The Records That Changed My Life

These records were the ones that I can remember clearly giving me, the first time I listened to them, the realization that I'd just entered a new world, at least music-wise. Opinions change over time, so I wouldn't rate all of these as highly now as I would have at one time, but these records still hold a lot of interest for me.

First Records: Records that defined 'music' for me at the earliest ages.

Soundtrack to the Television Series 'Victory at Sea' - A bunch of symphonic soundtrack music was my first foray into the transportational powers of music. Listening to this loud in the dark made me see cool stuff in my mind, all at age 3. Cool!

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack 'American Graffiti' and Buddy Holly 'The Buddy Holly Story' - My introduction to rock 'n' roll, and I must say a fine one. I used to dance like Elvis to these when I was 4. My parents still have this pictures.

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack 'Saturday Night Fever' - Especially the Kool and the Gang song where he says 'Open Sesame', oh and a 'Fifth of Beethoven'. Really cool shit in 1979.

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack 'James Bond Themes' - I'm not sure of the title of this, but still another one that refined my taste in music that went with pictures in my head. And I just loved the Wings' 'Live and Let Die' for years upon years. (I also liked the Sheena Easton song a lot, but let's forget that.)

K-tel Records Collection 'High Energy' - I still mostly remember this for my sister lip-syncing Blondie's 'Heart of Glass' and my really loving Styx's 'Renegade'...probably the first hard 'rock' I ever heard.

 

As a Kid: The first tapes I ever bought myself while in elementary school. I think I had decent taste!

Duran Duran - Seven and the Ragged Tiger - I remember how much I liked the video to 'The Reflex' when I was 7 and this was probably the only time I ever bought an album based on liking only one song. I was extremely let down and had to admit I hated the rest of this except for 'Union of the Snake'. Then I heard my sister's friend's 'Duran Duran Live' album and swore off this teenybopper pop stuff forever.

Clash, The Combat Rock and Original Motion Picture Soundtrack 'Repo Man' - I clearly remember my sister bringing these home after she borrowed them from a friend in junior high and telling me 'This is punk rock!' I thought it was so dangerous and rebellious. I only heard each one once, but the sheer fact that my sister was convinced it was better to hide these records than have my parents see them was lesson enough. My intro to 'dangerous' rock, at least what was dangerous at age eight.

'Weird Al' Yankovic - 'Weird Al' Yankovic - The first record I ever memorized, and also the first artist I ever bought everything I could find by. I almost bought some polka record by this guy called Frank Yankovic or something 'cos I thought maybe it was connected.

AC/DC - Who Made Who - My sister owned Back in Black, but I bought this one. I played it over and over and over when I was 10 and all the other kids liked shit like Whitesnake and Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet. I used to try to draw Angus Young's picture off the cover. I was in love with the hard riffing sound, even when I couldn't quite grasp what 'shaking me all night long' or 'giving the dog a bone' might entail.

 

Teenage Wasteland: Warning! Snot-nosed adolescent rebellion period ahead!

Metallica - And Justice for All - Definitely the hardest thing I'd ever heard, opening new doors for freaking out my parents. The violence in the lyrics, man....that's what it's like to be a 13 year old uncool kid, lemme tell ya.

Led Zeppelin - IV - Actually getting into a record for the intellectual stimulation for the first time. A real summer favorite listening to this and trying to read all of the Lord of the Rings over a summer break. Oh, and playing Dungeons and Dragons until 3 in the morning. Fuck you. I was 13. Also the record that made me start playing guitar.

Rolling Stones - Hot Rocks - The realization comes to me that 'old guy rock' with hooks and personality can capture my attention and actually try to teach me how to be cool. No more D&D after listening to this once or twice.

Sex Pistols - Never Mind the Bullocks Here's the Sex Pistols - Reintroduction to punk after 8 years or so, at age 15 I left my metal phase behind forever (more or less) after hearing what 'real' rebellion (or that which I interpreted as being real) means.

 

Record Buying Fiend: After I bought a CD player at age 16, got a steady after school job and had a friend start working at the local CD store (who would lend be 90% 'discounts') I became a CD fiend. Here were my revelations:

Bob Dylan - Bob Dylan - Strangely enough, I'd heard 'Highway 61 Revisited' and 'Greatest Hits' first and couldn't stand them, but heard this and had a ball. Opened new doors of country and folk music. Still probably my favorite Dylan record. Later learned to love '61'.

Roxy Music - Roxy Music - Bought it for the weird chick on the cover. Man, what a cool record. Eno! Glam! Cool solos! One of the weirder things I had ever heard, for sure.

John Lennon - Plastic Ono Band - The rawest, deepest rock I'd ever heard and still more punk than a dumptruck full of stupid Offspring records proved to me my contemporaries in high school still had a lot to learn.

King Crimson - The Portable King Crimson - A cassette compilation containing most of Crimson King, as well as the best from both the early 70's and the early 80's. Most definitely turned me on to prog in a big way.

Grateful Dead, The - What a Long, Strange, Trip It's Been - My Dead buying spree had to startt somewhere, and this one kicked it off.

Miles Davis - Bitches Brew - One of my first trips to the outer sphere of weirdness, I remember looking at things quite a bit differently after hearing this at 16.

Public Enemy - Fear of a Black Planet - For a long time, the only rap I could stand was this and the Beastie Boys. Proof that rap was a viable art form.

Marvin Gaye - What's Goin' On? - I discover music about God that doesn't sicken me. And, also, singlehandedly started me buying a bunch of soul records.

Husker Du - Zen Arcade - I don't remember if this was the first Husker album I ever bought, but this was definitely the one that proved to me that music could still shock and excite me after I had become a 'complacent' and veteran listener at age 18.

 

College and After: Not a whole lot of real discoveries made in the last 5-6 years, but still some notables.

Flaming Lips - In a Priest Driven Ambulance, Medicine - The Buried Life, and My Bloody Vaalentine - Loveless - In my first year of college, these records showed me I still had a lot to learn about music made after 1990 or so, and that viable alternatives to the hated MTV/Lollapalooza bullshit existed. And that smoking a lot of weed could be fun.

Foo Fighters - Foo Fighters - The first time a new album by a 'popular' artist (i.e., one that they played videos from on MTV) impressed me, ever. Always before I waited a few years for the hype to wear off.

Alanis Morrisette - Jagged Little Pill - Proof that having your heart broken can really screw up your taste in music, I listened to this album on 'repeat all' from March to May, 1995. Hey, it spoke to me. Not any more though...ecch!

Orb, The - Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld - Deciding to give electronic music a try, my head gets taken off by the trippiest double album of the last 10 years.

 

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