I’ve always been weary when asked, “If you were stranded on a deserted island ….” Why not simply, “What are your 10 favorite books?” or “Who are the 10 famous women you would like to have give you a pedicure?” Besides, there are no deserted islands anymore. Disney bought the last one in ’92.
Picking the 10 albums that would support me emotionally for the rest of my life? That’s a tall order, and unless I get asked the “Top 10 foods” question as well, I know I’ll be eating nothing but coconuts for the rest of my days, so the music better be able to sustain me. So here goes.
1 - Roxy And Elsewhere – Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention. A true pioneer and one of my all-time favorite artists, Zappa’s music continues to amaze me. Listen to a record 100 times, and you will still hear something you missed during the 99th time. Check out Village Of The Sun. The horn and xylophone arrangements are hands down some of the most syncopated, bizarre and beautiful charts I have ever heard.
2 - Want One – Rufus Wainwright. Close your eyes and listen to this one while drinking a fine Chianti (or in my case a tall glass of coconut milk.) When the goose bumps subside, you’ll come away wondering how you could have endured a lifetime without falling in love with this guy. Instrumentally both subtle and aggressive, Rufus’ style is at times larger than life. I’m blown away by his understated passion underneath each note he sings. Check out Go Or Go Ahead.
3 - Beethoven’s 9th Symphony – Ludwig Van Beethoven. Clockwork Orange changed my life. And during the tsunami season on the island, I’ll need appropriate background music. I love pretending my life is a movie being
choreographed and scored in real time. Watch and listen as I cling to a coconut tree while buckets of sea water pound me to a pulp. The music will leave you in a post orgasmic fit of exhaustion when the sunlight finally returns, revealing a tattered and
broken Me on the beach, clinging to the last vestiges of coconut tree and hope.
4 - Abbey Road – The Beatles. When the drugs started flowing and the Beatles truly began to despise one another is when their music really took off. Seamlessly flowing from one song to the next, this CD is a psychedelic, cathartic masterpiece that at certain points still manages to sound as contemporary today as it did 45 years ago. Pay special attention to I Want You, She’s So Heavy.
5 - Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd. If I’m going to be hallucinating on a coconut-only diet, this record will be just the ticket for watching the skin cancer slowly ravage my body. (They said 10 albums, not 10 brands of sunscreen.)
6 - Hail To The Thief – Radio Head. A driving, earthy recording, although the band still used electronic beats and samples in keeping with their signature style. The songs play around with meter like a kid in a toy store, simultaneously grooving along with the complexity of a particle accelerator and the simplicity of a napkin. Check out There There (The Boney King Of Nowhere).
7 - Painted From Memory – Elvis Costello with Burt Bacharach. The combination of these two artists is like drowning bacon in maple syrup. It reads like an unthinkable combination on the menu, but you’re addicted after the first bite. This record is crack for any fan of the broken
hearted, singer songwriter genre, especially the song This House Is Empty Now.
8 - Frengers – Mew. If you’re not familiar with this group, get on the bus. These Danes lay down a complex and
ethereal concoction of stunning, melodic lyrics over brilliant arrangements. They flat out cook. Plus, I love the glockenspiel. Listen to the bass and drums on Snow Brigade. Then wipe the drool off your chin.
9 - Going For The One – Yes. Yes? Really? What are you, like 100 years old? Close. Yes is Prog Rock at its finest. Check out any ’70s concert video on YouTube and your jaw will drop watching these Brits lay down unbelievable riffs and fills as if it were second nature. How the hell can people
actually write music this good, especially Awaken?
10 - The Sound Of Music – Soundtrack. I remember watching this movie on the biggest screen at the time in New York City and I have not been able to get those songs out of my head since. An incomparable movie with an unequalled score, this soundtrack is gorgeous, especially the version of the title song when the children are singing as Von Trapp enters the house. Plus Fraulein Maria ... babe!
– Alan Allen, aka Alan Vetter, is the star of "The Alan Allen Show,"a bawdy, vivacious adults-only satirical musical comedy performance following in the footsteps of Tom Lehrer, Allen Sherman and Tim Minchin. He is also the lead singer for Vanilla Pop. Learn more at the alanallenshow.com