And now, as they say in Monty Python, for something completely different (from my usual twaddle).
I was thinking recently about the music that floored me and changed me and my perception of music. It's happened to me several times. In order...
The Ventures — Prior to their classic instrumental Walk Don't Run, like most kids I was primarily interested in pop vocals. They got me interested in the electric guitar. I've enjoyed electric guitar music ever since. However, while I've owned a few electric guitars over the years, I've never...well, let's just say I'm no Jimi Hendrix.
Lonnie Mack — His big hit Memphis introduced me to funky guitar. His down home mix of gospel, country, R&B, and rock music as displayed on the classic album The Wham of that Memphis Man inspired Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Howard Roberts — In rough parallel with my interest in Lonnie Mack, I discovered that there were funky jazz guitarists, too. HR's slinky style of "greasy" guitar is still a pleasure (for me) to listen to.
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band — Powered by Butterfield's electrifying (and electrified) "blues harp" (aka harmonica) and Michael Bloomfield's unique electric slide guitar stylings, this was my introduction to electric urban blues Chicago-style. And that led me to many other electric blues discoveries such as the phenomena of British blues and Texas-style blues a la Johnny Winter.
Jimi Hendrix — What can I say. The whole world of rock music changed when his Are You Experienced? album was released with the great hits Foxy Lady and Purple Haze. There are many faster and better guitarists in terms of technique (Steve Vai, Buckethead, Tony McAlpine), but he was, many say, the first musician to play electric guitar vs. merely electrified guitar. If he'd done nothing other than All Along The Watchtower he'd be in guitar pantheon forever, but he gave us so much more.
Baden Powell — No, not his namesake, the founder of The Boy Scouts. This Baden Powell was a Brazilian guitarist/singer/composer who created a unique blend of classical, flamenco, and jazz guitar infused with native Brazilian rhythms, backup instruments, and melodies. I was once asked for my "desert island 10"... Ten albums I'd want to have to play if I found myself stranded on a desert island (a very strange desert island with an electrical system). I even surprised myself by saying "Any 10 Baden Powell albums." Yes, his music is that listenable. If his was the only music I had for the rest of my life, I'd never grow bored.
There's my list. Where's yours?
Queen - My earliest memories of music enjoyment. The amount of talent between each member -to me -is uncanny. Their abilities to write pop songs, Brian May's guitar solos, Freddie Mercury's vocals. Still one of my favorites.
Beastie Boys - Soooo much fun! Party music at its best. Story telling, intensity, jokes, and sometimes pure adolescent foolishness. Who'd have thought 3 punk rock playing jews from NY would lay down theirs instruments to become a part of hip hop 101. They're on my A-list.
Stevie Ray Vaughn - A friggin guitar god. (excuse the term) Texas blues had never been so appealing and inspiring to me as with Stevie. Soulful, Funky, Elegant, brutal -what ever he wants and it all comes as natural as breathing.
Ani Difranco - She's got power, She's got words, She's an activist and I have mucho respect for her.
Jeff Buckley - moody, melancholy, dramatic, He's got power in those vocals too. Goes well with a stout beer and a midwest winter storm.
Tommy Emanuel - Nuff said.
Atmosphere - As far as I'm concerned one of the best emcees in hip hop. His rhymes are often simple but he gets his points across very nicely. Social commentary from this guy covers as much ground and more than most rappers could dream of. Side note: Opened for them, Eydea and abilities. around 1500-200 people. I could almost never accomplish anything again and die happy.
Eydea and Abilities - two legends in hip hop. One of the best DJ's ever. One of the best freestyle rappers ever.
El-P - political and paranoid. Love it.
Jimi Hendrix - What Unseen said but I'll add that he's the only guitar player that should've changed his middle name to "Fucking".
Regarding Jeff Buckley... I'm a different generation and so I can recommend his father, Tim Buckey, who also died way too young. If I had to recommend one album, it would be the ethereal and atmospheric Lorca.
When listening to Lorca, I strongly recommend being comfortably numb.
haha! I'll do my best to be that. I've always known he was Tim's son but honestly -and I don't know why -I've never checked out any of his music. I will do that ...here in a few. You reminded me of something I need to do. ;)
Mozart - Requiem:his final masterpiece,power and rage
Roxy Music-The Avalon Album:the first chill album, IMHO
Talking Heads-Remain In Light:Groundbreaking and very strange
Party Bands like Run DMC, Beasties, sublime, B-52's
Queen-A Night at the Opera:Pure talent
NIN - Pretty Hate Machine:darker than dark
Ministry-Land of Rape and Honey:new wave synthpop gone bad
a clockwork orange lead me to the first 2 minutes of ode to joy which taught me that a very seemingly lame theme can soar. I especially enjoyed this dude's comment about it on YT
NIN — Not life changing for me, but one of my fave Industrials. Back when I walked for exercise, it was Pretty Hate Machine in my Walkman (we had Walkmans back then, not iPods).
BTW, I saw NIN live in Portland. I think I was the oldest person there.
Oasis - I had no idea what they were talking about in Champagne Supernova, but I knew I loved rock music.
Jimi Hendrix - Has been the greatest influence on me in learning how to play the guitar. His Blues album is incredible.
Mighty Mighty Bosstones - The Ska Revival didn't last long, but it lasted long enough for some great Ska bands to come to light. There is no music I have more fun listening to than the punk-tastic, brass-band stylings of Ska.
Explosions in the Sky - You probably haven't heard of the Post-Rock genre, but it's an eclectic mix of instrumentals. I have had near orgasmic brain explosions listening to this band; their music is that good. One of my favorite songs, Postcard from 1952: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFwOmxP56-g
Tchaikovsky - Loved his work, and for unknown reason that 1812 Overture gets me in the mood to do SOMETHING. Used to lift weights to that song, got a lot of strange looks for it.
Carl Orff - O Fortuna is similar to 1812 Overture, but this one for some reason makes me wanna fight....
Lilium - From the anime Elfen Lied....this is, and has ever been, the only song that I found so incredibly beautiful that I cry every time I hear it. I find this song so important and dear to me that my first daughter will be named Lilian, and already got my girlfriend agreeing to that.
Nightwish - what can I say about this band, except I found it spectacular! Filled my teenage need for metal and my love of opera/classical.
Cake - well, there is nothing ill I can say about these guys. I have every album, and know about 3/4 of all there songs. something about them grabbed me and never let go, maybe there wacky lyrics? That would explain the next one.
Weird Al Yankovic - That is correct.....I have every song of his. Before I got into Cake, before classical and opera and metal, there was Al. I went to 4 concerts, bought his CD's and paid to have my favorite picture of him blown into portrait size and hung on my wall. His music always made me smile, and when your a depressed child, that's golden.
Regarding Pink Floyd. I'm a big David Gilmour fan. My fave PF album is NOT The Dark Side of the Moon, but rather A Momentary Lapse of Reason. The whole album is great, but especially Sorrow.
Oh me too, Unseen, me too. Sometimes when all else fails, I secrete myself in solitary confinement and play a Pink Floyd medley of albums until my brain feels "combed" again, rather than an unruly mess, and I feel the most incredibly lucky person to have been born at a time when Pink Floyd were writing music. I don't think I can pick a favourite, because it depends on my circumstances - but I do know that Pink Floyd are my top band of all time.