply reminiscing about the power of music itself with The Clash or actually reviewing an album with Velvet Underground & Nico.
Occasionally, though, we needed a break. Whether that was because we had overworked ourselves (Bob Marley and Van Morrison), we were on holiday (Public Enemy) or because we had drunk too much (The Smiths). Maybe we were exhausted from all the sport we talked about (Mary J Blige and Pink Floyd) or running up hills with Kate Bush. Maybe we had gotten carried away with Queen. Or maybe it was because Rage Against The Machine wouldn’t leave me alone after my stag do.
Perhaps we were tired from looking after Otis. Who arrived in our lives at the end of March and is all we could talk about for two weeks — covering both Bob Dylan and The Smashing Pumpkins. Now he’s much more grown up, but still steals our attention away from the Beach Boys.
Of course, it hasn’t all been good news. We talked about how we’d react to bad news with Led Zeppelin but then only a few weeks later, when we were supposed to be reviewing Blur, Grandma died.
That really threw us, but we were able to muddle through and improvise. Something we later talked about again with Miles Davis, after we’d learned about showing faith with Stevie Wonder.
The whole experience of this year has led to a lot of thinking about who we are and where we come from. The vile abuse England players received after losing the Euro 2020 final and NWA led us to think about where we grow up and whether or not we were proud of it, as did Oasis.
Outside of the themes, there were some stand-alone topics — we talked about relationships with Beyoncé, hay-fever with the Beatles and church with Madonna. Once we gave blood with Michael Kiwanuka and once we got super-meta with Kanye West.
2021 was different but some things in a year are always the same, and in autumn we ruminated on daylight savings (with A Tribe Called Quest) and took a lovely autumn walk with Joni Mitchell. As is customary, when the nights drew in we baked a pie alongside Taylor Swift before we settled down to Christmas with the family.
But, mostly, in a year like no other, a year in which we have been slowly released back into the wild, we had time to think about some of the most important people in our lives. For example our friends (and Elbow) and, most important of all, my wife. We married in October and although the build up was tortuous (Talking Heads and Marvin Gaye witnessed all of that) and we crashed back down to earth afterwards (alongside the Sex Pistols), the day itself was perfect. Just ask Lou Reed.
So yes, what a year it has been. Some life-defining moments, some utter nonsense. Some lockdowns, some freedoms. Three weddings, a birth and a funeral. 365 days, 12 months, 52 albums listened to and 34,387 words written about them.
And so there are only two words left to add and they are to be addressed to you, dear reader…
Thank you for sharing this year with me. At times it has been tough, at times it has been happier than we could ever have imagined. It has been some year. I hope you have found it as fun and entertaining as I have.
Because, in the end, if you’re not having fun, then what is the point?
Thanks for reading — over the course of 2021, I reviewed 50(ish) of the greatest albums ever recorded. You can see the list here:
The 50(ish) Greatest Albums of All Time…
Weekly reviews of ‘the classics’ I’ve never bothered to listen to.
There is also a playlist featuring the best song from each album here.