If you had to go away for awhile and you could only take five of your favorite albums with you, which ones would you choose? Yes, we know it isn’t a fair question, but that hasn’t stopped us from asking music fans who happen to be recording artists in their own right. This edition of Desert Island Discs comes courtesy of singer/songwriter Andy Elwell, whose latest release, Brave Soul, is out now. Visit Andy’s site for samples of his music — after reading his Desert Island picks, of course.
If I were abandoned on a desert island and were given the option of only five albums to bring with, I would be upset, but if five albums had to be chosen to be my only listening friends, these are the five that I would choose.
The Beatles – White Album
When I was 12 or so, my parents gave me my first CD player, and with it they gave me a few CDs as well. The White Album was one of them. I remember being mesmerized with melodies and getting lost in the visuals that the songs created in my head and trying to learn each song on my Dad’s old Yamaha acoustic guitar (the action on that thing was and still is nightmarish). It has been 17 years since I first listened to this record and — to this day — it still blows me away. The ground that is covered stylistically, and the diversity shown in their arrangements and songwriting is incredible. From ”Back In The USSR” to ”Honey Pie” to ”Yer Blues” to ”Goodnight,” The White Album is definitely one of my favorite records of all time.
Minor Threat – Complete Discography
I was given this album along with The White Album that fateful Christmas. I never would have thought back then that two CDs my parents gave to me at such a young age would have such a profound effect on my life. Complete Discography has some of the catchiest and raw hardcore music that I have ever encountered. And to think that these jams were written and recorded when Ian MacKaye and his cohorts were in their late teens is amazing. I put this record on now and still sing every word and love each minute of it.
Jay-Z – The Black Album
Years ago, I worked in a kitchen in Northeast Minneapolis. I was the longest tenured cook who worked the closing shift at the time, which means that I had full rein of the stereo. I used this great power to my own benefit and forced the entire kitchen listen to Jay-Z’s Black Album once (if not twice) a day for over a year. Jay-Z has the most incredibly tasteful and rhythmic style, and he never gets too heady or pretentious with his lyrics. Plus, the hits on this record are just relentless.
Tom Petty – Wildflowers
To me, Tom Petty is one of the most underrated songwriters of all time. Wildflowers is an intelligently-crafted, beautiful record. It is lush without ever losing its intimacy. Tom’s voice is honest and clear, and these songs just cut right to the bone. My family has a cabin in Northern Minnesota and in one of the drawers, my aunt Mary kept her cassette tapes. Wildflowers was one of those tapes and I wish I would have started listening to it when that tape first appeared in that drawer in 1994 — but I’m glad I started listening to it when I did.
Foo Fighters- Colour and the Shape
Colour and the Shape was my go-to jam in high school. I loved Dave Grohl in Nirvana and on the Foo Fighters’ debut record, but I wasn’t totally enamored until Colour and the Shape came out. Amazing songwriting, loud guitars, killer drums, there really isn’t much not to love. Dave Grohl’s screaming on this record is some of my favorite vocal work of all time. Put those efforts alongside songs like ”February Stars” and ”Everlong” and you have something special. Great record.