Mark 1 – 2021
In no particular order:
Green Day – Dookie (1994)
This was one of the hardest choices on the list, and I almost included this and American Idiot (2004). American idiot is one of my favourite albums of all time, with immortal tracks like Holiday, Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Are We the Waiting, Wake Me Up When September Ends, Whatsername, and the title track American Idiot. Having seen the fantastic musical American Idiot in London a few years ago, makes the album even more precious to me. But, after carefully consideration, it’s still only my second favourite Green Day album, losing out to Dookie, that revitalised punk after some slow years with tracks like When I Come Around, Welcome to Paradise, She, Longview, Having A Blast, Emenius Sleepus, Burnout, and the smash hit Basket Case, which video still haunts me to this day.
The Clash – London Calling (1979)
My step dad brought this album back from London in 1979 (along with Pink Floyd’s The Wall), when I was 9, and this is prehaps the single album most responsible for moulding my music taste (or sense) for ever. This is when music became important to me. This album spoke to my young heart. It also helps that it is a fantastic timeless album, with highlights like The Guns of Brixton, Death or Glory, Spanish Bombs, Rudie Can’t Fail, Revolution Rock, Wrong ‘Em Boyo, I’m Not Down, Lost in the Supermarket, and – of course – London Calling.
Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast (1982)
When choosing an Iron Maiden album, why not pick Powerslave (1984), Somewhere in Time (1986), Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988), or – more controversially – A Matter of Life and Death (2006), over The Number of the Beast (1982), and the answer is: It was close, very close. But the first album with Bruce Dickinson on vocal, with tracks like Run to the Hills, Invaders, 22 Acacia Avenue, Hallowed Be Thy Name, Children of the Damned, The Prisoner, and – of course the title song itself – The Number of the Beast, makes this album a true classic, by any definition of that word.
Nirvana – Nevermind (1991)
Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden all came out of the Grunge scene of Seattle in the late 80s and early 90s, but it was Nirvana and Nevermind that broke the genre for the mainstream. And what an album it was, the first single Smells Like Teen Spirit the fall of 1991 was followed by the other singles Come as You Are, Lithium, and In Bloom through 1992, and Nirvana was one of the biggest bands in the world for a short, too short, time. After Cobain’s tragic death in 1994, and Nirvana was no more, drummer Dave Grohl went on to form and front Foo Fighters, and the eponymos first album (1995) or, even more likely, the excellent The Colour and the Shape (1997), could very easily have ended up on this list, too.
Pink Floyd – The Final Cut (1983)
So, most people picking their favourite Pink Floyd (from the Roger Waters area), go for Dark Side Of The Moon (1973) or The Wall (1979), with Wish You Were Here (1975) as the odd contender, and while all of those could have made the final list, I went with Roger Waters swan song The Final Cut. It’s a very decisive album, with mixed reviews, but I think it’s a very good comment on the early Thatcher aera, featuring a slate of very strong tracks: Not Now John, The Final Cut, The Fletcher Memorial Home, Paranoid Eyes, Your Possible Pasts, The Gunner’s Dream, Two Suns in the Sunset, and The Post War Dream. (It could have been even better if they hadn’t omitted When The Tigers Broke Free recorded for the The Wall movie, though they included it in some later re-releases of the album).
Guns N’ Roses – Appetite For Destruction (1987)
“Take me down to the Paradise City, where the grass is green and the girls are pretty”, this was my first drunken encounter with Guns N’ Roses, when Paradise City was the first single from the album that really broke in Norway, the fall of ’88. At first glance they looked like another poodle rock band, of which there were (too) many in the late 80s, but it soon became clear that this was something different, and Axl Rose’s vocals and Slash’ guitars grew on me. Appetite – it turned out – was a spectacular album, and in additon to Paradise City, it had tracks like Sweet Child o’ Mine, Rocket Queen, My Michelle, Anything Goes, and Welcome to the Jungle. What’s not to like?
Bob Marley and the Wailers – Legend (1984)
Ok, technically a greatest hits album, released three years after Bob Marley’s untimely death, which normally isn’t allowed for considereation by these kind of lists, but come on… Seeing that this is my list, with my rules, and this is the perfect compilation album, if there ever was one, I’m including it. Every single track is a masterpiece, like I Shot the Sheriff, Stir It Up, Could You Be Loved, Buffalo Soldier, Is This Love, Redemption Song, and No Woman, No Cry, to mention a few.
The Rolling Stones – Tattoo You (1981)
This might be an odd choice, especially given that many Stones fans appreciate some of the older albums, ending up with something like Sticky Fingers (1971) or Exile on Main Street (1972) as their favourites . But this was the first Stones album I really listened to on my own (my Mother being a big Stones fan previously supplied me with her selections), and there are some immortal tracks here: Waiting on a Friend, Start Me Up, Hang Fire, Little T&A, Neighbours, and Slave are all among Stones’ best tracks, ever.
Bad Religion – The Process of Belief (2002)
Having been a fan of Bad Religion since the 80s, they kind of faded a bit from my consciousness during the late 90s, but this album relased (on my birthday, no less) in 2002, brought them right back up front. The album might be a bit uneaven, but the high points, like Broken, Sorrow, Evangeline, and Epiphany are all just – well – epiphanies.
The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses (1989)
A close to perfect album coming out of left field (or rather Manchester) in the late 80s, capturing the zeitgeist with a very unique sound. Every song feels like The Stone Roses, and nothing else, and songs like I Wanna Be Adored, Waterfall, I Am the Resurrection, She Bangs the Drums, and Made of Stone, should forever be included in any music library.
New Model Army – Thunder and Consolation (1989)
I was at a New Model Army concert at Rockefeller in Oslo back in 2017, my first ever New Model Army concert, even if I’ve been a fan since the mid-80s, and Vagabond from Thunder and Consolation was the only track from the 80s they played at that gig. To their credit, the whole concert was awesome, but Vagabond was the absolute high point, and this album contains several other gems, like Stupid Questions, Green and Grey, 225 and Ballad of Bodmin Pill, making it one of the best albums of the 80s, even if it fell just shy of the top 10 ever list.
Others, that didn’t quite make the cut:
AD/DC, For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) (1981) was considered. Wait what, surly that would be Back in Black (1980), you may ask, but I actually prefer For Those… as an album over Back In Black. Probably because it was the first AC/DC album (cassette) I got for myself, and I played it to shreds.
A somewhat obscure contender is Juliette and the Licks, You’re Speaking My Language (2005). We knew Juliette Lewis could sing after she performed Hardly Wait, even better than PJ Harvey’s sublime original, for the movie Strange Days (1995), but the debut album a decade later (she had an EP out the year before), was as good as it was surprising.
I also had to consider several albums from my all time favourite artist, Toyah. But neither The Changeling (1982), Anthem (1981), Toyah, Toyah, Toyah (the 1980 live album), nor the debut Sheep Farming In Barnet (1979), all excellent albums, quite made it to the top 10 list. Wouldn’t be without either of them, though.
Beasty Boys – Licensed to Ill (1986), Limespiders – The Cave Comes Alive! (1987) and Edie Brickell & The New Bohemian – Shooting rubber bands At The Stars (1988), were all very good albums, and part of the soundtrack of my youth, in the late 80s, but neither quite made it, either.
There’s no way to make a “best album list” withoot considering The Beatles, are there? Both Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) the White Album (1968) are good, solid albums, that most will consider for their lists. Also 1967-1970 (the “Blue Album” or “Blue Apple” compilation album from 1973), was arguably my favourite album, along with Øystein Sundes Beste (1977), before London Calling was brought home. But (later in life) I never considered the Beatles “up there” with my favourites, so neither of the albums are actually close to the list.
Another possible contender, …And Justice for All (1988) by Metallica, which I prefer over the universally acclaimed Black album, aka Metallica (1991), kind of suffers by the same as The Beatles, as Metallica never made the absolute top of my favourite bands. The best thing coming out of Beatles and Metallica, though, is the mash-up band Beatallica. They are just brilliant!
Pixies best run Surfer Rosa/Come On Pilgrim (1988), Doolottle (1989), Bossanova (1990), and even Trompe le Monde (1991) could also have made the final cut. All excellent albums, in their own rights, and together a must for an collection. Still sour for missing out on seeing them at Roskilde 1989, but learned to read the festival program more carefully after that.
Same goes for The Cult and their Love (1985), Electric (1987), and Sonic Temple (1989). All those were – and still are – among my all time favourites, but neither managed to break the list above.
Artists and bands tend to release their best work early on (although the list above have several noticable exceptions), and another release that violates that “rule” was Killing Joke who dropped Absolute Dissent (2010) 30 years after their self titled debut. The album may be too uneven to be an actual contender for the list, but The Raven King and Ghosts Of Ladbroke Grove are among my favourite songs, ever. Much better than anything Killing Joke released during the 80s.
The Jam’s All Mods Con (1978), Sound Affects (1980), Setting Sons (1979), This Is the Modern World (1977) or even The Gift (1982), the latter I got on cassette in London in May 1982, didn’t quite make it either. I could have included the box set Direction Reaction Creation (1997), but that was stretching the “no compilations rule” too far.
Amy Winehouse and Back to Black (2006) might one day be considered a classic, especially the deluxe version with Monkey Man, a brilliant cover of Toots & the Maytals single from 1969.
And speaking of covers of Monkey Man, The Specials and one of their first two albums The Specials (1979) and More Specials (1980) could also easily ended up on the list.
I also kept out some Norwegian albums from the list, some of which are very close to being included, like Gjennomslag with Klare Linjer (1982) (or Dyr i drift (also 1982) featuring Alle mine sprøe venner), Jokke & Valentinerne with Alt kan repareres (1986), Et hundeliv (1987) or some of the later ones like Alt kan repeteres (1994), Raga Rockers with Forbudte følelser (1988), Maskiner i Nirvana (1984) or Varme Dager (1986), or DumDum Boys Bapshuariari (1986), which is technically an EP, though. Closest to the list might have been Elektrisk Regn’s Steinbyen (1982), that was – and is – an excellent album.
I’ve probably forgotten a few other, and might revisit this list in a year or two.