Sunday, March 1, 2009

The ten albums that best describe who I am...

My old 9-Ball/trivia bitch Ben stumbled upon a hell of an idea. Which ten albums do the best job of explaining your personality. Kind of a desert island list here. What are the ten albums that shaped your world? Here's mine in no particular order at all:

1. AC/DC ~ Live (1992):
The first hard rock album that I ever purchased. This record captures their best recordings from one of the old Monsters of Rock tours. It was the first live record featuring Brian Johnson on the lead vox and the first live album the band released since 1978's If You Want Blood (You Got It) featuring Bon Scott. Now that one might be the better live record critically, but I didn't wear out two copies of that album in my old truck like I did with the Live record. It wasn't until I finally saw them live back in 2001 that I finally realized just how damn good that band really is. They are every bit as good and dare I say even more powerful live than they are on record. As a bonus, they're one of Keith Richards' favorite bands, and really, has that dude ever led us astray?

2. The Rolling Stones ~ Let It Bleed (1969)
Speaking of Keith Richards, when discussing the Stones, the first album almost every rock critic pulls out as the pinnacle of their career is 1972's Exile on Main St. But for my money you can definitely do worse than the record that came before it, Let It Bleed It captured the band in a state of flux. The band's founder and original rhythm guitarist Brian Jones died on the day the last tracks for this album were recorded. A lot of the band's most recognizable material came from this album like "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and "Gimme Shelter" but I kind of liked the deeper cuts like "Love In Vain" and "Monkey Man." This album also has Keith's lead vocal debut on one of my favorite songs called "You Got The Silver." Back in my senior year of high school, I had a shitty little clock radio that would also play tapes. So for the better part of a school year, I was woken up by a different Rolling Stones song every morning. "You Got The Silver" woke me up on the morning after I learned that my family was disintegrating. So that song kind of earned the title of the first song of the rest of my life.

3. Led Zeppelin ~ Houses of the Holy (1973)
Gotta echo Ben's sentiments here. Some of my most vivid memories growing up were playing this album on a seemingly endless loop while we were down in Nick's basement shooting pool and crushing Market Express Cherry Cokes. In fact, that record might have been the background music for "what Chad said," the single greatest psych out in amateur billiards history. I remember those times often because, things weren't exactly going the greatest for me at the time with the family situation and all, and I was a bitter, pissed off kid. Those days helped me get past it. Plus it also helped that one of those Page and Plant tours was the third concert we ever went to. My personal favorites off this disk, "D'yer Mak'er," "No Quarter," and "The Crunge." Also had a great mention in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure when noted thespian Keanu Reeves referred to ancient Greece as a "countryside that much resembled the cover of Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy."

4. Supersuckers ~ Motherfuckers Be Trippin' (2003)
I spent the better part of 2003 recovering from a very dark period in my life. Early 2003 found be flat broke, busted, unemployed and destitute. A buddy of mine took a chance on me and gave me a job that put me back in the golf business. Only this time, I was sitting on an overheating mower for eight hours a day in 105 degree heat. I actually really liked that job and it made me a more rounded professional later. Anyway, as I was sitting on a fairway mower hallucinating daily from heat sickness and trying to go in a straight line, more often than not, I was spinning this disc in my ancient CD player. I don't know why I didn't get into this band sooner. I think it was primarily because up until this point most of their songs were about smoking dope, which is one thing I've never really been into. This album though was primarily about drinking and fighting, which was a little bit more my speed. This one's a pretty solid punk and hard rock record highlighted by what's become a staple of their live sets the last few years "Pretty Fucked Up," as in "She used to be pretty, but now she's just pretty fucked up." It's a tune that finally made sense to me recently when I reconnected with an old friend. And in a lot of ways almost wish I hadn't. But hell, it's all good. Other awesome tracks on this disk include "Bruises to Prove It," "A Good Night For My Drinkin," and "Sleepy Vampire."

5. Metallica ~ Load (1996)
Okay, not their best album by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, most people would probably say pretty much every album not named St. Anger (which I actually kinda liked) was better than this one. And I'd be hard pressed to disagree. But for its time and place, namely rolling around in Bryan Wischer's 1982 Buick Regal in the summer of 1996 it's got its moments. Our little gang must have spun this cassette tape at least 1436 times while driving all over the state playing golf, camping and raising hell that summer. It provided a pretty good soundtrack to the last summer before our senior year. My personal favorite song off this one is the closing track "The Outlaw Torn," and was happy to see that song get fully fleshed out on their S & M album three years later. I also dug "The Hero of the Day," "Wasting My Hate," and "King Nothing." During my first Metallica concert, up at Weber State's football field, they were playing "Bleeding Me" when Ben, Nick, Chris and I, ditched our shitty seats, jumped the fence and stormed the pit. Along with about 1000 other heshers. Good times! Although, if I were stranded on a desert island I'd probably pick a different album from my favorite band.

6. Social Distortion ~ Social Distortion (1990)
I came along pretty late to this band, but was turned on to them by a few of my Metal Sludge brethren. Great old-school punk band that brought a lot of outlaw country influence (at least thematically) to the mix. Most hardcore fans of theirs will point towards Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell and White Light, White Heat, White Trash as better albums, but this album's got probably my favorite three songs of theirs: "Ball and Chain," their cover of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" and "Story of my Life" which is more or less my theme song nowadays. When I'm announcing games on the PA for Westminster Basketball, I play a lot of varied stuff that you'll rarely hear at any other sporting event, I'm not much of a "jock-jams" guy. But for the last 3:30 of halftime I've made it a custom to spin "Ring of Fire" as the team comes back out to get ready for the second half. When the crowd hears Mike Ness' chugging intro riff to that song, they know it's about time to get rowdy again and will the Griffins to victory.

7. Anthrax ~ The Sound of White Noise (1993)
Just an overall punishing record. When the band ditched Joey Belladonna in favor of Armored Saint's John Bush, they took on a much more serious tone than the goofy punk-infused thrash that they were known for previously. I'm usually not too big a fan when a band starts putting out more serious material. That's usually a good sign that they're becoming a little too full of themselves and are starting to get a little blowhardy. I listen to music primarily to elevate my mood, put a smile on my face, and get me jumping around like a freebasing orangutan. But this album just, plain works. They became more of a straight-up metal band with this record, and you're going to have to travel far and wide to find a better album sonically. My fondest experience listening to this album had to be borrowing my old college roommate's jacked up, top-off Jeep to drive across town one morning my senior year of college. My old Blazer was broken down, and I'd just had my wallet stolen the day before so I was feeling particularly shitty. And I needed to hit the DMV to get a new drivers license. He let me borrow his badass ride, complete with as loud a sound system as you could fit into that little thing, to run that errand. I threw in The Sound of White Noise, cranked it to eleven, and when the first couple blast beats from "Potters Field" kicked in I could literally see the windows on the dorm shake. Awesome. Great release and needless to say, I felt better. Also has the track "Black Lodge" which had one of the weirdest videos ever, directed by David Lynch and starring Jenna Elfman. I just had to sneak that track onto my playlist the day I got to host a four-hour show on the local rock station KBER 101.

8. Motley Crue ~ Motley Crue (1994)
Not a lot of people outside of the Metal Sludge community don't know about this hidden gem of a record. Hell, a lot of people don't even consider this a proper Motley album due to the band's firing of longtime lead singer, Vince Neil, a couple of years previous. In some ways they have a point, because this almost sounds like a brand new band. Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee and Mick Mars decided to soldier on and tabbed journeyman frontman John Corabi, formerly of a little known but excellent L.A. band called The Scream, to take Vince's place. The song's on this record took a decidedly darker and heavier tone on this album than the typical Motley party anthems that came before it. I'll tell you what though, I don't think Tommy Lee's drumming ever sounded better than it did on this album, and adding Corabi to the mix also added his solid rhythm guitar work as well. So instead of having to do all of the guitar work on the songs that freed up Mick to concentrate solely on the leads giving all of the songs a lot more depth. Corabi's scratchy, blues soaked vocals did turn off a lot of fans used to Vince's cleaner, high pitched wail. I played the hell out of this album back in college, often playing along with it with my own guitar, much to the dismay of my roommates or any dogs that happened to be in the neighborhood at the time. Listened to this record a lot on the driving range warming up for golf tournaments. My own personal favorite tune on this one is "Til Death Do Us Part," but I also like "Hooligan's Holiday," "Smoke the Sky," and "Uncle Jack." Give this one a chance folks, trust me, if after two or three spins you just can't get into it, feel free to call me an asshole.

9. Alice Cooper ~ Trash (1989)
I'd be remiss if I didn't include at least one Alice Cooper album on my list. The guy is hands down, and I will not argue about this, the most original American rock star of all time. And it's a goddamn crime against humanity that he isn't in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame right now while tripe like Steely Dan, and James Taylor is. Unbelievable bullshit. Anyway, I can't just pick a favorite Alice record because, well he's got 32 of them going back to 1967. Over the years, I've managed to acquire all of them and there isn't a shitty one of the bunch. But the Trash album got my foot in the door with the guy. Senior year of high school, on those long debate trips, I was spinning the hell out of that album in my little discman in the back of the bus. Always liked "Poison," the lead track but this disc was loaded with good tunes. "Bed of Nails," "House of Fire" and what's become my favorite over the years, "This Maniac's In Love With You." Alice often credited golf with helping him to finally kick his alcoholism and eventually save his life, and I certainly can relate to that. I can't imagine what kind of mess I'd be right now if I didn't have the game in my life. People need to get wise. Based on his total body of work, both with the original Alice Cooper Band and solo, Alice Cooper is the undisputed heavyweight champion of American rock and roll and it's not even close.

10. Guns N' Roses ~ Appetite For Destruction (1987)
Lightning in a bottle. One of only a few absolutely perfect albums ever made. And that's a statement backed up by hardcore fans, critics and even people that don't seem to like heavy music all that much. Even they all agree on this one. There isn't a single bit of filler on this record. Just an onslaught. Although songs like "Welcome to the Jungle," "Paradise City," "Night Train," and "Mr. Brownstone" are lyrically about the kind of trouble you can find if you try to "make it" in the big city and fail. Anybody that grew up in my little hometown could find something to relate to here. I didn't know too many kids my age that didn't own this album back home. When my buddy Rob and I went down to Vegas to see the "new" Guns N' Roses a couple of years ago, they ended up playing most of this album. It's now wonder, as much as I like Lies, Use Your Illusion, The Spaghetti Incident?, and even Chinese Democracy, they don't quite measure up to the debut. Lately I've been cranking it whenever "Out Ta Get Me" and "It's So Easy" pop up on the shuffle in my car. But the closing track, "Rocket Queen," I'm convinced, is probably the absolute apex of hard rock. One of my top 5 songs of all time. The whole album still gets regular spins in my car.

Honorable Mention: Prince ~ Purple Rain (Dude played the halftime show of the first Bears Super Bowl in 22 years!), L.A. Guns ~ A Nite on the Strip, Live! (Probably my favorite "hair" metal band), Rob Zombie ~ Hellbilly Deluxe (All of us on the 1997-1999 CEU Golf team played the hell out of this album on trips), Metallica ~ Death Magnetic (Great return to form for the band and has been the soundtrack of the chaos my professional life has been in since September), and a special honorable mention to my buddy Bryan Wischer's famous mix, "The Tape." (The only other cassette that ever seemed to find its way into the deck in his car during the Load summer.)

How say you folks, what are your "ten albums?"


  1. Great stuff! I must say I was a bit shocked not to see any New Kids on the Block but these'll do.

  2. Had to throw a little shout-out in there to one-third of the holy trinity!