1. A Day in the Life – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Although the orchestral revving that precedes the end of Pepper’s on occasion is quite nightmarish, I don’t think this really requires any reasoning, other than “Dayum, Dat E chord!”
- The Secret Life of Arabia – “Heroes”
Often maligned amid the cold ethereal gems of Bowie’sBerlin trilogy, Secret Life of Arabia is naturally ridiculous, with David espousing dreamlike ramblings T.E Lawrence would have found wholly unacceptable. However, Bowie does this, as he does everything, shamelessly and with undeniable conviction – even if it’s tongue-in-cheek. The trippy yet altogether roaring Berlin-Bedouin funk completely transcends the sombre tone “Heroes” second side with Bowie leaving his stamp of fantastical melodrama once again.
- Demon Days – Demon Days
Damon Albarn’s chocolate box of electro-pop-rock builds to a euphoric climax with the prelude ‘Don’t Get Lost in Heaven’, seguing into the soothing cello that blooms effortlessly to a towering gospel-induced finale. Nobody would have th0ught a few cartoon monkeys could provide a startlingly relevant insight into the modern age with more pathos and humanity than your average homosapien.
- Riders On The Storm – L.A. Woman
Not only did this track close their final album, it was also the last track ever recorded by Aldous Huxley’s infamous doormen. Manzarek’s raindrop keyboard drizzles with mystique over Morrison’s disturbing tale of a highway killer. Seasoned with Krieger’s smooth, darting guitar, ‘Riders’ allows the Doors an ethereal exit whilst maintaining that fiery edge that burst into psychedelic technicolour in ‘Break On Through’. A delicate, eerie masterpiece.
- Looking Glass – The La’s
The first and final studio album by The La’s is filled withtracks so unashamedly rustic yet perfectly coherent that it was always going to be a challenge to bring it to a defining conclusion. Thankfully, Looking Glass not only retains the ramshackle feel of its previous 10 songs, it lifts the entire album to staggering heights. Beginning with a modest, folk arpeggio, the Liverpool meets Lewis Carroll odyssey builds to a pummelling climax of thrashing acoustics and raw emotion. The icing on the cake is the excerpts from each album track peppered faintly behind the crashing cymbals and Lee Mavers’ soulful scouse scatting.
- ‘New York, I Love You But…’ – Sound Of Silver
James Murphy’s sophomore effort comes to an operatic close with an inspired love-hate letter. The gentle keyboard lulls the listener as Murphy, Kermit-like, gives scathingly witty eulogy to NYC, slowly progressing with pinches of dazzling guitar to a raucous and bombastic crescendo.
- Oh! Sweet Nuthin’ – Loaded
Oh, sweet Lou. Even though it took me a while to realise that it’s in fact Doug Yule who provides vocals on the soaring finale of the VU’s last proper album (Yeah, fuck off Squeeze) you can still feel the impact of Lou’s wistful love letter to the down-and-outs, akin to McCartney’s elegy to the loners in Eleanor Rigby. Then, just as you’re prepared to sink into melancholic bliss, Sterling Morrison’s blazing guitar solo picks you up from the gutter and sends you home.
8. The Back Seat Of My Car – Ram
Pseudo-Beatle fans love to mock Macca’s solo stuff, but frankly RAM is the best album put out by an ex-Beatle (yes, even better than Plastic Ono Band and ATMP). Each track twinkles with syrupy charm and mucky guitar, but Paul’s majestic ode to adolescent idealism and triumphant romance rocks the album to its wobbly core, and then some.
- Moonlight Mile – Sticky Fingers
Humble guitar plucking and Jagger’s wistful howl to the
moon lay the framework for an soaring orchestral finale that surpasses the gospel melancholy of ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’. Keith is markedly absent from Moonlight Mile but, dare I say, that was probably for the best, as his smutty guitar would feel out of place amid Jagger’s Van Morrison-like ululations and Mick Taylor’s elusive, sweeping guitar solo. Quietly bold but a tantalisingly unique closer, it also holds some of the most raw and heartfelt Stones lyrics, ‘I am just living to be lying by your side’.
10. This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) – Speaking In Tongues
A swift, double snare drum hit that feels like kicking open the front door on a sunny day, you don’t get much more brazenly upbeat than this. David Byrne’s signature quirky vocals and footstep like rhythms send off Talking Heads’ finest album, topped by the chirpy yet effortlessly cool keyboard and earnest lyrics. ‘Home, is where I want to be but I guess I’m already there’. You said it Dave.