Skip to content
5 Albums I Can't Live Without

5 Albums I Can’t Live Without: Katherine Turman, SPIN Editor & Author

Name Katherine Turman

Best known for Writing for SPIN first in 1992/3… and then again, again starting in 2020! A book in-between: Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal. Other writing. Lots of it. Radio producing.

Current city Brooklyn, New York. Los Angeles native.

Really want to be in A quiet beach, a lounge chair under an umbrella, clear aqua ocean to float in, a great book (maybe Joan Didion, John Banville or Jose Saramago), a cocktail.

Excited about First TV episodes I’ve ever written (on the venues the Troubadour, the Aragon and Preservation Hall) for a new docu-series airing on AXS TV this summer; a major music podcast I can’t reveal yet (sorry!); improving my writing and the time and brain-power to do that.

My current music collection has a lot of Everything. Leaning ‘70s and rock, slide guitar ‘n’ grit, with full vinyl collections of Split Enz and Boomtown Rats.

And a little bit of Everything. (But not much hip-hop.)

Don’t judge me for No shame! That said, I’m a fan of songs about one-night stands, i.e., “Chevy Van” and “What’s Your Name.” Also: Love Three Dog Night. Want “Shambala” played at my funeral. Oh, I guess you can and should judge, but I also own Kim Fowley albums on vinyl.

Preferred format Streaming, because I’m lazy and I can hit “like” from “radio,” and get a really awesome diverse playlist that currently has 475 songs, including “Va Va Voom,” by Brett Smiley; “Gallows,” by Coco Rosie; “Planet of Dreamers,” Jacuzzi Boys, “My Perfect Cousin” by the Undertones; “What If?” by the Murlocs; and “Don’t Fuck With Joe” by the Blackwater Fever.



5 Albums I Can’t Live Without


Sticky Fingers
Rolling Stones


5 Albums I Can’t Live Without: Katherine Turman, SPIN Editor & Author


While I understand “critics” likely concur that Beatles are the “most important rock band” (and I do NOT dispute that!) the Stones are my favorite. Without this band and album, #5 on this list would not exist. Dirty but smart rock by bad boys is my kryptonite (and that includes Johnny Cash et al, and lots of badass women, especially Lucinda Williams and Teri Gender Bender of Les Butcherettes.) And cramming in more stuff: Fave Stones songs not on this LP are “Salt of the Earth” and Mick Jagger’s “Memo From Turner.”



Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
The Beatles


5 Albums I Can’t Live Without: Katherine Turman, SPIN Editor & Author


Growing up, my mom had this album, and it was way more colorful than the covers of her Mason Williams Classical Gas or any Pete Seeger records. So it reminds me of my mom and green shag carpeting and her love of “Lovely Rita.” “She’s Leaving Home” makes me almost cry just thinking about how sad it is (“meeting a man from the motor trade,” ack!) while “Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” ignited my love for carnival-esque rock, which I spoke about with Neil Finn about the new Crowded House song “To The Island.” #FullCircle


Tea for the Tillerman
Cat Stevens


5 Albums I Can’t Live Without: Katherine Turman, SPIN Editor & Author


My metal credibility will fly out the window (though I guess it already has), but this is my go-to weekend daytime album (along with Teaser and the Firecat, a lot of Harry Nilsson and Donovan’s Barabajagal.) I liked Cat Stevens’ singles as a kid in the ‘70s, but it was only in recent years that he became my go-to. There’s a sweetness and spirituality to his music that’s an antidote to everyday life. It’s very pure, a clear light. Stevens is a bucket-list interview for me. (When I feel more modern, I go with Kurt Vile, Perfume Genius, Ty Segall.)



Masters of Reality
Masters of Reality


5 Albums I Can’t Live Without: Katherine Turman, SPIN Editor & Author


This 1989 LP truly is a “desert-island” disc, as it’s on my iPod, and every time I’m on vacation, I listen A LOT. Before lockdown, I bought a ticket to see singer/guitarist Chris Goss and Masters—a plane ticket and a concert ticket—both had to be COVID-cancelled. I loved this album the first moment I heard it, saw MOR as many times as I could and listened with headphones lying on my floor. Another desert-island disc is by the group I Love You, produced by Goss (who also took me to see Sons of Kyuss, who begat Kyuss, who begat Queens of the Stone Age, who begat…) Trippy, heavy, spiritual, weird, stony; my soul sensibilities are aligned with these Masters.



Appetite for Destruction
Guns N’ Roses


5 Albums I Can’t Live Without: Katherine Turman, SPIN Editor & Author


A soundtrack to my coming-of-age in L.A. I was NOWHERE near as decadent as GNR, but I was decadent-adjacent and got to write about it. Win-win. Out every night at multiple clubs, I was discovering and interviewing then-new bands like Guns, Rage Against the Machine, Mighty Joe Young (a.k.a. Stone Temple Pilots) and System of a Down. Appetite is the album that is reminiscent of that time in L.A. and my life and I dig every song on it. I even vaguely knew Appetite cover artist Robert Wms. X’s Los Angeles strikes a similar emotional chord in me, though with less personal connections.