So I have been challenged by one of my friends on Facebook to list 10 vinyl albums that greatly influenced my music taste over the years, funnily enough I said to Wendy around a year ago that something similar would make a great blog so I guess with the world in lockdown there is no better time to put my thinking cap on and create a list of albums that helped form my love of music.
I have given this a fair bit of thought over the last few days and I have got it down to 12 albums that to be fair were all recorded between 45 to 25 years ago, as much as I love finding new music it is going back to my favourite’s that really give me the most enjoyment when I sit down to listen at home.
The funny thing with this list is that although I love all these albums, it is also the artists that I really love, I mean I could have filled the top 10 with all Bruce Springsteen’s albums but this is more the albums that I grew up with, changed me in some way and that I go back to regularly to listen to.
So here we go, these are in no particular order and I apologise for none of them, I will write a few words on each one but will keep it short and sweet and will add another one Daily with my all time favourite album listed last, hope you enjoy and any thoughts feel free to mail me.
Elvis – Moody Blue
Elvis was my first love in music, I was 8 when he died and it left a real mark on me how his death affected people around me, this was my first Vinyl record bought by my Nan for me in 1977 and Elvis’s last studio album, I went to Graceland in the early 90’s and even today Elvis is the biggest part of my vinyl and CD collection which I listen to regularly.
Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Welcome To The Pleasuredome
This was an easy one as I was a total Frankie addict back in the early to mid 80’s, admittedly I totally sucked in by the hype but aside from that the music was mostly brilliant and listening years later I realised just how well it was produced by Trevor Horn but back in the 80’s it was all about the music, I remember getting the double vinyl on the day of release and just listening to it constantly, must have drove my parents mad, I used to even dress like them, sad I know, and one of my very first gigs was seeing FGTH at Hammersmith Odeon in 1985, I’d love to go to that gig again, I also used to collect all their vinyl, importing it from around the world, not easy before the internet I have to say, and when the follow up album was launched ‘Liverpool’ I queued all night outside HMV on Oxford Street where it was launched and dived under the shutters once they started lifting to become the first person to buy it in the world, crazy but great times.
Bruce Springsteen – Born In The USA
Bearing in mind this list is all about albums that have influenced me then nothing is bigger than this album as it fundamentally changed my life in so many ways, very much like last years brilliant film ‘Blinded By The Light’ I remember going shopping with my Mum and Dad in Stevenage in 1984 and while they did their thing I popped into the local record shop and picked up a copy of this on tape then I went and sat in my parents car for my first listen, life would never be the same again, then for the next year or so I listened to it daily on my walkman on my paper round until I eventually wore the tape out.
Then quite possibly the biggest moment of my life occurred, well other than meeting Wendy of course, on July 4th 1985, Independence Day, I went to my first Bruce Springsteen concert at Wembley Stadium, at the time I only knew the Born in the USA Album, funnily enough when he sang Born To Run I actually knew that as Frankie Goes To Hollywood famously covered it for the Pleasuredome album and I thought he was singing a Frankie song, now that is sad, anyway the concert totally blew my mind in so many ways like the length of the set, the love for Bruce in the crowd, the storytelling throughout the concert but mostly the power of the music with 80,000 people singing along, BRUUUUUUCE! Since that day I have seen Bruce all over the world around 85 times, here’s hoping I can break 100 Bruce Gigs on the next tour, in my opinion there is no better way to enjoy yourself in public than going to a Bruce gig, Jungleland live really is something else.
So after that gig I got my first job working in a DIY shop in Ware and I earned £50 for my first week and I went straight down to Tracks record shop and spent every penny on the whole Bruce back catalogue, much to my Mum’s disappointment as she thought she was going to finally get some rent but that sealed the deal as I went on a journey of discovery exploring the 6 albums before Born In The USA making Bruce a really important part of my life, now he is 19 albums in and every one is a classic in my book, right I’ll shut up now as I could go on all day about how awesome the Boss is but Born In The USA will always be one of my favourite albums of all time.
Prince – Around the World in a Day
So I guess for many Prince fans this may be a strange choice, and although I love many of Prince’s albums, he really is one of my top 3 solo artists of all time, it is Around the World in a Day that really cemented my love for Prince, I spent a lot of time in the 80’s listening to Prince on vinyl and tape on my Walkman and I remember distinctly going to Tracks record shop in Hertford to buy this on tape and the guy in the record shop, known Bones to anyone who used to shop there, warned me that he had a few people bring it back as it was so different to the Purple Rain album that preceded it that a lot of people didn’t like it, looking back now turning to different genres turned out to be Prince’s trademark but for me I couldn’t get enough of it, every song is pure gold, but one song really stands out, if you don’t listen to the whole album just listen to ‘Condition of the Heart’ Music really doesn’t get any better. It was an extremely sad day when he passed away but I have some awesome Prince memories, seeing him on the Lovesexy tour at Wembley was epic and going to a few of the many nights he did at the o2 but the real highlight was going to one of the aftershow concerts he performed at the Indigo after one of the o2 gig, seeing Prince in a tiny venue just chilling with his band after already wowing 20,000 people was one of the best gig highlights of my life, it was just like the a scene from Purple Rain the movie, I think I’ll be having a Prince day today at work, he was a total genius and a true legend.
David Bowie – Scary Monsters
I’m sure that most people who are asked to list their most influential albums would always have some Bowie in there somewhere but I bet there would be such a varied variety of choices as pretty much every album he released was a classic, especially the earlier years, for me it always comes down to Hunky Dory and Scary Monsters, 2 of my all time favourites but I always lean to Scary Monsters, I just love every single track and it’s slightly angst overtone, I got into Bowie in the late 80’s really when his back catalogue was re-mastered and bought everything up to that point and I can remember clearly how I was blown away by how fresh it all still sounded, there is nothing like discovering a new artist who has a rich back catalogue to discover, My only regret is that I only saw Bowie live once on the Glass Spider tour at Wembley, it was such a spectacle and a brilliant gig but I always say that I would have loved to have been a teenager in the 70’s as I would have been such a big Ziggy fan and would have got totally carried away with the clothes and makeup, such a great era, especially for music, but if I had to choose 1 last Bowie album to listen to it would always be Scary Monsters.
Adam Ant – Strip
So this one will probably raise a few eyebrows as it certainly isn’t considered one of Adam Ant’s best or most liked albums and it was very different from anything he had done previously and I think it just shows that the albums you grow up with are the ones that stay with you as this was released in 1983 when I was 15 and was totally addicted to music and I remember distinctly buying this on tape and listening to it over and over again and if I’m honest it is probably one of my most listened to albums still today as I am always playing it nearly 40 years later. I went to see Adam Ant live last year and he was absolutely brilliant and considering he is now 65 he was dancing around like a teenager, gutted really as I now feel I have missed out on 40 years of brilliant Adam Ant gigs, out of all the 80’s artists that I love it is Adam Ant I play the most and I did think long and hard about including this but not only is it one of my favourite albums of all time but most definitely one that helped influenced my taste in music so it had to be added.
Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – Murder Ballads
I read an interesting article about this album the other day that said it was quite possibly the most returned album of the 90’s as most people heard the song that was done of this album with Kylie Minogue which is a beautiful ballad, admittedly about death, but definitely out of step with the rest of the album which is very dark and all about murder but every song is a brilliant story and classic Nick Cave, if you don’t know this album listen to ‘Stagger Lee’ or ‘O’Malley’s Bar’ as both these songs are absolute classics and will give you a good taste of the album. This is not necessarily my favourite Nick Cave album, although it is up there, but it is the album that introduced me to the delights of Nick Cave, I used to travel around Europe in the 90’s on a coach following Formula One and I met on a guy on the coach, hello Graham, who introduced me to this album and from that moment on I have been a big Nick Cave fan, live he is just superb, if I was going to choose one Nick Cave album to listen to though it would have to be his latest, Ghosteen, as for me this is one of the greatest albums of all time but Murder Ballads is so unique it definitely deserves a listen if you have delved into its darkness before, go on give it a try.
Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill
I’m sure a lot of people a similar age to me would have this one in their most influential album lists bearing in mind it is one of the most popular albums of all time, it celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, where has that time gone. I really have never been a big fan of female singers, in fact this album is the only one in the 12 album list but when this was released in 1995 I just couldn’t stop listening to it, it’s an album that has everything from Rock to ballands with an underlying anger and angst and Alanis’s voice is just so unique and strong, it is one of those rare albums where every song stands up in it’s own right with no filler, the acoustic version done a few years later is also worth a listen as it is brilliantly produced so great for HiFi, if you haven’t listened to this for a while put it on as it still sounds as fresh today as it did all those years ago, it’s an album I will be listening to for the rest of my life that’s for sure.
Massive Attack – Mezzanine
In all honesty I am not sure how I got into this album as it wasn’t my kind of music at all when released back in 1998 as I was really into my rock and metal back then but somehow I did and it remains one of my most played albums today, again every song on it is brilliant and whenever there is news of a new Massive Attack album I’m always first in the queue to place my order, they just don’t release enough though unfortunately. This album is also very influential to me as if I had to choose one demo track to test HiFI equipment it always is Teardrop, I have used that song countless times to test a new piece of kit and used it so often long before starting HFL as I fed my upgrade path personally but even still today it is my go to track when we get new equipment in, when I went to Dave Wilson’s house to hear the incredible Wilson Audio Wamm’s (£1 Million Speakers) we were invited to bring one song along, my choice? yes you guessed it, Teardrop, my only fear now is that I will never hear it sound that good again as it was quite incredible.
Def Leppard – Hysteria
So if I was going to choose one genre over any other as my favourite is would have to be Rock and these next 2 albums were the 2 that really started that journey with me exploring all kinds of rock and metal which really is the bulk of my music collection from Soft Rock to German Industrial Metal, it is such a diverse genre, there is just nothing better and it was Def Leppard’s brilliant Hysteria album that awakened my inner rock demon. I remember it clearly when I first heard it, I was on my way to house party with some friends back in the late 80’s, my mate was driving and had Hysteria blasting out the car stereo, I instantly loved it and then the next day I was straight down to Tracks record shop in Hertford to buy it on CD, it was probably one of my first CD’s to be honest, I just loved the production and the power of the whole album with such strong drumming which when I found out that Rick Allen only had one arm totally blew my mind, then I found out that my Dad had Def Leppard’s 3 previous albums on vinyl which I quickly claimed as my own and then played them to death confirming my love of Rock. Tomorrow’s album is what I consider to be the greatest Rock album ever released.
Guns N’ Roses – Appetite For Destruction
This is certainly an album that needs no introduction and although I have loads of rock albums I love as far as I am concerned this is the greatest rock album of all time, everyone knows the hits ‘Sweet Child o’ mine’ ‘Paradise City’ and ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ which are all classics but it is also tracks like ‘It’s So Easy’ ‘Night Train’ ‘Mr Brownstone’ and ‘Rocket Queen’ that makes this such a strong album, every song really is brilliant with Axle’s voice sounding unique along with Slash on guitar, I mean what it not to like, apparently when first released this album was panned by critics and nearly went unnoticed but a year after release it started to gain some traction and the rest is history as they say. I remember a friend bringing the CD round for me to listen to around 1988 sometime as I had never heard of G’N’R but I could tell he was very excited by his new find and rightly so as I was captivated after the first track and from then on I was sucked into the G’N’R world seeing them live as much as I could, I also went to the midnight launch at Tower Records in London of the follow up albums, Use Your Illusion 1&2, which are also up their with my favourites, now that was a night to remember with tanks driving through Piccadilly with models hanging off them, hilarious, but for me G’N’R are the best rock band out there, it is just such a shame they imploded and only really released 2 proper albums, actually supposed to be going to see them twice this month but I guess that will be postponed till next year now, but at least they are touring again so we can still enjoy some of the best Rock ever live 🤘🤘
Album 12 –
Radiohead – The Bends
So drum roll please as we come to the end of my list of albums that have influenced my taste in music, not only is this album my most influential album but it is also my favourite album of all time, as far as I am concerned The Bends by Radiohead is a total perfection, closely followed by OK Computer I should say but it is The Bends that got me into Radiohead and through following them over the last 25 years has taken me through many different styles of music as only Radiohead can do. Funnily enough when I first heard The Bends I borrowed the CD from a colleague at the Printers where I worked and as much as I listened to it I just didn’t get it so I gave it back to him not really sure what all the fuss was about to be honest but then 6 months later after I heard more people raving about it I borrowed it again and this time it clicked and I have been listening to it ever since on a regular basis and everytime it just takes me away to a different place as only music can, it’s funny as the albums that instantly click are usually short lived listens for me but albums that I have struggled with initially become albums that I go back to all the time, not sure what that is about. Anyway back to the Bends, Thom Yorke has a voice is like an angel with some beautifully delicate moments and then some thundering rock with great guitar work, it is such a powerful album that really does take you on an emotional journey and is impossible to fault. Looking back I was extremely lucky as I was in Barcelona for the Grand Prix back in 1997 and we heard that Radiohead were playing a small venue in the city centre to be broadcast on MTV for the launch of OK Computer, we went to a local record shop and got tickets and managed to get right down the front, it was an incredible night with all of the Bends played plus preview tracks from OK Computer, if only I had a time machine I would love to relive that night again, especially to take Wendy as it was incredible, Radiohead have never made a bad album in my opinion, not even a bad song to be honest but the Bends really is a true masterpiece and an album I will be playing forever, musical genius without doubt.
Scissor Sisters – Scissor Sisters
I really enjoyed compiling the above list but the hardest part was limiting it to 12 albums so there are a couple more that I would have loved to included so thought I would so a couple of bonus album for a bit of fun and to complete the list, the first is the Scissor Sisters self titled album, When I first heard ‘Take Your Mama’ in 2004 it was like a breath of fresh air as it was pure classic pop that would take me and Wendy on a journey that I thought I would share as it was a few years before HFL so most people don’t know, basically we became pretty good friends with the Scissor Sisters that took us all over Europe following them and created some awesome memories, it was great being involved with one of the biggest bands of the time and seeing the music industry from the other side to what I was used to. So how did this happen? well we went to one of their very first gigs which was awesome and after the show me and Wendy were walking back to the car when I noticed Jake Shears, the lead singer, walking just ahead of us so we rushed up to him to say how amazing the show was and how much we loved the debut album then the rest is history really, as the next show he invited us backstage then for every gig thereafter we would go in to sound checks, backstage to chill with the band, get invited to some amazing fancy dress after show parties with loads of celebs, we hang out in the bar with them and Debbie Harry after they headlined the Edinburgh Hogmanay concert, went on a ghost walk with them in Edinburgh also, basically there are just too many great memories to list, we even did the commentary on one of their DVD’s, mad, so yeah it was an incredible time, we saw them live countless times, I even missed a couple of Bruce gigs to see the Scissors which I find unbelievable now, but looking back at all the photos we took it really was a crazy time, I’d love them to reform so we could see them live again but at least we’ve still got that great first album so we can relive those wonderful memories.