Tom Ryder: My Favourite Albums

By Tom Ryder &

Grey College alumnus and former Palatinate writer is on a UK tour this month, and will be playing at Empty Shop HQ in Durham on Tuesday the 18th October. He is accompanying fellow singer/songwriter Elliot Porter on The (not quite) UK Tour, and in Durham the pair will be supported by current Durham student Soham De.

Tom read English at Durham and graduated in 2013. Since leaving university he has worked as a magazine journalist, a career that he now pursues part time alongside the music. The evening promises to offer an intriguing insight into songwriting; both Tom and Elliot have been championed by BBC Introducing in Cambridge and have had Radio 2 airplay.

Doors open at 7.30pm on October 18. Tickets are £3.

Who’s Next – The Who – 1971

In my view, the finest album by the finest band the world has ever seen. From the genius synthesisers of Baba O’Riley to the earth-shattering scream of “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, this is a masterpiece from start to finish. Daltrey, Townshend, Entwistle and Moon were all trailblazing musicians in their own right; as a combined force they are irresistible. Oh, and in “Behind Blue Eyes”, they can write a delicate acoustic tune with the best of ‘em. This is as good as rock gets.

Parachutes – Coldplay – 2000

Having seen Coldplay at Wembley this year, there can be little doubt that they put on one of the most spectacular shows in the world. With so many great singles and albums under their belt it is tricky to isolate one, but for me Parachutes strips the band back to their basic best. They are not trying to write stadium fillers at this stage, it is just beautiful writing both lyrically and melodically. “Yellow” and “Trouble” will be the songs familiar to all, but it is the epic closing track “Everything’s Not Lost” that steals the show.

Handbuilt by Robots – Newton Faulkner – 2007

Newton Faulkner is the most commercially well-known proponent of finger style acoustic guitar playing, a style that has been very influential for me. There are some wonderful songs on his debut album. Alongside “Dream Catch Me” and “Gone In The Morning” is the stunning “Feels Like Home” and “Uncomfortably Slow.” A great player, a great singer and a great storyteller.

Newton Faulkner playing guitar
Cheesy smile but the songs mean much more, making Newton Faulkner a key musician for guitarist Tom

Rumours – Fleetwood Mac – 1977

Majestic songs abound in this Fleetwood Mac tour de force, but what really stands out for me is that you can practically hear the tension within the band as the album progresses! Stevie Nicks’ voice is still as enchanting as it ever was. This LP is a true all-rounder, whether you are looking to be uplifted (“Don’t Stop”), get angry (“Go Your Own Way”), shed a tear (“Songbird”) or play some air guitar (“The Chain”). Timeless.

Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morissette – 1995

Commonly regarded as one of the most ‘angsty’ female albums ever put together, Jagged Little Pill was the first album I fell in love with, aged about 7! If you’ve just come out of a relationship, turn this up loud for some delicious vitriol. Ironic is the anthem, but just as worthy are “You Learn” and “Right Through You.” Morissette’s vocal is as powerful as they come, and for a true shivers-down-the-spine moment have a listen to the acapella hidden track at the end.

O – Damien Rice – 2002

What I love about Damien Rice is that he has always put records out on his own terms, never rushing them. The quality has always been high, with no filler, and O is simply immaculate. We are all familiar with “Cannonball” and “The Blower’s Daughter”, but every track here warrants a mention, from the lilting opener, “Delicate to Cheers Darlin’”, which Rice famously used to play live while sipping copious amounts of whiskey. This is one where you can press play and lose yourself for 50 minutes or so. Every song is a journey worth taking.

Aha Shake Heartbreak – Kings Of Leon – 2004

I bought this album in the days when HMV was still a thing, and you could get three albums for a tenner! To make a similar point to the one I made when talking about Coldplay earlier, this album epitomises KOL at their most raw and rugged, before they were writing songs specifically designed to fill stadiums. It would be nice if we could understand what Caleb is going on about every now and then – some of the most nonsensical lyrics I’ve ever come across. But it is lyrical nonsense with conviction! “King Of The Rodeo” is a beast of a track. I wish they still played it live…

Caleb of Kings of Leon
Returning in 2016, Kings of Leon are now known for their fairly generic stadium rock, Tom prefers their older stuff

White Ladder – David Gray – 1998

Babylon was the first song I ever learned to play on the guitar, and I haven’t looked back since. David Gray is a phenomenal singer/songwriter and an absolute inspiration – from busker to global star. Let’s not forget that Please Forgive Me, This Year’s Love and Sail Away were also on this LP, not to mention an outstanding cover of Soft Cell’s “Say Hello Wave Goodbye”. A triumph of song craft.

Photography courtesy of Flickr. Featured Image from Tom Ryder’s personal collection.

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