The 50 Most Important Albums Of My Life, Part 5

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

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. Never_Mind_the_Bollocks,_Here's_the_Sex_Pistols

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-Queen-is-Dead-cover

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

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. b. The_Name_of_This_Band_Is_Talking_Heads45. a. The_Name_of_This_Band_Is_Talking_Heads

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

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_album

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. hitsville usa 1959-1971

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. Nuggets,_Volume_1

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

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.

Author: ifmyalbumscouldtalk

I am just a long-time music fan who used to be a high school science teacher and a varsity coach of several high school athletic teams. Before that, I worked as a medical technologist at three hospitals in their labs, mainly as a microbiologist. I am retired/disabled (Failed Back Surgery Syndrome), and this is my attempt to remain a human. Additionally, I am a serious vinyl aficionado, with a CD addiction and a love of reading about rock history. Finally, I am a fan of Prince, Cheap Trick, Tom Petty, R.E.M., Hall & Oates, Springsteen, Paul Weller & his bands and Power Pop music.

3 thoughts on “The 50 Most Important Albums Of My Life, Part 5”

  1. Great list, Sir.

    My attempts at such a list have always gone horribly wrong and grown completely out of control. Keeping a list to just 50 titles would positively drive me insane but I always start with these three “firsts”:

    Rhythm Heritage – Disco-Fied (1976)
    The first album I ever bought with my own money. I only wanted to buy the “Theme From S.W.A.T.” 45 but they were sold out and the clerk talked me into buying the album. Never regretted it and I eventually did score the 45 a few weeks later.

    Duran Duran – Rio (1982)
    One of three albums that soundtracked “my very first time.” (The other two were Men At Work’s Business As Usual and Bow Wow Wow’s I Want Candy.) We met at Model United Nations at the University. I was the Iraqi delegate and she represented Iran. She came on strong, sending me flirty notes. On the third and final day of our session, I rode the muni bus home with her. We went directly to her room and I remember hearing her sister come home and start playing the Bow Wow Wow album in the room next door. She played it loud. Rio came after both sides had played and let’s just say some of those songs mean a whole lot to me because of the vivid memories and intense feelings linked to them. I do remember that she played the last album, the Men At Work one, backwards; Side B then Side A which accounts for me liking “Be Good Johnny” more than the two bigger singles. She moved away two months later and our relationship lasted only a few weeks over the long distance.
    Flash forward 32 years later, after no communication whatsoever in the intervening years, and she leaves a message on my landline. “Hope this is you, XXXX (not my real name) This is XXXX (not her real name either.) Hope you remember me and want to call me back. It’s been awhile.” After clearing it with my wife – after listening to the message three or four times, we both thought she might be in trouble from the sound of her voice – and discussing it with two of my grown children who happened to be visiting that night, I tried texting that number. She was reticent to return my initial texts (“Who dis?” “Do not disturb. I’m sleeping.”) and then when I gave my full name she confused me with someone else she knew and told me how sorry she was that my Dad had died and hoped my Mom’s cancer was still in remission. (Both my folks were alive and fine at the time.) I was set to quit right then but my kids egged me on and eventually she recognized me. Then the interrogation started with “Why aren’t you on Facebook/Twitter/etc?” Within half an hour she was cussing me out, calling me names I honestly had never heard before and accusing me of ruining her life forever while I tried in vain to maintain civility and asked her to calm down. My children were convinced she was drunk or high and after one last plea for her to stop typing in all caps and using profanity, I blocked her. Bizarre. The following week I resumed therapy as I hadn’t felt so abused, so rattled and so helpless since I was sexually abused from the ages of 6 to 12. And it was just a stupid text conversation. It would be a solid seven or eight months before I got all of my demons back at bay and my mojo returned. Fortunately, she never called the landline again and has yet to show up at my door – she knew my address, my wife’s name as well as those of my children. Even after that whole ordeal, I still enjoy those three albums. Go figure.

    Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – Live/1975-1985 (1986)
    The first CD I ever bought, on the day it was released no less. The only problem was I didn’t own a CD player at the time and I had to go to my friend Stephen’s house and use his player. I brought my own Aiwa tape deck over though and dubbed the set down to three TDK-SA 90s, filling up extra space at end of the tapes by repeating my favorite songs. Six of my friends (including Stephen and the girl who became my wife three months later) pooled their limited, full-time student working a part-time job funds and bought me a $400 JVC CD player that Christmas and by December 31, 1986, I had nearly 40 compact discs including half a dozen I received as Christmas gifts from my family who were informed ahead of time by my girl that I was getting a player. Nearly nine months later, to the day, we had our first child.

    These kind of lists are bullet-proof anyway; only you can say what albums were important in your life.
    And given the quality of your 50 personal picks, your disclaimer at the beginning of each post
    “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 released”
    has me wondering just what albums you believe ARE the best ever released?

    Can’t wait for that list.


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