Monday, March 09, 2009

25 albums

Stolen from Linda H's Facebook notes...

Think of 25 albums that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life or the way you looked at it. They sucked you in and took you over for days, weeks, months, years. These are the albums that you can use to identify time, places, people, emotions. These are the albums that no matter what they were thought of musically shaped your world.

First, I wanna give a nod to some of the great classical composers cuz I do love 'em; but historically, when I was being influenced by them, I didn't buy albums of their works so they don't fit the parameters of this meme. It's gonna be pretty much r&b and rock'n'roll. Nonetheless, here's a generic classical shoutout to most of the Germans, lots of the Russians, and some of the romantics. But none of those fucking Austrians!

Actually, even in a more general sense, I have not been moved by albums as much as I have been by individual styles, or techniques, or even single songs. So your apprehension of my life in music as derived from this meme is limited to the narrow focus of this meme – albums only. You're seeing my musical growth through the narrow keyhole of "albums" and nothing else; but there's a lot of "else." There's more else than there are albums. So with that caveat…

In chronological order of when I obtained (or listened to) them, which is not necessarily the same as their release date.

1. Peter, Paul, and Mary – Peter, Paul, and Mary (1962) Blues and R&B artists connected me to the spirit of the downtrodden and disenfranchised in America. Folk music made me feel that it was POSSIBLE to change things.

2. James Brown - Live at the Apollo (1963) Prior to this effort, very few albums were sold in the r&b/rock'n'roll universe; it was mostly singles. James broke ground here, as he often did. Even as a denizen of syncopated, funky, backbeat-driven New Orleans, I found JB breathtaking.

3. Beatles – Meet the Beatles (1964) How did this album affect me? I stopped using Bylcreem to comb my hair into a stunning DA; that's how much this album affected me. Oh, and I began *hearing* music in an entirely different way.

4. The Rolling Stones – The Rolling Stones (1964) Wow! The perfect marriage of Beatle-inspired "new" rock with gritty, bluesy American r&b. I still love the Stones.

5. Bob Dylan – The Times They are a-Changin' (1964) Intellectual, edgy folk music with a little rock creeping in around the edges. Not as *nice* as older folk music. Demanding, insistent. And immensely musical. And as an aside, I personally LIKED it when Dylan went electric a few years later.

6. Kinks – You Really Got Me (1964) Love that merciless, primitive, power-cord drive. It ain't fun until your ears start to bleed!

7. Otis Redding – Otis Blue (1965) A change gonna come. You know it will. Voting rights act of 1965. Incredible. Simply incredible.

8. Little Richard – Little Richard's Greatest Hits (1966) Always loved Little Richard but this album officially qualifies him for this album list. Whomp-bomp-a-loo-bop a whomp-bam-boom!

9. Buffalo Springfield – Buffalo Springfield Again (1967) Steven Stills and Neil Young together before CSNY. Their music was unique and powerful, innovative. Fascinating.

10. Ray Charles – Greatest Hits (1962) Although I didn't buy it until later in the 60s. What'd I say? "Ray Charles!" That's what I say.

11. Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced? (1967) Jimi turned the electric guitar into its own instrument. Previously, it had been an electrified *guitar*. Jimi played a different instrument; he played the electricguitar. In-fucking-credible. Even better on acid.

12. Art Neville and the Meters – The Meters (1969) New Orleans funk. No drummer has ever been or will ever be as funky as Zigaboo Modeliste. Funk became a genre of its own but The Meters ruled the syncopated universe and they were there for its Planck Era.

13. James Taylor – Sweet Baby James (1970) He's just so damned musical. I could listen to him until falling into a bliss coma.

14. Osibisa – Wcyaya (1972) Opened me to world music. Subtle, complex rhythms and delicious harmonies.

15. Bob Marley and the Wailers – Burnin' (1973) Reggae goes with New Orleans music like red beans go with rice. The minute I heard reggae I KNEW it was already part of my soul. Bob was the king but it's such a large kingdom… well, so much reggae, so little time.

16. Professor Longhair – Rock & Roll Gumbo (1974) Finally after years of my listening to him and his proteges live, 'fess produced a commercial album. He had long influenced me but this album made him album-ly official for this meme.

17. Average White Band - AWB (1974) Speaking of funk! First nonBlack band to be invited on Soul Train. You know they had to be funky. I love funk. I loved AWB. Cut the cake! If you can sit still while listening to AWB, check your pulse. You're dead or you're an android designed to mimic humanity and you weren't informed of your identity. Sorry, Charlie.

18. Little Feat – Feats Don't Fail Me Now (1974) Spanish Moon is one of my all-time favorite songs. These feats are funky. And that's a good thing.

19. Pat Benatar – Live from Earth (1983) I liked Pat Benatar from her beginnnings but this album cemented her for me. Say what you will, and I know there's a lot to say, but you can't dissuade me. I'm a Pat Benatar fan.

20. Madonna – Madonna (1983) cuz that girl could crank out some dance tunes and dancin' is a very fine thing for human beings to do. Loved it then and I still like it. Makes me wanna go on a holiday. (grin)

21. Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms (1985) Most of this album is ok. Some of it is memorable. Primarily, it maintains a place in my psyche for Money for Nothin'. Out-fucking-standing!

22. N.W.A. – Straight Outta Compton (1988) Just cuz I like 'em. They were fresh and nasty. Who else would have thet balls to sing "Fuck the Police!"? Hey, NWA, me love you long time.

23. Public Enemy – It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988) Seminal. Before poor Flavor Flav became a cable TV joke, Public Enemy was righteous.

24. Janet Jackson – Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989) Yeah, it's pop-ish but DAMN! That girl just makes me wanna dance. Nothing wrong with dancing. Thank you, Miss Jackson! (Yes, I'm nasty.)

25. Steel Pulse – Ultimate Collection (2000) Guess I'll finish up with some reggae. Always liked Steel Pulse. This was a great collection album and, like they say, it's not the King James version! (grin) Besides, who has better dreads than these guys?

Ok. That's 25 for me. It was a difficult exercise and I suspect I forgot a couple which should have been in there instead of a couple which are. That's ok. It's only rock'n'roll but I like it.

P.S. To anticipate your questions about other "important" groups not mentioned here, I was not and am not a fan of: Elvis Presley, The Doors, The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Moody Blues, The Beach Boys, The Dave Clark Five, Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, The Police, U2, Talking Heads, and a whole buncha other artists I can't think of right now. They would never make it onto any list like this which I might create.


  1. Oh my gosh, you with a DA! I never would have thought. But I guess back then men didn't really have long hair, did they.

    " 'Important' music I don't like" would be an interesting list too.

    Now I really want to see Ronnie's list!

  2. Hey, Linda!

    Well, I had a DA before I started at my military school and snuck one when I was off campus when I could escape having my hair length noticed for a long enough period for it to get long enough to comb into a DA. They wanted us with actual high-and-tight Marine cuts. In the post-Beatle era, I really had to wait til I escaped, I mean, graduated high school, before I could start to grow my hair.

  3. Lot of tough choices here Frank. John Mayal's Jazz/Blues Fusion, Tom Scott's trumpet, Janice Joplin's raspy voice - so many.
    By the time I was allowed to grow my hair long, I didn't have enough hair to grow long!