27 February 2009

Music that Shaped my World...

This list started life as one of those memes on Facebook,

Think of 25 albums that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life or the way you looked at it. They sucked you in and took you over for days, weeks, months, years. These are the albums that you can use to identify time, places, people, emotions. These are the albums that no matter what they were thought of, they musically shaped your world. They stood up, they lasted, they mattered. They still matter, in some way (even if only in memory).

Except that it really made me think and it took me three days to write it so I figured I would post it here, too. I'm adding "buy me" links to Amazon.ca where possible for your convenience and/or reference.

1. Shaun Cassidy - Da Doo Ron Ron (vinyl) - first album I ever asked for. I played this on our console stereo with my giant headphones on until you could see through the vinyl. It was pure, sugary pop right off the pages of Teen Beat/Tiger Beat (back when those magazines existed, damn I feel old). [out of print; closest available is Shaun Cassidy's Greatest Hits]

2. Beach Boys - Concert (1964) (vinyl) - one my Dad got for me in hopes that I would stop listening to Shaun Cassidy. It actually worked for a while and these live recordings are some of my favourite versions of their songs. It also has the clean-cut image of them on the front in their matching wide-striped shirts which is quite the contrast to the shaggy 70s beach-bums version illustrated on the Endless Summer compilation I later received. [Concert/Live In London; Endless Summer]

3. The Who - Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy (vinyl) - first album I ever decided I had to get because I liked a guy who liked the band (sadly, this stalkerish habit was repeated frequently through school and into university) - It's a compilation album which made a great introduction to the band (everything from My Generation to Pinball Wizard to Boris the Spider). In the end, my attachment to the album far outlasted any attachment I had to the guy. [Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy]

4. Styx - Paradise Theatre (vinyl) - Though I have since replaced this on CD, the vinyl was magical. The album art showed the fictional theatre in its prime on the front and in decay on the back, the gatefold inside showed the band members in all their late-70s glory as if it were the playbill of the theatre lobby. The vinyl featured a rainbowy laser-etched print of the theatre logo (the two mermaid like women) that was visible when you held it up to the light just so. Like coloured vinyl, this was a bit of a gimmick but to the 11 year old me, this was pure awesome. [Paradise Theatre]

5. Beatles - 1962-1966 and 1967-1970 (vinyl). These two double albums were my introduction to the Beatles and, while they are no substitution for the actual catalog of Beatles albums, they truly showcase the Beatles' range of musical styles. If you made me pick my favourite Beatles album right now it would be the White Album, but you could do worse than to start your collection with this pair of albums.[1962-1966; 1967-1970]

6. Michael Jackson - Thriller (cassette) - yes, yes. But at the time, it was awesome. I think this was the first album I bought with my own cash. It featured Vincent Price and Paul McCartney plus it was ridiculously danceable. I still love the title track but the rest of it... well, it hasn't exactly held up for me.[Thriller]

7. Pet Shop Boys - Please (cassette) - my initiation into British synth-pop and the beginning of a decade long obsession with the genre and with the PSB in particular. The Brits infuse their pop with bitterness, sarcasm, wit, and anger and the Pet Shop Boys mastered this. Opportunities? Suburbia? Brillianlty angry at Thatcher's England. I've thinned out my collection over the years but for a long time I collected every album, single and remix I could lay hands on.[Please]

8. Gowan - Strange Animal (cassette) - When I first saw Gowan's video for A Criminal Mind, I was blown away by not only the combo of live action and animation, but also by the music and Gowan's voice. I would rewind and listen to Criminal Mind over and over and over (or rather I would flip over the cassette and fast-forward to the right spot, then flip it back and listen again since my first "personal stereo" was some knock-off brand by K-Mart that only had three buttons.... but I digress). The rest of the album ranged from precocious to goofy, but that song.... it resonated so strongly for me. At some point, I managed to see him in concert at the Royal Theatre and I was even more in awe. Lawrence "you can call me Larry" Gowan is a classically trained pianist who is absolutely amazing to watch on stage (yes, I would like to see him perform with Styx, actually). He is one of my favourite Canadians and remains a staple in the CanCon portion of my collection. [Out of print, as is his best of, but there is a dvd compilation which I've also added to my wishlist! Gowan: Live in Concert]

9. Weird Al Yankovic - Dare to be Stupid (cassette) - this wasn't the first novelty album I owned, or the first Weird Al album I'd listened to, but it was the first of his that I listened to front to back to the point of knowing every word to every track. My favourite track was "One More Minute," with lines like "I'd rather jump into a swimming pool filled with double edged razor blades, than spend one more minute with you" it was the perfect screw you song whenever I was feeling jilted. [Dare To Be Stupid]

10. Kate Bush - The Whole Story (cassette) - I never realized who Kate Bush was until I saw the haunting video for Experiment IV (a favourite on Much Music even as it was banned in her own country on Top of the Pops) that prompted me to rush out and buy this album. Even though it is a best of compilation, I actually prefer it to most of her other albums which I find to be uneven. It was one of the few cassettes I took with me to England in 1987 so it is also tied up with many memories of my time there. [Whole Story]

11. Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique (cd) - I bought this from an overstock bin and loved it immediately. The type of rap on this album, heavy with samples, was still too fresh to be mainstream. Now it's seen as groundbreaking and it has recently been remastered and re-released. It's one of those albums that needs to be listened to in order to get the most out of it, but that didn't stop me from putting Hey Ladies on nearly every mix tape I made for a year. [Pauls Boutique]

12. Madonna - Erotica (cd) while I can barely look at her or listen to her music now, I used to be a huge fan. Erotica came out the same time as her book Sex (which I also owned for some time) and the two are intertwined in my mind at the peak of my fandom for her. The other huge thing? The video for Bad Girl (directed by David Fincher and featuring Christopher Walken as an angel of death) was my favourite thing ever for months. [Erotica]

13. Beautiful South - Welcome to the Beautiful South (cd) - Song for Whoever and Woman in the Wall are both so wickedly sarcastic and yet sound like twinkly europop that I couldn't not like them. I feel like the Beautiful South are some bastard stepchild of The Smiths and Tracey Ullman, a combination that really works for me. I stupidly lent this album to a "friend" who moved away with it; I really should replace it. [Welcome To The Beautiful South]

14. Depeche Mode - Violator (cd) - Personal Jesus and Enjoy the Silence were anthems for an entire summer that peaked with my getting a spare ticket to see them perform in Vancouver. I still think Clean is one of the most hauntingly erotic songs ever written even though it's not really about sex. I have quite a bit of Depeche Mode in my collection, but this album is probably still my favourite as an album. During one memorable house party, I reworked the lyrics to Personal Jesus, coming up with "My own personal freezer, somewhere to keep my beer, somewhere that's near..." [Violator]

15. Garth Brooks - Ropin the Wind (cd) - while not my first country album (uh, that would be Dolly Parton 9 to 5) this was the one that got me into my Country Music Phase, complete with line dancing. Sigh. Still, Brooks weaves some wonderful tales on this album and I still quote from "We Bury the Hatchet." [Ropin The Wind]

16. Bob Dylan - Blood on the Tracks (cassette) - All I knew about Dylan for most of my life was the "Everybody must get stoned" song (Rainy Day Women No. 12 & 35). That changed in 3rd year university when I took a course with the remarkable Dr. Stephen Scobie. One of the assignments was to examine and dissect the lyrics of a Dylan song so I found myself in the Music section of the library listening to as many of Dylan's albums as I could find. While I chose to examine a track from another album, I fell in love with Blood on the Tracks. Tangled up in Blue, Simple Twist of Fate, and Shelter from the Storm are truly poetic. [Blood On The Tracks]

17. 2 Unlimited - Get Ready For This (cd) - Oh, early nineties dance. Energetic, repetitive, ridiculous. This whole album is now relegated to hockey arenas, cheer leading movies, and comedies that mock others, but for at least one summer, this was my soundtrack. And you know what? I still can't resist it. It's worth noting that we also used it for comedic effect in our fringe play as we promoted the faux tourist attraction, Lawnland (that deserves its own post, I think). [Get Ready for This]

18. kd lang - ingenue (cd) - this album absolutely captivated me on several levels at a time in my life where everything was up for discussion. It was the summer following my graduation from University, I was living in a house on Fernwood and spending what money I had going out drinking and dancing but these were songs I could just wrap myself up in during the daylight hours, forgetting that I was broke and needed a regular job. [Ingenue]

19. Barenaked Ladies - Stunt (cd) - I've been a fan of BNL from the beginning; they are Canadian dorks who made it big and Stunt was their biggest stab at global domination. One Week is an impossible to sing-along-to bounce fest and from there the album rolls through songs that show the band's full range. I think a big part of why this one mattered to me is that it made me go back and buy their other albums (only one of which I'd previously owned on cassette).[Stunt]

20. Crystal Method - Vegas (cd) - maybe it was the opening monologue from the Dark Crystal that drew me in but it was ultimately the bass-laden club-friendly beat that made me wanna crank this album and hit the accellerator (not the best combo, but whatcha gonna do?). This stayed in our van until the CD-changer kicked the bucketand then I moved most of it to my mp3 player. [Vegas]

21. Rilo Kiley - More Adventurous (cd) - I would never have heard about Rilo Kiley were it not for the Livejournal music-sharing group Audacity of which I was, for some time, an active member. Having heard "It's a Hit" I was willing to give the album a shot and it turned out to be one of my favourite purchases. Like many of my other faves, the songs here are lyrically playful and full of things that are a bit twisted (Accidental Deth is gloriously gloomy) folded into slightly twee alt-folk arrangements. [More Adventurous]

22. Gwen Stefani - Love Angel Music Baby (cd) - despite the ridiculousness of the Hirajuku girls clinging to Gwen in every video, I loved everything about this album and it was one that the whole family listened to (I'm sure it's how my daughter learned how to spell bananas, right along side hearing "the bad s word"). We also had all of No Doubt's albums and this seemed a fair progression for lead singer Stefani and the songs had that lush layered sound that I crave. [Love, Angel, Music, Baby]

23.William Shatner - Has Been - (cd) stop laughing, this is the album that made me a Shatner fan. If you've never listened to it, just find a copy of "That's Me Trying" which is basically a letter to his daughter whom he hasn't seen in years. It breaks my heart. It might help that the album is a collaboration with Ben Folds (I should own more of his music...) and features guest vocals by Aimee Mann and Joe Jackson but Shatner is a performer and this is an album of performance art. [Has Been]

24.Killers - Hot Fuss (cd) - in the midst of a folk-rock renaissance doing battle with bootylicious hip-hop, The Killers reached out through the top 40 radio and shook me. They were (are) songs I can sing along with; songs with melody, harmony, crashing chords and so much body. It took me a while to buy this album, which is why it appears later in the list, but it stands up and I am very much looking forward to seeing them in concert in April. [Hot Fuss]

25. Kanye West - College Dropout/Late Registration (cds) - I really can't separate these two albums since I bought them back to back. It started when we heard the song Jesus Walks on the trailer for Jarhead; I knew I needed that song. Not long after that, Kanye West stood up at the Grammy's and said, in response to the mishandling of the floods in New Orleans, "George Bush does not care about black people!" -- we literally went out the next weekend and bought both albums because we wanted to make sure we contributed to his staying in the public eye. [College Dropout; Late Registration]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And here I thought I was the only one on the planet that had an obsession with 'Criminal Mind'!!!!!

Actually we have several in common. Nice to know there are others who have the same very very eclectic musical tastes...