If you had to go away for awhile and you could only take five of your favorite albums with you, which ones would you choose? Yes, we know it isn’t a fair question, but that hasn’t stopped us from asking music fans who happen to be recording artists in their own right. This edition of Desert Island Discs comes courtesy of Steve Denyes & Brendan Kremer of Hullabaloo, whose latest LP, Raise A Ruckus, was released on September 4th. You can preview some of the new album on their website.
Steve Earle – Transcendental Blues: I love all of Steve Earle’s records so choosing just one for my extended desert island vacation was really tough. The song that tipped the scales for Transcendental Blues is “Galway Girl.” It may be the best Celtic-hillbilly rock anthem ever. It may be the only Celtic-hillbilly rock anthem ever. . . but it is really good.
Guy Clark – Dublin Blues: The album’s opening line: “I wish I was in Austin at the Chili Parlor Bar drinking Mad Dog margaritas and not caring where you are,” says more than my ten best songs put together.
Bob Marley – Kaya: Though you’d never really guess by listening, Bob Marley has probably influenced my music as much as Woody Guthrie or Johnny Cash. Kaya is a really nice blend of the socio-political and laid-back love songs.
Johnny Cash: American IV: Listening to this album is like being inside Johnny’s head as he wrestled with his legacy and his mortality in his final years. His version of Nine Inch Nail’s “Hurt” gets me choked up every time.
Bob Dylan: The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan: “Blowin’ In the Wind,” “Girl From the North Country,” “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall,” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” would make for a pretty impressive catalogue after a lifetime of songwriting. Dylan did it all on his second album by the age of 22.
Rolling Stones – Some Girls (Reissue): For me, the best albums are a combination of great writing and greater performance. I love listening to a band gelling together and putting out music that sounds like a group of musicians building off of each other. No one does this better than the Stones and the 70’s was some of their best work. I could have chosen Exile on Main Street or Sticky Fingers, but there is something about the sound on Some Girls that I love. Must be Ronnie Woods. And how can you pass up the Stone playing disco? The reissue also gets my vote as it adds an extra hour worth of music which will come in handy until our batteries run out.
Dave Brubeck Quartet – Time Out: Joe Morello is one of my all time favorite drummers as he made the drum set sound like a melodic instrument. The solo on Take Five is genius, especially when you realize it is in 5/4 timing. Throw in Blue Rondo a la Turk and you have drum beats that still seem amazing 60 years later.
Jimmy Cliff and others – Harder They Come Soundtrack: Like everyone I grew up with, I have Bob Marley Legend on heavy rotation in my house. But when I found Harder They Come and realized it was the original mainstream reggae album, I was hooked. Every song on the album seems like a combination of the best of R&B, reggae, folk and rock. It is amazing that one album can give the world Pressure Drop, You Can Get if You Really Want It, Rivers of Babylon and Many Rivers to Cross.
Bare Naked Ladies – Rock Spectacle: If there is one thing Steve and I disagree on it is live albums. Steve hates them and I think they can be the best thing a band can put out. One of my favorites is Rock Spectacle which shows that BNL was not just a group of really cleaver writers, but they were extremely talented musicians. Recorded as they were first on their way to multi-stardom, it shows how a band can perfectly play off their audience and make for a great live performance.
Adele – 21: Ok… so this is just to prove that someone is still trying to put out a quality album. As much as I love Pandora and I-Tunes, we are quickly moving away from the album as a complete package. Other than 21, I cannot think of an album in the last two or three years that can be taken for more than a sum of its parts. I will admit I bought it for my kids, but I have found that I chose to play it more often than they do. I am also a sucker for the drum beat on He Won’t Go.