My Nine “Desert Island Discs”

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Years ago, Tower Records used to publish a free magazine called Pulse!, with a section devoted to readers' submitted lists of their "desert island discs" - the ten music albums that they would take with them if stranded on a desert island. In other words, their ten favorite records. Well, I do things in nines around here, and although this isn't the most relevant list I've written, I truly do recommend all of these recordings.

  1. HOUNDS OF LOVE, Kate Bush, 1985. My love affair with this reclusive British artist dates back to 1986, when I first heard Hounds of Love. I listened to it nearly every night for years. And while I adore all of her first five albums, it is only this and 1982's The Dreaming that I'd call genius, masterpieces, perfect.
  2. SOCIAL DANCING, Bis, 1999. An overlooked album by a trio of Scottish kids that blended punk with pop expertly in this, their second of only three LPs. High energy with hooks aplenty.
  3. VESPERTINE, Björk, 2001. My affection for the Icelandic pop princess goes back to at least 1993, and her first album Debut almost made it onto this list. But while Björk is always interesting, out of all her work it's only the haunting Vespertine that I imagine I'll still be listening to in future years.
  4. SPLIT, Lush, 1996. This group stood out from all of the other "shoegazer" bands of the '90s because of its appealing singer-songwriter-guitar team of Miki Berenyi and Emma Anderson. Split is their best album by far.
  5. POLYDISTORTION, GusGus, 1997. Back to Iceland we go for what I believe remains the most - and maybe only - ageless electronic music of the '90s. It's got way more depth and soul than anything the Chemical Brothers could have come up with. And I like the Chemical Brothers.
  6. HER HANDWRITING, Trembling Blue Stars, 1996. This is the most swoon-worthy collection of breakup songs I've ever heard. Not sure what good it would do me on a desert island, but it sure would make me feel like I'm not the only lonely soul out there.
  7. FOXBASE ALPHA, Saint Etienne, 1991. Moodier than their subsequent pop material, this debut album from the long-living British trio is still my favorite. It never gets old.
  8. BEST OF, Bow Wow Wow, 1980-82. To most, this group may be just a one-hit wonder with "I Want Candy" (which I skip over these days), but when you look past the gimmickry, these people were great musicians, with their surf guitars, tribal drums, and catchy songwriting. Ask me again in a year and I might not include this album, but for now, I'd be perfectly happy dancing underneath my coconut tree to it.
  9. NEVERMIND, Nirvana, 1991. It's almost a cliche to include this, but I figured I had to include something from the US (it's almost embarrassing how nearly everything I listen to comes from the UK), and this groundbreaking album sounds fresh even fourteen years later. If I could add a tenth disc, I'd most certainly include either of the two albums by the British duo Goldfrapp - but that's just more atmospheric, non-guitar-oriented music with a sexy female vocalist. There's enough of that on this list. So consider Nevermind my list's lone nod to guy-oriented American rock.