Top 10 Essential Lockdown Albums #2
1. Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven – Godspeed You! Black Emperor
This album is the antithesis of consumerist, easy listening music. Containing 4 songs, each around 20 minutes in length, it is one that requires you to actually listen and rewards you when you do so. It truly is a rollercoaster of an instrumental album – it grows and sinks and climbs to its climax. At the moment I feel as though this album is a useful one, either for playing in the background or simply for enjoying the listening experience that is so often lost in modern music. I would heavily recommend giving this album a chance in spite of each song being 20 minutes long.
2. Badkid – Bakar
In a complete reversal of the first recommendation, this is an album that is fast-paced and jumpy in places but one that has range. At times Bakar can sound like Slowthai with a funky guitar, though he is also to evoke emotion – unlike Slowthai. It is not particularly long, and it really is easy to listen to. For fans of Steve Lacy or Thundercat you will certainly feel at home with this album.
3. Just Cosmo – Cosmo Pyke
I’m sure most people, now, are familiar with Chronic Sunshine. That song is part of this 5-song album and the rest of the songs follow suit particularly well. Upbeat, jazzy guitar accompanying Cosmo’s laidback vocals makes for a very relaxing listening experience.
4. Alchemy (Live from Hammersmith) – Dire Straits
For anyone who has ever enjoyed listening to any Dire Straits songs you simply must give this one a go. It is an album that is begging to be played out of two 4-foot stereo speakers – though headphones will do too – and with the volume turned up. It is as though you are sat in the crowd at Hammersmith. Mark Knopfler’s extended guitar solo in Sultans of Swing is all that it should take to convince you to listen to the whole thing. Despite being recorded in 1984 it lacks any unwanted Orwellian themes and instead is a reminder of how modern times are awfully lacking in real bands, such as Dire Straits.
5. West of Eden - HMLTD
This band is probably more of an acquired taste than the others I have mentioned. After the very successful single releases of Satan, Luella & I and To The Door, this was a very heavily desired album. This androgynous band that care not for your, nor anyone else’s, opinion have a hint of the Bowie about them – though much darker and with less sex appeal. If you are looking for something genuinely different, then I present you with Happy Meal Limited.
6. Animals - Pink Floyd
More in line with the first recommendation, Animals contains three songs each roughly 10 minutes long, surrounded by two short introductory and conclusionary songs. Respectively named Dogs, Sheep and Pigs, Roger Waters was really channelling his hatred for capitalism and politicians when he wrote this. Inciteful lyrics, interspersed with David Gilmour’s simply incredible guitar stints (which could form songs of their own) make Animals one of Pink Floyd’s best – if not the best – album that has gone largely unrecognised by modern listeners due to the cult following of Dark Side of the Moon.
7. Memories – Ady Suleiman
This album deserves a mention purely for the song Need Somebody to Love. This man’s vocals require no band, though he used one anyway. Another album with great range, touching on the joys of life and personal experiences of mental health it is an insight into this great songwriter’s life. A journey that is very enjoyable to be part of it.
8. What Kinda Music – Tom Misch & Yussef Dayes
Not the usual song writing we expect from Tom Misch – nothing like Geography – it is sure to divide opinion. This album goes heavy with the effect pedals, nonetheless it is a very laidback and inoffensive album. Probably not one that is going to sit well with die hard Tom Misch fans, but for the neutrals I would recommend.
9. Friday Night in San Francisco – Al di Meola, John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia
A live Spanish instrumental album. Again, one to be played on full and to be listened to inquisitively. Safe to say it will be unusual for most people nowadays, though it is a brilliant album and one that shows off exemplary guitar playing. Again, rather long. Despite this, it might be great for some of us to imagine we are not at home but in San Francisco on a Friday night. If not, well then, whack it on in the background of a themed lockdown fancy dress party.
10. Unplugged - Eric Clapton
Unplugged albums are something that should really be brought back to music. Eric Clapton sat in front of an audience, with his band in the background and an acoustic guitar on his lap, playing acoustic versions of his best songs. Layla on acoustic might not have the same effect as when its being played on ‘Blackie’, one of Eric Clapton’s myriad guitars, though other songs such as Old Love are brilliant when adapted to the acoustic form.