So, I have been asked this question before and had some trouble answering it due to the ENORMOUS music collection I have amassed over the years (ridiculously eclectic and so very essential that seriously, this question can keep me up nights if I don't answer 'correctly'.)
So, let's start it off right. Top Five Albums you could not live without if you were trapped for eternity on a desert Island with unlimited batteries and a Cd player with bitchin Bose headphones. No mix tapes from your teen years count...I acknowledge my tendency to cheat before it rears it's ugly head. ....OH, and WHY!
1. Jane's Addiction - Ritual De Lo Habitual
This album comes at you with a heavy raw feel and you just thrill to the sound of Perry Farrell's eternal voice, jump around like a moron and punch some midgets, if midgets are, in fact, on the island and not in droves so that they might gang up and chase you with spears.
Then the second half hits, and man it hits so hard you will bruise permanently. It forces it's tendrils into your soul and every part of you stirs. Starting with Three Days, the last four songs of this album should ALWAYS be played in order. Three Days is an epic journey of cock-out rockery, that if tangoed with, will rise like the hydra, unexpected and double it's force. I will forever burst into a full out run wherever I am, in the last 4 minutes of this song. If trapped on a desert island with this album, this song would inspire me to build empires, an armada manned by midgets who I've overpowered with my punching during the previous half of the album, and we will all invade France. This album rules you, it fucks your mother, and you like it.
2. U2 - Unforgettable Fire
There's a sound, something like ethereal pleasure chaos, that rides this album, as will you, to the glorious land of Happy. I've never felt anything like A Sort of Homecoming since I heard A Sort of Homecoming. You close your eyes and you are home, and apparently, home is not in North Chelmsford, but wherever The Edge was when this sound came to him. Back when Bono was just learning pretention, which he mastered by the way, because the sun shines out of his ass. Back before the falsetto and the vocal lessons, back when every third concert they played resulted in his doctor ordering him to stop speaking, back when he hadn't learned to bridle his passion. Back when I was too young to see them live...God I cry over that sometimes. Seriously. This album has the greatest U2 songs of all time on it.
(Now it gets hard)
3. Carbon Leaf - Ether Electrified Porch Music
It's simple really, this right here takes my Irish heritage and my weakness for a good melody/harmony and beat and compiles them all into folk ecstacy. Blue Ridge Laughing, Ordinary Eyes, Home. This sort of music invokes heaving landscapes of Pine and solace, winding roads that end at Sonic Burgers and Gettysburg-ers, and the sad, sorry American secret that is West Virginia. This album IS blazed out, roach dropping road trip worthy.
Well, if you could combine this with Echo Echo, it would be the greatest Celtic Folk album of all time. So let's do that, they're indie enough damn it!
(EDIT: New selection...
3. Roxy Music - Avalon
Dude, you can call me a faggot all you want; this album has at least two songs on it that inspire urges to make out like a middle aged housewife in a Bondage den and sip a fine Pinot Noir at 9:30PM after the kids are in bed. Is it the fault of Rosie O'Donnell and Dan Akroyd for making a film about pent up sexual tension that is finally released in film form to the soundtrack of "Slave to Love"? I think not. This music SCREAMS mediocre lazy man's missionary sex, and that's so up my alley...after the BDSM, obviously.)
4. Simple Minds - Glittering Prize (European Version)
Yes, that's right. I went there. To embrace the conditioned reminiscence that this album enforces. It brings every part of my 80's induced childhood to the fore while at the same time, tickling my Scottish cockles. I fucking love Jim Kerr...and he WILL save the world.
And yes, Greatest hits albums ARE cheating, to an extent, but bite me.
(TRAUMA!!!! WHAT DO I PICK!)
5. REM - Eponymous (Man it was almost Green, this was tough!)
There was something that happened in this era for REM that sort of caught the world in a handful of albums and spit it out in simplistic melodies and smooth harmonies. The deconstruction of the American Dream, if you will...the festering self introspection of youth. The badassery of ORANGE CRUSH fuck it, it's GREEN!
And honorable mentions...
(6. )Depeche Mode - Violator / JEFF BUCKLEY - GRACE
Buckley died because the cosmos hates you, and Gahan lived his hideous Suicide attempt because the cosmos LOVES ME! Deal with it.
(7.) Tori Amos - Boys for Pele / PJ Harvey - DRY / Bjork - Homogenic
The triple goddess. This should count as one.
(8.) the Pixies - Death to the Pixies
And not just because I am enrolling at UMASS!
(9.) Siouxsie and the Banshees - Twice Upon a Time / The Smiths - The Queen is Dead
My inner goth rears her dog collar wearing head!
(10.) Jesus Christ Superstar - Original London Cast Recording
Yeah, and this is pre-musical geek era. This is childhood acknowledgement of a God, this is my bible schooling. This is epic Rock Opera!
I fucking hate top fives. Five is NEVER ENOUGH!