MUSIC guru John O’Donnell says at least 40 records listed in his new book The 100 Best Australian Albums are important soundtracks to his life.
Some speak of days as a youngster discovering bands at the local pub, while others signify integral moments like when he bought his first car.
On a romantic note, he said dancing the bridal waltz to Don’t Dream it’s Over secured the Crowded House vinyl a special place in history for him.
“Music does that for you; it touches all those emotional buttons,” O’Donnell said.
“You remember exactly where you were. You can even remember the smells of the people you were hanging out with. It is very powerful.”
Collating the book, however, was not a subjective exercise for O’Donnell, and co-creators Toby Creswell and Craig Mathieson.
The former journalist and EMI chief executive, who famously signed silverchair, insists artistic merit was the driving force behind each selection.
“We’ve all been critics for many years,” he said.
“Our sole criteria was the critical process of evaluating a record, which we’ve done for many years as writers for Rolling Stone, Juice and other overseas magazines.
“We have critics in all walks of life, and their job is to try and scrape beneath the surface and point out what makes something good, and why it is intrinsically strong.”
Admittedly, O’Donnell said the top 10 records were among his favourites, but many others – including Whispering Jack by John Farnham (listed number 79) – were not his “cup of tea”.
“Farnham was down on his luck, on his last dollar,” he said.
"His career was in trouble and he knew he had to make a stunning record. He spent many months going through different songs and talking to songwriters to get the best songs he could find, and I think he did a great job of that.
“Every household almost owned one; 1.6 million albums it sold in Australia and that also gives it weight.”
O’Donnell said excluding certain works was challenging, but choosing Midnight Oil’s Diesel and Dust as number one was easy.
“Back in Black by AC/DC (2) is an undeniably important album but Diesel and Dust is creatively and artistically breathtaking,” he said.
“The band members learnt so much about indigenous Australia and they captured that in Beds are Burning etc. They told a story about Australia that hadn’t been told before in music.”
The stylishly designed book includes obvious classics like Kick by INXS (11) but also comprises more obscure productions like Since I Left You by The Avalanches (10).
Perth artists include The Triffids, Born Sandy Devotional (5), Sleepy Jackson, Lovers (81), Bob Evans Suburban Songbook (74) and Baby Animals, Baby Animals (96).