Second Best

A quickie post about the SECOND best album in an artists catalog.

Nick Lowe

Jesus Of Cool has and will always remain my favorite from the Basher. And while Labour Of Lust is an excellent follow up and virtually it’s equal in every way, I must choose Nick’s latest release At My Age as his second best. It’s my favorite of his later output. It’s intimate, it’s rocking, it’s pop, it’s country, it’s lounge, it’s groovy. Someone said (probably Holly) it takes a damn fair bit of work to make music that sounds this easy, and that about sums up Lowe’s entire career, but especially this album.

The Sex Pistols

Purists will take issue with this. They’ll say that the Sex Pistols only released one “proper” album, but I grew up listening to The Great Rock and Roll Swindle alongside …Bollocks and consider it their swansong…and their best album. It’s chaotic and to me better illustrates the anarchistic nature of the band than the debut. And that makes Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols, their second best.

Elvis Costello

The first album I ever bought by Costello was Armed Forces (with that amazing, Picasso-like mess of a cover, not the newer inferior one), so I guess I will always have a soft spot for it. Trying to pick my second favorite was a very difficult task, but I narrowed it down to either My Aim Is True, This Year’s Model or Get Happy!, but after much self deliberation I chose his debut. I’ve always been a sucker for the rawer side of pop, and this fully realized album is about as pure as you can get. The energy and the song craft are amazing and it just so happens to contain my favorite song by Elvis, namely Watching The Detectives.

The Smiths

While The Queen is Dead remains this most influential of British jangle bands best album, their debut is a very close second. Like Elvis Costello’s My Aim Is True it’s a rough-around-the-edges kind of record, but it invokes an atmosphere of dread and hope unlike anything since the Specials debut way back in 1979. This Charming Man, Hand In Glove and Reel Around The Fountain are stand outs in an album full of stand outs.

Other “second best” albums—you go ahead and try to guess their best–are:

Talk Talk, Spirit Of Eden

Talking Heads, Remain In Light

Ramones, Ramones

Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here

Dead Kennedy’s, Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables

Bob Dylan, John Wesley Harding

ELO, Out Of The Blue

Queen, A Night At The Opera

Supergrass, Life On Other Planets

Primal Scream, Evil Heat

Boo Radleys, Wake Up!

AC/DC, Powerage

OMD, Dazzle Ships

New Order, Brotherhood

Joe Jackson, Night And Day

Pet Shop Boys, Behavior

Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots

Sloan, Never Hear The End Of It

Super Furry Animals, Rings Around The World

The Beatles, Rubber Soul

The Kinks, The Village Green Preservation Society

Mercury Rev, See You On The Other Side

The Clash, London Calling

The Damned, Phantasmagoria (sorry Nazz!)

The Replacements, Pleased To Meet Me

Underworld, Second Toughest In The Infants

Funkadelic, Maggot Brain

The Eels, Electro Shock Blues

The Who, Tommy

My Morning Jacket, It Still Moves

Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

XTC, Apple Venus Vol 1

……….and that’s all I can think of off the top of my head right now