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Musical Alphabetti Spaghetti

Best MusicClassic AlbumsDefinitive Artist AlbumsFavourite AlbumsFavourite BandsListMania+-

This article was partly triggered by all the new material Pitchfork has been recently sharing to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Radiohead’s OK Computer - an album which has long featured in my All Time Top 10 [*T10] favourite albums. Out of this, I started thinking about which artists I spent the most time listening to and were the most influential in my life. I then considered that it may be fun to come up with a preferred / favourite band for each of the letters of the alphabet and then select their best album, and 5 of said band’s or musicians’s best songs - in my opinion of course.


Some letters posed difficulties as there were obvious clashes, whilst others were either very evident or had hardly any viable options. I then had to refresh my memory on my preferences - and the following named songs are roughly / typically ordered in descending order of preference (i.e. most favourite at top) - but with a top 5 there is often not much to split them. Some of the albums in this list are the obvious choices, some are not - same goes for the songs - where the 5th selection is often a slightly leftfield one. Of course many will disagree with my choices and have preferred alternatives. It made for a fun exercise though and I challenge you all to try the same.


A couple of notes on points of principle - generally I tried to select proper albums - i.e. ’Studio’ albums, but certain live albums are certainly allowed - particularly if you are a Peter Frampton fan. I also steered away from general greatest hits compilations. For instance Queen’s Greatest Hits Volume 1 is probably my most listened-to album of theirs overall but did not count. In my selection there are probably three that can be considered borderline - Talking Heads’ Live Album - ’Stop Making Sense’, Kruder & Dorfmeister’s DJ Kicks Remix Mixtape, and Yello’s ’New Mix In One Go’ - which is kind of a greatest hits but not really - more like a remixed mixtape of properly sequenced tracks - both Talking Heads and Yello albums feature on my All Time Top 10 list, while Kruder & Dorfmeister are just outside on the current reckoning.


Finally, for artists - you may use either of their names - e.g. if you are selecting Michael Jackson - he could be filed under either ’M’ or ’J’. And for bands with a ’The’ in the title I applied standard library rules - where you skip the article and focus on the initial letter of the second word. Enjoy!


A = Arcade Fire


I could have gone for Abba here as an alternative - both have featured significantly in my life, Arcade Fire though has kind of supplanted Abba in my latter years. There is only one album that can rightly sit here - debut masterpiece ’Funeral’ which has been in my All Time Top 10 at certain stages, but falls just outside now. Favourite songs come mostly from that first album too. I could also have gone for A-ha here at one stage - they were a big part of my life for a while and I still love their first two albums.


Goto album

  • Funeral (2004)

5 songs

  1. Wake Up
  2. Neighbourhood #2 (Laika)
  3. Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)
  4. No Cars Go
  5. Reflektor


B = Björk


Being born in Iceland, I really cannot avoid the enormous influence of Björk - her first 4 albums are all masterpieces. My all time favourite album of hers oscillates between Debut and Vespertine - depending on what my prevailing mood is. If I am feeling contemplative then Vespertine wins out, but overall I have to say that Debut just pips it - especially the second edition which includes soundtrack anthem ’Play Dead’. I could have easily picked 20 favourite favourite! Björk songs, but the following 5 will have to do for now. The Icelandic brilliance of Björk just about outshines that of Bowie - who wasn’t really an album artist for me - beyond ’Ziggy Stardust’ and ’Blackstar’, all his other albums have significant flaws for me, and involve some track skipping.


Goto album

  • Debut (1993) [*T10]

5 songs

  1. Venus as a Boy
  2. Play Dead
  3. Hyper-Ballad
  4. Unravel
  5. Unison

C = Crystal Castles


Very slightly glitchy electronica - electro-punk / witch-house, has high-level dance music production values and techniques, but this is mostly not really dance music as such. I have loved every single one of the 4 albums released to date, even the most recent (post Alice Glass). I guess the debut was the most significantly memorable. I could have selected several tracks off each album too. Coldplay could have been an alternative feature here, but I’m really not listening to Chris Martin and his gang so much any more - there was a time though when they were higher in my affections.


Goto album

  • Crystal Castles (I) (2008)

5 songs

  1. Untrust Us
  2. Crimewave
  3. Vanished
  4. Empathy
  5. Year of Silence

D = Daft Punk


Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter have been hugely influential to me throughout the years - as a proper dance music fan you cannot understate their enormous influence. I have near enough everything these guys have put out together or individually - including most of the output of their own Crydamoure and Roulé labels. Definitive album choice is between ’Homework’ and ’Discovery’ - the latter is slightly more fun, and features a few more of my favourites. The ’D’ was quite a struggle really as the significant alternative here was Depeche Mode - whom I also love - would have chosen ’Violator’ as their preferred album - which coincidentally features two of my favourite Mode tracks - Personal Jesus and Enjoy the Silence.


Goto album

  • Discovery (2001)

5 songs

  1. Around The World
  2. Da Funk
  3. Aerodynamic
  4. Robot Rock
  5. Technologic

E = Electric Light Orchestra


ELO have been with me on my musical voyages from the earliest years I can remember - and Out of the Blue was on constant rotation for a good 5 or 6 years after it came out - throughout the house and in both parents cars - and across the street at our neighbour’s house too (props to Sindri). This album has been in and out of my All Time Top 10 several times, and sits just slightly outside at the moment. Alongside Saga’s ’In Transit’ album these are probably the two most listened to albums over my entire lifetime thus far. Much of ELO’s other back catalogue is awesome too - including especially albums Discovery and Time. Of the chosen songs only one comes from the preferred album - and a very left-field selection at that - for the fans!


Goto album

  • Out of the Blue (1977)

5 songs

  1. Can’t Get It out of My Head
  2. Livin’ Thing
  3. Evil Woman
  4. Telephone Line
  5. Jungle

F = Fleetwood Mac


I think if you’re a slightly older generation or possibly older soul you would definitely plump for ’Rumours’, which I of course love too, and from which the majority of the 5 featured songs below are taken (in fact a lot of the time Rumours is my favourite too). However, as a child who really grew up in the 80’s - ’Tango’ frequently resonates somewhat more for whatever reason. It’s really a 50/50 thing most of the time - sometimes I swing towards Rumours, and at other times I enjoy Tango more. On most recent listening - Tango just has it by a smidge.


Goto album

  • Tango In The Night (1987)

5 songs

  1. The Chain
  2. Go Your Own Way
  3. Dreams
  4. Big Love
  5. Everywhere

G = Grimes


I was a little late latching onto Canadian - Claire Boucher - in fact my interest was not piqued until I heard first promo single - Genesis - for third / fourth album ’Visions’ (depending on how you count Darkbloom collaboration). Since then I acquired all her albums and love each one in its own quirky way. Grimes most certainly has her own sound with vocal stylings in parts reminiscent of Björk-like vocal acrobatics, yet still entirely and uniquely her own sound. 5 songs chosen are taken from the two latest albums.


Goto album

  • Art Angels (2015)

5 songs

  1. Kill V. Maim
  2. Flesh without Blood
  3. World Princess part II
  4. Genesis
  5. Oblivion

H = Human League


For a long time this was ’my sound’ - this was music of and for the future - sung by androgynous androids and with the most amazing synth backing. A synthetic sound packed with emotion and lots of those wonderful harmonic twiddly bits I love (and which Gazebo also excels at). At times this has been my absolute favourite record of all time - it just all fits perfectly together and sounds sublime - slightly detached in some ways but so full of energy and soul. Most of the 5 favourite songs are from this seminal album.


Goto album

  • Dare (1981) [*T10]

5 songs

  1. Love Action
  2. Seconds
  3. Open Your Heart
  4. Being Boiled
  5. Fascination

I = iiO


I have both of the iiO albums released and as many as a dozen different versions of most of the earlier tracks. There are some fairly decent tracks on the second album - but the mastering / final mix-down is somehow compromised and sounds overly compressed and slightly distorted. The first album ’Poetica’ though is a total classic - with an amazing marriage of Nadia Ali’s superb vocal stylings and crisp contemporary big room house production by Markus Moser - it still sounds epic today. Pretty much every track on the first album is a classic - including the below five - in fact this album could have easily borrowed Soul II Soul’s title - ’Club Classics Volume 1’ !


Goto album

  • Poetica (2005)

5 songs

  1. Rapture
  2. At the End
  3. Is It Love
  4. Kiss You
  5. Smooth

J = Jessie Ware


Critics and the buying public seem to have preferred the first album while my preference is totally for the second. Jessie would make a very fine jazz vocalist if she chose to go more in that direction. Her super refined palette of soulful twilight grooves makes for superior late night listening - some great remixes available too for the 5 featured tracks.


Goto album

  • Tough Love (2014)

5 songs

  1. If You’re Never Gonna Move
  2. Tough Love
  3. Swan Song
  4. Say You Love Me
  5. Champagne Kisses

K = Kruder & Dorfmeister


As mentioned, this one is a bit of an odd one out really as this best Kruder & Dorfmeister album is a double mixtape of some of their best remixes. The Vienna duo specialise in intricate percussion programming - their dubby beats really are second to none - and bring a whole other layer of depth and texture to the songs they rework and remix. There are some individual Peter Kruder and Richard Dorfmeister tracks, but they don’t quite come close to their excellent remixes - each of the 5 chosen tracks is from the DJ-Kicks mix too. Although I have credited the remixes to both - some are just remixed individually. I almost forgot - my alternative ’K’ would of course be Kraftwerk - by whom ’The Man Machine’ is my favourite album - of course without ’Trans Europe Express’ and ’Numbers’ there would be no Electro, but Man Machine for me remains the best mini sampler for what Kraftwerk were all about.


Goto album

  • DJ-Kicks (Kruder & Dorfmeister Sessions) (1996)

5 songs - All remixes naturally

  1. Alex Reece - Jazz Master (K&D Rmx)
  2. Roni Size - Heroes (K&D Rmx)
  3. Count Basic - Speechless (K&D Rmx)
  4. Bomb The Bass - Bug Powder (K&D Rmx)
  5. Depeche Mode - Useless (K&D Rmx)


L = Luomo


One of the most successful pseudonyms / alter-ego for super Finnish all-round dance music super-producer Sasu Ripatti. His specialism is dub-techno and dub-house as this genre is best defined - spacey / bassy / ethereal confections with a smattering of sultry breathy vocals yet fairly minimal beats. The Vocalcity debut is a stone cold classic and a total scene-setter for this sound. There are 5 generally excellent albums by Luomo, but the original is still the masterpiece.


Goto album

  • Vocalcity (2000)

5 songs

  1. Tessio
  2. The Present Lover
  3. Synkro
  4. The Right Wing
  5. Paper Tigers

M = Massive Attack


’Blue Lines’ is one of three massive pillars of the Trip-Hop movement alongside Portishead’s ’Dummy’ and Tricky’s ’Maxinquaye’. All three have featured in my All Time Top 10 [*T10] at different times - occasionally all 3 together. Of the three, Portishead’s Dummy has never left my Top 10, but Blue Lines and Maxinquaye tend to alternate somewhat, and currently I am feeling Massive Attack a little bit more - especially after their relatively recent ’The Spoils’ single. It has to be said that Tricky was pipped in the ’T’ category too - there was a lot of competition for that letter and could have been any of 5 or 6. Massive Attack have put out some amazing albums, but their first still resonates the best with me overall. Key ’M’ alternative would have been Muse - and their best album is either ’Origin of Symmetry’ or ’Absolution’ - again depending on prevailing mood.


Goto album

  • Blue Lines (1991) [*T10]

5 songs

  1. Unfinished Sympathy
  2. Safe From Harm
  3. The Spoils
  4. Teardrop
  5. Paradise Circus

N = New Order


As a Student DJ in the late 80’s I / You could not avoid Blue Monday - the best selling 12" of all time - in its timeless Peter Saville ’floppy disc’ sleeve design. I actually drifted in and out of love for New Order - I have several of their albums, but find many uneven - a similar criticism I have raised against Bowie. Just as Bowie had one totally classic wholly thematically held-together album in Ziggy Stardust, so do New Order in ’Technique’ which for me is their most consistent - both in tone and overall quality. I am sure my good friend Bertel will disagree - as he will most likely too with the below selections!


Goto album

  • Technique (1989)

5 songs

  1. Blue Monday
  2. Bizarre Love Triangle
  3. True Faith
  4. Crystal
  5. Sub-culture

O = Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark


Out in the same year as my favourite all-time synth album ’Dare’. this is almost equal in quality but with a much warmer and less mechanical soundscape. Featuring 3 of my favourite OMD tracks - this is the most consistent in quality and highly satisfactorily thematically held together - as well as beautifully melodic, shimmery and warm. Similar to Queen, it is actually the greatest hits disc ’The OMD Singles’ that I have listened to most, but of their proper individual studio albums, A&M is easily their most impressive.


Goto album

  • Architecture & Morality (1981)

5 songs

  1. Enola Gay
  2. Souvenir
  3. Maid of Orleans
  4. Joan of Arc
  5. So In Love

P = Prince


In terms of total musical geniuses - Prince is / was out there somewhat on his own. He is one of the three most influential musical geniuses in my life - the other two being Björk and Bowie. What Prince had over them though is that he could wholly write and score, play all the instruments while singing and dancing, sequence, record and mix down his own music from start to finish. He was a virtuoso musician across a vast range of instruments and he was inventive as well as innovative with sound sculpting / shaping, arrangements and programming. You can still hear his production licks in the music of many of our younger contemporary idols - a magic sprinkling of a Prince digital rhythm effect makes everything sound better - look for clues in the music of Justin Timberlake et al. My Prince Playlist is the largest one for a single artist of all the playlists on my phone, and numbers 107 songs - of course only the very best.


Goto album

  • Purple Rain (1984) [*T10]

5 songs

  1. When Doves Cry
  2. If I Was Your Girlfriend
  3. Girls and Boys
  4. Baby I’m A Star
  5. Days of Wild (Live)

Q = Queen


I am going a bit out on a limb here - undoubtedly Queen’s ’most accomplished’ album is the rightly lauded ’Night at the Opera’ - but I have a real soft spot for the rougher and readier and rockier even - ’Sheer Heart Attack’ predecessor which still features two classic hits - ’Killer Queen’ and ’Now I’m Here’ and much more besides. Lots of lovely crunchy and chuggy guitar with wonderful tone - check out the proto-metal of ’Stone Cold Crazy’ and guess which more recent metal bands it may have influenced. As I said previously, my still most listened-to Queen album also happens to be the best selling all time UK album - Queen’s Greatest Hits Volume 1 - as an introduction to and overview of a band - there aren’t any albums that really capture the magic of their appeal quite so well.


Goto album

  • Sheer Heart Attack (1974)

5 songs

  1. Bohemian Rhapsody
  2. Don’t Stop Me Now
  3. Somebody to Love
  4. Killer Queen
  5. Under Pressure

R = Radiohead


Twenty years since the release of OK Computer - and since I was converted to the cause. What did it for me was Radiohead’s Glastonbury performance that same year (1997) - which I happened to catch live on the Beeb - never before or since have I been so captivated by a live performance by a band - it kind of felt transcendental. This is simply one of the most perfect albums ever recorded, and for me the very best Radiohead album still by some margin. I have most of their catalogue and there has been some excellent material since, but for sheer emotive power and verve I cannot imagine anything ever ousting this from my Top 10 - one of a small handful of albums permanently rooted to the apex of my All Time Top 10. All my favourite Radiohead tracks come from said album - I could have picked others, but the draw was too strong. I also tend to alternate listening to the official album and Easy Star All-Stars’ ’Radiodread’ album - a track-by-track dub-reggae reworking - which mostly sounds and works equally amazingly.


Goto album

  • OK Computer (1997) [*T10]

5 songs

  1. Exit Music
  2. No Surprises
  3. Paranoid Android
  4. Karma Police
  5. Lucky

S = Sigur Rós


There are two total Titans of Icelandic Popular Music - Queen Björk, and Jónsi’s gang of post-rock sound architects. I first heard this at a neighbour’s house - thank you Skapti! And its impact was similar for me to Radiohead’s OK Computer. Pure atmospheric emotion - where you did not need to listen to or understand the lyrics - you just felt and sensed their meaning and grandeur. Sigur Rós continue to deliver brilliant material - every album has standout moments; yet none of them can quite match the elfin magic of that tremendous sophomore masterpiece.


Goto album

  • Ágætis byrjun (1999) [*T10]

5 songs

  1. Svefn-g-englar
  2. Sæglópur
  3. Starálfur
  4. Ný batterí
  5. Dauðalogn

T = Talking Heads


The live album from the staged Jonathan Demme directed and filmed gig - this is so much greater than the sum of its parts. Starting with just David Byrne on stage strumming an acoustic guitar to a reel-to-reel backing for Psycho Killer and then gradually adding in band members on wheeled stage risers until you have the majestic full-blown Talking Heads sound - reaching peaks during Burning Down the House and Once in a Lifetime - David’s stage presence is simply mesmerising - best concert video of all time.


Goto album

  • Stop Making Sense (1984) [*T10]

5 songs

  1. Once in a Lifetime
  2. Psycho Killer
  3. Burning Down the House
  4. Slippery People
  5. This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)

U = U2


Still a great band who put on phenomenal live shows. I didn’t get properly into U2 until The Joshua Tree album but already had a number of favourite songs. I acquired most of the albums after Joshua, but somehow never felt the need to get its predecessors. The Edge has an amazing knack for developing appealing sounds, and Bono continues to project some of the very best rock vocals. It will take a lot though to supplant my trilogy of favourite songs - Pride, Sunday Bloody Sunday and New Year’s Day - total classics all - and even better live.


Goto album

  • The Joshua Tree (1987)

5 songs

  1. Pride
  2. Sunday Bloody Sunday
  3. New Year’s Day
  4. One
  5. With Or Without You

V = The Verve


To be honest - not a lot of proper choices for ’V’, but I did really enjoyed the ’Urban Hymns’ album at the time. It was of course somewhat overshadowed by OK Computer in the same year - but still produced 3 memorable singles which continue to resonate well today. I wasn’t overly familiar with much of the bands earlier output, but really like ’a Northern Soul’ from the album of the same name and ’Blue’ from their debut effort.


Goto album

  • Urban Hymns (1997)

5 Songs

  1. Bitter Sweet Symphony
  2. The Drugs Don’t Work
  3. Lucky Man
  4. A Northern Soul
  5. Blue

W = The Weeknd


House of Balloons was my absolute favourite album (mixtape) of 2011 and has been high in my estimations ever since. It was later repackaged with the other two subsequent mixtapes and relaunched as commercial compilation ’Trilogy’ around a year later. ’Balloons’ is easily the strongest collection of songs Abel Tesfaye has put out yet, and properly represents his rather unique signature sound - introduced on that album and which still sounds vibrant today. Later albums saw him move more into the pop mainstream - and although I really like much of Starboy, it’s on his earlier efforts that Abel really shows his chops.


Goto album

  • House of Balloons (Trilogy Pt 1) (2011/12) [*T10]

5 songs

  1. High For This
  2. House of Balloons / Glass Table Girls
  3. Loft Music
  4. Can’t Feel My Face
  5. The Hills

X = The xx


Contrary to most public opinion and critics, I infinitely prefer The xx’s sophomore effort to their debut. It is slightly more electronic - yet still maintains the stripped down organic nature of its predecessors. I just find the songs much more enjoyable and more memorable - better melodies, and better arrangements overall, that is not to diminish the genius of instrumental ’Intro’ which could be best described as their signature sound in a signature track. Angels and Chained are far better than anything on the eponymous debut.


Goto album

  • Coexist (2012)

5 songs

  1. Angels
  2. Chained
  3. Intro
  4. Reunion
  5. Tides

Y = Yello


I always feel that Yello never really got the credit they deserved - messrs Boris Blank and Dieter Meier- they should be lauded in the same vein as Kraftwerk for their sonic experiments. I first came across Yello at The Reykjavik Fashion Show back in 1985 - where recently released album ’Stella’ was the main musical signature for the show. On the booming sound system of Laugardagshöll it sounded immense and futuristic (thanks to Alli for smuggling us in). Later in the same year they released the groundbreaking ’New Mix In One Go’ an album which I’ve lost count on how many people I’ve introduced it to. It takes the best of ’Stella’ (missing Desert Inn though), remixes it and perfectly sequences it with the best of their back-catalogue. Over 18 seamlessly segued tracks you get the most amazing overview of just how creative and eclectic Yello can be - it’s one of the few bands that I’ve collected near enough everything they’ve given out over such a long period. Legendary!


Goto album

  • Yello 1980-1985 The New Mix In One Go (1985) [*T10]

5 songs

  1. Bostich
  2. Vicious Games
  3. Sometimes
  4. The Evening’s Young
  5. Lost

Z = Zero 7


Another category with not too many options - for Zero 7 I have 3 of their albums, including their very chilled-out debut. The early Zero 7 albums were paralleled by the rise of Sia Furler - their most significant guest vocalist. Of course Sia rose up to bigger and better things while Zero 7 dropped more into the background. They were certainly pioneers of the slightly dance-music-inflected but organic jazzy / breezy downtempo sounds which were everywhere in the early millennium. Their most memorable recordings are still on the first album, although they do continue to produce decent music in a similar vein.


Goto album

  • Simple Things (2001)

5 songs

  1. In the Waiting Line
  2. Distractions
  3. Destiny
  4. Swing
  5. Don’t Call It Love

Closing Notes


You can usually work out someone’s age from their favourite music selections - I hope mine is more evenly spread out, more eclectic, and more balanced than most - and more difficult to definitively extrapolate and analyse. I still actively seek out new and innovative music every day. The earliest album on the list goes back to 1974, yet two of my favourite songs go back nearly a decade earlier - to 1966 - The Rolling Stones’ ’Paint It Black’ and the Beatles’ ’Tomorrow Never Knows’ - the latter of which could be released today and still sound amazingly contemporary - they were so far ahead of their time. Most recent music mentioned is Grimes’ 2015 ’Art Angels’ album meaning a total span of 6 decades worth of music.


Number of Albums Selected per Decade:

  • ’70s - 2
  • ’80s - 8
  • ’90s - 6
  • ’00s - 6
  • ’10s - 4

Twin years - 1981, 1984, 1987, 1997, 2001


It is also encouraging to see that most of my current Top 10 list is represented above, the only exception being Portishead’s Dummy - Portishead being ousted from the ’P’ category by Prince of course.

All Time Top 10 Favourite Albums - [*T10] - alphabetical & as per March 2017

  • Björk - Debut (1993 - Iceland)
  • Human League - Dare (1981 - UK)
  • Massive Attack - Blue Lines (1991 - UK)
  • Portishead - Dummy (1994 - UK)**
  • Prince - Purple Rain (1984 - USA)
  • Radiohead - OK Computer (1997 - UK)
  • Sigur Rós - Ágætis byrjun (1999 - Iceland)
  • Talking Heads - Stop Making Sense (1984 - USA)
  • The Weeknd - House of Balloons / Trilogy (2011 - Canada)
  • Yello - 1980-1985 The New Mix In One Go (1985 - Switzerland)

So a total of circa 36 album and 130 song recommendations!

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