Here we are. It’s Saturday morning and I’m sitting at my computer. I was up early today, before 8:00 am. Something woke me up out of a deep slumber, and a series of weird dreams.
I have my cup of coffee, some toast, and just opened Spotify. It’s rainy outside and dark in my condo. But I actually love this weather. There’s nothing nicer than the smell of fresh grass and ozone in the air after a night of rain. It’s one of my favorite things.
I thought about what to write this morning as I was making coffee. And what I wanted to do with my free morning. Spotify! I really wanted to sift through some of my all-time favorite albums and share them with you.
If you’re a classic rock fan like me – you’ll love these suggestions. Normally on a Saturday morning, I tend to listen to indie rock or softer music. But not today. Today, I think I’m in the mood for some Dire Straits, Beatles and Phil Collins.
Here are my top albums from the 80’s & 90’s in the pop rock category. At least, what I consider pop rock.
Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms
Mark Knopfler, right next to Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton, might be one of the greatest guitarist and songwriters of my generation. If you’re a fan of the movie Princess Bride – you will recognize his voice from songs like Storybook Story. He also penned the soundtrack to the movie Cal which features original Celtic music. Mark is versatile as an artist. But what put him on the map as a musician, was his work with the popular 80’s band – Dire Straits.
Brothers was recorded in 1984-1985 in a studio in the UK where Knopfler hails from. The album was released in May 1985 – and it was a moment I will never forget. Watching classic MTV and the video Money for Nothing might have been one of my favorite moments in music history. The song was edgy and the video was top notch for that era. I can’t seem to find the video on YouTube so here is a terrific live version with Mark, Eric Clapton, Sting and Phil Collins – all my favorites.
This song has been in some hot water today with some of the lyrics. But… let’s remember. Times were different in the 80’s. People were more forgiving and open minded. Lyrics were honest. Other hits from the album include Sultans of Swing, Walk of Life and the title track, Brothers in Arms.
Eric Clapton – Unplugged
My love affair with Eric Clapton has been a long one. His impressive career began in the sixties when he joined the group The Yardbirds. He went on to form groups like Cream and one of rock’s first super-groups “Blind Faith.”
One of Clapton’s best albums in my opinion, is Slowhand from the 70’s. I have this album too. I have a lot of Clapton’s albums. And yes – legally. I’m a music addict. Here is Eric Clapton rocking it out to I Shot the Sheriff in 2015.
Eric Clapton credits his musical influence from artists like Bob Dylan, who he claims is one of the best guitarists of all time. His work with BB King and covers of Robert Johnson songs like Hell Hound on My Trail are some of the best musical moments in the history of American music. Songs like Layla, Cocaine, and Wonderful Tonight – are also on my favorite and most played list.
Clapton’s impressive touring career ended a few years ago with news that an illness would prevent him from touring. But having a crap hand hasn’t stopped the 74 year old from recording in studios.
I am super bummed I never got to see Eric live – he’s never traveled to Edmonton. Not that I know of. But if given the chance, I’d fly to the US to see him. This version of Wonderful Tonight, gets me every time.
Here’s a clip from his performance on MTV in 1995. From his album, Unplugged. It still sits on my shelf after all these years. You may know his songs Tears in Heaven, Change the World, My Father’s Eyes, or I’m Sorry – which have been used in movie soundtracks.
Just listen to the sound of that guitar. This is classic MTV.
Sir Rod Stewart – they’re all great, I can’t pick one
I saw Rod Stewart last year on his final tour. And I’m glad I did. With some of my all-time favorite musicians retiring from music, I’ve already missed the chance to see Elton John, Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton. I refused to miss my one chance to see Rod Stewart perform.
Rod Stewart is close to my dad’s age. He was born in 1945 in London, England. Like many unknowns back in the sixties, Stewart performed in several rock bands. It wasn’t until he began his solo career in 1971, with the release of Maggie May, that he saw his first hit.
Rod Stewart has held an impressive career that has spanned over decades. Most notably, Sir Rod Stewart, received knighted honours from the Queen of England in 2016. The audience went wild when I saw him in 2017, and everyone cheered him on as he was introduced as “Sir Rod Stewart.”
Some of Rod’s popular songs are Ooh La La, If You Think I’m Sexy, Sailing, You’re in My Heart and Young Turks. The list goes on. And I confess, I have most of his albums.
I can’t list all of Rod’s albums. There are way too many too mention. Like Clapton, Rod Stewart is a versatile musician and has recorded albums in all genres. He’s done a lot of jazz work with artists like k.d. Lang, an odd combination, but somehow it worked.
His album Another Country, is one of his best released in recent years. Here’s my favorite from the country, Love Is – this song has a bit of a Celtic flair which is why I adore it.
Hands down, Rod Stewart was one of the best shows I’ve seen. And I’ve been to Bon Jovi and U2!!
Phil Collins – Hits
Phil Collins was born in 1951 in London. From a young age, he showed talent for music and an interest in the drums. In the sixties, Collins was an actor and had cameos in Beatles movies – I just learned that today. Interesting! Also, what is it with great artists from London?
Phil’s early work began with a band you might have heard of – Genesis. This video released in 1986 was one of their top hits in the U.S. charts. It was huge here in Canada as well.
In 1975, lead singer Peter Gabriel, decided to embark on a solo career. It was Collins, who would take over as the band’s front after 400 auditions for a new lead singer.
In 1981, Phil Collins released his first solo album Face Value which included his monstrous hit, In the Air Tonight. The song was so huge that it was even featured in the hit movie The Hangover – remember the scene with Mike Tyson? I mean, even I do the air drum solo.
Other solo hits you might be familiar with are You’ll Be in My Heart from the movie Tarzan, Against All Odds from the movie White Knights, and songs like Easy Lover, You Can’t Hurry Love and Two Hearts.
Phil Collins is touring again but it isn’t the same. Hovering over the drums for thirty plus years did a lot of damage to his back. While he is touring – his son has taken over a lot of the drumming responsibility with Collins on lead vocals. Here’s an emotional video of Phil. I recommend watching the series.
Sting & The Police – Greatest Hits
I can’t mention all these great UK artists without adding Sting to the list. Sting, originally known as Gordon Summer, was born in 1951 in Newcastle. Like other artists mentioned in this article, Sting started off his career by playing in several unknown rock groups. It wasn’t until he formed the group The Police with drummer Stewart Copeland, that he became a household name.
It was the song Roxanne that pushed Sting to international stardom in the spring of 1978. Other hits like Message in a Bottle, Don’t Stand so Close to Me, and Every Breath You Take, topped the U.S. charts.
The Police, didn’t break up – but their last tour ended in 1984. Sting went onto enjoy a successful solo career with hit albums like The Soul Cages, Ten Summoner’s Tales, Brand New Day and Sacred Love.
Fields of Gold, is one of my all-time favorite songs. Like – all time. Ever. I love performing this one too.
Sting is a versatile artist and a hell of a guitarist. He won me over as a fan with his song Fragile – and look at those lovely locks of blonde hair.
Thanks for reading!!
And there you have it. I hope you enjoyed this list of my favorite artists from the UK. It wasn’t until I put this list together that I realized most of my favorite guitarists and rockers are from the UK! I love it.
As a musician and avid music fan, I’ll be creating more recommendation and playlists like this one. I could write a book on all my favorite musicians.
Who are some of your favorite all-time artists and rockers? Who have you seen live? Who would you like to see live? Let me know below!