'Let It Bleed' (1969) marked the end of 1960s hippie idealism and announced the world's coming of age into the darker and more troubled 1970s. The album was also a coming of age for the Stones themselves, who finally came into their own after a string of debut albums featuring R'n'B covers, Kinks and Beatles pastiches. This is an album I love listening to by myself in the evening.
'Elephant' (2003) by the White Stripes is a masterpiece of minimalistic, catchy and aggressive rock. Full of character, verve and spite, this band and album got me into rock 'n' roll in the first place. And for that, I am eternally grateful. Track after track, there isn't one bad song on here - from the iconic 'Seven Nation Army', to 'Ball and Biscuit' and 'Hardest Button to Button.' Really great stuff.
'Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia' (2000) is the Dandy Warhols' masterpiece. Painting a landscape of suburban bourgeois-chic, hipster counter-culture, the Portland band manage to comment on and subvert classic rock tropes. I actually had the chance to see these guys for the first time when I moved to London at the Electric Ballroom in Camden.
'Hang' (2017) by Foxygen is an excellent example of 1960s pastiche done right. Cocky, upbeat and completely uncynical, the band was once described to me as a 'mellow Rolling Stones.' Have a listen and figure it out. They're also a hilarious mess live. I really love this band. From orchestral sweeps to catchy choruses and guitar riffs, the album really demonstrates how sincere imitation can be the highest form of flattery.
'White Light/White Heat' (1968) by the Velvet Underground really impacted my approach to music in terms of songwriting. This is such a minimalistic, dark and gritty album, with very few choruses and hooks. Instead, Lou Reed and co. deliver an experimental art-rock jam loud enough to kick the speakers out of your amp. It's also got that really interesting Edgar Allan Poe-influenced short story 'The Gift', written by Reed and read by John Cale himself.
'Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid' (1973) is an amazingly simply and effective folk-rock soundtrack. Bob Dylan himself even features in Peckinpah's western. I used to listen to this album during the summer. It's relaxing, nostalgic and somewhat melancholic, with the classic 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door' carrying the album.
'Why Try Harder' (2006) by Fatboty Slim Bit of an oddball one. It's a greatest hits compilation that features Norman Cook's work over a ten-year period, however is cohesive enough if it had been released as an album today. I love it because it really takes you back to the old days of 1990s electronic, acid-house funk - like disco, it's unpretentious feel-good music.
'Please Please Me' (1963) by the Beatles shows striking verve and cohesion for a band who's only just released their first songs. For some reason, I keep revisiting this LP every couple of years. 'Twist and Shout' easily stands out as the liveliest and most energetic track. Even the duds like 'A Taste of Honey' are charming enough to carry you through the rest of their efforts.
'Winter Nets' (2018) by Sports Team is the quintessential British indie Cambridge-educated post-punk 80s band. They're great. It's a shame their latest single, 'Kutcher', doesn't feature on the EP as it's a great example of the band's witty commentary on young love and romance. From the classic 'Beverly Rose' to more conventional rockers like 'Stanton', I've been listening to this album on loop since it was released.
'Dookie' (1994) by Green Day is a classic. I don't really have much to say about it. It's fast, it's dark, it's punk rock.