We’ve all been there, waking up on a Saturday and/or Sunday morning wondering how and why we’ve once again overindulged into the wee hours to sacrifice what was going to be a painless and relaxing weekend. Evidence suggests that humans have been partying, drowning our sorrows and socially lubricating for well over 10,000 years — that’s a lot of units!
Long before globalisation, it seems that alcohol became an integral part of communities in all corners of Earth, for better or worse. The oldest verifiable brewery was found in an ancient burial site in a cave near Haifa in modern-day Israel. Archaeologists reported that they had found the residue of beer that dates back 13,000 years. It’s thought that the ancient society may have used the beer for feasts to honour the dead.
On the subject of death, how are you feeling today? If you had a heavy one last night, you might be reaching for the isotonic drinks and painkillers. Indeed, these are brilliant ways to replenish your sore throbbing walnut brain and restore it to its usual turgid fast-thinking self. But as we all know, this can take some time. Some of us will spin ourselves into a duvet chrysalis and put the TV on, but others may like to remedy their hangover with the finest art medium: music.
After a heavy night on the tiles, the last thing you want to hear in the morning is the thumping music you were making a fool of yourself dancing to in the early hours of the morning. Neither is it pleasant to hear the neighbours starting their new decorating project. What you need is something gentle; it could be melancholic or uplifting, depending on whether you want to supplement your self-pity or re-energise with optimism. The one thing the music mustn’t be is grating and erratic, so on the following list, you won’t be seeing any heavy punk or death-metal albums. No matter how much you might like these genres, your poor brain isn’t ready for that sort of treatment yet. I instead prescribe the following.
The 10 best hangover cure albums:
John Martyn – Solid Air
Legendary British singer-songwriter John Martyn reached what I consider to be his artistic peak in 1973 with his fourth studio album, Solid Air. The album boasts a bounty of soft rock and folk-inspired music that comes with a wholesome and sentimental feeling perfect for nursing the wounds of a late night.
The title track, ‘Solid Air’, kicks off the album with a peaceful journey through Martyn’s flickering acoustic guitar and considered lyrics that were written in tribute to his friend and fellow musician, Nick Drake, who sadly passed away from an overdose 18 months after the album’s release. Later, the album offers a well-balanced range of hits, from ‘Over The Hill’ to ‘May You Never’. Martyn’s unique vocals never fail to soothe.
Air – Moon Safari
In 1998, the electronic duo Air released their seminal album, Moon Safari. First of all, if you haven’t heard this masterpiece before, may I just point out the fantastic name. I imagine a moon safari to be a calming yet cosmically stunning trip around the lunar landscape in some sort of space Jeep. The music within isn’t far from giving this experience too.
If, on a hangover, you want something uplifting and otherworldly, then look no further. Air set the bar very high with this debut album which is studded with dream-pop anthems including: ‘La femme d’argent’, ‘All I Need’ and ‘Sexy Boy’. Take a trip to the moon, and don’t come back until that hangover is vanquished.
Spiritualized – Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space
Anyone who knows this album will know that it’s one of the greatest fruits of the 1990s. They will also know that the music within was explicitly intended as a therapy session of sorts. The creative lead of Spiritualized, Jason Pierce (aka J. Spaceman), did intend the album, it seems, as a therapy for those with a “broken heart”. But as your hangover doctor, I’ll prescribe this drug for your case too.
The album is awash with anthems that will help to soothe your mind. Softer, more melancholy tracks such as ‘Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space’ and ‘Broken Heart’ will allow you to fall into a pit of self-pity, while the soft rock of ‘I Think I’m In Love’ and ‘Come Together’ will bring you back to your feet. Whatever you need, this album will have it, just sit back and let the “cool waves wash over” you.
Bob Marley – Exodus
This list would be doing a disservice to your crippled mind without the inclusion of a Bob Marley album, and what better album to oust those blues than the smooth uplifting reggae of Exodus? There’s nothing quite like lazing outside in the park or in the garden when feeling a little jaded, and there are few albums better to accompany the situation than this one.
Bob Marley’s 1977 masterpiece, Exodus, is characterised by its laid back beats that nonchalantly sail through poignant themes like religion, war and sex. Hangover highlights include ‘Three Little Birds’, ‘Jamming’ and ‘One Love’.
Massive Attack – Mezzanine
In 1998, Bristol trip-hop legends Massive Attack dropped their third studio album, Mezzanine. The album is a hit-laden masterpiece brandishing the likes of ‘Teardrop’, with its arresting vocal contribution from Elizabeth Fraser, and ‘Angel’.
The album came as something a little darker than the group’s first two LPs, Blue Lines (1991) and Protection (1994). But don’t let this dissuade you from playing this album on your hangover. The music comes with melancholia that beams strength if not positivity. While it’s an intense listen in areas, the flawless production will feel like a pillow for your sore head.
Jonathan Richman – I, Jonathan
It’s always a good idea to pop an easy-watch comedy movie on when we’re feeling a little zapped of energy. Not long ago, I was sofa-bound for a day and put on the 1998 Ben Stiller classic, There’s Something About Mary. Amid the laughter, I was reminded of a fantastic musician, Jonathan Richman, who features playing musical interludes throughout the film.
Richman began his career in the early 1970s as the creative driver and frontman of New York’s proto-punk band, The Modern Lovers, with Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads. Fast forward 20-years, and he releases his masterpiece fourth solo album, I, Jonathan. The album is littered with upbeat, yet soothing music thanks to Richman’s deep and hazy vocals. If it’s sunny outside, why not sit in the garden and put on ‘That Summer Feeling’?
Nick Drake – Bryter Layter
In 1971, Nick Drake released his second studio album Bryter Layter. The album was the most “pop” release. His other two albums were noted for their stripped-back compositions and gloomier themes. Bryter Layter involved a great deal more collaboration and studio tampering, which Drake himself wasn’t so keen on.
For me though, the album is just as good a listen as his other two, and its more uplifting tone makes it a gentle and restorative listen for a lazy Sunday. There isn’t a bad song on the album, but highlights are ‘Hazey Jane’ (parts 1 and 2), ‘Northern Sky’ (which features John Cale on keys) and ‘One Of These Things First’.
Morcheeba – Big Calm
In a similar mood to the dreamy, laid back Moon Safari by Air, Morcheeba’s masterpiece Big Calm, also from 1998, comes with an effortlessly cool sound. While you may not be familiar with the band or the album, I’d be surprised if you haven’t heard the opening track, ‘The Sea’.
Big Calm does exactly what it says on the tin with its considered blend of trip-hop, soul and R&B. There isn’t a moment on the record that won’t help to reset your mind and take you away somewhere pleasant in your mind.
Brian Eno/John Cale – Wrong Way Up
Roxy Music alumnus and legendary producer Brian Eno joined forces with The Velvet Underground’s early avant-garde extraordinaire, John Cale, in 1990. Admittedly the album cover is possibly one of the worst I’ve ever seen, perhaps barring Simple Minds’ New Gold Dream. So, do yourself a favour and avert your eyes, but I implore you to give the music a whirl.
The music on Wrong Way Up comes as a bit of a surprise. Cale and Eno are generally known for their more niche and experimental music, but this album boasts a number of wonderfully accessible pop hits such as ‘One World’, ‘Lay My Love’ and ‘Spinning Away’. The album comes with a classy and uplifting optimism that you might just need today.
Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You
Ohio Indie-folk group Big Thief bring a nostalgic and sentimental feeling to much of their music that makes it a delight to listen to at any time. But their latest album, Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You, comes with an air of calm fragility perfect for a hangover listen. The music covers a range of moods while maintaining a dominant atmosphere of optimism.
As Far Out wrote in our stellar review for the album earlier this year, it’s “a record that allows for creativity to grow and procreate among the liner notes while also staying true to the soil it was first planted in. There aren’t many albums that have the opportunity to please everyone all of the time. But there aren’t many bands like Big Thief around.”