Here it is: Day 5 of this little looksie through my music collection. Once again, these choices are the albums that have played the most important roles in my life, not the albums I believe are the best ones ever release. So, let’s get this party started.
41. Run-DMC – Raising Hell (1986). This is the album when rap became an album-oriented art. Not only that, but Run-DMC made rap palatable for suburban white teens by teaming up with Aerosmith to update “Walk This Way” into a rap classic.
42. Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977). The Pistols took the Ramones’ music and coupled it with the working class angst of the English working class of the Seventies. And when they sang “Anarchy in the U.K.” or “God Save the Queen”, you knew this was the new world order.
43. The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead (1986). The US had R.E.M., and the UK had The Smiths. Both were bringing back the classic guitar sound of each home country. The Smiths invented a sound that would be called Brit Pop in the Nineties. Although The Smiths were a cult band in the States, this album opened up a whole another continent’s worth of modern rock music and introduced me to the haunting lyrics of Morrissey as well as the swirling guitar sound of Johnny Marr.
44. Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run (1975). I must say that when I heard the title song on Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 while helping my parents decorate our Christmas tree for one last time before my parents split. My ears could not believe what was going in them. My music tastes took an immediate change at that moment. By the way, this was the first song that I taught my boys. Seriously.
45. Talking Heads – The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads (1982). First off, I never can remember which side of the cover is the front and which is the back, so I’m showing both. Anyway, why doesn’t anyone remember this album? C’mon! On this double album, we get to listen to the “LIVE IN CONCERT” evolution of this band from a three-piece band of nervous energy to an expanded band of virtuosos that were taking their original sound and adding the funk of the Parliafunkadelicment Thang. This is my favorite Talking Heads album since you get it all, warts and all. After all of these years, the album still takes my breath away.
46. U2 – The Joshua Tree (1987). U2 moved into the upper threshold of the rock hierarchy thanks to this album. U2 perfected their sound on this album, all before they truly became great artists by ripping the formula apart and reinventing themselves on their next studio album. But, in 1987, U2 released a great album that stayed on my turntable for at least a month. That is, until Prince released Sign ‘O’ the Times.
47. Van Halen – Van Halen (1978). All of a sudden, metal was no longer going to be taking itself so seriously. Finally, humor and fun was being injected into the formula, as well as a brand new guitar hero who smiled instead of sneering. David Lee Roth brought the game show host MC-ing, while Eddie Van Halen brought the guitar fireworks. And, the rhythm section, bassist Michael Anthony and drummer Alex Van Halen brought the rock-steady beat foundation. All metal should sound like this. Oh, right, in five years it sure will sound like its trying to.
48. Various Artists – Hitsville USA: The Motown Singles Collection 1959-1971 (1992). You can never have enough Motown music that was created in Detroit, Michigan. That is “The Sound of Young America”. This music was covered by bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Who, etc., as well as included on such classic movie soundtracks like The Big Chill and Dirty Dancing. You cannot go wrong with this box set.
49. Various Artists – Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968 (1972). This double album was first released in 1972 and was not very successful. But, like what has been said about albums released by Velvet Underground or Big Star, those who bought the album all started bands. Nuggets collected great garage band singles of the mid-Sixties that have all been recognized as the influences on the initial run of punk rock in New York City and London a decade later. You are hearing the beginnings of punk rock right here in the grooves of this one.
50. The Who – Who’s Next (1971). If it wasn’t for this album, all of those CSI TV show would never have a theme song. Seriously, The Who finally lived up to the bombastic promise of their earlier albums. The whole album is the perfected sound of hard rock. Plus, The Who added the sound of the synthesizer to the mix, which would become the instrument of the Eighties.
There you go! That’s my list of the albums that have played the most important role in my listening life.