Jukebox Journals #8: Eight Albums…


There are favourite albums, albums you (try to) objectively recognise as classics, and then there are albums which you might have a more personal connection to. Eight Albums is an online project that seeks to showcase the “albums that mean something to you”.

To date, they have featured the Eight Albums chosen by over 100 people. I am now the 103rd to have their picks published for posterity. The full article can be read here – along with a Spotify playlist that includes a specially-chosen track from each album by yours truly.

Eight Albums is the brainchild of Matt Johnston and Steven Keedie, friends since childhood who believe that an album can change a person, through a serendipitous collision of the right music at the right time. So, naturally they wanted to test this theory by inviting total strangers to discuss the albums that have done exactly that in their own lives.


Two men. Eight Albums. Over a hundred particpants (and still counting)….

There are no rules, beyond having some sort of attachment to each album. That could manifest itself in all sorts of ways, of course. First, Best, Worst….a reminder of someone you love, even someone you hate. A pivotal moment in your life. The catalyst for something else to happen. Maybe even just something you have an amusing or memorable anecdote about, that you want to share with the world. The floor is yours.

With all that in mind, I began to whittle down my longlist of possibles. From the outset, I knew it wouldn’t simply be a repeat of my “Top Albums Of All-Time” write-ups. If I’m trying to provide a picture of key records in my life-less-lived, a bunch of brilliant albums from the same decade isn’t very representative or illuminating.

However, the various articles I did for my entire Top 100 favourite albums here on afdpj did help to streamline my options. I could see which albums had triggered particularly autobiographical recollections, and spotted others that marked notable moments in my obsession with pop music and the charts.


So…what to choose? Not So, as it turned out….

Only a trio from my Top 10 made the Eight Albums cut; Peter Gabriel’s 1986 opus may still be one of the most beautiful and evocative albums I’ve ever heard, and I still never tire of it, but I wouldn’t have much to say about its personal impact on me beyond buying the cassette and playing it seven times in a row that evening. Likewise, there is a lot I could say (and have said here!) about Tears For Fears’ Songs From The Big Chair (and its associated singles), but less about what it means to me. Although, in fact I have probably missed a trick there because the first signs of the health disaster about to strike me down when I was 14 could be traced back to the night I briefly blacked out at a Tears For Fears concert, with no memory of what had happened.

Regular readers of afdpj will recognise not only the albums I decided to go for, but also parts of the text accompanying them. Call it a form of “remastering” and creative editing! Using the original 2016 pieces as a launching pad helped overcome any writer’s block, and gave me something to expand upon rather than wracking my brain to better articulate why those albums had been chosen. Simply copying and pasting entire posts wouldn’t have served any purpose for me, though, and I was mindful not to do that. If something had been worth committing to (virtual) print six years ago, it tends to remain valid to me now.

afdpj‘s Eight Albums hall of fame…

The order they’re presented in on the Eight Albums website matches that of the Spotify playlist; the sequencing was important to me, so the eight tracks have a decent flow and you’re not bombarded with random stuff rubbing up against each other in a none-too-pleasing fashion.

For anyone curious as to the thinking behind my choices, when I could have easily chosen dozens of others:

We’ve got my first-ever album, my all-time #1 album (obviously, The Blue Nile couldn’t be omitted), an album which marked a defining point in both my listening tastes and my teenage years, the album which made the transition from the 80s to the 90s less traumatic than it might have otherwise been, an offbeat and little-known early 90s classic that – as the quote used for the Twitter teaser to my contribution – “defies all the notions of what I consider a perfect album should be”, plus the one which summarised everything I knew and loved about mid-80s pop and the corner of South-West London I was familiar with at that time, the group who rekindled my passion for chart pop to a level I hadn’t known for 20 years, and lastly an album from the most recent year I was hugely into contemporary music, which also manages to transport me back to a version of the 80s which never existed.

Once you’ve read some of the 100+ submissions, have a think about *your* Eight Albums and send them into Matt and Steve as well…


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