We all do it if we’re honest. You are asked ‘what’s your favourite film?’ I can tell you my top five films is often the answer or thought. It enables the chooser to spread their commitment. Lists are indicators of how open to change a person is. I meet regularly with Bob and Mark, two old friends. We trained as a psychiatric nurses together back in the late 80’s early 90’s. We meet over several pints and discuss the meaty, profound subjects of the day. We have talked on several occasions about musical choices and top fives or tens. We all have common ground with some music but also polar extremes. One factor we all admit to is that continuing exposure to new music can change any tops list. Why nail your colours to a mast when a new ship may come along with a bigger mast to nail some more to?
Thirty years ago what would have been my top five songs?
1. Awaken – Yes
2. Won’t Get Fooled Again – The Who
3. Tom Sawyer – Rush
4. Custard Pie -Led Zeppelin
5. Cinema Show -Genesis
The last one is classic 70’s Genesis with Peter Gabriel on lead vocals. It is long, in several parts and with some wonderful instrumentation. It was off the 1973 ‘Selling England By The Pound’ album. In 1982 I could not have heard a better song. Ten years later that list had probably changed little. ‘Respectable Street’ by XTC had replaced Rush and ‘Salamander’ by Jethro Tull would have nudged in. If I was to take a snapshot top five today then, how would it differ? Well totally to be honest.
1. Simple Song – The Shins
2. Did It Have To Be This Way – Dodgy
3. Sixteen Saltines – Jack White
4. Shirley – Billy Bragg
5. Blue Mind – Alexi Murdoch
Three of those top 5 are all new releases. None are over 5 minutes. They are a reflection of my listening to BBC 6 music as well as finding a good tune.
Albums also have to reflect our ever changing exposure to new and interesting material. Interestingly though, a really good album will stand the test of time. I have reviewed retrospectively ‘Free Peace Sweet’ by Dodgy. This is one of the best albums to come out of the Brit Pop era and is almost perfect from start to finish. ‘Oranges and Lemons’ by XTC is my personal favourite of their magnificent collection.
However you will have to go a long way to beat ‘Port Of Morrow’ by The Shins. Released only in the last two months, it has established itself as a firm favourite in our household. It will hold up as a fine album in years to come. Classic albums do stand the test of time though. Popularity can also destroy the credibility of a truly great recording. ‘Led Zeppelin IV’ is one of the
classic rock albums of all time. Tracks like ‘Rock and Roll’ and ‘Stairway to Heaven’, have been played to death since its release in 1971. This does not diminish their credentials in my mind. ‘Black Dog’ is possibly the finest first track ever written and ‘When The Levee Breaks’ the best finishing track. There is a very good reason for its popularity -it is a fabulous album throughout. Possibly my favourite more recent album though has to go to
‘The Seldom Seen Kid’ by Elbow. Released in 2008, it was a gamble for the band who produced an album of songs they wanted rather than the record label. It became a sensational hit for them.
This choice of top 5 albums in a few months time may be different. I may believe ‘Blunderbuss’ by Jack White to be the album of 2012. Lists are there to be messed with and changed. Lists define what you are turned on by at any given time. I do come across those who made their choices in 1972 and never moved on. This is sad as they don’t know what they are missing. It doesn’t mean that the old choices are now rubbish but that others have come along to replace them in current fave status. ‘Cinema Show’ is still a great track but its not at the top any more. ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ was in the Billboard charts for 741 weeks but not at the top for very long.
So choose your top five tunes/albums/books in fact anything; but make sure that in six months it will be different. That way you know you are growing with the new not living on the past (Tull pun sorry)!!!