10 life-changing albums

This list has been coming a long while – the ten albums that have left an impact on me/affected my life in some way. Not necessarily the albums that I listen to regularly/are my favourites nowadays (though some of them are) but those that will always have a place in my collection. Narrowing it down to 10 was tough but I managed. The following are in no particular order – don’t forget to tell me about yours.


The Animals’ The Animals

This is the soundtrack that defined my early childhood. My parents were (understandably) stuck in a ‘60s timewarp and I’d get to listen to this album on full blast regularly. When my mother explained what House of the Rising Sun is all about, 6-year-old me bawled bucketfuls.

CCR’s Mardi Gras

I mostly have my mother to thank for this (as opposed to both parents). She was obsessed with CCR and though they never were one of my own favourites I find this album extremely comforting, with Someday Never Comes giving that intense bittersweet feeling.

Queen’s  Innuendo

In 1990 I shamefully took a detour away from real music so that come Friday and Saturday I could go all moronic to the likes of Technotronic. Happens to the best of us…  go ahead, snigger away. I got back on track with the release of this album. To date, the title track sends shivers up my spine even though I rarely ever listen to Queen nowadays.

Bauhaus’s Bela Lugosi’s Dead EP

This album was the start of something beautiful. I’m one of those who believe that Pete Murphy can do no wrong. And the nine minute (I think) title track remains one of my favourite songs to date. This EP sort of got me into the whole post punk, dark rock sound. I very, very rarely listen to it but when I do it then haunts me for days.

Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures

When I’m just in the mood for Joy Division, I cheat and put on Substance. But when I want to “reconnect” with everything that is me, this is the one I listen to. Again. And again. And again. Until it becomes a tad too morbid and I snap out of whatever it is.

The Clash’s London Calling

This is what I call punk for the common people – ie, for me. I was never a punk kid and more often than not I found the sound of pure punk too harsh. London Calling was a departure, probably because it’s more a fusion of different styles of rock than anything else. Whatever you choose to call it, there isn’t one song on this album that is not gold. Not to mention that it raised awareness about pressing social issues. This is the one that helped me open my horizons a tad further. And I also love the cover art, so there’s another plus point.

Nirvana’s Nevermind

The sound that totally blew my mind the first time I heard it. “Dancing” to Lithium, Smells Like Teenspirit, Come As You Are in a basement garage… one of the best memories from my 16-year-old self. This album heralded what was probably one of my best years ever; fresh out of secondary school and with that magical feeling that nothing is impossible. And nothing was, really, because when you’re 16 what is there to stop you?

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ Murder Ballads

This is the one that became synonymous with a particular stage of change in my life. And what better soundtrack when making life-changing decisions, than The Curse of Millhaven, Henry Lee and the like? Tends to put things into perspective.

Placebo’s Sleeping With Ghosts

My guilty pleasure. The one that brings out the latent drama queen in me… teenage angst with a touch of emo that brings me broody all over until eventually (very eventually) I dissolve laughing at the silliness of it all. Though I have to say that Bitter End remains one of the coldest songs ever. Why would I want my kids to have this? Simple: to let them know that being broken is fine and no-one expects you to be perfect the whole time. Also, because a lot of Placebo tracks are ace for dancing to.

Muse’s Absolution

There just has to be a Muse album here. My dog (who had great taste in music, of course) loved this album as much as I did. She knew that the intro to Apocalypse Please blaring out of my headphones meant one thing: walkies. She is with me no more but I like to think that wherever she is there is someone singing to Muse and waiting patiently for her as she sniffs every single corner. Yes, we are allowed to think silly thoughts sometimes.

Now I want to know about YOUR life-changing albums, the ones you would you want to pass on to your hypothetical/real offspring to listen to in order to “shape” them. Comments below, give me an insight into your musical personality. The rules are these:

• No Best Of/Greatest Hits
• No Compilations
• Must be albums not singles

If you don’t have a nice, free evening and wine to mull over a whole TEN albums like me, give me 1, 2, 3, 4…whatever.


Ps – incidentally, the cassette tape image is actually a lamp designed by ooomydesign.com.





  1. Gail (Stuart Murdoch's potential wifey) says:

    1) The Charlatans – Telling Stories. I was an impressionable young 14 year-old when this came out. Although at the age of 12, I was obsessed with Oasis and the ground that Noel Gallagher walked on, this album opened the road to many other bands. I was so obsessed with the Charlatans, that I bought every book and had every NME cutting about them from 1997 to circa 2001. Insomma, one thing led to another, and I discovered the Smiths, The Stone roses and the Inspiral Carpets amongst many others. I still go gooey when I hear their stuff

    2) Oasis – What’s the Story Morning Glory?. I was 12 and loved their catchy tunes. If it weren’t for Oasis, I’d still be listening to random Italian pop by now. Enough said. I used to get bullied aplenty for liking Oasis.

    3) Tindersticks – Various albums. When I started going to Uni, I bumped into a lovely medical student. He had a penchant for all things indie and naturally we clicked. He made me several mixtapes that changed my life and one of them opened with Tindersticks’ Another night in followed by Let’s Pretend. I was confused for days. Their lyrics and their great sounds….I was perplexed for days and hopelessly in love.

    4) Belle and Sebastian – Various albums. Same as no. 3. He shared “I fought in a war”. Enough said. The boy is now a highly successful psychiatrist living in Ireland. Sometimes I kick myself for letting that one slip away.

    5) The Beangrowers – Dance Dance Baby. It reminds me of my fabulous time working at Net and dragging myself from one gig to another. I still think it’s the best Beanies album by far. Yes, yes and I used to work with the sexy drummer. You could see the trail of drool…

    6) Silver Mount Zion – I forget the album name. I was going through a rough patch in 2005 after a break up. This friend gave me a CD full of albums and the Silver Mount Zion album was one of them. It made me feel terrible and immensely depressed. Still it’s a good terribly depressing album and bizarrely I still reach for it, when I’m feeling sad. The mind boggles….

    • Gail (Stuart Murdoch's potential wifey) says:

      Oh and Ryan Adams’ Gold is also good and Sigur Ros, Godspeed, The Cure…..argh!!!

  2. Thomas Pullicino says:

    Here are mine, in no particular order. I wish you had made a top 20 instead ! there are so many fantastic albums which had to be left out !

    1) The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
    Commenting on the obvious is unneccessary. This must be the one Greatest Album of ALL times.
    I was lucky enough to have laid hands on my fathers original release LP… back then..
    2) Morcheeba – Charango
    An album to suit all tastes.. what can I say, buy it and love it !
    3) David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust (The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars)
    “Masterpiece” created by one of the true ledgends of rock.
    4) Air – The Virgin Suicides (Soundtrack to the film)
    Perfect chill music which compliments Sofia Coppolas fantastic film – The Virgin Suicides.
    5) The Beatles – Abbey Road
    Probably the Beatles at their best, from a technical point of view.
    6) Hooverphonic – Sit Down And Listen To Hooverphonic
    Just do what they tell you… sit down and listen to them.. oh.. yes.. and fall in love with their music.
    7) Bob Marly and the Wailers – Legend
    Brings back juke box memories, where as children we played “Buffalo Soldier” ad nauseum at Marleys
    in Bahar ic Caghaq
    9) Pink Floyd – The Wall
    This was a hard one, as there are many PF albums which are top notch.. but to go mainstream here..
    I’ll stick to the wall :-)
    10) Goldfrapp – Felt Mountain
    Alisson Goldfrapp’s use of electronics and beat mixed with weird Theremin sounds and a versatile
    voice blend to perfection.

  3. Mark Busuttil says:

    Dark Side of the Moon – (if you don’t know who wrote this, then you don’t deserve to.

    Pros & Cons of Hitchhiking – Roger Waters

    Iron Maiden – Iron Maiden

    Moon Safari – Air

    many others….!

  4. Clint Cachia says:

    Metallica – Master of Puppets
    Roger Waters – Amused to Death
    Pink Floyd – Meddle
    Roy Buchanan – Sweet Dreams
    Black Country Communion – Black Country Communion
    Pearl Jam – Ten
    Alice in Chains – Unplugged
    Led Zeppelin -I
    Fleetwood Mac – Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac
    The Allman Brothers Band – At Fillmore East

    many others could be mentioned, however these would come to mind first ….

    • Brimmer says:

      I almost forgot Roy Buchanan! But Meddle by Floyd is the fav? Seriously?
      I think WYWH was more seminal to me, as was Wall though the latter is an obvious choice.

  5. Alex Azzopardi says:

    Hmmm…difficult one here but here goes in no order of preference:

    1 – Powerslave – Iron Maiden & Ride the Lightning – Metallica. These are the first metal albums I listened to and was hooked to metal and rock since then…this was 1985.
    2 – Heaven & Hell – Black Sabbath & Led Zeppelin II – Led Zeppelin. These are the two albums that introduced me to classic rock.
    3 – Electric – The Cult. This was the first album I heard of this great and one of my favorite bands. I then proceeded to discover and other gem…Love. Got all the albums after that.
    4 – What’s the Story, Morning Glory – Oasis. They may be arrogant and what not but I love their sound. This was their first album I got…still remember listening to the title track on MTV back in the time.
    5 – Strong Arm of the Law – Saxon & Defenders of the Faith – Judas Priest. Yes as you can plainly see I am an 80’s metal fan :) These albums along with all Iron Maiden ones were my first few original tapes.
    6 – Hysteria – Def Leppard. This was gifted to me by my sister as a birthday present and I still hold on to it. Loved the album but it also holds a sort of sentimental value now :) Don’t worry folks my sister is still alive and kicking lol, it’s just that we rarely gave gifts to each other :)
    7 – Headless Children – W.A.S.P. A highly controversial band in its time WASP was one of those bands that grew up with me and I used to love for their straight forward and vulgar language. Animal (Fu*k like a Beast) is one prime example of this.
    8 – The Crow Original Soundtrack – Various. This was my first OST purchase and I never looked back since, now have a small collection of them.
    9 – Ten – Pearl Jam, Jar of Flies/Sap – Alice in Chains & Nevermind – Nirvana. These were the first grunge albums I listened to. Still listening to Alice in Chains but not Nirvana anymore I’m afraid but it still made an impact in my life.
    That’s all I can think of. There are definitely others that should be included in this list I’m sure but these made it.

  6. Davinia says:

    GREAT list. You’ve so inspired me to write one of these!

  7. Ros says:

    1] King Diamond – THEM
    At 10 years of age, this album was what got me into metal. I rarely listen to King Diamond nowadays, but he still remains my idol
    2] Dark Tranquillity – Projector
    Reminds me of the good old Rock Cafe days when I was… what, 12?
    3] Helloween – Master of the Rings
    Overplayed but could never tire of it. Reminds me of my first major relationship – with all the suckiness it brought along with it. Also heralded the end of secondary school.
    4] Flowing Tears – Jade
    This was given to me by one of my closest friends at the infamous Grim Reaper all-day concert which was held at Pushka [and subsequently gave a bad name to the place due to some girl who started stripping and clinging to Mike Adonis’s leg whilst Lithomancy were playing]
    5] Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Murder Ballads
    That album was my soundtrack whilst packing up my belongings [namely books] with the help of a good friend. The move was out of my old flat – where I spent 2 years of my life…. a flat which knew me to be in a relationship, single, mourning, happy, drunk, sober, a smoker, a non-smoker….. – and into my new place – where I’d no longer be my Old Self. New place, new life – with my daughter on the way!
    6] Nirvana – the whole lot
    I hated Nirvana with a passion for a very long time – until almost 3 years ago someone close to me [who was an avid fan] died. Thanks to him, I found it in me to fall in love with Nirvana.
    7] Iced Earth – Horror Show
    Reminds me of the greatest tragedy in my life – a relationship that ended on such a bad note that I was suicidal for a while. Thanks to a handful of real friends, I pulled through 😀
    8] Guns n Roses – The Spaghetti Incident
    Also reminds me of the Rock Cafe days. I had it on tape and used to rewind/fast forward to listen over and over again to Since I Don’t Have You.
    9] Medwyn Goodall – Medicine Woman
    New age music, yes. This was the beginning of my journey into meditation and Paganism.
    10] CSI – Tabula Rasa Elettrificata
    Reminds me of a transition period – after I moved to Wales, and had to return back to the island, someone gave me a copy of this album and it was my soundtrack for that period of time. I was recovering from a failed dream, a failed relationship, forging new friendships, getting used to the Euro as opposed to the Maltese Lira, living on my own and looking for a job.

  8. Kenneth Cassar says:

    Here’s my list…in chronological order.

    1. U2 – Boy: This was the album that introduced me to a whole new musical arena, before which I had only listened to crappy radio music. A cousin of mine lent me the album and I was hooked. I loved U2 until their Unforgettable Fire album. Now I hate them as much as I used to love them, for becoming so mainstream.

    2. Iron Maiden – Iron Maiden: This will remain my favourite Maiden album, and yes, I prefer Paul Dianno to Bruce Dickenson (even though at the time I loved all Maiden albums). Perhaps I preferred Dianno because I was unconsciously moving towards more punkish tastes, as will be revealed further down.

    3. Slayer – Reign in Blood: Well, what can I say about this album except that it completely blew my mind. Such power, such intensity.

    4. The Cult – Love: What’s not to love about this album. Every track is brilliant. No fillers at all.

    5. Crass – The Feeding of the 5000: If you want really serious social and political issue lyrics, look no further. The music is quite avant-garde for its time, but the band itself insists that the music takes the backstage and its the lyrics that count. Parental Warning – the first track (Asylum) couldn’t get more blasphemous, so its not for the religious or the easily offended. “Yes that’s right, punk is dead, it’s just another cheap product for the consumer’s head”…”Banned from the Roxy…ok, I never much liked playing there, anyway, They said they only wanted well behaved boys, Do they think guitars and microphones are just f**king toys?…” Not a band to mince words.

    6. Dead Can Dance – Within the Realm of a Dying Sun: If Crass changed my life by exposing me to social and political issues (especially with regards to political injustice and animal rights issues), Dead Can Dance expanded my horizons to music I never even imagined possible. One cannot label Dead Can Dance, particularly since their music evolves with time. Influcences of Goth/Ethereal/World Music/Neo-Classical/Neo-Medieval/Tribal and much more. They also influenced hundreds if not thousands of bands. Dead Can Dance have now reformed and I shall be seeing them live in October (a new album coming up this summer).

    7. The God Machine – Scenes from the Second Storey: Bought this album as a cassette (from Malta, strangely enough), lost it, and bought it again later as a CD. Undescribable. Sad and angry (the best music is always either or both), it is an album that is very much underrated.

    8. Sigur Ros – Agaetis Byrjun: The first time I heard this album, I couldn’t tell whether the singer was male or female. Such a weird and unique voice…you either love him or hate him (for me its the former). Dreamy music with moments of pure intensity. I was instantly hooked.

    9. Portishead – Dummy: Mellow music to a downtempo beat. I got instantly hooked, especially by Beth Gibbons’ voice (which in my opinion is surpassed only by Dead Can Dance’s Lisa Gerrard). I challenge anyone to listen to Roads (track 8) and not love it. Warning: You’ll probably end up with tears in your eyes.

    10. The Areola Treat – Pleasure Machines: Amazing album by an amazing Maltese band. Lisa Micallef Grimaud does not sing…she plays with her voice! Powerful melodic music that will definitely be adored by people who love post-punk and bands/musicians such as Sonic Youth and PJ Harvey. My absolute favourite track is Matter of taste/Matter of Lust.

    There are of course much more albums that I consider life-changing, but I’ll leave it at 10.

    • Kenneth Cassar says:

      The smiley should be a number eight followed by a close-bracket. :)

  9. Alex Azzopardi says:

    Ah another Cult fan 8) (Happy Kenneth? 😛 ). Love is a great album but I must say it’s not my favorite, I have to put Sonic Temple on top there.

    Ros reminded me of another album that should have made the list as my number 10…it is ‘Keepers of the Seven Keys part II’ from Helloween. I overplayed that album so much that I ruined the cassette. Tracks like ‘Eagles Fly Free’, ‘I Want Out’ and ‘March of Time’ are unforgettable.

    • Kenneth Cassar says:

      Yes, Alex, you’ve got another Cult fan here. I understand why you would prefer Sonic Temple…you’re more into the Metal side, while I sway more to the Post-Punk one.

      • Alex Azzopardi says:

        Understandable. Just got hold of ‘Born into This’, I quite like the sound (still need to get used to the new sound) and Astbury’s voice is as awesome as ever, so versatile. Waiting for the new album (Choice of Weapon) now should be in the post. Can’t wait to unwrap it and blast it out on the stereo 8)


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