reposted from fb, 25 albums that shaped your life

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  • This exercise brings back some heavy memories...cathartic shit

  • nzshadownzshadow 5,516 Posts
    The Who: Im a boy 45.

    Dad was the Stones, Led Zep and Sabbath, Mum was the Beatles, Marianne Faithful and Simon and Garfunkel. My earliest vinyl related memory was when I would play this 45 over and over in my room, I think it was Dads, but he mostly had albums whilst mum had 45s, I must have been around 7 or 8. I used to get sent to my room a lot, I had a stereo in there; I spent many nights with a tea-towel wrapped around my head, a hairbrush for a mic and no shirt on. I played that 45 to death.

    Rolling Stones: some compilation

    ???Get offa my cloud??? this track was like a bolt from the blue, the family was falling apart at the seams, I spent most nights locked in my room, this tune drowning out the sounds of my parents fighting. I cant listen to it today, i get transported back to that room.

    Boomtown Rats: I don???t like Mondays
    Home life had deteriorated fast, it was spiraling and I was completely powerless, I had just gotten out of hospital, childhood asthma is a bitch: dad brought me a double cassette compilation called ???the great british invasion???. I cant remember much from that tape save Thin Lizzy and the Boomtown Rats, my last memory of our family before the divorce was sitting in the back of dads MK4 Zephyr with my orange walkman headphones on listening to the keyboard intro, mum and dad arguing, my kid brothers crying, and knowing that all I wanted was to escape.

    De La Soul: 3 ft High and Rising
    I don???t know where I got the tape but I remember running home to play it, it was so incredible, I had not heard soundscapes like this, the skits, the samples, I didn???t know it then but this album had a major impact on me.

    Dead Kennedys: Fresh Fruit for Rotten Vegetables
    Simon was cool, I still don???t know why he hung out with me, the kid was light-years ahead, we were both avoiding our homes as much as possible, a park separated our houses, the first time I met him he was smoking cigarettes and swearing, we were 10. I don???t know where he got the tape, but he had it. I had never heard anything like it in my life, I listened to that album every night for over a year and when my cassette deck finally ate it, I pulled all the tape out and pinned it on the wall with the word ???punk??? written in blood underneath. Scared the shit outta my mum which was precisely what it was meant to do.

    RHCP: Mothers Milk

    Dad was long gone, mum was drinking, I was torn between running away and leaving my kid brothers behind or staying and being the whipping boy. My answer was to run away every night and come back on a bus in the morning. I used to walk. I would walk for miles all through the night, sometimes my legs would give out and id sleep wherever I ended up, mostly under a tree on the beach or in a fort at a school, Simon hipped me to the chillie???s, all I had to go on was the cover of the album which had a real live naked lady on it, I was stoked. The music cut straight to my core, I would play it in my walkman every night as I walked as far away from my house as I could. Johnny kick a hole in the sky pretty much summed up my life at that time.

    Split Enz: I see red.

    Drugs, Dropping out of school, fistfights, more drugs, anger, insecurity, helplessness, bad decisions, guilt, pain.

    Public Enemy: it takes a nation of millions.

    WHAT THE F*ck. To this day I can close my eyes and recall exactly where I was when I first heard Countdown to Armageddon. I can smell the air, I can feel the sun on my face, I can be right there. This album changed my life. When I heard this I knew I didn???t know, I knew I wanted to know and I knew I would never be the same. No album before or since has had such a profound effect on me, this album started my complete and utter love affair with music, it has brought me to where I am and who I am today, without Public Enemy who knows what id be doing right now.

    Cypress Hill: S/T,
    I was smoking a lot of weed, surfing couches and working in a record store, For a good while all I would listen to was PE and then I heard Cypress Hill, shit was funny, it was stoned out, it was cool, I have nothing but goofy stoned memories attached to this album.

    NWA:Straight outta Compton
    White, Check. Suburban, Check.

    Snoop: Doggystyle.
    What can I say? I fought, fucked and smoked to this record for a good 6 months. Little ghetto boy was my shit.

    Nirvana: Nevermind.
    Freedom, girls, drugs, girls, partying, girls, I look back at this time as the best in my life, I was too young to care to old to give a F*ck. Good times. Kurts voice sounded like grated glass, this was raw, this was honest, this was pure f*cking heaven.

    KRSONE: return of the Boom-Bap.
    ???We will be here forever???. Oh hell yes. I started hanging out with some serious guys, this album was the soundtrack to a dangerous time, I lost friends to violence and drugs that summer, we were getting older, shit was getting realer.

    Beastie Boys: Check your head.
    Mike Peters is the coolest person I have ever met. he handed me a promo cassette and a spliff, said ???go home, smoke that, listen to this???. Done and dusted. Wherever you are Mike, I thank you.

    TBC...

  • early teens
    01) Black Flag -- My War
    02) Suicidal Tendencies -- Join the Army
    03) Dead Kennedy -- Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death
    04) Ramones -- ST/Road to Ruin
    05) The Cure -- Standing on the Beach (and B sides)

    mid-late teens
    06) Fugazi -- 13 Songs/Repeater
    07) Nation of Ulyssess -- Plays Pretty for Baby
    08) Rolling Stones -- Sticky Fingers
    09) Jimi Hendrix -- Electric Ladyland
    10) Led Zeppelin -- II
    11) Sonic Youth -- Daydream Nation/Dirty
    12) Public Enemy -- Nation of Millions
    13) Tribe Called Quest -- Instinctive Travels/Low End Theory
    14) James Brown -- 70s Funk Classics
    15) Pavement -- Crooked Rain
    16) Stereolab -- Random Transient Noise Bursts
    17) Unrest -- Imperial

    early twenties
    18) John Coltrane -- Coltrane [Impulse]/Love Supreme/Transition
    19) Pharoah Sanders -- Black Unity
    20) Miles Davis -- Live Evil
    21) King Tubby/Augustus Pablo -- Meets Rockers Uptown
    22) Tortoise -- ST/Millions Now Living
    23) The Monks -- Black Monk Time
    24) Mike Buck's Pictures of the Gone World comp
    25) Velvet Underground -- White Light/White Heat

    way more rockist than i would have realized.

  • JRootJRoot 861 Posts

    But, here's a serious contender for adult life shaping:





    Antony & The Johnsons - I Am a Bird Now (Secretly Canadian, 2005)[/b]

    * * *
    I'm off to have a burger with JRoot.
    ~B


    The dude Bradley, who joined us later for the burger (you and A**** were still there, I think, when he arrived), was either on his way to or at the Antony & the Johnsons concert at Town Hall while Bam's post was being written.

    I keep good musical company.

    JRoot

    PS I'll holler back at this thread over the weekend if I get a minute. It's a good un.

  • Big_StacksBig_Stacks "I don't worry about hittin' power, cause I don't give 'em nuttin' to hit." 4,670 Posts
    Hey,

    Here are some records that definitely shaped my life over the years:

    The Formative Years:

    1. "Sun Goddess"-Ramsey Lewis.

    -This is the first record I fell in love with as a child (at 5 years old). I must have been rather precocious, but I felt something special when I listened to this album. This record set the stage for my burgeoning lifelong obsession with records.

    2. "Gratitude"-Earth, Wind, and Fire.

    -This record blew my mind!!! Again, I was a small child (6 years old) but I was inspired by the music. Also, I worked on my drum playing basics an infinite number of times following along with this album. I also had "That's the Way of the World," and I got "Spirit" the following year. I also bought their back catalogue LPs (and later new joints) when I got older. I still have my original copy of "Gratitude" from childhood, and it served to shape my developing musical sensibilities.

    3. "I Want You"-Marvin Gaye.

    -I became a devoted Marvin Gaye fan after hearing this record. Still, I'm in early childhood and this record's lushness influenced my future preference for such production. Plus, I appreciate the key changes, incredible vocal arranging, looking back on it, but again, I knew I was hearing something special. My future production style was highly influenced by this record.

    4. "Exodus"-Bob Marley and the Wailers.

    -My uncle Phillip would play this album all the time while my brother and I were visiting my grandma down South. This album was my first introduction to reggae, after a childhood, to this point, filled with soul and gospel (and a little bit of rock). This record opened up a whole new genre of music to me, and I began to add reggae to my collection after this point.

    5. "Right on Time"-The Brothers Johnson.

    -This album introduced me to The Brothers Johnson and Quincy Jones Productions. I instantly flipped for the brothers and that slick, funky sound associated with QJ Productions. In response, I bought "Look Out for #1," but this album was the shit. The LP paved the way to future QJ Productions masterpieces like "Off the Wall," "Light Up the Night," "Give Me the Night," and "The Dude."

    6. "Heavy Horses"-Jethro Tull.

    -My brother and I were in the Columbia Record Club (thanks to my dad). If anyone remembers, when you failed to respond to a record request, the company would just send it. Well, this happened with "Heavy Horses." When the record arrived, my brother and I looked it, and both said, "let's play it." Imagine these two young Black kids listening to this album. Needless to say, we both loved it. This experience taught me the valuable lesson of never judging a record by its cover, and to be open to different genres of music beyond soul, gospel, and reggae. I became an official rock fan because of this record (though I liked rock songs on the radio all the time), and it was one of the first rock records I owned (besides "Gonzo" by Ted Nugent).

    7. "Zenyatta Mondatta"-The Police.

    -My family was moving from Silver Spring, MD down to Greensboro, NC (yuck!!!). As a going away gift, a friend of my brother bought him this album. We didn't know who they were, so in our usual fashion, we put it on the turntable to let the music do the talking. At this point our lives, this was some ole' next shit. We were like, "Wow, this is cool as hell." We became instant fans, and Stewart Copeland became my favorite drummer. Again, this LP stretched my musical tastes to yet another genre, thus opening me up for future musical discoveries to which I might have been closed-minded.

    8. "Rocks, Pebbles, and Sand"-Stanley Clarke.

    -This is one of the first albums I bought myself. I liked the single "We Supply" so I saved up my allowance to buy the LP. This was my first introduction to Stanley Clarke and I liked what I heard. The record had rather strong rock leanings, but it pushed me to look for other Stanley Clarke material. As a result, I found he was a jazz artist so this pointed me closer toward becoming a jazz fan (after tracking down his earlier work).

    9. "Voyeur"-David Sanborn.

    -This might be laughable, but this is a record my uncle Phillip put my brother up on. He bought it, we listened to it, and both of us liked it. It's not that this album is so great (although I still have a soft spot for it), but it pointed my brother and I in the jazz direction. In later years, the depth of our jazz knowledge would grow, but this LP gave us an early, baby-food sampling of the genre.

    The Teenage Years:

    10. "Party Mix!"-The B-52's.

    -This LP was another one of those genre-pushing records. Someone put my brother up on it, and he bought it. After listening to it, we were moved to try other music in this vein. This album paved the way to listening to other alternative groups like Devo, The Art of Noise, etc. We also ventured back to The B-52's back catalogue to get more of their music.

    11. "Home Computer"-Kraftwerk.

    -This album again pushed me toward electronic music as an interest area. Someone put my brother and I up on it, and we went out to cop the record. We thought it was cool, and for me, this record put me a step closer to my interest in hip-hop. It also made me want to buy a drum machine, which I did a year or two later.

    12. "Purple Rain"-Prince.

    -Prince broadened my musical horizons in a major way as a result of this album. I cannot even describe how much I was moved by this LP. It was some next-level craziness, and he changed the way I looked at music forever. I was inspired by Prince's talent and I wanted to up my musical capaabilities after hearing this album.

    13. "The Album"-Mantronix.

    -Man, I remember hearing the "Fresh is the Word" single at my cousin's crib (in VA) and going crazy. I had to have the album that it came from, and I was on a mission to get it. So, I got the album and thought it was bananas. I had never heard hip-hop like that, and I was up on it for a minute by this point. But, I began to SERIOUSLY want to make beats after hearing this LP, and I made it happened during that year (1985).

    Adulthood and Beyond:

    14. "Critical Beatdown"-The Ultramagnetic MCs.

    -This album changed the way I approached rap production. I first lost my mind when I heard the single "Ego Trippin" on a KYS tape. Down south, KYS had street value like uncut coke and my cousin used to send them to me. I was also diggin' "Funky" and "Feelin' It," so I had to cop the album. Man, "Critical Beatdown" was the hardest shit I had ever heard at the time and it made me want to step my beat game. This album changed my life and the way I approach hip-hop. That LP epitomizes hip-hop to me, to this very day.

    15. "3 Feet High and Rising"-De La Soul.

    -This LP had yet another groundbreaking impact on how I viewed hip-hop. The production was so multilayered and different from anything I had ever heard before. I was immediately impacted by this LP and it remains a favorite of mine. It had an indescribable influence on how I make beats to this very day.

    16. "Songs"-Rotary Connection.

    -This is one of the 1st albums I copped when I got serious about my collecting. I wasn't playing around at this point, so I was on record-shopping missions every week. I was floored by this album cause it was so different than anything I had ever heard. I didn't know of Minnie Riperton prior to her solo career, so it opened a whole new shade of her career. In my usual fashion, I copped their other albums in response to this one.

    17. "Ptah The El Dauod"-Alice Coltrane.

    -I love this LP. It had such an effect on me. I was probably in my late teens when I first heard it, and I was blown away. I became a big fan upon first hearing her music and I was hooked ever since. I could never envision music sounding like this, so multilayered, atonal at times, chaotic, yet beautiful. I love music that pushes the boundaries, and Alice definitely did that (RIP). She was incredible!!!

    18. "The Hissing of Summer Lawns"-Joni Mitchell.

    -Cats on here who know me know that I love this album. My brother put me up on this joint since he's been a fan for years. I must been in my early 20's when I discovered Joni's work, and I scurried to buy everything she ever did. I was immediately touched by the subtle beauty of this album. I used to play this album all the time (along with puffin' an L) to calm down when school was stressing me out.

    19. "Sketches in Spain"-Miles Davis.

    -This LP was my first introduction to Miles Davis. Again, I was in my early 20's when my brother played this album for me. I didn't know what to say, but I had to have it. So, I immediately went down to Nice Price Books to cop the vinyl. It's been in my collection ever since. I also, of course, had to get all of his back catalogue on subsequent record diggin' missions. But, I was awed by the beauty of the man's music and it changed my perspective on jazz music realizing that sometimes less is more (and that melody trumps chops sometimes).

    20. "So Far"-Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

    -I was in my folk/rock phase at this point, so I was buying old stuff from this genre by the dozens. I ran across this LP around 1992 and I was blown away. I wasn't up on the much to this point, beyond some signature songs of theirs that I knew. But, after hearing this joint, I became a lifelong fan. As always, I had to go coppeth the back catalogue of material and the myriad solo LPs. This album solidified my love of music in its genre.

    21. "S/T"-Black Sabbath.

    -I became a serious heavy head during this period of my life. I knew of Sabbath/Ozzy but I never paid serious attention. Then, I bought the first Black Sabbath joint and thought, "What the F*ck have I been missing?" I was like "woah" and blown away by the sonic boom coming from the speakers. I was pushed toward other music in this genre by my introduction by this album, and it changed my musical tastes in a monumental way. Without this album I never would have checked for Led Zeppelin's back catalogue.

    22. "S/T"-Eddie Fisher and the Next 100 Years.

    -This is a cool LP I found while I was in graduate school. I didn't dig that much during this period, but this was one of the gems of that era. It was some fuzzed out psych shit that was cool to smoke out to, when I was trying to relieve the stress of my academic studies.

    23. "II"-Leroy Hutson.

    -This was one of the best records I bought in my life. I paid a grip for this joint, as the prices were starting to rise a lil' bit at this point. It was worth every penny!!! Leroy is that dude and he was a nice addition to the collection during a rather dismal period of my life. This LP pulled me out of some rather gloomy days on a few occasions.

    24. "Volume 2"-The Soft Machine.

    -This LP was part of my "European phase" where I ventured to buy more music from across the pond. I picked up this album on a whim since I was familiar with Robert Wyatt. Needless to say, I loved the album and endeavored to pick up more of them shortly thereafter. The album made a nice addition to my collection and stretched the genres represented within it.

    25. "Transitory"-Jasper van Hooft's Pork Pie.

    -This was a cool LP I picked up a few years ago. I wasn't familiar with the group, so I took a chance and bought it after needle dropping a few tracks at the record store. I found this LP to be very unique and it pushed me to seek out other European jazz joints, as I liked what I heard. This album got me through some tough emotional times during this period my life, since I was borderline depressed living in Milwaukee.

    There are tons of albums that I could have mentioned such as "Songs in the Key of Life," "Dark Side of the Moon," "The Truth is the Power" (Mighty Clouds of Joy for those unaware), "Songs of Praise" (The Sensational Nightingales), "Mudboy Slim," The White Album, "Are You Experienced?", "He's Coming," "Safe as Milk," Velvet Underground ft. Nico, "Tobacco Road," "Construction #1," "John Wesley Harding," "Plug Me In," "Legalize It," "My Favorite Things," "Giant Steps," "Maiden Voyage," "Brilliant Circles," "Aja," "Sleeping Gypsy," "What Color is Love?" etc., but I stuck to albums that signified certain periods of my life.

    Peace,

    Big Stacks from Kakalak

  • DocMcCoyDocMcCoy "Go and laugh in your own country!" 5,921 Posts
    Amazing thread, and respect to all those who really opened up in here. It's made for pretty powerful reading.

    Now, since I don't really do brevity, I'm going to post this in stages, and more or less chronologically. So, here goes...


    The Beatles: Please Please Me

    Or; Why I Listen To Music. My earliest, clearest memory is of my ma taking me into town to the NEMS record shop in Whitechapel (which Brian Epstein owned) and buying me this album for my fourth birthday, so the die was cast for me at a very early age. This was early 60s Liverpool, and everybody loved the Beatles, so it was a no-brainer. I know every last note of this record. I wore the grooves grey and spent hours poring over the sleevenotes and the credits, all of which seemed a bit gnomic and beyond my understanding (even though I learnt to read early as a kid), as well as the strange-looking and now iconic photo on the cover. To this day, whenever I hear that "Ah-one-two-three-FAH!" that sets off "I Saw Her Standing There", I get all "recherche du temps perdu".

    Frank Sinatra: Songs For Swinging Lovers

    This one just reminds me of my ma. She adored Sinatra like no other singer, and had a bunch of his records, but this one and the Days of Wine and Roses album were probably her favourites. As a kid, I'd often sit around the house listening to it with her during the school holidays or at weekends, without ever realising that that peerless voice and those lush Nelson Riddle arrangements were subconsciously helping develop my ear for the kind of music I wouldn't even discover until I was much older. Strangely enough, of all the great songs on this album, the one I love most is widely considered to be one of the fillers, "We'll Be Together Again";

    No tears, no fears,
    remember there's always tomorrow.
    So what if we have to part,
    we'll be together again.
    Your kiss, your smile,
    are memories I'll treasure forever
    So try thinking with your heart,
    we'll be together again.
    Times when I know you'll be lonesome,
    times when I know you'll be sad.
    Don't let temptation surround you,
    don't let the blues make you bad.
    Someday, someway,
    we both have a lifetime before us.
    For parting is not good-bye,
    we'll be together again.

    But you really need to hear Frank sing it.


    David Bowie: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

    The first record that I truly felt was mine in more than just the obvious proprietorial sense. It's difficult to explain the impact that Bowie had on British teenagers in the early 70s. Like the Isleys said, if you were there, you'd know, but suffice it to say that, for an entire generation of us, Bowie was The Man. He had a minimum eleven-year hot streak of albums, most of which were stone-cold game changers. Everybody wanted to know what he was going to do next, and you could literally see the effect he was having, not only on music, but on youth culture too, such as it was then. Often these effects wouldn't become apparent until years later, but everyone knew who was in the driving seat. I remember reading the famous Rolling Stone double-header interview between Bowie and William Burroughs around this time, or maybe a little later, wherein he broke down the concepts behind "Ziggy Stardust", as well as acknowledging the extent to which Burroughs had influenced the album and his work as a whole. Having this, as well as a whole load of other stuff, laid out in such a way was mind-blowing. Up until then, I'd thought "Ziggy" was just a collection of cool, somewhat otherworldly pop songs, but after reading about cut-ups and black hole jumpers, I began to listen harder and more closely, not just to Bowie, but to everything else as well. The way the album closes out, with Rock 'n' Roll Suicide building to a spectacular, dramatic crescendo before dying on a huge, resonant D major, is up there with A Day In The Life as the best ending to a rock record ever. When it's over, you feel like you've been somewhere you'd never even have imagined existed otherwise.

    Django Reinhardt & Sidney Bechet: Deux Geants du Jazz / The Mahavishnu Orchestra: Birds of Fire

    The first of a few double shots. These two were the "bonding with my dad" records. He was a jazz fan, mainly dixieland, swing and big-band stuff. His cut-off point was when Duke Ellington started to get "weird", as he put it, so he wasn't into be-bop or beyond. Because I never knew there was a difference at that point, I'd go to the local library and bring home records by Charlie Parker, Roland Kirk or Miles Davis, play them to him and ask him what he thought. Invariably, the response would be, "where's the melody?", so there was still this gulf between what he considered jazz, and the stuff I was trying to find my way through off my own bat in my adolescent eagerness to absorb music which was beyond my realm, and which, perhaps subconsciously, I thought might bring me closer to him. I was trying to be a guitar player at this point, and my dad's idea of a great guitar player was Django. He had this compilation of Django and Sidney Bechet stuff, which we'd listen to a lot. My dad liked clarinetists, people like Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw or Sid Phillips. Bechet played the soprano, which isn't a wildly dissimilar instrument from the clarinet, and my dad enjoyed the style in which he played, and I suppose he was trying to give me a bit of an education in where someone like Roland Kirk was coming from (even though he didn't like Kirk's music), as well as pointing me in a direction which might help my nascent aspirations as a guitarist. When I got my first electric, he hipped me to Charlie Christian and Barney Kessel too, but that's another story. The first time I heard Phone Tap by The Firm, with its sample of Petite Fleur (a song which was pretty much Bechet's theme tune), I had another of those Proustian rushes. It's a little strange to hear a piece of classic 90s coked-out East Coast (bi-coastal?) gangsta rap and be reminded, in however small a way, of your dad, but there it is.

    So, anyway, I'd seen this BBC2 In Concert broadcast featuring the Mahavishnu Orchestra in about 1972, around the time Birds of Fire came out, and had been knocked out by it. I remembered seeing John McLaughlin's name on some of those Miles albums I'd lent out from the library, and I was like, OK, well this must be jazz, too. My dad hated it. Noise, he called it - no melody, just an over-amplified racket. This was when I began to dig my heels in and argue back, giving him my under-developed two-bob ideas and opinions about what I thought was jazz (or what was jazz, too). We were still having these arguments years later, when I was about 19 or 20 and bringing home records like Blue Train and Relativity Suite, or stuff by Keith Jarrett or AEC. But if I hadn't had my ear for jazz shaped and developed through the music my dad shared with me (conservative though his tastes may have been), I might never have found any of those artists in the first place. So, thanks, dad. Something else I owe you.

    Roxy Music: Roxy Music/For Your Pleasure

    The first band I ever saw live. In fact, the first band that I instinctively knew would be great before I'd even heard a note of their music. Richard Williams' piece in Melody Maker (the first major feature on them in the music press) had already got me hooked, and by the time I heard Virginia Plain (which wasn't even on the album), it was a done deal. Great as they were, Roxy Music were always kind of in Bowie's slipstream a little, especially after Eno left, and I don't think it was entirely coincidental that Bowie and Eno began working together just as Roxy was beginning to turn into more of a conventional rock band, and later into The Bryan Ferry Show. I like all their 70s material to some degree, but the first two were particularly extraordinary; records which left you with a sense that here was something you really hadn't heard before. Or, if you had, th en not in this order. I'm sure me and my friends weren't the only ones who sought out the music of the Velvets through Roxy citing them as an influence. There used to be a tape recording of the 13-y-o me singing "In Every Dream Home A Heartache", the lyrics to which I couldn't have possibly fully comprehended, while a friend of mine played the keyboard part on a Bontempi organ. It was f*cking awful, and is (I hope to God) long gone. The first two Roxy albums are anything but.

    More later...

  • jamesjames chicago 1,863 Posts
    Sorry this is so late; I had a lot of work/love/life shit to get out from under, and was only really able to get into this starting this past weekend.

    Anyway, in the interest of playing along:

    25 (Give Or Take) LPs That Shaped My Life:[/b]
    (in alphabetical order)

    Laurie Anderson -- Home Of The Brave
    The B-52???s -- The B-52???s
    The Beastie Boys -- Paul???s Boutique
    Big Black -- The Hammer Party
    Booker T & The MGs -- Greatest Hits
    James Brown -- Revolution Of The Mind
    John Coltrane -- A Love Supreme
    De La Soul -- 3 Feet High and Rising
    Earth Wind & Fire ??? I Am
    Billie Holiday -- Lady In Autumn
    The Jungle Brothers -- Done By The Forces of Nature
    Curtis Mayfield -- Super Fly
    Nice & Smooth -- The Jewel Of The Nile
    Parliament -- The Mothership Connection
    The Pixies -- Doolittle
    Prince -- Sign O??? The Times
    Public Enemy -- Fear Of A Black Planet
    The Red Hot Chili Peppers -- Mother???s Milk
    Lou Reed -- Magic And Loss
    The Replacements ??? Let It Be
    Sly & The Family Stone -- Greatest Hits
    Sonic Youth -- Goo
    Soul II Soul -- Keep On Movin???
    Steely Dan -- Gold
    They Might Be Giants -- Flood
    Various -- The Big Easy Soundtrack
    Various -- Red Hot + Blue
    Various -- Repo Man Soundtrack
    The Violent Femmes -- The Violent Femmes
    Tom Waits ??? Rain Dogs



    And in the interest of taking my own advice:

    25 LPs That Shaped My Adult (Post-College) Life:[/b]
    (in the order in which I wrote them)

    Kate Bush ??? The Whole Story[/b]
    When I bought this at the old 2nd Hand tunes, Big Mike with the tattooed hands laughed at me, and may have even called Pete out of the back to laugh at me, too. But fuck them. Kate Bush was probably the first all-around female musical obsessive I was really exposed to; before that, it seems like it was always women who sang but didn???t write, or wrote but didn???t produce, or did it all but not extraordinarily. The love and the character that went into these meticulously crafted little worlds was revelatory, and even as I found her voice sometimes trilling and her lyrics sometimes cloying and her overall preciousness sometimes intolerable, the vision in the combination nonetheless left me utterly magnetized. I hear lots of echoes of her influence, but no one seems to get the whole thing: They get the witchiness but not the love, or they get the magic but not the muscle, or they get the eccentricity but not the hooks. And as a frequent trafficker in the typical record-nerd equivalencies (???If you like ______, you might like _____???), it???s always jarring in the best possible way to be faced with something so resistant (???If you like this Kate Bush record, you might like...uh, these other Kate Bush records.???). A perfect illustration is in the bottom half of ???Running Up That Hill???: She sings that unbearably clarion chorus over and over as the track expands more and more, trying to subdue it, until at last, the only thing that can overtake her voice is a massed chorus of...her voice.


    Clipse ??? Lord Willin???[/b]
    Almost all of the gangster rap I???ve ever heard holds at its core a gospel dread, or at the very least some kind of essential dissatisfaction. At the center of Lord Willin???, though, there is a deadness. All of its threats and promises and regrets and remorse and apologies stop short of its full depth; beyond them, there is this absence that cannot be filled. The production vaults around it, the voices go flat against it. At some point before this record was made, the Clipse threw something away, something important, and it is gone now. Their unacknowledged pursuit, through relentless application of skill, of whatever it is has resulted in some of the most absolute blues I know. During times when life feels like an endless dig toward a vault that has most likely already been emptied, I find this to be a record of great sympathy. It feels weird to say that about something that bears the words ???featuring Jermaine Dupri,??? but shit, it???s like that sometimes, isn???t it?


    Ghostface Killah ??? Supreme Clientele / Camp Lo ??? Let???s Do It Again[/b]
    These two records changed the way I think about language. I write a fair amount, I listen a lot, and I read a whole lot, and I have for a long time, and even though I encountered both of these records several years after I???d stopped expecting to have my mind changed about this kind of thing, straight up: these two records fundamentally changed how I think about the ways in which words fit together and what they can accomplish. Along with, I think, the negative example provided by some of the lesser works of (the often-mighty) Dave Tompkins, these records sparked my realization that the best writing doesn???t cuff itself with false choices: it can be dopey and powerful, it can be dynamic and immaculate, it can explode in a thousand different directions and still be focused, it can transcribe as literal nonsense but still convey with utter clarity. Supreme Clientele is the rock, and Let???s Do It Again is really the only thing that???s built on it. Astounding records, both. The second verse of Ghostface???s ???One??? is my favorite verse ever.


    DJ Shadow ??? The Private Press [/b]
    I???m a pretty steadfast believer in the old line about how great artists must create for a great audience. I think music is pushed forward and made better when the people responsible for its creation understand???or even just hope???that it???s going to be heard by a broad, disparate, critical audience, and I???m consistently less interested in how a record resonates with its true believers than in how it does with everybody else, and whether there???s an ???everybody else??? at all. I will always think Fear Of A Black Planet is a better record than It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back in part because when Public Enemy made Nation they knew rap fans were listening, and it sounds like it; but when they made Fear, they knew everybody was listening, and damn, it sounds like it???it???s still a rap fan???s record through and through, but it also contains an awareness of that ???everybody else,??? and the record???s implied response to them gives it a tension, an electricity that Nation simply does not have.

    I hear a much smaller but equally compelling version of that same dynamic in The Private Press. Before it???s anything else, it???s a gorgeous, nuanced record that shimmers, bangs, and surprises. At the same time, I???ve always heard this record as a response to the teeming community of obsessives/imitators/would-be assassins that DJ Shadow midwived with Endtroducing however many years before; not a ???fuck you??? exactly, but definitely a challenge. Like how the incredibly open, emotional nature of the vending-machine self-recordings that punctuate the record remind the copycats that you need heart, while simultaneously the recordings??? one-of-a-kind nature renders all the rare-record shit kinda moot. Unrepentant pop swellings and huge sampled chunks of uncut earnestness deflate any pretense of the dj???s cool remove. The last handful of songs on this record make the most striking constellation: A bouncing, coolly agitated warning to overly cautious and timid, uh, ???drivers,??? into a palatial and mostly drumless nine-minute elevation of affectingly sincere self-help that seems to stretch the very idea of time before imploding under its own c rystalline beauty, into a transportational and heartbreaking slab of muscular New Wave that kicks in with ???And...here???s a story about...being free.???

    All over this record there???s a revelation of ego and a rejection of limits that gave me the same kind of buzz as Buhloone Mindstate: bookish dude/s who came into their careers humble, just happy to be at the party, finally saying, ???You know what? I???m going to stop pretending that I don???t entirely believe that I???m really fucking good at what I do,??? saying, ???I???m staying here, but I???m going to be bringing in some other shit???I need more.???
    Everything I???ve heard from Shadow since has felt like a retreat from this record, and it breaks my heart.


    The Avalanches ??? Gimix [/b]
    Mixes that are ???eclectic??? and ???fun??? are like kisses: They don???t seem like a big deal...until you stumble into an absolutely perfect one???and then it seems like a very big deal indeed. When I first stumbled into this one, I was on the downward spiral into abject obscurantism, monkishly pursuing ridiculously rare 45s to depressingly diminishing returns. In the bright, recognizable chaos of this mix, the sheer radiance of its mongrel generosity, I re-realized that there is nothing like the vitality in common music (???common??? as in ???readily available??? and ???common??? as in ???shared???). Whatever you need, it???s right there for you???all of it. Gimix came to represent for me, as Francois K said about something else, ???the kind of freedom that I think people need to know exists.???


    Talk Talk ??? Laughing Stock [/b]
    Hushed, tremulous, and obsessed--for vast stretches, this music seems to barely exist at all. Which on the one hand is unnerving: listening to this, it doesn???t seem inconceivable that with just a step in the wrong direction, everything could go away. But on the other hand, it???s dizzying: listening to this, it also doesn???t seem inconceivable that with just a step in the right direction, you could start over.


    Joni Mitchell ??? Blue [/b]
    In high school, I got into Joni???s ???Big Yellow Taxi???-era stuff in an effort to get next to a girl who liked same. That went well until it didn???t, at which point all that stuff started sounding hokey and intolerable to me, so I set Joni down for a while. Many years later I was watching a lot of commercials on late-night tv, with occasional interruption by brief bursts of The Band???s Last Waltz movie, and I saw for the first time Neil Young???s performance of ???Helpless,??? backed by The Band and with Joni singing background from, I think, somewhere offstage. She was shown only in silhouette, and her vocals were swooping and almost wordless???windswept and otherworldly, like one of those chromed women perched atop some skyscraper. Shortly thereafter I picked up Blue and found myself pretty bewitched by its cool, slightly alien quality. There were still a couple moments of the giggliness that had soured me in the first place, but this time they seemed beamed in from farther away, from the far side of something far more interesting than it was back then. Mostly, though, I was taken by how the intimacy of the sound seemed to always be cloaking an essential remoteness. Sometimes it feels like a leopard following you only with its eyes, sometimes it hovers enigmatically like the Cheshire frown of office lighting in Alex Katz???s Varick, and sometimes it seems as close as whatever is said when you leave the room, but there???s always something about it that???even in the face of all that confession???is ultimately unreachable. It still fascinates.


    Rotary Connection ??? Hey Love / Archie Whitewater ??? Archie Whitewater [/b]
    Let???s get one thing out of the way: These are both square records. All that shit about collector/digger cachet, all that shit about pedigree (Riperton, Stepney, Chess, etc.), is all just a bunch of smoke. That???s just some shit for when it???s you and your boys. Call it what you want, but these are slightly more progressive (though not that much more progressive) Fifth Dimension records and/or slightly sloppier Blood, Sweat & Tears records. They traffic in the frontal, the unsubtle, the shrill, and the obvious, and no matter how much weight one gives to ???sonics??? or ???atmosphere??? or any of the other devices we use give ourselves some distance, these records come from and go to a place where there is no cool. They are incorporated studio endeavors, fully orchestrated and largely without grit, populated exclusively by bright-eyed co-ed choruses and overwrought lead vocals singing with goodwill about love and the sea and she and friends and neighbors and the seacoast and sitting-rooms. ???Hey, my busy friend / can you slow down???? Oof. No distance, no remove, no cool. Making this realization a few years ago was hugely important in my thinking about what exactly it is I had come to want from music. I felt strongly drawn to these records, but had snowed myself that it was all about ???textures??? and ???funky accents??? and ???concepts??? and ???Chicago, yo??? and whatever else. At the same time, I had this creeping fear that these were in fact some deeply corny records???that I???d been tricked into sitting at the not-cool table. I was confused, though, because I???d recently picked up an instrumental edit of ???Cross Country??? expecting to be excited by it, because it was what I thought I wanted??????That great track without those cheesy vocals???finally!??? But instead, I found it empty and unsatisfying. Then one Saturday morning I was listening to one or both LPs for the umpteenth time, and the twin truths revealed themselves: First, that what I???d been fearing was corniness was actually openness. And second, that such openness is nothing to be afraid of; it???s a rare and beautiful thing, and as I get older and older is something I need more and more. And there???s no cool way to say that. And that???s all right.

    In a side note: I received my copy of Archie Whitewater several years back from the hand of DCastillo. There may be one or two dudes left around here that can feel me on the appropriateness of that.


    Donald Fagen ??? The Nightfly [/b]
    My mom has always been a big Steely Dan fan. One of my first memories of any outward manifestations of her individual musical taste that I can remember???maybe the first time ever that I was struck by the thought of my mom as even having individual musical tastes???was when I was about ten, riding along with her in her Olds Ninety-Eight while she did her errands on a sunny weekday afternoon. She heard a Steely Dan song on the radio, and seemed to make up her mind right there: she said, ???You know what? I really like these guys, and would like to have one of their tapes.??? It was a simple thing, but still jaw-dropping to me???you mean Mom actually has music that she prefers? Mom? My mom? We dipped into Record Bar at the Anderson Mall, then listened to Gold for the rest of the afternoon, in between picking up dry cleaning and stopping in the fabric store and whatever else. I didn???t really understand what I was listening to, but it all had this louche, confident allure, and alongside my mom I would listen and nod knowingly, ten years old, sage and ridiculous, now confident in the knowledge that adulthood must be an exciting secret club???shadowy, but where everything worked out???a great cosmopolitan jigsaw puzzle, complex but perfectly interlocking. Yes.

    In recent years I???ve re-discovered Donald Fagen???s first solo record, and have caught a deep echo in its underlying meditation on Cold-War America???s fixation on the great, shining future that must have seemed, in the early 1960s, to always be just around the corner. It???s become cliche, but all those domed cities and rocket trains an d wheels in space, all supported by a unified and visionary general populace, are all now so obviously parts of The Future That Never Was And Never Will Be. Just last year, I learned there???s a word for this: Gernsbackian. Derived from the name of science-fiction writer Hugo Gernsback???the guy who begat all that sci-fi where people in lurex togas speak rationally in the endless breezeways of the clean metropolises of the distant future while various hovering things whisper past, which in turn begat all that fedoras-and-flying-cars stuff, and so on and so on???to be Gersbackian is in part to put stock the essentially flawed belief that even as the world changes and technology advances and the pace of life accelerates, we will nonetheless remain the same at heart, will retain the same admirable morals and olympian ideals, that the way to the future lies in our current selves and sensibility. That???s what I hear at the root of this Donald Fagen record, that faith that even as things complicate and quicken, we will remain clear and steady, that everything will work out, will interlock perfectly. Along with the record, I smile sadly and shake my head. No.


    Wild Style Original Soundtrack / Chocolate Star ??? Gary Davis[/b]
    I grew up liking disco because my parents liked it. They liked it in a wholly typical late-70s/early-80s suburban manner, but they were serious about it in their own small way: They played lots of commercial disco records at home, and a couple times a month they would drive an hour into Cleveland to go ???disco dancing??? at The Big Apple, coming home in the wee hours, not turning the lights on, and smelling like cold weather, cigarettes, and unfamiliar perfumes. I saw pictures of them looking good in their disco regalia, and heard an eight-track recording of the audio from a local news broadcast where my dad got interviewed about why he likes dancing at the disco. It all seemed very grown-up and glamorous, some mysterious big-city ritual. I was hooked.

    I grew up liking hip-hop because I liked it. When I was about eleven, there was an assembly at my middle school (some anti-drug thing, I???d guess???they all were back then) and part of the program was two kids from my school???from my very own school!???rapping and breaking. At the end, they mentioned that they???d be opening for Kurtis Blow at Skateland that Friday. I went to check it out. Kurtis was well into his post-???Basketball??? slide at this point, but this was semi-rural South Carolina, so we got shit late, so he was still a pretty big deal; a lot of folks came out, and Skateland put their custom-cut dun-colored carpet over the skating rink just for the occasion. Kurtis came out with both guns blazing, spitting hard staccato while his dj just hammered the drum-machine-based tracks off the album. It was electrifying, but folks just were not into it. Shit was kinda awfully intense, you know? After a couple failed attempts to get something going, Kurtis went over and conferred with his dj for a minute, then came back to the mic with a ???one two, one two,??? the dj dropped thunderous doubles of some disco break, and Kurt ate it alive???just straight party rhymes over some Ultimate Breaks & Beats, on and on and on, and it tore the lid off the place. Ladies were dancing, guys were hollering, someone had some firecrackers...Man, a couple folks pulled up the carpet off the back half of the rink and a fucking skate pit broke out. It was the best thing I???d ever seen. I was hooked.

    Later on, once I started actually buying records of both those types, I felt like the stuff I was listening to was always at least one degree removed from the actual, capital-s Stuff that I felt sure must be hiding somewhere: As much as I loved Odyssey???s ???Native New Yorker,??? I didn???t get that adult, dark-room vibe off of it; as much as I loved Furious Five???s ???Freedom,??? it felt a little too scrubbed, a little sterile.

    I can???t say that hearing the Wild Style soundtrack several years later ???renewed my belief in hip-hop,??? or that hearing the Chocolate Star bootleg a few years after that ???renewed my belief in disco,??? because I never stopped loving either of them. But up till then I had been kinda cut-off and isolated, both personally and geographically; no one I associated with really liked this stuff, so no one was putting me up on anything, and although I???d occasionally read some tantalizing reference to the existence of ???real, deep disco??? or ???real, old-school hip-hop??? (shout out to World Of Beats???on newsprint, you suckers), I grew up in a small town, and even after I came to the big town, I was real late to the internet, so I had no idea how or where to actually get it. All I can say, really, is that both of these records are important to me because they were???at last???powerful, tangible affirmations of something I???d been taking on faith for so long. Paul Westerberg: ???I didn???t know you, but I knew you were out there.???


    Ike Reilly ??? Salesmen And Racists [/b]
    Like a lot of folks who live in big cities, there???s all sorts of worthy Chicago shit that I???d never get around to of my own volition, that it takes someone from out of town to get me into. Had my mom not visited from Ohio, would I ever have gone to Shedd Aquarium otherwise? Doubtful.

    Similarly, a few years ago my dear friend from Minneapolis gave me a cd-r with sixteen albums on it that he felt I should be up on, one of which was Salesmen and Racists, this great Chicago record that I knew nothing about.
    I don???t see a lot of my city, and I don???t see a lot of my dear friend, but I listen to this record a lot and think about my city and about my friend. It???s a spiky, wordy, Chicagoland rock record (shouts-out to the Lincoln Mall and DJ Jesse de la Pena) that???s occasionally a little much, but that I love, but that I really wouldn???t recommend to anyone, but that I love.


    Arthur Russell ??? Calling Out Of Context [/b]
    A few years back, when I found out that he had a copy of the St. Vincent???s Latinaires record that was my grail at that (pre-bootleg) time, I pestered soulstrut???s own MikeFreedomRock for a burn of it. Mike is a swell guy (and a good sport, too: though he was willing to just do it on the strength, I insisted on sending him in exchange a fucking cassette compilation [I was working with very little back then???a couple of dudes here know] of what I thought were some good records, and he was nice enough to not laugh at me), so he hooked my lame ass up and sent me the cd burn, filled out with some unlabelled selections from his collection. One of the fillers was Loose Joints??? ???Pop Your Funk,??? which was weird and spacy and sexual and faintly evil, and which completely split my wig. It took me a while to figure out who it was, and it took me a while longer to make the connection that this male-led, erotically menacing Loose Joints was the same Loose Joints behind the diametrically opposed sunny-side-up of ???Tell You Today??? and the spent-diva throb of ???Is It All Over My Face,??? and it took me yet another little while to stumble upon some Arthur Russell article that made everything clear(er). A very short while after that, I saw something about the release of Calling Out Of Context, Russell???s never-released album from the late 80s/early 90s. I took this succession of events as a sign, and bought Calling more or less blind, having not heard any of it.

    It was, and remains, like nothing I???ve ever heard. Processed cello and waves of fuzz over Montronix-level drum programming, vipered through by this questing, heartbreaking voice, all of it sad and futuristic, sexy and distorted, open-hearted and perfect. At a time when my mind was at its muddiest and most cluttered, this gave me a glimpse of still-open territory. I was jaded and calcifyi ng, and it burned me clean. This record gives me peace like few others. My ark.


    Kevn Kinney ??? The Flower And The Knife [/b]
    This one is tough to explain. I grew up mostly in a small town in upstate South Carolina, and there were very very few good local bands, so our listening and road-tripping leaned pretty heavily on the loose conflagration of mid- to late-80s college-rock bands from North Carolina and Georgia (The Connells, drivin??? n??? cryin???, et al.) that would come to play in somewhat larger towns not too far away. In the early 90s, toward the tail end of high school, this college-rock scene started to share some territory with another scene we were only just becoming aware of, which was more jammy, roots-rock kinda stuff (Widespread Panic, Blues Traveler, etc.). It wasn???t ultimately a sound I could get with, but a number of my friends got deep, deep into it, and this kinda hastened the sort of splits that tend to happen anyway toward the tail end of high school. They were already headed one way and I was already headed another, and although this particular difference in musical taste certainly didn???t cause the division between us, it did illuminate it in a way that I guess we could no longer deny.

    Anyway, years and years later, I picked up this Kevn Kinney record on a whim, on the strength of a song I???d heard on a compilation cd that I got free with a magazine. I was unprepared for how completely this record from 2003 would encapsulate and evoke the previously described time, the path I did not take, more than a decade after the fact. It???s a solo album by the singer from drivin??? n??? cryin???, with guest spots by the dude from Sister Hazel, liner notes by Col. Bruce Hampton, harmonica by motherfucking John Popper, and god knows what else.

    Now, here???s the part that???s hard to explain: I like the record a lot because I like Kinney???s voice a lot, but nothing about the record???s pedigree makes me especially happy???I???m not excited because I recognize all these names; but nor does anything about it make me sad, exactly???I???m not bummed because a lot of these guys were in precisely the bands that my now-distant friends liked but that I didn???t. All I can tell you is that, you know how it can feel when you run into somebody that maybe you knew a long time ago and it somehow energizes you? You didn???t especially like the person, but nor did you especially dislike the person, and bumping into this person isn???t going to rekindle anything???it???s not like you???re gonna start staying in touch now???and your connection to this person isn???t such that you???re plunged deeply into nostalgic reverie, but somehow the encounter gives you just enough? Just enough of a glimpse of where things used to be and where things are now, and even though the glimpse is brief it comes through clear enough that you can see it, deep enough that you can feel it, but neat enough that you can set it down and move on, feeling a little crisper? For me, this record is a lot like that.


    The John Coltrane Quartet ??? Africa/Brass [/b]
    I???m sure there???s some view that says the presence of Creed Taylor???s brass arrangements somehow compromises the music at the core, but to me, this record has always been the sound of Coltrane???s inside world being brought outside, and proving that it???s just as incredible in our daylight as it is in its own dark room.

    More to the point, when I got this record I had moved home after college to help out with some family stuff and it was just my mom and I rattling around in this rental house, and when I put this record on, it carried through the place and singlehandedly made life seem a lot fuller.


    Garbage ??? Bleed Like Me [/b]
    Straight-up raw-power brass-knuckle test-tube modern-pop-radio shit. Like I said earlier, great artists create for a great audience, and as much as I love my independents and my obscurities, there is a potency and a hunger in music like this???music that???s hell-bent on getting heard by everybody???that I cannot get from my beloved failers. There is much to be said for music that challenges and surprises, but there???s also a lot to be said for the compressed telepathy that only really occurs in pop music: just when you want to hear the chorus again, there it is; you want the guitar to come up a little, and here it comes; you need something different, and a chord change flowers. There are worse things and there are better things, but there really is nothing quite like that completed circuit. As calculated and as scrubbed-clean and as fake-dangerous as this record may be, as much as I know it???s mostly a musical science experiment, I cannot deny it. Like Butch Vig???s clean-up man said: ???I tell myself I will not go / even as I drive there.???

    Apart from being maybe the last great radio-pop rock record I bought, this one is important to me for two reasons:

    First, I bought this on a Thursday, and that Sunday morning I had to hustle my procrastinating ass out to an art theater across town to catch the last showing of Masculin/Feminin, which my man r_d had recommended with a fervor that I wanted to see if I could feel for myself. I was in a poor frame of mind, and was out among folks during a time of the morning when I shouldn???t even have been out of bed, especially on a fucking Sunday, and the trip out there was a train and two buses that took like a day and a half, and I spent almost all of that transit time listening to this record, mostly the part in ???Metal Heart???: ???My sweet Lord, take care of me / for I think I???m done / Kiss my mother on her cheek / and lay my burden down.??? Despite the heavenly weather, it was a heavy day, and it has stayed with me.

    Second, I bought this record on a Thursday after work at a store here on the South Side, and in line ahead of me were two teenage black girls, each buying two copies of this same record and squealing like it was the new Pretty Ricky or something. This convinced me that I don???t know anything about anything anymore. And that, too, has stayed with me.


    Ben Folds Five ??? Whatever And Ever Amen [/b]
    All of us have those Moments Of Clarity wherein we realize that shards of the hammy, sentimental, and obvious things from our past are being forged into weapons against our current resistance, and, to our great shame, are succeeding. The shame gets worse when we realize that we will let them???dear god, we will let them. For me, this record occupies one of those moments. I can do without almost all of this guy???s ???funny??? material, but the rest of this record comprises a trojan horse hammered from every keyboard-based thing that I would ever deny???the PM Magazine theme song, Todd Rundgren, Alcoa commercials, the melodica at the start of The Hooters??? ???And We Danced,??? ad infinitum???smuggling in a payload of honest goodwill, deep promise, and sheer heartbreak, sometimes all at once. I give.

    Also, this record has ???Smoke??? on it. As one who???s constantly struggling with friendships too long in abeyance, I can barely stand to look this song in the eye. ???Leaf by leaf / page by page / throw this book away... / And we / will / not write a new one.???


    Curtis Mayfield ??? Curtis [/b]
    I???ve long given Stevie Wonder extra credit for being responsible for what I most days consider to be the single saddest moment in music (the simple, inescapable, bottomless last line of ???I Never Dreamed You???d Leave In Summer???: ???Why didn???t you stay???? ) and the single happiest (the first joyous bloom of the chorus in ???I Am Singing???). Similarly, Curtis gets his own room for delivering???on the same record, no less???a song that is the end-of-days apotheosis of what I???ve called elsewhere Judgment Soul, as well as a song that is the ultimate musical manifestation of belief in huma n potential. My man Dave and I used to have an ongoing debate regarding whether Curtis or Super Fly was the superior record; I always pulled for the former, because while Super Fly is definitely the more flawless of the two, there is nothing on that record as terrifying as ???Hell Below,??? and certainly nothing as transcendent as ???Move On Up.??? If push came to shove, I???d probably say that ???Move On Up??? is my favorite piece of music ever. It is the miracle, the glory of the sun, the human heart open beyond all limits. It is the first piece of music that my first child ever heard, when I hummed the horn refrain as I held her in the first minutes after she was born, knotted in my arms and looking up at me with eyes the color of a river bottom. It is the promise.

    But at the same time, man, this is just an exceedingly great Chicago soul record. It???s personal and huge, expert and awkward, bright and dark, sounds great on the radio, at the bar, in my home, out of other people???s cars, has good songs, beautiful vocals, perfect horns, strings both tasteful and otherwise, and bongos under everything. And, I mean, Super Fly was the first non-kid???s record that I ever put on a record player and played (I???d crawl under my bed and play it at the lowest possible volume; I was sure that the bikini chick on the cover meant this record was somehow ???dirty,??? and I didn???t want to get caught listening to it) and is thus untouchable in its own way, but this most recent stretch of my life has been in Chicago, and this record is, I think, My Chicago Record. From its flawed, fractured, powerful nature to its cover photos to the circumstances of my purchase of this particular copy just a few blocks away to the fact that it???s probably a VG at best and I will nonetheless probably never ever mint up, in my mind this record is just effortlessly and inextricably woven into my time here.


    Van Morrison ??? Astral Weeks [/b]
    This record is endlessly and obsessively reaching for what it so clearly already holds in its hands. I can relate.


    The New Radicals ??? Maybe You???ve Been Brainwashed Too [/b]
    The first central truth of this record is that it sounds fucking great. Well, a certain kind of fucking great: it???s supremely talented radio pop, buzzed on studio sheen, giddy and spendthrift???the kind of record where even the choruses have choruses.

    The second central truth is that its songs aren???t proper songs as much as they are aesthetic manifestos, which means that it spends a lot of its runtime dancing on the very edge of intolerability. For long stretches, this record often seems to exist mostly as an overt rebuke to a world that it clearly feels is neither smart enough nor perfect enough to contain it. It???s genius shit, but it???s also really narcissistic and snotty, and seems like the kind of thing that wouldn???t make anyone who???s listening feel anything other than pissed-off and/or unworthy.
    It seems like it would feel that way, but that???s not really the way it ends up feeling. This record pushes things so far???it???s so smartass and so shameless, and so slick, with so many hooks, it???s belief in its own perfection always so absolute???that almost immediately, within the first sixty seconds of the first song, it hits its saturation point and begins to accomplish something wonderful: it begins to transfer its gift to the listener. First it becomes clear that, no, there is no world in which a record this unrepentantly poppy, this manufactured, could amount to anything; no, there is no world in which lyrics this smart-dumb and self-helpy and sloganeering could mean anything at all. But as the sound takes hold, and as the record???s own smooth mania pulls you quickly and deeply into the whorl, it then starts to feel like, yes, this is all amounting to something, yes, this all does mean something, and then you realize: you are effectively becoming the world in which this record makes sense???in listening to it, you are becoming something more total.

    This record is so self-consciously immaculate that it should make me feel a little less perfect, but instead it makes me feel a little more perfect. It really is something.


    Miles Davis ??? Dark Magus [/b]
    By the time this record got officially released in the U.S. in the mid- to late nineties, I???d been hearing little vague, intense things about it for a long time, but had never actually heard any of the music. The day it came out, I ran out to buy it on my lunchbreak, but didn???t want to listen to any of it until I had time to listen to the whole thing (remember those days?). That night, I went back to the rental house that my mom and I were in and made for myself a vast pan of kashi that was good-looking but ultimately so fucked-up and flavorless that I ended up throwing almost all of it away. After that, I laid on the floor of my room in the dark with my head between the two speakers, and listened to the whole thing.

    It undid me, simple and plain. The sound came on like disease, insidious and evil. The opening charge was panicky and shrill and furious, but when the rhythm turned slow and seismic, viscous, it was worse, like a malignant one-ton tar baby squatting on my chest. I felt like I was drowning. It was not my custom at the time to pay too much attention to group dynamics when listening to music, but here I heard instance after instance of a small space being cleared and a soloist being disgorged briefly only to be re-devoured by the group, who seemed to always waiting faithlessly and ravenous just outside of the light. It was like watching a horror movie: ???Oh shit--if he doesn???t run faster, they???re gonna get him.??? And time and time again, they did. They got him. It was the most harrowing listening experience I???d ever had.

    After it was over, it was ten o??? clock at night and our dryer was busted so I had to drive some bulging garbage bags of wet clothes out to the laundromat across town. The record had already creeped into me like some black lung of the mind, and I was all jittery and afraid. I felt a great imbalance of the nighttime world, like I was moving through fog and that nothing was fixed, that everything I was seeing had only gathered itself in the instant just before I looked at it, and would slither off the instant I looked away. I sat in the fake daylight of the empty laundromat like a man clinging to the mast. Just to have something to do with my hands, I started rifling through my pockets. I found an antique-store receipt folded in half, with the previous day???s grocery list written on one side, and on the other side some phrase I???d copied out of some book that I didn???t buy: ???Kill the wizards.???


    Television ??? The Blow-Up [/b]
    The only reason I ended up listening to Television in the first place is because I???m a big Tom Waits fan. I saw one of those Elektra/Asylum Year Of The EAR comps in a dollar bin somewhere, and bought it for the novelty value of seeing Tom Waits pitched as one of the newest, hottest, most commercially viable things, complete with a caricature of dude by Sam fucking Viviano. On some slow news day several years later, I eventually got around to actually playing the record, and later on that same side was ???Marquee Moon,??? which I???d never heard but really liked. They didn???t have Marquee Moon when I went to the store, though, but they did have this, a then-recently reissued live double cd, and I bought it just on the strength. It was dark and lyrical and cosmic and uptight and often poorly recorded and mostly unfamiliar, but for whatever strange reason, it ended up becoming a regular listen for my wife and I for about two months??? worth of Friday nights. Always Friday, always night. For months. Weird. (A notable outcome of this period was my discovery that my wife has very different ears than I do, and very great ones: She???d say something like ???What???s that song that goes ???doo doo-doo-doo duh doo-doo...???? I like that one,??? and I???d have no clue what she was talking about, and then after much back-and-forth we???d figure out that the difficulty was due to the fact that beautiful she was identifying ???Marquee Moon??? by the lovely, complicated, open part that precedes the chorus, where simple me could only think of that song in terms of its basic, staccato intro.)

    Anyway, I love this record greatly but with an odd exclusivity, by which I mean that these six or so years later I still don???t really own any more of these vintage NYC gee-tar records. In my collection, this one stands mostly alone, a ferocious little walled city.


    I???m leaving my twenty-fifth spot blank, as a gift to anyone who???s read down this far. Jesus. Sorry about all that.

  • pickwick33pickwick33 8,946 Posts
    Rotary Connection ??? Hey Love / Archie Whitewater ??? Archie Whitewater
    Let???s get one thing out of the way: These are both square records. All that shit about collector/digger cachet, all that shit about pedigree (Riperton, Stepney, Chess, etc.), is all just a bunch of smoke. That???s just some shit for when it???s you and your boys. Call it what you want, but these are slightly more progressive (though not that much more progressive) Fifth Dimension records and/or slightly sloppier Blood, Sweat & Tears records.

    In a recent issue of In The Basement magazine, Rotary Connection member Sidney Barnes sez that Charles Stepney originally envisioned the Rotary Connection to be Chess' answer to the Fifth Dimension - a clean-cut choral group -and boy, was he pissed when they wound up as another psychedelic rock band entertaining the hippies.

    By the time of Hey Love, they were being billed as the New Rotary Connection, and only Minnie Riperton was left over from the original band. Not only that, but Stepney - the producer who wanted them to be another Fifth Dimension - was now in the band himself.

    So if it has that square-sounding 5D quality, that may be why. 39 years later, I think you've indirectly proved Stepney's point. Nice post, James.

  • jamesjames chicago 1,863 Posts
    So much beautiful, beautiful shit in this thread. The personal stories are killing me, but even some of the smaller sentiments have a depth and a lethality that I wasn't ready for. Stuff like "this record should have made more of a difference in my life than it did." Stuff like ???i couldn't really afford to not like an album I just spent sixteen dollars on.??? I think of the records that are important to me now in part because they weren???t important to me then, and I think of the records that might not have been given another chance if they weren???t the only new shit I had to listen to between now and Friday, and, damn, those little things end up being a lot to think about.

    I would read at least 300 pages like this. More stories please. I wanna hear more.

    Oh, and just so dudes don't get the impression that they're off the hook:

    I'm going to post this in stages
    A (nonchronological) start:
    to be continued.....
    I'll holler back at this thread

    AHEM, BROTHER

  • CosmoCosmo 9,767 Posts
    I have really put off reading this thread because I have been putting off writing in this thread - which is something I need to do. But James, Nick told me about your take on New Radicals (one of my all time favorite records and one that would easily make my 25) was absolutely perfect.

  • BamboucheBambouche 1,484 Posts
    Garbage ??? Bleed Like Me [/b]
    Straight-up raw-power brass-knuckle test-tube modern-pop-radio shit. Like I said earlier, great artists create for a great audience, and as much as I love my independents and my obscurities, there is a potency and a hunger in music like this???music that???s hell-bent on getting heard by everybody???that I cannot get from my beloved failers. There is much to be said for music that challenges and surprises, but there???s also a lot to be said for the compressed telepathy that only really occurs in pop music: just when you want to hear the chorus again, there it is; you want the guitar to come up a little, and here it comes; you need something different, and a chord change flowers. There are worse things and there are better things, but there really is nothing quite like that completed circuit. As calculated and as scrubbed-clean and as fake-dangerous as this record may be, as much as I know it???s mostly a musical science experiment, I cannot deny it.


    If I may be allowed to posit a post-Hegelian counter-argument on your point of "creating for an audience." (Because seriously, what's the point in "huge co-sign"-ing and "word"-ing and "truth"-ing and "that's my dude"-ing one another here? It's a bit like knocking on an open door, no?) Besides, I really enjoy reading what you write and, if nothing else, this may allow me to read more.

    I can't say I remember anything about Garbage except that I preferred not hearing them, so my theories may be weak as they extend to Garbage specifically. Luckily, my anti-audience argument is not specific to Garbage. Actually, not that I've done it, but I would suppose I have more of those Garbage-type records (popular/audience pleasing) than the "failers" you describe. I'm thrilled to no end by popular music, and this isn't an either/or argument.

    Just so there's no misconception that I am coming into this otherwise beautiful thread just to sling mud, let me use your suggestion as an example and add an item to my list of Records That Have Shaped My Adult Life.







    Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band - 13 Blues For Thirteen Moons (Constellation Records, 2008)[/b]


    Joan Acocella, in her book, Twenty-eight Artists and Two Saints, talks about the open relationship between Simone de Beauvoir and Sartre, specifically their transparent, analytical, objective approach, which was Sartre's design. Sartre was short, had a walleye and a nervous tic that made him roll his eyes and shrug his shoulders constantly. He could not get chicks. Beauvoir, on the other hand, was a proto-dimepiece. This open relationship, then, served him more than her.

    Consider the mother of feminism in a relationship where she not only has to listen to her partner's exploits, but she must analyze her feelings about the dalliance and debrief with Sartre. Not only that, but while she was working on The Second Sex, Beauvoir was corralling her female students to be Sartre's lovers, a practice she was fired for. Speaking as someone who has undying love for Beauvoir (how can you not love someone with the stones to write a 4 volume autobiography?), it's a lot to reconcile. It demonstrates those beliefs that we can't admit, but that are embodied in our knowledge. Edie Brickell was onto something:

    "I'm not aware of too many things / but I know what I know if you know what I mean."

    Freud was too, in Civilization and Its Discontents.


    This record, 13 Blues, is kinda my Sartre. It's got it's tics. It complexly delivers both Nausea and The Roads to Freedom.

    When I heard this record, it wooed me in such a way that the things I knew (the things I was conscious of) were reaffirmed and the things I wasn't aware I knew (my unconscious truths) were evinced in the music. To me, this is the beautiful part of a record, and often the part that is totally overlooked for the other, obvious stuff.

    I told a bunch of my friends how much I enjoyed this album, people who I thought would share my enthusiasm, and I was met with wide indifference. My man Dave said, "That's those Godspeed dudes, right?" and kinda stopped there. Zoe, a woman I generally agree with on just about everything said, "those guys with the long songs... it's a bit self-indulgent, don't you think?" Nathan, one of my best friends said he couldn't really get past the voice. "It's terrible, really."


    It's like NPR. They want to do a service and expose people to new music, but in order to justify the airtime, a record has to have that smear of banality that we tell ourselves is "wide" appeal. They have to KNOW before they KNOW. There's enough of a need to engage, but not enough to engage in (not to get all Lacanian) The Real.

    Speaking of Known Knowns, a lot of fun was made of Rumsfeld when he made his now classic briefing where he warned the public of impending terrors that we don't even know we know.


    I don't want to attribute too much genius to Rumsfeld, but he pretty much echoed Karl Marx, who, in Capital, said, "They don't know it, but they are doing it."


    Choke me in the shallow water before I get too deep.
    --Edie Brickell


    My problem then, with most of this Garbage-like NPR-type music is that it half steps in hopes of not overstepping. Its message resides in its very abstention from delivering a message. This abstention is sustained by an implicit trust that it's "bringing it" without ever being aware of what "it" is.

    What Marx was driving at (and Rumsfeld, hopefully by mistake), I think, is what most philosophy strives for. That is, not to solve problems, but to redefine them.

    Marx said, "the ultimate form of belief is deconstructionism." Ideology, at it's core, then, is the faith that behind everything (image, race, religion, nation, class) there is something human, something individual, that cannot be reduced to such terms. Something that lives to interpret all this incoming data. Something that separates us from one another (and separates us from blocks of clay). Therefore, the most anti-ideological act is to fully identify with an ideology. That is what we fear most in fundamentalism. The elimination of anything individual for the sake of total subservience to the ideology.

    The culture, and by extension, the music, of the '60s and '70s was engaged in a pursuit of realizing the unknown knowns. They were looking for something they didn't know they wanted. That's the spirit of radicalism. The results of this are often historicized in the simple terms: "flower power", "black power", "women power", rock stars, stage shows, costumes, "Anarchy in the UK", etc. Rarely do we hear of what Freud called "the uneasiness in culture."

    There is no culture. Culture is a living interpretation of everything all-the-time.

    It's no surprise that today, the implicit horizon of understanding in our culture--what we are most concerned with--is global catastrophe. It's easier to imagine a death wave or burning sun bringing the end of life than it is to imagine a radical change of capitalism and our daily life. Everyone is preparing for the unknown. What we accept, unlike our generations past, is the capitalist market system, as flawed as it is. Everyone just sort of slumpingly accepts. Or, as Keynes said, "Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone."

    This is reflected in all aspects of culture, film, TV, fashion, music.


    If fundamentalism is full identification with an ideology, than these "standard" popular records that try to "bring it" without pursuing anything beyond the Known Knowns really function as their own counter agents. The very thing that causes the illness is itself, the medicine. Fundamentalists, blindly reiterating their ideologies. That is to say, the Garbage-like NPR-type music is a lot like non-alcoholic beer. You want something without the thing itself. It's silly. Debord described this as, "a deranged imitation of a deranged life, a production skillfully designed to communicate nothing. It serves no purpose but to while away an hour of boredom with a reflection of that same boredom."


    These NPR-type records, for me, neither solve problems (which is easy) nor do they redefine problems (which is much harder). Rather than avoiding the standard traps, these records fall right into them. The kind of shit that All Songs Considered live for. There is always the desire to establish what is perceived to be just beyond normal. We want something to wow us without the disruption to our daily lives. I argue this doesn't exist. There is no such thing. Fake Danger isn't Danger Lite, it's, as my girl said, "so not dangerous at all." We feel free because we lack the very language to articulate our unfreedom.

    Music amplifies those distant ideas floating around your otherwise meat-and-bone skull. There is an inherent risk in dealing with the unknown. That's not to say that I listen to only dissonant, underground, well-ignored noise. I actually listen to NPR and a lot of those NPR-type records. In fact, Thee Silver Mt. Zion was actually featured on NPR in a rather uncomfortable segment, so there's that.


    It's not a matter of finding things that are deep, or unknown, or underground, or intentionally weird. Nor is it what soulstrut is obsessed with, being the first on the scene. That's stupid. Music, at it's best, and most modest, should be an individual telling of what it means to be free, rather than a research methodology that previously sold well.

    I just can't take these people serious who claim something as "that real shit" when they offer repetitions of the mundane as examples of uniqueness. There are implicit ideological presuppositions which regulate such activity as to make someone claim, "You can't deny this shit bumps." This assertion implicitly contextualizes the spectacle as part of some deeper truth. "Justin has been a part of some very original music." This misshapen hermeneutical attitude is crucial to fundamentalist ideology. What does it mean for something to be very original?



    My wife and I went to see Thee Silver Mt Zion and during one of the exchanges with the audience (when you have a string section and 20-minute songs, you have to allow time for tuning) the singer called Bob Dylan an "asshole" and claimed, after some political debate about the war, that he wasn't trying to get anyone to do anything. Rather, he said, "I'm up here speaking for myself, I'm not telling you anything."


    This is the paradox in music that so many music writers and NPR-types completely miss. And this is the exact reason that when folks talk about the history of punk rock (as we've done here) it's usually as it relates to The Sex Pistols instead of Crass. They (writers, NPR-types) use the same language and apply the same reference points to two different paradigms. There are bands (most notably, Fugazi) who simply refuse to participate in the "entertainment" aspect of music and, therefore, the writers in that field are left to assume. Those assumptions are usually wrong, and the bands do nothing to correct them, because it doesn't really matter since they operate outside of that sphere.


    Making them popular is a resistance against taking them seriously.






    Afterwards, my wife and I were walking home discussing the show, and she said it was off-putting to hear the singer slag Dylan. I was of a complete opposite opinion, perhaps because I'd seen Fugazi in the '90s (during the big grunge boom) and watched kids try to get Ian MacKaye to sign an autograph. "Why should I write my name on your shirt." It was an insult to the kids. The question challenged presuppositions about the band. To the band, I suspect, asking for an autograph is like knocking on an open door. You're already inside.

    "What does it mean to be free?"

    The rejection of the premise that is crucial to fundamentalist ideology. When you get out of those known knowns--away from the level at which the obscene logic operates, away from the level of explicit beliefs--and into the territory of the unknown knowns, that is when music functions as something original. I don't this this territory belongs only to the underground, Willie Nelson is probably one of the best examples of what I describe.

    The crux of my argument against your "great artists create for a great audience" is that the audience can't really be a viable consideration. Who are they? A "hit" record can't be a hit until it's made, and when it's being made no one has heard it. The space time continuum can't be wrinkled. We've got to wait and see. Record companies spends hundreds of thousands marketing records to lubricate their "audience," but in the end there is still people asking "what does this mean to me?"

    There are musicians aware of this paradox who don't make records for you. Music, for them, is an investigation of some unknown knowns. The music doesn't care what you think. Selling the record is superfluous, but, paradoxically, it's not finished until it's sold (complete circuit). It's more complex than this, obviously, but for the sake of brevity let me just say these records that are made as the result of an individual pursuit have more urge for survival than those made specifically to be "sellable."

    For this reason, I will always love Penny Rimbaud more than I love Bob Dylan, even though I probably listen to Dylan more than I listen to Crass.


    When I was a teenager Big Black and Ministry displayed the same dynamism to me. As I get older, though, those Jourgensen-related projects are of no interest while I am still engaged with stuff like "The End of Radio." This is, I think, because that which has a Marxist deconstructionism endures while the other just sort of shows it's ass.


    Big Black -- The Hammer Party
    Like Butch Vig???s clean-up man said: ???I tell myself I will not go / even as I drive there.???

    (To continue our discussion from that other place about Mr. Ego, this is your chance to confront he who is secretly envious of the male condition. "I think I fucked your girlfriend once... maybe twice, I don't remember....")

    It's this specific misunderstanding that typifies what I am talking about. The way you and I have both logged the same hours on Hammer Party but have come to two different conclusions. Who is right? This immediate coincidence of two extremes is what I enjoy about music. Could we both end up in two disparately different places after listening to Garbage? I doubt it. I don't think Garbage asks anything of us. It's just a block of clay, sitting there.

    I think we have enough records like that. Plenty. They outnumber these others 20:1. "Places no respectable man would be seen."



    I realize I've written thousands of words towards this Silver Mt. Zion record without any real specifics on the record itself. So there you have it, I'm taking up residence on the other side of the NPR coin of music writing. Instead of applying idealist faux-truths surrounded by adjectives to records anyone's mom would like, I am making a ??i??ekian postulate on the pursuit of unknown truths.

    It's late, I have insomnia, and the Sex Pistols are still the face of anarchy in the UK while Penny Rimbaud tends the garden at the Dial House.

    That Simone de Beauvoir could be subservient to Sartre, who was obviously her subordinate, while writing the touchstone of feminist philosophy has a lot to do with the complexity and way we think about music. When we take the Garbage route, in hopes of honing the absolute musical expression, we obliterate the little bits that make it more than just meat and bone. Ideological fundamentalism perpetrated through sound.

    Fundamentalist Rock is the monolithic monologing yawn.




    I swear all I ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever believed in was all of us together all alone.
    --Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La-Band

  • jamesjames chicago 1,863 Posts
    You know it???s funny; after I first read back what I wrote about that Garbage record, one of my thoughts was, ???Damn, I hope Bam doesn???t think I???m coming at him on the Steve Albini shit again??? (b/w ???You Were Always On My Mind???). Between you and me, I honestly did mean ???clean-up man??? in the sense of ???corrective,??? not in the sense of some underling following behind with a broom. I can???t even really listen to Nevermind any more.

    But, I mean, any musician on a stage who says/believes "I'm up here speaking for myself, I'm not telling you anything" may have a firm grasp on their own ideology, but indeed has a poor grasp on one of the truths of human interaction, on what it means to turn around and face a group, and on what it means the moment that you do. Putting scare-quotes around ???entertainment??? will change neither the fact that it???s just another word for the pleasure taken from cultural production nor the fact that anyone who plays music for paying strangers is very much inside of ???that sphere.??? I???m not at all saying that they have to embrace all that and become Wayne Newton or something (or, ahem, Garbage), but denying it???denying that there is in that moment any degree of remove between the person who???s talking and the person who???s listening, between the people who are holding instruments that night and the people who are not???is delusional and counterproductive.

    Specific examples aside, though, I think you and I part ways on a few???I???m gonna say three???key points:

    First, I disagree that ???We feel free because we lack the very language to articulate our unfreedom.??? I think this is a paternalistic, anti-individual stance, assuming as it does that there is only One True, Real Freedom, a Freedom that most people don???t even realize that they are being denied. I???d argue that in feeling a connection with music that we find enjoyable, in that aforementioned completion of the emotional circuit, that there is a pleasure and a transcendence and an escape that can be???not seem, but be--completely real to the listener. In moments like that, we feel free because we are free. Now, does that constitute ???real??? freedom? In terms of aesthetics or politics or demographics or whatever, probably not. But in terms of that individual listening to that song at that moment, I think it does. And everything else, to paraphrase Dave Hickey, is term papers and advertising.

    Second, you and I have previously agreed to disagree on this, but I think you???re coddling artists too much with all this. I hear what you???re saying with ???the audience isn't really a consideration. These records aren't made for you. They???re made for the sake of the artist who is investigating some unknown knowns.??? But at the same time, while these records may not have been made for me, they were sure as shit released for me???pressed up, loaded onto a truck, driven far afield, and made commercially available for me. In light of all that, I don???t think it can reasonably be said that there is no consideration of the audience on behalf of these artists of yours (and mine). In any case, the greater point is that I don???t believe that ???consideration of the audience??? is necessarily the lazy, unartistic thing you???re making it out to be here. At its deep deep core, the seemingly simple, frequently greasy pursuit of ???an audience??? or ???commercial success??? is rooted, however distantly, in the pursuit of community, the pursuit of resonance among individuals. ???Pop??? is short for ???popular,??? know what I mean? The consumption, perception, and/or consideration of art among a wide audience (which is what I meant by ???a great audience???: a wide audience) is inherently more critical and more complex than it would be among a narrower audience. Good art doesn???t need to be protected from that, and it shouldn't want to be.

    Third, and related, I disagree with the dichotomy you???ve put forth by saying that ???Music, at it's best, and most modest, should be an individual telling of what it means to be free, rather than a byproduct of spectacle.??? My favorite musician of all time is probably Prince, and a huge part of his genius has been his expression of individual freedom through precisely his mastery of spectacle (Debord-defined and otherwise) and subsequent transformation of spectacle into something deeply human and individualistic.

    But like you say, 1) this isn???t either/or, and 2) it???s late. (If only figuratively.) I deeply appreciate your time and effort, and will think a lot about what you've said. That may sound like a brush-off, but I give you my word as a gentleman that it is not.

    Two last, small things, pursuant to a couple of your external hot links:

    One, I might check out that Soft Focus thing just to see if dude would sign my cassette.

    Two, I listened to FutureSexLoveSound a lot, and liked it a fair amount, but I???ve come to realize one thing: Anyone who tries to talk about Justin Timberlake without addressing whether or not they believe him to be attractive is really not saying shit. I???m not saying they have to find him personally attractive, but so much of that record is so deeply rooted in his assertions of his own allure that to talk about that record but not talk about that is pointless.

  • JRootJRoot 861 Posts
    [/i]Shouldering your loneliness
    Like a gun that you will not learn to aim,
    You stumble into this movie house,
    Then you climb, you climb into the frame.
    Yes, and here, right here
    Between the moonlight and the lane,
    Between the tunnel and the train,
    Between the victim and his stain,
    Once again, once again,
    Love calls you by your name.
    [/i]

    Right there in the middle of the darkest record that Leonard Cohen ever made, right there amidst the wreckage of Last Year's Man, trapped beneath an avalanche that swallowed up your soul, burning at the stake with Joan of Arc, wrapped up in your famous blue raincoat in the end of December, right there, RIGHT f*cking THERE, love calls you by your name.

  • deejdeej 5,125 Posts
    could not disagree w/ bambouche more -- how u can universalize the experience of music like that, its borderline fascistic -- music is about the interpretation of symbols by the individual imo, youre buying into the fallacy that an authentic truth can be discerned or expressed from an objective standpoint, but that a person's experience w/ a song isnt by definition 'authentic' -- isnt that where the 'authenticity' enters into it, at the point of reception? If a 13 yr old is really really into (pre-creepy for arguments sake) chris brown "forever" what makes her interaction w/ that artist any less real, any less meaningful, than your experience w/ the song you are talking about? & who are you to judge that interaction? it strikes me as extremely presumptuous, no matter how much you dress it up with philosophical context

  • deejdeej 5,125 Posts
    im working on a 25 of my own -- v. difficult

  • BamboucheBambouche 1,484 Posts
    how u can universalize the experience of music like that, its borderline fascistic -- music is about the interpretation of symbols by the individual imo, youre buying into the fallacy that an authentic truth can be discerned or expressed from an objective standpoint, but that a person's experience w/ a song isnt by definition 'authentic' -- isnt that where the 'authenticity' enters into it, at the point of reception? If a 13 yr old is really really into (pre-creepy for arguments sake) chris brown "forever" what makes her interaction w/ that artist any less real, any less meaningful, than your experience w/ the song you are talking about? & who are you to judge that interaction? it strikes me as extremely presumptuous, no matter how much you dress it up with philosophical context

    I don't make any judgments against a 13 year old who is really really into Chris Brown's "Forever" (creepy or not). Nor do I contend her experience is not real (or Real). And, most importantly, her experience and its meaning has nothing really to do with mine.

    My point is this: We are all talking about Records That Shaped Our Lives in this thread. On the face of it, we are all saying the same thing, "This record shaped my life." But, when we ask, "what does it mean to have your life shaped?" it starts to get really interesting. That's where the differences lie. I am interested in investigating those differences.




    But, I mean, any musician on a stage who says/believes "I'm up here speaking for myself, I'm not telling you anything" may have a firm grasp on their own ideology, but indeed has a poor grasp on one of the truths of human interaction, on what it means to turn around and face a group, and on what it means the moment that you do. Putting scare-quotes around ???entertainment??? will change neither the fact that it???s just another word for the pleasure taken from cultural production nor the fact that anyone who plays music for paying strangers is very much inside of ???that sphere.??? I???m not at all saying that they have to embrace all that and become Wayne Newton or something (or, ahem, Garbage), but denying it???denying that there is in that moment any degree of remove between the person who???s talking and the person who???s listening, between the people who are holding instruments that night and the people who are not???is delusional and counterproductive.

    James,
    First, thanks for the reply. While it may seem like we're developing our own board playlist ("Oh, that song again."), I don't mind discussing the same subjects here and there, because I believe these inquiries lead us somewhere -- even if it's more firmly into our respective agree-to-disagree camps.

    I fear I may not have articulated my point about the audience as well as I hoped. I think we are saying, roughly, the same thing.

    There is a nameless element at work when a band performs two nights in a row at the Hideout. The difference between the Friday and the Saturday show, the nameless thing ("human interaction") is new every time. The music is obviously affected by the presence of the people, and everyone involved is altered in definable and indefinable ways.

    Most music is performed as a monolith: Bright lights, big sound, tall stage with a barrier and bouncers. I think it's fair to say this is the typical concert experience. This monolith still allows for the human interaction (The Boss pulls a boyish Courtney Cox from the crowd and dances with her; Kurt dives off the stage into the arms of his fans; wait til Morrissey takes off his shirt before you throw the gladiolas; "If you like sex lemme hear you say 'You Know That?!'"), but there is usually a set of presuppositions--both audience and performer--that are reinforced by the event.

    Most criticism towards Fugazi comes from their "don't dance" show-stoppers. Like that kid from their documentary, "How he gonna stop the show and tell me what to do? Fuck that, that ain't punk rock?" There were no bouncers at most Fugazi shows, the house lights stayed on the entire time, and what's more--and, I think, the reason for people's discomfort which is usually misdirected towards the "no dancing" thing--the band upset the presuppositions of the monolith by acknowledging the individual instead of addressing "the crowd." There were dynamics present.

    I think he said it better than I will, but.... What I took away from the "I'm up here speaking for myself" was someone who was interested in frustrating what you called the "degree of remove between the person who???s talking and the person who???s listening." Obviously, there is the band and those who came to see the band. However, I don't think it's delusional or counterproductive to dispel the myth that there are only two options: perform and spectate. I see it as a living, breathing deconstruction of a happening-right-now experience. To answer an audience member with "This is my thing, I'm sharing it with you, but it's my thing," or to stop the show and confront someone who is hurting someone else is the same as asking, "what does it mean to be a part of this?"



    Second, you and I have previously agreed to disagree on this, but I think you???re coddling artists too much with all this. I hear what you???re saying with ???the audience isn't really a consideration. These records aren't made for you. They???re made for the sake of the artist who is investigating some unknown knowns.??? But at the same time, while these records may not have been made for me, they were sure as shit released for me???pressed up, loaded onto a truck, driven far afield, and made commercially available for me. In light of all that, I don???t think it can reasonably be said that there is no consideration of the audience on behalf of these artists of yours (and mine). In any case, the greater point is that I don???t believe that ???consideration of the audience??? is necessarily the lazy, unartistic thing you???re making it out to be here. At its deep deep core, the seemingly simple, frequently greasy pursuit of ???an audience??? or ???commercial success??? is rooted, however distantly, in the pursuit of community, the pursuit of resonance among individuals. ???Pop??? is short for ???popular,??? know what I mean? The consumption, perception, and/or consideration of art among a wide audience (which is what I meant by ???a great audience???: a wide audience) is inherently more critical and more complex than it would be among a narrower audience. Good art doesn???t need to be protected from that, and it shouldn't want to be.

    I don't know how coddling I am of my artists. I wouldn't want me as a fan, quite frankly. I am critical and over-thinking and not afraid to take the music to task for what I think it lacks.

    I've no problem with popularity or success or a wide audience. My sticking point is striving for that instead of striving for the thing that causes that: greatness. I've no doubt that when The Stooges recorded their eponymous album they were fucking going for it. In their mind, right there, they were making the best record in the world, and it was an immediate commercial failure. Today, though, given some breathing room, it's recognized as a touchstone of everything punk/rockstar/peanutbutterhedonist, etc., and now it's a commercial success.

    Of course everyone wants to make the best record ever. Of course they want to make it available to people (the pressing, the truck hauling it far afield). Of course they want the record to be enjoyed. Unfortunately, they can't make that record because it doesn't exist yet, it takes a living, breathing (thinking) audie nce to achieve all those things. And since the record hasn't been made, and there is no audience for it, no one knows what's going to happen. (George Michael: "Gotta have faith!") Presupposing an end result affects the beginning. It's the eternal secret of desire, "would I have done this differently had I known then what I know now." You can't skip go and collect $200 without missing, you know, everything along the way.


    I can???t even really listen to Nevermind any more.


    Nevermind skipped go and went for the immediate, wide audience. It was built to be an immediate success, perfect for the day it was released. The older it gets, the older it looks -- The more it resonates, the less it gives. There's not a lot of trust of the audience on that record. Much like a toxic mortgage, it held together just long enough to be sold. It's exemplary of strict adherence to an ideology ("Sell!") to the detriment of any individual (Nirvana) expression. It's a sound equivalent of those old Stalinist propaganda posters. You don't have to believe in this, just practice it. To use deej's line: That's fascist!

    I'm not asking for all records to be "weird" or "crazy" or "next level" or "on some new shit." I'm not talking about the sound at all. I'm saying, don't forget to bring it, whatever it is. For all the time and money they put into making hit records, they usually forget to add the part that makes them a hit: the indefinable it.

    The Stooges was a great record. This was proven by it's acceptance among music lovers as well as the professional set. What made it great was not the acceptance but the fact that the band made it great. Straight up, Iggy and his dudes brought it. For years, the consensus was that it wasn't so great, but we've all come around to what Iggy 'n 'em were getting at.

    The risk is making a record that is both great and unsellable. This is a scary obstacle that most corporations try to bypass.

    Trusting the audience means accepting the idea that everyone, individually, is going to ask themselves, "what does this mean to me?" and living with those results. That's the subjective part. Deej can call me a fascist, but I think this--the action of putting it all out there and letting it just John-and-Paul with the people--is the truest of democratic processes. To just, you know, Let It Be, takes a lot of trust.

    In the case of The Stooges, they really brought it on that first record, but were met with widespread tepidness. They threw back Fun House, which is twice the album The Stooges ever could be, and again, a lukewarm response. They kept doing what they wanted to do, over and over. I love them for trusting themselves. I love Exit for the same reason, they did exactly what they wanted. Exit, however, remain widely unknown. It's a crapshoot. It deals with the unknown, and I don't think there's any way to circumvent that. Trust the audience, but don't listen to them. Their part of the process, but not responsible for it. The record doesn't belong to them until you're done with it, and once you're done with it you can't do shit about it. So fuck 'em. Let It Be.





    A dear friend of mine, whose a visual artist, enjoyed wild popularity in the art world decades past. He and his boyfriend, who were an art team, were groomed to be the next Warhols. Their work was a pop art appropriation/critique of American culture; ironic, tongue-in-cheek, reverently irreverent. People fucking loved them. Their work was shown in galleries around the world, they rode in limos, partied with stars, they made shit-tons of money... they "had it all." A big gallery in NY offered them a show. The show sold out before it opened to the general public. The new show functioned the same as their previous exhibitions (tongue-in-cheek critique of American culture through appropriated images from various media), but the subject changed with the time. While they formerly focused their attention on Madonna, jocks, keg parties, Dixie flag-flying rednecks, etc., the new show reflected the American infatuation of the day, namely black culture.

    An influential art critic previewed the show and wrote a review claiming the artists were racist. Even though the show had sold out, the conditions were just so and the the racist sentiment spread like a prairie fire. This, all in the midst of Tipper Gore's PMRC assault on your man Prince and his "Darling Nikki." The Moral Majority and their cuntish need to see everything be Politically Correct.

    The audience concluded it was not appropriate for two white gay dudes to use the popular images of American fetishism (black culture) as a critique of the same. It was okay when they were making fun of (white) slutty teenagers and (white) rednecks, but not this. So, my man was called a racist, the gallery dropped him, he got death threats, he and his boyfriend broke up, all the stars quit calling him, and now, decades later, he's living in an SRO working a 9 to 5.

    Recently, I helped him manufacture a series of LPs for a show he had outside the U.S., and we talked a lot about his former art career. He cried when he talked about the racist accusations. Here's my man, decades on, well past it, crying that someone could so widely misunderstand him. "I'm not a racist! How could they think that?"

    Coincidentally, there was a similar show (appropriations of black culture as part of a larger critique of American consumer fetishism) in New York recently and it was well received. Timing, I suppose?


    Whether people are going to buy and love the art is completely out of anyone's control. I still contend, as I did in the previous post, fuck it, don't worry about what people are going to think. Make art that KILLS... Absolutely Devastates... Brings It On All Fronts... and then fuck it all, throw caution to the wind and embrace the unknown: Trust strangers to make sense of it.

    Wrangling all the innumerable riotous angelic particulars lurking in one's soul and making something out of them? That's a fucking miracle. Four dudes individually pulling stuff out of the ether of their private mind gardens and turning all of that nothingness into something? It's Bradburian. That anyone would be able to listen to captured electricity and get anything from it is mind-numbing. It's a thing of pure beauty. If I weren't an atheist I'd claim it's the work of angels. If I were religious I'd claim it was the work of Satan himself.


    The risk of creative pursuits, of course, is people not liking it (or being called a racist or having one's life threatened or being dismissed as simply self-indulgent). Once the art is set loose on the public everyone is free to attached whatever he wants to it. (This is where you can't accuse me of coddling) When someone chooses to put it out there, he's got to answer for it as long as he lives. I know my friend is just as proud as the work that made him famous as he is of the work that labeled him a racist.

    Ain't no half steppin'


    You stake your life, and if you lose it, you find yourself. It's paradoxical.

  • deejdeej 5,125 Posts

    I've no problem with popularity or success or a wide audience. My sticking point is striving for that instead of striving for the thing that causes that: greatness. I've no doubt that when The Stooges recorded their eponymous album they were f*cking going for it. In their mind, right there, they were making the best record in the world, and it was an immediate commercial failure.

    this kind of mindreading is exactly what im objecting to. this is fetishization of an artists intentions, a lot of guessing about what the artist says & what his motives are, as if we can trust his messages about his motivations, or as if there arent as many ways to read his expression of motivation as there is the art itself. if music's meaning is the in the reception then how can u put such weight on the mysticism of the artist's 'intentions'?? arent u simply reading into his intentions what u want to believe? from everything ive read about the stooges, other than iggy those dudes were pretty mindless, racist goons. maybe they were going for greatness, or maybe they were just having fun. maybe they were thinking contradictory things.

    i really dont see this purity of 'greatness' as something that occurs during the creation of a record, its something that happens in its reception. if an artist makes a record in the woods & no one hears it, does it make a sound.

    i just cant buy this auteur's history of music; to look at music this way fundamentally misunderstands how ppl interact with music & what music has mattered to me -- many times it was crassly cynical music that resonates with me bcuz im feeling crassly cynical, or maybe because i 'misunderstand' this cynicism.

  • BamboucheBambouche 1,484 Posts
    a lot of guessing about what the artist says & what his motives are, as if we can trust his messages about his motivations (...) arent u simply reading into his intentions

    Unless it comes with a fucking instructional manual, I'm gonna think what I want. Or is it fascist to think for myself?

    That's the point. Listen to the thing, think of what it means to me, and then form an opinion. This likely changes each time I listen or think or talk about the music.

    My mom hates The Stooges. My wife is kinda so-so. You think they're goons. Add a few more thousand people and we could form some kind of consensus if we wanted. That's "popular opinion." If it turns out I'm wrong, who cares, I'll still think it's great.



    i really dont see this purity of 'greatness' as something that occurs during the creation of a record, its something that happens in its reception.

    Pure? It doesn't have to be pure. Iggy was a peanut butter-covered junkie. But he brought it. You're pretty conceited thinking you are what makes a record great.


    to look at music this way fundamentally misunderstands how ppl interact with music & what music has mattered to me

    What does interacting with music mean to you? What does it mean for music to matter to you?

    I look forward to your list of 25.

  • batmonbatmon 27,574 Posts
    Can I show u my tattoo....

  • pickwick33pickwick33 8,946 Posts
    Ah, can we skip the psychoanalysis and get back to listing rekkids again?

  • jamesjames chicago 1,863 Posts
    However, I don't think it's delusional or counterproductive to dispel the myth that there are only two options: perform and spectate. I see it as a living, breathing deconstruction of a happening-right-now experience. To answer an audience member with "This is my thing, I'm sharing it with you, but it's my thing," or to stop the show and confront someone who is hurting someone else is the same as asking, "what does it mean to be a part of this?"
    Yeah, what you???re saying makes more sense in the context of the Fugazi example. Stopping the show to hector slam-dancers strikes me as an actual disruption of the dynamic???an acknowledgement of what???s really going on and an attempt to examine/subvert that. Dude just standing up and saying ???I???m up here in front of you and playing music and talking to you, but don???t mistake this for me trying to tell you anything,??? however, just seems like a cop-out???less a rejection of what???s really going on than a denial of it. I get you, though.


    I don't know how coddling I am of my artists.
    Well, by ???coddling,??? I???m not at all trying to say that you???re uncritical of the art, only that you generally go to greater lengths than I would to protect the artists??? chastity, and that I think you???re more likely than I am to consider a lack of wider success to be itself a kind of success. Sorry, that came out sounding a lot snottier than I meant it to. But you know what I mean.

    In any case, yeah, I wouldn't want me as a fan either.


    What made it great was not the acceptance but the fact that the band made it great.
    I think this right here might be the pea that lies beneath our difference in opinion. You seem to feel that art???s resonance among a wider audience is nothing more than a recognition of the art???s inherent greatness; the art was great already???folks just needed to realize it. I, on the other hand, think that the absence of that wider resonance effectively limits the art, keeping it from completing the circuit necessary for great art.

    Put differently, I think you believe that The Stooges would have become THE STOOGES no matter what--even if no one heard their great records or even knew their fucking name, they would still matter and still have the same force and still occupy the same territory and still be THE STOOGES. I believe that a significant part of the reason that The Stooges are THE STOOGES is precisely because people heard their great records and because people know who they are; I believe that without that shit, they would matter less, and that in mattering less their art would be less complete.

    You and I have spent a lot of time debating the machinations of the race, but I think what we really differ on is the prize.


    Nevermind skipped go and went for the immediate, wide audience. It was built to be an immediate success, perfect for the day it was released. The older it gets, the older it looks -- The more it resonates, the less it gives. There's not a lot of trust of the audience on that record. Much like a toxic mortgage, it held together just long enough to be sold. It's exemplary of strict adherence to an ideology ("Sell!") to the detriment of any individual (Nirvana) expression. It's a sound equivalent of those old Stalinist propaganda posters. You don't have to believe in this, just practice it. To use deej's line: That's fascist!
    Yeah. Though I give this record points for (to rub my own rhetorical rhubarb just a little) making Nirvana NIRVANA, once I picked up a copy of From The Muddy Banks Of The Wishkah (copped from a thrift store, on cassette, minus a j-card???I was doing it real big back then, son), I pretty much quit fucking with Nevermind. There???s a youtube clip of Butch Vig explaining what they went through to get the album version of ???Drain You,??? but all that effort gets its ass handed to it by the first five seconds of pretty much any live version. There is the stuff and then there is the Stuff.

  • This thread is like reading an encyclopedia.

  • jamesjames chicago 1,863 Posts
    Ah, can we skip the psychoanalysis and get back to listing rekkids again?

    First, I'll concede that the thread title does say "25 albums," but you've gotta concede that it also says "shaped your life." How did you think this was gonna go?

    And two, you're making some big talk for a dude who is, by my count, still a about five rekkids short. I'm just saying.

    Three, the pop-up ad that came up while I entered this post was an invitation to "own a piece of Commodores history" by bidding on a gold-record plaque honoring Nightshift. Now, I know you can feel me on that, pickwick.

  • pickwick33pickwick33 8,946 Posts
    Ah, can we skip the psychoanalysis and get back to listing rekkids again?

    First, I'll concede that the thread title does say "25 albums," but you've gotta concede that it also says "shaped your life." How did you think this was gonna go?

    Alrite, bro, ya got me!

    Besides this is Soul Strut, where thread derailment (can't call it a "threadjack")is an accepted fact of life. Start out doing a thread on late night TV ads for R&B dusties, wind up discussing Eldridge Cleaver.

    And two, you're making some big talk for a dude who is, by my count, still a about five rekkids short. I'm just saying.

    No, I actually made the full 25. I did it as a two-parter...five albums in post one, twenty in post two. And then I reprinted the first post in the second post to tie it all together (ala Batmon), so I covered that base.

    Three, the pop-up ad that came up while I entered this post was an invitation to "own a piece of Commodores history" by bidding on a gold-record plaque honoring Nightshift. Now, I know you can feel me on that, pickwick.

    Wanna go half on it?

    [meaningless tangent]Seriously, what got me about that banner was that it looks like the 2009 Commodores have shrunk down to three people, and only one of them appears to be an original member (the cat who sang lead on "Brick House," who people mistakenly think is Lionel Richie).[/meaningless tangent]

  • ladydayladyday 623 Posts
    Taking a crack at this.

    Childhood:

    Sergio Mendes - Brasil '88[/b]
    The first record I remember playing and reading all the liner notes, trying to memorize the words to Waters of March. When I hear it today it reminds me of peaceful, wide open Saturday mornings, sitting on the living room of our old walk-up apartment, flipping through records and watching our cat follow the little patch of sunlight across the floor.

    Santana - S/T[/b]
    Santana - Abraxas[/b]
    Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy[/b]
    My parents played these records a lot and they were influential musically, but I think it was the cover art that really blew my mind. They were weird and fascinating and scary and beautiful in a way I didn???t understand, particularly Abraxas. Obviously I didn't know anything about Mati Klarwein but I remember staring at it, trying to figure it out. For years after I spent hours trying to draw these detailed, intricate mindscapes.

    Bill Withers - Greatest Hits[/b]
    This was Sunday morning around-the-house music, and maybe that's why it still feels so reverential to me. Soul Shadows introduced me to that feeling you get when you hear a song you have never heard before by a person you don't know but it gives you that ache in your heart, like remembering something from your own forgotten past.

    The Beatles - Abbey Road[/b]
    Talking Heads - Stop Making Sense[/b]
    Every year my family drove down to Florida to visit the extended family, and my dad always insisted on doing the 20+ hours straight through. We'd leave in the middle of the night and the rest of us would take turns sitting up front to keep him company. I always wanted the overnight shift so it would just be me and my dad, listening to music. Every year he'd bring the same cassettes and play them in the same order, so that at sunrise we'd be driving through almost impossibly fragrant orange groves somewhere in northern Florida just as "Here Comes the Sun" was coming on. My dad liked to veer off onto back roads on occasion, so there were always excursions to buy boiled peanuts off the side of the road in Georgia or eat breakfast at a silent, dusty farm stand. I always think of that Talking Heads album as a series of snapshots of Americana. These trips heavily influenced my approach to music as a soundtrack to life.

    Billie Holiday and Lester Young ??? Lady Day and Pres[/b]
    Head bowed down with misery
    Nothing now appeals to me
    Trav???lin???, trav???lin??? all alone


    The Cure - Disintegration [/b]
    Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation[/b]
    Both albums were a pinhole window out of the fog of adolescent anger, depression, and feeling trapped and misunderstood.

    Adulthood:

    Radiohead - OK Computer[/b]
    I had liked The Bends, but the first time I listened to this I was driving down a country road in the middle of the night staring out at the headlights in front of me, and it was like the music took over. Listened to it for about 2 years straight and I can't really listen to it anymore.

    The Pilfers - S/T[/b]
    In college I got into the little ska scene that was happening in Boston at that time, and I fell hard for this gritty little NY band. I was equally infatuated with both lead vocalist Coolie Ranx and bassist Anna Milat-Meyer. I got caught up in the excitement of going to shows, getting to know the band, jumping up on stage, rushing the merch table to pick up their demos, and feeling like part of it all. I kinda wish I'd been able to go to their one-off reunion show at the Knitting Factory a few years ago even though I've moved on musically.

    Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea[/b]
    My friend Tim introduced me to album and I clung to it through the rage and sadness of his unfair and untimely death a few months later.

    Linda Perhacs - Paralellograms[/b]
    We recently had an appreciation thread about this album and I didn't get around to posting in it, but I haven't stopped listening to this since Breakself introduced me to it when I first joined SS. This is one of those albums that changes with my mood, from dreamy to almost sinister. I listen to it while I'm painting. I can actuallly see how it has influenced my painting style.

    Willy Chirino - Oxigeno[/b]
    I remember my mom crying while listening to this in the car once when I was younger. I didn't understand why at the time, and I didn't particularly like the album. But recently I rediscovered it and damned if it does not contain some of the most life-affirming stuff ever. It still sounds synthy and overproduced in a way typical of the early 90's and the first track "Mister Don???t Touch the Banana" is unforgiveable, but the rest of the album is so eloquent and lovely. It???s about being a damn grownup and appreciating what you have. It???s both corny as hell and dead serious. "Tengo" sums up how I want to live and view life:

    Yo tengo lo que tengo,
    Nadie me lo regalo
    Por eso lo mantengo


    As a second generation Cuban American, I have no concept of what it feels like to lose your home country, but "Nuestro Dia (Ya Viene Llegando)" speaks so powerfully of that feeling of loss that I think I understand, a little, why my mom was crying in the car that day.

  • i started responding to this question and i realized i can't post in this thread without crying.

    Wow, I know that feeling you're describing, AK. I kinda felt like that too when I started writing mine and thinking about being a kid and my parents, my old house, how those times and places are so far away they feel sealed in a bubble, almost unreachable...there's something so sad about remembering yourself in the past. Even if the people you spent those times with are still in your life it's like there's something alive and in the air in eras of our lives that we can never get back to. You can go to the same place with the same people, and still everything has changed. Time and space are only half the story, there's something else mixed up in it.

    I've opened this thread a number of times with a half-assed intention of listing some records, but for some reason--several, probably--thinking back to the formative periods in my life and their attendant soundtracks makes me terribly sad.

    I would be remiss, though, if I didn't big up Lily not only for starting this thread, but for mentioning Dire Straits. When I was in high school, I wore out their first three albums (S/T, Love Over Gold[/b], and Making Movies[/b]). Prompted by her mention of them, I listened to them again for the first time in many years. It's left me thinking of Mark Knopfler as an English Springsteen; I think he's that gifted. I was immediately flooded with memories of being 16 and having so many unfulfilled dreams, so much longing, so much...well, the Portuguese have a word for it: saudade. And these aren't particularly sad songs.

    I could say the say for Jackson Browne's first four albums, especially Late For the Sky[/b] (ultimate breakup album?) and Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits[/b]. All of the albums I've mentioned so far came into my life directly from my brother, who is 12 years my senior and was my absolute hero as a kid. (No sad ending here; he and I are still very close.) He played guitar--and still does, beautifully--so I learned to play. He'd suggest different artists to me and make me tapes. When I was 14, he gave me a dub of the first volume of Robert Johnson's recordings, which devastated me in the best way possible.

    Around that same time, I discovered a few albums on my own that I've probably listened to more than any others: ZZ Top's Greatest Hits[/b] (the OG with the campfire painting on the cover; basically all the best shit from ZZ Top's First Album[/b] and Rio Grande Mud[/b], including "Just Got Paid," which has to be in my Lifetime Top 3 Nastiest Guitar Solos and "Tush," which, at 14, I learned to play note for note) and Jimi Hendrix Smash Hits[/b], the original pressing. The sequencing on those two albums was just flawless; the way ZZ Top's "Waitin' for the Bus" goes right into "Jesus Just Left Chicago" feels like an inspired mixtape. And I distinctly remember listening to Jimi's "Red House"--especially the delay on his solo--hundreds of times.

    And like any White Rap Fan of a Certain Age, I bought De La Soul "Three Feet High and Rising"[/b] and Beastie Boys "Paul's Boutique"[/b] in 1989 and had entire worlds opened up to me. At the same time, I read Frank Zappa's autobiography and ended up buying almost 70 of his albums. I've sold off many of them, but the first several Mothers records and a select few early solo albums are still on my shelves.

    I realize that this is a piss-poor list that rambles and falls far short of the 25 records requested, but like I said, this this is much heavier than I thought it would be.

    On a related note: I recently made a little playlist for the daughter we're expecting in a few months. We play it while we fix up her room and wonder if in utero music (no Nirvana) will have any effect on her. It, too, was much more difficult than I expected. As I look over this post, I realize that my playlist only contains one song by an artist mentioned above: "Little Wing" by Hendrix. It'll be interesting to see what else we add to it, and much, much more interesting to see what our kid grows up to like.

  • dizzybulldizzybull Eerie Dicks 309 Posts
    Damn.  People really used to type a lot back in the day.
    Beatnick Dee

  • ketanketan Warmly booming riffs 2,865 Posts
    I ain’t a writer I just type a lot
    dizzybull

  • DuderonomyDuderonomy Haut de la Garenne 7,555 Posts

    In vague chronological order:


    1 & 2. Dire Straits - Brothers In Arms/Queen - greatest hits. When my mum divorced/fled my dad she left everything she couldn't pack into a single suitcase behind her in the US of A, so I've never had that 'grew up in a house full of music and records' thing going because all my mum's records had been smashed to pieces by my dad, and in England we were too poor to afford anything you couldn't eat. Hell, while we were living in social housing we were given our first tv (black&white) by a neighbour who's son also introduced me to 2000AD comics (still got a copy he gave me from '86 in storage). So on the rare occasions my mum bought a tape cassette, that sh*t got played, and played, and played. Around the time of Live Aid ('85) Dire Straits & Queen smashed it, and my mum got these two.

    3&4. Run DMC - Raising Hell/Otis Redding - greatest hits. My mum would sometimes get a babysitter to look after me & younger brother, and one time it was this University student who introduced us to music made by black people (!). The single most influential tape cassette I'd heard in my short life. Side one was the hugely popular Run DMC album, obvious highlight being Walk This Way, but the scratches on Proud To Be Black blew my mind. The rapping, the music... I'd never heard anything like this, and it was curse-word-free enough that my mother didn't mind us listening to it. Side two had a completely different side to black American music, something I had never heard before on the tv or radio. Soul. Also mindblowing, and even more powerful in a subtle way. Mr Pitiful was my jam.

    5. Holst - Teh Planets - this was my first real introduction to classical music (and probably for a lot of Brits my age). I think there was some kind of science program on the BBC in the mid/late '80s that discussed each planet in the solar system with the relevant Holst tune as a backing track, and along with describing the atmosphere on Venus etc, a little info on the music was also provided.

    6. The Doors - LA Woman/Waiting For The Sun. Another 2nd or 3rd generation home-taping was killing it godsend from somebody, this was my first introduction to OLD music (classical wasn't just old, it was antiquity) from generations past.  Yes, music had been made before I was alive to listen to it. Yes, it was really good! Could it be that my mum had also been young once? :mindblown:
    Bonus, by this stage my mum had started working (we had to lie that she wasn't as it meant she was leaving 2 kids at home on their own after school until 6pm everyday), and my grandma had helped her buy a second hand Renault 5. This was the soundtrack to weekend car journeys.

    7. The Prodigy - Experience. A friend's older brother had been disappearing every weekend this one summer and coming back with tape recordings he'd made by leaving a portable recording next to speaker stacks at some weird parties called "raves" that the police and the politicians were all very upset about. These tapes and his descriptions of events were otherworldly, and my first taste of repetitive electronic beats. The nearest I got to an album representative of the social revolution these parties had started was by the Prodigy. It still stands out for freshness, ideas, and energy.

    8. Nirvana - Nevermind. I was an angsty teenager, this was angsty teenager music. Me and a group of friends would get drunk and stoned to this on school nights, fall asleep on dude's bedroom floor to this, get up and go to school with a horrific hangover to this. '60s music was for friday nights. We took LSD for every episode of the Ren & Stimpy show one year. We were rockists.

    9&10. Portishead - Dummy/Various - 110 Below - Journey To The (t)rip (s)hop. I'd started going clubbing with another group of school friends. We'd take a pill, go and mash out to some trippy techno, go back to a dude's house and play trip-hop for the come down while we discussed how much skag there was or wasn't in that nights pill (my contention was that there was no way they'd be cutting pills with heroine as it was more expensive than mdma) over cigarettes and bong hits. We were clubbers. One of the group had discovered Portishead which was really, really good, and as an angry reaction to Cobain blowing his brains out, I'd started exploring electronic music and was stealing tapes from HMV (Jungle music should also feature heavily on this list but it's not an album genre). This compilation had a bunch of MoWax artists, including Kemuri by DJ Krush, and that turned me on to a whole new ball game.

    11. ColdCut - JDJ. So it's a DJ mix. I don't care. The word 'seminal' was invented for things like this. Made me want to be a DJ.

    12. Aphex Twin - I Care Because You Do. One of the clubbing gang had turned me onto ambient music which was exploding back then. The Orb, Orbital, Future Sound Of London, and in what was my own discovery, Aphex Twin. I was attracted to the weird cover and that I could put the tape cassette in my pocket and walk out without paying. The music on this album melted my face clean off. Nuanced. Hypnotic. Funky. Scary. Soothing. Clearly the work of a genius, to me it still sounds like a transmission from an alternate dimension.

    13. Curtis Mayfield - Superfly OST. Having dropped out of school at 16 I spent a couple of years living in the interzone being unable to (a) get a job or more likely (b) sign-on and get that government unemployment benefit, so I hung out with a group of guys slightly older than me who had qualified for that free money, and lived in a slumhouse so shitty the toilet fell through the ceiling one day. One of this gang was a dealer. The rest of us were running wild making money selling stolen books and CDs for drugs, playing Mortal Kombat on pills and spliff, and as time went by, a lot of this gang got into heroine. Drug culture had become very glamorous in our eyes. We were junkies. One of us stole a VHS of Superfly and that was amazing. Having not seen Blaxploitation films before, this was raw and had a syrup-smooth funky soundtrack. Up to this point my knowledge of '60s-'70s music was mainly rockist. This was my real introduction to funk. It was also weirdly symbolic for me in that as I saw friends around me getting into heroine, I knew I needed a safer addiction, and vinyl was it. I bought a Charlie reissue of the OST and from there on I was hooked bad. I had also bought vinyl thinking that I wouldn't be able to sell records for drugs as easily as CDs... my own collection had been hocked and re-stolen many times over. Who's gonna pay for second hand records???


    ketanElectrode

  • DuderonomyDuderonomy Haut de la Garenne 7,555 Posts
    14. The Beastie Boys - Ill Communication. I'd listened to Paul's Boutique when it came out alongside ATCQ Instinctive Travels and De La Soul's 3 Feet High but I wouldn't say they hit me as much as Communication. I appreciated the others, but I wasn't committed yet. By the time this came out, I'd basically left grunge behind, given up on modern guitar music and was filling the void with rhythm. I might've listened to Cypress Hill's Black Sunday more and been more impressed with the crazy atmosphere created by the beats, but lyrically there wasn't as much to get into. It's not my favourite rap LP but Communication got my attention that year and I fell in love with the genre again/more.

    15. DJ Shadow - ...Entroducing. If I buy enough obscure old records, I can make an album without needing to learn instruments too! First time I heard this I wasn't feeling it. I had his earlier singles, but this wasn't as formulaic and easily assessible... but once I got into it, I loved it.

    16. King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown In A Firehouse. First dub LP I really got into, once the offbeat switch had been flicked I never really looked back. Sure, I'd heard The Police, Madness, The Specials, but this was something less poppy, much more abstract and much deeper... psychedelic.

    17. Fela Kuti - Beasts Of No Nation. A record dealer I used to supply with lists of lps with breaks on (@Chris Energy) tried to get me into Fela, and at the time I wasn't sure about it. But over time I really fell in love with the rich polyrhythms, the power of the horn section, the irresistible groove. Since then labels like Soundway & Analog Africa have unearthed an absolute goldmine of amazing music and afrobeat is one of my go-to sounds, but it did take a while for me to come around.





    EDIT: 25 for me isn't easy. I've been scratching my head wondering what I've left out. During my early life the family had limited access to albums, so while there's more songs I could've listed (Ghost Town, Golden Brown & Let's Dance spring to mind for differing reasons), the above is basically it IIRC. Then during adolescence every couple of months felt like a new, world-changing musical discovery was made. And post-21 years of age, there's new music, but it doesn't mold your mind like it did before... the period of music from 1990-1995 shaped the sounds I'm still in love with and to my ears nothing as good has come since, and as much as I'd love to include something more recent, I've not heard a new music movement since that really compares to that era. The '00s as a decade was godawful - as some wag remarked it's '80s revival lasted longer than the '80s did. Dubstep came along, but no sooner had that started sounding good than it was hijacked and turned into screechy headbanging trash. Influential discoveries of the last decade? The best DnB is actually revival jungle... whadayaknow, rap has turned back the clock to use real drums and samples again... and after a lot of exposure to it, I've found that there is absolutely nothing redeeming about reggaton. Hoping the kids find something new and funky for the '20s.
    ketanElectrode
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