My top 10 Albums

This one looks at what I consider to be the most important albums ever made (at least, in my collection).

I hope you agree/disagree with some and, of course, that you will be incredulous that I could miss a certain album you think is vital for anyone’s collection. Tell me about it here!

I start with number 10 and then work my way down to the very bestest  album in the whole world. Don’t sneak a peek – read the texts and work your way down without cheating!

Then, after you have finished tutting and shaking your head in disbelief, write a comment and tell me what I missed. I may well agree, of course. Either way, I would love to hear your recommendations.

Well, here goes:

10 – Arnob – Chaina Bhabish

Arguably the artist in the current Bangladeshi musical youth culture, this young man is actually very talented. He has a big following in Bangladesh and his music would fit in anyone’s collection. In some ways that is his biggest weakness as much of what makes Bangladesh’s musical heritage so interesting is missing from his music. We get a subtle fusion of Bangla with Western, but with the latter rather more prominent. Nevertheless, this is an excellent album and the opening tack Amar Hariye Jawa is beautiful and haunting in equal measure.

9 – Kate Bush – The Hounds of Love

The first pop artist I fell in love with as a boy as she did things with a cello I never expected to see on Top of the Pops. Once over the lust and a little bit older I came to adore her music. No silly love songs, no boppy dance music, instead, clever, thoughtful music often playing on great literature, or reinterpreting so-called World music in startling new ways. Experimental yet tuneful, her music delights both ear and mind. This album, above all, is considered her very best and, for me, it kicks in halfway through with And Dreams of Sheep followed by the disturbing and brilliant Under the Ice. This music, once past the tracks that hit the charts, just gets under your skin and leaves you disquieted. It is music I can’t ignore.

8 – Jamie Cullum – Catching Tales

Many people tell me that Cullum’s first album Twenty Something was much better than Catching Tales. I heard the second album first however and was hooked. A brilliant Jazz pianist (whose licks make me feel like a total beginner on the piano again) and smooth Ratpack voice, it is his own compositions that I enjoy the most. London Skies, Photograph and 7 Days to change you life are superb with lyrics that make me think, smile and go “damned right Jamie.”

7 – Sting – Dream of the Blue Turtles

The man with the croakiest voice in the business since Louis Armstrong, Sting became worth listening to after he started to do solo work and move away from The Police. His solo albums are all brilliant and if you do not know his work then I recommend Ten Summoner’s Tales to begin with. This album hooked me, in part, through the great Jazz fusion running throughout but mostly because of Moon Over Bourbon Street. This track musically portraying the famous vampire character from Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire made a big impact on me long before trendy good-guy vampires were popular. I loved the irony of the idea and the beautiful plucked cello line by Sting makes the track perfect.

6 – Queen – Best of Part 1

You can guess by now that I like stuff that is a little different and maybe a touch cerebral. Queen, however, are one band that touch that spot for me and make such a damned good tune you just have to belt out “Don’t stop me now” at the top of your voice. I could recommend A Night at the Opera or even A Day at the Races as excellent albums to go with but, for me, the Best Of Part 1 has a collection of the most faultless Rock tracks you will ever hear. Fat bottomed girls you keep making the rocking world go round…

5 – Holst – The Planets

No classical so far. Time to change that. There are many, many wonderful orchestral, piano and other works out there that this is an impossible task.

So, I go for Holst and his famous Planets as an entirely personal choice. Amazing music, I still intend to transcribe the entire thing by ear one day just for what it will teach me about how to use an orchestra. Alas, time is running out…

Mars, of course, is very famous and great to get any young lad banging out a 5/4 beat with his fists in a way no other piece can do. I don’t care what anyone else says though, Venus is, officially, the most sublime and beautiful piece of music in the world (IDST). It melted my heart the first time I heard it and it still does so 25 year later.

4 – Miles Davis – Kind of Blue

More jazz. Some aficionados look down on this album because it is so famous but I think that kind of inverse snobbery does nothing for music. Massively influential when it came out in 1959, it continues to be arguably the most important jazz album of all time. This is not to say that there are not other influential albums but the number of people it affected and the direction it led jazz is indisputable.

For me, this is the ultimate chill out album. Perfect for those not sure they like jazz, his playing is magical and soothing. Freddie Freeloader is a classic track whilst All Blues is soothing whilst boppy at the same time. Every track on this album is perfect and was taken in one recording. There are no edits here. From start to finish, every musician got it right.

3 – Ravi Shankar – Raga Charukauns

Although often referred to as Indian, Shankar is actually a Bengali and so no surprise then that, in 1971, he persuaded George Harrison to give a charity concert creating awareness in the world about Bangladesh’s plight as it fought at great cost to free itself from Pakistan.

Shankar is, without doubt, the finest Sitar player in the world and you can safely pick any of his albums to enjoy top quality music. I have yet to hear a recording of him playing Raga Lalit (my favourite raga on any instrument) but Charukauns is good enough. Listen and enjoy the mysticism ofIndia andBengal as it moves over you, through you, playing with your heart and you mind with every note.

2 – Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club’s Band

Possibly the most influential pop/rock album in the world by definitely the most influential band in the world. Sgt. Pepper’s was also the first real concept album with all the tracks linked with a theme and the whole album pretending to be a live concert by a fictitious band. Every track a winner, complete with conspiracy theories about the meaning of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, A day in the Life and even what is meant by the flowers on the front of the album cover! Lots of hidden meanings and clever tricks including the use of a dog whistle right at the end to annoy all the dog lovers playing the album. I say right at the end – or is it?…

1 – Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon

Those of you who know me well will not be surprised that Pink Floyd come top of my list. Those who know me really well might be surprised that I have not chosen The Wall especially as it is constantly voted as one of the top best albums of all time.

You may also be surprised that, these days, I would I could have chosen Wish You Were Here, Meddle, Obscured by Clouds and possibly even Animals over the Wall but plumped for Dark Side instead. Why?

After having lived in Bangladesh and learned so much about its people over the last 5 years, I have seen and heard of so much suffering of the people and for our dear friends and family here, an album that looks at the ugliness of the West is just too much for me now.

But the message this band have – that of the world driving itself mad and modern society is turning itself into an inhuman machine – is absolutely still a driving force and belief in my life and I hope I will fight against it all my life despite being a teacher and part of it. Dark Side gives this message clearly and with the most fantastic combination of lyrics, sound effects, technology, harmony, melody, guitar solos and keyboard work. I defy anyone to prove to me that there is an overall better album in this genre than Dark Side of the Moon.

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26 Responses to My top 10 Albums

  1. Pingback: The Top and bottom of it – in case you missed these… | kenthinksaloud

  2. kidswhogig says:

    Oh boy – imagine my horror – when one day I saw this was one of your top rated posts and I missed it! My weigh in is – even tho we have never “hung out” I was thrilled with your list and should have known you to be a FLOYD fan! Love your picks and of course I need to hear a couple – because I never heard of them – can you imagine that?! Was thrilled that you had Miles on there. With a household of a mix of Classical, Jazz and Blues – not to mention classic rock – I kinda agree about Fleetwood. But it was my time – maybe not yours. I think the input was just as interesting as the blog on this one! On my list I certainly would have added more Rock, Blues and SRV to be sure! – LOL ~jill
    P.S. You might be interested – when you get to England and you have a little time – watch the episode from 4-25 and 4-26 on American Idol. A new band was formed with the old Queen members and they are featured as well as their music. It was really awesome to see and I truly was transported back to my youth! I will never forget the moment when I heard Bohemian Rhapsody for the FIRST Time! And imagine my surprise when I thought Jamie Cullum was realted to our local Jazz expert Jim Cullum – could be right? But – I don’t think so…. hit the jazz radio link!


    • I KNEW there was something I liked about you! Good to hear from a fellow Floyd fan. I was going to say there are not enough of us out there but actually there ARE! Non-Floyd fans don’t quite seem to appreciate that…

      Fleetwood WERE my time…just…and don’t get me wrong, they are a brilliant band which would have been in my list if I could a have squeezed more in without the post then looking silly (who wants to read ‘Ken’s Top 453 Albums’? Not even ME!)

      I shall do my best to check out those episodes you mention – love Queen, in any form. I have no idea about your theory about Jamie Cullum – but you have me intrigued now so I will have to try and find out! The only thing I know about him is that he is (or was) dating Roald Dahl’s grand daughter! But his music is fantastic 🙂


  3. Pingback: Holidays, Sundarbans and catch ups | kenthinksaloud

  4. Jeff says:

    I just saw your list, and I can only say–What?! Nothing by Husker Du, the Ramones, Sonic Youth, the Mekons, or the Flaming Lips?


    • Jeff says:

      I forgot to add Pavement. I know my list is heavily weighted to American bands, but Slanted and Enchanted is a fantastic album.
      And why no rap or hip-hop? What about Snoop Dogg or Outkast, etc etc?


      • Nothing against these bands – like a little bit of Snoop Dogg actually – but, again, how genuinely influential with really musical muscle are theses? I think the verdict is still out on Rap in that whilst it has been a huge phenomenon I see very little development which suggests it is something of a musical ‘mule’. Jazz, a hundred years earlier (as an equivalent) has proven to be capable of development and ‘cross-breeding’ to such an extent that it is unrecognisable in its modern form. Yet to see if Rap and Hip-hop truly meet this criteria. But…prove me wrong!


    • Good to see you on here Jeff! Well I’m open to new suggestions and every willing to learn. I know little of these bands so feel free to send me audio files of their best examples. My big questions would be – how influential musically (not popular – that’s different) have these bands been? That’s my personal criteria.

      Thanks for sharing!


  5. Great to see Kind of Blue in there, despite it being ‘so famous’ many people have never heard of it. Reminds me that I must get my Miles Davis 1971 Berlin Jazz Festival poster framed very soon:

    Sting albums are tricky, I personally prefer Nothing Like the Sun and The Soul Cages, but the two very best things he ever put on record are “Bring On The Night / When The World Is Running Down You Make The Best Of What’s (Still Around)” from “Bring On The Night” ( ) for Kenny Kirkland’s piano playing, and the five-track “Acoustic Live In Newcastle” ( ). Those five tracks are also on the two ‘Seven Days’ CD singles, but there are more on a bootleg. Think I have it somewhere if you want a copy. Sting is patchy, but at his very best, he’s very good, and almost every album includes something in a funny time signature.

    Yes, you must hear some Elbow sometime. I would recommend Cast of Thousands and The Seldom Seen Kid, although Asleep in the Back has two utterly outstanding tracks on it. I don’t get on with Leaders of the Free World at all, and haven’t heard their latest enough to pass comment. The iTunes Live in London EP is also worth seeking out (it’s on Spotify too) for the excellent acoustic version of Switching Off.

    And finally… if you ever get the chance, hear The Planets live with the pipe organ part. Adds massively to the weight of Mars. I should know, I’ve played it…


    • Thanks for the comment Matt. Yes, I think Kind of Blue almost needs re-promoting again in some ways. It is such a classic album that it needs preserving in the modern age.

      I love the Sting albums you mentioned too and love his quirky time signatures. That kind of cleverness always warms me to an album. I’m not sure I would say he is patchy though I can see the point of view. His kind of music depends very much on what gets you going. With him one man’s meat is definitely another man’s poison and that can happen from track to track within an album. But what you think is good could well be different to what I think is good. C’est la vie.

      I will try to dig out some Elbow when I get a moment. Spotify will be no good, alas, once we leave the country and return to Bangladesh. It doesn’t work there – I’ve tried 😦

      I can imagine The Planets with added organ – what an immense sound that would make – especially live! I envy you that one 🙂


  6. Adam says:

    I realise I’m a little late to the party but I fell like commenting nonetheless. I, as I’m sure many others did, decided to take a guess at what might come up within your list. Feeling somewhat pleased that I managed to correctly identify, in terms of artist atleast, Pink Floyd, Beatles, and Miles Davis. I wasn’t sure if Queen would have made it. Which in hindsight was really rather stupid of me.
    I’m happy to see that Kind of Blue was in your list though (albeit completely unsurprised it being there), really is a fantastic album, very glad we studied that.
    I expected some form of modern composition making it from the classical side, for some reason I have you labelled as that “being your thing”. Perhaps a misconception of prefering the different to the “norm”?

    I really do need to get around to listening to some Jamie Cullum, all I’ve heard is good things…


    • No worries my friend – you are always welcome. 🙂

      Don’t feel so bad about Queen – so many other bands that could have taken their place but I felt Mercury et al deserved the place in the end.

      I remember happy days studying Kind of Blue with you and the others. Great memories that came with a perfect album. Do check out Jamie Cullum / Callum (still not sure about the spelling – I see various versions) – he is well worth it.

      As for the modern composition – yes, you are right that is my thing though I maintain that Holst IS modern and, like my pop/Jazz/Rock tastes, I refuse to ‘keep up’ with the latest trends. If a name is big ten years later then it was worth listening to at the time – that’s my general rule.

      So I’m afraid I could not tell you the best of modern classical now – hence I played safe with a classic. But actually there are very few styles of music I don’t like or know something about – you should check out some of the Renaissance composers – Byrd is immense, for instance.

      I guess the rule for me is “The Good is the enemy of the Best” whatever the style. So modern or ancient – it has to be really, really good to bother with.


  7. jacqui says:

    Oh I was so close to guessing your no.1. Right group, wrong album. Personally, I’d have to have gershwin in my top ten. Rhapsody in blue always blows me away. It also gives me very fond memories of my dad with tears of joy rolling down his cheeks after a piano duet of rhapsody in blue played by Mr Wilson and tor bridge at king Edwards……happy days.


    • ah you’re taking me back Jacqui! Gershwin’s piano preludes are amongst my favourite things to play on the piano I must admit. Rhapsody in Blue is a wonderful, wonderful piece so I am not surprised it is up there for you. I found it difficult to decide on classical things because there are so many contenders but I think your choice would have been a good one!


  8. Tim says:

    Yes, I too guessed “Dark Side” would be your #1, although I wasn’t entirely sure “Wish you were here” mightn’t have clinched it. An “either-or” choice in my view but as you’ve bagged Dark Side, I’ll have WYWH as my #1!
    As ever a list will be commented on by what it left out. No room for U2 – Joshua Tree or Fleetwood Mac – Rumours which would have been my 2nd & 3rd. What you want more? Well that would be telling…….!


    • Well now, actually the Wall would, in years gone by, easily eclipsed any other Pink Floyd album. A sign of things that have changed I think that shows it no longer ranks over other Floyd albums even though it is still well ahead of most of the other albums mentioned in my list!

      Ah…Fleetwood Mac. Yes I could really have done with putting them in but, just not enough room and just not quite important or special enough though they wrote and performed some damned fine material. Great band.

      You are another voice for U2 I see. I had no idea the band had such a following. Pity they never made it to fame and fortune…


  9. ann says:

    Well, u know what music phleb i am, so here goes! my top 10 has to include bat-out-of-hell + flaming lips @ concept albums and i INSIST u listen to elbow b4 u come home!! x


    • Ah now Meatloaf. Special, special, special. I think Bat out of hell is like Bohemian Rhapsody – everyone has their own special memories attached to it. Again though, I tried to make the criteria that the artists I chose were highly influential OR did something very unique.

      I don’t know any Elbow at all I am ashamed to admit – I look forward to you indoctrinating me when I get back to the UK! And Flaming lips?? Who??


  10. Vanessa Hall says:

    Love Kate Bush, Sting, Queen and Jamie Cullum. Good choices 🙂
    I would have had a bit of U2, The Cure, Morrissey and Paul Weller for my top 10 though. And perhaps a bit of Ian Clarke – ‘Within’ is an amazing album xx


    • Glad you liked the choices Vanessa. Hmm… U2… great band and maybe you are right. Paul Weller I like though personally The Jam days I think were better and not a top band. The Cure and Ian Clarke ok but not really ones that contributed something unique but good enough…

      But then there is Morrissey. Oh dear… well my wifey would agree with you but I could never get on with his monotone suicide inspiring drawl. His stuff makes Pink Floyd look happy! I know I am something of a lone voice with this one but I can’t bear the guy!

      I guess we all have personal choices and will fight for our view whatever. I also know there are loads of bands I would have liked to add like Blondie, Beach Boys, Monkees, Madness, Radiohead, U2, Rolling Stones and loads more. In the classical world there’s even more! So I limited my choices down to not just favourites but ones I felt made impacts on the musical or cultural world in general in some big way. I’ll have to go away and think about whether Bono and his gang can really fit under that category…just not sure!

      Thanks Vanessa – very thought provoking!


      • Vanessa Hall says:

        I think I went purely with my glory days and what I grew up with – apart from Ian Clarke of course 🙂
        Bono and his gang can fit under any catagory as far as I’m concerned Ken 😉 An amazing live band. I always found that their live sound could never be captured in the same way when recorded. It never had quite the same impact. Maybe if you’d seen them live you would have a different opinion.
        My mum agrees with you entirely with Morrissey. I used to drive her mad with my Smiths albums in the early days. ‘Music to slit your wrists to!’ She would say 😀 xx
        Love to you and yours xxxx


        • Hey I DID see U2 live thank you very much!! I’m not that unhip! (well maybe I am!).

          No doubting it, they were a great band and Bono is well known for his Green concerns but, like the rolling Stones who are equally amazing and incredible to watch as much as listen to or even Springsteen (who I am listening to as I write this), I am not sure they contributed much or did something ‘different’. Difficult to tell and I am not stating that as my considered immoveable opinion. You are definitely giving me food for thought Vanessa!


  11. Karen Browne says:

    I predicted your number one album, probably not difficult to guess and it is amazing. Fine with the top 6 but I can’t condone Kate Bush in there. OK so she has talent if you like that sort of thing but her voice is like chalk down a black board for me, sorry. Mine would be nothing like this incidentally as it would contain with things by Radiohead, Air and Groove Armada. There’s no accounting for taste…


    • ha ha thanks Karen for damning by faint praise! 😛

      I had to remove it from my blog because it was getting too long but, yes, Radiohead really needed to be in there. Air and Groove Armada, well…don’t really know them too well to be honest and from a Pop/Rock historical point of view they don’t really cut the mustard.

      I guess one man’s cheese is another’s chalk so I can understand what you mean by Bush’s voice though I really enjoy her tone. But then to love Pink Floyd is to love Roger Water’s voice and even you can’t rate HIS voice over Kate Bush! However, in Rock it is rare to worry about the voice quality and even, sometimes, the ability to sing in tune. The artistry is more important.

      If you can get over your prejudice with Kate Bush you actually find some of the deepest, most interesting and ultimately most cerebrally satisfying lyrics and melodic ideas around in the business. She is about as far away from Simon Cowell land as it is possible to get for a solo artist. That has to count for something doesn’t it?!

      Anway, thanks for the response Karen and the crits. I will go back over my collection and re-listen to what little Groove Armada I have to reassess…


  12. Tom says:

    I’m not sure I agree with your choice of sting album recommendation, for me personally ‘mercury falling’ was a much better album than ten summoners tails. The drums in particular blew me away in the album and opened new doors of musical intricies to try.

    I was supprised that the Stravinsky firebird suit was not in your top ten……but relieved at the same time!


    • That’s a good point Tom thank you. Of course, despite a little drum playing experience I still don’t think like a drummer and I am fairly certain that, in terms of rating the artist himself, Sting didn’t play the drums. So, as a result, I didn’t really go for ‘Mercury Falling’ excellent though it is.

      All Sting’s albums are wonderful I think and “If On a Winter’s Night” is currently my favourite of his to listen to. But, personally, Dream of the Blue Turtles had it all and I can’t fault Bourbon Street – hence it got my vote. Summoner’s Tales is just such a fun one though!

      Thanks for your excellent point though and apologies for my continuing inability to give drums their proper place!

      As for Stravinsky? Well, not the Firebird no. But the Rite of Spring? Classic, classic work that would definitely be in my top 100…


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