My favourite album
Nobody remembers their first download or stream…
But everyone remembers their first album! Or at least their favourite one. You know it by heart, and every time you hear it, it brings back memories. Often good ones, and always with a sense of melancholy.
What’s your favourite album?
Earlier this year, we started a new series on our Facebook and Instagram channels, where our staff members and lecturers share their favourite album. And preferably on vinyl. Because vinyl makes it extra special! – The sleeve, the artwork, the prints, the smell, it’s that feeling of owning a piece of art. It’s not a surprise that Vinyl Sales Surpass CD Sales for the First Time in 34 Years!
Besides sharing their favourite album with us, we also asked what makes it so special. A deep question with some interesting stories and perspectives as a result. You’ll find the list and their stories below. Including the link to the Spotify albums for your listening pleasure.
Time to discover some new music?!
Here we go!
Her favourite album: Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours”
I have such a personal memory on how and when I started listening to Fleetwood Mac (and obsessing about it). Bob Weston – and old guitarist of Fleetwood Mac’s blues/rock period (which is absolutely brilliant too) – was recording an album in my parent’s studio (Markant Studios). At that time, I was playing a lot of piano. He would sometimes listen to me play and we would talk a lot, him sharing stories of the “old days”. I started playing some Fleetwood Mac songs and soon discovered Rumours, diving deep into how it was made. Happened to be one of my mom’s favourite albums too!
For me personally, this album has it all and it means everything to me. It’s intense, intimate, there is a rawness in the songwriting and yet it’s so well produced and sometimes even bombastic. You just feel the heartbreak everyone was going through while writing and recording this album, but also the way they were dealing with and the hope of newfound love. The album tells a complete story of 5 people who were experiencing life and all its drama.
Spotify link: Rumours
His favourite album: SOS Band’s ‘Sands of Time’
I think this is one of the first albums I have ever bought. Back in the days, every Thursday evening, I would listen to the ‘Soulshow’ on Dutch radio, with radio DJ Ferry Maat. It was the first radio show that played import soul music, mainly from the US. It was through the Soulshow that I first heard of the SOS band and all the other 80’s R&B, soul and funk. I would sit in my room, recording (almost) every show on cassette. While listening to SOS Band’s album, it certainly brings back memories.
Sands of time was released in 1986. The production was done by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the extremely successful songwriting and records producers duo, who received many awards. This album was less electro funk and more pop/R&B and has the typical 80’s R&B drum programming, trademarked by Jam & Lewis. Like the Linn Drums on ‘Nothing but the Best’, and the 808 programming on songs like Two Time Lover… also a classic. But ‘the Finest’ is my all time favourite! You hear quite some similarities with Janet Jackson’s ‘Control’. Another great album that Jam & Lewis produced shortly after.
Recently, I came across the album at a thrift store (kringloop winkel) in Amsterdam, and I decided to buy it again😁 . Never enough!”
Spotify link: Sands of Time
Her favourite album: Nine Inch Nails’ “The Fragile”
“My favourite album…it was a tough choice with a few strong contenders. The Fragile from Nine Inch Nails eventually won my vote for a number of reasons. (In this picture I have a special edition of Fragile: Deviations, on vinyl in my hands).”
“I was introduced to NIN in the late 80’s. I was studying classical piano at the time and I was instantly fascinated what sounds NIN was able to produce with synths. The Fragile makes use of all sorts of tools to make musical sound. That was refreshing to my ears in 1999 when the Fragile was released. Mind you, this was an era in which the music girl-and boy bands had a glory period. The Fragile didn’t fit any box.”
“The record is an undeniable landmark in rock history. The layering of sounds and song construction is immaculate. Being a double album, The Fragile is relentless as it manages to both comfort and haunt the listener at the same time. Lyrically Reznor isn’t the strongest. The Fragile is atmospheric sonic landscape. Unsurprisingly, Reznor (and Atticus) have turned to scoring soundtracks. Of this album, ‘Just Like You Imagined’ is one of my favourite tracks, especially the live version with Mike Garson (David Bowie’s pianist) on piano. La Mer, is another of my favourites, also an instrumental song mind you. I think in the instrumentals Reznor’s production skills are even more balanced out and reveal true craftsmanship.”
Spotify link: The Fragile
His favourite album: Mark Knopfler’s “Privateering”
“This is an album I’ve listened to quite some years ago, during my time as a student. At that time, I was already a fan of Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler. Privateering is just one of those albums you can put on repeat over two or three times without it getting annoying. It remains nice and relaxed to listen to. It actually helped me get through my studies! I have such good memories about how it made me feel and how it worked its musical magic on my state of mind. And not surprisingly…. it still does!”
Spotify link: Privateering
Her favourite album: Kiwanuka by Michael Kiwanuka
It started off with the first song on the album “You ain’t the problem”. The moment I heard his voice, it was like pure sunshine, it was so warm. His voice carried me through the entire album, I just couldn’t get enough! His songwriting is very unique but also has many familiar elements that he pulls from. The more I listen to “Kiwanuka”, the more I discover elements that I love.
Any vinyl words? (pun intended)
A timeless record that sums up the analogue sound beautifully for me. Even for an album that is so current (2019), he is able to blend that old world charm seamlessly.
Spotify link: Kiwanuka
His favourite album: Herbie Hancock – Head Hunters (1973)
I discovered Herbie Hancock by listening to late 60s and early 70s electric jazz, something Miles Davis was pioneering at the time. Listening to Miles’ music and researching on his band, lead me to discover many other musicians who recorded great solo records. This Head Hunters, dated 1973 is one of them. It includes 4 tunes, Chameleon and Watermelon Man on one side, Sly and Vein Melter on the other. (It was part of a trilogy of albums made by Herbie Hancock and his fusion band The Headhunters).
Already in the late 60s, Herbie was interested in combining various elements of jazz, funk and soul in his recordings. He was also very much interested in new technology and the possibilities of these new machines called synthesisers. Sometime before the Head Hunters project, Hancock produced another record called “Sextant”. In this record you can already hear this cross-influence, a lot of cool synth sounds and experimentation, mostly performed on ARP synthesisers, along with smooth jazz sounds and groove. But Herbie really focused on achieving something special with the Head Hunters.
First of all, he put together a stellar band, the finest jazz musicians with a killer funk and soul vibe. Because he did want to make a funk record in the first place. Then he used the coolest keyboards and synths at the time. I mean, you can’t go wrong with a Fender piano into a Roland space echo, a Clavinet into a wha -wha funk pedal, string machines on tape and biting raw ARP synth bass lines. Then he wrote the catchiest riffs and arrangements. The chameleon riff is history and Watermelon man whistles and bottles intro has been sampled many times. Then he and the band totally killed the performance. Just listen to “Sly”, in particular the second part where Herbie takes off in his solo, supported by relentless drums and bass combo and wha-wha clavinet overdubs. Classic and timeless.
And then there is the quality of the recording, the punchy and warm mixing, the dynamic mastering, the psychedelic cover because hey, it’s still the 70s! The result is an instant classic, which appealed to jazz, funk, R&B and rock fans equally and went on to become the first jazz platinum album.
What can I say, it is one of my most loved records, I know every single note and nuance, I love every bit of it and I will never ever get bored of listening to it!
Wow, thanks MarcoAntonio. While updating this blog post with your entry, we are listening on Spotify (where you’ll find the full trilogy of Headhunters in a playlist). And it’s indeed something special! Thanks for sharing your favourite with us.
Discogs link: Headhunters
His favourite album: DAVID BOWIE – The man who sold the world
What I love about Bowie is his ability to combine sound and image. Not only in his performance but evenly so in his creation process. He understood the importance of theatrics like no other. This album is for me the perfect combination of rock n roll and theatricality. It’s intense, dark, vulnerable, intelligent and sensual. It has the right emotional elements without it being over the top dramatic.
It has a distinctly different feeling from all of his other albums because he is figuring out what kind of artist he is going to be. He had a hit single with ‘Space Oddity’ on his previous album, which granted him the trust of the labels, and granted him all this artistic freedom and time to experiment. This album is proof of what an artist can achieve with that freedom.
When this album came out in 1970 it was a commercial failure. He wouldn’t have what the industry calls a huge commercial success until the Ziggy Stardust album. It wasn’t until 1972 when it was re-released (with him on the cover as Ziggy) and after he achieved his fame that this album was being embraced and recognized by the masses.
A lot of our students are trying to figure out who they are as an artist, all we can do is to enable and support them. To give them trust so they may create meaningful art for themselves and others, as Bowie did for me.
Thank you Anthony! We are listening to the remastered version from 2015 while writing this.
Joris van Welsen
His pick: ‘Lonerism’ by Tame Impala!
Joris: “If you ask me every month what my favourite album is, the answer will often differ. But ‘Lonerism’ is just one of those records that has been in my top 5 since its release. The artwork, the production, the gap that is bridged between electronic music, synths and pop songs; it all contributes. Also the fact that it doesn’t sound too pretentious, and at the same time being blood serious when it comes to sound makes for a hard-to-catch balance that I really like.”
Is it good? Yes it is! We checked it on Spotify and can only confirm that it’s really worth listening to.
Joris is our main lecturer for the music management and business module. He is co-owner of booking agency Radar Agency and founder of Attack & Release Management.
Spotify Link: Tame Impala
Keep coming back for more updates and favourite albums!
We will keep extending this article with new entries. So keep an eye on our social media channels and this blog article for new updates.
If you liked this article, you should also check our must-watch music documentaries list!