Certain spiritually-intoxicated medieval mystics, we are told, were sometimes privileged to hear the fabled music of the spheres in all their heavenly glory. The equally discerning ear of our resident rock-critic and distinguished wine connoisseur, Robin Hemmings, chooses the much-coveted Golden House-Sparrow Album Of The Day Award - when his lucid intervals permit.
(NB Worn out by his creative frenzy of earlier months, The Rock Critic Of The Year is currently saving his chiselled epigrams for an occasional series of reviews. Who says it's not tough at the top...?)
The Who By Numbers : The WhoBooming self analysis. Loud, soul-searching heavy rock - not, however, lacking in variety. For the first time in the band's history, there features an acoustic ballad.
Good As I Been To You : Bob DylanFascinating return to roots and grammatical inconsistencies. Some delightful solo cover versions of traditional folk songs
Out Of Time : REMMoody if commercially viable work where they honed their extraordinary sound. Superlatively good.
Revolver : The BeatlesUnder-rated. This could be a greatest hits album for any other influential band, but it was just one for the Beatles. One which saw them exploring new dimensions of rock and roll, and pushing their limits as a band unit.
Let It Bleed : The Rolling StonesSuperb and diverse work with blues, R and B, honky tonk and classic Stones rockers and ballads. This is, quite simply, one to take to bed with you!
Now And Then : The CarpentersAs usual, this high-school smoochers type album included a few hits, a few carers, a few duffers and a medley. Nice album...fun in places, touching in others, and not too bad on the reach-for-the-bucket rating!
The Gift : The JamTheir last and most successful album is a fine and entertainingly diverse affair. Three hit songs and a fine supporting cast; mature Mod-Rock at its best. 'Britpop"? Pah!
Band On The Run : WingsBy popular opinion, this is McCartney's best offering of the 1970's. Recorded in Lagos by a band of just three (including Linda!), Macca is at his melodic, enthralling best. It may be cheesy in places, but it's always fun, and laughs off those vocal harmonies with a cheery grin. Damn fine stuff!
Who's Next : The WhoA seminal album, every song a classic. Loud, thunderous, stomping R-and-B. Superbly written, faultlessly played, and moving to a fault. Beware though; even the ballads could make your walls shake!
Bringing It All Back Home : Bob DylanHalf rock, half acoustic. This is an all-time classic show-casing a young, hungry and philosophical Dylan as he moved away from his folk roots to invent "folk-rock", despite his own protestations that there was no such thing.
Hits...And More : YardbirdsThis (or any other) Yardbirds collection shows a rootsy r-and-b band developing in a time of musical change. Almost all the members of this ever-changing band went on to be legends (Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin etc.,).
The Wall : Pink FloydTheir classical psychoanalytical opera explores the relationship between the individual and his surrounding world. Classic cosmic rock, infinitely deep and melodic.
A Weapon Called The Word : The LevellersDebut album showed reputable roots and a cutting edge. The emphasis was on folk and this is the Brighton-based indie/folk-band's most honest and spontaneous work to date.
Queen : QueenDebut album showed immense promise and the heavy influence of Yes and Led Zeppelin. Bluesy, cutting and fun.
After The Gold Rush : Neil YoungAn early folk-based album which broke this particular guitar hero onto the market. Sparsely arranged, it showcases his "pining-away" voice and succeeds at every turn.
Viva Hate : MorrisseyHis first post-Smiths effort saw our solemn friend exploring his favourite topics - wasted sexuality, wasted childhood; but a fairly tight production and spangly new guitarist ensure he barely wastes a track!
A Pagan Place : The WaterboysLovely blend of rock and - well, pure inspiration. References to point would include Dylan, Russian folk and U2!
Killing Floor : Howlin' WolfLove that apostrophe! This classic bluesman played a mean harp/guitar and inspired Page, Clapham and numerous others. Educative.
A Night At The Opera : QueenThis was always intended to be a classic album and it fits the bill perfectly. A classic dose of multi-textured vocal harmonies and guitars.
Year Of The Cat : Al StewartWhy not mellow back today and let a cool, rippling voice bombard you with poeticism and exquisite melodies.
Dark Side Of the Moon : Pink FloydTheir most established work is a timeless wonder, defining cosmic rock in its day and beyond. An absolute must.
Tommy : The WhoThe original double-album sprawling rock-opera is still a fine listen. Author Pete Townsend combines elements of instrumental, opera, jazz and more with a bizarrely psychological story and, of course, The Who's inimitable heavy R and B style.
Hup! : The Wonder StuffA monumental contribution to the Indie canon back in 1989, Hup saw TWS losing their mysterious Bass Thing, but gaining a folksy fiddle and twang. Not to the detriment of the frantic, stomping, Uni-bar free-for-all....
John Wesley Harding : Bob DylanA laid-back, acoustic-based album from the Bard himself. Quiet, understated album with mysterious poeticism. Maybe not his best, but well worth the Experience...!
Led Zeppelin : LZDebut '69 album for the thunderous quartet saw them exploiting a newly-popular "heavy blues" sound for all their worth. Moody, punchy and rootsy, this will stand the test of time.
Imagine : John LennonProbably his best solo effort. This was a poignant, melodic album way back in '71. Contains the title track, Jealous Guy. Bare and definitive.
Bang! : World PartyThe critics' fave in summer '93. Karl Wallinger, ex Waterboys and World Party's only member, plays out all instruments on a number of well-constructed songs ranging from melodic ballads to pseudo-techno. Almost a kind of sampling, so strongly are his influences reflected in his music - interesting.
Wild Wood : Paul WellerSumptuous solo-work by the ex-Jam man. This finds him mellowing with age and sounding more and more confident on those acoustic ballads - still rocks good, though. Almost a concept album, too.