Half Empty, Since 1998

If you could only take ten albums with you to a desert island…. so the old question goes. Read on for a mini-review of some of Chad’s favorite albums that he could not live without.

Could the Professor Make a CD Player out of Coconuts and Grass?

Chad J. Sutton. February 15th, 1999

Everyone I know, at some time or another, has posed this monumental question to him/herself: “If I were to be stranded on a desert island, and could only take 10 CDs with me, which ones would I bring?” Now, never mind that you probably wouldn’t have an opportunity to go home first and get them before you got stranded, or the simple fact that you’d eventually run out of batteries for your CD player. Right now we just need a quick and dirty list.

Mine has evolved with my musical tastes over the years. I’m sure at some point I would have listed nothing but punk CDs. At another time I might have listed a passing fancy that I’d sneer at now. As I get older and my music collection exceeds eclectic (and has grown to nearly 1200 CDs,) my list includes a little of everything; I consider each one of my 10 selections a classic of its own merits. I must admit that it was a little difficult whittling it down to 10, but these are the ones I can listen to every day and don’t get sick of them. They’re the first ones I reach for when I’m loading my CD wallet for a road trip. They’ve become almost an extension of my personality. Let’s begin (these are in no particular order:)

10. Saint Etienne – Fox Base Alpha

Undoubtedly their best work; incidentally their first album. That’s usually the way it goes. Standout track: a club-style cover of Neil Young’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart.”

9. REM – Reckoning

Old REM is good REM. Overall I must say they fell from favor with me in the 90s, but I really do like the new album. Michael Stipe is so cool.

8. Cowboy Junkies – Studio

OK, so it’s a “best of” kinda thing, but it’s a rare occurrence that a “best of” is just that. So many times what a band perceives to be their best is what they released as singles or what got them into heavy rotation on MTV. This is neither.

7. The The – Dusk

I’d play this when it was dark and cold on my desert island. Or if it never got cold, when it rained really hard.

6. Radiohead – The Bends

The critics passed this off as a sophomore slump. My favorite year in high school was my sophomore year. I was drunk most of the time in my sophomore year at college. Coincidence?

5. Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti

I know, I know, you’re sitting there going “Hey! That’s a double album! Shouldn’t that count as TWO?” Um, no. Smartass.

4. Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream

The story goes that the band was teetering on the edge of breaking up when they were recording this album. These guys need to fight more often.

3. The Cult – Electric

This is what rock ‘n roll is all about. ‘Nuff said.

2. Lloyd Cole and the Commotions – Easy Pieces

Lloyd is easily the most literate, articulate songwriter out there. These aren’t just songs as much as they are vignettes.

1. Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique

Who can argue with lines like “More Adidas sneakers than a plumber’s got pliers/Got more suits than Jacoby & Meyers”? Not me.