The Blog

That Top 10 Album Thing

The latest 'thing' doing the rounds on Facebook, is to list ten albums that have had the biggest personal import. They may or may not be your favourites, they may not be cool or classic; they just need to have resonated in some way.

The latest 'thing' doing the rounds on Facebook, is to list ten albums that have had the biggest personal import. They may or may not be your favourites, they may not be cool or classic; they just need to have resonated in some way.

This appeals to me on many levels. This kind of list serves as an autobiographical précis of a person's life, and for someone as pathologically nosey as me, that is just the kind of viral shenanigans I love. Additionally, it's interesting to see if your list tallies with anyone else's and is a very good way of checking that there aren't any glaring gaps in your music collection.

Opting for just ten is really tricky, having to make a choice between David Bowie and The Clash, felt akin to choosing between my two children. Ultimately neither made the cut, and once I'd really thought about it, I was surprised to find that hip-hop duo, Salt N' Pepa made a completely leftfield appearance. Meanwhile actual Leftfield didn't get a look in (despite producing the brilliant Leftism).

So, here it is - the musical soundtrack to my life:

Kate Bush - The Kick Inside

Bush's debut was released in 1978 and her distinctive falsetto is my first musical memory. My mum played this on repeat during my early childhood and it kick-started a love affair with Kate, which endures to this day. I was one of the lucky few to see her in concert recently, and she remains one of the most exciting and groundbreaking female artists this country has produced.

Wham - Make It Big

In 1984 I fell in love for the first time - the fact that it was with Andrew Ridgeley and was un-requited, is beside the point. This was the first album I bought, and heading to the record department of Woolworths with my pocket-money, made me feel properly grown up. It remains the perfect pop specimen; great sing-along tunes, given an added depth by George Michael's pitch-perfect, richly textured voice.

Salt N Pepa - Salt with a Deadly Pepa

As I entered my teens, pure pop had started to lose it appeal, and soon the Bros posters were taken down in favour of people like NWA and Public Enemy. However it was these hip hop gals who really inspired me. Salt N Pepa in their baseball jackets and 18 carat bling were empowering role models for me and my best mate. Despite the fact that we were two white girls from Essex, we were encouraged to Push It, just like Cheryl and Sandra from Queens.

Soul to Soul - Club Classics Vol. 1

Jazzy B's mantra of a 'happy face, a thumping bass for a loving race' summed up everything that was great about the dance music scene in the early nineties. I went to see the group perform live on my 15th birthday in a North London park and again this an East London park. Despite the 24year interlude, Jazzy's thumping bass still put a big, cheesy grin on my face.

Various Artist - Deep Heat 5

The only mixed compilation on the list and perhaps not the best in musical history, but for me it marked my entrée into house music. At this point, I wasn't quite old enough to go to raves and had to make do with pirate radio stations playing crackly, barely audible versions of house classics. Being able to go into HMV and buy the likes of Frankie Knuckles, Marshall Jefferson and Inner City on vinyl, allowed me to bring a taste of the Chicago house scene into my suburban bedroom.

Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon

Of all the albums on the list, this is the one I've played the most, and the one that has resonated at every stage of my life. I still hear new things in it and for me, it is a work of utter genius. In my teens and early twenties it became the go-to album after a big night out. 15years later and suffering from post-natal depression, it helped me to make sense of something that really made no sense. It's now the soundtrack to my morning workout.

Patti Smith - Horses

An album that opens with the line; 'Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine', is unlikely to be an upbeat chart hit, but is typical of Smith's uncompromising yet poetic delivery. I love everything about it; musically and lyrically it's magnificent, and the front cover is perhaps the most iconic in music history. Patti, looking unflinchingly into Robert Mapplethorpe's lens, in skinny jeans and a man's shirt, remains the woman I want to be when I grow up.

Bjork - Debut

This album, takes me back to a very specific time in my late teens. Her lyrics felt deeply personal and the line; 'I don't know my future after this weekend and I don't want to' from 'Big Time Sensuality' remains one of my all-time favourites. That some of the album was recorded in a club toilet, only added to its appeal, and convinced me that should I ever meet the Icelandic songstress, we would get along famously.

The Best of Talking Heads - Once in a Lifetime

A collection of brilliant songs that seamlessly blend pop, rock and dance with David Byrne's inimitable, deadpan delivery. 'The title track, 'Once in a Lifetime' was the first dance at my wedding and its lyrics greet you as enter my hallway - I guess you could say I'm a fan.

Amy Winehouse - Back to Black

Listening to Amy describe a destructive relationship and love lost is heartbreaking, particularly given the trajectory her life was to take after its release. A brilliant songwriter and musician with a uniquely beautiful voice, songs like 'Love is a Losing Game' and 'Wake Up Alone' are sheer musical perfection. 'If I were my heart I'd rather be restless, the second I stop, the sleep catches up and I'm breathless'; this line sounds like it's come straight from the quill of a Romantic poet, rather than a tattooed young woman from North London, and is one of the many reasons why I love Amy.