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My 35 Most Influential Albums

April 12, 2006

List the 10, 20 or 30 albums that had the greatest influence on YOU. Tell me why, if you want. Props to Jay for the meme.

1) Prince – 1999. He’s the artist that probably had more influence on me personally AND musically. After I heard Dirty Mind, I was never the same. Moreover, I didn’t feel quite so strange anymore. Of all his works, 1999 had the most impact on me personally.
2) Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy. Ever start listening to a band because of a girl or boy you liked? This was one of those records for me. I’d thought Zep was corny, “Stairway to Heaven” was like “Freebird” to me, until I heard “The Rain Song.”
3) Bad Brains – I Against I. Again, another band that confirmed I wasn’t the only black person in the world who loved punk and rock. See also Fishbone, below.
4) Public Enemy – It Takes a Nation of Millions . . . I realized the potential power of rap and encouraged my participation in politics.
5) De La Soul – Three Feet High and Rising. Until this record (and P.E.) rap was like a set up/like a game/ a lotta suckas with colorful names/I’m so and so, I’m this I’m that/But ya all just wick wick wack
6) Elvis Costello – The Best of. . .. I think this record helped make me a more thoughtful person.
7) ACO – The Other Side of Absolute Ego. The first Japanese artist whose music I connected with beyond curiosity. Blows the myth of the Japanese as copycats out of the water (even though she loves to cover US pop and R&B songs). This a remix, however I highly recommend both versions of this record.
8) Star Wars Ep. IV soundtrack. Expanded the horizons of a young lad.
9) Fishbone – Fishbone. See Bad Brains above. Was my favorite band for 10 years running.
10) Portishead – Portishead. A lot of people like Dummy better, however this was the first Portishead music I heard. It was like nothing else I’d heard before, and kick started my interest in electronica.
11) Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland. I’m sure I heard Hendrix before my pre-teen years on my brother’s record player, yet he didn’t impact me until later. Made me want to pick up a guitar.
12) Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life. I really could have picked any record from this cat, however this one probably had more impact on me. I heard his music in the house when I was a tyke. We played “Sir Duke” in a 5th grade band concert.
13) Run DMC – Rock Box. The first real rap LP, kind of a milestone in the genre.
14) Final Fantasy VII Soundtrack. Huh? Video game soundtrack? I listened to this while writing my second screenplay. The composer, Uematsu, is a hidden gem.
15) The Clash – Combat Rock. Some are with you rather than against you.
16) Bob Marley – Kaya. I listened to this a lot during the year my brother’s health took a final turn for the worse. Also, have you seen my hair?
17) Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club. Another band which I could have really picked any number of records. This might have been the first Beatles record I bought that wasn’t a comp.
18) Funkadelic – Uncle Jam’s Army. Something about the music got into my pants.
19) Dj Shadow – Entroducing. Helped to reinvigorate my interest in rap during a time when I had given up on the genre as turning into a blackface version of hair metal.
20) Curtis Mayfield – Superfly. Made a very young boy think about the dangers of street life. Music can sometimes still give me chills.
21) Elton John – Greatest Hits. My brother loved this record, so then did I. What happened to this Elton? Sad.
22) Sly and the Family Stone – Greatest Hits. Never not in the mood for some Sly.
23) Tom Tom Club – Tom Tom Club. After this, I wanted to see what this band Talking Heads was all about.
24) English Beat – Greatest Hits. I never owned the record, they just didn’t have a cover for the Beat record I did have. At any rate, I backed my way into reggae from listening to ska and two-tone like this.
25) Miles Davis – Kind of Blue. Until this record, my idea of jazz was David Sanborn.
26) Sugarhill Gang – Sugarhill Gang. Really, just for “Rapper’s Delight.” The first rap record I could get my friends to like, and for a lot of people their first rap song.
27) Sarah McLachlan – Fumbling Towards Ecstacy. There was a period, believe it or not, when I was all about this Lilith Fair type of stuff. This record led me to those estrogen powered records of the early 90’s.
28) Jackson 5 – Greatest Hits. Another case of them not having proper covers. I had mostly singles of Jackson 5 songs anyway. The first concert I ever attended was a Jackson 5 show, with the Commodores opening.
29) Rage Against the Machine – RATM. Saw them at Lollapalooza and bought the record as soon as I got home. Gave me hope for humanity, or something.
30) Cure – The Head on the Door. Another horizon broadening experience.
31) R.E.M. – Fables of the Reconstruction. One of my long time friends hipped me to this band. My Fishbone loving Chapel Hill friends thought I was insane for listening to this band.
32) Soul II Soul – Keep On Movin’. I probably had not listened to an R&B record for 10 years before this one. Gave me hope for the genre, and would help spark both the Neo-Soul and “downtempo” movement.
33) The Police – Reggatta de Blanc. First song I learned to play on guitar is a Police song.
34) Badfinger – No Dice. No matter where you are/I will always be with you
35) Tribe Called Quest – Midnight Marauders. Part of the Native Tongue movement with the likes of De La Soul, their first record affected me in a similar way to Three Feet High and Rising, however, the crew didn’t produce anything with a profound effect on me until Midnight Marauders.
I coulda done 40, but I was staying up way too late as it was.

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