Taking albums to a desert island with you is one thing, you might get rescued one day but taking albums to an Alien planet? That’s something else because you might not be coming back or like in Slaughterhouse 5 you are captured by the Tralfamadorians and put on display in their zoo for the rest of your life!  There was also an episode of the Twilight Zone where that happened as well.

So when you see these lists they’re generally pretty much the same records over and over and over again and ya know what? Borrrrrrrrrrring for the most part and highly predictable! Always the same collections, The Beatles, Cat Stevens, Mozart, Beethoven, Leonard Cohen, The Beach Boys, Michael Jackson, John Lennon and Paul McCartney solo albums and to a lesser degree a lot of Best of albums like Motown, Rock n’ Roll et al. Sure all those records have their place in the annals of musical history but the people who pick them always do so in order to take credit for selecting “THE” best of the best of the best nonsense and probably NOT what they would really take! People like Frank Zappa and Billy Connolly should be asked this question, well Frank’s dead now but you know what I mean! Ask people who are not quite centre field and see what they say, they may shock you or surprise you that they’d pick the same albums as well! Lists have always bothered me especially when they are in major magazines and papers and now online because who’s to say that they’re right? We’re all so different to who we think is great and who is not! Every musician is great in their own rights because we’re all different people even though we’re all human and we all learned differently so it’s literally impossible to compare say; David Gilmour to James Hetfield or Robert Fripp to Kurt Cobain, you just can’t do it!  Not because it’s different genres but even if they were to play the exact same song they’d all (minus Kurt now) arrange it differently and if they just played all the same guitar and did it note for note, would you really know who was who? So comparing musicians to one another…. just stop ok? Making the top 10 lists of what albums you would take to where and why, stop saying the same thing over and over because it matters not if that album sold a bazillion copies or not, if you like an obscure record so much then say so and take that one with you! Don’t say Oh that’s easy, Abbey Road because it was their best album and you loved Revolver more, then say Revolver! Stand up for the albums you love and believe in!

Ok, off my soapbox now and let’s get back to what albums I would take to an alien planet for them to hear and why, in no particular order either.

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The soundtrack to The Pink Floyd in Pompeii, October 4th-7th 1971 at the zenith of their very experimental phase before they went more straight forward with the Eclipse suite that would later become Dark Side of the Moon in March 1973. Like The Doors, I’d take any Pink Floyd album with me, their whole catalogue really but let’s be diverse for a bit eh? This was the very first Pink Floyd music I ever heard aside from being a kid hearing Another Brick in the Wall part 2 on the radio but at 6 music wasn’t a big thing for me as Hot Wheels Cars and Trucks were. So at 13 I saw this film for the first time one night on Much Music, (Canada’s answer to MTV), Big Ticket show where legit concert footage was shown and I was absorbed in to the opening drone before the keyboard hit that first note of “Echoes”, pinnnnnnng! I couldn’t believe I had been missing this for so long but neither of my sisters were that big in to the Floyd so this was an entirely new discovery for me and I was loving it. Echoes, A Saucerful of Secrets and Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun stand out as awesome today as they did when I first heard them on here. It also started me scouring record shoppes in the city for bootleg albums and led me straight down the rabbit hole never coming back and collecting everything I could on The Pink Floyd especially pre-1973 material. I love it all but their pre-DSOTM era was their most psychedelic and experimental phase of their career and they would do more improvising then even though they did do a fair bit in 1975 with new songs on tour before landing them in the studio which was amazing to hear as well. But this would be a definite to take.

 

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This was insanely hard to choose only one Porcupine Tree album because like The Pink Floyd I love every album in their own way so trying to be as diverse as possible is just maniacal right now in choosing what albums, it’s not easy when you have to choose the ones you REALLY love! This album truly encapsulated the Porcupine Tree sound for me for a long time before I manage to get the rest of their albums but coming in a high recommendations I went with this one and it just floored me to the point to listening to it at least four times the day I got it because I again had been missing out on this amazing band that I never got to see play live in Toronto but manage to somewhat make up for it by seeing Steven Wilson the last two times here in Toronto. Their Neo-Prog sound blew me away, that dark tone of sound and they way they presented music in such a different light to me. Definitely one of my all time favourite bands now. I was going through my, “if wasn’t in the 70’s then it’s not Prog” bullshit phase at the time when Porcupine Tree and other bands of the nouveau Prog movement were doing the rounds so I missed out due to my own ignorance. C’est la Vie! But thankfully I know of them now and have been absorbing their music ever since!

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Larks Tongues in Aspic, my very first King Crimson album I ever bought and broke my KC V-card to. Must’ve played it at least six times that day I brought it home form the flea market where I paid about $5 for it. Mind boggling and hypnotic best describes it even to this day. Complex guitar riffs I had no idea were even possible, listen to LTIA part 1 and see what I mean! A very underrated album and intense musicianship form start to finish combining everything that served up Prog on a wooden board with a bloody piece of meat oozing its juices everywhere just waiting for you to soak it all in. Still have the record I bought all those years ago and take it out whenever I can and feel for it because a digital copy just doesn’t have that same resonance as this record does the first time it spun on my turntable!

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The sophomore album to the Kraftwerk moniker if you don’t include the 1969 album when they were called Organisation. This album was one of the definitive records that made me do what I do today musically. Until I listened to it on my stereo there were a couple of point where I thought the batteries in my Walkman were dying and I would replace them only to think those batteries were shite as well. This record clearly defined a style that made Krautrock a name to me. Their first album was equally amazing but for some reason this one had more warmth and depth to it than the first KW album with the red/orange pylon on it. Vom Himmel Hoch was the one song on the first album that always stuck out as the best track on that album for me and the entire second record here just soaked in to me like a sponge to water. KlingKlang literally opened my mind to what and how music can be well outside the box and how you can shift the dynamics more so than anything else I had heard at the time. It was more mellow than any other record I had heard before as well aside from classical music. I drew so much inspiration from this record when i recorded my first album back in 2007 and that it still does to this day continue to inspire me when I am in a rut for ideas or need a break form recording. This album has everything to calm your mind and allow you breathing space to create your own ideas from it without ripping them off.

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This is by far one of THE most experimental Krautrock albums of its time and since then in my opinion. It’s dark, haunting and full of repetition in some songs but creates such a bizarre atmosphere that you can’t help but listen to it again and again. The Ultrasonic Seraphim version contains music that was record three years after the initial album’s release but was never released itself until the 2000’s and it should have! A very rare album to find original copies of on vinyl but so grateful for the CD version and the music held within it. Low budget and minimal availability of instruments and recorded in a small smoke filled room that you can almost smell the dope on your fingers after you push play. An essential album for listening, inspiration, zoning out the world, and just absorbing the intense sounds that this band created. I would love to make an album with these guys, that would be an ardent wish come true! A lot of my music has been inspired by this album and the second KW album I spoke about above it. They are my schoolbooks to my sound.

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Pretty much any Doors album would suffice but this bootleg album was one of the first, if not THE first one I got and played on my shambles of a stereo that was a hodgepodge of different pieces thrown together in my room when I was 13. It has clips of several shows including a killer version of The End from CBC studios here in Toronto in 1967 on Noel Harrison’s Now Explosion show. The Doors were the first main stream rock band I really got in to and still love to this day. There’s still shows or pieces of shows turning up out of the vaults and people’s trunks in their attics that I’m always eager to get my grubby little mitts on and spin to my heart’s content. I always tried to emulate Jim Morrison by trying to write poetry starting at 13 and finally giving in to writing lyrics by the time I hit my 20’s to play in bands. Hell I even dressed like Jim once in grade 8, fake leather pants, white frilly shirt, conch belt with the blue stones in it and a leather jacket and tried my hand at being rebellious in class…. didn’t work out so well thus sticking to wearing a lot of Doors t-shirts all through high school became the norm for me to which I was commended for not wearing one at graduation by the principal. But The Doors are a main staple of sound for me and their music does come through what i do as far as being different and experimental in a North American sense, Canadianized of course ; )

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Eilliff, a German Jazz Prog band that put out two studio albums and two live ones are by far one of the most elusive bands next to Sand for finding anything other than what’s out there now. But for what is available I am very grateful for and glad I found this band. Their first album here is the one to take from 1971 because of its complex sounds and patterns, amazing tones and dark passages down the jazz Prog hallways this band changes; time, tempo, timbre and back again. It’s a shame that these bands didn’t go on to do bigger tours or make more albums because they really had THE Krautrock sound down to an art form and it was SO IT. Four songs that literally shook the walls to my room and must, MUST be played loud. It’s an amazing highway driving record for me. It’s also an amazing basement record for the winter and well, really anytime but definitely when the weather is bad outside!

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One of my favourite album covers and hard rock albums of all time. Motorhead… does it get any louder? Sure as hell it does, especially when you saw them live which I have done every time here since 2000 except for the very last time they were here sadly, I was too incapacitated to even get out of bed but it would have been sad to see due to Lemmy’s failing health so I saw them when they still had it all together better. Motorhead has always been a huge influence on me musically and lyrically because their songs were so straight forward and no forgiveness to them and they sang about real life things that happen to you and what is going on. That said their later and last albums were unfortunately for me too much sounding alike and really didn’t have that same drive as their predecessors did. This is when they were just raw and nasty dirty rock and gave you everything served on a filthy plate and you asked for seconds as you ate with your fingers.

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As far as I’m concerned this record beats the shit out of Paranoid any day and that’s my opinion! It was the first Sabbath record I bought for $6 at a warehouse shop my brother-in-law took me to one day and I had $10 on me so this was my purchase. Never regretted a dime on it. By far their most far from metal album they did at the time and most Proggy to date by hiring on Rick Wakeman to play keyboards on the record and live off stage was Geoff Nichols for when they did do anything from this record live. The music on here I feel was more thought out and arranged rather than let’s just be all doom and gloom so for this record let’s do some quaaludes and get really mellow and actually take some time to write some great music. Yeah it has the powerful dark drop D guitar sound in it but it also has some of their most prolific writing compared to their other albums. Sure I love Master of Reality and Volume 4 and who can deny the first one released, Friday the 13th 1970 in February but all that aside this one stands above them all for me.

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Ok so I’m being selfish here but hey I am allowed to bring one of my own albums to an alien planet!  How else will they know about my music?! Unlike some artists I’ve read who’s lists included nothing but their records, now that’s just being a selfish prick if you ask me! But yes, this album would be my sole choice from my canon of records to take because I enjoyed this one most and have listened to it most since making albums. The title was coined by my friend Kat who said one day whilst having a kvetch moment in car driving through Pine Hills cemetery because it was quiet and we were having coffee and this album’s master tapes were playing to see how I liked the way it turned out and she said, “Ya know, this music is the perfect soundtrack for cemeteries.” Thus the album’s title was born and the front cover is the Gurum laying out in my backyard probably around the end of February/early March when I went out and took a picture of it in the snow still mad as hell at it and feeling no remorse for whipping it from my kitchen doorway in to the glistening snow that blanketed my yard. Now it’s a main staple to my live repertoire as the last guitar I use for the last song, Subtle Grenade cereal and Oyster Velocity.

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Take Refuge in Clean Living by Grails is one of the essential Post Rock albums that I heard and was instantly hooked on them and had to have everything they did. So funky it smells and an amazing album of tight musicianship form start to finish. They have this subtle heaviness to them that is only flavoured by their out of the gate intensiveness that’s equalled in the subtlety but also right in your face before you even know it. Five songs from 2008 that helped shape the genre but also found its way to my ears some years later and every time I play it or it comes on there is a certain je ne c’est quoi that takes over and you have to just feel it. A must have to anyone who likes Post Rock or instrumental rock music to any degree.

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Red Sparowes is another Post Rock band that blew me away the first time I hit play on their music and this album, At The Soundless Dawn took me by surprise when I first heard it because I honestly thought it was the soundtrack to 28 Days Later because it sounded like the music score from that film and was equally as intense and left me with the same stomach muscles tightening the more I listened to it. Again all instrumental and all around brilliant musicianship by this band from California. As much as Post Rock is coming towards the light of the masses it is still very much in the background of the pop culture scene and I get the feeling that these bands like the light to be shone elsewhere but how can you deny them the spotlight they all so deserve? You just can’t! this album to me is one of the pioneering records of the genre and should be held in high regards from start to finish as well. Listen to it one day and you will see just how amazingly intense it really is, a must.

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If King Arthur had a house band it was Gentle Giant who were one of those bands that were a “live” band rather than a studio album band for the majority of their career, actually for their entire career as far as I’m concerned. Their energy was somewhat not well represented in the studio whereas live performances they really let loose and just abounded the stage with enough energy to power a small town’s lights for a month!  One of the best sounding bootlegs out there for them is a live in studio radio broadcast at Ultrasonic Studios in Hempstead, New York on WLIR FM October 7th 1975 as you can see by the cover art above. 1975 I feel was the peak of their career as well both touring and album wise. Freehand was the record to co-inside with this tour and their music just seems to start to fall downwards from 1976 onward. The record company didn’t really thing that they were selling as best as they could and by ’77 they were pushed in to making shorter more “pop” friendly tunes and the band retaliated with songs like Betcha Thought We Couldn’t Do It so it became a tug of war between the two and got out of control which reflected in their music so 1975 became their turning point. Same goes for Jethro Tull for me, Minstrel in the Gallery from ’75 was their high point for me. This broadcast was again one of the first Gentle Giant bootlegs I bought and it was only on a suggestion by someone else in the store that was talking to me about them because I was looking for a new band to add to my Prog Collective, he was right. A great live showcase of their talents and extremely impressive musicianship to make some of the most complex 70 minutes to listen to. Amazing.

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Upon discovery of this album I became absorbed in to the sounds in which it projected as it is just as Odd as I am and does that same kind of strange yet beautiful music that I like to create where it goes well outside your comfort zone and has you wondering what kind of drugs must one do to write such amazing sounds. None for me that’s for sure and I highly doubt that Jumble Hole Clough does’em either! This album is full of clicks, pops, wheezes and guitars along with just about everything under the sun and under the sink to make for an adventure in to what could easily be the Twilight Zone’s Swansong record. A must have to listen to anytime, anywhere, anyplace!

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A piece of classic Americana psychedelia and an album that is a must for anyone who does or doesn’t remember the 60’s. Grace Slick has to be if not my all time favourite female vocalist because it wasn’t that soft cutesy girly sound that so many other female vocalists would portray and display throughout the 50’s and 60’s. Aside from Nico and the Velvet Underground Grace had THAT voice you knew right away it was here and she was no bedtime story lullaby singer and that is what I love about her sound and the sound of The Jefferson Airplane is kind of like what I would expect to hear whilst going down the rabbit hole for a good part of it as well as what you would hear as the soundtrack to parts of movies like when they awake in the field of poppies in the Wizard of Oz right?! Multi vocal led, multi instrumental and musicianship and talented all round it’s too bad the band went for a shit before the mid 70’s but they may have gone wrong had they stayed a band so for what we have I am grateful.

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If the Nightmare Before Christmas met the Oompah Loompahs and formed a rock band, this is what would happen! It’s one of the same guys from Jumble Hole Clough responsible for this group of sounds-men that brought us this album and many others in their repertoire. Also full of pops, clicks and whistles to wet anyone’s musical palette when for the want of something different and a little left field. The album has that sound of what they have salvaged from the musical scrapyard of sound and made something magical out of it and created a 12 song record that spins mountains of ooze in to your ears. So funky it smells.

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Totally quoth the Rave here with this one! I was obsessed with the song Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether and had to have this album for the taking from that moment on. Always been a huge, HUGE fan of The Alan Parsons Project and having seen them live twice they always just make me happy whenever I hear their music. Their albums have no decade attached to them for me, they’re timeless and fit in to any generation as far as I’m concerned. This album has to be one of their quintessential records to have but of course everyone wants Eye in the Sky which also amazing in its own right for sure but I’d take this one because it has classical music in it, great guitar riffs, beautiful arrangements and Orson Wells talking in it as the narrator. Can’t ask for for more there eh? For a band to release so many albums and never tour until the mid 90’s is pretty impressive considering how many albums they actually sold! I was introduced to TAPP when I was about 6 and my sister dated this guy Jeff who was so in to them and Dr. Who to which is where I get my love for the Tom Baker 1974-1980 series love for and he played Alan Parson’s music like a kid would play Britney Spears nowadays, endlessly! So I got huge amounts of exposure to a lot of iconic bands at an early age. So thank yo Jeff for this beautiful gift of sound that is The Alan Parsons Project.

 

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Of course there’s a ton more records I would take to an alien planet with me to expose a whole new species to and expand their minds or whatever it is they think with and teach them the ways of the force… no wait, Shhhhhh!!!!! You read nothing! Don’t want to get sued! Teach them the ways of sound!  There, that’s better! LOL. There’s albums by: Miles Davis, GoGo Penguin, Steven Wilson, Billy Connolly, Alexander Scriabin, Metallica, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Heroin and Your Veins, Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, Frederich Chopin, Monty Python, AC/DC and TruckFighters to name just a few. They’ll come on the next trip with me! The list is practically endless and on going and ever changing but for a start these would be the ones that I would take with me and it made me think long and hard. They’d either dissect my brain to see what the hell I was babbling on about or send me back for more and be mesmerized by all these amazing sounds I am bringing them! It’s always one of those things where you can change the list and make the list how you see fit, there’s no set rules that apply here! Hell, just making this list was a fight between each side of my brain to choose which albums would go with me so you can only imagine what your list would be like to make eh?   Enjoy

 

 

~Fin

Published by OddsFiche, A Canadian Perspective