Realse Date
August 27, 1996

ATLiens [] by OutKast is my favorite rap album (although Ill Communication [] could give it a run for it’s money, I love me some Beastie Boys). It came out at the end of summer the year I graduated from high school. I didn’t leave my home town for college like many of my friends and over the next year I spent many hours riding around Charlottesville, mostly with M█ who introduced me to the album. I can still remember how it felt to turn it up with 2000 watts and a couple of 12 inch subwoofers in the trunk… of my 1992 Toyota Camry. White boy in a Camry, not exactly a gansta.

Like most people outside of the deep south ATLiens was my first taste of southern rap. At the time MTV and the radio were filled with East Coast and West Coast gangsters. Previously, M█, who was my biggest influence as far as rap music is concerned, introduced me to both A Tribe Called Quest [] and Pharcyde []; Midnight Marauders [] or Low End Theory [] could make an appearance on this list. But Outkast, and ATLiens, was a different sound, mellow and laid back, more bass heavy and filled with dub and reggie influences that I don’t remember from from other rap of the time (not that I would have recognized those influences then).

I love André 3000 and Big Boi’s flows are awesome, and the southern accent was something new. I think the southern accent, the Atlanta accent, especially Big Boi’s works in a way I can’t describe. While I generally prefer André’s raps, I prefer the sound of Big Boi’s flow. Today I hear echos of it in Killer Mike on Run the Jewels [] tracks.

As far as my favorite tracks on the ablum go, 13th Floor/Growing Old and Elevators (You and Me), Wheelz of Steel and Jazzy Belle all stand out. And You may die, the intro is one of the best ever intro tracks for me.

ATLiens was the first rap album where the beats, independent of the songs made an impression on me. I even have an instrumental version of this album. Jazzy Belle is one my favorite beats ever. And I think owning and listening to the instrumentals was my first experience with what we would call lofi today, and a key influence on my later journey into both DJ Shadows early work and Jazz in general.

Ready to listen? Here is the album on Apple Music:

And on Spotify:


Dusty in Memphis [Deluxe Edition]

Dusty Springfield
Realse Date
January 18, 1969
Deluxe Edition Reissue Date

The original version of Dusty in Memphis [] was released in 1969, almost a full decade before I was born and more then two decades before I got into music. I guess a normal path to this album would be one of my parents listening to it when I was young, but as far as I know neither of my parents were ever fans. My mother was mainly into Elvis [], and the less rocky stuff and listened to a lot of country music, both classic, for which I have some appreciation, and contemporary (at the time I was growing up) for which I have no appreciation —none at all… Meanwhile my dad was into mostly classical music, lots of Boston Pops [] LPs and the soundtracks, from Star Wars [] to Victory at Sea [].

So how did I find it? Pure serendipity. I stumbled across this “deluxe” reissue [] in a used CD shop in Angel, London. I bought two albums that day that both became favorites (the other was Faithless’ Back to Mine). Between the two of them they are the soundtrack of London in my mind. Not that I didn’t listen to other music but I associate these albums with London, wondering around the city, sitting my my tinny dorm room on Bastwick street.

I don’t know why I bought Dusty in Memphis, I don’t think I even listened to it at the shop, at least I don’t remember listening to it. But I listened to it a lot the rest of my time in London and many, many times since then.

The deluxe version contains the whole original Dusty In Memphis release, that’s 11 songs, plus 14 more. From the beginning I listened to this album start to finish on repeat. Of the original album songs Son of a Preacher Man was the most popular, it charted in the US and UK according to Wikipedia [], though they note the album itself was a commercial failure. It’s been covered several times and I knew it from its use in Pulp Fiction []. It’s a great song. The Windmills of Your Mind and In the Land of Make Believe are my other favorites of the original 11. Windmills is one of my all time favorite songs, period. It’s amazing.

In the deluxe section my favorite songs are What do You do when Love Dies, Willie & Laura Mae Jones, Have A Good Life Baby, and Natchez Trace.

The whole album has a melancholic, bluesy feeling. Great to listen to on a rainy day or alone in the dark. Both things I did a lot in London.

The last thing that must be said about my experience with Dusty in Memphis is it’s association with rabbits. I wrote about it before [], but in short, I was obsessed with Dusty in Memphis and listened to it on endless repeat while reading Watership Down [] when I was in London and now every time I listen to it I can see rabbits in my mind. Anytime I think about Watership Down I can hear these songs. Its a strange association, but there it is.

Want to listen? Here is the album on Apple Music:

And on Spotify. Note that the full “Deluxe” version is not on Spotify, or at least I can’t find it, but here is a 19 track version:


Under the Table and Dreaming

The Dave Mathews Band
Realse Date
September 27, 1994

The Dave Mathews Band’s Under the Table and Dreaming [], was one of the first two albums I ever owned on CD. I purchased Under the Table, along with Counting Crows August and Everything After [], in or around Gulf Shores, Alabama on summer holiday in 1995. It was on the same trip that I got my first portable CD player; A black Magnavox (I already had a boom box with a CD player but I only ever borrowed CDs from others and copied them to tapes — tapes I listened to on a yellow Sony Walkman Sport). I had a copy of Under The Table on tape already, being that the DMB is from my hometown it was hard not to have a copy if you were of high school or college age.

I spent the whole car ride back to Charlottesville listening to those two CDs over and over sitting in the dark of the family van. That’s around 18 hours on the road, and I don’t remember how many hours the battery gods granted me but a lot of it was spent listening to Under the Table. So between being one of my first albums and being from one of my all time favorite bands it holds a very high position of my list of favorite albums.

When I was a teenager I listened mostly to the first seven songs, Best of What’s Around, What Would You Say, Satellite, Rhyme & Reason, Typical Situation, Dancing Nancies, and Ants Marching. Always stopping at Lover Lay Down and starting over. I’m not sure why. Maybe because I was a teenage boy and Lover Lay Down was too awkward, but more likely it was too slow. Whatever the reason was I rarely ever got to Jimi Thing, Warehouse, Pay for What Your Get, or #34.

It wasn’t until around 1997 or `98 when I was listening too Under the Table mostly in the wee hours of the morning after nights of clubbing that I really feel in love with these later songs. Somewhere along the line Warehouse became my favorite. I can, and do, listen to the entire album from start to finish regularly and can zone out to any of these songs on single repeat for hours. I think this album as a whole is the best studio release DMB ever did, with the hours and hours of live shows behind these songs. I know many people prefer the follow up album Crash, and it’s good but Under the Table will always be my favorite.

The only thing that can compare is the unreleased The Lillywhite Sessions [] with its darker, almost more jazz like, sound than their version of those songs that was released later as Busted Stuff [].

Ready to listen? Here is the album on Apple Music:

And on Spotify:


My Favorite Albums

From time-to-time I used to review books [] on this site —or at least I used to give my opinion on my favorite reads, I never tried to review all the books I read. The last book I reviewed was back in 2020… and that was after almost a decade. It’s not that I stopped reading, or even reading books I think are worth posting a review about; it’s that my posting on Confusion dried up a lot during that decade. Since the pandemic started I have tried to ramp up my posting, with some success. But I only did a few book reviews. I need to get back to that, there are at least two amazing books I wanted to post about that I was just too lazy, and now it’s been years since I read them… But anyway, this post is about starting a new category of reviewing music, specifically albums that are part of my personal canon, albums I continue to go back to over and over again even long after they faded for the charts.

I think that my musical tastes are very diverse. Covering everything from classic rock, new wave, heavy metal, industrial, grunge and alternative to techno, trance, southern rap and various sub-genre of jazz. My tastes have shifted dramatically at different points in my life, so this will be a wild ride.

I wonder if my eclectic tastes are a result of being in high school during the height of the “alternative music” scene and rise of rap into the mainstream? In my memory the radio and MTV of that period played a wider range of music what I remember of earlier or later formats when a single genre dominated. Maybe I’m just biased, or more likely this was the time when I paid the most attention and was most impressionable. But in any case we listened to Soundgarden and Sarah Mclachlan, Garbage and Greenday, The Eagles and Everclear, Metallica and 10,000 Maniacs, Beastie Boys and Bjork. All on the same station. At the same time R&B and rap were in the middle of their meteoric rise, so we and changed stations and listened to Dr. Dre and Biggie, Tribe Called Quest and 2Pac. And at night we raved to euro dance, techno, Chicago house and early trance.

I’ve read that your musical tastes are set when you are in your early teens, due to the way our brains are evolving, but also that the nostalgia factor is high, that you listen to music which corresponds to specific times or events that you want to remember. I associate the diversity in my music taste to a bit later in my life, my late teens and early twenties but also to specific periods in my life, influenced by significant people, both friends and girlfriends.

Key musical eras and locations in my life often overlap, some periods lasted years, others a few months but all left a big impression on my tastes and library. The key “periods” and places include:

  • High School: my first few years at Albemarle High School coincided with the explosion of grunge and alternative. This is the period when I really got into music. I got a walkman and started buying music. Watching MTV on one TV, while playing Sega Genesis in the other room every morning at K████’s house while waiting for the bus to drive past and then running out to catch it on the way back. Later I got a portable CD player and spent so much of my junior and senior year with my headphones on I’m not sure how I managed to talk to my friends outside of class.
  • Automotive Freedom! After getting my drivers license and a job I spent countless hours driving the back roads of Albemarle county and, often, the surrounding counties. Driving around with M█ and listening to Tribe Called Quest, Pharcyde, Dre, and the Bone Thugs. I spent too much money to put a good stereo in my car, an Alpine CD player, at big amp and even bigger sub-woofers and mid-range speakers. I always had to remember to turn the music down when I got close to home to avoid the neighbors, or my dad, complaining about the noise. But driving down the highway with the windows down blasting music was the best feeling in the world after a long day of school or work.
  • Raves and Club 216: My senior year I got big into Techno and Raves. Traveling around with O███ to attend raves around Virginia and even further afield. Some of the first and most influential were in the basement of Club 216 in downtown Charlottesville. From here some of us eventually ended up going to Club 216. I was a regular there, even though 216 was the “gay club” in town and you had to be a card carrying member of the Piedmont Triangles Society and I’ve never been gay I credit my time spent there with helping to form my view of inclusivity. I mingled with openly gay and lesbian people and met many a drag queen all in the name of good dance music. Still other then the people I went with I didn’t tell anyone in high school that I went there, though later I met a number of people from high school there after we graduated and the music became more popular.
  • T█████, my first serious girlfriend after high school and a key influence in listening to heavy metal and hard rock, new and classic. Thrash metal and big hair 80’s metal. Also, reintroduced me to the The Cure and I’ve never kicked that habit. The breakup was bad, and I ended up with some of her music but she ended up with a lot of mine, some CDs that years later I would be like “hey, I should listen to that” only to find that I had an empty CD case or nothing at all though I know I owned that. I took until the streaming era to have access to some of that, and some of it I will never get back as they were bootlegs…
  • The Fish Store: working at the fish store for several years introduced me to a lot of music from before I really got into music because J███ was into music. He furnished the store with NHT speakers and an Adcom CD player and amp. We listened to the 80’s hiphop and bands and albums I’m not sure how he found: Cibo Mato and Soul Coughing. And lots of Ben Folds Five.
  • The Napster Era: I was in college in Northern Virginia when Napster broke the music industry. I am guilty of misusing the free university internet to download and share copious amounts of music for a while. Burning CD after CD of dance music from Europe; techno, trance, jungle, and anything I could get find. So many Essential Mix shows. Wish I still had them. I trashed most of my ill gotten music when I had a change of heart about piracy long ago. With the exception of live shows that were never released ;-)
  • London: When I went to study overseas I unhappy to start with, alone and lonely. I spent a lot of time wondering around a few used CD shops in Angel and Islington. Flipping through thousands of used CDs and listening to anything with a cool cover or from artists I knew. Just to past the time. Within a few months I had made friends and was out of my funk just in time for my girlfriend, in Germany, to dump me. So I spent a lot of time listening to darker music to match my mode. But by the end of my time in London I was also listening to more pop music as I was spending a lot of time in clubs and bars with my friends who were big into current pop/dance music to party to.

Those are the big ones. After returning to the US from London I started working and there has not been different eras punctuated by specific people or places. I continue to seek out new music, but it’s not associated with a specific person or place. Looking at that list, it all happened within a little more than a decade…

Many articles also say that we stop discovering new music after about 30. Which explains top 40 and classic rock radio. But I’m going to buck that trend too as several of the albums in my list I plan to cover were released long after I was past 30 and some of them by artists that I didn’t know or styles of music that were not really my thing. We’ll see.

I do feel it’s gotten harder to discovery music though serendipity, CD shops are not really a thing. Radio, at least in Singapore, is über formulaic and “safe”. I don’t have a group of friends that I get together with and listen to music. It’s funny that with steaming I have access to functionally infinite amount of music but I can’t find a good discovery mechanism.

I know my teenage daughter does a lot of music discovery via social media —YouTube and TikTok mostly, but I can’t get into it. I introduced my daughters to a lot of my music over the years in car rides home. Listening to The Cure, Rammstein, Pink Floyd, The Weeknd, P!nk, Linkin Park, Led Zeppelin, Outkast, DJ Shadow, Run The Jewels and many more. So, I hope they find and enjoy music for the rest of their lives. As Nietzsche said: without music, life would be a mistake. ‘Mistake’ seems a bit harsh, but life would be less full of wonder and beauty.

In any case I hope this is going to be wild ride.