Over the last week or so, and I’m sure it’s something I’ve seen do the rounds before, a trend has been going round Facebook of sharing ten covers of albums that are important or influential to you with no explanation and while nominating a friend to do the same.
Now I’ve posted my ten I thought I’d elaborate a little on my choices (I realise thus defeating the no explanation part).
Narrowing it down to ten was always going to be an interesting challenge so I took the first to leap into my mind approach so the list omits some obvious thing while include some stuff that might surprise.
So, in no particular order, here are my ten…
I couldn’t not have a Wildhearts album on the list and when I tried to narrow down it came down to three; the first I brought, Must Be Destroyed, the one often viewed as their high point, PHUQ, and their first, Earth Vs….
I went for a Earth Vs… because when I was first getting into the band it’s the one that most easily connected with me and, even now in many ways feels the most direct.
This is likely down to the fact that it was recorded as demos so the it has a raw and rough quality along with the huge hooks and singalong moments that captures the essence of the often chaotic band as they hit their first stride.
When finding my own way in music, I may have started with more mainstream hard rock (see a few below) but as I discovered punk rock in its many varying forms a couple of tracks on a mix tape a friends made ahead of our first Reading festival really stood out – they were Second Solution and Monday by Australian rockabilly punks The Living End.
It didn’t take me long to track down the album, a far hard feat in the early 2000s than it is now, and it’s remained a constant since.
The follow-up Roll On was almost the one I went with but, like Earth Vs above this captures a band at ice fresh and raw but also finding their feet and I’m happy to say that, while future albums have varied for me, they remain a great live band with all the energy they had back when I first saw them, again at Reading Festival in 2001, then at Warped Tour 2006 and most recently at Hyde Park in 2017.
This one goes right back to the start for me, one of the first albums i remember buying with my own money was Bon Jovi’s best of collection Crossroads, but it was Slippery When Wet that really grabbed me in early teen years with its down-to-earth tales laced through with (admittedly now fairly mild) rebellious thoughts wrapped up in a great glam-pop-rock package – I’m just gutted I didn’t get to see the band before they became the seriously naff middle-aged rockers they became.
Another one that goes right back to my first getting into music on something approaching my own terms, I was going to go with the original Bat Out Of Hell but I then though really this is the one that got me into not just hard rock but also the theatrical side of things.
When I first saw the epic video (ironically directed by Michael Bay) for I’d Do Anything a For Love it was like nothing I’d seen before and I was hooked and, while the album has a few filler tracks, that track, Rock ‘N’ Roll Dreams, Life Is A Lemon, Everything Louder Than Everything Else and Objects In The Rear View Mirror hold a special place in my personal musical history.
Another that first started creeping into my consciousness from that Reading Festival mixtape, it wasn’t until a few years after that I properly locked into what Bay Area punks Rancid were doing.
Somehow their tales of life in rundown inner city Oakland et al struck a chord with me that has been a big part in my ongoing love affair with San Francisco – there’s nothing like walking along listening to a record and realising that the street you’re on is mentioned in the song in your ears.
The only album from a Guernsey based band on my list (though a few others came close) and for a couple of reasons.
When this was released in the summer of 2007 it was the first album I had completely invested in the story of from watching the band live to covering the release and the album launch event for what was the then called BBC Guernsey Unsigned (now BBC Music Introducing in Guernsey).
As well as this it opened me up to a new side of heavy music, the slower, heavier and more psychedelic stuff than I’d previously been into leading on to exploring Electric Wizard, High On Fire, Kyuss, Monster Magnet and more.
On top of that it’s songs stand up still with a few being classics of music produced in the island and still able to illicit singalongs over a decade later, as seen when the band stayed a special comeback at the Vale Earth Fair in 2016.
It’s fair to say it took me a while to get my head around The Cramps.
Their mix of old school rockabilly with punk, sleaze, fuzz and their own brand of just plain weird was, on first listen, impossible to place. However, since working it out through a greater knowledge of classic rock ‘n’ roll and where the band themselves came from something clicked and they quickly became one of the bands that inspired my musical alter-ego to do what he does.
As one of the pioneer albums in the worlds of goth, psychobilly and more Songs The Lord Taught Us is packed with off kilter classics that seem intent on drilling their way into the brain with Bryan Gregory’s fuzz and Nick Knox’s primal drumming while lead duo Lux Interior and Poison Ivy go in for the chemically charismatic kill that left me, at least, forever changed.
Must be Cramps O’Clock!
The eye liner wearing, goth tinged, punk rock that made up the bulk of what got called emo in the mid-2000s left a mixed legacy of music but, undeniable kings of the scene, My Chemical Romance created its high point, for me, on their second album, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge.
A loose concept album, telling the story of a free-spirited couple and their fight against vampires (loosely continued from the concept of their debut, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love) it hit a perfect balance of pop rock hooks, gothic imagery and vicious, emotionally damaged delivery to cut through anything else at the time and again was part of inspiring me to explore creating my own music.
It was Enter Sandman and Sad But True that first got me listening but Ride The Lightning was the complete record that confirmed me as a Metallica fan.
Master of Puppets may be technically the better record of the often linked mid-80s pair, but for me Ride The Lightning strikes a more enjoyable chord with classic tracks like For Whom The Bell Tolls, Creeping Death, Fade To Black and the title track all being standouts custom-made to get some neck-breaking head banging and vocal chord shredding singing along going.
The last and I think coincidentally most recent record on my list is the one that first introduced me to Frank Turner.
When I picked this up on something of a whim at HMV on first listen I discovered a performer with more heart and soul in his music than I had heard in some time and instantly connected with pretty much everything he was saying.
It’s fair to say that his origins and upbringing probably share commonalities with my own (though I didn’t go on to spend my early 20s in a well-known UK hardcore band) and Turner quickly became a big influence on my own music and his song I Still Believe has become a big part of my acoustic performances but it was this album that grabbed me and introduced me, not just to Turner, but in many ways to a chunk of modern British music I hadn’t previously been aware of.
So that’s my main list but there could easily have been a lot more so here’s just a few more albums that in one way or another have been a big part of my musical life and are in various ways great albums I still get a kick out of listening to from time to time:
- Blink-182 – Enema of the State
- Queen – A Kind of Magic
- Nirvana – Nevermind
- Foo Fighters – One by One
- Oasis – (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?
- The Beatles – Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
- Michael Jackson – Bad
- Thee Jenerators – Jenerator X
- Lifejacket – Let’s Get This Out Of Our System And Move On
- Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. – Chronicles of a Bohemian Teenager
- Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues