Time to go for a really big topic then. My Top five favourite albums of all time. This is the sort of subject I could probably publish a slightly different list for every month, but for now here's my current Top five.
1. "Surfer Rosa" - Pixies
2. "Ramones" - Ramones
3. "Nevermind" - Nirvana
4. "Out of Time" - R.E.M.
5. "The Undertones" - The Undertones
The problem with a topic as big as this is overcoming your desire to show how ecclectic and broad ranging your tastes are whilst actually still picking five albums you actually do really like. I'm pretty happy with this list. The Pixies could easily claim all five positions I like them that much. Surfer Rosa is their debut full length album and is pretty much the perfect example of everything that was great about the band. Its also produced by Steve Albini which is always a good indication that an album is going to be good (Hmm future topic - Top 5 record producers).
I have been a relatively recent convert to the Ramones, but this album (again their debut) has rocketed to the top of my favourites list. It's a perfect album, fourteen tracks every single one as good as the last. Their sound obviously didn't change a great deal from then on but if you only own one Ramones album then this is the one to have, they never got it as perfect again.
I agonised a little over the inclusion of Nevermind, "is it a little too obvious?" I thought, I really like In Utero (also produced by Albini by the way) and their debut Bleach, maybe one of those were more deserving? Then I played Nevermind again just to check. Well, there's no competition it is a genuinely great LP. I think I suffer a bit from over familiarality with music and generally choose to play music that's newer over music I used to love. This one's still got it though an amazing piece of rock.
Talking of over familiarality "Out of Time" is another. I almost feel guilty for still liking this as much as I do. It was the big breakthrough album for R.E.M. (and the first one I heard). Subsequently they realised "Automatic for the People" a widely regarded career highlight, and previously they had stayed truer to their indie roots with "Murmur" and "Document" being particularly good. However, in the summer of 1991 I played this constantly. I love the variety of musical styles and the expanse of ideas, and more importantly I know it inside out. From the KRS-1 rap in "Radio Song", through Kate Pierson's gorgeous backing vocals in "Shiny Happy People", to the Americana of "Country Feedback" it's still an album with surprises and delights enclosed within.
The Undertones is the third debut album in the list and much like Ramones is packed full of fantastic tunes. I went to see the band play a few years back in a small club in Islington. Fergal Sharkey had long since detached himself from the band and showed no interest it getting involved again when asked so his place had been filled by a new guy. Despite Sharkey's obvious importance to their sound, his voice still has a unique quality about it, I really didn't notice his absence. It was a great night in which they played so many of these songs and what stood out was that the songwriting shines through and they still sound as good now as they did in 1979.