Ok so, we’ve been over this several times. I’m a huge music nut. Some of my friends *cough* Bayda *cough* have much larger collections than I have, but they’ve always been willing to steer me in directions to discover new stuff. I remember growing up, riding with my parents in the Chrysler Newport, listening to a variety of cassette tapes that got me started down the road of music appreciation. Tapes of Bob Seger’s Live Bullet, and Boston’s Third Stage , as well as various Neil Diamond and Jethro Tull tapes. Unfortunately, that car’s tape deck ruined the sound quality of some of these tapes, leading me to believe that what I was hearing was how they were recorded. Boy was that far from the truth! A few years later, we started listening to country. Unbeknownst to me at the time, there was a lot of music that I would end up liking, even to this day in that genre. There are some really skilled musicians playing country music out there… the problem is that they are behind a single name, and no one ever hears about them. For example, Brad Paisley’s rhythm guitarist… He’s pretty damn good, but who knows what his name is? It was around 4th or 5thgrade when a band name would be mentioned in my General Music class, and that would be the beginning of the end. That band’s name? Black Sabbath. My misinformed music teacher was talking about the history of modern music, and mentioned that the quartet of Tony, Ozzy, Bill, and Geezer were Satanic. Even though that statement isn’t true, it still caught my attention as something that should be checked out. At about that time, I had remembered that my dad had an old vinyl LP of a Black Sabbath Greatest Hits album. This, my friends, was the beginning of the end. I’m going to list and break down the 15 albums that have changed my life the most. If I’m listing them, I highly recommend you check them out.
It has taken me a long time to narrow this down, and it’s taken me even longer to figure out what to write. I decided to break this into multiple sections… for my own sanity.
1) Black Sabbath – We Sold Our Soul For Rock & Roll
Simply put, this definitely needs to be at the top of the list. I’ve never been a big fan of The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. Sabbath was my British Invasion band of choice. They are the Godfathers of hard rock and heavy metal. They started it all. Anyone who picks up a guitar and plays a powerchord can thank Tony Iommi for popularizing this. Some may not know, but Tony is actually missing two finger tips on his right hand. Being a left handed guitarist, this required him to add fake fingertips to these fingers in order to play. This album is a greatest hits compilation, and while every album they’ve ever put together is great, this is one of the best compilations to get a feel for everything they’ve done.
Recommended song: “Fairies Wear Boots”
2) Led Zeppelin – IV (Zoso)
It’s extremely hard to pick one Zeppelin album that influenced me, so I’ve chosen the first one I ever listened to from beginning to end. What caused me to pick up this album? Hearing all of the hype about “Stairway to Heaven” but not being familiar with it. Hearing Jimmy Page’s guitar playing caused me to fall in love with the Les Paul guitar. Not one member of the band has a simple part in the band. Each musician is great in their own right. The album is celebrating its 42nd year in existence this year, and still sounds as “new” to me as it did the day I first put Uncle Joe’s LP on the turntable.
Recommended song: “When the Levee Breaks”
3) Frank Zappa – Apostrophe’
It was around 6th grade when I had heard a song by Frank Zappa called “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow.” Found on the greatest hits compilation Strictly Commercial, this was a shortened version of a multiple part song, which I wasn’t initially aware of. The title of the song instantly caught my attention, so I instantly skipped to that track, and prepared myself for whatever was to come. Within the first 30 seconds, I was interested, confused, and amazed. Up until that point, I had never heard anyone writing and performing music like that. The song writing was very creative, and each of the musicians in the group was amazing on their instruments. After hearing this song, I needed to hear more. Several years later, I saw the Apostrophe’ album at a local record store and instantly snatched it up. I listened to this CD over and over and over again until I could recite almost every word from memory. This album opened my eyes to the Progressive rock genre that I now love. Frank had written and recorded around 50 albums before he died in the early 90’s. He was truly a genius when it came to music as well as one helluva guitarist, and words can’t describe how glad I am to have discovered his work.
Recommended song: “Cosmik Debris”
4) Eric Clapton – Slowhand
Once I had reached the age where I could appreciate good music, my dad began listening to more and more good music with me around. I’m sure he was trying to push me in the right direction, which he no doubt did. I remember the day that dad put this LP on the turntable for me to hear. Mom and the girls were definitely not home that day, otherwise my loving sisters probably would have thrown a fit about the music being played. This album contains some of Eric’s biggest hits that are well known to this day, such as “Cocaine,” “Lay Down Sally,” and “Wonderful Tonight.” The album instantly became a favorite of mine and started putting the guitar bug in my head. Even today, any time I hear one of the songs from that album, I remember back to when I was a kid, hoping that one day, I could play guitar as well as Eric. Well, I’m not as good as Eric is now, but the feelings I had long ago still resonate when I hear this album.
Recommended song: “The Core”
5) Boston – Don’t Look Back
I mentioned earlier that Boston’s Third Stage album was listened to a lot while growing up. I don’t know if that was my first exposure to Boston or not, but it was a good one none the less. I still love that album today, but I do believe that it was their second album, Don’t Look Back that really caught my attention. Everything about this album hit me: From Brad Delp’s lead vocals and harmonies to Tom Scholtz’s guitar tone from the Rockman to how catchy the songs are. Any time I hear a song from this album, I freeze and have to listen to all of it. It has quite the variety of songs on the album as well, including party rock anthems like “Party” and ballads such as “A Man I’ll Never Be.” There’s a little something for everyone on this album. I’d like to quote a line from the song “Party” to wrap up this review. “If you’ve got something for me, I’ve got something for you…” I really think that says it all.
Recommended song: “Don’t Look Back”