I didn’t do this exactly to the letter, but definitely with the spirit…I like these requests to list x number of albums or bands, etc… that had an impact on you(me in this case). Largely I like them because I like reading about other people’s influences and inspirations with respect to music. So, Mark Diehl, thanks for including me! I did this a few months back and will try not to repeat myself this time. Here are 12 albums (in no particular order) that made a lasting impression on me (I’ll try not to go overboard in my annotations):
1.)Chicago CHICAGO II- Mother f@*ker of an album. The flute solo on ‘Better End Soon’ gives Ian Anderson stiff competion in the “far out” department. Blown away by how such a “proggy” record could yield so many AM radio hits. Great balance of balls/ambition/ and accesibility. And Terry Kath may be the most underrated rock cat of all time…
2.)The Cardiacs GUNS- Any band that invents a new genre is alright in my book. Pronk (fussion of prog and punk) rock works! Energy of punk by guys that can actually play, sing, and write catchy complex tunes: everybody wins! Made me want to acheive the same thing with my stupid stuff.
3.)The Rolling Stones BEGGARS BANQUET:-Here’s where 80% of you will lose all respect for me: this record was a disappontment. Released, arguably, during the Stones’s period of artistic apogee, it definitely has some great songs. However, for me, it also has too many songs that fall flat. It solidified my feelings about The Stones-they look(ed) cool, great songs on the greatest hits compilation(s), not a “deep cuts” band. Just an opinion, I’m still learning, but (unlike The Beatles) never could find much beyond the popular Stones stuff that resonated with me. I am admitedly the most unhip person I know…
4.)Tim Rice/Andrew Lloyd Webber EVITA(Film Soundtrack)- That’s right, I really really LIKE a project that features MADONNA…jesus christ. I may be a prick about music, but I am a credit where credit is due kinda’ guy. She’s really good in this show. The music is wonderful and the libretto knocks my socks off. Any song cycle that can rock out while running down the complex dynamics of mid 20th century Argentine politics( listen to “The Lady’s Got Potential”) is definitely for me. Anyone who has heard the song, ‘So Long Crassus’ will know I dig mixing rock and history-this Rock Opera is a big reason for that.
5.) KISS DESTROYER- I mentioned this one before. First album I ever selected for myself. Got it on 8-Track at Robin’s bookstore at Springtown shopping mall in San Marcos circa 1977/78. LOVED IT…always will.
6.)The Grateful Dead TERRAPIN STATION- The Dead album that the Dead Heads seem to hate and the prog snobs seem to love. Blows me away everytime I listen to it. One of the best pairings of rock band and orchestra commited to tape (in my opinion). Completely changed my opinion of the Dead. Made me want to compose my own rock symphony for others to take to the desert and get weird to…one day.
7.)The Standouts FIRE STATION EP (not sure it has a name?)- The Standouts(formerly Rockus Circus) were a San Marcos band who recorded this EP at Fire Station Studios (in San Marcos) around 2007/2008…I think? When I first heard the EP I thought it was far and away the best thing I had ever heard recorded by a local(including Austin) band…ever. It made me want to make a record that sounded professional from stem to stern. Great production, excellent performances, and amazing songs. “Your Love Carries Me” is one of the best pop songs(and I mean that in the best way) to have been written since the 1970s. By all rights it should be a hit…son of a bitch that it isn’t.
8.) Queen A NIGHT AT THE OPERA- Zany, pompous, self-indulgent, self-deprecating. Everything a good hedonistic experience should be. It ruined my life by making me want to shoot for the moon. It’s as silly as it is heavy, as queer as it is ballsy, as uncool as it is delightful… it’s what I want to be when I grow up.
9.) Daniel Johnston YIP/JUMP MUSIC- I first was exposed to Daniel Johnston in 1987. A friend of mine had a mixed tape called, “Ass Rippin’ Songs.” It contained a who’s who of Austin’s “new sincerity” artisits. One of the songs on the tape was Johnston’s “Funeral Home.” We thought it was funny and kinda’ dumb and badly executed. A few years later I was hanging out with some folks and someone insisted on playing the entire Yip/Jump Music album. They raved about it the whole time…I didn’t care for it. Years later I learned that Daniel Johnston was considered a genuis. I thought about the night I listened to his whole album and didn’t care for it. I dug deeper. I heard more about Johnston’s genius. I became fanatically commited to never ever being a genuis.
10.) Jethro Tull AQUALUNG- If you play the flute in a rock band you will always live in the shadow of Ian Anderson. It’s a great shadow to live in. When I heard, “My God” I immediately wanted to play flute like that…I’m still working on it.
11.) Emerson Lake and Palmer BRAIN SALAD SURGERY- Everything people hate about prog rock is brought to bear on this record, which is everything I love about it. Their version of “Jerusalem” makes my cry when I’m deep in my cups. The last lines of “Karn Evil 9” are b-movie horrorshow brilliant:
“Narrator-But I gave you life
Computer-What else could you do
Narrator-To do what was right
Computer-I’m perfect, are you?”
Always gives me chills when I listen to it.
12.) The Beatles THE BEATLES (1962-1966)- I usually think it’s a cop out to include a greatest hits record on these lists. In this case, I must say, that this particular album had more influence on my life than any other. When I was very little (4 or 5) I loved Kiss. The only rock record we had was this Beatles album. So I used to listen to it and pretend it was Kiss. I would imagine Gene Simmons spitting fire while “Nowhere Man” would play. The upshot of this fantasy was that I came to LOVE The Beatles with unmatched passion. My aesthetic DNA was forever altered by them, and this experience of imagining rock spectacle while listening to awesome/interesting music left the most indelible of marks on my rank perversion of a mind. Everything I would ever aspire to be stems from it…and “Eleanor Rigby” used to make me very sad…and “Yellow Submarine” gave me the willies(in a good way).