Impact (Part One)

If you’re on Facebook, you may have come across a recent meme there which states simply:

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!

32 Responses to “Impact (Part One)”

  1. Ryan Schmied says:

    1. Frank Zappa-Hot Rats
    2. Pink Floyd-Dark Side of the Moon
    3. Radiohead-OK Computer
    4. Miles Davis-Kind of Blue
    5. John Coltrane-My Favorite Things
    6. Allan Holdsworth-All Night Wrong
    7. Genesis-Foxtrot
    8. Outkast-Aquemini
    9. The Mars Volta-Deloused in the Comatorium
    10. Frank Zappa-YCDTOSA Vol.2
    11. Sublime-40oz to Freedom
    12. King Crimson-Discipline
    13. Weather Report-Black Market
    14. Yes-Close to the Edge
    15. Dun-Eros

  2. Maroual says:

    1. Equinoxe – Jean-Michel Jarre
    2. Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son – Iron Maiden
    3. Tougher Than Leather – Run DMC
    4. Into The Dragon – Bomb The Bass
    5. Thriller – Michael Jackson
    6. War – U2
    7. Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black – Public Enemy
    8. Check Your Head – Beastie Boys
    9. Debut – Björk
    10. Greatest Hits II – Queen
    11. Music – Madonna
    12. Virgin Suicides – Air
    13. Sympathique – Pink Martini
    14. Hot Rats – Frank Zappa
    15. Love On The Beat – Serge Gainsbourg

    One is a compilation, not really an album and I could not make my choice amongst hundreds of classical and techno/house records.

  3. Lee R. says:

    This list took about 4 minutes to rattle off – 15 is too little! If you want explanations…that takes longer:

    Level 42 – A Physical Presence
    Steely Dan – Royal Scam
    Rush – 2112
    Stevie Wonder – Innervisions
    Paul & Linda Mccartney – Ram
    The Beatles – With The Beatles
    Zappa – We’re only in it for the money/Lumpy gravy (the ryko 2-fer, my intro to Zappa)
    Weather Report – Heavy Weather
    XTC – Oranges and Lemons
    They might be giants – Flood
    Jethro Tull – Thick as a brick
    Marlo Thomas and friends – Free to be, you and me
    Joe Jackson – Will power
    Todd Rundgren – Something/anything
    Joni Mitchell – Hejira

  4. Joe says:

    1. Dreamboat Annie – Heart

    I’ll let you know if I can think of anymore.

  5. Chuck says:

    Without too much thought…

    1) Talking Heads – The Name of This Band….
    2) Bob Dylan – Bring It All Back Home
    3) Hendrix – Band Of Gypsys
    4) King Crimson – USA
    5) Zappa – Burnt Weeny Sandwich
    6) Miles Davis – Agharta
    7) Ennio Morricone – For A Few Dollars More
    8) Pink Floyd – Animals
    9) Coltrane – Om
    10) Stravinsky – Le Sacre Bernstein
    11) Dub Trio – Cool Out And Coexist
    12) Naked City -Black Box
    13) Funkadelic – Maggot Brain
    14) Birthday Party – Bad Seed Ep
    15) The Who – Live At Leeds

  6. Duncan says:

    Zappa/Mothers – Burnt Weeny Sandwich
    Beefheart/Magic band – Trout Mask Replica
    Soft Machine – Volume Two
    Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
    James Brown – At the Apollo (Volume two)
    Sun Ra – Second Star To The Right
    Jean-Yves Thibaudet – The Magic of Satie
    Steve Reich – Music for 18 Musicians
    Ashkenazy/Philharmonia orchestra – Shostakovich 5th symphony
    Jacqueline Du Pre/LSO – Elgar cello concerto
    Aretha Franklin – Live at Fillmore West
    Metabolist – Hansten Klork
    Bob Marley/Wailers – Catch a Fire
    Any decent doo-wop 15 disc ;-) box set compilation
    Alban Berg Quartet – Beethoven’s late quartets

  7. Dark Clothes says:

    A quote from Duncan:

    Zappa/Mothers – Burnt Weeny Sandwich
    Beefheart/Magic band – Trout Mask Replica
    Soft Machine – Volume Two
    Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
    James Brown – At the Apollo (Volume two)
    Sun Ra – Second Star To The Right
    Jean-Yves Thibaudet – The Magic of Satie
    Steve Reich – Music for 18 Musicians
    Ashkenazy/Philharmonia orchestra – Shostakovich 5th symphony
    Jacqueline Du Pre/LSO – Elgar cello concerto
    Aretha Franklin – Live at Fillmore West
    Metabolist – Hansten Klork
    Bob Marley/Wailers – Catch a Fire
    Any decent doo-wop 15 disc ;-) box set compilation
    Alban Berg Quartet – Beethoven’s late quartets

    Metabolist!

    I like Hansten Klork, but it wouldn’t make my list of 15, to be honest. Some of your other choices would, though.

  8. Hugh says:

    1. Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon
    2. ELP – Brain Salad Surgery
    3. Hendrix – Are You Experienced?
    4. Mahavishnu – Birds of Fire
    5. Gentle Giant – Free Hand
    6. Zeppelin II
    7. Zappa – Overnite Sensation
    8. Alice Cooper – Billion Dollar Baby
    9. Yes – Close To The Edge
    10. The Kinks – Low Budget
    11. Kraftwerk – Radioactivity
    12. The Who – Quadrophenia
    13. Elvis Costello – My Aim Is True
    14. Jeff Beck – Wired
    15. The Clash – Sandinista

    Thanks for mentioning The Blues Brothers, Barry. I love that first album! Btw, they played The Palladium to promote that record.

  9. the effervescing elephant says:

    in no particular order

    FZ – them or us
    the clash – london calling
    dead kennedys – plastic surgery disaster
    the scabs – here’s to you, gang
    nina hagen – unbehagen
    tankard – chemical invasion
    neil young – freedom
    the who – tommy
    pink floyd – ummagumma
    ac/dc – dirty deeds done dirt cheap
    motorhead – no sleep till hammersmith
    ELP – ELP
    fischer-Z – going deaf for a living
    flip kowlier – ocharme ik
    stiff little fingers – inflammable material

  10. Bálint says:

    Now I definitely have to look after Rufus Wainwright, finally…
    Prince: Purple Rain – so you say it’s worth a listen, it’s not merely simple pop music with heavy beat and high vocals? I’ll check that – though Prince means to me his (few) instrumental albums.

  11. Chris S says:

    Wish you were here – Pink Floyd
    The Madness – The Madness
    Court and Spark – Joni Mitchell
    Roxy and elsewhere – Zappa
    Use you illusion II – Guns and Roses
    The White Album – The Beatles
    The Madcap Laughs – Syd Barrett
    Love and theft – Bob Dylan
    Sign o the the times – Prince
    In Utero – Nirvana
    YCDTOSA 2 (disc 1) – Zappa
    Vauxhall and I – Morrissey
    After murder park – The Auteurs
    Way to blue – Nick Drake
    Blood on the tracks – Bob Dylan

    (BTW, I haven’t commented on this site before but I’m a regular reader and I love it, especially the mixtapes. You guys are awesome.)

  12. Rob says:

    Allman Bros – @ Fillmore East
    Mothers – WOIIFTM (original vinyl stereo mix)
    Santana – Borboletta
    Nillson – Schmillson
    Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour
    Who – Sell Out
    Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
    Bob Wills – Best of the Tiffany Sessions
    Manassas – 1st album
    Rod Stewart – Every Picture Tells a Story
    BB King – Completely Well
    Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland
    Bloomfield, Kooper & Stills – Super Session
    Rolling Stones – Aftermath (US version)
    Tom Waits – Nighthawks at the Diner
    (in no particular order…)

  13. Hermann Schindler says:

    Zappa – Civilization Phase III
    Zappa – Lumpy Gravy
    Zappa – Roxy & Elsewhere
    Zappa – 200 Motels
    Zappa – Burnt Weeny Sandwich
    Zappa – One Size Fits All
    Zappa – Uncle Meat
    Beatles – Sgt. Pepper
    Beatles – White Album
    Keneally– Half Alive In Hollywood
    Ives – Symphony No. 4
    Mahler – Der Rosenkavalier
    Metheny – The Road To You
    … got it?

  14. Dani Boy says:

    zappa – one size fits all
    zappa – the grand wazoo
    zappa – ycdtosa vol.2
    chuck mangione – feels so good
    ween – the mollusk
    the mars volta – de-loused in the comatorium
    jeff buckley – grace
    beck – odelay
    the beatles – sgt. peppers lonely hearts club band
    jimi hendrix – electric ladyland
    david bowie – ziggy stardust and the spiders from mars
    art blakey and the jazz messangers – moanin’
    horace silver – song for my father
    john coltrane – a love supreme
    omar rodriguez – se dice bisonte, no bufalo

  15. Danny says:

    Can I play too? Actually find it really hard to limit myself to 15, but here goes…..

    Sam the Sham – Wooly Bully
    FZ – Absolutely Free
    Beatles – white
    Hendrix – R U Experienced
    Hendrix – Axis
    REM – Document
    Allman Bros – Live at Fillmore E.
    Cream – Fresh Cream
    Animals – Animalism
    Return to Forever – Romantic Warrior
    Kinks – Victoria
    Who – Magic Bus
    Who – Live at Leeds
    Richard Thompson – Rumor and Sigh
    FZ – Hot Ratz/Grand Wazoo/Waka Jawaka (I consider them one)

  16. Sharleena says:

    My 15 cents:

    – The Beatles: “Yellow Submarine Album”
    – A box from my dad containing several vynils with the Nine Symphonies of Beethoven (artists unknown);
    –Stevie Wonder: “Secret Life Of Plants”
    – Sui Generis: “Vida”
    –The Faces: “Coast to Coast: Overture and Beginners”
    –Os Paralamas do Sucesso, “Arquivo”
    –Supertramp: “Crisis? What crisis?”
    –ELP “Tarkus”
    –Pink Floyd: “Atom Heart Mother”
    –Pescado Rabioso “Desatormentándonos”
    –Genesis “Foxtrot”
    –Frank Zappa “Overnite Sensation/Apostrophe(‘) ”
    –Peter Gabriel (1977 Album)
    –Eels, “Daisies of the Galaxy”
    –Ween: “The Molusk”

    @Joe: here’s another for your list!

  17. Slap says:

    In no particular order:

    Rolling Stones: Aftermath
    Beatles: Revolver
    Beatles: Abbey Road
    FZ: Hot Rats
    FZ: Uncle Meat
    Velvets: Loaded
    Lou Reed: Transformer
    Lou Reed: Berlin
    Hatfield & the North: Rotter’s Club
    J Geils: Bloodshot
    Picchio dal Pozzo (1st album)
    Bowie: Diamond Dogs
    Bruce Cockburn: the Charity of Night
    King Crimson: Starless & Bible Black
    Groundhogs: Hogwash

  18. Slap says:

    Addendum: clearly, there’s a ton I left out….(struggled with not listing any Beefheart) But in context of the question, which was impact, these popped out without too much thinking. (Waits’ Small Change hit my memory a little late, and I know there’ll be others….Blood on the Tracks leaps to mind, the second Band album, Full House, This Year’s Model….) Not an easy exercise!

  19. Jamez says:

    1. Zappa – Tinseltown Rebellion
    2. Stevie Wonder – Innervisions
    3. David Bowie – Low
    4. Pink Floyd – the Wall
    5. Zappa/ Beefheart – Bongo Fury
    6. Todd Rundgren – A Wizard/ A True Star
    7. Lou Reed – Berlin
    8. Black Sabbath – Paranoid
    9. Prince – Dirty Mind
    10. Captain Beefheart – Trout Mask Replica
    11. P.J. Harvey – 4 Track Demos
    12. Queens Of The Stone Age – Rated R
    13. Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon
    14. Frank Zappa – Overnite Sensation
    15. Funkadelic – Maggot Brain

  20. Slap says:

    Damn you, Barry!!!

    Tassavallan Presidentti – Lambert Land
    Golden Earring: Together
    the first three Supersister albums
    Patto – Roll ‘em Smoke ‘em Put Another Line Out
    Oldfield – Hergest Ridge

    ….luckily, the ECM albums I encountered between ’72 and ’76 were so numerous that titles don’t trouble me in this context….

    Bill Evans – Alone (again)

    Ack!

  21. Rob says:

    OK Barry, who wins and what’s the grand prize?

  22. chadkops says:

    In order of appearance :

    1. Nirvana – Bleach
    2. Pearl Jam – Vs
    3. Sepultura – Chaos AD
    4. Whipping Boy – Heartquake
    5. Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dreams
    6. Angra – Holy Land
    7. Symphony X – The Divine Wings of Tragedy
    8. Yes – Close To The Edge
    9. King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King
    10. King Crimson – Larks Tongues In Aspic
    11. Frank Zappa – The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life
    12. Frank Zappa – Roxy & Elsewhere
    13. John Coltrane – My Favorite Things
    14. Mississippi Fred McDowell – I Do Not Play Not Rock N’ Roll
    15. Son House – Delta Blues And Spirituals

  23. Barry's Imaginary Publisher says:

    A quote from Rob:

    OK Barry, who wins and what’s the grand prize?

    Fifteen albums that will always stick with you. :)

  24. Robert says:

    1. Zappa – Civilization Phase III
    2. Zappa – Jazz From Hell
    3. Zappa – Live in New York
    4. Zappa – Roxy & Elsewhere
    5. Zappa – Shut Up ‘N Play Yer Guitar
    6. Zappa – Guitar
    7. Zappa – Hot Rats
    8. Zappa – Freak Out!
    9. Zappa – Waka/Jawaka
    10. Zappa – Zoot Allures
    11. Zappa – Tinseltown Rebellion
    12. Zappa – You Are What You Is
    13. Zappa – Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch
    14. Zappa – Sheik Yerbouti
    15. Zappa – Sleep Dirt

    There. An all-FZ list. The one you all have been waiting for. To me, none other albums beat the ones above.

  25. exile says:

    These are the first that come to mind… ask me tomorrow and the list might look different.

    Freak Out – FZ
    Uncle Meat – FZ
    One Size Fits All – FZ
    Roxy & Elsewhere – FZ
    Countdown to Ecstasy – Steely Dan
    Close to the Edge – Yes
    Red – King Crimson
    Starless and Bible Black – King Crimson
    Clear Spot – Captain Beefheart
    The Spotlight Kid – Captain Beefheart
    Another Green World – Brian Eno
    Zawinul – Joe Zawinul
    Sinfonia – Luciano Berio
    Le Sacre Du Printemps – Igor Stravinsky
    Agon – Igor Stravinsky

  26. JacquesD says:

    9. Insane Clown Posse – Bang! Pow! Boom!
    5. Aqua – Aquarium
    12. Rammstein – Herzeleid
    7. Beatles – Yellow Submarine Songbook
    2. Alanis Morissette – Now Is The Time
    10. Cher – Believe
    3. Spinal Tap – Shark Sandwich
    8. William Shatner – The Transformed Man
    15. Europe – The Final Countdown
    11. Kenny G – Classics in the Key of G
    4. Bruce Willis – Return of Bruno
    1. Celine Dion – Let’s Talk About Love
    13. Sting – A Brand New Day
    6. Toto – Toto IV
    14. U2 – How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb

  27. Dark Clothes says:

    My list is centred on the period when I had realized that music was important to me, and started having favourite albums. Before that, I was a just a kid listening to the radio and sometimes taping songs, like Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here and Springsteen’s Born To Run. I remember liking my uncle’s John Mayall albums a lot. And cassettes with Elton John, Rod Stewart and so on. I even adored Roger Whittaker’s voice as a wee kid! But I couldn’t bring myself to put Roger and the likes on the list here, because they would push out much more relevant and formative influences. So here’s the slightly doctored, nevertheless spontaneous and pretty honest list.

    The Beatles Blue Album 1967-1970 (my brother had the red album)
    David Bowie ChangesOneBowie
    David Bowie Heroes
    Lou Reed Street Hassle
    Pink Floyd Animals
    Zappa Sheik Yerbouti
    MoI Burnt Weenie Sandwich
    Captain Beefheart Shiny Beast
    Syd Barrett The Madcap Laughs
    Pink Floyd The Piper At The Gates of Dawn
    Can Tago Mago
    De Press Block to Block
    Pere Ubu The Art of Walking
    This Heat Blue/Yellow
    Cabaret Voltaire The Voice of America

  28. jonnybutter says:

    Zappa – Burnt Weeny
    Zappa – Uncle Meat
    Zappa – Hot Rats
    Zappa – Ponty Album
    Zappa – Lumpy Gravy
    Miles Davis – Bitches Brew
    Weather Report – first album
    Stevie Wonder – Innervision
    Tower of Power – Back to Oakland
    Tower of Power – Urban Renewal
    Djavan – Seduzir
    Larry Harlow – Greatest Hits
    Glenn Gould – all, except for his Mozart
    Early Stravinsky Ballets – Boulez
    Stravinsky – Agon
    Ray Charles – piano trio stuff (no singing)
    Beefheart – Trout Mask
    Eddie Harris – The Electric..

    is that more than 15? ; )

  29. Duncan says:

    A quote from Dark Clothes:

    This Heat
    Cabaret Voltaire

    It was a close call between Metabolist or This Heat or Cabaret Voltaire or Residents or some such :-) but Metabolist has been popping up on the iPod a lot lately and they never disappoint.

    Too much ELP people :-(

  30. emmmgeee says:

    In fluctuating rank, but 15 records…

    Megadeth – Rust in Peace
    MOI – We’re only in it for the Money
    Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream
    Alice in Chains – Jar of Flies
    Pink Floyd – Animals
    KISS – Unmasked
    Metallica – Ride the Lightning
    NIN – The Downward Spiral
    Shpongle – Are you Shpongled?
    Koxbox – The Great Unknown
    Frank Zappa – Joe’s Garage
    Slayer – Decade of Aggression
    Nirvana – Nevermind
    King Crimson – Red
    Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight, Tonight single

  31. J21 says:

    Zappa – Joe’s Garage
    David Bowie – Outside
    Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon
    Adrian Belew – Op Zop To Wah
    T-Ride – T-Ride
    Alcatrazz – Disturbing the Peace
    Zappa – One Size Fits All
    King Crimson – Red
    King Crimson – Thrak
    NIN – Fragile
    David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust
    Zappa – Overnite Sensation
    David Torn – What means solid:traveler
    Michael Hedges – Torched
    Steve Vai – Passion & Warfare

  32. Jamez says:

    If I could add 5 more to my 15 to make 20, I’d also add

    16. The Tubes – The Tubes
    17. Peter Gabriel – 1
    18. Fela Kuti – Zombie
    19. AC/DC – Powerage
    20. Utopia – Ra

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