King Steve was listening to the radio this morning, and the deejays posed an interesting question.

If you were stranded on a island and only had 3 albums (that aren’t greatest hits) which 3 would you choose?

i used to think a lot about finite lists of CDs that i would take with me, because it used to be an issue. which five CDs am i going to take to this party? which twelve albums am i going to toss in my CD book to take on the car trip this weekend? what three CDs am i going to put in my CD changer to provide the soundtrack to my afternoon?

i don't think about that very much anymore. my stereo [with a three-CD changer] kicked the bucket when i mailed it from Chicago to St. Louis back in 2005. that was about the same time that i got a shiny new laptop, with sufficient hard drive space import my CDs. i downloaded iTunes and used my computer as my stereo. last summer, it got even easier to take my music around with me, since i finally bought an iPod. my iPod has more memory than my laptop does. i can take my entire music collection with me.

it's an amazing thing. i used to be out of luck if i got a hankering to listen to something later in the day, and hadn't tossed that album in my bag that morning. that was a common annoyance. now? i've got sixteen and a half gigs of music sitting in my back pocket right now, and if a song that pops into my head is anywhere in my music collection, i can turn it on instantly. in other words, i'm spoiled.

the concept of only be able to bring three CDs to a desert island is absurd. if i knew i was going to be stranded somewhere where i couldn't use my iPod, but could somehow play CDs...i'd stuff as much of my music in my bag as possible. if i didn't know i'd be stranded on a desert island...i'd just have my iPod with me, and would be sore out of luck.

but, it's an interesting gedanken experiment. what three CDs would be the most satisfying to listen to over and over again...as my entire musical universe. i'm most concerned about the music having a broad emotional range. i need things i can listen to when i'm happy, sad, angry, alienated, and any mood in betweeen.

so...these are the three albums i'd take with me if i were going to be stranded with only three albums.

ReadySexGo by The Marvelous 3

yeah, i know. the cover is kind of scary, in that it verges on pornographic.

but, it's the most fun album i have ever heard. it stands up to repeated listens like no other album. i listened to this album over and over and over again when i was working at the law library as an undergrad...it was a very good friend of mine while i barcoded books. Butch Walker is rather popular nowadays as a songwriter, but the stuff he performs solo doesn't hold a candle to the music he wrote and performed with this band.

"Get Over" and "Grant Park" are fist-pumpers that combine grandiose eighties arena rock puffery in the choruses with catchy, silly stories in the verses. "Radio Tokyo" is an interesting ballad...and the lyrics would keep me thinking on the desert island, as i still have not figured out what they mean. even the song they wrote to make fun of big, sweeping rock ballads, aptly titled "Cigarette Lighter Love Song," is a very well done rock ballad in its own right.

by all logic i should not like this album a whole lot. by all logic it would be a train wreck. the Marvelous 3 generally made catchy, intelligent power pop. this album, their last, was a middle finger to their record company who was about to drop them--they deliberately made an arena-rock album to piss them off. but, it doesn't matter if he's writing power pop, acoustic music, or arena rock--Butch Walker is a brilliant songwriter, and can write anything he wants. and...not only is the ironic, sarcastic arena rock is the best of what he is written, but it is one of the most interesting, enjoyable, and repeatable albums i've found in my life as a music fan.

Pop Smear by The Verve Pipe

thematically and musically, this is probably the weirdest compilation of songs by one band on one album, ever. to hit a few of the most interesting points...it has a lullaby ["Sleepy Town"], a folk ballad about a Waco-like cult leader ["Out Like a Lamb"], and a song that snarks on politicians by stringing together a deliciously confusing thread of puns and wordplay ["Senator Speak"].

it was a close call between this album and The Verve Pipe's self-titled album, since i love them both for such similar reasons and they both stand up to repeated listenings very well. it would also be a bummer to be marooned, never to hear the song "Generations" [my favourite song from the self-title] again. but, The Verve Pipe contains a bit more in the way of sappy, wistful love songs. they're well done, but i'd prefer an album that's a little more lyrically sarcastic in its treatment of love, in the songs that treat the subject. Pop Smear is.

Secret Samadhi by Live

conventional wisdom says that Throwing Copper is Live's best album. conventional wisdom is wrong.

sure, there are some really good songs on that album. but, there are still a few that i skip past. that's not the case with Secret Samadhi. it's hard to believe with the light adult-contemporary albums Live has been releasing for the last five or seven years, or even from the fact that the most popular single from this album was "Turn My Head": but Secret Samadhi rocked. hard. "Century," "Insomnia and the Hole in the Universe," "Freaks," "Heropsychodreamer"...that album contains so many songs that are full of energy and make me just want to push people and throw things.

the final track on the album, "Gas Hed Goes West," is one of the most interesting road songs i've heard. sonically, it has the same freedom as a classic road song. the music, the melodies...it's all perfect to blast when you're flying down the road. but then, you listen to the lyrics--and they are jaded. it's sung from the point of view of a cynical guy who is intrigued and yet almost disgusted that someone can still feel any sense of wonder in life.

so...those are the three albums i would take with me if i were stranded on a desert island, or anywhere else where i was somehow restricted to three albums to listen to for an extended period of time.

what are yours?


King Steve said...

Hmmm...I've never listened to any of those bands. And I've never even heard of that first one. I guess I have some downloading to do.

nicolle said...

i think you do have some downloading to do.

The Marvelous 3 is not particularly well-known..."Freak of the Week" is probably their best-known single from back in 1998, but even that song isn't very well known.

Both other bands also betray my nineties-junkie-ness. The Verve Pipe is most famous for their song "The Freshmen", and Live is best known for "Lightning Crashes."