I was recently tagged with this engaging little exercise on Facebook, as part of the now ever-evolving dynamic chain of notes. It made its way toward being cross-posted here because I spent a good 40 minutes writing it and am entirely strapped for content.
Think of 15 albums that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life or the way you looked at it. They sucked you in and took you over for days, weeks, months, years. These are the albums that you can use to identify time, places, people, emotions. These are the albums that no matter what they were thought of musically shaped your world.
1. Nirvana – Nevermind
My favorite album when I was 11 and still my favorite album today. The CD that convinced me to grow my hair long (for a time), and unselfconsciously bring a yo yo to class. That was big time.
2. Public Enemy – Nation of Millions
I often wish I could go back and experience what it was like to first hear “Rebel Without a Pause” without already knowing what Public Enemy was all about.
3. Weezer – Self Titled (Blue Album)
Haven’t listened to it in years, nor had much interest. But this was the first album to really own me outright for an extended period of time.
4. A Tribe Called Quest – The Love Movement
After I went on to discover Low End and Marauders, I quickly became embarrassed that this was my first true introduction to Tribe. Not exactly keeping it real. It took another 6 or 7 years of digesting Jay Dee’s prolific production output before I was able to return to this semi-early work of his and really appreciate that natural brilliance.
5. Keith Jarrett – The Melody at Night with You
My Dad gave me this, after I had dropped out of college (the first time) and was fucked up on fruit snacks and jello snack packs. Jarrett’s solo standard stuff doesn’t really rake in the same love his mega 70s solo-improv concerts do, but this album is just unmatched in that personal and restful vibe.
6. BIG – Ready to Die
Because you have to, right?
7. Radiohead – OK Computer
Kind of a default, as well. First album I ever bought because everyone at the time was saying it was the greatest ever, and the first album to deserve the immediacy of hyperbole I puked all over it.
8. Elliott Smith – Either/Or
Never really realized how much I loved this album until an iTunes plug-in calculated I’d spent over 61 hrs listening to it.
9. El-P – Fantastic Damage
Come to think of it, the experience wished for in item 2 is probably similar to the adventure of first being hit with “Tuned Mass Damper” or “Delorean.”
10. Beatles – Revolver
The first album I ever owned containing the song “For No One” was actually a Rickie Lee Jones covers compilation. This is better.
11. DJ Shadow – Endtroducing
This is the only record I know with an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records not related to sales or chart positions. (“First Full-Length Commercial Album Created Entirely From Sampled Audio.” Or something.)
12. Eric B & Rakim – Follow the Leader
Paid in Full gets all the love for breaking the ground, but this is where I first really understood the legend of Rakim, one I had spent so much time reading about in bound periodicals at rural libraries throughout New Hampshire.
13. Dangerdoom (Danger Mouse & MF Doom) – The Mouse and the Mask
Not one of my favorite albums, though it’s excellent. Not particularly ground breaking or burning up the iPod, either. But this is the first hip hop album to ever shout out somebody I know personally, so it’s on here.
14. Iron & Wine – Woman King
Technically an EP, but this set, combined with “Mating” by Norman Rush, a 2005 Op-Ed by Patricia Bauer, and a series of columns by a feminist writer in the UNH student newspaper, had a huge impact on the development of my first script, Big Potato Dictator.
15. One Be Lo – S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M
The first album post-1997 to disabuse me of the notion that hip hop’s best days laid in its past, the LP that demonstrated the continued existence of a still golden post-Golden Era of hip hop left to be uncovered in real time.