15 albums that have had a big impact on me.
Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen albums you’ve heard that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes.
Myself, Alex and Urbangraffito ended up posting our fifteen
minutes of fame albums “that have had a big impact on us”, and thought it might make for interesting blog fodder. As first in a series, here’s my list – in no particular order, and annotated for good measure.
Let me state up front that this list does not necessarily represent my all time favorite albums. They are albums which, at the time, in context (given age and circumstance), effectively had “a big impact” on me. With that out of the way, here we go:
- Roxy & Elsewhere – Frank Zappa
Filled to the brim with wonderfully out-of-the-ordinary melodies, fantastic musicianship, crazy percussion, deliciously bizarre lyrics and an electrifying live vibe, this album is what first managed to immerse me into all things Zappa. Without it, there’s a good chance this website would not exist.
- On The Beach – Neil Young
The final episode of Neil Young’s infamous Ditch Trilogy, preceded by Time Fades Away and Tonight’s The Night. Honestly, I could’ve picked any one of these three.
- XO – Elliott Smith
And now for something completely different. Beautiful melodies, luscious panoramic arrangements, and Smith’s soft whispery voice would almost make you forget just how dark the topics he’s singing about are. Almost.
- Revolver – The Beatles
Arguably not The Beatles’ best (most everyone seems to agree Abbey Road deserves that monicker) – but Revolver was the album that made me realize they were about much much more than the silliness that constituted Love Me Do and I Wanna Hold Your Hand.
- Want One/Want Two – Rufus Wainwright
I’ve come to realize that Wainwright’s music is “an acquired taste” which, similarly to FZ, you either completely adore or hate with a passion. Yes: the songs are full of operatic pathos, yes, the arrangements are over the top throughout, yes, his vocal timbre is take it or leave it. And yes: I simply adore all that.
- Back To Black – Amy Winehouse
I’ll be honest and admit that in retrospect, I wanted to omit this record from the list and replace it with Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited. But there you go, in the fifteen minute limit, Back To Black immediately came to mind as an album that I’ve played over and over again. Get well soon, Amy.
- Let Love Rule – Lenny Kravitz
Lenny Kravitz? Yes, Lenny Kravitz. The man has made one exceptional album and that would be Let Love Rule. Listen (again) without prejudice.
- The Blues Brothers – The Blues Brothers
What’s not to love here? Fantastic cameo’s from just about everybody who’s somebody in classic R&B – notably Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin.
- Purple Rain – Prince
Great songs, funk the way god intended it, and Prince, the fabulous, forever underrated guitar player.
- Pink Moon – Nick Drake
If Elliott Smith would’ve lived in early ’70s England, this is the kind of music he would’ve been making.
- Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars – David Bowie
The Thin White Duke at the height of his talent (and yes, I do know about Lodger & Low).
- Blue Monday – New Order
Why Barry, early ’80s electronic music? Why yes. My older sister brought this home in ’83 and played it 8 hours a day for months. How could this not have impacted me! See also: Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams.
- Nevermind – Nirvana
Aaaah Nirvana, thank you ever so much for eloquently kicking the early ’90s music biz in the nuts the way you did. 70s Punk’s little brother. I’d mention the rather obscure predecessor Bleach as well, but you all would think I’m a bit of snob, wouldn’t you.
- LA Woman – The Doors
Oh come now, this is a true classic. To this day, the casually sinister magic of Riders On The Storm captures my imagination for all its full 7+ minutes.
- What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
For the wide range of topics Gaye touches upon, this seminal album sounds surprisingly coherent, like one long, uplifting stream of consciousness. The topics themselves are still every bit as relevant as they were then — if not more so.
I shall stop pontificating now. Feel free to discuss — or better yet: add your own list of albums that will always stick with you. That’s what comments are for!