and Bam, I DLed Antony five minutes after reading your post and have been listening to it, it's GREAT. The first song on that album is absolutely fantastic
and Bam, I DLed Antony five minutes after reading your post and have been listening to it, it's GREAT.
No chronological order, I'm just listing them as they came to mind:1) Blue Break BeatsI know this compilation probably looks quaint now...a collection of jazz-funk tunes from the Blue Note catalog marketed towards the hip-hop generation. One summer I was working in a record store where all my coworkers were bigger jazz and hip-hop fans than me. Both of those musics were played constantly (and sold the most). I never got it with the hip-hop, but one day somebody played this comp and something clicked. Prior to this, I never really "got it" with jazz, either...it seemed too aimless and deliberate and without a center. Like something I was SUPPOSED to like, but somehow never got the hang of. I thought jazz-funk was even worse, because it was neither here nor there...just some older cats trying to make some money w/third-rate Kool & the Gang covers. And it wasn't like it was my first time hearing this CD, either. But because I'd just started getting into early-'70s funk by bands like Black Heat and Charles Wright's Watts Band, jazz-funk sorta started making sense. And I eventually made my way to liking real jazz that WASN'T funky. I'm still not the BIGGEST fan of that music, but I own more jazz records now than I did before the summer of '93. And, yes, they got played...2) Moby GrapeAnother one from that same summer...I'd just graduated from college, but hadn't gotten that Great Journalism Gig In The Sky that I was looking for...I was also trying to avoid a recent ex who I'd seen walking around with her new boyfriend (not that she was checking for me!)...I had just discovered the first Moby Grape elpee, and that was how I got through the rest of the year. I was a huge fan of 1960's garage-rock (more on this later)...although Moby Grape weren't garage, they are revered by fans of that music because they weren't a "jam band" like the other groups from San Francisco ca. 1967-70; you could slip "Omaha" in a set with the bands on the Nuggets anthology and it wouldn't sound out of place...we had two copies of their first LP at the store (WITHOUT the guy flipping off the camera on the cover) and I snagged one for myself...another one I didn't get right off, but when I did, I hunted down every last Grape album that existed(people forget that Moby Grape were popular in their day, and between that and being on Columbia and Reprise, their elpees weren't that hard to find...I don't know about now, but in the '90s I still saw their records floating around for under $9).3) The Jackson Five - Looking Through The WindowsMy first record ever (not counting a couple of kiddie records), which I got as a childhood birthday gift. I never really got into children's music when I was a child (never mind that the two youngest members of the J5 were practically kids themselves)...I'd go to friends' houses to play, and I'd be entranced by the soul sounds that their teenaged brothers and sisters would be playing, the stuff I saw and heard on Soul Train. When I found out (last week!) that Ebony and Jet started archiving old issues on the Net, the early-seventies issues took me back to that time. This is what got me started...4) MC 5 - Kick Out The Jams5) Flamin' Groovies - FlamingoWhen I was in junior high in the early eighties, I thought these albums WERE punk-rock! And it turns out I wasn't far off-base...I had gotten bored with soul music around this time, because the disco thing kinda smoothed everything out. I turned to rock because it represented FREEDOM, to me at that age...plus, the rock and rollers looked like they were having FUN, which I did not get from the current soul scene. I'd see Chic on Soul Train in their impeccably pressed suits and skirts, lookin' all cosmopolitan and precious...but then I'd open a rock magazine and I'd see Mick Jagger or David Johansen just cuttin' up for the cameras like they were on holiday! I'm like, "F*ck this disco shit, I gotta get over to the ROCK side!" Now the next question is: how would a young black kid in South Chicago know enough to buy records by the MC 5 and the Flamin' Groovies ten years after they came out? Well, back then I devoured all sorts of rock magazines - Musican and Trouser Press were faves, but I was really into Creem, that was the one I followed every month. And around this time, punk and new wave were coming on strong and I liked what I'd heard. The MC 5 and the Groovies were always being played up as bands who were "punk before it was called punk"...I saw the MC 5's album for maybe $3 in a comic book shop, bought it, and played it constantly...saw the Flamin' Groovies elpee in a Goldblatt's bargain bin, bought it, and now I know that album as well as my family (or the back of my hand). All based on what some rock critics said!!! Believe it or not, back then I did know a few black folks who were into rock, but they mainly knew about what was played on the radio, like the Police and Genesis, both of whom I liked back then (not so much now). On the other hand, relative obscurities like the MC 5 and the Flamin' Groovies was stuff I shared with me, myself and I - didn't meet anybody else into their stuff until college...
I offer: 25 HAIKU for 25 LPs[/b]
"A belly full of empty and a pocket full of dreams..."
Bad Brains "i against i"Various artist "the Blasting concept"There was this little record store in Memphis in the 80s that was the only place you could buy punk records. Although I wasnt into punk music at the time, I noticed a very familiar logo on the back of these 2 records, the logo I had seen in those weird little ads in the back of Circus...SST. I buy these. I love em, even though they arent metal. I am particularly intrigued by this one band on the comps, Husker Du. The guitars were loud, like I like em, but the subject matter isnt metal, they dont look like rock dudes and the singing is melodic and poppy. I have never heard anything like this before. I need more.
7. Bone Thugs n Harmony: E 1999 Eternal[/b]This was my schitt in the 8th grade.
23. John Coltrane ??? Africa Brass ??? I mean, what the hell do you even say about this album.
- ali farka toure - red. so otherworldly, yet so familiar. the crackling gourd-drum and the relentless fluidity of the guitar were just too epic to stand. and then the vocals came in. i remember thinking this music must have come from a very real place. it did.
it's hard to do these lists. I'm thinking of other albums that i should have in there already.
listening to it, rewinding it and playing it again, rewinding it and playing it again, rewinding it and playing it again....
I feel like I almost have too many records now, I am not really capable of listening to the same thing over and over anymore, but I used to play the shit out of a new tape or my favorite song of the moment. Now I play an LP once or twice and refile it and pull something else.
also i want to see faux_rillz, hcrink deej brian and reynaldo lists
Agreed though it's one of those songs I play rarely - if i'm tired and emotional it has a similar effect to Cash's Hurt.
I was feeling lazy and not particularly expressive today so wasn't planning to submit in this thread but then read through it and couldn't resist being a part of it. Having said that I don???t know if I can do an ordered list of 25 so it???s all going to just tumble out.
Adam & The Ants ??? Prince Charming[/b]. Having looked this up I was 3 or 4 when it came out so I can only assume that I got it around a year later. This was the first album I ever requested my parents to buy me and created an idol level state of worship when I put it on. For a five year old kid this band that looked like they were beamed from another time doing song after song of loud and proud music was a very early inspiration for me to always seek out the less MOR music floating around.
Pink Floyd ??? The Wall[/b]. I have no interest in revisiting this album now but as a child I strongly remember the transition from dancing round my living room to ???We Don???t Need No Education??? one day and starting to comprehend the emo nature of the rest of the album the next. For a child who was only really beginning to understand the power of song lyrics it hit me hard.
Michael Jackson ??? Bad[/b]. If there was one album that was the soundtrack to my pre pubescent days this was it. I knew of the singles from Thriller but Bad was the first MJ album I bought and played incessantly. It seems funny looking back now but at the time Jacko was the coolest man on the planet in my eyes. I could probably still pull off a decent MJ turn and kick if I put my mind to it.
Neneh Cherry ??? Raw Like Sushi
Bobby Brown ??? Don???t Be Cruel[/b]. There isn???t any real world link between these two albums but they will forever be as one in my mind. My family headed off for a weekend in Paris which was my first real holiday abroad and I was keen to have some new music to play on my walkman for the coach trip. My brother had just bought both of these (in fact the only two decent albums he ever owned) and copied one to each side of a 90 minute tape. I spent the next 72 hours with this tape on loop and can still recite the words to all these songs to this day.
Public Enemy ??? It Takes A Nation[/b]. Yes it???s hardly a hidden away gem but I had never heard anything like this at the time and it sounded like all the anger inside my head channelled through my speakers. If music does transcend culture and creed then this was a classic example. Still one of the most powerful albums I???ve ever heard and just as potent if I???m raging against the world or just doing the cleaning (sorry Chuck)
De La Soul ??? De La Soul Is Dead[/b]. I loved 3 Feet when it came out but the shine had definitely worn off for me after a year of so. When they dropped Is Dead my one friend who was a fellow rap fan started animatedly telling me how great it was to little more than crickets from me. I went round his house and agreed to give it a listen and as soon as the bassline of Oodles came on it was like I???d never stopped loving them. Showed me that it was ok to like stuff that was no longer deemed the coolest by my peers.
Dr Dre ??? The Chronic
Snoop Dogg ??? Doggy Style[/b].
The first time I heard these it blew my tiny little mind. The amount of bravado and balls delivered over the Dre productions was like nothing I???d heard before and I doubt that there will be many rap albums that will ever have this kind of effect on me again. Was one of those moments which helped encourage me to go hunt out music of a similar sound.
Beach Boys - Pet Sounds.
Love ??? Forever Changes[/b] My mum was heavily into the Beatles and my dad was into his jazz and fusion so the only beach boys I knew growing up was their Golden Hits collection. It wasn???t till I was in my mid teens that I got given a copy of Pet Sounds as a present. Intrigued why it was so highly rated but also feeling pretty dismissive I stuck it on and it changed my outlook on how music could transcend space and time for ever. Funnily enough I picked up the Love a week later and it had the same affect on me, stunningly beautiful music that sounds totally of its time but at the same time as fresh as if it was recorded yesterday. I can think of very few albums that have really stuck with me year on year and not lost there power and these are two of them.
Aphex Twin ??? Selected Ambient Works Vol II[/b]. If I put this album on to this day I just get instantly transported back to my friend Matt???s house. I???d lose whole weeks of my summer holiday in a stoned blur only registering day or night by the light shining through the crack in the curtains. There have been times when I have regretted so many wasted days but then I think back to how much fun I had and how I still know and see everyone of the gang from those times near on 15 years ago and I realise it???s helped shape me into the man I am today. The music changed often in that environment but this was one of those records that came on over and over again.
Tricky ??? Maxinquaye[/b] I bought into Trip Hop from the moment I heard Massive Attack???s Blue Lines. For a teenage boy interested in dance and rap this music that was determinedly British filled me with pride and joy. While I loved Blue Lines and Portishead it was Tricky that absolutely floored me. Here was a man not much older than myself who was unafraid to stand up and wear his diverse influences on his sleeve, not only that, but for a troubled teen like myself the anguish on offer spoke volumes to me. Although Trip Hop is now deservedly dead this album(and PMT even more) are still a stunning example of what these shores can produce.
Goldie ??? Timeless[/b]. In many ways similar to Maxinquaye. I had long been heavily into hardcore, then jungle, then drum n bass but to me it was an underground music unloved by the mainstream, then Timeless hit the shelves. What was shocking to me was this was an album that was loved by the press, sold well, and yet didn???t feel like a sell out. I can???t count the number of taped copies of this I wore out bitd.
Radiohead ??? The Bends[/b]. At the time I was pretty disinterested in anything that featured guitars so when my sister insisted on playing me this album by a band called Radiohead I did it out of politeness more than interest. I then sat there for the next fifty minutes blown away by the production, the vocals, and the lyrics. Made me re-evaluate the narrow interest my music tastes had developed into and start digging around for music of all kinds that I enjoyed.
Al Green ??? I???m Still In Love With You[/b]. I picked this up cheap on impulse not knowing much more about Al than his major singles and became a life long fan before the first side had finished. On my third date with the love of my life I took her back to my place and put on Al for her and she bought into it from the moment he started singing, confirming once and for all that she was the soulmate I had waited my life to meet. When we finally do tie the knot our first dance will undoubtedly be to a song by the reverend.
Stevie Wonder ??? Songs In The Key Of Life[/b]. One of those albums that puts everything in perspective. So many songs, such a high quality throughout and the music! One of those albums where I felt cheated that it took me almost 18 years of my life to truly discover and have at hand.
Lewis Taylor ??? S/T[/b]. I first heard Lewis perform Bittersweet on KISS 100 and, it being the days before google, assumed it was an old song. When I found out it was by a British ex punk who played all the instruments himself he was elevated t o hero status and became someone I hunted down every EP, remix, promo for. I haven???t been feeling his more recent stuff as much but those first two albums are still something entirely unique in the whole nu-soul category. Strangely enough I???m yet to find a woman who likes him or a man who doesn???t.
DJ Shadow ??? Endtroducing[/b]. Nowadays it???s almost a confession thing to admit liking this album but this, and In-Flux, marked my moving away from DnB into the world of MoWax and Ninja Tune and from there into getting reacquainted with Rap music so without it who knows where I would have ended up. Despite all its power being sucked out from years of commercials it???s still an impressive achievement and encouraged me to dig far deeper for different sounds when going record digging.
Sly and The Family Stone ??? Fresh[/b]. Out of the albums I picked up from the music exchange shop I used to visit at university this was probably the one that convinced me that I wanted to get into the murky world of record collecting. The sound of a group of artists falling apart in the studio even as they produced this incredible music got me hooked on the idea of albums with a story behind them. The high kicking front cover certainly helped as well.
Dizzee Rascal ??? Boy In Da Corner[/b]. Every few years it seems there???s a British album that comes out that defies easy categorisation and this was the last one that has done it for me. At the time I was very much in a rut of listening to the same music day in day out and this shocked me with how original it was. It may turn out that like DnB there are only ever a few great longplayers produced by grime but this could be the sole album ever released and would still be enough in itself.
Barbara & Ernie ??? Prelude To[/b]. As the internet makes it harder and harder to really discover music without knowing everything about in advance this was a real impulsive purchase revelation to me. My girl always tells me I need to slow down on reading and sampling everything before I buy as it takes all the fun out and this was a good reminder of how valid her point was. I really didn???t know what to expect from the polonecks and fuzzy moustache but as soon as the harmonies started I was sold and insisted on playing it to anyone who would spare me the time.
Trae ??? Restless[/b]. Was the moment that I started carefully reading all HC???s recommendations on the South and what music was being produced. Opened my eyes to a whole massive scene of music that sounded so very different from what I was used to and have been hungrily collecting releases since.
I'm aware that there's massive gaps in this recollection but being stuck at work I'm lacking the visual stimulation of my collection to get my brain working.
It???s funny that I???m grasping for recent albums that have had a real epic effect on my life. It???s no doubt partly to having much more of a sense of artists talking directly to me when I was young but also I suspect that in this digital age the action of getting music has lost a lot of it???s importance.
Great stuff all round. MORE.
One of my earliest memories (I was probably 3 or 4) is me an my mom danicng in the kitchen to this. We would do this funny little dance to this record...I remember it vividly
Various Artists (Some doo wop comp)???????
The Best of the Grass Roots
My dad had a pickup with an 8 track player and I remember these three 8 tracks being in the truck and being on constant rotation when I was little. It was always a treat to go riding in the pick up when I was a little kid (the suspension was bad so when ever we would go over railroad tracks, bumps etc. I would fly out of the seat...good fun for a 4/5 year old) I remember "Sh Boom", "Teddy bear" and "Lets live for today" the best...
Star Wars OST
Star Wars came out when I was 6, so naturally I was obsessed with the movie at that age. Everything Star Wars was cool. That summer I spent the summer with my grandmother in Gardnerville, Nevada. Everyday I would go out a wander around the neighborhood. I would usually stop at this grocery store, which I believe was called rileys? Raileys? for candy or something. They had a record section and the Star Wars OST was in a display. I had to have it. I went home and mentioned to my grandma that I wanted it. Like most grandmas, she spoiled me and we walked down to the store and she bought it for me. I listened to it all summer while I played with the action figures. I still have it.
Kiss Alive II
along with Star Wars, Kiss was the second most important thing to me. I would spend all my allowance (50 cents a week) on Kiss trading cards (my dad was furious i was spending my allowance on them and took them away from me). I was into Kiss, but more of in a comic book way, I never really heard them at the time. The commercials for "Kiss meets the Phantom of the Park" started to be on rotation on NBC. I HAD to see it. Since my parents didnt want to watch that nonsense, my dad took the old black and white TV out of the attic and put it in my room for the night it was on. I finally heard Kiss music and I loved it. It turned out my new friend from up the street had the KISS Alive II LP. We would listen to it a lot. I heart Kiss. I realize I like rock music.
Best of the Doors
Cheap Trick "Live at Bubokan"
In the third grade I had this friend Derrick and we would hang out, have sleep overs, etc...we played on the same park league little league baseball and basketball teams...anyway, he had an older brother and these albums seemed to be always playing at their house. We would play "Hello, I love You" and "aint that a shame" over and over. I remember my dad telling me "aint that a shame" was a Fats Domino song, but I didnt like Fats version because it didnt have loud guitars and that is all I wanted to hear.
Kinks "Give the People What They want"
The first record I bought on my own. The big tunes on Memphis rock radio at the time were Kinks "Destroyer" and Joan Jett "I Love rock n Roll". A new mall opened next to our subdivision and there was a record store called "Sound Shop". I saved my allowance (now raised to $3 a week) for 3 weeks to buy a record. I didnt know what I wanted, the Joan Jett or the Kinks. I dont know why I chose The Kinks over Joan, but I did. I still have it.
AC/DC Highway to Hell
Now that I am a seasoned rock record purchaser at the age of 10 I am on the look out for new sounds. "Back in Black" is all the rage. However, it costs $8.98 and I dont have the patience to save my money for it. However, the AC/DC display has their other records on sale for 4.98. 5 bucks I have. I choose "highway to hell" because it has a bad word in the title and a dude with devil horns on the cover. cool. I want to hear things that look like I shouldnt be allowed to hear.
Iron Maiden "Number of the Beast"
In the 6th grade I started to make friends with a couple of the "bad kids"...they wear denim jackets, have long hair, keep a comb with a handle in their back pocket. Anyway, in music class we could bring an record and the teacher would let us play it at the end of class. I had just bought this K-Tel comp record at Target and it has a song I really like on it, Ozzy Osbourne "Flying High Again" and I play it at the end of class. One of the bad kids "Dan"(he was older, he has been held back a couple times) asks me if I like Iron Maiden. I have never heard of them. The next day he brings "Number of the Beast" to school and lets me take it home. This is some evil stuff, it makes me nervous. I love it.
For the next 2 to 3 years all I delve into Hit Parader/Circus territory with a vengence. In the back pages of these magazines there are little ads for weird looking records with strange covers. A few of these ads all are from the same 2 record companies, SST and Megaforce. Thus I have to have hear these records..first up is
Metallica "Kill Em All"
a bloody hammer on the cover and songs with titles like "Metal Militia" are crack to a 13/14 year old. I want the really heavy stuff...I now start to buy Motorhead, Venom, Slayer, Voi Vod, etc.
Bad Brains "i against i"
Various artist "the Blasting concept"
There was this little record store in Memphis in the 80s that was the only place you could buy punk records. Although I wasnt into punk music at the time, I noticed a very familiar logo on the back of these 2 records, the logo I had seen in those weird little ads in the back of Circus...SST. I buy these. I love em, even though they arent metal. I am particularly intrigued by this one band on the comps, Husker Du. The guitars were loud, like I like em, but the subject matter isnt metal, they dont look like rock dudes and the singing is melodic and poppy. I have never heard anything like this before. I need more.
Husker Du "Zen Arcade"
Due to my thriftyness, I buy this particular Husker album because it is a double...more bang for my buck. This record blows my mind...its loud at times, soft at times, wierd at times...it is beyond perfect to me. I become an obsessive fan. I read interviews with them and the band name drop bands like The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, etc...I go and get those records. This record/band opens me up to all kinds of other music.
The Best of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers
its 1989 and I am in college, I make friends with this guy who is in a local band I enjoy seeing. He is a jazz major. I tell him about this PBS documentary about jazz drummers and I tell him about this one drummer that was particularly heavy, hit the drums really hard like Bonham and that I think his name is Art. He tells me it was probably Art Blakey and that I need to check out a tune of his "A Night in Tunisia". I go a pick up the best of on Blue Note and am blown away. I always thought jazz was sleepy boring shit by guys named Chick. I didnt know Jazz sounded like this. I start buying records with "Blue Note" on them. this is the good stuff.
Butthole Surfers "Hairway to Steven"
Flaming Lips "Telepathic Surgery"
Its college, I am in Texas, I try Acid. These are listened to while on said Acid...I need fucked up music in my life. Its fun.
MC5 "Kick out the jams"
names I have read a bazillion times but have never actually heard. My first trip in London in 91 I see these prominently on display and buy them. Wow, I didnt know folks got down like this in the 60s. I realize I am missing out on a ton of good music. Their is a lot more ahead of its time music than just Black Sabbath.
Miles Davis "Agharta"
during my jazz baptism, I naturally bought some stuff by Miles Davis. I liked it, but hearing it with 1990s ears, not knowing how revolutionary it was, I didnt get it. So a couple years later I see this...this doesnt look like the 60s records I had previously heard. With the combination of the weed, acid...this sounds like music from outer space...its funky I didnt know I liked funky music. I listen to t his constantly.
Booker T and the MGs "Green Onions"
coincendently, back in Memphis on a break from school my best friend, a heavy music head like myself, starts to get the funky bug. He gives me a cassette of "Osmium". I didnt know there was soul music like this. This is what starts the disease. Also while back in town I pick up "Green Onions", music I took for granted growing up in Memphis. Soul fan/obsessive for life because of these records.
My Bloody Valentine "Loveless"
Spacemen 3 "Perfect Prescription"
A few years later I start to play guitar and due to my predeliction to weird sounding things I also buy effect pedals while trying to learn to play guitar. needless to say I dont learn to play properly...I tend to just want to make walls of noise. I start to play in a band with some folks who seem to like my noise. I get turned on to these 2 records. One of these records doesnt sound like anything else, the other sounds like everything else but put together in a way that is simultaneously convential and unconventional. These records become very important to me.
Mercury Rev "Yerself is Steam"
Nothing else sounds like it but I want to sound like it. Orchestral, yet stripped down. Pop but not really "songs". My obsession with this sound leads to a member of the band producing one of my records.
Cheech & Chong - Big Bambu
Cheech & Chong's Wedding Album
Around the time I was eleven years old, I was briefly a fan of The Dr. Demento Show, which got me into a short-lived "comedy/novelty" phase. And these guys were #1 on my list. Was just reminded of them when I picked up a copy of Tommy Chong's autobiography over the weekend. I haven't played my C&C albums in years, but I still have them (I had more than these two, but these were the first ones I got). I even SAVED the rolling paper that came with the Bambu elpee!
James Brown - Live & Lowdown At The Apollo
James Brown - Can Your Heart Stand It?
Both early '80s reissues of vintage JB that blew my mind and put it back together...I knew who he was, alright; I had some of his 45's when I was younger, but I bought these two albums (on the Solid Smoke label) on the same day and really became a committed fan then.
Brownsville Station - Yeah!
That's right, the band that did "Smokin' In The Boys' Room." And this was the album it came from. In my mind, Brownsville were just as important to Detroit rock & roll as the MC 5, Iggy & the Stooges, Mitch Ryder, and Funkadelic, and don't argue. Cub Koda, we miss you!
The Best Of Merle Haggard
For the longest time, I was NOT a country music fan. But at one point in my early 20's, I was listening to so much rockabilly (more on this later) that country music started to make sense. I eased into it, first buying country music with rock/soul overtones (Charlie Rich, Commander Cody, Foster & Lloyd), moved up to an old Pickwick comp of Johnny Cash's Sun sessions, and then it really kicked into gear in January 1990 when I found a Merle Haggard greatest-hits LP for a dollar...straight-up country with no overtones of anything else. And I've been a C&W fan from that day on.
The Best Of Johnnie Taylor
The Best Of Wilson Pickett
There was this small mom & pop store on Chicago's South Side called Mr. T's (later renamed Coop's). In addition to the current soul hits of the time (early '80s), they also had a shitload of soul reissues, both full-priced and in the bargain bins...this was a good way for me to catch up with the soul history I was too young to hear the first time around.
Wizards From The Southside (Chess blues anthology)
The Best Of Jimmy Reed
The Best Of Bobby Bland
Mr. T's also had a pretty good blues section, too. Even though my dad had a hefty stash of blues records as it was, t'aint nothing like buying it for myself...besides, my father did NOT like Bobby Bland! Too close to soul for him, I guess...
Dance Album Of Carl Perkins
Sin Alley /em> (various-artists compilation)
I'd always liked rockabilly, going by what I sporadically heard on oldies shows, but in the late eighties, I just went rockabilly crazy. At that point, several of my musician friends were blues-rockin' Stevie Ray Vaughan types who did not understand what I heard in this stuff. Another six years and I'd see some of these same folks hanging around the local rockabilly open mic night???
The Best Of The Early Years - Funkadelic
Even after I'd sworn off contemporary R&B, I still had a soft spot for whatever George Clinton was up to...this used to be all over the bargain bins in the eighties, and definitely tided me over until all the classic Westbound albums either resurfaced or were reissued.
Their Second Album - Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs
Pebbles, Vol. 9 (various artists)
Psychedelic Lollipop - Blues Magoos
If I had found a copy of the Nuggets anthology when I was a teenager, I would have gone stone crazy! It never turned up in my travels, but these three LP's (and others in the same vein) did. I found the bootleg Pebbles comp in a bargain bin, sealed, and it seemed like buried treasure then. Bought it on the same day as the Ramones' Rocket To Russia.
His Greatest Sides - Bo Diddley
The shape of his guitar was the only thing square about Bo Diddley. One of the elite group of performers I have ten or more albums by. This was the LP that kicked it off.
Hey, rockabilly and punk ain't so different after all!
I'm Not Selling Out/I'm Buying In! - Swamp Dogg
Aw shit, how could I forget!!!
Since i cant wax-poetic like some of you i'll just keep it simple.
1.Boogie Down Productions - By All Means Necessary[/b]. "Cocaine business controls America Ganja business controls America KRS-One come to start some hysteria Illegal business controls America"
2.Public Enemy - It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back[/b].
3.Beastie Boys - Licensed to Ill[/b]. The first rap album i owned.
4.Fishbone - Truth & Soul[/b]. I'd credit this band with making me wanna delve into 70's funk.
5.Yaz - Upstairs At Eric's[/b]."Situation" is my favourite dance track ever!!!
6.Gap Band - IV[/b].
7.Depeche Mode - Some Great Reward[/b]. Thought provoking lyrics perfectly blended with synth pop.
8.Metallica - Master Of Puppets[/b]. Made me wanna learn guitar,just so i could thrash like them.
9.The Best of Kool & the Gang 1969-1976[/b].
10.Prince - 1999[/b]. "Lady cab driver"
11.Madonna - Madonna[/b]. Best dance/pop record ever made in my mind.
12.General Echo - Arleen[/b](Single) The first time i ever heard dancehall as a youngin'
13.Ice Cube - Death Certificate[/b]. Death Side and Life Side.
14.Organized Konfusion - Organized Konfusion[/b]. When i get disillusioned about the state of current rap i listen this.
15.Outkast - ATLiens[/b].
16.Bad Brains - Quickness[/b]. Rastas playing a hardcore/metal hybrid my mind is still blown.(i still get a kick from playing it to the rastas here and looking at their facial expressions)
17.Led Zeppelin - Houses Of The Holy[/b].
18.Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force - Looking for the Perfect Beat[/b].(Single) The song that always got me amped to breakdance.
19.Talk Talk - The Colour Of Spring[/b].
20.Double XX Posse - Put Ya Boots On[/b]. 92 was such a great year for rap for me.
21.The Meters Anthology[/b].
22.Roy Ayers - Evolution[/b](The Polydor Anthology)
23.Das EFX - Hold It Down[/b]. Made me worship hip hop producers.EASY MOE BEE!!!
24.Mobb Deep - The Infamous[/b]. The melancholy rap masterpiece,i'll always remember a friend saying this is the most depressing rap album he's ever heard,rap is no longer fun.
25.Gladys Knight & The Pips . Save The Overtime For Me[/b](single) The first time i'd seen Breaking i had to learn how to do it.
SST wasn't a metal label, but I have vol. 2 of The Blasting Concept, and going by the guitar tone, a lot of those guys must have wished they were Van Halen. And that Bad Brains album, for a punk record, is dead close to H-M (still good, though...).
This is the album that made me fall in love with jazz. I bought the tape in the summer between high school and college and played it daily through the fall. I memorized the solos; learned how to tell the difference between Coltrane's style and Cannonball's style; panned it hard left and hard right to isolate the instruments. I bought The Making of Kind of Blue book and did a speech on it for Speech 1A. I went looking for an OG copy to use as a visual during the speech and found one by chance at Bill's Oldies in Modesto, CA, which would later close down and be moved into a storage unit across town near the hardware store where I found a Bill Evans Complete Riverside box set on half-off day while looking for a brass spigot. Not long after I bought a Coltrane poster and hung it on the back of my door; got a Blue Train tape and wore it out in the car along with Seven Steps to Heaven.
2. Duke Ellington: Indigos[/b]
Got this from my uncle who had a big house on a hill overlooking his three-hole golf course. He was a republican, of course, so his record collection was kind of square, but Black square so he still had some good Duke along with the Johnny Mathis Christmas albums. It's some somber slow-motion mood music. Solitude, Prelude To A Kiss, Willow Weep For Me, and Tenderly all take me to where I want to be with ease like a glass of wine when I want to unwind. So chill, like schnipper used to say back in the soul strut good ol??? days.
3. Ahmad Jamal Trio: The Awakening[/b]
I grew up surrounded by jazz music, and this is one of my dad's favorites. Still, my initial interest in this record was sparked by the hip-hop songs that sampled it, which didn't seem backwards to me at the time. That some old jazz record from my dad's collection had a direct connection to hip-hop kind of blew my mind, in fact--like that grueling dude on YouTube with the Top 10 Samples in Hip-Hop History countdowns, but a lot younger. Before my ear caught on to the fact that it???s a great jazz record to actually listen to in full, I used to listen for the samples to drop like I was waiting for a jack-in-the-box to pop up. I took my dad???s copy and displayed it at the front of my hip-hop crate to signify my digger status.
4. Miles Davis: Miles Ahead[/b]
My second favorite Miles album. The first time I listened to it I was fully reclined on the couch in the rec room. I???d drift off during the soft parts and be jarred awake during the loud when the horns swell up out of nowhere. I hate listening to the other takes; I only want to remember each song one way.
5. Metallica: S/T (The Black Album) [/b]
My best friend in the 6th grade was a metal head and we played this to death along with AC/DC Back in Black, Pantera Far Beyond Driven, ???Iron Man,??? and that Grateful Dead song that goes ???Drivin??? that train, high on cocaine.??? He went on to become a pothead and then a cokehead.
6. The Last Poets: This is Madness[/b]
As a kid I used to listen to this record secretively. My dad would quote lines from it during heated political arguments so I knew it was some serious schitt. He???d be on an anti-war rant and drop a, ???h-bomb, napalm, gas / all this shit will kill you fast,??? to drive his point home.
7. Bone Thugs n Harmony: E 1999 Eternal[/b]
This was my schitt in the 8th grade. I had the whole look down, too: Ben Davis, Dickies, Pumas, afro/braids, Raiders beanie, and locs. The chicks dug it thoroughly.
8. Digable Planets: Blowout Comb[/b]
I used to play this on repeat for hours at a time, more for the beats than the rhymes. I borrowed my sister???s copy so I always associate it with her; and the purple packaging looks kind of feminine.
9. Pharaoh Sanders: Love Is In Us All[/b]
The B side, ???To John,??? makes sense to me when nothing else does. Parts of it sound like the howls of a tortured soul rising out of the abyss of hell. I guess Black jazz dudes were doing scream therapy before it became a new age hippie thing.
10. Joe Bataan: Gypsy Woman[/b]
One of the records that really got me into Latin music by bridging the gap for me between soul and Latin. Being a young Afro-Filipino myself, I feel a connection with Joe through the shared experience of having one???s feet in two different worlds, all while trying to create a third as a way out of the binary. I claim his music as my own.
11. David Axelrod: Songs of Innocence[/b]
I was into Axelrod at the same time I was taking a second half British Literature survey course that started off with Blake???s Songs of Innocence and Experience. My professor was in her 80???s and had a tough, old-school teaching style???lots of memorization and on-the-spot explication of poetry required, which was a challenge I enjoyed. When studying the Blake poems I liked to match the song I was listening to with the poem I was reading???as if that would help with the absorption process. I don???t know if it did or not but I was one of the few people to get an A in the class.
12. George Guzman: Introducing[/b]
What little remorse I had over outbidding faux_rillz for this record melted away 30 seconds into side A. This record delivers on the hype, and it helped kick off my Latin binge buying.
2. Herbie Mann ??? Live at the Village Gate ??? Another of Dad???s favorites. I still hum along to the whole album when its on.
3. Les McCain & Eddie Harris ??? The Swiss Movement ??? Compared to What is another favorite of my Dad???s and years later when I bought the LP I found out I liked the rest of the album too.
4. Bob Dylan Desire/Nashville Skyline??? My mom used to play these in the car when she drove me to and from daycare and summer camp. I remember her telling me about the ???Hurricane??? and that being the first time I ever really heard about or had an understanding of injustice and inequality. Every time I hear that song I feel that same type of disquiet I felt when my mom explained to me what it was all about.
5. The Beatles ??? Sergeant Peppers ??? The first LP I ever really listened to closely. It still only really sounds right to me when listened to the whole way through.
6. CCR ??? Greatest Hits ??? This was the first tape my I bought and I played it to death. I still get all fired up when I play Credence around the house. My wife usually has to ask me to turn it down.
7. Waylon and Willie ??? I didn???t listen to a lot of country growing up, but I really loved this album. My Dad and I wore the tape out playing it in the car.
8. Jimi Hendrix Experience ??? Live at Winterland ??? Face meltingly awesome live Jimi.
9. The Band ??? s/t ??? My Dad used to take me to the Philly Folk Fest every year. We camped and partied, with the biker security crew, which was good because someone needed to keep and eye on my Dad while my 13 and 14 year old self went out and experimented with hallucinogenic drugs. I remember stumbling back to the campsite and listening to this at dawn with a bunch of half passed out old biker dudes in lawn chairs.
10. Minor Threat ??? Out of Step ??? I remember buying this tape on a trip to Tampa with my Dad. We took the train down from Philly. On the way back, a delay filled and truly awful ride, I listened to that tape over and over. Both sides of the tape contained the whole album so when you flip it you take whole ride over again. The simplicity and power blew away my 13-year-old self.
11. Screeching Weasel ??? BoogedaBoogedaBoogeda ??? Avery Mason, a neighbor and friend growing up turned me on to all kinds of shit no one else our age was listening too. I would try and act cool like I new who the bands were, then I would run to the record store and buy them all. Rest in peace Ave.
12. Operation Ivy ??? s/t ??? The first CD I ever bought, I listened to it constantly. I wouldn???t mind hearing it again, but not sure it would really be my thing these days.
13. Primus ??? Pork Soda/Seas of Cheese ??? Another Avery selection. Can???t say I still listen to them much, but these albums made up my skateboarding soundtrack and I still hold them in high regard.
14. Fugazi ??? 13 Songs ??? I had the dubbed tape copy of this and all I knew was the band???s name and that Ian from Minor Threat was the singer. It wasn???t until a couple of years later that I picked up the CD. I pulled this out a few months ago and it has been in heavy rotation again.
15. The Goats ??? No Goats No Glory ??? A girl I liked told me about this album about the same time I started smoking weed, which seemed to fit with the albums motif. It was the first hip-hop I ever really got into and it lead me to some other much better albums.
16. Ween ??? Chocolate and Cheese ??? The same girl told me about Ween, I went to a concert with her and I was hooked. They are a great live band, and they still make decent albums. I got to see them again this year and they put on a great show.
17. The Clash ??? London Calling ??? Their other records are great too, but this is the one that really does it for me. That first riff always gives me a little head rush.
18. Wu-Tang Clan ??? 36 Chambers ??? I remember buying this on my 14th birthday along with some other CDs I don???t even remember anymore. Then I bought a bag and got high as hell with my friends.
19. Beastie Boys ??? Paul???s Boutique ??? Another one I have to listen to from start to finish.
20. Dr. Octagon ??? Bear Witness was the song that made me want to DJ. I spent a lot of time learning to scratch because of this song. Not sure it was all worth it, but it helped me divert attention and money away from drugs, so it didn???t hurt.
21. Radiohead ??? The Bends ??? I didn???t get into this until after OK Computer, but once I heard that I had to head all of their stuff. This one is great, I have not listen to it in a while, but will have to revisit soon.
22. Ornette Coleman ??? Live at the Golden Circle ??? I bought this while living in Rome and it became the soundtrack for my travels around Europe. I had never heard Jazz like it before, and besides Ornette???s other stuff, I don???t think much else like it exists.
23. John Coltrane ??? Africa Brass ??? I mean, what the hell do you even say about this album.
24. Neil Young ??? The Beach ???I had a bunch of Young???s LPs but somehow I was missing this one until a couple summers ago. I don???t know how so much pain and anger can be turned into such a beautiful album. Thanks to Fatback for sending this one my way.
25. Roberta Flack ??? First Take ??? Really this is based on her rendition of First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, which was the first dance song when my wife and I got married, but I also really love her version of Compared to What.
Have you heard his son Vieux? I saw him live this year and picked up his CD. Really good stuff.
I feel like I almost have too many records now, I am not really capable of listening to the same thing over and over anymore, but I used to play the shit out of a new tape or my favorite song of the moment. Now I play an LP once or twice and refile it and pull something else.
i had to edit and re-edit my list before i got it down to the one i posted
yeah, it was different back in the day, when we had fewer records and more free time
I will poast up as soon as work gives me some room to breathe. Hopefully this weekend.
This is a great thread and a reminder of everything that is good about SoulStrut.
My parents weren't really music people, so there was very little music that made an impact early on. In Junior High (1989 or so) was when things got started for me.
Iron Maiden - Somewhere in Time
The first Maiden joint I heard. I was into a lot of hair metal at the time and this was on some other shit. It had some of the theatricality of hair metal, but it was so much more deep and melodic. The epic songs and the heavy production created whole worlds for me that I wanted to keep revisiting. Like the musical equivalent of Tolkein novel. I've gone on to celebrate their entire catalogue.
Metallica - And Justice For All
Again, the first one I heard. I was drawn in by "One" and bought the album. As I listened through it, I thought I had made a mistake. "This is too much for me." It was so much darker, bleak, and aggressive than all the wussy hair metal I was familiar with. After a few more listens it was the beginning of a love affair, not just with Metallica, but with thrash metal (and eventually death metal) in general.
Miles Davis - Kind of Blue
My good friend Dave was studying jazz piano when I met him in 7th grade, so he was my guide into the world of jazz. I think this album is on a lot of lists, so you all know the deal.
The Brand New Heavies - S/T
My guitar teacher fronted a funk band and they used to cover "Shakedown," which is a fairly by-the-numbers instrumental funk workout. I said to my friend Ben "that cut is the shit, what is it?" and he put me up on game. The rest of the album is far more smooth and understated. For some reason, those grown-up, sophisticated grooves appealed to me. I think it was because as a teenager, I longed to be able to go into the city and go to clubs where the beautiful people went. I imagined them listening to this kind of music while they talked about interesting, grown-up things. At 33, I still haven't found a place like that, so I have to put this album on and create it in my private mind garden.
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Sure, that was the hot album of 1991, but at that point my friends and I considered ourselves students of the funk, so we studied this album hard. Of course, we appreciated it on a much deeper level than the average "Give It Away" lover. I still like this album, but it was really more of a gateway drug.
Fishbone - Truth and Soul
It's hard to be a RHCP fan and not get into these guys. We all know the deal on this one, so I won't speak long. Always completely joyous and life-affirming, even in the somber moments.
Parliament - Mothership Connection
My first encounter with the realness. We loved the Chili Peppers but we knew that there was much that came before it. I was such a little dude back then. The older dudes at school were all "P-Funk, P-Funk, P-Funk." I'd go to the record store and wonder why I couldn't find anything by "P-Funk." Finally somebody said "Parliament...Mothership Connection" and it was a wrap. I file this under the "Albums that Changed my Life" category as well.
Herbie Hancock - Headhunters
This was our perfect album at the time. Our separate paths of jazz and funk enlightenment collided here. It was everything we loved about both genres, as well as a whole bunch of other shit we couldn't have imagined. It was also my first real exposure to synthesizers. The good kind, I mean.
Pantera - Vulgar Display of Power
Metallica - Master of Puppets
Two nearly perfect metal albums that continue to be the standard by which I judge all other metal albums.
Tower of Power - East Bay Grease
Years before I would cop it on vinyl, this album made its way around our crew on dubbed tapes. It was pure, unadulterated funk from back in the day and not some new school re-interpretation shit. In our young white minds this was truly that authentic "real schitt."
Gang Starr - Hard to Earn
I was sorta into hip-hop in high school, but my pursuit of it was overwhelmed by funk, metal, and the classic rock that my guitar teacher was putting me onto. I'd heard a lot about them and right before I got to college I decided to cop this, which had just come out at the time. I was into all the jazzy Native Tongue stuff, but it was this album that made me a disciple of that hardcore "New York shit."
Various Artists - Ninja Cuts Vol.1 and 2
Two albums, among many, that pulled me deep into the world of Ninja Tune. And I do mean "world." It was the ethos of hip-hop taken to such mind-bending extremes. Every cut I heard blew my mind. I began to long to roam the streets of London so that I might meet the kind of men and women who made this music. They were truly my people and I yearned to walk among them.
The Complacents - Self-titled 7"
I played bass in a band in college, and we managed to put out this one 7". We were like They Might Be Giants by way of Elvis Costello. I wasn't into that type of shit at all, but my friends were all brilliant songwriters and it was fun as hell to be in a band with them. Some of my proudest moments involved the Complacents. I played the Fireside Bowl. I lost my virginity several hours after one of our shows. We had one show at the dearly-departed Lounge Ax. I could go on and on.
Being that I consider myself a major hip-hop head, there's surprisingly little hip-hop here. I think that's because I got into most major/classic hip-hop after the fact. Once I began DJ'ing in 1997 I started going back and buying/listening to all the dope shit i should have been checking for when it came out. By this time, my life had been pretty well shaped and all the hip-hop I got up on was more like bonus enrichment rather than true "holy shit" impact.
This is why i love this place.
I will post my list soon, busy putting the kids to bed.
11) Tower Of Power ???East Bay Grease??? I spent most of the summer of ???74 living in the Weinstein Building across the street from Washington Square Park in NYC. My buddy was a student at NYU and we used his place as a late night crash pad. His neighbor was a big Tower of Power fan and could be heard singing ???What Is Hip??? at the top of his lungs 24/7???..once I heard the LP I was a fan and picked up East Bay Grease as well which became an all-time fave.
12) Hall & Oates ??? ???Abandoned Luncheonette??? That same summer we took in as many live shows as we could???the one that really sticks out was Hall & Oates at the Bottom Line. ???She???s Gone??? was starting to get some airplay but after seeing them live I bought the LP and fell in love with the whole thing. A few months later I was at my Mom???s house playing this LP and she asked what it was???.next time I came by she was rocking her own copy.
13) Ramones ???S/T??? ??? Late ???74 early ???75 my musician buddies started talking about this band the Ramones???.some of them were Prog heads and hated the simplicity of their music. We saw them many times prior to their LP release. The day the LP did come out we were at the store to get a copy. . My friend Billy had a 1950 Buick Roadmaster parked in his driveway that didn???t run. We???d go out there and blast the Ramones on his tape deck while catching a buzz. The car became known as the ???Loadmaster??? and it???s interior got rearranged via Blitzkreig Bop.
14) Neil Young ???Various Bootlegs??? ??? Later in ???75 two friends and I took a cross country trip to L.A. We lived at a flophouse on La Cienega right down the road from Will Rogers Beach. There was a local record store that sold bootleg LP???s, something we didn???t see much in NY???.we bought every Neil Young and CSNY bootleg they had??????Wooden Nickel???, ???Tonight???s The Night???, etc. since my friend with the most cash was a big fan. Those LP???s became the soundtrack to our trip???.which ended in L.A. when we were arrested for ???jaywalking??? across Sunset Blvd. going from Tower to Licourice Pizza Records. The CHIPS that pulled us over decided to bring us in for Loitering, Vagrancy, Across the state line as a minor, insufficient identification, etc. As soon as they let us go we headed to San Francisco.
15) ???Old And In The Way??? ??? Summer of ???76 my buddy Ray and I hitchhiked to North Carolina from NY. On the way we spent a week at a place called Loft Mountain along Skyline Drive in Va. We camped at a site that was about to host a Bluegrass Festival and we prepared by spending a few days drinking grain alcohol and Kool-Aid while snorting from airline liquor bottles filled with Amyl Nitrate. We met some hillbilly teens from West Virginia and all they listened to on their car 8-Track was Rush and ???Old And In The Way??????.I hated Rush. By the time the week was over I was a Bluegrass fan and bought some Stanley Brothers and Reno & Smiley LP???s when I got home.
1. Doors: Strange Days, driving music for my parents through the wilds of northern canada. Very deeply imprinted in my psyche.
2. The Big Chill Sountrack: again my folks... I know it's black music for white folks, but that's what got me started... I heard it through the grapevine.
3. Stand By Me OST: 12 yrs old and groovin to 'take out the paper and the trash, or you don't get no spendin cash...'
4. Led Zeppellin 1 : the first album I pulled from my parents record collection and made my own. Dazed and Confused.
5. Jimi Hendrix: the Essential Jimi Hendrix. The first CD I ever bought, changed my life.... 6 turns out to be 9, castles made of sand, little wing.
6. Dire Straights, 1st album: I listened to this ALOT, again through my folks.
7. Run DMC: Raisin Hell. This would have been one of the first hip hop albums we rocked in the school yard on a boombox. Guys were starting to breakdance. The first music that had NO parental reference points.
8. Beasty Boys: Check your head. This tripped me out in High School... everyone was playing it over and over and over and over
9. Bob Dylan: Nashville Skyline. This one I came to in my teens, ironic that I loved his voice and found out he quit smoking while recording the album: I had just started smoking...herb and tobac.
10. Allman Brothers: Eat a Peach. Blue Sky, Hi School stoner music from heaven.
11. Nirvana: Nevermind. This shit changed EVERYTHING for me and mine.
12. Smashing Pumpkins: Siamese Dream. A good buddy of mine started compulsively wearing his walkman around, in class, at lunch, in the gym. I asked him what was up, he said his older bro had peeped him to something good and gave me a listen. I copped it the next day and never looked back.
13. Tribe: Peoples Instinctive Travels and the paths of rhythm. I can never remember that title. Listening to Bonita Applebaum made me very happy and proud to be young in the nineties...music was HOT, fresh and made by my generation.
14. Mobb Deep: the Infamous. I think this has to be my favourite hip hop album. I listened to it alot and tipped alot of my bud's to it. I believe it's already been mentioned by someone else on this thread.
15. Bob Marley: Natty Dread. Lively Up yourself, No woman no Cry, etc... we were all into hotboxing cars in January and blasting some warm vibes... Bob was played alot.
16. Roy Ayers: Virgo Red. Bought this in lp in 96' and it changed my game comepletely... I realized there was a whole WORLD of records I had never explored, just waiting to change me life. For some reason I hadn't registered that the beats I was rockin through hiphop came from somewhere else. Ayers was the start of a long journey back to the early seventies. This was the time I started buying vinyl again.
17. Curtis Mayfield: Live. much much much ganja consumption due to this album and the like, damn you Curtis.
18. The Wiseguys: 1st album. The Brits did some hardcore shit in the late nineties, and the Wall of Sound was one of the hubs.
19. Give Em Enough Dope: Vol 1+2. Kruder and Dorfmeister, Howie B, Children of Judah, Mekon, Pressure Drop, Ballistic Brothers. All the shit you could do with a sampler and not sound hiphop.
20. Portishead: S/T from 97. I fell in love with this girl's voice. I loved that I recognised the samples on this record...Hayes' Black Moses etc... finally my knowledge was catching up to what I was listening to
21. Grant Green: Idle Moments. When I need to listen to something that I feel 100% at ease with, this is the record I play.
22. Lou Donaldson: Gravy Train... found a mono copy in the dollar bin in Montreal about ten years ago... started a love affair with jazz I will never shake.
23. Willie Dynamite OST.... totally lost my shit when I first heard this, couldn't sleep for days... still approach it with caution.
24. Milton Wright: Friends and Buddies...why isn't there more music like this??????
25. Lonnie Liston Smith: Expansions... this is what it did to me.
As a disclaimer I'd like to say that these are only 25 of the albums that changed my life.... the true number is much more....I listen to music at least 4 hrs a day seven days a week...and is the current through which I swim, influencing everything I do, say and feel in subtle ways.
2. Shine OST - gateway into classical music and introduced me to rachmoninoff.
3. 3 Feet High And Rising
4. Aretha Franklin - Precious Lord (?) I think thats the title. The one I had was a bootleg tape that was made for me.
5. Willie Nelson - Spirit
6. RUN DMC - Raisin' Hell
7. Digable Planets - Blowout Comb
8. One of those "Jazz after midnight" CDs, don't remember which one.
9. Tito Puente - can't remember the name of that tape either but I listed to that shit alllll the time.
10. Enter The Wu-Tang
11. ODB - Return to the 36 chambers
12. Fatboy Slim - Rockafella Skank
13. Funkmaster Flex - The Mixtape Vol. 1
14. Jerry Lee Lewis - Great Balls Of Fire/Shakin
15. Uncle Luke ST
16. Bulhoone Mindstate
damn, this is hard....
17. Kenny Rogers Greatest Hits
18. X-Clan - that second one, or maybe the first. both.
19. Some dancehall reggae hits tape that i had in highschool. had all the classics on it.
20. gershwin - rhapsody in blue, not really a "record", but whatever.
21. Rachmoninoff's piano concerto 2 and 3
22. the chopin nocturnes, definitely
23. Liszt for lovers
24. perez prado greatest hits
25. sons of the pioneers greatest hits
that was hard.
1. Bob Dylan Blood on the Tracks
Someone above mentioned that the first music they chose for themselves had particular significance for them. This was the first album I selected for myself, albeit from my dad's collection. It was one of two Dylan albums he owned--along with Nashville Skyline--and I played it to death in middle school (I was not exactly precocious when it came to defining myself through music). The smudged chalk drawing of Dylan on the cover made him look like a classical composer--very different from my mental image of the "Bob Dylan" I had heard about. I listened to "Tangled Up in Blue" enough times to memorize it--made me feel awfully adult.
2. Redman Whut!? Thee Album
A revelation in musical comedy for me. I had never heard anybody do anything with music that was this funny before. I rewound it again and again. It seemed like there were jokes within jokes, not all of which I was equipped to understand, but I was sure that they were there. And it sound incredible.
3. Chris Schilder Quartet Springtime in Capetown
A beautiful South African jazz album that I got from the one aleit, following a year of tortured negotiations (I will confess that much of the torture related to my reluctance to let go of the album that I contributed to the trade, and I think some interested third parties were even temporarily banned from GRNYC when the situation got drastic). This album was a revelation to me, as it hinted at a world (a microcosm, at least) of music that I had been totally unaware of. One reason SA jazz is fascinating is because of the terrible social conditions that the artists played and recorded under (when they were even allowed to do so)--it would be like America's greatest jazz artists having been trapped in the deep south, instead of congregating in New York and certain other major cities.
nothing obscure here...
rap traxx- my first rap stuff..a rap compilation tape that had "nightmare on elm street" by fresh prince, "im that type of guy" by ll cool j, "mary mary" by run dmc (still my fave track by them), children's story, my philosophy-krs, buffalo stance-neneh....my parents would never let me listen to swear words in music so i would run to my cassette deck if i knew a swear word was coming up. i remember doing this with maestro fresh wes' "drop the needle", to me it was "do the hula hula nahhh....."*mute volume control
suicidal tendencies and body count: - these were important for me because i was obsessed with seeing colored peeps in rock bands, i didnt care which race and found myself forcing myself to like it. i realized that was a stupid concept and had to get past it(until i found out about kim thayil, tony kanal and tom morello). i remember returning the suicidal tendencies album like 3 times exchanging it for another until i got the one with that "all i wanted was a pepsi" song. i dont think i listened to it again. i spent $13 on that stupid cassette which is why i dont feel guilty about downloading now and then. to this day i still don't recall the album name. oh and the body count album was so cheezy...my friend who hated rap and liked ozzy even liked it..i guess that was enough for me not to listen to it.
magic sam - give me time: in elementary school i never had money to buy music, so I would go to the library and borrow random stuff, mostly blues was all they had. this magic sam album was so magical...just him on acoustic guitar, so RAW, u could hear the washing machine and children in the background. i still haven't heard anything as authentic in my life. i also would borrow leadbelly albums from the library when i found out he was one of kurt cobain's favorite artists...and i would listen to his songs tirelessly to see if kurt maybe lifted something or two. all i found is a fragment that sounds very similar to a short sequence in nirvana's "about a girl." i remember jumping up and down when i found out and made sure i played if for my friends to hear. i guess it felt like when u figured out a sample in hip hop rap song.
beastie boys- check your head: i hated this album at first! how much? so much that i used to tape over the hole things on top of cassettes (so that u were able to dub over them) and i recorded myself on the mic saying "beastie boys...youuuuuuu stupid wannabees, beastie beastie boys u suck). did i mention i borrowed this cassette from the library? ya, what an asshole i was, i feel sorry for whoever had to hear aliendn doing karoke on side B. none the less i secretly loved this album, it was my perfect mix tape. "if this is gonna be that kind of party im gonna put my dick in the mashed potatoes!"
nirvana - nevermind/in utero: when i really got into music, say grade 7, it was mostly rap, and i would NEVER admit to liking rock music. one day i saw a video for lithium, with kurt running around into the drum set and yelling "yeahhhhhhh hhhhh" and i thought that it was so stupid. but everytime it was on much music, i would let it play, as if i was mocking it, like beavis and butthead watching a video. but damn nirvana for me opened the floodgates, after i accepted nirvana into my life i got past the childish categorization of music and decided id like whatever i did. i only skipped "drain you". when i first heard in utero i thought it was trash. but that was one of the first albums ever that made me realize some albums demand repeat listens to sink in. scentless apprentice is so badassed! unplugged in new york should be noted too, though i always disagreed with having "the man who sold the world" because it doesnt sound "unplugged", but a great tune.
sex pistols - never mind the bollocks: i only heard this after greenday came out as friends were saying punk was something that happened when i was born! imagine that...so i gave it a listen...made me think "greenday what the F*ck?"...but i still like me some greenday.
jimi hendrix experience-same as above, always knew of the name hendrix, didnt even know he was a guitarist...and when i found out he was black...i was so excited as petty as that sounds (hey i was musically sheltered for the longest time)
suede - coming up: i played this all the time in high school, best brit pop ever...such a catchy album
the cardigans - life: this is the only album that makes me feel like i took a hit of extasy, in terms of making me just feel happy for no reason...hard to believe it started out as a joke. it still burns me that the cardigans are known for "love fool." they're great musicians and i dont like their new stuff, but this was a gem...oh ya, u have to get the swedish version.
cypress hill - black sunday/MUGGs/soul assasins crew: unlike anything i remember hearing....i remember hearing the first house of pain album and loving it, but the standout tracks to me were the songs i thought "had arnold horshack from welcome back kotter rapping on them", that's how i described it to my friends. and later i found out it was b-real and son doobie. for the longest time i couldnt listen to other rap if it didnt sound like muggs production...so i slept on an important period of hip hop for a long time!
rage against the machine-evil empire: the only album i ever bought on the same day it was released. i guess it would make sense for me to say tom morello (guitarist) was my Obama of rock music. what a underated genius he was/is. i actually didnt think much of the first album (to rockish for my tastes if that makes sense) but when i heard "bulls on parade" i lost it. i would listen to it constantly on my headphones after i taped it off the radio when it was a new single. i previously got into rage against the machine ONLY after i heard their track Darkness of the crow soundtrack. i actually hated their songs from the first album and thought they were a cheesy. but evil empire was a sick combination of rhythm, punk and rap. i even went through a period of liking korn(blasphemy) but smartened up and stayed with rage. oh ya, rage against the machine was my first concert ever. the same concert where jesus lizard opened up and jerked his sausage on stage. jesus lizard had a wicked rhythm section.
frank zappa - strictly commercial: the music made me laugh, with the million things going on in it, and what was hilarious was that this was the stuff by him considered commercially accessible. what a genius, i think i like him more for this thoughts and attitude than music.
asian dub foundation- r.a.f.i.s revenge: my proudest moment in music. i used to read a copy of vice magazine everytime i came into downtown(i lived in the suburbs) and it was in its infant stages in newspaper form. i remember reading an article with something of a title like "paki power" and of course that made me pissed off, and i continued to read it...and it was a spot light on a genre of music made by second generation indians in the uk. well in my opinion asian dub foundation was the best out of this movement, and they came out so original, and they were brownies! never felt so alive in my life, that music just killed me and i didnt realize it stemmed from the music of dub (im from canada, im kinda slow eh?). they were down to earth dudes and i met them at their concert, did an interview with them and they signed my stuff and game me a shoutout on their following album "community music". one of the first times i can remember music being larger than life.
sublime - stand by your van: probably my least favorite sublime album (this was the first i listened to) but it was the most important one. prior to it, reggae to me was legend by bob marley. i had no exposure whatsoever to ska(besides no doubt) or dub. i found the music so interesting that i had to go backwards and when i researched the influences of sublime, a crate of music was opened, some of the happiest music my soul's ever found.
skatalites - foundation ska: obtainted after i got into sublime, god i loved this music instantly! with the horns and tempo everything it reminded me of music my parents would play (ethnic Goan music). after i found out of about the skatalites, i was fortunate to see them with Prince Buster, here in Toronto!!! fuckn great luck...they said they were shooting footage for a documentary but i never saw it. skatalites forever..."the vow" will be my wedding song.
gary bartz - ive known rivers: more for the single than the whole album, but when i heard "ive known rivers" something hit me and just altered my musical brain chemistry into craving jazz.
miles sketches of spain: summertime, bbqing, strumming my guitar with this on in the background. or walking in the village my parents were born in in Goa, with this in my headphones. lovely times.
quasimoto - the unseen: pretty much the reason im on this website. after highschool i thought i knew it all about music(rap and alternative rock and trip hop lol). then a friend gave me a mixtape and it had quas on it. it made me listen to a bunch of music that was jazz but didnt sound like kenny g or elevator music or norah jones, was funk but not necessarily james brown, soul but not necessarily sam & dave...who were these artists i never heard of??? how were they so raw and intense but never passed my way. it made me arrive at the stonesthrow message board and migrate to over here (after u bastards invaded the stonesthrow message board when soulstrut was down...and i thought who are these snobbish fuckers? then i came to soulstrut and see all these pages of ugly orange text, bitching and griping about this and that...and then i got some awesome suggestions, recommendations and i've never loved music more in my life. to show my appreciation i turned the "Yaoming" graemlin upside into Zangief and created the "Suspect" and "5 Pager" graemlins. if soulstrut were an album it would be top 5 for me.) funny how things come full circle, as through the strut i rediscovered some 70s stuff and minnie ripperton and it was stuff my parents would play in the house way back in the day before i knew i loved music.
what's funny as i re-read this list, although these albums had the biggest impact on me, i dont really listen to most of them anymore. kind of like i guess u wouldnt write in a journal the same way u thought when u were in grade 8, so do your tastes in music change evolve, but its foolish to discount the foundations.
Ive always been a silly dude, but this album redefined my humor. Whenever I "act" drunk I'm channeling Richard's Wino.
2) Marvin Gaye - Here My Dear: I met this dude recently and we were discussing music and shit. Dude is a little older than me so he was asked me questions to see where my game was at. "What's the 'best' MG album?" - I stated Here My Dear - dude was impressed as hell. Its crazy argueable what is the 'best', cause he probably thought id say What's Goin On or Lets Get It On. Whatevs. This album is still that shit regardless of its new reputation amongst critics.
3) Lo-Key? - Back 2 Da House: There's a gang of music that came out before the whole Neo-Soul explosion in 95. In 94 this band (in the mode of Mint Condition) dropped this CD, that was my shit. They had a previous album that got some love from BET w/ the Shaniqua single. Shit was doo-doo. They were tryin to rap and shit. By 94 i was really checkin my Funk stuff and these cats were referencing the big names. Their liner notes -
"LO-Key? has pleaded guilty for being under the influence of: The Ohio Players,Bar-Kays,Bootsy,Dazz Band,Con-Funk-Shun,Issac Hayes,Cameo,Curtis,Switch,Zapp & Roger,Marvin,P-Funk,The Gap Band,The Isley Bros,Gil Scott-Heron,Jam & Terry Lewis,Womack,Al Green,Norman Conners,Slave,EW&F,Faze-O,Heatwave,Mtume,Pleasure,Stevie,Johnny Guitar Watson,George Duke." This album was a gem to me amongst the contemporary R&B shit.
4) Issac Hayes - Shaft: As a kid I didnt know if Hayes was Shaft himself.
Was Shaft singing? And why does he has a camera on the back cover instead of a gun like on the front? Are the girls pictured the ones singing the background?
5) The Last Poets - The Last Poets: So when my pops let me mess w/ his stash, i would look at this and not know what the hell it was. It wasnt until my boy would come over to look for beats in my fathers stuff that I ran thru it to see if it had anything on it. And did it. Oh this is what RAP is? This really broke me open.
6) DJ Quik - Rhythm-Al-Ism: I was already full into West Coast shit by this time.
And I had a some Quik shit already in the stash.None of my peers could fusk w/ my love for WC shit. Even if i was a Tim Dog dude. This album cemented my love for Quik and was a great example of what the possibilities of what gangtsa-funk could provide. I played this shit out a gang of times and NY cats were like huh???
7) Scarface - Mr. Scarface Is Back: The beats werent that genius. Many of the samples were already mined by other cats. But gotdamn, dude just injected that shit w/ steroids. At the time there were a handfull of dudes tellin real drug dealer stories like Mob Style. High rotation when the shit dropped. It open me to coppin Big Mike,Convicts,5th Ward Boys,DMG,etc. I was ridin for that region and gettin hatted on by my peeps.
8) Robert Cray - Smoking Gun: College era polished Blues steez. This was another door towards the Blues. Dude had good stories. At the time he was another Rolling Stone magazine loved dude like Tracy Chapman. I hopped aboard and ive always road for dude. I always feel bad for passing up a signed copy from this record dealer who's one crate was only signed vinyl.
9) The J.B.s. - Funky Good Time Anthology: This double cd of their shit was a backbone to my Funk sets for many years. I could throw on some 8 min song and go get a beer and chat up the ladies, while the beat-heads could make out who used what. So invaluable.
10) Mob Style - The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly: This is that REAL shit. Real dealers w/ mediocre skills, killin shit. Was a beacon of NYC Hip Hop for me when the game was shifting to other regions. Only Uptown dudes really spoke about the album. Still a hidden gem and a forgotton piece of the so called "Golden Era" of Hip Hop. Raw, sloppy,homeade, and true.
Rick James "Street Songs" Cameo "Cameosis"
"Street Songs" First record that my dad bought for me. I got it because I didn't cry at the dentist. We went to this spot on 22nd and Union that was around in the early 80's that I can't remember the name of. I wanted this record hella bad because my neighbor Eric across the street used to always blast it out of his window. Another group he used to always play was Cameo. Those laserbeam space sounds on "Shake Your Pants" were the shit to me.
Run DMC "Run DMC" Fat Boys "Fat Boys"
My grandma from DC took me to the Tower on Mercer and got me both of these records. I was in 2nd or 3rd grade and was taping Fresh Trax on KFOX every week and that's how I got hip to em. "Jam Master Jay" was the song that made me want to DJ. Even have a green windbreaker that I wrote Jam Master Jake on the back of. lol Later that summer I remember getting clowned by one of the older dude named Shapel in the Valley for only having the Run DMC and Fat Boys. He made me a tape with a bunch of stuff I had never heard including "Girl" by Too Short.
NWA "Straight Outta Compton" Eazy E "Easy Duz It" Ice Cube "Ammerikkas Most" "Death Certificate"
I think the first NWA affiliated song I remember hearing was "Boyz in the Hood" Obviously that shit was completely dope, shocking, amazing etc... The albums they came out with were everything I was expecting and more. I can't really imagine anything hitting me like this again ever musically.
415 "415in" DJ Quik "Quik is the Name"
After NWA there was hella more tapes coming out with that explicit lyrics sticker on em, which became a major factor in my decision making process. My freshman year I started really just taking chances on tapes. 415 was a guess that ended up being one of my favorite albums of the time. Quik was pretty much getting played everywhere around that time. I can remember playing baseball and every other car coming down the street playing "Tonite". Its one of those album that I still listen to and hear different things going on. The other day I realized he's scratching the loops on "Loc'd Out Hood" live. Real old school shit.
Dr. Dre "The Chronic" E-40 "Federal"
The Chronic kinda changed the world for everybody. Everybody loved that shit. I had gotten my 83 Olds Cutlass and got some 10's put me in the back and I was in the game. The sound of that album in the car blew every rap album away at the time. Around the same time "Federal" started to kinda blow up in Seattle. Everybody was playing it and I didn't really F*ck with it. The beats were super Casio sounding and 40 was clearly doing some bizzare shit. By the end of the summer I was on the 40 bandwagon like everybody else! "Damn potna how the F*ck you survive some shit like that there... without goin into a coma" wtf!
Pete Rock and CL "Mecca and the Soul Brother" ATCQ "Low End Theory" Diamond D "Stunts Blunts and Hip Hop" Beatnuts "Street Level"
I think my boy Hussein put me onto Pete Rock. I liked a lot of east coast stuff but wasn't really knowing about the underground groups at the time. I was more into west coast music because that's what everybody around me was listening to.
The whole vibe of the album was so thorough and the sound was so different it just blew me away. I never really knew what CL was talking about but the beats were the shit. "For Pete Sake" had like 20 samples in it and they somehow fit together seamlessly. Around this time is when I started knowing about samples and got into making beats. Going to the Ave and buying Crusaders records and whatever had Fender Rhodes on it. I would see a sample listed on the credits and try to listen to all the records on that particular artist. I don't think I'll ever have as much fun as I did in this time making beats.
The Beatles - White Album (and two songs from Abbey Road)
The White Album was one of my mother???s favorite records, and like so many others from my generation it forms my earliest musical memories. It had a certain maturity that I didn???t understand - yet envied, and wanted to emulate - and a childish playfulness that didn???t condescend to me but still allowed my young mind so much freedom, freedom to run and play and roll around on the rug and sit on my mom???s lap and sing along and construct my own meanings out of it while retaining innocence. Still, years later, I can look back on this LP and understand the record in entirely new ways. f*cking heartbreaking stuff when you consider the state of the group at the time. This led me to other records that had significant impact - Rubber Soul taught me guitar, Revolver blew my mind for the first time, Sgt. Pepper rocked me hard. But this was the genesis. Abbey Road was maybe as important, though not as an album per se. ???Here Comes The Sun??? was gospel - a lifesaving record, one that reaffirmed faith - for my father when he and my mom got divorced and his life changed drastically. I heard it a lot then. I play it at weddings now and it???s really difficult - I have to occupy myself with something else to avoid getting deep into the muck of that time and keep focused on the task at hand. ???Come Together??? scared me. It???s slinky, and has a certain menace to it that I kind of did not get at a young age but saw replicated out on the streets of Berkeley and SF. The words didn???t make sense. It was the stuff of nightmares, park people, drug abusers and creepy old men.
Michael Jackson - Thriller, Prince - Purple Rain
These were the first two records I owned myself. I played them to death, but I can???t really summon some kind of epic longwinded post of inner feelings. I think that, for me, their legacy is that I danced to this stuff first. They were the first records to inform my day-to-day with a sense of ???cool???. Thinking about girls. (not sex). Beyond the pop-ness, Mike was slick and sly, and Prince was strange, and I think the aftereffect is where my musical taste ended up, particularly my interest in soul and melody. ???Baby Be Mine??? is the blueprint. MJ was all romance and subtle suggestions - for a kid who didn???t understand much about girls or sex, it made sense. By contrast, Purple Rain was aural porn for a mind too young to process it. But I was deeply, deeply into it and played the shit out of the record. ???Let???s Go Crazy??? was totally life-affirming in its energy and purpose (the real meaning of which, again, flew over my head). ???When Doves Cry??? had a lot of resonance as my family was being upended by divorce. I spent hours looking at the inserts of these two albums and trying to figure out what the F*ck these guys were on. Still wondering.
Run DMC - Run DMC
I went to public school through 3rd Grade and then was shifted to private school in the 4th. I can???t really think of what I was listening to in the 3rd, which was a traumatic year. Kids fought every day, the school was rife with sickness and anger and misery. When I got to this new school I was an outcast among more popular, wealthy kids. I hung out, trying my best to say nothing or at least nothing wrong. The school was nestled deep in Berkeley???s Waterfront neighborhood, and this was the sound I kept hearing up and down the street, even up to the boulevard we lived on and in the BART stations as I traveled to visit my father in San Francisco. ???Hard Times???. ???Sucker MCs???. ???It???s Like That???. The repetitive, grueling nature of ???30 Days??? kind of spoke to me in those days. Their toughness was something I tried to learn, but what ended up sticking was the passion for the music itself. For the first time, I learned the words. I air-guitared the F*ck out of ???Rock Box??? in the mirror. Based on this, my mom gave me some kind of Toys-R-Us mic that transmitted to our receiver for Christmas. Break genesis.
Def Leppard - Hysteria, Guns N Roses - Appetite For Destruction
Hysteria was my soundtrack in 6th grade. It sounds totally processed, not raw at all, but that???s what it???s all about. It???s saccharine, a word that bounced around in my head and disappointed me when I learned its simple meaning. The leads made me really want to learn guitar, and it???s somewhat amazing that the guitar players of the group - (checks Wikipedia) - Steve Clark and Phil Collen never got much of the ???guitar god??? stuff thrown their way. This was just a perfect record for a 6th grader???s longing, grinding attempts to talk to girls, be cool and rock out at a time when none of that was nearly possible. Despite having been released prior to Hysteria, Appetite For Destruction didn???t cross my radar (nor, many others) until the following year when ???Sweet Child Of Mine??? and ???Paradise City??? broke as singles. My dad had taken me to Stonestown Galleria where he suffered panic attacks (as he does in every shopping mall) and I copped both on cassingle. Shortly afterward I got the full album, but this was not something I could fully digest then. I knew this was the sound of drugs, booze, sex, violence, debauchery, things that by and large I had not been exposed to yet. But I knew it rocked. I never listened to Hysteria again (although I went back to it recently and, despite total skepticism, enjoyed it immensely).
U2 - The Joshua Tree/The Unforgettable Fire
A family friend gave me a few tapes for a birthday, and this was the only one I remember (actually, that???s not true - there was a cassette by a rap group called the ???Dismasters???, who were not the group on Urban Rock. It sucked - bad). I grew into the biggest (and only) U2 fan I knew, and this was my introduction. I didn???t really have a frame of reference for it; their earlier work missed a young me by a long shot, and what rock I was aware of was generally pop-metal stuff. And then the rap/R&B that I heard played around school and the neighborhood and what have you. The album was so vast - abridging sounds of folk, blues, new wave, funk, metal, themes of politics, spirituality, and passion; it was all in there and it was just a pleasure to try and unravel it all. I hadn???t really put myself into an album like that, ever, and I spent hours on end with it. Despite his pretensions, I???m pretty sure Bono - on this record - ensured that I???d always have some sort of socio-political consciousness in my own writing and my musical preferences. The feedback and noise of ???Bullet The Blue Sky??? and manic explosion of ???Exit??? scared the shit out of me. On a family trip to Mendocino, I bought ???The Unforgettable Fire??? on cassette at the local, poorly-stocked record shop. Riding around those cliffs, regarding those trees, permanently bent left by constant wind, pushing through dark redwood groves to sunny beaches, Eno and Lanois painting an ethereal picture in the cheap headphones of my large walkman, I was thrilled to my core by the soaring harmonies and mystical keyboard interludes. Looking back now, I???ve seen this record labeled ???psychedelic???. Sonically, I hear nothing of the sort. But I felt that shit, then.
Led Zeppelin - I/III
I have a sister two years my junior, and there was a short-but-strange/cool period in my childhood where I was old enough to look after myself but she wasn???t. We had a sitter who went to College, brewed his own beer, smoked a shit ton of weed and barely br oke a C average. My mom???s pretty decent I think for seeing past all that and hiring a guy that had a good soul and wouldn???t touch my sister like the last piece of shit that held the position. He was all rock-n-roll and I was so not. He gave me The Doors - bad vibes that I never could get into. And he gave me Zeppelin. Particularly, I and III - on a cassette which I think I still have - and the intense fury of ???Immigrant Song???. The medieval imagery appealed to me and my fantasy novel, Monty Python nerd-dom of that terrible period between 10 and 13, but that f*cking HEAVY guitar riff and Plant???s banshee scream??? man. That fucked my head all up. One of those, ???oh??? this is what it???s about??? moments. I flipped the tape over and heard ???Dazed And Confused???, and at that point I think I said to myself, I want to smoke weed.
Too Short - Short Dog???s In The House/In The Trunk
???In The House was not album that I spent too much time with, to be honest, because I was actually kind of offended by it. I was raised by a strong woman, a feminist, you know? But the naked girl on the fold-out and the sheer filth of the lyrics took what remaining innocence I had as a shorty and again put a name to the sounds I was hearing from the street. Several years later, though, I bought In The Trunk on a recommendation from The Source, and played it a lot. It served as a slightly more smooth introduction to Short. I loved the fonkay-ness of the production, which fit right in with the Rhino comps that were starting to inhabit my discman. Ironically, the first raps I ever wrote were dirty fantasies from an imagination yet to touch down on any girl???s physical frame, stuff I could barely even read privately without embarrassing myself.
Digital Underground - Sex Packets
The first rap concert I ever saw was Digital Underground at Berkeley Square; I snuck in with friends who were old enough, drank vodka mixed with fruit juice, and had a total blast. Conceptually, this might???ve been the thing that convinced me I could make hip-hop. It wasn???t street, like Too Short or tough, like Run DMC; it wasn???t soft, but it was nerdy, goofy, fun, inclusive, and - most importantly - fly. I had no idea how samples worked - where the music itself was coming from, and why they had so much ???atmosphere??? in the sound (I had initially thought these were just musicians playing in the studio) - but Sex Packets was filled with session music and live instruments. I could draw a sonic comparison and - as I was starting to get into funk basics like Parliament - understand how these tracks were being assembled. They shouted out Berkeley, too, and we always have had this ???red-headed stepchild??? feeling next to San Francisco and Oakland. I somehow got tapped to DJ my Jr. High School???s dance that spring and played ???The Humpty Dance??? and ???Doowhutchyalike??? on dual cassette decks. I wore polkadots, and thought I was cool as shit.
Ice Cube - Death Certificate, Da Lench Mob - Guerrillas In The Mist (+ Public Enemy - Fear Of A Black Planet)
For a 14 year old in Berkeley, CA, amidst the racial tension of 1992, who was starting to identify with hip-hop music, there is little else to be done than pick up the most radical, aggressive, impossible to reconcile - yet well-thought out endlessly provocative - album that you can get your hands on. (I listened to a lot of Paris around this time too, but F*ck that - those records suck.) Ice Cube, who I???d first heard when my older friend Ken gave me Amerikkka???s Most Wanted for my birthday, stepped up and fit perfectly. Amerikkka???s Most??? was almost too much for me to handle. I was familiar with The Bomb Squad???s work with Public Enemy (Fear Of A Black Planet was a close runner up here) but matched with Cube???s rhymes, this was another monster entirely. Where Chuck D was rapidfire facts, objections, retorts, proclamations, all delivered at such a compelling pitch that it could have been our generation???s Malcolm X, Cube was all west coast gangster bark; yet he possessed a storytelling ability that drew context and emotion around the same rage and vigor. I was trying to navigate the hyper-racial scene at Berkeley High School (we had race riots that year), I was deep into the surface level of funk: Parliament, James Brown, Roger & Zapp, and so on. I wanted - badly - to have the kind of racial identity that made Cube - shit, made half the guys I hung out with - so absolute in their denouncement of The (white) Man. F*ck if that was me, I reasoned, and drudged up all kinds of old family lore from my mongrel roots in the Ukraine and Latvia. I faithfully read the Qu???ran, and barely digested any of it. I neglected to start smoking and put the drinking on hold for a time. I attended all kinds of meetings until one fine Sunday when I found myself on the doorstep of a Nation Of Islam mosque, having been refused entry, kicking cans across the street at the Greyhound Bus Station. My crew and I would drive around in Ken???s ride, playing Guerrillas In The Mist at top volume, I oblivious to the hyperbole and cartoonish aspects of the record, all of us unaware of the irony in this group of mixed kids, children of Black Panthers and San Francisco city cops and poor Cantonese immigrants and UC Berkeley professors. Still so much of a complicated album. Imperfect in its science, flawless in its execution.
Gang Starr - Hard To Earn/Daily Operation, Pete Rock & CL Smooth - Mecca & The Soul Brother
Me and my best friend Bret (Karma) had cut a demo in some ridiculous recording studio in SF. The sound: Lench Mob Lite. The look? Don???t ask. I mean, shit, we were 15 years old. How can you talk about beating down a cop?? The tape failed, unsurprisingly, to garner much interest (we did get a letter from Eric Sermon. Maybe that???s a little weird, now that I think about it). And in the infamous words of my aforementioned best friend, ???then I started smoking weed.??? I had a new step dad (???mother???s getting married at the house - listen???) and he had started hipping me to jazz music. Nothing extravagant - Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans. Milder Miles Davis (Kind Of Blue, at this time, brought me to the edge of tears). I played uninspired guitar and bass in small, teen-aged jazz groups including the highly-regarded Berkeley High Jazz Band. With childhood friends Chris and Moshe (and a young Phil Byers), I played in this jazz combo based out of a teacher???s house - we passed around tapes with ???Night In Tunisia??? and ???Take The A Train??? on them. We all went down to watch Mo??? Betta Blues, and I caught ???Jazz Thing??? as the credits rolled. DJ Premier is an influence on me in ways I can???t really pronounce - this was not the stuff of Sir Jinx and The Bomb Squad, and the end-product hit me in a way that spoke to my sudden interest in jazz and my subconscious rejection of Cube and them???s projected worldview. I???m actually sure that these records had a big hand in my quitting guitar lessons and begging my mom for a budget sampler for my birthday. This guy Max who I hung with, who was part of the original Digital Underground excursion, was talking about Mecca & The Soul Brother, more or less repeating what I had read already in The Source: Pete Rock was the hottest new producer out, responsible for already-numerous remix classics, and if you didn???t get hip to this you just weren???t knowing. I spent a lot of time listening to the record, and not getting it. It was an amazing record, to be sure, but over my head - too New York, too mature, not as easily accessible as Primo???s simple, perfectly-chosen samples and Guru???s bookstand philosophy and Brooklyn-Spike Lee Joint flavor. A confounding time. I wished I knew more.
The Isley Brothers - Live It Up/Go For Your Guns, Malo - Malo
The crew had expanded, including in it graf writers, former and current peewee gangbangers, runaways, deviants, introverts and adventure-seekers. We were herded into a humble, single-floor lime green stucco dwelling - the kind you see dotted throughout north-west Berkeley - owned by my friend Anthony???s father. He was younger, single, and cool. He jammed Blakey, Malo, Herbie Hancock, Gil Scott-Heron. There were girls - cute girls. A half-cousin of Miguel???s, a childhood friend of John???s, others that had stumbled in almost as randomly as I had. We smoked cigarettes and drank beer on the front stoop, openly convened to the playground across the street to smoke weed. We hooked up with each other there on his couch and lazy boy, him in the other room not caring. Or on his own business. We didn???t care either. We laid on a worn and filthy matress, in a dusty bedroom we rarely frequented, and had awkward, hurried, innocent sex. ???Footsteps In The Dark???, ???Sensuality Parts 1 & 2″, ???Living For The Love Of You???, and - most of all - ???Suavecito??? played over and over. I never wanted to go home.
Organized Konfusion - Stress: The Extinction Agenda, Nas - Illmatic
In a fit of desperation my family all agreed that I should go live with my father after a stupid graffiti arrest capped a fairly typical summer of acting out and having fun. Fights and scuffles, attempts at selling ten and twenty sacks with little more than some free smoke and a couple bucks in the deal, and a few entirely avoidable encounters with the Berkeley Police Department. My sister wasn???t doing much better. The way Pharoah Monche squealed ???I think I???m going insane! I don???t know what to do! My brain is on the brink of destruction??? if only my friends could see me now, they???d wonder why, what, who, and how!??? gave perfect voice to my own emotional wasteland. I washed up on 18th Street and Oakwood in SF???s Mission District. It was 1994. I had a huge pair of off-white Polo khakis with marker stains near the pockets and a newsboy cap that was too big for my head. Kids called me ???Fivel???. We cut out of school, hopped an AC-Transit and bombed the shit out of it until we were kicked off several blocks short of our destination - Leopold???s, to all buy Illmatic. I went straight home and listened to it all night, completely open. Elsewhere, I barely managed shorter and shorter stints with worse and worse girls until I found myself laying in damp and muddy grass, in some unfamiliar corner of Piedmont, tripping mildly on mushrooms and pressed against a girl from way over in Dogtown that I had met on some odd corner of Downtown Berkeley, hardly knew, and was trying to call my girlfriend after a couple of uneventful dates. I gained use of my mother???s basement in the meantime, and one night we all ate a good portion of the shrooms and painted the entire room while playing these two records. The world never looked more bleak, yet we never felt more powerful to combat it, to interpret it, to manage and eventually defeat the forces allayed against us.
Saafir - Boxcar Sessions, Mystik Journeymen - 4001, The EP
As high school wound down, bigger responsibilities claimed our friends and the crew began to split up. Paris dropped out of sight, going to live with a relative in Richmond; Anthony???s dad finally broke up the party, staying long enough to shack up with one of the (much younger) girls; Bret and I fell out after another unsuccessful attempt at recording a demo. I worked my ass off and with a little help from my folks bought an Ensoniq ASR-10. Without really knowing how to use it, I started to assemble tracks from thrashed crates of free records, local gospel tapes brought to me by random hangers on, and whatever off-brand vinyl I could snag at $1/piece while leaving me with a solid 5 to put on the weed later. Bret met Corey and Tom through Ken and his brother Wayne, who knew them from Oakland. Bret and I met up after work one day, squashed our differences, and decided to work on something new. We started hanging around at the loft 4001 in Fruitvale with other crews like Sanitation, Cytoplasms, B.L.A.C.K., Misfitz Of Styles and going to these underground shows. One of the first I went to was an album release for Saafir, where I believe the Journeymen also performed, on the balcony outside of Leopolds above LaVals pizza. I used to wait for my dad to leave the house, chief some shake from a corner of his shoebox, and walk the long way to 16th Street BART, banging Saafir???s ???Can You Feel Me???? and feeling the morning sun on my face. I made those 45 minute train rides to Berkeley, swimming in weed haze and singing ???could it be? that I???m going crazyyyy?????? I???d barely check in at school and walk a block over to the homie Darmel???s house and smoke more blunts. Corey/BFAP rapped, ???Unsigned and hella broke/Holding in the choke from the weed hair, sometimes I blow it out and just stare?????? We didn???t care about much else. The chaos and paranoia of Boxcar??? was the sound of my mind attempting to figure out what the hell I was, and where I was going. I had no clue. Bret and I took inspiration from our peers and decided to just make a tape and sell that shit. We reconvened to the basement (we called it The Bomb Shelter) and made 30 Days And A Plane Ticket, our first release and to this day one of the things I???m most proud of. We sold a grip of tapes and performed all over the Bay Area. A month later, I boarded a plane to New York City.
Raekwon ft. Ghostface Killah - Only Built For Cuban Linx???
In the free time when I wasn???t stoned and running the streets, I was managing to pull myself out of the academic doldrums and pass a few classes. I took some week-long SAT prep course out at Mills College and managed to score fairly well on the test - well enough to get me some interviews at colleges like USC and NYU. I went to visit New York City for the first time since I was a toddler. I saw Polo and Nautica jackets, Timbs, girls with attitude and hoop earrings, big brick buildings like I saw in videos. A kid I met while visiting took me down Broadway to (I think?) Jimmy Z to cop mixtapes by S&S, DooWop, Ron G. USC, with its sun and heat and walled-off relationship to Watts, didn???t stand a chance. I arrived - for good - in August of 1995. My dorm room had no air conditioning, and I spent days and nights wandering around the village, or hanging out of my window on Broadway and 10th Street, hearing The Purple Tape playing out of every barbershop, storefront, weed spot, car stereo, boombox, and so on. More than any time in my life, I was experiencing The Soundtrack To An Entire City, at one time, giving voice to everything from Tommy Hill Ice Rocking to Africans denyin??? niggas up in yellow cabs and Ricans (ven aqui, yeah!), who - swear to god - it was like I had never encountered in my life. I cliqued up with two kids from the Bronx and my man Zvi (Hoody Allen), who was introduced to me as ???the only kid who smokes as much weed as you do.??? We went to Vertigo and I pressed awkwardly against a light brown skinned cutie in a brown leather and tight jeans while ???Ice Cream??? played. I felt like this was exactly where I wanted to be. Right here. Reading some terrible pseudo-science purchased as an afterthought to a few packs of incense, ???claiming New York was ancient Babylon, where the sky stayed the color of grey like Heroin.???
Bob Marley & The Wailers - Babylon By Bus
My first exposure to Bob Marley was probably at some high school party, but I didn???t play much with that scene. Bret???s pops used to play Legend in his car as he drove us to some odd job or another. But it never sunk in. I remember buying a mixtape at a stand on St. Nicholas off 125th, some kind of best-of mix. Pardon the hyperbole, but it was like I discovered a new religion. ???War??? sent chills up my spine. Not knowing that these were the words of Haile Selassie, I couldn???t believe that someone had so directly addressed the problems of racial inequality, with such uncompromising vision, in a song. It blew my mind. My father bought me a ticket to come see him in Mexico, where he was living at the time, and I remember the 2 hour bus ride between D.F. and Morelia, hills rolling by, ramshackle dwellings an d barns nestled at their base, cows and pigs and farmers watching me pass, all purple and red in the twilight, as I listened to this tape over and over again. It???s hard to pick one record by Bob Marley that was more formative than others, and in truth it was probably that best-of mixtape. But all those songs were on here, live, and the concert version of ???Punky Reggae Party??? in particular has never been done better than on this set. I wouldn???t get into reggae fully for years, but this laid groundwork for a spiritual quest and decision to work in my life towards something more significant, that would take me beyond ???the system???.
Outkast - ATLiens
As I smoked even more weed, and read page after page of books on Egyptology and the History of Race in America, I grew more paranoid, disconnected with society, and introverted. I left the dorms (which we could barely afford anyway) and moved in temporarily with my girlfriend in the Douglas Houses on 103rd & Manhattan. A few months later, I moved into a 3 room apartment in Harlem, on Convent Ave adjacent to City College with my two friends Danny and Tommy from Kingsbridge. Dinner was no frills, rice and beans from the bodega or these huge slices of pizza from the place next to the weed spot on Amsterdam and 133rd. We???d walk down to 116th, cop a bag, roll up and smoke on the top of this big rock in Morningside Park. If it was nice, we???d make it all the way down to Central Park and sneak behind some brush to smoke. ???Me And You??? sounded like what we were doing - not to mention, back home, my group was going nowhere. ???Doing these hole-in-the-wall clubs, this shit here must STOP.??? I was looking for some kind of meaning in all of this, and Outkast gave it to me here. I had met Andre and Big Boi back at Berkeley High when they toured the Bay Area, and even gotten a chance to go a round with them freestyling. I was a huge fan of their first album. But this, put together with my cynical view of the world and quest for spiritual guidance, made so much more sense. I was going nowhere, fast, but ???Wailin?????? gave me strength. ???Mainstream??????s soft chords soothed me and the lyrics gave me a sense of purpose. ???Growing Old??? pounded it home that all of this was temporary, and could fly by as quickly as the steel beams I tried to count on my train rides uptown.
John Coltrane - A Love Supreme
I was aware of Coltrane in high school - my step father had some of his earlier stuff like Ballads, and a best-of set. I remember buying Blue Trane at a now-defunct shop on Mission and 16th somewhere around 1994. I was into it, but had no depth. I remember buying this record - probably skated, probably a reissue - at the stall at Union Square Park where the guy had jazz records. I took it uptown to our apartment and as the late-afternoon sun streamed through the window, I dropped the needle and was reduced to nothing. It was like someone reached inside and pushed ???reset???. I???ve certainly put this record on and cried like a baby, but that didn???t happen then. It was joyous. I couldn???t stop smiling. I was being shown music, thought, and God, all at once, interlocking as they should, in what can only be called a religious experience. I never questioned or scoffed at the concept of a Church Of Coltrane because this was, clearly, something on the level of a Bible or Qu???ran. It was simply beyond the ability of a mere man left to his own devices. Most important, it speaks so easily to me. There are aspects of religion that are complicated, but God???s Love is not. It requires no preparation, no research, no understanding of the surrounding circumstances. Pure beauty. God in musical form. I have since bought a lot of jazz records, but nothing like this. And to that end, I???ve gotten rid of most of them.
The 24 Karat Black - Ghetto: Misfortune???s Wealth, Curtis Mayfield - Curtis Live
If there are two records that convinced me that I wanted to do this - records, music, writing and thinking about them - all the time, for the rest of my life, it would probably be these two (and A Love Supreme). I bought a pretty worn copy of the former for a price that was almost certainly too high; I still own it. I think it was the ???Nas Is Coming??? sample that initially attracted me, but what???s kept me enthralled by it is the complete nature of the suite. The way it encompasses so many emotions, so many voices, and all played so perfectly - just an amazing record. I???m not sure I ever looked at a ???record??? like this before. It speaks to the disintegrating 70s American city, but does so in a completely bare, honest tone that avoids cliche. It changed how I thought about the concept of ???the album??? and gave me the record bug once and for all. It???s criminal that it never got its due (and was pressed so shoddily). I don???t really have a life story to connect with it, though. Curtis Live, on the other hand, was probably the single record that grew me past the malaise of college and of my teenage years (which I had since left in age but not in mind). This was a serious record - not in its conception so much as its execution. I knew about Mayfield and The Impressions, and even had a few records by them. I loved the sound. But the delivery of his message, his music, in this close setting, it wasn???t produced at all. It threw cold water on me and snapped me into focus. This was real life, and these were not just songs; Curtis was giving his audience a look into him. The one thing that gets me every time is the flub towards the end of ???We People Who Are Darker Than Blue??? where he forgets his lyric for a moment. ???He???s just good for nothing, we all figure??? ???. a grown up jigger.??? It was like he was so deep in thought he had forgotten to continue. I loved that. I had always surrounded myself with music, and felt it deeply??? but I began to think about music on a very different level because of these two records.
The Carroll Jones Singers - When We Get Over
Fast forward to 2006, I own a record store now, and I had bought a collection from a guy down in Pennsylvania who was for several years the buyer at Joe???s Record Paradise in Baltimore. This wasn???t the only record that I kept from the collection, but it was certainly the most important one. A local gospel record from Northwest Baltimore, unassuming cover, private label. But the performances left me frozen in my tracks. These people were singing and playing their hearts out. It reminded me of a forgotten time, so many years ago, when my dad took me out to a large black church in Hunters Point where they were doing a can drive. I was 7, 8 years old or so, and was pinned to the pew by the force of the choir. Listening now, I was struck by the idea that Jesus might???ve actually been what everyone said he was. I wanted to track down the record, not least of all because my copy had serious wear, but also to try and follow this thread to wherever it went. I???ll never forget, in trying to research the record, that I thought I???d go to the church where the insert said to contact for more info. The address led me up Pennsylvania Avenue, to North Avenue, over and up to Park Heights, and eventually to the foot of Pimlico Road where I finally parked and tried to figure out which of the storefront churches on the block (there were several) might be the right one. Before I could finish my deduction, I became aware of the open air drug market surrounding me, and elected to get back in my car and drive back down Cold Spring Lane to safer turf. I was furious, frustrated with myself. Why? It was like all of my lofty ideas about music, about spirituality and race and culture had smashed head on into West Baltimore reality and Pimlico Road had just told me they didn???t amount to shit. But the record still points me towards that same path. The combination of restraint and abandon in ???If I Live Right??? is so human. Records like this have brought me closer to a church that I always thought would judge me too harshly to be a member.
Bruce Langhorne - The Hired Hand OST
Simon (Young Scrappy) passed me this a couple of years ago, and it immediately changed the way I listened to music. A soundtrack to a western movie that received mixed critical and no financial success. I have never seen it. I listen to this album on its own (my own?) terms, and as I drive around the slums of the northeast and midatlantic - the ghost towns of 2009 - this has turned into my soundtrack. I listen to this as I pass through, while people scurry from corner to corner, their breath rising before them, as cars heave and grumble across poorly paved boulevards that once fueled people???s dreams and gave them their livelihoods, now just broken down, semi-abadoned shells, supported by shrinking public handouts and the outlaw drug economy. I don???t pretend that this record has anything to do with the social condition it provides the soundtrack to in my mind, though. Musically, its influence on me was to open my ears up to more western influences. I started to listen to Lee Hazlewood. And, interestingly, more sparse, hypnotic music from Africa. Stuff from Angola, Philip Tabane from South Africa, certain highlife from Ghana and Benin. And in what seems to be a constant theme throughout my collecting and listening life, the way the album works from its beginning, through its various moods and into its conclusion - it ends up a complete statement, tying the loose ends in its conclusion, everything making sense.