Whenever I travel I create an on the spot playlist of great music. So traveling back from a USA Rugby Board Meeting and the NA4 Finals, I find myself relaxing and headphoned up on the iPod at Denver International Airport. That’s when I chose these ten albums to comfort me in the tender arms of United Airways.
1. Jakob Dylan - Seeing Things
Following his Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond successes, Rick Rubin just put out an album with the great man’s son. It has the Rubin hallmark touch of simplicity and transparency, and is easy listening. Charming, pressureless and mellow.
2. Neil Diamond - Home Before Dark (second Rubin album)
This album is in the same mold but much deeper given Neil Diamond’s gravely, growly vocal. This has got to be one of the major reinventions and repositionings of our age.
3. Dennis Wilson - Pacific Ocean Blue
Still in that mellow mood, Pacific Ocean Blue has finally been re-released in a deluxe legacy edition. Drink, drugs, sex and insecurity finally did it for Dennis Wilson, who lived a life worth living in the Morrison mode: live fast, die young, leaving behind a beautiful corpse. Five marriages, friendship with Charles Manson and a dysfunctional relationship with Brother Beach Boy did not get in the way of what I consider to be one of the great albums of my youth. Pacific Ocean Blue is the ultimate memory of The Day. It’s romantic, euphoric, and it features 'River Song', the only track to make the Beach Boys live set - and his greatest work. 'Thoughts of You' and 'Farewell My Friend' are also standouts. You can feel Wilson’s love for California throughout the album.
4. Coldplay - Viva La Vida
To follow my Pacific Blue interlude I had to inject some energy, so I dived in to Viva La Vida from Coldplay. 'Life in Technicolor' is just glorious and a great melody. Every track takes you to a new place.
5. The Supremes - The Story of the Supremes
Who doesn’t remember the great Motown sound? It’s their 50th anniversary this year so we can all look forward to inevitable re-releases. My favorite so far is The Story of the Supremes, which is a simple, chronological fifty track story of their lives. In retrospect, it’s an amazing run of singles featuring incredible Diana Ross vocals. I don’t even like gambling but went out with Diana one night to the Ritz Casino in London, dressed in a black leather cat suit (Diana – not me!!). But that’s another story.
6. Joan Baez - Ring Them Bells
In 1995 Joan Baez made her first live album in twenty years and worked with friends like Mary Chapin Carpenter, the Indigo Girls and others to make Ring Them Bells. A double album deluxe version has just been released and I love it. I had a crush on Joan Baez for about thirty years, and when I met her in the late 80’s in Canada, it felt even more intense. A social, sexy warrior.
7. Bruce Springsteen - Magic Tour Highlights
That brings me to another legend. The Bruce Springsteen Magic Tour Highlights MP with Alejandro Escovedo, Tom Morello, Roger McGuinn and Danny Federici is amazing. The version of '4th of July, Ashbury Park' is a passionate farewelling to his best friend, Denny Federici, who was soon to pass away. It’s Springsteen and his mates going back to their roots and looking back at their youth. Magic!
8. Cathy Davey - Tales of Silversleeve
9. King Creosote - Bombshells
10. Heroes of She - Never Going Home
My final three picks were three newer artists. Rich Robinson sent me Tales of Silversleeve by Cathy Davey and I’ve not been able to stop playing it. The same applies to King Creosote's Bombshells. Finally, a good mate of mine, James Mackie formed a group call the Heroes of She. They just released their first album Never Going Home. It’s hot, sexy and dynamic. Hunt down a copy.