To celebrate Day Of The Girl, we've asked UseYourWelsh.com to compile a Top 10 list of their favourite 'girl' albums. Here's the response ...
10. Blondie – Parallel Lines (1978)
Any list of this sort has to include some sort of contribution from Debbie Harry and Blondie. A band who epitomise or define the phrase “I really didn’t realise how many hits they had”. It’s easy to forget that this album was released at the height of the punk movement that they fitted into to comfortably despite being so different from the largely terrible bands that the movement brought along with it. Opener “Hanging on the Telephone” gently lulls you into the album before knocking you down with “One Way or Another”. It’s too easy to forget “Heart of Glass” is on this record too! Imagine three songs of that quality being released on any album nowadays?! Wouldn’t happen…
9. Kate Nash – Girl Talk (2013)
I hate to use this term on a list of best albums by ladies, but my limited lexicon forces me to do so. “Girl Talk” by Kate Nash was one of the biggest of the “big ball moves” ever made. Having established herself as a household name with her 2007 debut “Made of Bricks” and the massive hit “Foundations” it would’ve been incredibly easy for Nash to rest on her laurels and pedal out hits for the next decade. What did she do? What any self-respecting Top 10 pop star wouldn’t do in a million years!! Strap on a bass guitar, assemble a band of her girlfriends and put out an almost brutal album full of tales of friendship, lost love, feminism, press-baiting and even at some points…gangster rap? It really has to be heard to be believed. Incredible!
8. Garbage – Version 2.0 (1998)
Garbage were never afraid to blur the lines between genres, sounding like a stereotypical grunge-also rans at times, whilst sounding like The Prodigy on the next track. “Version 2.0” was when Shirley Manson’s outfit really found their strength and came into their own. Opener “Temptation Waits” best sums up the album, a confusing but brilliant mix of ecletic electronic beats mixed with heavy, loud guitars, thunderous bass guitar and Manson’s sharp and sometimes poisonous witted tongue. An album that opens with the line “..I am a wolf but I like to wear sheep’s clothing” gives you an idea of the ride you’re about to undertake. It was so hard picking between this, “Garbage” and “Bleed Like Me” – all of which are superb records – but “Version 2.0” arguably sums up exactly what Manson’s Garbage are about.
7. PJ Harvey – Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (2001)
A brilliant record from PJ Harvey released at the absolute top of her game. Single “Good Fortune” opens the album in PJ’s familiar style following the false start of “Big Exit”. PJ Harvey has never quite got the credit owed to her following a career of unbelievable records but if you want to start with PJ Harvey, “Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea” is probably the best place to start with one of England’s greatest talents.
6.The Distillers – Coral Fang (2003)
Newly divorced after a toxic marriage to Rancid’s Tim Armstrong, Brody Dalle returned in 2003, keen to brush off the “Her Husband Wrote All Of Her Songs” tag also suffered by many others on this list (see Courtney Love, Kim Gordon, Justine Frischmann – notice a pattern here?) with “Coral Fang” a superb inward looking record with a new more “rounded” sound than their previous two albums. “Coral Fang” straggled the line between grunge, garage rock and punk stylishly, producing an incredibly intelligent and mature record.
5. The Muffs – Blonde and Blonder (1995)
Often cruelly forgotten in lists like these, perhaps because they walked the line between grunge and punk too closely and never quite comfortably fit into one box or the other. Kim Shattuck’s band really hit their stride with their second album “Blonde and Blonder”. A superb collection of sharp, punchy tunes ranging from the almost metallic “Ethyl My Love” to the brilliant single “Sad Tomorrow” which if released by Nirvana, would’ve outsold “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.
4. Sonic Youth – Dirty (1992)
Whilst their labelmates Nirvana were conquering the world with “Nevermind” Sonic Youth were using their time on major label Geffen Records to good effect, releasing million selling records with electric drills in place of guitars, guitars played with drumsticks, guitars played with teeth and every other permutation of playing a guitar with anything other than a plectrum. At the heart of the album and driving force of the band is Kim Gordon, being the epitome of cool. Check “Drunken Butterfly” for some of her best vocal moments as well as “Youth Against Facism” for some of her greatest bass work.
3. Hole – Live Through This (1994)
1994’s “Live Through This” saw Hole break into the mainstream after their debut album “Pretty on the Inside” (Produced by Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon) saw them cement their place as part of the grunge underbelly. An angry snarling beast of a record, not without its tender moments also – such as “Softer, Softest” and “I Think that I Would Die”, all of which descend into noisy chaos in their latter halves. Love’s haunting cry of “..and if you live through this for me, I swear that I would die for you” after the events closely following the release of this album still sends shivers down the neck some 24 years later. Simply put, a brilliant record.
2. Amy Winehouse – Back to Black (2007)
What more can be said about Amy Winehouse’s 2007 offering “Back to Black” that hasn’t been said already? Here we see Amy at her vital best, recalling tales of heartbreak and touching on some of the issues that plagued her personal life. There is not a single weak track on this album and “Back to Black” should considered as essential listening.
1. Elastica – Elastica (1995)
Often lazily lumped in the “Britpop & Assorted” pile when looked at retrospectively. Elastica’s 1995 debut is exactly what a debut needs to be, immediate, urgent and full of choruses. From “Line Up” to debut single “Stutter” this album is almost perfect. Lead singer Justine Frischmann has gone on record to say she regrets the band carrying on after this album as she felt they had achieved everything they set out to achieve with this effort. As much as I love their second album “The Menace” it is hard to argue with her logic.