And here's the top of the tops... again, from fifth to first this time....
5. Bowling For Soup, A Hangover You Don't Deserve
From the serious rock, to the seriously funny rock. I hadn't heard of these guys before one song you probably all know - and I'm darn mad I haven't. No imports of their earlier stuff either... Jaret and his boys mix good musical talent with uncanny lyrical ability to both make light of issues and take them seriously at the same time.
The first song's a beauty: "Almost" - a narrative style piece, with plenty of humour, and lots of use of the title word. The song that launched the band worldwide, however, is clearly "1985" - a year I'm fond of for important reasons - my birth, for one. The film clip is amongst the great ones of all time too. I suspect the Red Hot Chili Peppers got the idea for Dani California from it - parodies of everyone from Tommy Lee to George Michael, and lines like "Who's the other guy singing in Van Halen?" and "when did Ozzie become an actor?" just sell it so well. All the other songs are great both musically and comedically.
4. Franz Ferdinand, Franz Ferdinand
Franz Ferdinand, of 70s guitar riffs and 50s haircuts fame. They aren't paid to look pretty, and I'm guessing it's a joke being played on us. Interesting fact: Their fan groups are nicknamed "The Blackhands", after the terrorist group who assassinated... Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. Why a Scottish band are named after the guy who sparked WWI with his death is beyond me. Two albums so far - their latest, "You Could Have It So Much Better", an uneven effort - brilliance interspersed by maddening mediocrity, as some of their less rock songs actually work better... like 'Fade Together', a truly hauntingly beautiful song in my eyes at least; and their debut, self titled album.
"Jacqueline" starts it up with the formula that FF use so well - melodic introduction into crazy guitar intro, and fast pace rock middle and end. "Tell Her Tonight" on the other hand is almost 50's in comparison... and not a huge hit in my eyes. The killer track is undoubtedly "Take Me Out"; it's got to be one of the five most air-guitared songs in the world, surely. If you are looking for a modern "Smoke on the Water", this is it. "Dark of the Matinee" reveals some darker undertones to their songs, which following songs seem to flow on from. Also of note are "This Fire", again using guitars to good effect, and showing some destructive tendencies :), and "Michael" with its almost comically direct lyrics.
3. Powderfinger, Vulture Street
Okay, so Powderfinger aren't quite as well known as their rivals in the top three... but this is one hell of an album. It is a real pity that Bernard Fanning, their lead singer, has decided to become a country singer... it's a waste. "Vulture Street", named after the street and train station in South Brisbane (they renamed the station to South Brisbane later :( ) is again, a great album.
After warming up with Rockin' Rocks (perhaps a veiled reference to Rockhampton, Queensland - though how anyone could rock there is beyond me...) they launch into their best five. (Baby I've Got You) On My Mind is an excellent early rock style song - very upbeat and charming. "Since You've Been Gone" and "Love Your Way" are great ballads as well, but it's perhaps the next two that are the best. "Sunsets" is without a doubt their best and most popular song - and it shows. A well-orchestrated rock feel, and lyrics that evoke Queensland at it's best. (Okay, so I'm a little parochial, but this is a great album).
"Don't Panic" is as frantic as many of the others before it are laid back, and "Stumblin'" is another great track. It sounds weird for me to say it, but I'd compare it to David Bowie at his best - and this band are nothing like David Bowie. But damn, it works. The last four songs round out a truly wonderful album. I just wonder why I took so long to buy it.
2. U2, All That You Can't Leave Behind
If you haven't heard of U2, you haven't been on Earth for a long time. Breaking out as a band during Live Aid (a performance by Bono that simultaneously made them cool, and nearly broke the band up), they would release pop-rock hits in the 80s, experimentation with dance and electronica with varying success in the 90's, and then in this decade release two monster albums: "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb" - with the excellent "Vertigo" track; and my personal favorite... "All That You Can't Leave Behind".
It just starts off this third era of U2 with such a bang. The first song is probably their most finely crafted song ever, "Beautiful Day". From there, you get "Stuck in A Moment You Can't Get Out Of", and probably don't want to. If that's not enough early stunners in the album for you, you still have "Elevation" and "Walk On" as the next two. The rest of the album is not quite as strong as these four, but there are no stinkers in the lot - and all are finely accomplished songs.
1. Pink Floyd, Dark Side of The Moon.
Pink Floyd, by any standards, were hit and miss. During the early years, it was just too plain weird to listen to. "A Collection of Small Furry Animals... (title shortened)" and "A Momentary Lapse of Reason" just weren't brilliant. Probably because the band was off their face when they made them. However, one album stands above all others (even the also sublime "The Wall" and "Wish You Were Here").... Dark Side of the Moon.
The ultimate in album masterpieces. Great individual songs in a completely immersive album. Oh, and if that isn't enough, go watch the Pulse concert, which does the entire album in sequence - the only way it can be done. From the segues that are so dramatic you forget you aren't actually listening to a song, to modern classics like "Time" and "Money", things no one ever seems to have enough of, this is an album no home is complete without.