:: Wednesday, September 06, 2006 ::
100 albums that changed my life, Nos. 20-11

Update: Corrections to the playlist added, below. - AC

I've said it before, but I'll say it again: This countdown of the 100 songs that most heavily influenced me isn't exactly the same as my list of my 100 favorite albums. I'll try that some other time. But right now, I've got a list to work through. This week's entry commences now:

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20. Never Mind the Bollocks, Sex Pistols (1977)
A buzzsaw to my brain. Thank heavens for Steve and Sharon, a hippie couple who lived up the street from me while I was in high school. I'd walk home from work and drop by their house to listen to the latest prog rock -- Pink Floyd, Yes, Fleetwood Mac, etc. One night, Steve unveiled the ugliest album cover I'd ever seen. The music was unbelievable. I could never go back to Fleetwood Mac ever again.

19. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles (1967)
This one makes everybody's list, right? The quintessential "concept" album, Sgt. Pepper's is in a class all its own. I remember the colorful album art, with all those images of the famous and infamous on the cover. Big Bro brought this one home, and let me play with the cut-out mustaches while he played it over and over and analyzed the lyrics.

18. Heaven Tonight, Cheap Trick (1978)
A great studio release from a great mid-70s jam band, Heaven Tonight had the misfortune of being released the same year as Cheap Trick's live album, At Budokan (see previous countdown). Both of those albums were mainstays on my stereo the summer of '78, back when I was on top of the world and I couldn't get any higher.

17. Tommy, The Who (1969)
I sort of backed into Tommy after seeing the film version of this rock opera -- starring Ann Margret, Tina Turner as the Acid Queen and Elton John as the Pinball Wizard. The movie was forgettable, but the music wasn't.

16. The B-52s, B-52s (1979)
Beth Maynard captured the essence of this campy party record in her earlier top 10 listing on this very blog: "Instant visions of frat parties with everyone screaming DOWN DOWN." Yep, this was a great party album. I still listen to "52 Girls," "Dance This Mess Around" and "Rock Lobster" on occasion.

15. Pretenders, Pretenders (1980)
I saw this album in the bin and had to buy it. The four of them, dressed in black and red, the colors of death and sex, and perfectly punk. Then, Crissy Hynde's feral vocals, James Honeyman-Scott on guitar striking the perfect minimalist chords, and the driving bass and drums all add up to one terrific album. Years after selling this in a garage sale, I stumbled across the CD for $1 at a Best Buy. Best purchase ever.

14. Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd, Lynyrd Skynyrd (1973)
It's hard to believe this album is so old -- but it had staying power all through high school. So much staying power that "Free Bird" was our unofficial anthem for the Moberly High School Class of 1978. (As it probably was for the classes of '77, '76, '75 and '74.) Anyway, the guitar army of Rossington-Collins-King, Ed Powell playing a ragtime-to-gospeltime keyboard, and of course Ronnie Van Zant's whisky-tinged vocals were the background music to my high school days. If you don't know what I mean, then won't you stand up and scream.

13. The Cars, The Cars (19789)
Summer of '78 and I'm out of high school, baby! Let the Good Times Roll, indeed. "You're All I've Got Tonight," "Moving in Stereo," "Bye Bye Love," "Just What I Needed" -- hell, the whole album, I loved every second of every song. And I loved the girl on the cover. She was my image of the New Wave Babe who would one day be mine.

12. Harvest, Neil Young (1972)
Old man look at my life, I'm a lot like you were... This song of longing and disappointment still tugs at my heart. As the child of divorced parents with an absentee father for most of my formative years, I interpreted this tune on a very personal level. Other great songs: "The Needle and the Damage Done," "Heart of Gold" and "Alabama," all of which became fodder for my early guitar self-tutelage.

11. Ramones, Ramones (1976)
Holy crap. What was this? The Ramones burst out of the gates and put the hurt on my head in a hurry. Loud, fast, taking the garage sound to new heights and new lows, all at once. This was punk!


Sex Pistols, "Pretty Vacant" (from Never Mind the Bollocks)

The Beatles, "A Day in the Life" (from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band)

Cheap Trick, "On Top of the World" (from Heaven Tonight)

The Who, "Pinball Wizard" (from Tommy)

B-52s, "Dance This Mess Around" "Rock Lobster" (from The B-52s)

Pretenders, "Tattooed Love Boys" "Mystery Achievement" (from Pretenders)

Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Things Going On" (from Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd)

The Cars, "Let the Good Times Roll" "Moving In Stereo" (from The Cars)

Neil Young, "Old Man" (from Harvest)

Ramones, "Judy Is a Punk" (from Ramones)

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:: Andrew 16:16 + ::

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