So recently we were cleaning up the pit that is my room (not my bedroom, but the room with the TV, computer, couch, and so on). I had CDs and DVDs just strewn all over the place, so mom helped me pack all of them up onto my DVD shelf and my two CD storage towers. Wai! Clean room!
Then I heard ‘Thirty Three’ by the Smashing Pumpkins on MTV2 while I was in the bathroom. (WHY do all my best ideas hit while I’m in the smallest room?) I got to thinking, well, I have 300+ CDs I’ve collected over the years and they’re totally unorganized. But which ones are actually important to me? Lately all I listen to are MP3s, not actual albums… but in the past, albums played a huge part of my life. So, I decided to dig out a dusty old small box that can store 25 CDs, and see what the most important 25 discs to me were. That’s the Small Box of music I’d want to keep even if my house fell into a back hole and my hard drive formatted itself.
And since personal polls and surveys are so hot on journals, I’m posting my list here! Feel free to duplicate the idea for your own ones or reply in comments. I apologize for the length of this thing, I know it’s a leetle spammy. I reduced the font size a bit to help. Double-disc sets count as two CDs.
- Smashing Pumpkins, “Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.” (2 CDs) These are in no particular order, but this is still tops. I’d often listen to either the red or blue disc while falling asleep during the summer I spent sleeping on the living room floor due to a leg cast. It’s the perfect music for a dark room, for optimism or pessimism.
- Jamiroquai, “Travelling Without Moving.” It’s not quite 70’s music, but it’s a modern funk and dance that’s smooth as butter.
- Green Day, “Insomniac.” Nobody likes this album other than me. It’s 32 minutes of the most intense, varied, and interesting punk the band has ever done. But it’s often ignored by critics in favor of their other work. Hey, their loss.
- Deep Forest. Commercialized, yes, but it’s very soothing. I used to render 3-D graphics exclusively to this music. It puts me in a frame of thought that can handle the beauty of geometry.
- Enya, “Watermark.” A good friend of mine turned me onto Enya. Very relaxing, very soft stuff. I like this one more than The Celts; it’s more synth and more varied.
- Soundgarden, “Down on the Upside.” I don’t know why, but it just feels like the more complete and robust album compared to Superunknown, which was clearly early grunge. Shame they broke up.
- Lo Fidelity All-Stars, “How to Operate With a Blown Mind.” …it’s weird. It’s just damned weird. But in a postmodern poetry kinda way.
- Stabbing Westward, “Darkest Days.” Superior to their first album; this is my nastiest, foulest mood album of the bunch. Good to play when everything is not going according to plan.
- They Might Be Giants, “John Henry.” Again, critics just piss all over this album because Oooh, they have a live band! It’s not just synth! Frankly, I think the live band gives this one an energy the others lack. It rocks AND is quirky.
- Red Hot Chili Peppers, “One Hot Minute.” Critics hated this too. See a trend? It’s more hardcore than other RHCP albums, which primarily dealt with gettin’ it on. The guitarist only lasted for this album, but it has a harsher (yet more epic) sound that I like.
- Pearl Jam, “Ten.” I remember listening to this one on audio casette I borrowed froma friend one night. Real late, lying on my bed in a dark room, staring at the ceiling as I just listened, slack jawed. I’ll never forget that. A powerful album, and without the bizarre anti-pop indulgences Vedder’s done since.
- Moby, “Play.” A radio DJ said he played this for his entire family, like three generations, and they all loved it. Can’t agree more. Sometimes energetic, sometimes beautiful, never quite pop, never quite techno and never quite rock. Unique.
- The Doors, “Best of The Doors.” (2 CDs) It’s the Doors, man. If I gotta explain why they’re gods, you need to listen to less Britney Spears commercial jingles.
- Nirvana, “Nevermind.” While not the best album, the history factor and the nostalgia factor work for me. One of the first three albums I ever owned on CD, and I listened to it over and over while in the hospital for back surgery.
- Orbital, “In Sides.” (2 CDs) The rare version with a bonus disc that has the 30+ minute version of The Box. Definitive techno; a must for fans of Wipeout XL and the like. The music video for The Box sold me on this one; it’s just hauntingly beautiful.
- “Songs in the Key of X.” The X-Files image album gimmick disc. Not all the songs are great but there are some truly memorable ones, and I listened to this alongside Melon Collie that summer.
- Tori Amos, “Boys for Pele.” I’ve got most of Tori’s albums, but this overlooked one has a kind of gentle sandess I really like. I’d add ‘Songs from the Choirgirl Hotel’ but that one’s a bit too experimental to make the Small Box (even if I like it too).
- Nine Inch Nails, “Broken.” Again and again: critics didn’t dig this. It’s short, it’s really loud and nasty, and not as varied as the later albums. But I LIKE that about it. It’s a brief but firm statement of intense emotion.
- Chemical Brothers, “Dig Your Own Hole.” Not the best, but I was starting to run out of key albums I wanted to add. :) More good techno.
- Beck, “Odelay.” I can’t explain the appeal, but it’s sort of like if TMBG played it a bit more serious and artsy fartsy while appealing to hicks. @_@
- Juno Reactor, “Bible of Dreams.” More techno! SMOOTH and wild techno that flows from track to track. Doesn’t work as a bunch of disjointed MP3s, but pop the disc in and hit PLAY…
- Duran Duran, “Duran Duran.” Their 90’s comeback album. Never got the reception it deserved; it tried to do things with a mix of old and new style, and had some extremely memorable songs.