As a way of curing the abscence of new, exciting album releases, I decided to put together a list of albums, that have come to mean more than just brilliant albums for me. They all are very personal to me, and there might be albums not listed here, that I actually would validate as better, but these eleven have a special place in my heart. Here chronologically listed.
ABBA THE VISITORS (1981, Polar Music)
ABBA’s last studio album also came to be their absolute greatest album, in a run of several fine moments. Adding to the original line up of nine amazing tracks, I now also include the dark and haunting, final recordings of the quartet, such as Under attack and The day before you came. For me the fall of 1981 changed the course of my life, with the passing of my father. Later that same year, I received this album as a Christmas gift. The dark and insanely beautiful body of work came to be a sanctuary and there the journey of healing started, with music as my medicine. Pop music at its absolute best.
This one particular moment is still Madge’s greatest to date. Personal, intimate and dynamic she battles through adolescense, her Catholic upbringing, a stormy marriage, the relationship to her father and the death of her mother. All in exquisitely executed pop songs. And my teenage crush on the pop icon, raised itself to a completely new level, with her proving that she definitely was more than just a one-hit-wonder. For me this is as close you could get to pop art.
LOOSE ENDS LOOK HOW LONG (1990, Virgin Records)
My 80’s were mainly filled with pop music, but just before stepping in to a new decade, I discovered R&B and soul music, with the likes of Soul II Soul and Anita Baker, just to name a few. And what a revelation it was, for that 16-year old pop nerd to discover a whole new world and the album that totally rocked my world was this one. Carl McIntosh, one of three original members, was the last one standing, together with new vocalists, when 1990 album Look How Long was released and for me, this is still pure perfection and I love this, from the bottom of my heart.
The melancholy of Lloyd Cole’s second solo album, struck a chord with me and it struck hard. Just gently stepping into adulthood and the wonders of what may be, I found this extremely comforting, in a period of my life when I wasn’t comfortable at all. The orchestration, the melodies, the sensitive lyrics of a divorce in the making and Mr. Cole’s haunting vocals, had a nourishing effect on me then and still does. Because listening to the album today, I’m amazed that the melancholy hasn’t changed to sentimentality. It is very much intact. And still, beautiful as hell.
TONY! TONI! TONÉ! SONS OF SOUL (Mercury, 1993)
On the year of its release, this wonderful album worked as a soundtrack for me, when moving to one of my first apartments and then later, also when this smalltown boy, moved to the city, to embark on his life. Lead singer and composer Raphael, then Wiggins, now Saadiq, together with his brother Dwayne Wiggins and cousin Timothy Christian Riley, totally knocked me out, over and over again with this album, an album very of much its time. And it also clearly highlights the extraordinary talents of Raphael Saadiq, who later would embark on a equally excellent solo career.
JILL SCOTT WHO IS JILL SCOTT? WORDS AND SOUND, VOL 1 (Hidden Beach Records, 2000)
Some music just makes you smile. There isn’t always an exact explanation or specific reason you can point at. It’s just something in the melodies, the arrangements, the vocals and the whole approach to making music. Jill Scott’s exceptional debut album has that quality and she made something, that on paper sounded a bit contrived, totally natural and genuine. I mean, vocals vs spoken word and poems interweaved with soul with a street feel, could’ve easily fallen short. But quite the contrary, this is pure beauty and utter elegance. In short, a masterpiece.
TOMAS ANDERSSON WIJ STJÄRNORNA I OSS (2004, Warner)
There’s something in Tomas Andersson Wij’s voice and there’s something familiar and very personal about how he approaches his lyrics and compositions. Something that opens up doors and corners in me, that I never expected to be open. Whether it be, him singing about his friend Tommy and his mother, or that summer when his family helped a woman refugee in the summer of 1977. Or be it him singing about life after a break-up in Sången om dig och mig. All very up close and personal, as if he actually was singing about my life. This album is, if any, a close friend of mine.
Life moves in strange and fascinating cycles. Back in the fall of 2007, my life cycle took a new turn and made me revaluate some choices I’ve made. In that somewhat painful and necessary process, I musically relied on two albums, Overpowered being one of them. This, Ms. Murphy’s second solo album, was a bolt of energy and power, an innovative and nuanced pop disco album, empowering me like no other has, to date. I literally danced my way to freedom. Love, love, love this!
The other album that particular year, that came to be a crucical part of my changing process, was the first solo album in 25 years, for former Everything But The Girl-singer Tracey Thorn. With Out Of The Woods she raised her own bar, with brilliantly composed pop songs, all embraced by a warm and genuinely smart production. That combined with touching lyrics that shot close to my home, she, together with Róisin Murphy, became a big part in my emancipation in the fall of 2007. Just listen to By Picadilly Station I sat down and wept. Nothing short of magnificent.
The Baltimore duo’s third album was at start, a bit of a mystery for me. It took a very long time for me to figure this one out, but once I did – man, was I hooked! Teen Dream made me feel like I was reborn in to music, as if I’ve never ever heard a pop music before and when I finally did, the sound was heavenly. Because it is just that. Heavenly, dreamy, enthralling and so minimalisticly nuanced and rich, that you truly begin to doubt if you’ve ever really listened to music before. Adding to that, the fact that the duo in some magical way is able to transfer this mystical world of theirs to their live concerts, without fear and not losing the magic. They just add magic.
Something significant happened with the release of this mixtape, and not just within the R&B-community, but all together. Mr. Ocean changed the rules and turned it all around with songs like We all try, where he’s not only pro-choice for women’s right to chose, he’s also supporting gay marriage. Though the most significant moment still is the music as a whole, his compositions, arrangements and vocals. His heart, soul, swag, his sensitivity and the way he doesn’t care about rules and stereotypes. He just basically puts himself out there. As he would, literally, a year later with the equally magnificent Channel Orange.