A friend recently asked me about the most influential albums in my life.
It will probably come as no surprise to regular readers that my answer became rather lengthy.
In case you are curious, here is the list I assembled:
1. Duran Duran – Rio: It’s the first album I really remember inspiring me to dress up like the band and do lip synch performances. Duran Duran is underrated. I still love them, though I’ve not kept up with their recent output.
2. Genesis/Phil Collins output of the early and mid-80s: I was a huge Miami Vice fan, and that probably influenced my love for Collins and Genesis. I can’t pick out an album specifically. And I actually grew to detest Collins and Genesis in the 90s because of the directions they went. But I still love many of those 80s tunes.
3. Def Leppard – Hysteria: Yes, I had my own hair metal phase and listened to that album like it was cocaine (Hey, it was the 80s!)
4. Depeche Mode – Violator: This album marked a turning point in my musical evolution that is unparalleled. I still find everything about it the very definition of cool. The music. The artwork. I suddenly realized the complete and overwhelming power music could have over me.
5. The Cure – Wish: I already loved The Cure when this album came out, but it was my first time as a fan experiencing the excitement of the release day. Again, I devoured the music and the artwork.
6. Suede – Dogmanstar: I owned Suede’s first album and had heard a lot of buzz about them, but I never really got it. Then their sophomore album came out, and it was this dystopian, romantic masterpiece. It shattered me and only fed into my vision of love as something tragic, something that will inevitably be lost.
7. Placebo – Black Market Music: This album is the comedown after the party. It’s sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll but without the glam. But it’s also defiant. It got me through a couple of occasions when the loss of a love threw a heavy rock in my gut and wouldn’t let me rise from the water.
8. Ween – Pure Guava: No other band in my life has better mixed humor, heartfelt emotion and great musicianship so perfectly. It’s hard to pick THE Ween album, but this was my first and is among their brownest (for you Ween fans).
9. The Beatles – The White Album: This is the one Beatles album that I return to on a regular basis. I love its diversity. At the same time as “Black Market Music,” it helped me overcome some loss.
10. Cursive – Domestica: This was my introduction to Omaha’s Saddle Creek record label, so it paved the way for artists like Bright Eyes and The Faint. All three bands have had a huge impact on my life. “Domestica” is an album about the end of a sometimes violent relationship, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to this journey.