I had a thought recently, (which can never be good) about what my chosen Desert Island Discs would be. If you’re unfamiliar with the show, it’s broadcast on BBC Radio 4 with the basic concept of what eight audio recordings (typically albums) you’d bring with you if you were stranded on an island. Hence, Desert Island Discs. This usually involves asking celebrities, and you’re allowed a book and luxury item, too, but the main question is on the records. Eight albums. Eight. That’s… not a lot, but surprisingly generous considering they could have picked two. Or three. Or five. Basically, any number other than the one they actually picked.
It’s a tough choice, obviously. Eight albums to listen to for what could be the rest of your life. Of course, you’d eventually get bored of all of them, but this means you have to take into account variety, technical brilliance… or maybe just your favourites (probably your favourites).
So, which ones would I pick? Good question. And one I still don’t really know, in all honesty. But I’ll have a go anyway. Because if I didn’t, this wouldn’t be a very good piece at all.
Oasis – Definitely Maybe (1994) – Just a superb album, and one of the best debuts of all time. I love Oasis, and I had to include them somewhere on this list. Their follow-up, the even bigger ‘What’s the Story (Morning Glory)?’ may be more commercially successful, but its predecessor does it for me. I mean, seriously, any studio album with ‘Rock ‘N Roll Star’, ‘Shakermaker’, ‘Live Forever’, ‘Supersonic’ and ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’ must be a masterpiece. And the album tracks are great, too! ‘Columbia’ still takes the top spot for me, and I can easily imagine grooving to that as I desperately search for shelter in the middle of a monsoon, never to see my family again.
The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses (1989) – The forefathers of Britpop, paving the way with groove and guitars, the other Mancunian legends had to earn their place, too. This record is the only reason I don’t call the previous entry on this list the best debut of all time. ‘She Bangs the Drums’, ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ and ‘This Is The One’? All on one LP? Yes please. There’s also a bit of diversity with this one.
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Long After Dark (1982) – One of Tom Petty & The Heartbreaker’s most overlooked records. ‘Straight Into Darkness’ and ‘Finding Out’ are just perfect, and the guitar on this record is flawless. It may not be a polished piece in terms of fluency, but I think it works all the same. Besides, I need some range with these discs, lest I grow bored of amps and power chords. This is also one of the few albums I’d listen to all the way through, and that’s imperative here. I have to make the most of what I’ve got.
Tom Petty – Full Moon Fever (1989) – Anyone who knows me personally knows I love Tom Petty. I shout it from the rooftops. So, it should come as no surprise that he features twice on this list. Twenty-five percent of this list is just Tom. His best-selling album (solo) to date, it features the sublime ‘Free Fallin’’, ‘I Won’t Back Down’ and ‘Runnin’ Down A Dream’, as well as ‘Zombie Zoo’ and ‘Feel A Whole Lot Better’ – all of which sound like they belong to be blasted through a car stereo on Route 66. Alas, I have to make do with a small turntable in the middle of the Caribbean. Either way, it’s pitch-perfect, and with production from ELO frontman Jeff Lynne, you know it’s gotta be good.
Queen – News of the World (1977) – Queen had to be on here. Believe me, I went through at least five of their records before I picked this one. But if I’m going to be cutting down trees and making palm-leaf hammocks, I want to stomp my feet while doing it. Enter, the same album that brought you ‘We Will Rock You’, ‘It’s Late’ (Underrated masterstroke of Brian May) and ‘Spread Your Wings’. Perfection.
The Beatles – 1 (2000) – Impossible to pick just one Beatles record. ‘Sgt. Pepper’s…’ was close, but with competition from ‘Abbey Road’ and The White Album, I had no choice but to go with this. Early Beatles and late Beatles, all together. No matter how sick I get of coconuts and malaria, I can always count on Lennon-McCartney to light my way.
Ghost – Infestissumam (2013) – The darker side of rock now. Queen-influenced, regal opera satanic metal. Ghost have had many sounds over the years, but the arrival of Papa Emeritus II and his satanic choir was just a match made in… Hell. ‘Ghuleh/Zombie Queen’ and the record’s closer, ‘Monstrance Clock’, are always going to sound good. ‘Jigolo Har Megiddo’ has me sorted for when I want some groove, and ‘Year Zero’ for my mega-Satan moments. If I want something heavy and suggestive at the best of times, I’ll come to this. No questions asked.
INXS – Kick (1987) – One of the best (and only) bands Australia ever gave us. Fronted by the sexually charismatic Michael Hutchence – lost too soon – INXS were just a powerhouse of pop-influenced, playful rock. And this album, their magnum opus and bestseller, is no exception. The band’s signature, ‘New Sensation’, along with greats ‘Devil Inside’, ‘Need You Tonight’, ‘Never Tear Us Apart’, ‘Mystify’ and ‘Kick’ all create a cocktail of earthly pleasures and delights. It’s a remarkable album, it rocks and rolls. It has power ballads, it has catchy riffs, infectious lyrics… It’s INXS.
Honourable mentions that nearly made the grade included Springsteen’s ‘Born In The U.S.A.’, ‘Reckless’ by Bryan Adams, the seminal ‘Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust…’ and Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’. Even Bon Jovi nearly made it, I’m sure you’re all disappointed to hear. But in the end, there could only be eight. They’ll probably change in the next few weeks. But ah well, that’ll do for me now.