Back in 2009 I responded to the Facebook chain mail that instructed you to “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. They might not be what you listen to now, but these are the albums that shaped your world. Choose to arrange them in any order you like.” When you were done you had to tag 15 friends including the sender so the chain mail would continue. All they asked for was the list but I felt there needed to be a little more, so I deviated and wrote my first music blog post. So here it is, reprinted from March 10, 2009. 15 Albums…
Given my lifelong love of music I added a bit more editorial content and optional formatting than the original instructions called for. I also chose the people I did because our passion for music has intersected at some point and I can’t wait to read yours. I extended the security to friends of friends to gain access to even more great music. Arranged by order of acquisition – all original vinyl still in my possession and usually played very loud.
1. Johnny Cash – “Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison” I didn’t acquire my own copy until many years later. This was my dad’s and thanks to him, Johnny Cash and Frank Sinatra are in the collection today. And a nod to my late grandfather who hooked me on Dean Martin and Elvis.
2. ELO – “Out of the Blue” 1977 – It was 5th grade and this was the 2nd album I ever purchased. I still have “Turn To Stone” in the rotation and think they definitely influenced my ever growing Dream Pop collection. (Styx Pieces of Eight was the first, but fell out of the collection by junior high.)
3. The Kinks – “You Really Got Me” 1978 – I started going to garage sales and flea markets in search of vinyl. I have the mono version of this blast of guitar. It signaled the start of a new quest for loud raw rock ‘n roll and the Nuggets of Garage Rock .
5. The Doors – “L.A. Woman” 1980 and it was nearing the 10 year anniversary of Morrison’s death. I got my hands on everything they put out and read, “No One Here Gets Out Alive”. Jim constantly challenged authority and the status quo.
6. The Velvet Underground – “The Velvet Underground with Nico” 1980 – I had read about them and picked up a near perfect used copy at the Clarence, NY flea market (along with The Mothers of Invention – “Freak Out!” and The Stooges – “Raw Power” ). Talk about stretching the definition of music. “European Son” trained my ear for the noise and feedback to come later.
7. The Clash – “London Calling” 1980 – My friend Kevin got this album from someone who probably bought it for “Train In Vain” and he gave it to me (not enough Springsteen sound for Kevin). Needless to say I regret to this day not being able to see the Clash open for the Who at Rich Stadium in Buffalo, NY in 1982. I have all of their stuff and lots of bootlegs. “Without people, you’re nothing.” – Joe Stummer
8. Talking Heads – “Remain In Light” 1981 – In the early 80’s the signal at CFNY in Toronto was consistently strong enough to reach Lewiston, NY . I remember taping songs from the radio and the rhythm of the “The Great Curve” has been in my head since. This was my first exposure to the Talking Heads and is still my favorite album. I have the rest and lots of bootlegs.
9. Minor Threat – “Minor Threat ep” – blue cover 1983 – What better piece of vinyl thrash for a 16 year old to pick up. Somewhere I started getting access to fanzines and indie music catalogs and I sent away for this not knowing exactly what would arrive (later buying straight from Dischord). “Straight Edge” became a movement in and of itself that Ian MacKaye tried to downplay. We were just into the music and ignored the straight edge silliness. I would spend the next few years enjoying the hardcore punk scene until it fizzled in the late eighties. This same catalog delivered The Fall’s-“Slates” 10″, Bauhaus’ – She’s In Parties 12″ and countless other obscure 80’s gems.
10. Miles Davis – “Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet” 1983 – A garage sale, a cutting edge audiophile selling his jazz collection because he had a CD player, what a fool he was. I knew nothing of jazz but names. I bought 15 mint condition albums including this one for a total of maybe $5. Oh how I wish I had bought them all. Those albums started a whole new genre for me. That slab of wax sounds so sweet compared to the digital.
11. The Cure – “Head on The Door” 1985 – Off to college and this album was a staple on WPSU & WEHR . My favorite because of the time, freshman year of college. There is really not a Cure album that I don’t like. “Without Shoes” (Rick Spero version) was a dorm room favorite. I have them all and lots and lots and lots of bootlegs.
12. New Order – “Low-life” 1985 – This is another band that has been in my lexicon since I heard “Temptation” broadcast across the lake in ’82. “Sunrise” is my favorite New Order song. It is one huge crescendo that represents where Hooky always wanted to take the band. I saw them in Toronto that year. I still have the tape of the CFNY Thursday Night Live broadcast and their DVD “Live In Glasgow” has 3 clips of that show. It was short and they were jerks to the audience, but it was awesome. I have everything from Warsaw to Joy Division to NO’s “Waiting for the Siren’s Call” and lots of cool Factory packaging.
13. Cocteau Twins – “Treasure” 1985 – Elizabeth Fraser’s voice was mesmerizing. The ideal setting for this album was winter drives across Pennsylvania late at night, clear sky, crisp snow headed back to Lewiston, off to some fraternity thing, ethereal. I finally got to see them in Salt Lake in ’94. There is a lot of 4AD in my collection.
14. The Jesus and Mary Chain – “Psychocandy” 1985 – The feedback, the wall of sound. The first JAMC I got was the “Upside Down” b/w “Vegetable Man” 7″. I played this album on probably every radio show I did that year. “Taste of Cindy” & “Never Understand” captured the 60’s sound I loved with a twist. This was the genesis of what would end up being several years collecting shoegaze.
15. Tie (yes I am cheating!) Sonic Youth – “Sister” & Dinosaur – “Dinosaur” This just happened to be my first Sonic Youth album and not the last. Check out “Catholic Block” If you’ve taken the journey with me this far I don’t need to explain. No that is not a typo I have the original vinyl on Homestead by Dinosaur! As the Music Director at WEHR I had my “run ins” and “disagreements” with Gerard Cosloy as everything on his label was not as good as these two but I am so glad he continued on and founded Matador Records home to so many more of my favorite bands.
New and Noteworthy (Originally posted March 10, 2009) – Blonde Redhead, The National, British Sea Power, Sons & Daughters, The Shout Out Louds, The Duke Spirit, Clinic. Support your local record stores because they are the people who have educated millions about great music.