This is in response to Dominic and Tony Pattis’ FaceBook request for 25 of my most life changing records. Susie Nicholson said it best, “Making the list = 6 hours of therapy. Dominic started the list at 15 but Tony realized it would take at least 25. For me this doesn’t even scratch the surface. Records change my life every day. This is going to take a whole blog entry as it is my very personal history. In some cases a record represents several. For instance: The Beatles, Radiohead, Talking Heads, Eno, Roxy, etc.
- Kid Ory’s Creole Trombone
The second recording of it by Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five. I remember realizing my dad’s old scratchy 78s were actually fun. I was 3 or 4 and we were still a happy family. No signs of dysfunction.
- Johnny Johnson
This was Kurt Weill’s first American production. It opened in 1936. Not only is the music spectacular but it turned me onto the idea of pacifism. The protagonist throws laughing gas into a room full of generals. Their stern authority is reduced to the silliness that it is. The title was taken from the most common name on the WWI casualty list.
- Holberg Suite
This is my favorite piece by Grieg. I’ve always had post classical taste in orchestral music. Dominic’s fave was Rite of Spring but for my money it was Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. I remember my mother playing The Holberg Suite at our place in the country. It filled the whole countryside. She did the same thing with Sgt. Pepper. Just like Eleanor Rigby, I didn’t notice for years the music was all strings.
- Stormy Weather/Twist and Shout
I have to put these 2 songs together. I was six listening to my favorite song on KXOK. It was Lena Horne’s Stormy Weather. It was followed by the first Beatles song I ever heard – Twist and Shout. The whole world changed!
- Sgt. Pepper
We did it the way you’re supposed to. We bought the Strawberry Fields single first. Two weeks later we got Pepper. I’ll never forget my mother pointing out how weird the music got at the end of Strawberry Fields. I actually don’t think it aged as well as Revolver but at the time it was a mind blower!
- Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits vol. 1
This was a door into the rest of his early stuff. I took a coat hanger and wrapped it around my mother’s chromatic harmonica. Then I wrapped that around my neck, picked up my mom’s acoustic guitar and fantasized as I watched my shadow. It also turned me on to adult poetry. I remember thinking adult relationships were going to be more than I bargained for.
The jam crescendo at the end summed up their whole career for me. Here Comes the Sun got me through hard times standing on a cold corner trying to sell newspapers in the winter when I was 11.
This Simon and Garfunkel classic got me through my first painful breakup. It gave me a sense of optimism.
- A Wizard A True Star
This is still my favorite Todd Rundgren record. It proved to me that music does go on after The Beatles. Just as psychedelic!
The day it came out Dominic and I walked up to a record store on Grand that was next to a pre renovated Fox Theater. We skipped out of a class at Logos, our alternative high school. Dom and I had trench coats with a male symbol painted on the back.
It will always break my heart that such a great band with so many incredible records will only be remembered for Aqualung.
- Dreams and All That Stuff
This is my favorite Leo Kotke record. I would sit for hours practicing and recording acoustic guitar because of it.
- Birds Of Fire
The Mahavishnu Orchestra probably did more to inspire technical virtuosity and pretentiousness than any other band. Man they were fun!
- McDonald and Giles
Two guys who left King Crimson. They had all of the virtuosity and none of the pretentiousness. Kind of skiffle, kind of Beatles psychedelia. It broke my heart to read later that Ian McDonald was embarrassed by it.
- Larks Tongues in Aspic
King Crimson’s masterpiece. I don’t think any recording has ever gone farther intellectually. It probably influenced my band more than any other single record.
- Trout Mask Replica
Captain Beefheart will probably be remembered more for his paintings. A total original! This album always seems to offend listeners at first, then it creeps into their psyches. To quote the Captain, “Bold opaque melodies that would bug most people!”
- It Might Be Rose
Bob Reuter’s band The Dinosaurs made the first indie record of St. Louis’ late 70s early 80s music scene. What a great time in
- Crime of the Century
Art rock was beginning to lose favor by then but this will always be one of the most spiritual/personal albums ever made to me. Definitely part of who I am. I wish they had never made Breakfast in
Gong isn’t one of the most famous bands and it’s too bad. They used tape loops before Fripp and Eno, they were as technically proficient as Mahavishnu, and they had the sense of humor of the Bonzos. Nobody can play lead guitar like Steve Hillage and Bloomdido Glad de Brass made Rock ‘N’ Roll sax real for me again. It helped that I was into Herman Hesse at the time.
Roxy Music-pure art!!!! Song for
- Electric Shocks
Much as I love The Bonzo Dog Band, they could never hold a candle to Roger Ruskin Spear’s solo stuff. I showed up at my friend George’s house tripping when I was a teenager. He put that on and I’ve never been the same. I remember giving a long winded speech that God was somewhere lurking in humor. George was amused.
- Fear Of Music
The first of 3 favorite Talking Heads records. Eno’s contributions are obvious. I used to come home late from work at the bar and blast Memories Can’t Wait in the headphones.
- Another Green World
Eno fans always talk about the 4 great Eno pop albums. Really I think it’s only AGW and Before and After Science. The closest I’ve ever felt music came to painting.
- Hounds of Love
Kate Bush is a total inspiration. She mixes Gregorian chant, Celtic, and psychedelic seamlessly. This is one of the great LSD albums. I wish I could squeeze Peter Gabriel in here somewhere.
- 99.9 Fahrenheit Degrees
There isn’t a bad Suzanne Vega record but this is my favorite. If you get a chance check out In Liverpool.
- OK Computer
I heard Terry Gross ask Thom Yorke what he thought of critics calling Radiohead the best band in the world. He laughed at the absurdity. This album proved to me that it hasn’t all been done. My buddy Stephen Martin threw it at me when it came out. He said he thought it was something I would like. He did this with the novels Geek Love and House of the Spirits too. Everything he casually turns me onto changes my life.
That’s 25 but it doesn’t stop there obviously. What about Son Volt, Funkadelic, Peter Gabriel, Nina Simone, Cat Stevens, The Stones, U2, Roland Kirk, Miles, Prokofiev, Lead Belly, Sly, Bob Marley, Buddy Holly, Dire Straits, Tears for Fears, Elvis Costello, Lyle Lovett, XTC, Donovan, Elbow, Doves- and I could go on forever.
The picture is my autographed copy of the Dinosaurs single