I was asked on FB to list the 15 albums I found most influential, so I thought I'd share my response here:
1. Pink Floyd - The Wall
I never really gave Floyd a chance in HS, since they were always considered a 'stoner' band, and that wasn't really my scene. After I joined the AF, I was hanging out drinking beer with some friends in a dorm room and one of them put the video for The Wall in. I realized then how brilliant Floyd was, and I've been a huge fan ever since.
2. Radiohead - The Bends
Everyone who cites OK Computer as the band's masterpiece should do themselves a favor and give a good listen to its predecessor, The Bends. This record is their finest work, imho, and laid the foundation for Radiohead to become arguably the most influential rock band of the 90's.
3. Bruce Springsteen - Tunnel of Love
Another example of a record somewhat overlooked, Bruce captures the experience of heartbreak here. This album helped me get through a very tough breakup of my own.
4. Queensryche - Operation: Mindcrime
I just love this thing from top to bottom, and it paints a very vivid but desperate picture as the story unfolds. To me this is almost like The Wall 2, not so much musically but conceptually. So many tracks on this record kick you in the teeth, but the standout cut "I Don't Believe In Love" mercilessly and brilliantly drives the message home.
5. John Denver - Greatest Hits
This was one of my father's favorite records, and after he passed on when I was a kid I would listen to this and remember him and cry. It definitely helped me weather a very difficult time. "Leaving On A Jet Plane" is probably my favorite song ever.
6. Third Eye Blind - Third Eye Blind
This is another great record from beginning to end. It definitely inspired my songwriting and perspective about what a band should be. Sure, everyone knows "Jumper" and "Semi-Charmed Life," but if you are unfamiliar with the song "Motorcycle Drive By," you need to hear it. Now.
7. Toad The Wet Sprocket - Dulcinea
Another big writing inspiration for me. "Crowing" is just a gorgeous song.
8. Led Zeppelin - 4 &
9. AC/DC - Back In Black
In the summer of 1980, I was lucky enough to find both of these cassettes (on separate occasions) out in the wilderness. How cool is it for a kid's first albums to be both free and among the greatest ever recorded? I listened to both incessantly (wore them out, in fact), and from that point forward my primary purpose was playin' rock and roll.
10. The Clash - London Calling
I actually got the powers that be to play "Lost In A Supermarket" at a church dance! It was one of the greatest triumphs of my teen years. I had taken this LP with me, and I remember trying to convince the DJ to play some songs off it that would be cool to dance to. They usually refused outside music (too worried about objectionable content), but thankfully the lyrics were included in the liner notes. Despite references to drinking (not to mention railing against such soul crushing institutions as organized religion), they finally played it, and I danced about like a spider monkey on crystal meth. Good times. They completely refused to play "Clampdown," however.
11. Gin Blossoms - New Miserable Experience
Raw, cool, and catchy as the flu, I was thrilled that AZ finally had a kick-ass rock band at the top of the charts. I got to hang with the band once, and they seemed like very down to earth guys.
12. The Beatles - Rubber Soul
Another of my dad's faves, I remember him playing this album (on 8-track, no less) a bunch when I was growing up. "Norwegian Wood" always got stuck in my head. Any songwriter who doesn't name The Beatles as an influence isn't much of one.
13. Guns -n- Roses - Appetite For Destruction
Possibly the greatest hard rock album ever recorded. After the very first listen you just knew the bar had been raised. If Appetite was released tomorrow it would still be a giant hit, over 20 years later. It's that timeless. I can't think of any other 'Hair Metal' era records that would be as popular if released today as they were back then.
14. U2 - The Unforgettable Fire
Joshua Tree is right up there, too, but for me TUF is it. It just has a great vibe, and U2 may have the best synergy of any band ever. In the Eddie/Yngwie/Vai era of fretboard shredding, The Edge is the most inventive and perhaps most influential guitarist of all.
15. Styx - Paradise Theater
My friends and I would crank this up and sing along when we were growing up and dreaming about having our own band. I guess its a pretty common dream for a young person, but it still feels so powerful and personal in that moment. While to most folks it remains just a dream, I am glad and proud that I stuck with it enough to be able to get up on stage and do something I absolutely love. It all started with listening to records with friends and sharing a dream to make music, too.
So there you go. Its been a couple years since I've played in a band (dedicated family man now), but I had an absolute blast playing for over 2 decades. I'm still writing songs
, so maybe if I'm really fortunate I'll get something cut in the future. Of course all you metalheads would never hear it 'cause it would most likely be on a country record