Back to Black: 2013 a year in vinyl (part 2 of 3)

So, that’s 2013 over with and looking through my modest and new record collection I’m thinking to myself that I’m pretty pleased with it.  A fair few of my favourite albums in there.  Some being long established favourites and some new.  I’ve gotten to know each record real well, too.   Anyhoo, while not a list of the best albums in the collection, this is a run-down of my favourite 15.

#10 – Spirit – Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus
twelveWhen I started discovering the music of Randy California & Co. this was the first album I sought out. The one that was billed as a ‘far-out concept record’.  Though The Family That Plays Together is my favourite, this one is a very close second.  Again, as on The Family That Plays Together, the song-writing is flawless and the melodies timeless.

This was another I picked up in Missing and another I purchased with absolutely no hesitation.  £6 well spent, too … and one that I’ve been re-evaluating since putting the CD to the side.  Every song’s a winner and look at the awesome cover.

Overall, it’s just sheer magic, so it is.  It blows my mind, man.

# 9 – Harry Nilsson – Nilsson Schmilsson
harryThis is an absolute gem of a record.  It really is.  While I’d known a few of Harry Nilsson’s songs (among them Coconut and his version of Without You – both of which appear here) and an interest in discovering more, I hadn’t known a great deal of Nilsson’s work prior to picking this one up a few months ago during a trawl through the Record Fayre.

As I say, it’s an absolute gem.  There’s some incredibly infectious melodies and while not a fan of The Beatles, it’s an obvious comparison.  An accessible record for sure and I can see why I would have wide appeal (which it did). Sweet pop melodies, some rollicking RnB hooks. All very delightful. Trust me.

It’s since established itself as a favourite here, with my wife digging it just as much as me (and it’s not too often that happens)

# 8 – The Doors – Morrison Hotel
Probably the most straight-forward of all The Doors albums and one that’s always been there or thereabouts when I’m talking about my favourite of their albums. It’s incredible accessible … and utterly infectious. There’s the blues rock swagger of Roadhouse Blues as well as that psychedelic mysticism in Queen of the Highway, Blue Sunday and the incredible Peace Frog. A song that raises the bar on so many levels. The Spy, though, will always be my favourite, I reckon.

I found this in Missing. It sat alongside a few other Doors albums, but at £6 this was one of those no-brainer scenarios. While I get that they’re not all totally essential, who parts with their Doors records, never mind their copy of Morrison Hotel!? I thank them, though, cause it’s mighty nice to have this in the collection.

A good friend of mine is also a big fan of this album. His favourite of theirs, actually. First thing I done was arrange a night for him to come over and listen. Heck, I reckon we both thought that was a rare treat. Basking in the lounge of the Morrison Hotel listening to the house band.

#7 – Masters of Reality – Masters of Reality
There’s a few folks who know how much I love this album. One of them being my wife. I mean, her knowledge of Chris Goss and his importance to ‘stoner rock’ and the ‘desert scene’ is the result of my constant worship of this album. I mean, when I first heard this album I was hooked. This is how I wanted my rock music to sound. In fact, you can draw a line from Masters of Reality to most bands I dig these days. Be they an influence or influenced.

It was actually my wife who spotted this at a record fair while she was sifting through the records on one of the many stalls while I mulled (stalled?) over purchase decision making. Bringing my attention to it very casual-like; “this?” with a knowing look.

Purchase decision made easy.

# 6 – Neil Young – Harvest
It’s hard to believe that Harvest was largely regarded as a disappointment when it was originally released. Especially when growing up it was considered one of the ‘essential albums’.  It’s a tough call, but I’d be confident at this stage in saying that it’s been my favourite for as long as I’ve listened to Neil Young. I’m not saying that it’s his best, just that it’s long established itself as my ‘go-to-NY-album’.

Out on the Weekend is a great opener. Sets the mood and from the off. Heart of Gold has had its place on pretty much every mix I’d made during the heady days of C-60s and 90s (even Mini-Disc!) and Are You Ready for the Country? is utterly wonderful. Hearing that as the Side One closer has made it all the more special. Words (Between the Lines of Age) has also jumped to the front of a long line of favourite Neil Young songs. Not sure why … perhaps cause I’m suddenly hearing it in a completely new way. What a way to close a record.

This was also a gift from Blabber ‘n’ Smoke’s Paul Kerr. He already had it, but picked it up with me in mind when he spotted it on one of his own record stops. It was mighty kind of him and it’s had a fair amount of spins in the short time it’s occupied a space on my shelf. I dare say that’ll always be the case.

Best thing is, though, I never knew it sounded this good.

Next: Part 3 – #5 to #1



  1. Shucks, thanks for the mention but when I found this orphan album crying out for help at only £1 I knew I had to rescue it and find it a good home.


    1. I reckon you found it a loving home, Paul; it’s had a fair few spins. I dare say I’ve listened to it more than I had done the CD over the last couple o’ years, too.

      A new lease of life for it and again mucho thanks!


    1. Result! It’s an incredible album, eh? If not my favourite it’s certainly one of them – sometimes it’s just too difficult to say for sure!


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