Saturday, June 11, 2016

Top 10 Albums

Feeling a little nostalgic lately and got thinking about my top 10 albums, presented in chronological order. These are mostly based on how much I still listen to them. Please share yours...

1) Van Halen - Women & Children First March 1980 - Got this for my 11th (?) birthday from Carl Kullback still love it. I have a hypothesis that, more often than not, the first album you hear from a band will turn out to be your favorite from that band, and this was my first VH record. This is not just the party VH from the first two albums, they have a hunger on this one, they almost sound angry, like they have something to prove. Besides his game changing technique, Eddie's tone is more 80s than the light fuzz of the 70s. He changed everything.  This is Van Halen at their heaviest.  Van Halen, in 1984, was my first concert
2) Big Country - The Crossing July 1983 - Also listened to their live set from New Years Eve at the Barrowlands in Scotland that was broadcast on The King Biscuit Flower Hour. Not sure why I still listen to this. It does sound unlike anything else out there. Over time they lost that and just sounded like a regular rock band, but this first album is all their own and catchy and sometimes anthemic. From the opening drum solo of the excellent and catchy single, In A Big Country, through slow builders The Storm and Porrohman, they hit all the right buttons; catchy sing along choruses and wonderfully tasteful and melodic guitar lines.
3) Judas Priest - Live in Long Beach May 1984 - Not technically an official album. They broadcast this show live and I taped it from DC/101 and listened to it endlessly. It's now been released as a bonus disc for the 30th anniversary of Defenders of the Faith. The band obviously fueled by, essentially, playing front of the whole country. Rob's voice is a little rough from being on the road and has a hard time hitting the high notes. But this only adds to the fun of a live show.  No edit here just all live Priest. I think, too, that they were at the top of their game with Defenders of the Faith. Before the guitar synths of Turbo and before they tried to revert by looking backwards. They were still plowing forward and taking no prisoners.
4) Iron Maiden - Live After Death Oct 1985 - Mark Beemer started corrupting me with this show, Charles Bills was there too, in January 1985. Couldn't pick from NotB, PoM or Powerslave so went with this excellent live set. Before the days of being able to look up virtually every show on youtube, it was special to have a live album of a tour you went to. We saw them at The Capital Centre in Largo, MD.  Marks Dad called in when tickets went on sale and was able to get us floor seats. As usual, Maiden's packaging only added to the fun with hundreds of photos on the inner sleeves and equipment lists.
5) Metallica - Master of Puppets March 1986 - Another Mark Beemer influence. James Hetfield took rhythm guitar to a whole new level here. Mark bought the cassette at Kemp Mill Records after a friend of his told him it was buy or die. We took it back to my place and I taped it as we first listened to it.  The first time through I laughed at James' voice as I'd never heard anybody sing like that, with that ferocity. I soon got used to his voice and the album quickly became one of my favorites being constantly on my stereo.
6) Jane's Addiction - Nothing's Shocking August 1988 - Bought this with Jim Josupait at The Crow's Nest over Thanksgiving after hearing Scott Loftus play it on WVVX. Mountain Song was my introduction to Jane's and it grabbed me immediately. I loved the energy of the guitar and thought Dave Jerden's production was spot on to highlight the unrestrained sound of Dave's guitar, but sound is well balanced and all instruments shine through clearly. I learned to play along with nearly the whole album and Jane was a big influence on my college band ShockFish.
7) The Buck Pets - The Buck Pets June 1989 - Two years too early and on a label that didn't know what to do with them.  I started playing A Little Murder on my college radio show on WMXM. Its effect built slowly, but it was when I started listening to the whole album, opened with the savage Iron Cock that I really started to love The Buck Pets. Mixing metal and punk is old hat now, but not in 1989, they were two very separate camps. This was Nevermind, two years in advance. Kicking up The Replacements with some Buzzcocks and played, at times, with metal ferociousness. I love the wall of sound production and the noisy guitar solos, but with a clarity and bite that many punk bands were missing. Awesome!
8) Nirvana - Nevermind Sept 1991 - Don't actually listen to this one too much anymore, but duh! Before this I had thought Mudhoney the better of the two bands, but when I first put this on at our college radio station, WMXM, I almost immediately thought, wow, this could sell a million. Little did I know it would sell 10X that.  The album grabs you immediately with the catchy Smells Like Teen Spirit, and when Dave's drums kick in you know you're on an amazing ride.
9) Mansun - Six April 1999 (US) - I was introduced to Mansun with the whimsical Attack of the Grey Lantern when they still had hopes of making it in the US. Six was too Brit for mainstream success here, but what a great record. This is more than just a post OK Computer British album. Paul Draper brings plenty of his own ideas to the table. He doesn't let anything just sit though, everything has been fussed and tinkered with to produce a wonderfully unique guitar album.
10) Kvelertak - Meir March 2013 - Love their mix of metal, punk and 70s arena rock riffs.

A Few more...
AC/DC - Back in Black or Dirty Deeds
Kix - Midnite Dynamite
The Dandy Warhols - 13 Tales From Urban Bohemia
Korpiklaani - Karkelo