15 Great Albums or Some Such Thing

They keep passing these lists around on Facebook and I have resisted every one of them. Then I decided I wanted to do this one, but not post it on Facebook. Why? No reason. Just cuz. Screw Facebook. Here’s the premise, copied and pasted:

Think of 15 albums, CDs, LPs that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life. Dug into your soul. Music that brought you to life when you heard it. Royally affected you, kicked you in the wasu, literally socked you in the gut, is what I mean.

Now, I’m a little confused by this. Because, for example, Abbey Road was one of the first albums I ever heard as a human in this world, and it did indeed have a profound effect on me, but I don’t think it’s the best Beatles album there is. Pretty great, but still, I’d rather listen to Revolver, or really, just side 2 of Abbey Road, like I did today as a matter of fact. So is it the first time you heard something and it moved you, or is it the albums that have lasted and still continue to move you? Is it 15 Great Albums or is it 15 Great Moments? I don’t know.

But I’ll give it a go anyway, with this premise as my general guide. And in no particular order, because that’s just impossible (but as it turns out, generally chronological):

1) Tommy, The Who – This album marked the big switch for me, moving away from the simple pop music of my early teens and into a whole other realm of greatness. It also coincided with my first plucking of the guitar. I always think of this as an album–an LP, vinyl–not any other format.

2) Quadrophenia, The Who – This came slightly later, still in high school, and can be pin-pointed to a single moment in which my older brother stuck his headphones on my ears and played “Dr. Jimmy.” Huge.

3) Greatest Hits, The Doors – I’ve mentioned this before I think, but a cassette tape of this album wound up in my hands and the song “Not to Touch the Earth” scared the hell out of me. Truly profound moment in my world. I loved The Doors for a long time.

4) I, Led Zeppelin – Another cassette I had, captured forever in my memory as the soundtrack to a walk home in the snow one drunken night, headphones on, “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” and “Dazed and Confused” blasting in my ears. High school.

5) Fables of the Reconstruction, R.E.M. – Now, I would put Reckoning here except that Fables came first for me. I’m pretty sure that I got into R.E.M. right around the time this album came out, then I went back and got the first two (and Chronic Town) afterward. I think I like this album even more now than I did then.

6) Disintegration, The Cure – This album crushed me for a long time and was also the first CD I ever bought. Profoundly depressing and yet, therapeutic. The Staring at the Sea singles album is a close second to this one, as far as rocking my world, Cure-style.

7) Louder Than Bombs, The Smiths – Along with The Cure and R.E.M., this is college to me.

8.) Ten, Pearl Jam – This is the one that sparked this whole debate. Technically yes, Ten was the big one. But I really think Vitalogy was when they transcended into a higher realm. But I’ll give the credit to Ten for all that it was.

9) Nevermind, Nirvana – When I think of profound moments, this is what I think of. Even if In Utero is my favorite album, Nevermind was an explosion that changed everything. I liked having Nirvana around, and still miss that.

10) A Love Supreme, John Coltrane – I have to include this because hearing it for the first time is the closest I have come to religion. I listened to it as recently as last week, and it’s just pure bliss.

11) Daydream Nation, Sonic Youth – Another cassette. Someone taped it for me and it totally blew me away. Changed the way I looked at my guitar too.

12) Dig Me Out, Sleater-Kinney – I saw them live first, I think, but it was this album and these songs that killed me.

13) OK Computer, Radiohead – I was into Radiohead at the time but OK Computer was the huge leap into greatness for them. “Paranoid Android” may be one of the greatest songs I’ve ever seen played live.

14) In an Expression of the Inexpressible, Blonde Redhead – I first heard a song off of this album on WXRT, of all places. It was one of those late night shows where they dare to play something that’s not The Pretenders or Talking Heads, and the song was “Distilled” from this album. Wow. One of my favorite existing bands. Top five.

15) The Soft Bulletin, Flaming Lips – Another album that I saw live first, at Cubby Bear, of all places again. It was some Guinness-sponsored thing, I think XRT had something to do with it too! But the show was amazing, and the album remains the greatest thing they’ve done, in my opinion.

What I’m leaving out: too many good albums. London Calling, by The Clash (vinyl I got from my aunt); Diary, Sunny Day Real Estate; Gish, Smashing Pumpkins; Eye, Robyn Hitchcock (vinyl I bought in Madison); Loveless, My Bloody Valentine; XO, Elliott Smith; The Lonesome Crowded West, Modest Mouse. Oh, I could go on. But I won’t.


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