Desert Island Collection/ Christian Hansen

From the Stones to the Strokes, Toronto-via-Edmonton-via-Vancouver singer-songwriter Christian Hansen tells us who would be keeping him company if he was shipwrecked on his own Gilligan's Island


Christian Hansen performing in
Toronto earlier this year (photo by Liz Gareri).
HAVE you ever imagined being stranded on a desert island? In our ever-populating world, I think many of us have. Had our wildest fantasy or worst nightmare--depending on your stance--come true, what do you think you'd want with you on said island? Some of your favourite books, perhaps? Your cellphone or laptop, maybe? A big bag of weed, no doubt? For me, I think--besides my friends & family, of course--I'd miss my music more than anything else. And so that's why I thought it'd be fun to find out what local singers and/or musicians would choose when I asked them what ten albums they would want with them had they been stranded on a desert island (not to mention a CD player and life supply of batteries, of course!). In other words, their 'desert island collection'!

Our first participant is no longer based out of Edmonton (he uprooted to Toronto last year), but will always be considered an Edmontonian by heart. Christian Hansen is an Edmonton-by-way-of-Vancouver singer, songwriter, musician, and actor who recently completed his newest, yet-to-be-titled album, which is "pretty different than anything we've done before," Hansen says on his website. "It's less Village People, more Thin Lizzy. More Bruce Lee and less Van Damme. It's sadder, badder and just plain radder and we're super excited for you to hear it, so stay tuned."

I'm sure the new record will be part of many loyal fans' own 'desert island collection,' but for now let's see what ten albums Hansen chose had he been marooned on an isolated island. In alphabetical order, here is Christian Hansen's 'desert island collection': 

Embraceable You
Chet Baker's Embraceable You (1958) 
"I don't know much about jazz, but I know I like this. I mean, how could you not? The guy's voice sounds like warm butter. Most of these tracks are jazz standards, but Baker's versions are in a class all by themselves. Dude is the definition of mellow and this soft, gentle record calms the mind and eases the soul." 

Neko Case's Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (2006)
"I'm fairly certain that Neko Case is some kind of vessel for the gods and this record proves it. Intensely poetic, gritty and beautiful, this record is everything that good country music should be. The evocative detail of her stories mixed with the creaky splendour of the album's production creates an almost cinematic listening experience. It makes me want to slow dance in an empty house with my wife."

John Prine's Great Days: The John Prine Anthology (1993)
"Some of my first memories are of my dad strumming his guitar and singing Prine's classic 'That's the Way the World Goes 'Round' at the kitchen table. For this reason, this record is bedrock for me. It's like coming home. Prine's lyrics are at once hilarious and heart-breaking, as he offers glimpses into some of the darkest corners of the human heart. Sometimes when I'm feeling gross about the music business, I'll put this album on and know that all anyone wants is to hear a great song."

Hatful of Hollow
The Smiths' Hatful of Hollow (1984)
"When I was 19, I borrowed this CD from a girl in Vancouver who's name I can't remember. I never gave it back. When I moved to Edmonton in 2001, it became the soundtrack to my early 20's and it kept me company on many a cold night waiting for the 1 Capilano outside the Stanley A. Milner Library."

The Rolling Stones' Hot Rocks 1964-1971 (1971)
"My mom used to put this on the record player and dance around the living room in her nightgown, one hand clutching a Kleenex and the other hand gesturing definitively with her index finger extended, as if she was doing her own version of Mick Jagger. Songs like 'Under My Thumb' and 'Heart of Stone' would come thumping out of the speakers and into the house. I use to sit and look at the album artwork. Especially the back cover, on which the Stones are dressed like rakish medieval courtiers and posed in the ruins of a castle. Charlie Watts is in the foreground with his arms crossed, wearing a sleeveless leather smock. I used to look at that and think, 'Who the hell are these guys?'"

Is This It
The Strokes' Is This It (2001)
"Most bands will never put out anything this good. It's as close to perfect as you can get. It sounds spontaneous and wild, but Julian Casablancas' songwriting prowess is super human and incredibly calculated. You put it on and it takes you away; Casablancas' croon becoming the omnipotent narration to a vague, fuzzy and supercool universe. When this record came out, there was so much bullshit surrounding it, especially with the critics. 'They sound like blahh blahh' or 'They're ripping off blahh blahh.' Whatever. Shut up. More than ten years later, this album is regarded as a classic and stands on it's own as a masterpiece."

The Stills' Logic Will Break Your Heart (2003)
"This is one of the most under appreciated Canadian rock albums I can think of. I don't know if it was because the media was obsessed with 15 member-experimental-pop bands at the time, but this debut record seemed to fly under the radar. In 2005, I had moved back to B.C. I was living in my parents' basement in the suburbs of Vancouver. Every night, I'd escape by blasting this album in my Plymouth Breeze as I drove the 45 minutes into downtown, wondering what I was doing with my life and how I was going to make the music thing happen." 

The Misfits' The Misfits (1986)
"There was a real subversive element to the Misfits that I love. They wrote amazing pop songs with great melodies, but the lyrics and persona were incredibly dark. Take the song 'Skulls': the melodies and chord changes are pure 1950's radio gold, but the song itself is about a crazed demon who hacks the heads off girls and hangs them on his wall. Amazing! It's what made my songs like 'Father Ray,' 'Pump It' and 'Cocaine Trade' possible. When I realized you could marry a pop sensibility with dark subject matter, it was on. No matter where I'm at, this record is always playing." 

Moment of Truth
Gang Starr's Moment of Truth (1998)
"I don't know what it is, but when you work in kitchens there's always that one guy who's music taste it stasis. Like when I worked at Julio's Barrio in the summer of '04 and all this guy would play was Pennywise and No Use For a Name, like it was still 1997. Anyways.... When I was 21, I worked in a kitchen where the head cook was a big Papa Roach fan. Over the course of a Saturday night shift, he'd skull about 12 Heinekens (which he kept in a special hiding spot in the walk-in), make us listen to the first Papa Roach album on repeat, and subject the kitchen staff to various levels of verbal abuse. You don't get much lower than deep frying fish while listening to rap metal, so when this 15-year-old dishwasher came in one day and put Moment of Truth in the grease-covered CD player, it was like a soothing balm to our ears. This is true hip-hop at its best."

Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures (1979)
"So many singers try to manufacture some kind of weird, mysterious emotionality, but with Ian Curtis it was all there, right on the surface, ready to explode. His singing, and the entire album itself, is awkward, engaging and dead serious. You get a sense that they were all like, 'We don't know what we're doing, but we're going to do the hell out of it.' It was not so much about musicianship or polish, and more about the NEED to get what was inside them out. To this day I still relate to that feeling. I don't know how these guys even came up with the chilly guitar sound of 'Disorder' or the militant bass sound on 'She's Lost Control,' but every time I listen to this, I get a real sense of the accidental awesomeness of rock n' roll."

Thanks, Christian! You can also check out our 2011 interview with Hansen here! Or you can check out my own list, from 2010.

Check out Christian Hansen & The Autistics' "Cocaine Trade" below.

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