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the honest music critic

Now that the end of the year is barreling down on us, ger ready for hundreds of pretentious music snobs, writing for pretentious magazines, giving you lists with titles like Albums from 2004 You Better Own If You Want to Be Cool and it’s stupid brother If You Own These Recent Albums You’re a Dork or an Asshole or Both.

Yea, so I write a lot of lists myself. But I don’t phrase the titles in such a way that I’m pointing my finger at you and calling you an idiot for not liking my music, nor do I word my accompanying article in a fashion that says I am superior to you in taste and intellect because my record collection can beat up your record collection.

I’m not much for year end lists, anyhow. If you narrow yourself down to one particular year, sometimes you’ll get stuck with 365 days of sucky music and, then what? Instead of a top ten, you have a top five? Or a top negative ten? Yea, there are a lot of Worst Albums of the Year lists, but they read more like the author’s middle finger salute to music he hates, rather than a critical look at albums that were supposed to be the Next Big Thing and turned into the Next Big Drink Coaster.

Besides, half of these year end lists consists of bands you and I have never heard of. They’re bands that you only know of if your indie cred is up to date, bands that no one in your circle of friends has ever heard of but every High Fidelity-type record store employee raves about, and you wonder if indie music is like a dog whistle and you can only hear it if you’re wearing an oversized sweater, black rimmed glasses and a permanent ironic smile.

My biggest rock critic/music list pet peeve is the use of the word IMPORTANT in any list title. Just because you think it’s important doesn’t make it so. Maybe you believe that Nevermind was the Most Important Record Ever because it paved the way for all the grunge bands that followed, but there are millions of us who hate if for that very reason.

You know what I want in a critic’s list? Honesty. Don’t give me some standard pretentious claptrap as to why Rolling Stone’s Exile on Main Street ranks right up there with the discovery of penicillin. Be honest. You love the album because it’s what was playing on the stereo when you finally got that goofy looking chick from the record store to make out with you. I can get behind that. That’s important. Setting industry standards and enlightening legions of 12 year olds with guitars takes a back seat to flashbacks of banging MaryAnne Brady every time you hear Tumbling Dice.

Just once I would love to see a smug critic put something totally mainstream on his list amidst all the earnest, self-aware bands. Like, right in between Songs Written on a Bleak Afternoon in Prague and This Album Title is Really an Obscure Reference to a 13th Century Philosopher, there would be the latest offering from Papa Roach, with the explanation that it makes the critic feel like a pre pubescent boy just discovering his dick, and he likes that.

Why, yes. I am going to put up or shut up.

Some of my most important albums ever and why they are important to me:

Stabbing Westward, Darkest Days
Because there is nothing like listening to the pathetic whining of someone with a stalkerish obsession with a girl that dumped him to remind you of just how pathetic and whiny and stalkerish you were when you were dumped. There’s nothing like reliving past bouts of self-hatred to make you appreciate the fact that you don’t hate yourself quite so much anymore.

Little Feat - Dixie Chicken
Because it reminds me of that summer we spent eating mescaline and sometimes, flashbacks rock.

Type O Negative - October Rust
Because it makes me horny. Hey, I said I’d give you honesty.

Tool - Undertow
This album was in constant rotation on my stereo in October of 1996, which just so happens to be around the time that I kicked my then husband out of the house. Good times, good times.

Pantera - Vulgar Display of Power
Because it stokes my hatred for you. And I live off of deep, black hatred for humanity. It’s what keeps my soul from shriveling up and dying.

Bloodhound Gang - One Fierce Beer Coaster
Because I have the sense of humor of a twelve year old and I’m not afraid to admit it or revel in it.

Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral
Because wallowing in angry misery is a favorite hobby of mine, right up there with opening old wounds and stabbing myself in the heart repeatedly.

Oasis - (What’s the Story) Morning Glory
Because listening to this reminds me that deep inside, I am not as hardcore as you think I am. We should all face our internal wimpiness every so often. Champagne Supernova, baby.

Faith No More - Album of the Year
Because, despite all of the wallowing and hating I do, despite all my idiosyncrasies and neurotic behavior, my husband loves me.

I'm sure I could do this all day, but lunch is waiting. And if you're going to tell me yours, be honest.

Update: You people are LAME. I said honest. I don't care if an album has good guitar riffs or sparkling vocals. I can read that shit in Spin magazine, for the love of jeebus. I don't want to hear what you think of the bass lines, I want to hear that you like an album because you masturbated to it every night during tenth grade. Balls, people! Grow some!


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference the honest music critic:

» Stupid list, why do we like you? from IgwanaRob
I was going to simply reply to Michelle's great rant post about stupid music lists, but I decided that it would be way too long, and too boring to leave over there. She puts it best:Just once I wou... [Read More]

» I Can Definately Do That from JimSpot
Now, here's an exercise I can get behind.... the honest music critic Just once I would love to see a... [Read More]

» Musical Necessities from suburban blight
Michele wrote a post the other day about all of those end-of year lists that seem to be de rigeur for music critics everywhere; you know, the old 'Ten Most Important Albums of 1997' or whenever, the list that every... [Read More]

» most important albums ever from Ramblings of an Anonymous Coward
over on asmallvictory, michele has a mini-rant about wanting to s a more honest music critic, one that doesn't carry the normal music industry spiel prattling on about bass-lines, smooth transitions, and tunes that make you want to dance.... [Read More]


I kinda like my Spongebob album :-)

Hysetria, Def Leppard
This album came out right before my senior year of HS and my senior year of HS was the best of the the bunch (because it was the last)

Metal Health, Quiet Riot
My first "Heavy Metal" album

Ah Via Musicom, Eric Johnson
Because it is just flat out great guitar playing!!

Frogstomp, Silverchair
Catharsis is good

The Jazz Singer, Neil Diamond
I was 11 and it was the first concert I ever went to.

Because it stokes my hatred for you.

Aw, gee, you're making me blush. :)

White Zombie - Astro-Creep 2000
Summer of '95 (in between high school and college). I met some cool people and this album was one we blasted.

Yes - Big Generator
First concert.

Dream Theater - Images and Words
The first of many awesome prog metal albums that I purchased. I remember playing this one in an empty dorm room in my junior year of college. My roommate, who wasn't very fond of bathing, had just left.

Heavy Metal - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
My introduction to heavy metal and one of the greatest riffs ever (Sammy Hagar's Heavy Metal). No idea how Donald Fagen ended up here.

Guns & Roses - Appetite for destruction.
Because i used to do a little but a little wouldnt do it so a little got more and more...

Definitely Oasis WTSMG - one of the few albums I had on cassette which made the cut for the upgrade.

Live - Throwing Copper
Epic is one of those "play it over and over 'till you're sick of it" songs, y'know?

U2 - Best Of's
I tried to nail it down to a specific album, but it ended up being a several-way tie.

Pearl Jam - Ten
Alice in Chains - MTV Unplugged

My staples for the typical workday.

Green Day - Dookie
For those mellow days when you hate the world. Honestly, I love that three musicians can generate such full-sounding music.

Barenaked Ladies - Stunt
All I can say in my defense is that I liked them before they were popular.

Oh, and some RHCP, too.

Oh, and of course there are stories behind all of these, but it would be rude to hijack your blog.

Man, if you people really like these albums, you’re dorks or assholes or both.


I like a lot of mainstream bands, but the vast majority of them are not of recent origin. When the mainstream became Limp Bizkit and Eminem, I was left behind. There's absolutely nothing weird or strange or ultra-hip about the sound of bands like the Groovie Ghoulies, it's just that basic, fun rock & roll itself is now largely ouside of the mainstream. No matter how deliciously great their songs are, it's an uphill battle for any authentic rock & roll band to get beyond indie status these days.

One recent big-selling band that I am actually pretty fond of is Jet.

Oasis? Oh, dear.

Michele, that was an awesome post. I'm still laughing about the record-elite discovering thier dicks to the new Papa Roach offering!

Lynyrd Skynyrds Greatest Hits:
It was playing when I totalled my first car, the first time I got so drunk I threw up, the night my first grandparent died and I just went around drunk and breaking shit, and the only time I ever hooked up with a girl who was considerably younger than me. Basically, it really makes me feel like a dumbass redneck.

Nirvana Unplugged
I always used to play it before something really crazy was going to happen. Everytime I moved, took a trip, went to a funeral, dumped someone, quit a job, anything like that. It was calming, the words didn't mean shit, it just kept my heart from exploding.

There are more, but fuck this, I have my own blog.

Which I choose to ignore.

I was trying to limit this to 10 records, but the list kept growing, so indulge me for a minute. This list certainly dates me, bad. Oh well, I'm going to my 25th high school reunion next week, so what the hell...

1) The Clash - London Calling. Earth-shatteringly great from end to end. The soundtrack of 1980.

2) Elvis Costello: Armed Forces. So beautifully produced, it makes me cry.

3) The Ramones: The Ramones. Where were you when music changed?

4) Bob Marley: Babylon By Bus. OK so it's a live album of hits, not a single album, but there's no denying the boundless talent of an artist at the peak of his game.

5) The Replacements: Tim. Stunning display of rock and alchohol mixed to perfection. "Here Comes a Regular" is the best loser song EVER.

6) Frank Sinatra: The Capitol Years. Frank. 'Nuff said.

7) Nick Lowe: Labour of Lust. "Cruel to be Kind", indeed.

8) Paul Westerberg: 14 Songs. Paul gets moderately sober and puts The replacements behind him. Classic.

9) Midnight Oil: Diesel and Dust. Get past the left of Marx politics, and this album just ROCKS.

10) REM: Murmur. Gorgeous songs, unintelligible lyrics, no filler. Almost makes me forgive Michael Stipe for becoming a world-class asshole. Take a bath, already.

11) XTC: English Settlement. Stunning display of talent, great songs.

12) Oasis: (What's the Story) Morning Glory? See Michelle's comments.

13) Violent Femmes: Violent Femmes. Simple songs done right. Stands the test of time. Marks me as a geek of extraordinary proportions.

14) Sugar: Copper Blue. Bob MOuld leaves Husker Du behind and gets down to business. Darkly inspiring. See also Bob Mould's "Workbook".

15) The Police: Outlandos d'Amour. Own this for "Roxanne" alone, but the rest of the album is so damn good, it hurts.

16) kd lang: Absolute Torch and Twang. The most beautiful voice I've ever heard.

17) The B-52's: The B-52's. THE consummate party album. If you don't dance to this, you're already dead.

18) The Clash: The Clash (Import). Anger management.

19) The Hoodoo Gurus: Mars Needs Guitars! Worth it for the album title alone. Great surf music. Hugely underrated band from Australia.

20) Joe Jackson: Big World. Great production, great songs, Joe goes all kazz on us. Excellent record

Cheap Trick "In Color"
I was asst mgr in an 1812 Records on the south side of Milwaukee and this album came out the day Elvis Died.There were a bunch of older dames waiting on the afternoon shipment to see if any more Elvis records came in,I ignored them and slapped this one on the store turntable and smiled.

Blondie- Autoamerican, the first album I really, really bought with my own money.

Run-DMC, King of Rock, because my friends and I used to drive around rapping along, even before that scene in "CB-4."

ICE-T, Rhyme Pays, same deal but we thought we were real cool because of the song, "Sex"

B-52's, Cosmic Thing. "Tin Roof, Rusted." What else can you say, really?

and the winner-

Taylor Dayne, "Tell it to my Heart" because I bought my girlfriend in 10th grade tickets to her concert and she ended up breaking up with me the week before. So I took someone else. Bitch.

MKH just reminded me:
I will always love you by whitney 'I smoke crack now' Houston. I hate that song, but whenever I hear it I am immediately taken back to my first school dance and kissing the principal's daughter. What a goober I used to be!

Used to be? Who are you kidding?

Well, one of my favorite recent albums is The Rising by Springsteen. That's a pretty deep wallow. Frankly, I can't make a list of favorite albums without Bruce taking up about half. Even if he is a pinko.

My favorite album list begins and ends with Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Hell. I lost my virginity to that album...several times.

In fact, that was my "secret weapon" the way Led Zeppelin IV was Damone's. However, mine tended to work better.

White Zombie - Devil Music Vol. 1.
This was our KISS. The righteous in our midwestern city were opposed to the demonic suggestions of the music, artwork, shows, etc. White Zombie came to town and thousands of people had a prayer vigil outside the civic center for all of us. (By the way, thanks for that. I felt it, I really did. No wait; what I felt was the heat from the giant flames on stage!) We saw through the devil in the music, knew it was just an image, and the music rocked. Hard. Hot ass bass player chick (Sean Yseult). I was a bass player. Maybe we'd hook up someday.

Pearl Jam - Ten
For the first year, I hated it. What's this crap? He's not singing, he's just yelling. Nothing rhymes.
Then it grew on me; then I learned to play the enitre CD on bass. This was my buttrock-to-angstrock conduit. I had been transformed.

Metallica - Ride The Lightning
Before the aforementioned transformation, I had been transformed from fat geek to fat party kid with the help of this CD. 18, driving around, drinking with friends in the car. Also 'bell tolls' was first song learned on bass. Metallica was no longer just a patch on that kid's jean jacket in foods class that smelled like smoke.

The Cult - Sonic Temple
Hey, it's still OK to listen to rock in the 90s that was made in the 80s! A strange girl (strange meaning stranger, not wierd) - friend of a friend - and I had sex in my car with this CD playing. She was impressed by 1. Me owning this CD and 2. my ACT score. So that's all it takes!?!? Hey, you wanted honesty.

Rage Against The Machine - Self Titled
Anger, anger, anger. Slayer is loud and fast, and I love them for it, but Rage is dripping with anger. My guess is that Zach De La Roca had to replace his spit-soaked foam mic cover after every show.

Tool - Undertow
Not pandering, whoring, or looking for any sort of acceptance whatsoever by mentioning one that is on your list, Michele

I listen to this disc at least twice a week. I have in the car, at work, and at home. I remember thinking it was at once strange, likeable, hardcore music done by talented musicians. I loved the videos. It reminded me that music will continue to change, and from that, good things will come. Not all the good music had yet been written.

N.W.A. - Staright Outta Compton
Yep, for white kids, we knew and loved our gangsta rap. My mom, reading the paper on the way to church one day, looks at me over the seat and asked "You don't have any NWA music, do you?" Why no, mom. Just don't look in my music collection, K? Just accept this nervous answer blindly. Thanks. It was a watermark for what I could get away with. And like most teenagers, we loved the loud bass.

After your Update:

Steely Dan's "Can't Buy a Thrill"
and it was eighth and ninth grade if you must know.

"Children of The Sun" by Billy Thorpe because I had a set of KILLER Senheiser headphones, Boones Farm, and various and sundry other party supplies...often followed up or preceded immediately with Rush's "2112"...shuddup...they were good headphones and those albumns made my brain dance.

Meatloaf's "Bat Out Of Hell" because NOTHING is better to make out to than "Hot Summer Night"...with the possible exception of a good live version of "Because the Night" and that's Springsteen's version, not Smith's or (gack) Natalie Marchant's.

want to hear that you like an album because you masturbated to it every night during tenth grade

Blondie - Parallel Lines
Debbie Harry's voice is auditory Viagra.

Mike Oldfield - QE2
because Maggie Reilly's vocals on QE2 are auditory Cia|is

Pearl Jam, Vs.- I must have listened to this non-stop for about two months my junior year of HS. It just seemed to define that year of my life for me.

Old 97's, Too Far to Care- There is a song on here for any of my many moods. It was my symbolic "Welcome to the Real World" CD, as I listened to it throughout my college graduation trip to vegas.

2Pac, Greatest Hits- Cheating, I know. But it's got the three quentisential aspects of the greatest-ever rapper: socially aware side (Keep your head up), party side (I Get Around), and gangsta side (Hit'em Up).

Foo Fighters, The Colour and the Shape- Because Everlong will always be my favorite song.

Robert Earl Keen, Walking Distance- Because it's just the right blend of Texas twang and mainstream mellow.

In no particular order:

Never Mind the Bollocks - Sex Pistols:
Always takes me back to that club in London when I was still in high school ogling Siouxsie's naked breasts as she made her way through the scene with more brass than the Royal Navy. I actually hit on her. She laughed in my face and called me a wanker. I was in love.

Hell Bent for Leather - Judas Priest:
Well, VA and I would sit across from each other while this was on the turntable at full volume, trading shots of Jameson's till the bottle was finished.

Grateful Dead - Just about anything... Because I stopped counting shows at 100.

Angst In My Pants - Sparks: First show I ever saw at the 9:30 Club in DC was Sparks. It was a hell of a time and I got to hang with the band after the show. They autographed an old 1 Pound note that I had from England.

Exodus - Bob Marley & The Wailers: I don't really know why, but I ended up scoring after playing this. Mystifys me to this day.

Dixe Chicken - Little Feat: Ditto, but in a rural setting.

Cities In Dust: Siouxsie and The Banshees: Well. Cuz I saw her tits. Duh. That engenders loyalty, let me tell you.

Captain Fantastic & The Brown Dirt Cowboy - Elton John: Virginity? Seeya!

Welcome To My Nightmare - Alice Cooper: First concert.

Okay, here comes the strange ones:

Blue Oyster Cult, "Agents of Fortune"- When the Little Blonde Bitch fucked me over AGAIN and I actually DID go stalker for a while, somehow it seemed that "This Ain't The Summer of Love" and Alice Cooper's "No More Mr. Nice Guy" were the only songs my car cassette player would actually play... the Soundtrack of Hell. Bad times, but I survived them.

"Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack" (the ORIGINAL, with Murray Head as Judas and Ian Gillam from Deep Purple as J.C.): For years, the only religous experience I would subscribe to. On Sundays, my father used to put this on the record player and lie on the couch, listening and smoking cigars until the whole room had a layer of blue haze. I can still do the entire libretto from memory- and will, unless restrained.

'Weird' Al Yankovic, "Dare to be Stupid"- One of my buddies in High School got dumped by his girlfriend and he, me, and another friend of ours sang "One More Minute With You" at her in three- part- harmony. Damn, we were jerks.

Jefferson Airplane, "White Rabbit" (just the one song). My mother used to sing me to sleep with this one.

More later, maybe/

Let's see -- I love One Fierce Beer Coaster

The ones that have had most impact on me...unfortunately, I can't remember the names of them all.

There's Sting: Dream of the Blue Turtles. This is the first (and only) LP I ever bought. I loved =Russians= as a kid (I grew up in the 80s, and every week I thought for we were gonna get nuked. That fear kinda left by 1986 or so)

TMBG: Flood. I listened to that one over and over and over and over...

Howard Jones, I don't remember the name of the album... and Depeche Mode, again don't remember the album. That was my teen angst period.

Now, I've got Greatest Hits CDs I listen to the most often... Johnny Cash and Weird Al Yankovic. Because they're fun to listen to.

Eurythmics,"Touch": Really their best ever. Intimate, but chilly. Familiar, but strange. Standout tracks: "No Fear, No Hate, No Pain (No Broken Hearts), "Aqua", "Here Comes the Rain Again"

Prince, "1999": The template against which all modern R&B has been constructed. And lots of screaming, simulated sex, and single-entendres. Standout tracks: "D.M.S.R.", "Lady Cab Driver", "All The Critics Love U in New York"

Radiohead, "OK Computer": All the rage, alienation, and despair you have ever felt and then some. It's so good of some musicians to live in Hell so we can visit them there when we need it. Standouts: "Lucky", "Exit Music for a Film", "Airbag"

Tori Amos, "Scarlet's Walk": An audio novel. Vast, sprawling, full of yearning, rage, and sadness. Standouts: "Taxi Ride", "Carbon", "Gold Dust"

Yaz, "Upstairs at Eric's": I smoked my first cigarette, kissed my first boy, and danced in a gay bar for the first time to songs from this album. Standout tracks: "Situation", "Goodbye 70's"

The Rolling Stones, "Let it Bleed": I came late to the Stones, but that doesn't make this album any less gritty, sexy, hot, dirty, and drugged up. Standouts: "Gimme Shelter", "Monkey Man", "Live With Me"

Jeremy Enigk, "Return of the Frog Queen": This is the weirdest album I have ever loved. Never gave two shits about Sunny Day Real Estate, but Enigk's solo material sounds like what would happen if Syd Barrett joined the Beatles.

And that's all I can think of right now.

Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon

The only album I ever wanted to cover (with my band) from beginning to end.

I don't even care if people watch The Wizard of Oz while we do it. The weirder, the better.

But man, where are we gonna find a woman to cover Claire Torrey's vocals?

JoeB and I are on the same wavelength. But I would add:

XTC Skylarking (liked it more than English Settlement).

English Beat - Special Beat Service, the soundtrack of one summer in high school (God, I'm old)

And Michele is right -- Tool Undertow rocks like no tomorrow.

I just read Michele's admonition to spice up the list with personal, nay intimate, reasons for liking said albums. So here goes:

Femmes and English Beat are simple: they were introduced to me by a girl whose pants I (and every other guy) wanted to get down, so I feigned intense dislike of them for the sole purpose of letting her warm me up to her Brit-pop post-punk sensibilities. It almost worked, too.

XTC and the others are just college tunes when I was going to a lot of parties. There's also a whole slew of Latin dance beats from that period (Juan Luis Guerra y 440) that I like but I know are not good in a conventional sense, even though for me they all sing the song of amor.

Tool is the album of the summer of 1996 I spent in Seattle feeling really pissed off about the fact that I dropped a fat wad into law school and hated the whole wretched mess. Which reminds me -- I have to get that on CD. The career ambivalence remains, and I need to re-connect, as it were.

Danzig IV - Senior year of high school with the craziest teenage love affair ever. 'Let it be captured' was our song. Played it on repeat for nearly a year. Couldn't listen to it after the breakup.

John Mayer, Room for Squares - Three years ago during personal identity crisis. Still stirs up depressed and confused emotions, along with a longing for the dreams I was too afraid to pursue.

Alison Krauss, New Favorite - This beautiful voice of bluegrass always reminds me of my dad and the comfort of falling asleep to his voice and guitar.

Tori Amos, Little Earthquakes - The year I let go of my anger and realized I was no longer a victim. Always reminds me of who I really am.

Faith No More, "The Real Thing." And no, not just for "Epic." Memorable because: I had a huge crush on Mike Patton, I was the only one listening to such bands in my high school (at the time), and the chorus of "Falling to Pieces" was me personified. I wore out one cassette and was well on my way to wearing out the next when I finally moved to the world of CDs. "The Real Thing" is still, I think, my favorite song of all time.

And to prove I'm not just sucking up to the blogger...I have liked each of FNM's following albums less than their predecessors (its predecessor?). Don't hate them, just don't LOVE them. Of course, I'm not 16 any more. Maybe "The Real Thing" was my first love, musically speaking, and nothing else will ever quite measure up...

Eagles' "Best of my love" was the soundtrack to my first, um, experience.

First concert was the Carpenters on their "Now and Then" tour.

"When they get to the part where he's breaking her heart, it can really make me cry."

Yup, I'm that old ;)

Newly-wed Suli

Godflesh - Streetcleaner

Because everybody needs an album to sacrifice goats to.

Brian Eno - Discreet Music

Its soothing tones help me relax and sleep

Donnas - Turn 21

Because chick rock rocks!

New Order - Substance

Because I can dance and cry at the same time

Neurosis - Enemy Of The Sun

Because if I ever wear out my copy of Streetcleaner, this will do nicely in the goat sacrifice game.

I bought Pantera's "A Vulgar Display of Power" back when it came out. I had just had my heart ripped out of my chest when the girl I thought I was dating told me I really wasn't. Pantera made it better.

I was going to post a reply, but this is going to take to long :)

Err, so anyway - before I hit that post button, what I meant to do was post a link

response to Michele's update

I was honest with my picks and reasons for liking them I just didn't have time to go into the greatest of detail. When I said great guitar playing I meant that Eric Johnson's playing throughout that album really spoke to me. Sorry for not being specific enough.

As for music that I listened to while masturbating during the tenth grade that would be none. Music was just way to distracting while you were going thru the Victoria's Secret catalog. ;)

My memorable albumns growing up were because of the albumn covers.

REO Speedwagon - High Infidelity

I couldn't believe that my mom let me buy it because it had a woman in her BRA AND PANTIES on the albumn cover!

Scorpioins - Love at First Sting

Another scandalous cover featuring a LOT of female thigh and some dude tattooing her "way up there".

Up at the top of my list is Irish Heartbeat, from Van Morrison and The Cheiftans. If I have to explain it, you aren't going to get it, but I can point you in the right direction.

Go get The Best of Charlotte Church, and listen to her sing "Lagan Love" and "She Moved Through the Fair". It's beautiful, and you will likely enjoy it. Then put on Irish Heartbeat and listen to Van do the same two songs.

I swear, the Celts invented Blues. I love this album because it makes you feel. That, and Van Morrison is just The MAN.

Most of these albums were part of my top 10 metal albums of all time contribution to Martin Popoff's tome Top 500 Metal Albums of All Time.

First of all the non-metal: Wagner's Ring Cycle


Number of the Beast: Iron Maiden While I had heard the previous albums with D'iano, Bruce's voice was just the final bit needed in that great band.

s/t (1987 in the UK): Whitesnake Slick bluesy hard rock with a healthy dose of innuendo. While I like Coverdale during his DP days, this album just summed up all that I liked about hard rock. It has had a profound influence on both my writing, my signing and my music.

Back in Black AC/DC: from the opening number to the end this album grabbed me from the first listen. The first rock album I ever had, given to me on my birthday. Like the above album, it has had a profound influence on both my writing, my signing and my music.

Back in Black Therion The overwhelming Wagnerian magnificence of this lot's releases is quite stunning. They take everything that makes Opera good and combine it with everything that makes metal good. Quite simply this band get better and better with every release.

Peace Sells but whose Buying Megadeth This is thrash metal at its best. Dave's growl is intelligible and menacing, with amazing rifting...it kicks arse.

s/t Metallica This is one where Metallica got it all together and provided perfection. A great album from a great band that is so sadly in decline. This is the album to convince your mates of the glory of metal.

Pyromania Def Leppard This is rock pop done perfectly. Mutt Lange and the band get it spot on. I had been listening to the band since On Through the Night but this one just got it totally right.

Physical Graffiti Led Zeppelin Kashmir...nuff said.

2112 Rush This is an amazing album but a very talented band. While at first I loathed Geddy Lee's voice, after much insistence by my older mates, this one got under my skin and made me a Rush fan through and through.

Operation: Mindcrime The metal concept album hits it peak and so does the band. This is just stunning end to end, can never be topped. It still wows me now like it did they day I first heard it.

Dark Side of the Moon The ultimate in laid-back contemplation album. The first times I listened to it, I feel asleep in quite contentment. This is another album that is still as stunning today as they day it was released.

Appetite for Destruction This is hard driving sleeze metal as it should be...even the damn ballad has a killer riff in it. The best debut of 80s, without a doubt. Not a dog on there...I still adore this album as much as I did when I first played it on vinyl at WMHB radio on my radio show.

Night Songs Cinderalla Sleezy bluesy glam rock at its ultimate best. Kiefers voice is powerful and scratchy as hell, but it works with the music. Trouble is (like Thunder's Backstreet Symphony debut) the only way this band had to go was down. There is no freaking way they could top this album. Forget bloody Poison, this lot do something similar with that the added addition of real talent.

I'm gonna be honest here, but don't tell any of my buddies:
The Partridge Family Album - I had both albums but this is the one with "I think I Love You" on it. I loved that song as a kid and sang it in my head to my 3rd grade girlfriend Melanie.
Kiss - Dressed to Kill - the start of an obsession. At the time I was into Led Zeppelin but this album was talking about sex and girls and partying. Yes I am a Kiss Freak. I buy the albums, I was in the Kiss Army, I jumped around my room with my guitar sticking my tongue out. And I've dressed myself and my kids up in makeup and costume.
Genesis - Trick of the Tail - my first concert ever was Genesis on this tour in Austin TX. My first time to smoke pot as well. I was in awe of the whole thing at the time.
AC/DC - Highway to Hell - When I was in a band we played alot of AC/DC. I am told I sing these just like Bon Scott. I also sang old Rush and Judas Priest.
Judas Priest - Sin After Sin - the start of another obsession of everything Priest related. At one time I could sing all the old Priest songs and we played them. We rocked out little town of Killeen TX.

The B-52's - The B-52's - many a weekend night was spent out in a secluded field participating in underage drinking and pogoing to Rock Lobster. A gathering of teens and pre-teens drinking and rocking.

A few, off the top of my head:

Kansas: Leftoverture
Because "Carry On, Wayward Son" is still one of the greatest prog rock tunes ever written...heck, it's one of the greatest tunes ever written, period. I recognized right way, from the first time I heard that song, that Kerry Livgren and I were on the same metaphysical vibe. My brother and I went out and bought everything else they had released. The soundtrack to my teens.

Jimmy Buffet: Coconut Telegraph
The soundtrack to the summer I spent pining after a girl who was one of my best friends but who I knew would never be anything more. Years later, "Little Miss Magic" became a lullaby I sang to my children.

Resurrection Band: Colours
Most of you probably have certain prejudicial images in mind when you hear the phrase "Christian rock." And believe me, I understand...an awful lot of it is just plain bad, musically. But every track on this album is convicting, thoughtful, or spiritually uplifting...and every track rocks. Hard. With maximum extreme rockage. I'm not talking Stryper, folks; I'm talking something closer to AC/DC. I wore out the tape, singing in the car to the title track, to "City Streets," and to "Beggar in the Alleyway." I was SO relieved to learn that, as a young convert, I did not have to resign myself to the Bill Gaither Trio. After all, why should the Devil have all the good music? (And you get brownie points if you can tell me who made that line famous.)

David Wilcox: Into the Mystery
The album that has helped, more than almost anything else, to lift me out of the depression that has dominated the last few years of my life. Sometimes I forget that there IS still hope...Dave's music reminds me.

Queen, "A Night at the Opera". Listened to it over and over and over.

Garbage, "Version 2.0". Listened to it over and over and over.

Planet P, "Pink World". Listened to it over and over and over and over.

Beatles, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". Listened to it so much that I can play the entire album in my head at any given moment.

Julian Lennon, "Help Yourself". Listened to it so much that I have flashbacks.

David Bowie, "Black Tie, White Noise". Listened and listened and listened.

My reasons for all of the above: I get obsessed with the hooks, and need to listen to them until I get worn out on them. No other explanation. I could add another fifty albums to this list without breathing hard.

These are always fun. Let an old geezer have his shot. My favorites (for personal reasons):

Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Brain Salad Surgery - Out of the 10,000 or so records that have passed through my hands, this is the one I’ve spun the most (and still never tire of). My friend Chickie turned me on to ELP’s “Trilogy” Lp back in the 7th grade - he played the 8-track - when I first heard their version of “Hoedown” I was completely hooked. ELP was coming to town on their Brain Salad Surgery tour, and Chickie and I had bought our tickets. Walking to the Civic Center where they were to appear, we discussed the horrific possibility of some hippie “passing us a doobie” - what would we do? Chickie said he’d hit it and pass it. I said I’d politely say “no thanks, man.” Didin’t want to get hooked. ELP was only my second concert. Uriah Heep was my first (am I ancient or what?). After the incredible show I went out and bought Brain Salad Surgery which, to this very day, has gotten me through more personal hard times than I can count (“Trilogy” gets a close second). It was the soundtrack to my life for about 2 years where I played it almost daily! I was obsessed with the goofy, overblown techno-medeival imagery of the disc, and felt soooooo cool every time I listened to it....

Rick Wakeman - “Journey to the Center of the Earth” - The first time I heard this was the first time I ever dropped acid. Fall of 1975. My cousin Steve procured two hits of purple microdot. We were at a weekend family Thanksgiving gathering - we spent the night in the attic of my grandfather’s workshop (“PawPaw’s Shop”) with a coal burning pot-bellied stove on the bottom floor. We had supplies - bottles of Coke, an 8-track player (the kind that was sort of a book-hinged unit that opened up to reveal the two speakers) and a few tapes - Queen - “Queen II,” Manfred Mann’s Earth Band - “Solar Fire,” Bad Company - 1st LP, and that incredible Rick Wakeman tape. Tripped my nads off. Drank the same bottle of Coke about 40 times, but it would never empty. Went downstairs and stoked the fire in the stove until we got the poker jammed in the grate sideways and couldn’t shut the door, as smoked filled the building. Opened the windows. Laughed. A lot. Talked to an owl that hangin’ out in the poplar tree from the upstairs window. It was a wonderful time. The Wakeman tape was SO HEAVY! Acid revealed all the secrets of life to me, but I forgot them by the next morning, and returned to being my same old dumb self. Ran to the National Record Mart the next day and bought the Wakeman vinyl LP.

The Tubes - “The Tubes” - Great LP - played it over and over on the weekend that my first girlfriend dumped me. God, did I ever love her. She and her friend Teresa had met some Greek fellows at a local university, and I suppose that the attraction of College-aged guys of Meditaranean descent with a cool van was just too much. They were going to visit them that weekend. I begged her not to go (like a total pussy). She went. I lost her forever. Cried all weekend and played my Tubes album. Bought The Tubes “Young and Rich” the very next weekend. Stayed up for 48 hours tripping on acid and spinning it on my Mom’s Motorola stereo console (she was out of town) and feeling the most creative burst of energy in my life. Filled up about 30 pages of my sketchbook with nonsensical (but extremely detailed) drawings.

The Monochrome Set - “Love Zombies” - The most personal LP of my life; my desert-island disc. There’s no question that these guys recorded this LP SPECIFICALLY for me. I’m as goofy about it as those nutballs who claim that news anchors are speaking to them from their TV sets. This LP has gotten me through virtually any hard time I’ve experienced in the last 20 years. If I feel like shit, I can put it on and feel the optimism wash over me. I love this fucking record more than just about anything, and have a copy of it in my fire safe. It’s happy music! (No fucking kidding!)

UFO - “Force It” - Moved to a new area in the middle of freaking nowhere. New school. Didn’t know a soul. Stayed in my room and beat off a lot (there’s yer masturbation reference, Michele). Played this UFO LP constantly. Alternated with Kansas’ “Masque” LP and Sweet’s “Give Us a Wink” LP. Felt alienated. Got through it.

Cheap Trick “In Color” - My best friend in High School was killed in an automobile accident. I had just started an amazingly shitty job driving a flower delivery truck. My friend Bob (who got me the shitty job) went out and bought me copies of Cheap Trick’s “In Color” and Kiss’ “Kiss Alive II,” which were released the same day - he knew that I wanted to get them both, and it was an incredibly thoughtful gesture that I’ll never forget. Took them home that night and played the Cheap Trick record. I knew that my friend Kenny would have loved that disc. I was going to attend his funeral the next day. I cried like a fucking baby for about 3 hours, and just kept flipping the record over and over. It really did help me sort through the emotional loss.

Frank Zappa & Captain Beefheart “Bongo Fury”/The Dictators “Manifest Destiny”/Ian Dury & The Blockheads “New Boots and Panties”/Starz “Starz”/Blue Oyster Cult “On Your Feet Or On Your Knees” - One summer my mom went on vacation, leaving the house to me for an entire week. It was a weeklong party for my friends and I. Just met a new girl who turned out to be a huge sexual awakening for my silly teenage self. It was a solid week of sex, drugs, debauchery, sex, partying, sex and sex. One of these records were always playing. It might have been just about the best week of my life. I almost overdosed on sheer fun and pleasure.

Sex Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks” - This record really did change my life. It changed my perceptions of the world (real or imagined), and started me on a decade-long obsession with punk rock music and culture.

Material “Memory Serves” - I started working at a record store in Columbus, Ohio in 1983, just moving up from West Virginia. Made lots of new friends. Everyone at the store were experts in certain genres of music Jazz, Blues, soundtracks, you name it (I was the punk expert). We’d often fight about what records we’d play on the store’s system. We’s all veto the one guy who wanted to spin Howard Jones records, but there was one record that we’d all loved, would always jointly agree on - Material’s “Memory Serves.” The weirdest chunky jazz funk ever. Christ, we played that record thousands of times - I could play you the entire album on the kazoo, note for note - that’s how well I know it. It was a very good, very happy time of my life, and this record always recalls those happy feelings for me.

There are about a thousand more examples. It’s funny, but I seem to chronologically arrange eras of my life by certain cultural markers - music, movies, toys, etc., moreso that dates. I can strongly relate to your obsessive traits, Michele!

Selected bits:

Frank Zappa -- "Roxy & Elsewhere", because Frank recorded the all-time funniest shit, ever, in rock music, and it never got better than "Roxy".

Deep Purple -- "Made In Japan", the single best live heavy-metal album ever recorded. And I wore it out on 8-track in my '49 Plymouth.

Doobie Bros. -- "What Once Were Vices Are Now Habits", ditto, the Plymouth.

Yes -- "90125", the best comeback record ever.

Genesis -- "Seconds Out", I saw them three times that year (twice with Chester Thompson and once with Bill Bruford), was completely knocked out, and took the experience home with me in this splendid live set.

ZZ Top -- "Tres Hombres", solely because, after thirty years, "Jesus Just Left Chicago" still rolls me like a river.

Public Enemy -- "Fear Of A Black Planet", because in a time of outright goofy horseshit, it pressed home the point that there was still a place for serious political statements (whether one endorsed them or not) in pop music.

Creedence Clearwater Revival -- "CCR", because when I bagged the riff from "Suzy-Q", it was the first time that I was seriously convinced that I could play rock guitar. I was thirteen years old. That single riff changed my whole life.

JoeB rules! He stole my list somehow.

In addition to his list, add all XTC albums prior to English Settlement, but none after. They were the Beatles of the '80's, for what that's worth.

The Gun Club - Fire of Love - the most intense passion ever placed on vinyl or any other music data collection format.

Roxy Music - Stranded - One of my favorite emotions while drinking: remote regret.

Blue Oyster Cult - Secret Treaties - How can a song named "Dominance and Submission" be bad? Plus killer Buck Dharma guitar solo.

Cheap Trick - In Color - Tuneful tunes that rock. An excellent blend of The Ramones and arena rock.

Michelle and other Toolies, I'm sorry, but Tool is for whiners. We of the VWRC don't whine. We kick f'n ass!

Michelle, re: songs that make me horny, uhm unfortunately for me, rock (which I love) doesn't make me horny, unless it's the hot girl-girl action of:
Elton John - All the Young Girls Love Alice
Patti Smith - Gloria

"In Times Square now people do the polka

Dominance....submission...radios appear"

(sigh) "Secret Treaties" -- I could do a whole chapter on that record alone.

Billy, I'd like to hear it, because there are some lines in that song I don't understand. But maybe Michelle's comment section is not the place for your Secret Treatise. Haha.

Mark -- the essential thing to know about BOC is their sense of humor.

"I know they'd like to make it
With my big black dog
But they just don't... know how to ask"

(Baby Ice Dog)

They're really just a bunch of nice Jewish boys from Long Island. No kiddin'.

Hey Billy Beck - BOC is playing in my town on Halloween! Are they still worth checkin' out? I heard that it's pretty much Buck Dharma and one Bouchard with pickups. Saw BOC 7 times, including once on the tour that they did under their original Soft White Underbelly name when they were having legal hassles with CBS. Back in the day (70s) nothing beat the 5 guitar sonic attack when they'd all line up on stage and play. Met Alan Lanier once (I believe around the time he and Patti Smith were an item) and he was one of the nicest guys you'd ever want to meet. Yer right - they really were a group of nice young boys from Long Island. God, wotta great band they were at one point...

I used to go see them play as Soft White Underbelly in the seedy clubs of Long Island.

Mark - Amen on your XTC statement - Nothing stood up quite as well after English Settlement (and really, only one disc's worth of tunes held up on that one, imho)! Especially the Go+ 12" ep that originally came with the Go2 LP - I drove my girlfriend freaking batty with that disc!
Ditto Gun Club "Fire of Love" Didja see where Sympathy For The Record Industry is gonna be re-releasing it? The first three LPs and I think the first Jeffrey Lee Pierce as well. My mouth's waterin'...

Flamen Dialis - Thanks for the heads up on the re-release. I still only have that on vinyl. Great to hear of another Gun Club fan!

F.D. -- Believe it or not, I have never seen BOC live in my whole life. It's a long weird story, the nut of which is that I work on rock shows for a living, and in twenty-seven years on the road, I simply never got the angle on them. Everybody I know -- I mean everybody, all over the place -- has seen 'em a million times, and half my mates have worked with 'em here or there. I don't know who's in the band right now (I know there's a website). I'm thinking the last respectable critic I know saw them within the past two years and said they were great as ever.

I have to believe it would be worth it just to see Roeser play. He's one of the all-time greats.

What got me through high school (class of '95, but I liked the '80s stuff):
Social Distortion, Reverend Horton Heat, Danzig, Bad Religion, Descendents, DI, Adolescents, Agent Orange, 7 Seconds, Minor Threat, Black Flag, Misfits, and especially...

Rollins Band--The End of Silence

Kid Rock, Kid Rock: the day I bought that album, I rushed it home and put it on repeat. That's the last time Satan's daugter and I had down-and-dirty, sweaty, nasty ghetto sex. Bawidda baw, bitch.

Tchaikovsky, 1812 Overture: Yeah, this was the one I liked to flog the dolphin to. Cue the cannons!

Nick Cave, Henry's Dream: because some days you just want to hear beautiful music about crimes of passion.

Dark Side of the Moon - by Pink Floyd

My friend helped me hallucinate while listening to it with all the lights off one night. I was 15 and freaked out.

Grin - by Grin

Listened to it while I had wet dreams (of a 15 year old) about the hottie seven years my senior that lived 4 doors away in the apartment complex.

Rainbow - by Ritchie Blackmore

There's nothing like a night ride to hell in a fast car. Just feel like going down, down, down, down, down, down...... Down!

Deep Purple -- "Made In Japan", the single best live heavy-metal album ever recorded. And I wore it out on 8-track in my '49 Plymouth.

I would say this is one of the best live metal hard rock albums of all time. Two that are far better to me are Iron Maiden "Live after Death" and Motorhead's "No Sleep to Hammersmith." What is a great pity of course is the fact there are so few decent live albums around. I was recently having a chat about live hard rock/metal albums and I could think of only five that I thought were really excellent.

Damn, you're absolutely right - as far as live metal goes, you really can't beat Purple's "Made In Japan"! My fave live metal LP of all time has to be UFO "Strangers In The Night" 2LP - it's ALL good! Next would certainly be BOC "On Your Feet..." Although, Rainbow's double live disc and Thin Lizzy's "Live And Dangerous" aren't too shabby either, eh?

Mark - ditto - I'm happy to meet another Gun Club fan as well! - you've got my deepest respect! I think they were one of the great, criminally underrated bands of the 80s (along with Dream Syndicate, Green on Red, Pontiac Brothers and about a zillion others). I was lucky enough to see Gun Club once live at a little club in Pittsburgh called The Decade. It was during the Kid Congo Powers/Pat Morrison period - I had a good friend who interviewed Pierce and the Kid on WRCT, Carnegie-Mellon's radio station, and invited a friend and I to drop by. I was flabbergasted to actually meet Jeffrey Lee, because I really did think he was THE Jim-The-Fucking-Morrison of our times. He was pleasant, but couldn't wait to get the fuck outta there. Kid Congo stayed behind, hung out and talked with us for quite a while, and we fanclubbed him mightily. He was as big a fan of a lot of current music as the rest of us were. He and I apparently shared the same enthusiasm for Killing Joke and Punishment of Luxury (an obscure "coulda-been-great-maybe" UK band who only released 1 LP) - when I mentioned them he got all excited and said ooh! ooh! I love those guys!!!! The world lost a great lyricist when Pierce died. Of course, many thought that he was just another Nick Cave wannabe, but I knew otherwise. My wife (Who's a freaking completely over-the-top Nick Cave fan) disagrees, but she didn't appreciate that early Birthday Party stuff either, so go figger...

"Sing Loud, Sing Proud" by the Dropkick Murphys. It gets me revved up to fight the fight, and makes me feel bulletproof.

"Floodland" by Sisters of Mercy, because it's great makeout music.

Black Sabbath - We Sold Our Soul For Rock 'N' Roll: Because it was the first album I got stoned to.

Def Leppard - Hysteria: not exactly a favorite, but everytime I hear it, I flashback to the first girl I really thought I loved, who didn't love me yet still managed to royally fuck with my head. I almost ruined my relationship with my best friend over that wench.

White Zombie - Le Sexorcisto:Devil Music Vol 1: because it was the album playing in my friend's house when we walked back in at the tail end of our first acid trip.

The Amboy Dukes - Journey To The Center Of The Mind: because my above referenced best friend left that album on repeat one Saturday morning when I'd crashed at his place after a Friday night brain cell murdering spree. He wanted me to get up and go to work with him (we worked at the same place then) and snag some OT. I told him FU and 3 hours of all Amboy Dukes all the time was his revenge. Journey To The Center Of The Mind may still trigger an unconcious reflex of shoe throwing aimed at the nearest CD player.


Thanks for the compliment. If it weren't for my trusty 200 disc changer, I'd never hear good music!

I'll add just a few more bands/albums that came to mind:

1) The dB's: Stands For Decibels. Jangly guitars central.
2) Big Audio Dynamite: This is Big Audio Dynamite. One of the first bands to use samples in rock. Mick Jones is too cool for words.
3)The Connells: One Simple Word. Early North Carolina college radio faves.
4) Husker Du: Zen Arcade. Raw Power and great songwriting.
5)The Jam: All Mod Cons. Wow. How these guys never hit it in the US is beyond me. Oh yeah, payola.
6) Graham Parker: Squeezing Out Sparks. Graham's masterpiece. End to end greatness.
7) Sex Pistols: Never Mind... How can you leave off this one? Not the most talented, but hey, someone had to insult the Queen...
8) Bruce Springsteen: Nebraska. Chilling. Listen to this and then kill yourself. Born to Run is a classic, but Nebraska just stops me cold in my tracks. Best album for driving all night in the rain. In the winter. To a funeral. Of a friend. Who died tragically. And you hadn't talked to them in a year.
9) Warren Zevon: The Wind. The guy wqas a mad genius. Knowing his story, you can't listen to this and not be moved.
10) Joey Ramone: Don't Worry About Me. See above.