Dinner Party Albums

tiggerlion's picture

I need eight albums to soundtrack a dinner party for six people aged mid-forties to mid-fifties. I've decided to go the old-fashioned route and play whole albums.

They have to be varied but blend together. They should be heard without having to be listened to. They can provoke toe-tapping but not actual dancing. They can't be too stimulating nor too soporific. They should sound familiar but still be capable of surprise. They should be old and modern at the same time, inoffensive, yet interesting. The styles need to be different enough to appeal to people with different tastes and different levels of interest in music.

I'm not asking too much am I? Not for The Afterword.

So far, I'm drawn to Daft Punk's & Rod's latest (new, familiar, dance, rock) and old stand-bys for me, The Last Record Album and Goats Head Soup (it amazes me how many fully grown adults haven't actually heard either of these albums).

Any suggestions?

3 users have voted.


Especially Life For Rent. It's the middle class blues that...

but, for me, Dido can suck the life out of a room!


the Rohypnol of Pop. Drop some Dido with a swig of Coldplay and you're dead. End of. Finito. Hchleik!


Up arrow.


Amon Dull II: Phallus Dei
VDGG: Pawn Hearts
Can: Tago Mago
Ornette Coleman: The Shape Of Jazz To Come

That should sort you out for the evening.


Although, I'd love to come to your dinner party, Rob, provided you chuck in Close To The Edge too.

As it's you, my gorgeous furry lunar eclipse kitten, I'll even bung Topographic Oceans in as well!

I'd be high without drugs!

till you cop a load of my pakoras!

Moon safari - air
Take 5 - dave Brubeck
Kind of blue - davis
Tourist - st germain

But those jazz albums are a bit too safe. I'll put St.Germain down for consideration.

Good though it is, it's a dinner party cliché now. Give 'em some Esbjorn Svensson Trio. "Seven Days Of Falling" will do the trick.

Elbow are your men.

people start rolling their eyes by track three of any Elbow album. They like the odd song here or there, but one Elbow after another is too much. Just sayin'.

Ok then - how about The National? Boxer, perhaps?

The National are too intense. Can't have intensity at a dinner party. Who knows what subject the ladies might bring up to discuss!

It's a common fetish, for a doting man, to ballerina on the coffee table, cock in hand.

You'd make an entertaining guest. D'ywanna come?

It's a lyric from Karen by The National.


you can delete the words "after another" from the phrase "... one Elbow after another is too much."

I'm just sayin' too!

How about some mid-period 10,000 Maniacs?


Familiar, shiney, gorgeous with a foul underbelly. Just the ticket!

Pirate's Choice is the album you want.

Gotan Project - Gotan Project or Lunatico

Will bring a touch of eroticism to the table!

by Sanjay Mishra with Jerry Garcia. Works every time. Guaranteed!

The question is, am I brave enough? Am I feeling strong today?

Just stick on one of those and you're sorted. See also Hotel Costes.

Hejira, but your guests might get the wrong idea.

But I would!

"Mad Man Across The Water". Proper Elton for grown ups.

Elton is very popular with this demographic. I see his early albums have all been remastered. Which do you think is best, Dave?

Captain Fantastic & The Brown Dirt Cowboy. Love that one.

Tumbleweed Connection

for fifteen quid!?

sounds like a bargain. All the above are great, why not do all 5 over dinner and then discuss how it went so horribly wrong.

*goes green at the mere thought of it*

However, I suspect at least one or two would enjoy that. I also have Yellowbrick Road, which would finish off the evening nicely!

Yes it would - as long as you skipped "Jamaica Jerk-Off". Yikes!

Van Morrison - One Night in San Francisco. It's a favourite of mine, and it happens that I first heard it played at a dinner party.

Doves - The last broadcast
John Martyn - One world
Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
once you've hooked 'em in you can get away with Matching Mole's Little Red Record.

Except for Matching Mole. Even after copious wine & beer. Late on, I expect they will want a singalong, reject my careful selections and slap on Queen's Greatest Hits! At that point, I'll get their coats.

A Kind Of Blue works well for me.

that any record with John Coltrane on it is still just a tad too jazzy.

and Take 5. Any jazz is a potential problem, no matter how smooth. Jazz is for the solitary listener or the like-minded enthusiasts. I fail to drum up any interest at home. That's why I'm here.

My policy for dinner party music. Also so that I can practice my scat when the conversation becomes dull.

And as per Colin H below, Oscar Peterson's your only man - Night Train oft deployed at Casa 'Wardo

....yes, most jazz seems to bother people eventually but I've used the Oscar Peterson Trio's 'We Get Requests' as dinner party music for 20+ years and it always works perfectly.

I do have that album. I'll give it a spin & see what I think.

....really, I think it's the only 'jazz' album I've ever played at such events (possibly aside from a fairly recent acquisition of a mellow jazz album by Parisienne pianist Christian Brenner) where no one has complained after two or three tunes - or before!

But the Penguin Cafe Orch tip below also seems a good one: enough happening not to be bland, but not so much as to be intrusive.

Plus you get to look cool and sophisticated...

which is pretty often, there's always at least one person who doesn't like rock or dance music. In fact, most of my friends prefer classical or jazz (which is one reason why I come here). If I played Daft Punk or Rod Stewart I'd pretty certainly get asked to "turn the music down" or "play something less obtrusive". Dustin O'Halloran's solo piano albums have proved to be my most popular choice. So if I go for a rock/pop album it's gotta be summat like Eden by Everything But The Girl or Is A Woman by Lambchop. Blue Lines would be acceptable. As would Pink Moon. Or Psychocandy.
(I lied about that last one. For comic effect).

Oh yes. A cast-iron certain winner.

Mine absolutely adore Rod Stewart. I haven't heard the new album yet, obviously, but, judging by Burt's review, it's a sure-fire winner. They also like to reminisce about discos, even though they wouldn't dream of going to one these days. (Do they still have 'discos'?)

When Kind of Blue, Moon Safari, Tourist and Aja have been played I crack open the Night Fever.

Koln Concert, works for me every time. A bit of Mose Allison works too.

In similar circumstances recently, but we didn't have time for 5 for some reason.

Kind of blue -miles Davis
Nightclubbing - grace jones

They worked really well.

The next three would have been

Gaucho - steely dan
Tupelo honey - van Morrison
Heavy weather - weather report

I can see that being a success. Maybe, something else other than Weather Report. I have tried Kind Of Blue before greeted by turned-noses

Just what sort of people do you hang out with, Tigger! I can help, honest.

and bear with me on this. Why not make a polite excuse re. having it at your house, something like it's infested with pubic lice or something, and bring them around to the Yurt. I'll lay on a spread eg. pakoras, samosas, hummus, lots of pickled stuff, and we can also give them a good dose, and lay on some really far out sounds. It'll be a life changing experince for the better. They'll afterwards, belive me. Can you also bring some lube in case we get Twister out, as I'm out of marmite you see.

that would be a life changing experience for both of us. Funnily enough I can put my hands on a shed full of lube.

Once I've got this wretched evening out of the way, I'll be knocking on your door (or flap. Yurts have flaps, don't they?). Astral mind blending hugs & kisses to you, Rob.

at Tigger from behind a lama being milked by Charlotte Rampling.

Sod the dinner party, I'll be there in a shot!

Of the pair of you stark buck naked running around on a tor in a Dyonisian frenzy, ripped to the tits on Twister lube and knocking on each other's yurt flaps

Have you thought about outside catering?

We need you man, and we need to make up the numbers. We can't have Catherine Deneuve playing goosberry when there's a pair of great big ginger ones standing idle. I've made a quiche as well!

You'll need to bring some marmite, forks.


Jeez, how long is this dinner party going to be? Personally, I'd forego the music altogether. Conversation is the only soundtrack you need. Whatever you chose, in any case, someone would object to - or not enjoy, but be too diffident to say so.

There'll be lots of talking, don't worry. The volume won't be intrusive.


Bear in mind, we're all middle-aged and well past late nights & loud noise.

Salutation Road


Big Star's "No. 1 Record"
Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours"
Van's "His Band & Street Choir"
Otis Blue
Pet Sounds
Some early Leonard Cohen to round off the evening.

Some Jackie Leven: I'd suggest Songs from the Argyll Cycle, Vol 1.
Some Chumbawamba, late period accoustic, if only to blow some assumptions away: I'd suggest A Singsong and a Scrap
Some Jesse Colin Young: Light Shine (prob only side 1)
Stramash: Colin Steele, the folk/jazz/chamber interface.
Some Lucinda Williams, maybe either the early eponymous one, or her most recent one, Blessed. Or both. For contrast.
If none of these appeal, send 'em all home and cease the friendship.

Good though they undoubtedly are!

Booker T & The MG's - McLemore Avenue
Colm Mac Con Iomaire - The Hares Corner
Dusty Springfield - Dusty in Memphis
Kevin Tihista's Red Terror - Don't Breathe A Word
Lianne La Havas - Is Your Love Big Enough?
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Push The Sky Away
Shuggie Otis - Inspiration Information
Terry Callier - What Color Is Love

Good luck Tigger

Dusty, Shuggie & Terry. Interesting choice for Booker T too!

Jackson Browne and David Lindley: Love is Strange - (lots of lovely Spanish influence)
Leonard Cohen: Live in London

Oh, and anything by Josh Rouse

which contains wonderfully effective percussion.

David Byrne's Brazil Classics series are brilliant.

Souljazz's reggae compilations

A soundtrack? The Big Easy, American Graffiti, Round Midnight etc.

Ella Fitzgerald sings the Cole Porter Songbook is never wrong in my book.

A fair while back I had a dinner party and as an experiment put on a home-made compilation CD including nothing but versions of Besame Mucho. To my amusement, it took quite a while before anyone twigged that they'd been listening to the same song (in admittedly radically different versions)all evening.

I have an i-pod crammed to the rafters with nothing but cover versions, and it is actually great for this sort of setting, albeit kills any conversation as everyone sits racking their brains as to the original. Hours of fun. Tends to make one v smug, tho'

one of the Brazil Classics to get me started Kaisfatdad?

I always find a bit of Charlie Parker or Django Reinhart goes well. Santana "Abraxus" is always a winner, EBTG, Jack Johnson never offend. Actually I often play The 18th Day of May album so maybe a bit of folk rock - Liege and Lief? I have a steely Dan comp which is a goodie. But broadly I agree with Rosbif, why not have nothing.


I thought you'd have Dixie Chicken at the very least!

Almost any, but try Broadcasting From Home or Signs of Life.

Jack Johnson. Any.

Kings of Convenience. Any.

Imagined Village - Empire and Love.

King Crimson - Discipline.

*exit guests with coats*

... would ask his guest/s what music they would like listen to - not subject them to a pretentious list chosen by people on a blog. That said:-

PIL - Metal Box
Can - Future Days
Bowie - Low
Miles Davis - Miles Ahead
Ella - Cole Porter Songbook

that some dinner party guests might give "Albatross" at high volume the thumbs-down.

should never, ever be at high volume. At least not while everyone is at table. The music is only there to fill spaces in and give background to the conversation. Should be relatively unobtrusive and ignorable if not to one's taste.

Although it must be admitted I am not a dinner party person and have never held one. Nor do I ever intend to.

My favourite things to do in the evening (in order of preference):
1. Nothing.
2. Have people round for dinner.
3. Go round someone's for dinner.
4. Go to a restaurant.
100. Go to a pub.

Tell all your guests to go away, stick Definitely Maybe on, order a pizza and some lager and swagger round the house 'til the small hours. I guarantee you'll have more fun.

... you were as culturally refined as that - you've kept it well hidden.

but that option sounds very appealing. You have to understand this isn't entirely my own choice!


Familiar, yet mildly surprising. Most people don't even notice the difference.

The best and indeed the only music acceptable at dinner parties is ska.

You are welcome.

However, people might feel rumblings in their nether regions!

as recommended by Rob C, then I for one might well feel some rumblings in my nether regions.

Or "albums" for the young folk! These have all worked for me in the past.

Soel - Memento (St Germain Presents...)
Billie Holiday - The Last Recordings
Nick Drake - Bryter Layter
Massive Attack - Heligoland
Gemma Hayes - The Hollow of Morning
Alex Clare - The Lateness of the Hour
Smashing Pumpkins - Adore
Moby - 18
Morcheeba - Fragments of Freedom

More than enough for you to mung through.

Alex Clare is an interesting suggestion. Moby would work very well, I think. Everybody has heard every track of that whether they realise it or not.

Moving into the loosening up, bonding and occasional "God I remember this! Can't believe how old it is!" phase
3 Feet High & Rising
Blue Lines

For the actual dinner and stimulating and witty conversation phase
Ma Fleur - Cinematic Orchestra
Love - The Beatles

And as the booze and bonhomie kick in with a vengeance - the impromptu karaoke and call me a cab pleaszhe...phase...

Elvis - That's The Way It Is
Back To Life - Soul II Soul
Parklife - Blur

The Midnight Cowboy soundtrack
Moon soundtrack
Beach Boys Golden Greats
Abba's Arrival
Unforgettable Fire

Anything by Marconi Union
A mid-period Byrds album
The new Matthew Halsall one
Some Kirsty MacColl
Anything by the Oscar Peterson Trio
Josh Rouse - Nashville
Some 70s Elvis
Depending on mood and vibes, finish with the Chemical Brothers or Mike Oldfield's Ommadawn.

But if they overstay their welcome, nothing shifts people like Captain Beefheart:

Strictly Personal
Safe As Milk
Lick My Decals Off, Baby
and of course
Trout Mask Replica

Guaranteed to get them saying "Oh! Is that the time already?"

But I don't think I could manage them all in one sitting!

I'm suggesting a single track from any one of that selection will get those overstayers asking for the number of your preferred minicab firm.

Sure 'nuff 'n yes I do.

Beefheart can have the opposite to the desired effect on some people!

Without full disclosure and/or industrial level risk assessments on your guests being signed off, play it safe...

Moby - Play
Portishead - Dummy
Tricky - Maxinquaye
James Taylor Quartet - Get Organized
Daft Punk - Random Access Memories (mmm...Contemporary...niiiice)

Once again that cunning devil Tigger has managed to coax out of us a playlist to die for. A lot of interesting discoveries here. And thanks to Spotify, I can give them a listen at once.

A word of warning to Mr Parker. Some guests, I fear, would light up with joy if you got out a few Beefheart albums. You'd probably be stuck with them all night. Black Lace or Boney M might be a safer bet.

HJH Rubber Soul - their best album that a lot of people haven't heard, if you know what I mean
Papa Wemba - Emotion
Mary Chapin Carpenter - Come On Come On
Van - Into the Music
Massive Attack - Blue Lines
Tracey Thorn -Out of the Woods
Mariza - Transparente
Lucinda Williams - pretty much anything really
Biryani Ferrari - These Foolish Things
Madeleine Peyroux - Careless Love

And latterly the records most likely to get people asking 'what's this then?' - in a good way -
Broken Bells
And Paul Buchanan Mid Air ( though of course any Blue Nile will do...)

Dammit, tempted to organise a soirée just to inflict this lot on my unsuspecting guests....

Oscar Peterson Trio - We Get Requests
Rod Stewart - Time
Little Feat - The Last Record Album
Madeleine Peyroux - Careless Love
The Gotan Project
Moby - Play
Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
Penguin Cafe Orchestra - Broadcasting From Home

When your guests have outstayed their welcome, just put on a Tom Waits album. Some friends of ours used to do that and it worked a treat...Their guests would usually leave quite quickly after that! Thankfully they never did it to us!

the conversation, so....

Early Pat Metheny/Pat Metheny Group (New Chatauqua, Bright Size Life, American Garage, Letter From Home, Off Ramp, Still Life Talking...)
Sigur Ros (Takk, Hvarf Heim)
Ali Farka Toure (maybe Talking Timbuktu with Ry)

A Meeting By A River. What do you think?

The Residents?

My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts
Luxury Liner - Emmylou Harris
Flaws - Bombay Bicycle Club
Superfly - Curtis Mayfield
Chillout - KLF

will frighten the horses?

But also very warm and beautiful

I think you will find it in my top 100. However, I prefer my guests feeling comfortable and bathed in the love and affection of friends, not surrounded by the possessed and monsters in the dark.

What sort of food are you serving?

Asparagus grilled and wrapped in that Italian ham. Gratin dauphinois with some kind of meat joint & string beans. Then Creme brulais and loads of cheese! That's my guess anyway!


They can spell better than my predictive text thingy!

It will be a Chinese takeaway.

put me off my crème brûlée...

I think it works, its atmospheric and melodic and disturbing. Perhaps you could play it earlier & put people off their starter instead

8 albums over dinner - has maryjane been invited?
Chet Baker Sings as guests arrive
Louis & Ella for aperos
Gotan Project for starters
Last Record Album (great choice!) for mains
Daft Punk for cheese (pretty dire stuff but, hey, it will make you seem hip)
Van Too Late to Stop Now for dessert
Ry & Ali Farka Toure to start winding things down
It's now well after midnight and you are getting tired. 2 couples remain and look as though they are in for the long-haul. Don't know how the volume switched got turned up as Gavin Bryar's Jesus' BloodNever Let Me Down shatters the early morning peace. Bye bye, see you soon

Chet Baker Sings would be great as you say.

Only suggested it like totes ages ago yeah wevs ^^^^

whatever the playlist hope the dinner party goes mr tiggerlion

I read and re-read your post but completely overlooked the subject heading!! D'oh!

Bruce provides a mellow experience.

I'd like to suggest The Charity Of Night as something musically interesting yet gently unobtrusive.

CP. love it. The vibes, accoustic bass and Cockburn combination is magic.

Presumably the lube didn't make it in time

for those, like me, who've never heard him before.


always add a lovely atmos to a gathering and I'd highly recommend the new Boz Scaggs "Memphis" as it ticks all the requisite boxes.

Al Green's Greatest Hits - everyone eventually goes "I know this one..."
Francis Alberto Sinatra meets Antonio Carlos Jobim - not many people know it but they come to love it for its sublime brilliance

Then probably Marvin's "I Want You" for when you get the naked Twister out.

Hank Marvin did a Naked Twister party album

Our joints aren't as supple as they were. But your first two suggestions are pearls! (If I can count a greatest hits as an album.)

Friday night, friends round for a curry. (Surprising lack of curry houses in The Languedoc)

Canadian Jazz Man nodded his appreciation as he entered to Chet Baker around 630
Louis & Ella sung away as the first of many glasses of wine were supped, olives were nibbled, picked garlic was munched.
Swedish Hard Rock Man asked politely "what the fuck is this?" as Gotan Project came on.
The main course saw us head first into bowls of chicken curry, Mumba Dal, nan breads with garlic & coriander butter and fiery Kashmiri chutney. Hardly a word was said for 15 minutes, Little Feat were I am sad to report completely ignored
Some creamy St Felicien slowed things down a bit, French neighbour said "ah, I Love Van". I think this was the only album of the night that was discussed in any length with people recounting the many highs and many lows of concerts we had seen. . "He's fucking boring" said Swedish Hard Rock Man who seemed to be hell bent on exhausting my supply of Spanish lager.
The evening somewhat disintegrated after that as the ipad was picked up and you tube was used for an hours worth of "you must see this".
The evening ground to a halt around midnight. Mrs Swede as designated driver poured her husband into the car, we fear arguments may have followed once home was reached.
All in all a great Friday night. Ihowever, I have the sad feeling I could have played any album listed above and nobody would have really noticed (except me of course)

I count it as a success if no-one complains. Mine has been called off because of a sick grandma situation. I'll report back in due course. I'm looking forward to it.

Designated drivers do tend to put a damper on things at some point after midnight, and I speak as a battle-hardened designated driver myself.

I can recommend this recent compilation of soul tracks, chosen and neatly spliced together by The RZA, of Wu Tang fame. i can imagine this working v well at a dinner party.


Next week. Paella & Sangria. Could get rowdy.

1. Chet Baker Sings
2. Joan Armatrading
3. The Last Record Album
4. Sinatra & Joachim
5. Gotan Project
6. Random Access Memories
7. Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree
8. Penguin Cafe Orchestra - Broadcasting From Home

I'll report back

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