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2009-03-04 — 8:39 a.m.

15 life-altering albums

Another Facebook exercise, I thought I would post it here for your enjoyment:

Think of 15 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.

1. Led Zeppelin-Physical Graffiti. The eponymous Zeppelin double album, and I did have it on record. Since records used to stack, of course, sides 1 and 3 were on one record and 2 and 4 were on another so that you could flip the whole stack. This album had the songs In the Light, Ten Years Gone, Down by the Seaside, Night Flight, Kashmir, Trampled Under Foot, The Wanton Song, and the list goes on. A classic. I didn’t know it when I first started listening to it, but this was pretty much THE album that got me interested in playing the drums.

2. Judas Priest-British Steel. Even though most of my JP memories are from their second album, Sad Wings of Destiny, when British Steel came out, my sister Michele and I both latched onto this tape (going mobile now) with reckless abandon and would not let go. Years later I took this with me to Italy and I remember walking around Sicily with it playing in my Walkman. Plus the opening track “Livin’ After Midnight” was the first song that I ever tried to jam with anyone as a ‘band’. It was me, David Santillo, and Scott Rose, who is now dead. :(

3. AC/DC - Back in Black. Though I knew of Bon Scott AC/DC from my friends Darren and Robert Jacquet down the street, it wasn’t until Brian Johnson’s debut that I actually owned any AC/DC, and this was it. This one had me like a doll in a puppy’s jaws. I remember listening to this tape (woohoo! tapes!) over oand over one summer on a vacation to the Pacific Northwest. Funny, that's where Hell's Belles are now. Coincidence?

4. Concrete Blonde – Bloodletting. I discovered this album and “Walking in London” at the same time while I was living in Italy in the Navy, and it was just after my first wife and I had separated. I found out that she was sleeping with the guy that lived across the street, and I sent her and my infant daughter back to the States. Though I had a band and many good friends, this was the darkest time in my life and I latched on to Concrete Blonde with both hand, both ears, and my soul too. Their music was my anchor in the storm of my tumultuous emotions, giving me something meaningful and real to hold onto It seems abstract since to many it's simply music, but to me it's always been so much more. Without it – well, I don’t know what I would have done. Years later, I met the band and got a chance to thank - from the core of my soul - Johnette, Jim, and Harry for carrying me through those black and abysmal 2 years, and told them that without their music, I don’t think that I could have survived. It was to date one of the most cathartic and rewarding experiences of my life, that ‘thank you’.

5. Imogen Heap – Speak for Yourself. Immy was first introduced to me and Kim through her very music savvy younger sister, Sarah, via the band Frou Frou, whom you may remember from the closing track “Let Go” in the movie Garden State. Imogen Heap is an incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist that also uses electronics, loops, and computers like they have never been used before, and on the aforementioned release, she did everything. Every sound, as well as the recording, mixing, production, all of it. And it is incredibly awesome.

6. Arriving Somewhere…But Not Here – Porcupine Tree. I can thank my Prog buddy Don for PT, who first gave me a copy of the “In Absentia” CD in 2006, and I was hooked right away. In the fall of 2005 PT recorded a DVD in Chicago on their “Deadwing” tour, and later released the soundtrack to it as a digital download. This is some of the best live music ever recorded, and I still can’t get enough of it, even a couple of years later. Porcupine Tree has very quickly become one of my favorite bands, and this is probably my favorite recording of theirs. Of course, the DVD is awesome, but I’m SOOOOOO glad they decided to release this as a separate MP3.

7. Black Sabbath – Sabotage. The 6th album from Sabbath, and probably most adventurous of the Ozzy years, I used to listen to this record, which I still have, on my parents console record player. You, remember the one, right? It had an 8-track player in one side with the radio, and the turntable in the other side, complete with the louvered speakers that you could close the doors on. I would put the headphones on and get lost in the record. That is, until I had to turn it over. I still love it, and it’s been well over 30 years. Richard Dodson and I once spent a whole afternoon back in 1985 attempting to play “Symptom of the Universe” off of this album at my house when I first started playing the drums. It’s a pretty easy guitar song, but the drum track is pretty much all fills and rolls. Not for beginners, but it was fun and is a very happy memory for me, though I’m not sure the neighbors would concur.

8. Kansas – Point of Know Return. Same story as above with the record, but this record took me on a different journey, because Kansas had Progressive elements, having Phil Ehart, a mullet-sporting Jazz drummer (still one of my favorite drummers, hair or not), as well as a fiddle, which no one else in Rock had. Combine this with keyboards, shredding guitars, two vocalists, and very deep, thought provoking lyrics, and you have one of the best albums from the 70s. I will ALWAYS love it, and there are still songs on here that I lose myself in.

9. Tori Amos – Little Earthquakes. While this isn’t the first album I heard from Tori, it’s her first solo album after her Y Kan’t Tori Read band, and this one caught me for a few reasons. There is a song on here called “China” that meant a lot to me and a very special woman that I was desperately in love with, and along with “Stay” by Belly and “God Made Me” by The Sundays, it was our song. The funny thing is that “China” is a very sad song about misunderstanding and not being able to communicate, and ultimately that’s what broke us up. If only we had listened to the song that we both loved so much.

10. Metallica – Master of Puppets. Still my favorite Metallica album, I went to see this concert with Michele and Kristen Beeson in 1986. Metallica was opening for Ozzy Osbourne on The Ultimate Sin tour, and even though we missed a bit of Metallica due to Kristen’s extensive 80’s primping and preparation, it was still and amazing concert, and I’ll never forget it, nor will I forget the first time I heard this CD at John Lem’s house, hot off the presses.

11. UFO – Strangers in the Night. Another live album, and one that has graced my ears for 30 years. UFO was way ahead of their time, and any guitarist that’s worth his or her salt knows of the mastery of Michael Schenker, the German guitarist/songwriter that played on UFO’s first 6 albums, then left after this tour. The guitar on this live CD is unretouched, it is “as played” and you have to listen real hard to find a flub. Michael is a VERY clean player. I’ve tried really hard to get sick of this one, and I just can’t do it. It’s THAT good. Definitely a desert island CD for me.

12. Poe – Haunted. I loved Poe from the first time I heard “Hello”. Then there was “Angry Johnny,” another great song, and even though I adore her first CD, the second one, Haunted, is amazing, and I would take this one to an island too. It is full of passion, sass and attitude, but heartbreak and sadness too, and has snippets of her dead father’s voice from some old tapes that she found and mixed in. It’s a remarkable work. She has been fucked over by her record company for the last 8 years since its release, which is why you haven’t heard from her in a while, but has been able to sneak out a few anonymous recordings with Rhys Fulber’s Conjure One project, and all 5 songs she’s recorded with him are awesome.

13. Heather Nova – Oyster. It was my friend Troy Lindberg that turned me onto Heather Nova pretty early on after move to Colorado, and I was in love from the first song. Heather has a voice and passion like few others, and I have gone out of my way to find every one of her recordings. She takes me to another place with her music. I’ve actually bought this CD 5 times because it’s so worth sharing that I couldn’t help but give it away to people whom I thought would love it. What’s the point of love if it can’t be shared?

14. Cocteau Twins – Four Calendar Café. I bought this CD because I was intrigued by the name of the band. "Like Jean Cocteau? The French Poet/novelist/filmmaker?" I knew nothing of them, and my friend at the CD store, Brent Harding, said “Oh, they’re sort of like blahdy blah and so and so." Who? I bought it anyways and was immediately entranced by this heavenly mix of voice, reverb, mood, and magic. Wow. Another band of whom I own (almost) everything. I think I currently have 33 or 34 Cocteau Twins CDs, as they were very prolific with CD singles, and I’m pretty sure that there are only maybe 2 or 3 that I don’t own.

15. Melissa Etheridge – Yes I Am. When this album first came out, I was really getting back into the guitar, and I figured out every song on the album. I even went to see her at the Greek Theatre in LA with my sister Michele and the show was so good, I went back the next night. I was so tired that I fell asleep at the wheel on the way home and rolled my car. I didn’t even care though, I was still so aglow from the concert. She's so good in concert.

It’s too bad I had to stop at 15, but I can’t really go on forever (well, I probably could, because almost every CD means something to me, but I only have SO much time) so thanks for taking this journey with me.

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Want to comment? Speak up! 3 Quips to Date


stepfordtart - 2009-03-05 17:57:23
I saw the Cocteau Twins (supporting Tears for Fears, I think) back in the early 80s. I thought I was the only person who remembered them. I was never particularly a fan, more kind of intrigued. I think I linked to a clip of them on my diary some time ago - it was Pearly Dewdrops Drop. Dont forget to shout if you're south coast bound on your trip. s x
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stepfordtart - 2009-03-10 14:02:07
What a lovely song! How thoughtful of you. I should ask L to record some music for it, maybe? I'll try and get some pictures of the bush trimming on Saturday for posterity! s x
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Jessica M - 2010-08-12 05:27:26
I absolutely love your passion for music and life in general and could read about it all day long!
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