ERIC BROMBACHER’S ‘DESERT ISLAND ALBUM’
STUCK on a desert island, with nothing to keep me company but a Hi-Fi stereo system, and ONE record. What was I thinking? I had the wherewithal to bring my vintage (1988) Rotel amplifier, my Totem Hi-Fi speakers, and my Pro-Ject turntable, plus a coconut powered generator to keep it all running; yet I packed only one record? I need to plan my shipwrecks a little better going forward.
Now, which record did I pack? Well, I did put some thought into it. I considered my favourite bands and artists, a short list of which includes: AC/DC, John Prine, Eagles, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Pink Floyd, and of course the Beatles.
AC/DC are probably my all-time favourite band, and my favourite album of theirs is ‘Powerage.’ I feel justified in this choice in that it is also listed as Keith Richards’ favourite AC/DC album, and it includes Angus’s favourite AC/DC song ‘Riff Raff.’
Aside from this barnburner, it also includes bluesy classics such as ‘Down Payment Blues’ and ‘Sin City,’ plus the groovy and lyrically interesting, ‘Gone Shooting.’ It even has a pop-rock ditty called ‘What’s Next To The Moon’ with an infectious riff, and playful, charming vocal performance. This is the band at their best, and most diverse.
But maybe this album is a little heavy for permanent desert island vibes. Maybe I should consider some mellower fare? I’m a huge John Prine fan, and I never tire of his songs. Though I tend to listen to his songs as individual works, as opposed to the full album experience.
‘Sweet Revenge’ would be a contender, the A-side of the album is perfect from start to finish, with songs like the title cut, ‘Please Don’t Bury,’ and ‘Christmas in Prison.’ The B-side however is more of a mixed bag, and beyond the standout ‘Grandpa Was A Carpenter,’ it lacks the same punch, and I would probably end up wearing out the A-side.
A more balanced album, with equally mellow fare might be ‘Desperado’ by the Eagles. A concept album of sorts, it is held up by the classic title cut, and the equally classic (though less known) ‘Doolin-Dalton.’ The combined reprise ‘Doolin-Dalton/Desperado (Reprise)’ is an epic closer to the album. In addition to beautiful country-rock songs like ‘Saturday Night,’ ‘Twenty One,’ and ‘Bitter Creek,’ we also have a couple of rougher edged hard rocking juke box saloon tunes like ‘Outlaw Man’ and ‘Out of Control.’
This variety in styles takes you on a nice rock n’ roll journey while maintaining a cohesive outlaw/desperado theme throughout. It’s a full album experience, with just enough variety to keep you engaged throughout, which makes it a great candidate.
Maybe I need something really challenging to keep me engaged? This is where Pink Floyd comes to mind. A lot of gold to choose from here, ‘Wish You Were Here,’ ‘Obscured by Clouds,’ ‘and Dark Side of The Moon’ are obvious favourites, but I think I would choose ‘Animals.’
The rich instrumentation coupled with the sinister cynicism of the lyrics really make this album an immersive listening experience. What makes this album great, is also what makes it a challenging choice for a desert island. I’m already alone, and isolated, do I really want the depressive musings of Roger Waters pulling me further into my own figurative island of despair? Maybe not.
Beatles and Stones? Well of course I can find something here, favourites include ‘Revolver,’ ‘Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band,’ and the seminal ‘White Album.’
As to the Stones, it’s probably a toss-up between ‘Exile On Main Street,’ ‘Some Girls,’ and ‘Let It Bleed.’ The danger here of course, is that I’ve heard all of these records way too many times already.
Maybe I should look for something, that I know I like, but that I’m not as obsessively familiar with. And this leads me to my old friend Neil Young. I’ve been a Neil Young fan since a very young age. In fact, I’ve even written a song about my discovery of Neil’s music. The song is called ‘Listening To Neil,’ and it can be found on our debut record ‘Small Town Dreamer’ – which is available on all platforms.
As big a fan as I am, I haven’t heard all of Neil’s records. He’s very prolific after all, and it’s hard to keep up sometimes.
And therein lies the fun. A record that I’ve only owned for five years is ‘Zuma.’ It’s an excellent record, and I love it from front to back, but the best part is that I don’t know it that well. I don’t know all the words by heart, and I haven’t dissected all the songs just yet.
Standouts on the album include the epic ‘Cortez The Killer,’ and the catchy/gritty ‘Don’t Cry No Tears.’ I also love ‘Barstool Blues’ and the beautifully strange ‘Danger Bird.’
These four songs alone already make it an epic contender. Best of all, the rest of the album still has a few secrets left for me to discover. Neil is such a great and unique lyricist, and such a great performer. The raw energy and emotion presented in it’s beautiful imperfectness are guaranteed to keep me emotionally and musically engaged for years to come.
The jangle of guitars, the crash and clash of the rhythm section, and that beautiful raw and aching voice, straining with heart and emotion, all combine and conspire to keep me hanging on every note, and word; surprising me with new discoveries in every listen.
I think it’s precisely the lack of polish that keeps this album interesting, and will allow it to age well, like a fine wine, or the patina on an old family heirloom. Those old worn handles, the chipped paint, and those scratchy, squeaky vocals will always keep this listener coming back again and again.
So come on ‘Danger Bird,’ come on ‘Cortez The Killer,’ come join me on this desert island. Come along ‘Zuma,’ I have chosen you to be my companion on this lonely island.
I just hope I can find enough coconuts to power the record player.
Eric Brombacher – Eric & The Soo Eric & The Soo (@EricTheSoo) / Twitter