KMA1586 another top 15 post since that’s what we’re doing today. love, james xoxoxo

Hello! I got roped into this nonsense too. But I have RULES:

  1. These are in NO PARTICULAR ORDER or maybe I will put them in chronological order? I don’t know. It’s not first-best or last-best, I know that much.
  2. These are all albums that meant a lot to me at various points in my life. These are not the 15 best albums ever recorded. I have not heard anywhere near enough music to even hazard a guess. They’re also not my 15 current favourite albums. All kinds of stuff works its way into the rotation and then drops off. These are ones that have stuck with me for whatever reason. You’ll find that even the newest albums here are nearly 10 years old. Longevity was a factor.
  3. Only one album per artist.
  4. No greatest-hits albums. That’s cheating.
  5. But live albums are okay? I think?

Basically, this is more of a desert-island discs type thing. If I only had 15 albums forever, I’d be picking things I already know well, things that remind me of various good times and friends and whatnot.

It’s worth reminding you that my taste is awful and all I had was the radio for years and years and years.

Now. This was way harder than I was expecting. My plan was to go through my iTunes, check out all of my favourite artists, pick my favourite album from each one, and then see what makes the final cut. I had a rough idea of what I was going to pick, so I thought this would mean paring 20 albums down to 15. No. It was 50 down to 15. And that leaves off lots of acts like Danko Jones and Johnny Cash and Weird Al and The Hives where I don’t feel there’s one specific album that stands head and shoulders above the rest. I also found that my wife and I own dozens of albums that might be better picks than what I settled on if only I had spent more time with them. Maybe I should listen to something other than podcasts?

Okay, let’s do this:
1. Hawksley Workman: For Him and the Girls
2. Hawksley Workman: Almost a Full Moon

I’m starting by breaking the one-album-per-artist rule because YOU CAN’T TELL ME HOW TO LIVE. fOR hIM AND THE gIRLS IS AW SHIT anyway it’s Hawksley’s first album and was my introduction to him. I found that first impressions count for a lot with me – lots of my picks are the first album I heard from a particular artist. Almost a Full Moon is the Christmas album and must not be confused with Full Moon Eleven, the re-recording that is the worst (and most pointless) thing Hawksley has ever put out. I almost had three Hawksley albums on here, as Lover/Fighter almost made the list. I think ten years from now, Old Cheetah will hold up surprisingly well, but it’s not quite there with me yet.

3. Crash Test Dummies: God Shuffled His Feet

Okay, we’re not going chronological or alphabetical or anything here. Just in whatever order I feel like writing about them. I have talked before about how I got talked into buying this and wound up meeting a ton of CTD fans (the mid-90s were a different time, kids) and ran the band’s official website and whatnot. I have also talked about how I didn’t care as much for any of the albums that came after it (the first album, the one with Superman’s Song, I still think is pretty good – and I like a lot of their solo projects). But this holds up to me. I always wonder if I would hate it if I heard it for the first time today. Maybe?

4. Run-DMC: Raising Hell

I don’t know if this was my first favourite album but it’s the first one that I remember. Loved loved loved this. Because nothing speaks to pudgy white pre-teens like… yeah. Anyway. Whatever. This was great and is great. Walk This Way held my favourite song spot for a long-ass time.

5. Ben Folds Five: The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner

When Ben Folds is good he’s real good, and when he’s not, he’s real not. This one is real good the whole way through. Whatever and Ever Amen was considered – lots of strong songs on it too – but this one is better as a whole. He should also get an honourable mention for producing Has Been, a William Shatner record that is actually worth listening to.

6. R.E.M.: Automatic For The People

I am too young or maybe too unhip to have been into the earlier R.E.M. stuff, though I do like it. But my second favourite R.E.M. album is New Adventures in Hi-Fi and I think Monster is underrated so maybe don’t listen to anything I ever say?

7. Joel Plaskett Emergency: Ashtray Rock

Another case where this was the first album I really got into, and another case where it works best as a whole. Plus you can sing the Mamma Yamma lyrics to Fashionable People if you want. Plus I am trying to write this whole thing up and I’ve been skipping from album to album but I landed here and have left it here.

8. The Weakerthans: Left and Leaving

This was a tricky one. I love all four of their studio albums and all of them have can’t miss songs. I think this might be the strongest batch, though. If nothing else, it has This Is A Fire Door Never Leave Open which is my favourite song of theirs. Can you believe this album is 15 years old? Are we all going to die soon?

At this point the picks start to get much more difficult.

9. The Tragically Hip: Fully Completely

There are other great Hip albums with great songs, but taken together, this is my pick. A fun game is to get a group of Canadians together and tell them that there is one song on this album for each province or territory (remember, this predates Nunavut) and they have to sort out which is which. Make sure they’ve been drinking.

I wasn’t factoring in the 2014 deluxe edition re-release here, but it’s got two extra songs on the album (maybe one is for Nunavut?) and a bonus live album too, so maybe I’d take that one? Unless it doesn’t count.

10. The White Stripes: Get Behind Me Satan
11. The White Stripes: White Blood Cells

I got way too worked up over this choice before deciding I didn’t have to choose. See all-caps above. But maybe Elephant should be here too? I don’t know.

12. Wide Mouth Mason: Wide Mouth Mason

I saw these guys so many times and they were so great. I had kind of forgotten about them (especially after the last time I saw them, which was Not Very Good At All), but listening to this right now takes me back to university, to the early concert reviews, paying $8 to see these guys tear it up.

13. Cowboy Junkies: Lay it Down

Everyone else* will pick Trinity Sessions but I have to be difficult. I don’t know. Another album that puts me in a specific time in my life. It’s also a little quieter and calmer (prettier!) than some of my other picks so it’s good music to fall asleep to – just make sure you’re out before Just Want To See because that’s not what you want in your ears right before bed.

* I mean in a general sense – everyone else making lists today will be picking Slayer or something

14. Death From Above 1979: You’re a Woman, I’m A Machine

The natural follow-up to Cowboy Junkies. Mika told me to buy this. She was right to do so. It’s her fault I listen to Joel Plaskett too. She has better taste than I do. I tried to convince her to come up with a list of 15 albums but she refused, though she did say Songs for the Deaf by Queens of the Stone Age would be her #1 pick.

15. Novillero: Aim Right for the Holes in Their Lives

We saw these guys opening for The Sadies, I think, and I really dug them. Saw them a bunch. And then it took forever for the follow-up album to come out and then they disappeared. But this album, much like the DFA1979 album above, stayed in the rotation pretty much forever.

There. Done. And I am not 100% sold on my list at all. Here’s a not-complete list of other albums that were considered and could have taken one of the 15 spots if it had been another day and I’d been in a different mood:

  • Arcade Fire: Neon Bible
  • Art Brut: Bang Bang Rock & Roll
  • Beck: Guero
  • Buck 65: Situation
  • Big Rude Jake: Blue Pariah
  • Carolyn Mark & The New Best Friends: The Pros and Cons of Collaboration
  • Ford Pier: Pier-ic Victory
  • The Hold Steady: Boys and Girls in America
  • Lifter Puller: Fiestas & Fiascos
  • Marcy Playground: Marcy Playground and I am not even kidding about this
  • Meat Loaf: Bat out of Hell
  • Neko Case: Fox Confessor Brings The Flood
  • New Pornographers: Twin Cinema
  • Nirvana: Unplugged in New York
  • Odds: Nest
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers: Blood Sugar Sex Magik
  • The Refreshments: Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy
  • Smashing Pumpkins: Siamese Dream
  • Son Of Dave: 01
  • Spacehog: Resident Alien
  • Stone Temple Pilots: Purple
  • They Might Be Giants: Factory Showroom
  • Tori Amos: Little Earthquakes

Posted on September 15, 2015, in posts by james. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Well-played, sir! Not a whole lotta surprises there, but then I’ve known you for a while and, while we don’t share tunes in quite the same volume as we used to, I could have guessed a few of these without even trying. 🙂

    Think of your list as a non-stop playlist. Those are some happy times, right there. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think this is the first Top 15 that I’ve not heard any of the albums from haha (and I’ve only heard a couple of the runner-up ones too!) I think that makes this my favourite of the lists!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree fully — no greatest hits, but live are OK. I was VERY close to putting Kiss Alive on my list, but ultimately I only had Cash at San Quentin.

    Surprised to see Reinhold Messner here. Not my favourite Ben Folds — I find it very hard to penetrate.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A fair few on here that I haven’t heard. Believe it or not, I was very close to throwing Trinity Sessions on my own list. Lost out at the last minute!

    … and I agree that Monster is underrated. Criminally so.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great, thought-provoking list. Now who the hell is this Hawksley chap?


  6. Solid choices James, particularly appreciate the 90s REM comments. Automatic would be my #16 or 17, I had the CD out ready to photograph and everything!
    Great honourable mentions too, nice to see Tori Amos &The Refreshments make appearances!


  7. Cool to see Wide Mouth Mason around these parts! Seen EM open for Guess Who back in 2000 and they were great live….I bought there first three albums! All very good! Can’t go wrong with Power Trios! Hahahaha….


    • I used to see WMM at the campus bar. Tickets would be something like $8 and they’d play their hearts out for three hours. So awesome. I have their indie CD signed. Also one time I delivered them pizza while they were playing a zombie game on the Dreamcast. Nice guys! Oh, also I went to high school with Earl. Didn’t know him, though. Different grades.


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