Top 20 Influential Albums (20-11)

I thought it would be fun to look back at some of the albums that influenced me over the years. These have all had an impact either in the way I think about music or the way I’ve approached my own song-writing or arranging. This isn’t a list of my favourite albums although most would be fairly high up that list too:

20. Roddy Woomble | My Secret Is My Silence (2006)

I’ve been a fan of Idlewild for a while now and always loved Roddy’s voice; there’s something really honest and emotive about it. This album was a move into folk territory from the heavier sounding Idlewild albums although there are still a few rockier moments on this album too. Similarly to Julie Fowlis’s Cuilidh album that came out at around the same time as this, I found My Secret Is My Silence helped me to appreciate more about Scottish folk music and consider it more seriously as a starting point for song-writing. I’m not sure that’s really surfaced in my songs but it’s bubbling under there somewhere.

Stand out tracks:

  • Waverley Steps
  • My Secret Is My Silence
  • Play Me Something


19. Jeff Buckley | Grace (1994)

My dad bought this album and I remember it catching my eyes when flicking through his record collection. I think he’d bought it purely for the cover version of Hallelujah and wasn’t too keen on the other tracks so he let me have the CD. As well as the incredible vocals, I loved the production on this album – the natural, jazzy sound of the drums, the chiming guitars and lovely reverbs. I bought the TAB book for this album and it definitely had an influence on my guitar techniques. The version of the much covered Hallelujah is, to my ears, the best version by far and worth the admission price alone but it’s a great album from start to finish (with the exception of the Corpus Christi Carol for me which is where I reach for the skip button).

Stand out tracks:

  • Hallelujah
  • Dream Brother
  • Last Goodbye


18. Doves | Lost Souls (2000)

I think I bought Lost Souls after reading about them in Q Magazine (quite a common way for me to find out about new bands at that time) and I was so glad I did. It’s a really atmospheric, psychedelic and sometimes dark but uplifting sounding album. This was on heavy rotation on my CD player and I started to experiment a bit more with effects after listening to it. I get that feeling of nostalgic chills when I hear the intro of the first song and still smile when I hear the bass make it’s entrance in The Cedar Room. Loved seeing them play live too.

Stand out tracks:

  • The Cedar Room
  • The Man Who Told Everything
  • Break Me Gently

doves-lost souls.jpg

17. Björk | Homogenic (1997)

Björk is a crazy genius and this is probably my favourite of her albums. I love the drum programming on the album and still find it so interesting to hear the blend of traditional sounding string sections with quite hard sounding electronic beats and ambient noises. This was one of the first albums that made me think about using electronic beats alongside more traditional elements in my own arrangements. I remember specifically wanting to replicate something like the sound in Hunter although that was easier said than done.

Stand out tracks:

  • Hunter
  • Jója
  • All Is Full of Love


16. The Beach Boys | Pet Sounds (1966)

If I was ranking albums by their greatness then this would probably be a lot higher as it usually is on other lists. I remember getting this album for Christmas and just being taken aback by it. It seems to transport you somewhere else – somewhere magical – when listening to it and it’s just an incredible album from start to finish. So far, this album hasn’t obviously influenced my music but it certainly made me think differently about instrumentation, harmonies and arrangements.

Stand out tracks:

  • God Only Knows
  • Wouldn’t It Be Nice
  • You Still Believe In Me


15. U2 | The Joshua Tree (1987)

U2 were the first band I ever saw playing live when I saw them on their Popmart tour in Murrayfield. I didn’t know their music well at the time as I only had the Pop album but I was blown away by some of their earlier songs at the gig and the response from the crowd wasn’t a million miles away from a big church service. I know Bono can grate people’s nerves but not many albums start as well as this one with the first three songs being pretty much U2 perfection – in particular the Edge’s signature sounds that I spent a while trying to replicate with my first guitar effects pedals. Trip Through Your Wires was also a song I played regularly when playing covers and it was a song that probably influenced some of my song-writing.

Stand out tracks:

  • I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
  • With Or Without You
  • Where The Streets Have No Name


14. Bernard Butler | People Move On (1998)

Bernard Butler was the guitarist of Suede and also had success with McAlmont & Butler but this album was my first proper exposure to him. I remember I heard the song Stay and pretty much fell in love with it. From the quiet opening of the acoustic guitars and vocals to the guitar feedback and big solos and synth noises, this song was probably my favourite for a while. There’s no denying he’s a great guitarist and this album certainly has that as the focal point. When the album came out I was at the stage of experimenting a lot with the guitar and I really looked up to him – figuratively and literally as I had a big poster of the album cover hanging in my bedroom for years. I was starting to play covers at this time and When You Grow was one of the songs I played regularly.

Stand out tracks:

  • Stay
  • You Just Know
  • Not Alone

people move on.jpg

13. Rufus Wainwright | Want One (2003)

I’ve seen Rufus play live several times and the guy is incredibly talented. This was his third album and it’s so over the top in a wonderful way. This has so many great songs on it and I had this on repeat for a long time. The more you listen to it the more you can appreciate the huge arrangements as well as the moments of raw emotion. I could go on about how much I love about this album but that would be a blog in its own right so I just recommend you listen to it if you haven’t heard it already. In terms of influence on me, it’s probably more about the way I’ve thought about music arranging and it also took me back to my classical days playing in orchestras.

Stand out tracks (there are so many):

  • I Don’t Know What It Is
  • Go Or Go Ahead
  • 14th Street


12. Coldplay | A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002)

There’s no escaping the fact that Coldplay had an influence on the sound of my bands and probably, to an extent, my song-writing. They may not be a cool band to align to but they wrote some great songs and had a big influence on pop/rock music in the ’00s. Chris Martin’s voice may not be the best and Will Champion’s drumming isn’t always the subtlest but the combination of Jonny Buckland’s guitar riffs, Martin’s piano and orchestration on the album create some great moments.

Stand out tracks:

  • The Scientist
  • In My Place
  • Clocks


Delirious? | The Mission Bell (2005)

Delirious? are the only Christian band to make it onto my list although Tim Hughes and One Sonic Society nearly made the cut. When this album was released, it was the first Christian album I’d listened to that I wanted to listen to on repeat. It had a big impact on the way I thought about song arrangements both in and out of church. Admittedly, there are a few songs on the album that I’d happily skip over and it’s the slower tracks that had the biggest impact on me at the time and they still resonate. Stu G is one of my favourite guitarists and it’s his guitar layers that lift so many of these tracks onto another level.

Stand out tracks:

  • Take Off My Shoes
  • All This Time
  • Our God Reigns


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