We still have a few more to go before my top 20 albums. As we head towards the business end, I reminisce about the cassettes and CDs that once were.
So, buckle in, wind down the window, and get ready for the next stop on my road trip through musical time.
36. Faith No More – King For A Day Fool For A Lifetime (1995)
This entire album is arguably one of the greatest albums of the decade. Even when I listen to it now, the album sounds sophisticated and fresh! Mike Patton and FNM were ahead of their time. In fact, this band is the missing link between the ’80s and ’90s. Faith No More really influenced everybody during that period.
So, all you young peeps take note: artistry and pure talent once thrived and lived as its own beating heart in music. Without gimmicks, autotune, computer enhancement, tracks, and loops. This is what it was like, how it’s supposed to be. Original, unadulterated, and pure talent.
Recording the album certainly had its issues. Following the departure of guitarist Jim Martin, Trey Spruance (Mr Bungle) performed on the album. As an avid fan of Spruance, his slick style and attention to detail brought the band back from what could have been the abyss. Much to my and bassist Billy Gould’s dismay, Spruance never toured with the band.
In one magazine interview, Gould labelled Spruance as a “spoiled rich kid” who did not want to tour. However, Spruance recalled not having enough money to buy the magazine where Gould said this about him. Ahh yes, the trials and tribulations of working with professional musicians. A simple thank you would have sufficed.
35. Green Day – Dookie (1994)
I bought this album in a record store on its release day. Bought it solely on the strength of the cover without ever listening to a note. Never regretted it for a minute.
Dookie is the third and most successful album by American post-punk alternative rock band, Greenday. It was written mostly by frontman Billie Joe Armstrong. The album is centred around his personal experiences, with themes such as boredom, anxiety, relationships, and sexuality. It has since sold 20 million copies worldwide and been accredited for bringing punk-rock to mainstream popularity.
It always amazed me how many unique songs they were able to create through simple power chords and melodies. They were true musicians.
Fun fact. If we add the word ‘You’ to the word ‘tube’ in the first verse lyrics for Longview, it still remains relevant today. Especially after numerous lockdowns and boredom.
“Sit around and watch Youtube but, nothing’s fun. I browse the channels for an hour or two. Bite my tongue just for a bit. I’m sick of all the same old sh*!. Leave the house and lock the doors. And I’m f@#king crazy”
34. The Living End – Self Titled (1998)
In the mid to late 90s Australia needed an anthem and we got one, ‘Prisoner of Society’ followed by ‘Second Solution’, and ‘All Torn Down’. Actually, that makes three, but who’s counting? The album was made popular by the ABC show Recovery – a youth-oriented, post RAGE show airing on Saturday mornings from 9-12 pm, that broadcast between 1996-2000.
It introduced us to bands such as The Living End and their punk rockabilly drums and bass. Most importantly, the genius guitar playing of Chris Cheney. Who else plays a slide solo using a Heineken beer bottle while his bass player is standing on his double bass?
Now that’s Rock N’ Roll.
33. Motley Crue, Dr Feelgood (1989)
Sex tapes, drugs, and rock n roll. Throw in a dash of high octane guitars loud and fast and you have a killer album. From what I can gather, Vince Neil (vocalist) is still living like he was back in his early 20s albeit a little chubbier these days. Mick Mars on guitar – you are a hardcore dude.
In a nutshell, this was their fifth and probably the soberest studio album from hardcore rockers, Motley Crue. You only have to watch “The Dirt” on Netflix to understand just how rock n’ roll these guys actually were. My only wish would be for ‘Home Sweet Home’ to be on this track listing so I can brag about how my wife and I did a cover of that wonderful ballad.
32. The Void – Reverence
Live at Wacken – ummmm yeah. These guys keep doubling down on their live shows and why not? Yes, I was late to the party but I got there in the end and that’s all that matters.
I couldn’t be more proud of this Oz heavy metal band as they climbed their way out from some tiny venue in Byron Bay and onto the world stage.
From their humble beginnings to now their shows are more than spectacular and their live performance backs it up all the way. Keep doubling down boys!
31. Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet
When I was thirteen I saved my hard-earned pocket money and I bought two albums. One was Bon Jovi’s ‘Slippery When Wet’ and the other was ‘Europe The Final Countdown’. I used the latter as a bar coaster and kept Bon Jovi. And rightly so. Bon Jovi became the reason why I wanted to play the guitar. I wanted to be just like Richie Sambora with his cowboy hat playing ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’.
In an interview, Jon Bon Jovi claimed, “As grateful as I am for the blessing to be a performer, I always hated touring and that is why I wrote this song. I felt like the people didn’t care if I killed myself to get to that performance or if I showed up dead or alive… they just wanted you there.“
Either way, I am just glad the boys turned up to record this monster of an album. From start to finish it’s ‘hands down’ (no pun intended) freaking awesome. ‘Raise Your Hands’ is Richie showing us how good a guitarist he truly is. What a RIFF, OMG. After more than 30 years it still kicks. And then there’s ‘Never Say Goodbye’, a timeless ballad.
30. You Am I – HiFi Way (1995)
Arguably one of the greatest Australian rock bands ever with many memorable performances to back up this claim. I personally saw them live (twice) at Big Day Out and again at other venues and was blown away every time. ‘Cathy’s Clown’ was a crowd favourite and the big climax of ‘How Much Is Enough’ is a great way to finish the tracklist.
Hi-Fi Way reached #1 on the local albums chart and is one of the most influential and critically acclaimed Australian albums of the 1990s. Tim Rogers later claimed, “I was really high and really drunk the whole time. My ambition for it was always huge, but we’re more suited to a scrappier sounding thing, with the way that I sing and play guitar. We had seven days to make it, living in New York.”
My response would be along the lines of… ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t try and fix it’. Tim, you truly are a Rock N Roll legend.
I continue to enjoy playing the song ‘Purple Sneakers’ mainly because of all the iconic Australian references.
“Had a scratch only you could itch….underneath the Glebe Point Bridge….” (‘Purple Sneakers’, reference to Annandale, Inner-West, Sydney).
29. Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon (1973)
Who didn’t have this concept album in their collection? The album explores themes of conflict, greed, time, death and of course, a mental illness that had become apparent to the band with Syd Barrett’s ill-fated departure in 1968. For me, the cover design conveniently sums up the mood of the album.
The prism spectrum was designed by famous English graphic designer, Storm Thorgerson in response to the band’s request for a simple, bold design. A touch of class that is befitting for this album.
I first heard the album in its entirety in an intimate setting. The lights were off but all five senses were certainly indulged. It would be pointless mentioning single tracks, however, ‘Time’, ‘Us and Them’ and the ⅞ time signature of the blues progression, ‘Money’ are all classics in their own right. My point here is to listen to the album in its entirety as it was intended.
And hold onto your hearts when you hear Clare Tory sing wordless vocals on the ‘Great Gig In The Sky’. The story goes that she was initially embarrassed by her exuberance in the recording booth, and wanted to apologise to the band – only to find Pink Floyd was delighted with her performance. I think we would all agree, that you outdid yourself Clare.
28. Def Leppard – Hysteria (1987)
“The drummer from Def Leppard has only got one arm…” (‘Why’s Everybody Always Pickin’ On Me?’, Bloodhound Gang).
Yes, that lyric would be politically incorrect these days however, it was in actual fact an acknowledgement of the talent and dedication of drummer Rick Allen, who after a car accident had his arm amputated. He also dreamt up the title, Hysteria.
The album is the follow-up to the band’s 1983 breakthrough Pyromania which I loved to play in my mum’s car. In fact, she told me to take my cassette out of her deck and I wined, “But Mum, it’s Def Leppard’. She responded, “I don’t care if it’s Blind Leppard, you are not playing that noise in my car”. Love you, Mum.
Hysteria‘s creation took over three years to record but what a concept album. I remember listening to Hysteria with my best friend. We were lying in the back of his mum’s car, completely indulged in the symphonic sounds of each track. We must have listened to it five times before we finally crashed.
My songs of interest include, ‘Animal’, ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’, ‘Love Bites’, and ‘Rocket’. Even now I listen to this band in the same way I did then and fondly laugh at my gorgeous wife who wears the ‘Hysteria’ retro tee-shirt, not actually knowing the band or the impact they made with this album. ‘Love Bites’ babe.
27. Van Halen – 5150 (1986)
Out with the old, in with the new. Yep, David Lee Roth decided to become his own ‘Gigolo’ and was subsequently replaced with Sammy Hagar. What this meant for Van Halen was a whole new approach to songwriting and the result was 5150 (which BTW is a Californian law enforcement term referring to a person who is mentally disturbed).
The album went platinum in the first week. I love this album for two reasons. ‘Why Can’t This Be Love’, and ‘Dreams’. These are songs that you never tire of listening to. In fact, both are readily available in my Spotify car playlist.
Not only do they make me play air drums on my steering wheel, they make me feel so darn good. I often ask myself, “Can or will I ever be able to play like the late Eddie Van Halen?” Hmmm… definitely not! He could do things on the guitar like no other.
RIP. Maestro Eddie!
26. Front End Loader – Let’s Ride (1995)
I can wholeheartedly say this album changed the way I think about music. I saw this band open for the Tea Party at the Roxy in Brisbane (1997) and was completely in awe of the way they played. The energy of this band was contagious and their raw, yet, polished sounding guitars merged symphonically with their messed up lyrics.
My first introduction to this band was the song ‘Travel Scrabble Death?’ which chugs along at a fanatic pace. Then there is ‘Mandino Deluxe’. What this tune is about, I’ll never know.
Brisbane Entertainment Centre? Here’s your acid?? And then there’s the song that was on a continuous loop in my head during the early days of the pandemic, ‘There Is No Cure’.
In a nutshell… Front End Loader was Australia’s most favourite, least well known popular, best rock/punk / jazzy band that everyone who knew them loved them.
25. The Foo Fighters (1995)
Okay, so I think I mentioned previously somewhere that Dave Grohl wrote and recorded this entire album himself and chose the name the Foo Fighters (Project) to hide his identity. Grohl also claimed he did this album just for fun, describing it as a “cathartic experience to recover from the suicide of Nirvana bandmate Kurt Cobain”.
That might explain these lyrics (‘This Is A Call’)
Visiting is pretty
Visiting is good
Seems that all they ever wanted was a brother
This can be a secret
We can keep it good
Even all the ever wanting had a problem
Either way, I bought this album without even listening to it purely because I saw Dave’s name on the sleeve.
In my humble opinion Grohl is certainly a modest musician. Very talented at that. And what we have here is a collection of songs that Grohl had written in response to the depression he was feeling at the time of Kurt Cobain’s death. A great example of what can be achieved when you focus on creativity and not destruction.
So the next time you get double-parked, grab yourself a Mentos and have a laugh at the music clip for ‘Big Me’.
24. Supertramp – The Very Best Of (1990)
When I was 13 my guitar teacher (Port Lincoln Legend – Nick Krieg) tried hard to convince me that this was the band I should be listening to. Of course, I was too full of mixed lollies to take heed and continued to struggle my way through a chorus of power chords.
Fast forward some 5 years later and I understood what he was talking about. Now given this band were so album-oriented, it was probably inconceivable to even consider compiling Supertramp’s work into a single collection of songs.
However, this tracklist plays smoothly just like the band. It is the closest thing to a definitive overview which includes, in my opinion, some of the band’s best work.
The opening track ‘School’ sets the tone and leads straight into ‘Goodbye Stranger’, and then the ‘Logical Song’. Like I said “smooth”. All the songs are treasured masterpieces so there is no need to rattle off the entire tracklist. However, I will mention ‘Give A Little Bit’ which is the song I chose to learn. A beautiful acoustic arrangement that is enjoyable to play.
23. Oasis – Definitely Maybe (1994)
That’s the oasis we love, raw as feck, Liam has one eyebrow, noel buzz cut, brilliant. That sound is quality. Liam’s voice was top-notch here. Want to know more? See my post on Oasis.
In the meantime, have a listen to Supersonic.
I need to be myself
I can’t be no one else
I’m feeling supersonic
Give me gin and tonic
22. The Cult – Electric (1987)
I bought a $1200 stereo just so I could hear this band sound even better. Then I would play it so loud my neighbours would throw a brick through my window so they could hear it loud also. Definitely the most underrated band in the history of rock. Ian Astbury is undoubtedly one of the best singers.
But let’s talk about the guitarist, Billy Duffy. Clearly influenced by Led Zep, ACDC, and the late 70’s punk scene. What culminated in this album was the riff envy crisp sounding metal blues.
I loved playing ‘Love Removal Machine’ on my Les Paul Gibson, which is quite similar to ‘Start Me Up’ (Stones). The solo was fun to learn and it is a song you could jam in the garage with the boys. ’Peace Dog’, ‘Wild Flower’, and ‘Lil Devil’ are also crankers.
Electric, in my opinion, is an absolute tour de force of crushing riffs and howling, bluesy, rock and roll greatness. It is so out of place among all those cheesy hair-metal bands of the 80s, which makes it all that more unique. Ian Astbury is a British Jim Morrison, with a better voice. In fact, Ian Astbury toured with The Doors in the 2000s. Go figure.
21. The Cult – Sonic Temple (1989)
Listening to this now brings back the memories of driving with these guys cranked, windows down, and our mullets flowing with the breeze.
The famous ears of Bob Rock helped produce Sonic Temple and kept the Cult hard-edged with this follow-up album to Electric. Most notably are Mick Curry’s finely-tuned drums on the opening track ‘Sun King’.
The bass and crisp sounding snare are certainly traits of Bob Rock. Despite the shift in sound and style, guitarist Billy Duffy outdoes himself by filling every second with razor-sharp riffs and solos. Astbury sings every song with conviction as if he were recounting his halcyon days from the 60s. His reflexive lyrics are transcendental and more intriguing than on previous albums. It’s hard to assume exactly what he’s singing about, but I like it when artists keep you guessing.
In terms of the songs, the whole album is great from start to finish. That said, my stand outs would have to be ‘Sweet Soul Sister’, ‘Edie (Ciao Baby)’, and ‘Firewoman’. I Definitely recommend this album for your car. Play it loud.
So, what do you think of my list so far? Read PART 5.
This little Minion, when not binge-ing on TV series, loves to fill in his time by moonlighting as a freelance blogger and writing the occasional opinion piece for his best friend Lace.