Perhaps more than any other Facebook status update I've ever seen, the Top Ten Albums When You Were a Teenager list has been all over my feed for weeks now. After so much saturation, I couldn't help but start to think about what my own list might look like. And then, having had plenty of titles (and memories) pop into my head, I decided to write about it.
Of course, I couldn't possibly adhere to the 10 records thing. Instead, my list features 25 records I held close to my heart during those formative teenage years. There is so much that I missed at the time that thankfully I've subsequently come to know and love, but following the parameters of the list a little, I am sticking with the timeframe of me, aged 13-19.
And so, in alphabetical order by band, here's my Top 25 Teenage Records. It came as no surprise to me, and will probably come as no surprise to longtime readers, that the vast majority of the records here are by British bands. I started early.
1. The Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour
It may raise a few eyebrows to see the Liverpudlians on my list (especially since you won't see the Stones). But as a teenager, I closed my eyes and flew away listening to the Beatles and their version of psychedelic rock.
2. Beck - Odelay!
Positively unavoidable when I was in high school. It seeped into my unconscious, and that was totally ok.
3. Blur - Parklife
My Anglophilia started young, y'all. If it had a British accent, I was all over it. I can vaguely recall seeing Blur all the way back in 1997, and how amazing it was. This brazen, sarcastic pop tart of a record will probably always be my favorite of Blur's.
4. The Charlatans - Tellin Stories
I was a faithful disciple of Q and Select and other British rags in the 90s, and so I went out and got my hands on whatever I could that I saw in said rags. The Charlatans has been a favorite band since the early 90s, and this cherished record filled with classics meant a great deal to me then and still means a great deal to me now.
5. The Dandy Warhols - ...The Dandy Warhols Come Down
I can't tell you how much I listed to this CD. I'm surprised it's still playable. Another band I've been a fan of for 20 years now, this record blew my mind at the time and became a frequent companion as I transitioned from high school to college.
6. David Bowie - Hunky Dory
It's a story I've already told, but a band member from another band you'll see on this list got me hooked on Bowie the right way, starting with this one. Sassy, "Queen Bitch"-era David was a wonderful place to start, and I've loved him madly ever since.
7. The Doors - The Doors
Even as a young teenage girl, I was powerless to resist the velvet voice of Jim Morrison. I appreciate The Doors even more today, though they were quite a big deal to me as a youngin.
8. Garbage - Garbage
For some reason, my musical choices were pretty male-centric back in the day, but Shirley Manson still managed to rock my world. She was the sexy, self-assured, badass bosslady that teenage me dreamt of someday becoming, and still hope to be.
9. Mansun - Attack of The Grey Lantern
The four Mansunites were just so different to everyone that I couldn't ignore them. There was something special to me about their debut record, and I was so dismayed when the fickle press turned their back on them. A little glam and a little fiery, this record has kept me coming back for 20 years.
10. Massive Attack - Mezzanine
In my humble opinion, this is one of the sexiest records ever made. It is dark and it is dangerous, and it has been a favorite for just about 20 years. And really, it feels like it hasn't aged one bit. Still an incredibly relevant listen.
11. Nirvana - In Utero
I was barely a teenager when this came out, but it made a huge impression on me, not just in terms of music. Nirvana managed to make a seismic impression on my generation, and there was a time you couldn't turn on the radio or turn on MTV (hey, millenials, MTV used to show actual music videos!) without hearing or seeing Nirvana. This one is timeless.
12. Oasis - (What's The Story) Morning Glory?
It's true. When I was 16 years old I was smitten with Liam Gallagher. "Wonderwall" was my favorite song. My first concert was Oasis. These days, I think Definitely Maybe is (very probably) my favorite Oasis record, but this song will be a favorite song for life. Probably the biggest deal song/record to me until I got to college.
13. Primal Scream - Vanishing Point
Whereas a great many people probably got their first Primal Scream experience with the divine dance trip of Screamadelica, my first Primals record was Vanishing Point. The gritty, grimy mindfuck was startling and wonderful. Still is.
14. Prodigy - Fat Of The Land
Confession: I used to dance around my house to this particular CD whilst holding my Discman for hours at a time. These former party kids turned their breed of dance music into big business, and I can still remember the intensity of seeing them at the 9:30 Club and HFStival at the height of their powers. And yes, I still throw this one on from time to time (no comment about the dancing, though).
15. Pulp - Different Class
Perhaps the smartest (and most authentic) of the Britpop bands, Pulp's take on modern life was wry and honest but also a whole lot of a good time. And o, Jarvis Cocker and that voice. I swoon even now.
16. Radiohead - The Bends
Right before Radiohead became RADIOHEAD and everyone hung on their every note (not that that's a bad thing), they put out The Bends. To me, this is an impeccable album. It shows hints of where Radiohead was to go next but also retains a certain simplicity (as opposed to the elaborateness that was to come). Even though I adored "Creep" as a young lass, this record sent me like few others.
17. Romeo & Juliet OST
As a teenager, this movie was it. Leo. Claire. Shakespeare. A great soundtrack. I might have actually liked the soundtrack even more than the movie itself, though the movie is such a huge touchstone in my teen years.
18. Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness
Of all the bands on this list, I think I've cooled the most on Smashing Pumpkins. But still, I look back on this record as being incredibly influential in terms of my musical tastes then and now, and how it gave me an appreciation of full albums. I remember how special it felt to buy that fat double CD case, probably the closest thing to the experience of buying vinyl I had (until I started to buy vinyl, of course).
19. Spacehog - Resident Alien
At the time, I was charmed by Spacehog and their fabulously theatrical antics. All these years later, I still am. I loved this record, and "In The Meantime" was one of those Big Deal songs of my formative music listening years. Good fun.
20. Spiritualized - Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space
Before I was enthralled with Spacemen 3, I was enthralled with Jason Pierce's post-Spacemen 3 outfit Spiritualized. The record looked cool in its packaging and sounded cooler. I didn't totally get it at the time, maybe I still don't, but damned if I don't adore this record.
21. Stone Temple Pilots - Core
Sometimes it can be easy to forget that STP was pretty darn good at the start. One of those records that got me hooked on dirty fuzz and scuzz and catchy licks. And badly behaved gentlemen.
22. Super Furry Animals - Fuzzy Logic
Of all the records on this list, this one should be the most obvious. I was in love with Fuzzy Logic in 1996, and it's stayed near and dear to me ever since. These Welsh spacecakes stole my heart with their kookily magnificent songs about drugs, Howard Marks, gravity, and bad behaviour.
23. Trainspotting OST
Like all good Britpop-obsessed Americans I became Trainspotting obsessed, which of course meant listening to the soundtrack nonstop and buying the book to boot. Arguably one of the best soundtracks of all time, this had a little bit of everything, from Iggy Pop to New Order to Primal Scream. Still an epic listen.
24. The Verve - Urban Hymns
Let me be clear, this is not my favorite Verve record. Not by a long shot and a mile. However, this is the Verve record that got the world's attention, and therefore got my attention, and therefore got me listening to the records that preceded it. All of which turned The Verve into arguably my favorite bands of my late teens and onwards. Plus, the video for "Bittersweet Symphony" is always and forever defiant and hard to ignore. And the Ashcroft haircut will always have a thumbs up.
25. Weezer - Weezer (Blue)
I still love this one. I remember listening to it repeatedly and earnestly. I was kind of one and done with Weezer, admittedly, but I still crush on this record.
And there you have it! Does your list look like mine? In any event, I hope you've enjoyed taking a stroll down memory lane with me. In all honesty, I think the 90s produced a ridiculous amount of great music, and this list barely scratches the surface (though I think we can hopefully all agree that what's here is pretty darned good). And really, with the exception of Beatles and Doors records, this list is pretty much all 90s, all the time. I loved what was happening around me in terms of music (some of the fashion, however, I could have done without).