Top 10 Albums that Are Too Good for the Album Cover Facebook Game

Lately I’ve been witness to my Facebook timeline being inundated with friends participating in the whole, “Here are 10 albums that influenced my taste in music” as nominated by so and so Facebook friend.

I myself have not been nominated and I don’t expect to be nominated either at any point in time, and far be it for me to nominate anyone to take part in said exercise either. I see these “I nominate person x to take part in this challenge” or “I nominate person x to list such and such” on my timeline all the time, and that’s just not my style. Ultimately, they’re harmless, and if you’re all for ’em, have your fun with it. For me personally, I’d rather you just DM me, engage me in a conversation.

But, seeing as we’ve got some free time to fill as we remain in quarantine (although things are slowly beginning to re-open), I’m gonna give it to you long form rather than stretch things out in excess of a week with my 10 albums that influenced my taste in music from my earliest days to today.

 

10) AC/DC – Blow Up Your Video

Blowupyourvideo

Early on in my music listening existence, my choices were limited to my vinyl copies of A Chipmunk Christmas (awesome), Mini Pops Christmas (not so awesome), a Fine Young Cannibals cassette (I liked it ok, but it never really grabbed me), and a New Kids On The Block cassette that I received as a birthday gift, listened to once and then threw it into the corner of my room, because hearing it once was more than enough.

A Canadian music video show introduced 9-year-old me to AC/DC through their music video for Heatseeker from this album, and when I saw the cover on display at my local record store with Angus exploding out of a television, I figured this couldn’t suck. Could it?

While it’s not one of AC/DC’s better albums, it’s sentimental for me because it not only introduced me to the band, but to harder sounding music in general. Powerage will always be tops for me when it comes to the band’s records, but this still holds a special place in my heart and if you’re looking for an underrated gem, give Two’s Up a listen.

 

9) KISS – Alive!

Kiss_alive_album_cover

I talk about KISS a lot, and will continue to talk about the Hottest Band in the World until the day I die. AC/DC introduced me to harder sounding songs, but KISS turned the visual aspect of what music should look and sound like up to 11.

One of my best friends of over 30 years and arguably the biggest KISS fan I know is responsible for sending me into a Rock and Roll Hell and helped me realize that I Love It Loud when he played KISS for the very first time, and when I first plugged the cassette for Alive! into my Walkman on the drive home from the mall and heard the pyro and the opening chords of Deuce, there was no turning back.

 

8) Guns and Roses – Appetite for Destruction

gnr

We continue to get heavier and a little bit sleazier as we move along. I remember one afternoon sitting in my living room having a snack and flipping to that Canadian based music video show again and seeing the video for Paradise City and not knowing what to make of this band named Guns and Roses except that they looked cool. Axl, Duff, Izzy, but especially Slash looked badass and dangerous and I needed to hear more.

Taking my money saved up through my allowance and doing chores around the house, I picked up Appetite for Destruction at the mall, hit play as soon as I got home and was mesmerized by the sound, the lyrics and the imagery whether it was that iconic front cover or the infamous painting on the insert that was supposed to be the cover but was nixed for obvious marketing reasons.

While I would go on to pick up Lies and the Illusion albums and I love them as well, Appetite stands the test of time as being flawless from top to bottom.

 

7) Conan the Barbarian – OST

conan

I’ve always been fascinated by and had a deep connection to the medieval and fantasy. From witches and wizards, to dragons and demons. Warriors. Valkyries. Sword and sorcery always gets my blood pumping and few recordings can get the blood pumping, the heart racing and have me wanting to ride into battle more than the soundtrack to John Milius and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Conan the Barbarian.

I had already been a Conan fan from a young age; probably too young. Borrowing the Robert E. Howard books from my school library along with my soon to be usual assortment of Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms novels, then I began buying up as many Conan comic books as I could find, and when I saw the Conan movie; again likely at far too young of an age, I was hooked and a big part of that was due to Basil Poledouris magnificent score.

While the film isn’t completely devoid of dialogue, Poledouris score is what carries the story over the course of the film’s 2 hour run-time, and is as much of a character as Valeria, Thulsa Doom or even Conan himself. Basil Poledouris for my sensibilities doesn’t get nearly the recognition he deserves as a composer and for my money, Orphans of Doom is still one of the most hauntingly beautiful pieces of music ever.

 

6) Dead Kennedys – Plastic Surgery Disasters

dk

By the early to mid nineties, while I was still firmly into my AC/DC/KISS/GnR groove, I was also looking for something new to capture my attention, and while I became a fan of many of the alternative or grunge or Seattle Sound; whatever you want to call them bands that showed up on the scene from Nirvana to Mudhoney to Veruca Salt, punk music hit my radar with a vengeance thanks to some of my friends in junior high bringing it to my attention.

Few bands played harder or faster (to my ears at that time) as the Dead Kennedys with this album in particular standing out. Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables and Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death get played often, but something about Plastic Surgery Disasters keeps bringing me back to it over and over.

Agree with Jello Biafra or not, he always has a lot to say and isn’t afraid to say it, and while I usually turn to music to have a good time by, I can get down with music that has a message. Songs like Terminal Preppie, Well Paid Scientist, and my all-time favorite DK song, Bleed for Me have plenty to say.

 

5) Ramones – Ramones

Ramones-album-cover

It’s because of bands like the Dead Kennedys as well as the Vandals or NOFX that I went back and found arguably the greatest punk band of all-time. Four guys from New York that didn’t have a lot of talent, but were not afraid to take a chance and hit their audience with a straight between the eyes wall of sound.

Three simple chords and even simpler lyrics, but there was an energy to the Ramones especially on those first four records, but their debut still captures the sound and raw energy better than anything since. While they may have been categorized as punk, the Ramones are as straight ahead rock and roll as you can get.

 

4) A Tribe Called Quest – Midnight Marauders

midnight marauders

A lot of people may not know it to look at me, but I have a deep love and appreciation of rap music. Good rap that is. Clean rap. Not necessarily clean lyrically speaking, but clean in its presentation, clean vocally. You can keep your mumble rap bullshit away from me, thanks.

A Tribe Called Quest may not be the first rap group to drop smooth lyrics and flow on the mic, but they were my introduction to the hip hop game, and while I quickly became a fan of groups like EPMD, Eric B. and Rakim and De La Soul, I can always listen to Tribe and never get tired of it. There are albums in their catalogue that are more iconic than Midnight Marauders, but much like it was with AC/DC and Blow Up Your Video, Midnight Marauders was my first and you never forget your first.

 

3) Creedence Clearwater Revival – Chronicle, Vol. 1

Creedence_Clearwater_Revival_Chronicle

You may have seen or heard the debate before. Who’s better, the Beatles or the Rolling Stones?

My answer is always going to be Creedence.

The Beatles are good, the Stones for me are even better, but there aren’t many bands out there that make me just feel good and want to go for a long drive with the windows down as CCR does.

Chronicle, Vol. 1 was an album that was brought to my attention by my uncle and while sure, it’s a greatest hits compilation, that’s all the better! Collect all the best songs, put ’em in one place and let me hear ’em!

CCR is just one of those bands that when I hear them I can’t be in a bad mood, or if I was in a bad mood, it immediately goes away especially when my favorite song Hey Tonight! comes on. That song for my sensibilities just says summertime. You hear those opening chords and John Fogerty kicks it in with the vocals and I can just imagine backyard BBQs, fireworks and swimming at the lake or the beach.

 

2) Bad Brains – Bad Brains

Bad_Brains_debut

For as much punk rock as I listened to in the 90’s and 2000’s, DC hardcore group Bad Brains were introduced to me maybe 5 or 6 years ago, in a most peculiar way when a friend of mine around the holiday season posted a YouTube video on my Facebook wall titled “It’s a Bad Brains Christmas, Charlie Brown”.

Seeing that fan made mashup of the song Pay to Cum over top of scenes from A Charlie Brown Christmas was at first odd and humorous, but as I rewatched it a few more times, I had to know and learn more about this band, specifically their singer who was delivering these rapid fire lyrics.

I went down the rabbit hole and have been down there ever since with the Bad Brains being my favorite band not named KISS. While later albums like I Against I would have a more polished and refined sound and while I dig the fusion of reggae, funk and metal, it’s the first record that I always return to. There’s an energy, and there’s a fire that is hard to duplicate.

 

1) Powerwolf – The Sacrament of Sin

sacrament of sin

Those who know me well know that I’m not apt to listen to or seek out a lot of new music or bands. Hell, that’s likely a majority of us, once we find a band or bands or a specific era of music we identify with; namely what we grew up with, it’s damn near impossible to even give newer music the time of day. I mean, “I used to be with it, but then they changed what it was. Now what I’m with isn’t it, and what’s it seems weird and scary to me, and it’ll happen to you, too.”

Similar to how I’m not into mumble rap and will stick with the rap from the 90’s, there aren’t many new metal and definitely no, ugh, Nu Metal bands I can get into. But every once in a while you find something or are turned onto something new by a friend, and when PopLurker’s founder Loryn Stone and I wrote for another site a couple of years ago, Powerwolf hit my radar, specifically her mentioning of the song Demons Are a Girls Best Friend, so I figured let’s give them a listen and see what they have to offer.

I listened to The Sacrament of Sin…and then I listened to it again, and again and my “stuck with the bands I know” mind was blown. Every single song on the album kills, with Fire and Forgive being at the absolute top of my list, and they quickly became a new favorite with this record being one of those “flawless” albums that if I play it, nothing ever gets skipped, and it shows me that while I’ve got these 10 albums that have influenced my musical tastes, I can only imagine what I have to look forward to.

 

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