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Notes on the Favourites Project, Rolling Stones, Miles Davis, Depeche Mode and Tom Waits

Let the ‘Favourite Record’ fun begin!

This little project has quickly become an interesting sociological experiment. Responses to my little query have varied greatly. Some people know what their favourite record is without hesitation. Others say one thing, then quickly ask if they can change their answer. A couple of people have just said whatever new record they’re listening to right now, not their all-time favourite (and to be fair, the question does not actually specify any such restrictions).

Still others say there are far too many and then get bogged down in trying to chose. I’ve even had a couple of people choose just a song they like, which doesn’t count. A few folks knew which song they liked but not the name of the record it’s on, and one person admitted that her friends just give her copies of stuff they like and she plays those without really knowing or caring who the bands are. Very interesting, indeed.

I fall into the category of the person who thinks of one right away and then can think of a zillion others that would also work (as you’ll soon discover, below). There’s just too many great records. Honestly, I’d need several crates for discs I’d take to a deserted island…

Anyway, shall we get to it?

(takes a deep breath)…

01 MINE: Rolling Stones – Exile On Main St.

None of you will be surprised by this. I’ve already reviewed this disc in these pages and raved about its wonders and depths, its messiness and glory. Of course, being a music geek like I am, a million other records came crashing in behind that first thought, like Guided By Voices’ Bee Thousand, Black Flag’s Damaged, Metallica’s Master Of Puppets, Sloan’s Twice Removed, and then there’s… well, suffice it to say, I could think of countless others that could just as easily have been my instinctive response to this challenge, but Exile it was. Fair enough. It is, indeed, a bloody brilliant album. I love it to pieces.

02 MY LOVELY WIFE: Miles Davis – Kind Of Blue

Once upon a time, I played trumpet quite a bit. During that time I got a glimpse, in my own completely mediocre way, of what might be possible on the instrument. Then I heard Kind Of Blue, and I realized that I knew nothing.

My lovely wife chose this as her favourite record, which just goes to show that she consistently has impeccable taste (ahem)! This record is deservedly held aloft as a jazz immortal, as unimpeachable. And talk about tone. It’s a sound every horn player only dreams is possible. As a document of a staggering mind’s explorations in its prime, this album is almost inhuman. Of course, you’ve all heard it, so you know that words are inadequate. Damn. Yeah. Own this. Love it.

03 THAIN: Depeche Mode – Violator

I have to admit, I’ve never been a big fan of electronic music. Yes, I was a child of the 80’s and therefore it was categorically impossible to avoid this type of music, and I even owned People Are People on cassette at one time (though I rarely played it… thanks, Columbia House), but it hasn’t ever really been my thing.

However, Thain said this was her favourite record, so I gave it a spin. And yes, the synth/electronic thing is certainly there, but there is a depth of movement underneath the surface that is far more worthwhile than the melody lines. This record creeps up behind you, places a soft hand on your shoulder and creepily relishes when you jump. It’s dark, it’s full of need and awareness, it has a slinky elegance all its own, and it’s very, very real. Impressive.

04 STU: Tom Waits – Rain Dogs

For those of you who aren’t aware, Stu runs the Vinyl Diner, the best record shop in Saskatoon (and one of the absolute best I’ve ever had the pleasure of prowling anywhere), and so he’s even more of a music fanatic than I am. It is thus understandable that he sent me not one response to this challenge, but thirteen! The list was impressive, and all his choices impeccable, the result of many considered hours of listening and constant contact with a wide variety of styles. I can’t review them all, so I just chose this one at random from his list.

Tom Waits gets a lot of play in our house. His rough yet warm growl, his uncanny songwriting ability, the dirt and grime on every surface of his creations… they all add up to a superlative artist who truly stands alone in excellence. Rain Dogs is a fine example, and one of his more popular records. From start to finish, it plays like a greatest hits collection and, trust me, no one else in 1985 could have even dreamed of creating these masterpieces. Totally perfect.

There’s tons more, too. I’ll get to them as quickly as I can. I hope you’re having as much fun reading these as I am trying out all your favourites and writing about them!

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