Sunday, April 27, 2008

Your Milestone Recordings

As we all know, we are awaiting the re-release of the classic Residents' recordings, Duck Stab and Eskimo. As I had mentioned in an earlier post, regarding Duck Stab and Eskimo, I had ranked them very high in my list of "very important recordings." For me, this list is created from those very rare recordings that put fissures in my brain, and caused me to listen to music from new angles altogether. 
My personal list contains items like: Tom Waits "Rain Dogs", Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band "Trout Mask Replica", Devo "Duty Now For the Future", Public Enemy "It Takes a Nation of Millions", The Residents "Duck Stab" and "Fingerprince", Elvis Costello "Imperial Bedroom", and possibly Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds "The Good Son", Meshuggah "Chaosphere", The Beatles "Revolver". 
It's easy for my head to start veering off in directions that take me to an artist who had one song that inspired my curiosity to an entire genre, or other records by these same artists that really stick in my head as important and incredibly enjoyable recordings, but I have to stop myself. I'm really just trying to nail down a few records, that turned my listening world (and composing, music writing world) upside down. Records that are so ingrained in my head, that I remember exactly where I was when I sat down to listen to one of them, or heard a song from one before I went out and found the record (back when you actually had to drive around and find a store that carried records, hopefully they had one you wanted.)
So, my question to you: Give me your list of 5 records that turned your musical world inside out. These aren't necessarily your favorite top 5 records, or the ones you think are the most important in the grand scheme of "rock". Just the recordings that picked you up, flipped you upside down, and shook you around while the change fell out of your pockets. After you listened to them a few times, you viewed everything differently. 
Maybe you only listened to traditional mariachi music, or only baroque music, and one day someone played you "Eruption" by Van Halen, and yer life changed. It could happen. What's yer story....


Unknown said...

Most of the albums that changed the way i think about music are my favourite albums.

In no particular order
1. 'Drukqs' by Aphex twin definately turned my world upside down, being some of the most beautifully crafted music in existence but also bringing a surprising amount of John Cage's theories to their logical conclusion.

2. I am always made to feel stupid about singing the praises of 'Disco Volante' by Mr. Bungle, but this has consitently appeared in my top 5 for some years now, and is a perfect example of an extremely dense and consistently exciting album.

3. Many people who read this blog may well dispair at me, but listening to 'Daydream Nation' by sonic youth for the first time had a huge effect on me as a guitar player.

4. Ever since I bought 'Electroretard' by the melvins I have obsessively collected everything I can by them, and they are the only band I hold in greater esteem than the Residents. Many people get the Melvins wrong as simply a metal band or a sludge band but I urge those people to hear, 'the bootlicker', 'Honky', 'colossus of destiny' and 'electroretard' because you will undoubtedly be surprised.

5. I was going to put a residents album here, but I guess thhat should be taken as a given, but when I first heard 'Dead hills' by wolf eyes I was blown away, sadly they have never bettered 'Dead hills' other than in 'Dredd', and have not been the same since they lost their best member Aaron Dilloway, although I still enjoy their music whole heartedly.

Saurio said...

1) Kraftwerk: The man machine. Just from the cover art it blew my mind. For a guy living in Argentina in the late 70s, with a dictatorship that banned a lot of art and a rock movement frozen in 1976 progressive rock and hippie ideology, it was like a direct blow in the brain. Finally I found in a record the music I was listening in my mind.

2) The Residents: Meet the residents. Ditto. I was a Residents fan way before I listened anything from them (loved the idea of an anonymous band that barely performed live). When I bought this LP (in 1982) I found another piece of the music I was listening in my head.

3) Laurie Anderson:Home of the brave. Again. I discovered that you don't have to sing to be the vocalist of a band and that you can add music and visuals to poetry readings.

4) Franco Battiato: La voce del padrone. I discovered that not all Italian music sucked and that you can be avant garde and pop at the same time.

5) Serú Girán: La grasa de las capitales. My gateway to Argentinian rock in the 70s. Again, I discovered that not all the music sung in Spanish sucked and that there were people who were talking and thinking the same way I thought.

lastangelman said...

In no order of preference:

Metal Box (Second Edition -USA) - Public Image Ltd.

An insistent dub heavy disco bass, scattershot staccato drumming, knife-like leads, pentatonic electric guitar clusters, icy other worldly synthesizer keyboards and John Lydon's semi-operatic wails and barks. After failing to kill rock and roll with The Sex Pistols, Lydon and his co-conspirators turned dance music inside out and vented poetic lyrical bile in a manner damned beyond beautiful, 'twas, nay, is, glorious.

Trout Mask Replica - Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band

Rock and jazz cacophony, free verse blues mantras, whatever the truth behind the making of this unique aural document, 'tis magnum opus and artistic statement for the ages. 'Twas probably equalled by the last two releases Doc At The Radar Station and Ice Cream For Crow.

Electric Light Orchestra (No Answer - USA) - Electric Light Orchestra
An astounding album, greeted highly by most critics in its day as a revolutionary and avant garde rock album, covering the gamut from Beatles-like baroque rock, cinematic 17th Century pastiches, pretty ballads and forays into jazz and chamber style pop. It's main drawback may be being a tad unfocused, due to different visions pursued by the band's two composer-producers, Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood.

Wizzards Brew - Wizzard

Monsters of Rock (
EMI compilation) - Wizzard

Both these albums demonstrate Wizzard's skill at being proficient at creating aural ear candy symphonies a la Phil Spector and adventurous, challenging, noisy progressive rock with a healthy nod to fusion Steely-Dan like R&B like jazz.

Metal Machine Music - Lou Reed

Sound textures that are beyond categorization, truly an album that will kill all your plants, clear up your sinuses and annoy pablum pop fed audiences to the point of death, and good riddance, I say, too.

Residents Radio Special 1977( later re-issued as Eat Exuding Oinks) - The Residents

The first time many people heard the rare early singles, extended plays and "King Kong". Set within the context of a History and explanation of The Residents and their music during a fake radio broadcast from some studio in Houston TX, the show opened many first timers ears to such gnarly tidbits as Santa Dog, Return To The Valley Of a Day In The Life, Walter Westinghouse and Flight Of The Bumble Roach.

Brave Combo - Polkatharsis

A new wave nuclear polka band? Were they a novelty act or for real. Carl Finch has proved for twenty nine years, Brave Combo is real good, and they got real good with this record.

My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts - Brian Eno/David Byrne

Remain In Light - Talking Heads

Two albums that sold tremendously poorly but was heard by enough people, it inspired both back to Africa movement in music and creative sampling (via tape loops) before the invention and widespread availability of commercial samplers. Danceable, mysterious, beautiful.

The Birthday Party - The Idle Race

Purveyors of Brit-pop freakbeat, The Idle Race created this album over a month of Sundays and the odd tea break, a collection of hummable Ray Davie stories of Brit eccentrics, careening from psychedelic freak rock to music hall to galumphing Beatlepop. Can an album be both twee and majestic?

RalphAmerica said...

Some interesting choices here! I have some new titles to check out! Although I am embarrassed I didn't include Remain in Light and Bush of Ghosts, as I would also put those on my list. I think there might have been one year that I listened to Remain in Light every day. Learned all the guitar parts, vocal parts...i got pretty obsessed.

Paulie said...

Albums that kicked my ass and still do:

Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath
First found this LP when I was about 8 years old, my uncle was moving around and left some of his LPs at my grandparents' house. That was one of them. Also in the pile:

Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
No comments necessary.

Ace Frehley - eponymous 1978 solo album
All tracks recorded as a trio (sometimes a duo), this album was and still is the most ass-kicking slab from the 1970s. Les Pauls through Marshalls, absolutely smokin'.

Kansas - Two For The Show
Double-live album of barnburning prog rock, you have no idea how heavy this is until after your jaw has already hit the floor.

The Move - Shazam &
Nazz - Nazz Nazz
After an extended period of ho-hum in the 80s, I needed to go back to the late 60s to find the birth of heavy. Recently reissued on CD, both of these albums are devastating.

Terrorizer - World Downfall
Ripping-fast, raw punk / hardcore / grind / speed times a million.

lastangelman said...

I debated heavily which Move album I wanted to include on my list, but they're all so different and great in each of their own ways, they cancelled each other out. Not to mention the first two singles, Night of Fear/The Disturbance and I Can Hear The Grass Grow/Wave Your Flag(And Stop The Train).

Totally recommend Shazam and Looking On, now remastered and available to order here

GUMBa said...

in no order:

1. 'Stoner Witch' by Melvins...the first Melvins album I ever heard and it remains my favorite. The first "metal" album in which I saw glimmers of brilliance.

2. 'Absolutely Free' by Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention...This was the first of the earlier Zappa records to find my ears. I love the theatrical tone of the record. It served as an initiation for me into even more theatrical works of Harry Partch and Residents' albums like God In Three Persons.

3. 'Cacophony' by Rudimentary Peni...This is not the average punk album and that's not surprising since it's inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's stories and life. An amazing biographical work and probably the first thematic album to really capture my attention. I still listen to this on something like a weekly basis.

4. 'Black Monk Time' by The Monks...5 American GIs in 1965/1966 Germany with tonsure haircuts and nooses for ties using 4/4 beats with a 2/4 feel beaten out on the bass, drums and banjo with organ and heavily distorted and feedback laced guitar carrying the melody while a crooner-esque lead singer belts into falsetto range...this album is fucking amazing.

5. 'Residue Deux' by The Residents...My buddy ordered a Nick Cave album when we were in high school and they accidentally sent him a cassette of 'The King & Eye'. I was intrigued but not sold on The Residents until a few weeks later when he found a copy of 'Residue Deux'. Probably the only shipping error that has ever brought joy to my life and likely the last. It's certainly not my favorite Residents album but it opened my Eyes.'s really hard to only list 5 so I'm gonna throw out a few honorable mentions: 'Live At The It Club' by Thelonious Monk, 'Double Nickels On the Dime' by The Minutemen, 'Pork Soda' by Primus, 'Bee Thousand' by Guided By Voices, and "Hardcore Devo Vols. 1 & 2' by DEVO would probably round out my top ten. Throw in 'Feels' by Animal Collective and 'Sister' by Sonic Youth and I'd gladly pitch a tent on a desert island.

signature said...

My top 5 in no order.
I will go ahead and say up front, when I read this list later there will be albums I wish would have included.

Les Claypool and the Holy Mackeral

My favorite LC album. If it weren't for my love of Les, I may have never heard the Residents.

Renaldo and The Loaf,
Songs For Swinging larva.

I got a vinyl of SFSL and the record store for 5bucks, with a letter from ralph "explaining" their music.
FYI ted the loaf,now "the darkening scale" is still making great music that is free here

YES The Fragile

What can I say, i love the bass

Buckethead Inbred mountain

B-Head is another artist that continuously put out great music. He's catalog will be as big as the residents soon.

They Might Be Giants

This is the band that first truly warped my musically taste into what is is today.

Anyone unfamiliar with TMBG, check them out you will not be disappointed .

Unknown said...

*...And Justice For All* by Metallica. This album turned my little world upside down because this was the first time that I had heard songs that completely disregarded conventional song structures. It was so awe-inspiring to suddenly hear songs that transcended everything that I had ever heard on the radio.

*Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven* by Godspeed You! Black Emperor. This was a very unique experience for me. No lyrics, and yet it managed to reveal so much about modern life. I never thought that the sound of a grocery store clerk making an announcement on the loudspeaker could be so meaningful.

*Animal Lover* by The Residents. This was one of my first Residents albums. Maybe I was in the right mood when I first hit play, but this album, above all of my other Residents albums, immediately drew me into another world. I was so completely captivated with each and every song that, when it ended, I felt like I was waking up from the strangest dream. An unforgettable experience.

*Kid A* by Radiohead. There are so many secrets to explore on this album that most people who have heard it have no clue how cryptic this album really is. The band had about thirty, 20-second videos for this album, a hidden booklet at the bottom of the jewelcase, an enigmatic comic strip on their website, etc. After unveiling layer after layer, I now feel that this is the best "political" album ever made.

*Bone Machine* by Tom Waits. This album had a much bigger impact on me than Rain Dogs. Not only did it have that primitive "junkyard" sound to it, but it had such fantastic lyrics as well. This album opened my eyes to a whole new genre.

Mr X-Indeed said...

Not Music but probably changed my life more than anything else.
R.I.P Dr. Albert Hofmann

Horned Gramma said...

1.) Animal Collective -- "Sung Tongs"

I was confused by it at first. Disoriented is maybe a better word. But one night, in the parking lot of a Safeway, my hands were really huge and suddenly it shifted from one thing into another. The way they manipulate the tape to make the sound of people laughing sound like a flock of birds...

2.) Brian Eno -- "Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)"

Many people swear by "Another Green World", but this album is so strange and sinister, it really does it for me. "The Fat Lady of Limbourg" is one of my favorite songs, ever.

3.) The Residents & Renaldo and the Loaf -- "Turtle in Lima"

Hence the tattoo. "The Shoe Salesman" is what got me hooked on the Residents, particularly the line about truth and fiction, love and friction. My life changed when I realized that He was singing the opening lines at DDA on Halloween.

4.) Snowglobe -- "Our Land Brains"

The music which accompanied my first psychedelic experience. I've listened to it three times a week since it came out, and it still shines as brightly in my mind as it did the first time.

5.) Pink Floyd -- "Dark Side of the Moon"

I was six years old, I was lying down in the way-back of my parents VW van, and I heard Brain Damage/Eclipse for the first time on fuzzy FM radio. The sound of that man laughing, "and if your head explodes", and I remember the orgasmic explosion of "Eclipse" better than my first ACTUAL orgasm. That was the moment my parents lost their good, Mormon boy.

Honorable mention, for landing at impressionable times in my life: Dead Man's Party (Oingo Boingo), Songs for Dustmites (Steve Burns), One Size Fits All (Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention), Fear of Music (Talking Heads).

Madpuppy said...

My 5, in chronological order from when I discovered them:

1. "Introducing... The Beatles"- The Beatles
It was 1975. I was 10 years old. But I still vividly remember putting the needle on the record, hearing Paul countdown "1, 2, 3, 4!" into "I Saw Her Standing There." Thus began my love affair with the Beatles, and rock music in general.

2. "The Cars"- The Cars
My first real introduction to New Wave- just a great album that defined the summer of '78 for me and my friends.

3. "Big Lizard in my Backyard"- The Dead Milkmen
This was my first punk album, and combined with seeing the Milkmen play live, pulled me away from the MOR bloated junk that was FM radio in the late 80s.

4. "The Stone Roses"- The Stone Roses
I didn't like it when I first heard it, but it slowly grew on me. It's probably the most-listened to album in my collection. Once a year or so, I'll get into into a Roses mood, and listen to it over and over for days.

5. "Loveless"- My Bloody Valentine
I had never heard anything like it before, and I've never heard anything like it since. I'm still anxiously awaiting the follow-up album. It's only been 17 years- which will come out first, this or "Chinese Democracy"?

Terry said...

Five? Only five? I have heard thousands of albums and hundreds have influenced me. But going back to the 60s, when I started collecting albums, here's five, spanning the decades, that come to mind:
1. Ultimate Spinach - s/t. My first truly underground rock LP, purchased in 1968. While it's relevance to what I enjoy musically now doesn't relate well, it still holds a fond spot in my collection.
2. Velvet Underground - White Light/White Heat. Certainly pushed the envelope for me and I gained a better understanding of the application of repetition and dissonance in music to evoke a thought or emotion.
3. The Residents - Not Available. Of all the Residents albums, and I have them all, this is the peak for me - the ultimate mysterious album.
4. Devil Doll - Eliogabilus. It is hard to say whether this or Sacriligeum would be the one that hit me the hardest, since I got them both at the same time. But their blend of the occult with symphonic, prog rock, found sounds, and the theatrical is astounding.
5. Stone Breath - Songs of Moonlight and Rain. Tim Renner has been doing some great things in the experimental/wyrd fold genre, and other artists keep popping up that are equally interesting. Not since the first psychedelic era has new music influenced my listening and musical outlook. This is just one of many in this new genre - Others to search out would be English Heretic, Juniper Meadows, Xenis Emputae Travelling Band, Hush Arbors, The North Sea, Fursaxa...there are many, and most sell their music via cdr imprints. Very home grown operations and phenomenal sounds.

Creeptastic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Creeptastic said...

Five, eh? There are so many fine bands which have expanded my mind (musically and otherwise); They Might Be Giants, Devo, Foetus, Laibach, Bauhaus, Kraftwerk, Malice Mizer, Snakefinger, Renaldo & The Loaf, Aphex Twin, Jandek, Danielson Famile, Mr. Bungle, Tiny Tim, Tama (from Japan), Einstürzende Neubauten, Rasputina, The Legendary Pink Dots, Daniel Johnston, Ros Sereysothea... the list goes on and on...

Chronologically then, five which were not merely excellent, but rather turned my brain upside down in some fashion:

Barnes & Barnes - Voobaha

I discovered these guys in junior high... they're best known for writing the song "Fish Heads," but they are more, oh-so-much more than just a novelty band. B&B opened my mind to the possibility of rock music not taking itself seriously and sounding downright... WEIRD. Some songs are genuinely frightening. Their vocals are some of the strangest I've ever heard. The production is really creative. Their subsequent album "Spazchow" was much darker, more serious, but no less bizarre. I would suggest the CD "Kodovoner" as their finest work.

The Residents - Cube-E

My first Rez album, purchased during high school. When I listened with headphones the first time, my brain COULD NOT PROCESS what I was hearing for about 20 seconds. And it's not even that crazy in retrospect, but... I had never been exposed to such sounds before. I will never forget that moment...

Big Poo Generator - Please Kill Us

Discovered during college, this album was even more influential than the Zappa and Beefheart I was also being exposed to. BPG is well-composed synth/rock music with high-pitched vocals singing all about poo and dogs and retards and death. It disregards every unspoken rule of what is musically forbidden. And it's done so WELL.

Information Society - Don't Be Afraid

Post-college discovery. Yeah yeah, InSoc was famous for that song "What's On Your Mind (Pure Energy)", but this is a solo effort by vocalist Kurt Harland, and is an underrated work of staggering genius. I have never heard the overwhelming feelings of depression so succintly translated into musical terms. When I first put this on, back in 1997, it brought back all the feelings I had convinced myself were gone. It made me realize, "My God... moving out, getting a job and living with a girl has not changed my fundamental core. I am still depressed, and will always be depressed." Eleven years later this still holds true...

Devil Doll - Eliogabalus

Terry, high-five man! I am delighted to see another devotee of the Devil Doll sect. Mr. Doctor, composer and vocalist, is a genius. The music is like a tapestry... no, a LABYRINTH of sounds and textures, jumping from orchestral to heavy metal to street-corner performer to carnival of MADNESS... the vocals are expressive to the point of schizophrenic. This is the most exciting album I've discovered as an adult.

TK8103 said...

1. "Wrong Eyed Jesus" by Jim White. This album came to me by chance, and totally got under my skin.
2. "Sackcloth and Ash" 16 Horsepower. First time I heard them doing a live show on the radio, I was transfixed. I actually froze and stood there listening.
I'm only going to list two, mostly because most of the other music I listen to I was already in to, or was listening to similar stuff. These two albums both came out of left field and turned me on to alt-country. Previously I had no interest in any genre that had the word "country" in it. Now I do, and that ain't a bad thing.

Horned Gramma said...

Creeptastic --

Barnes & Barnes worked pretty extensively with Crispin Hellion Glover on his album "The Big Problem (Does Not Equal) The Solution; The Solution Equals Let it Be". You probably have heard it, but I recommend it strongly if you haven't.

And: how could I forget They Might Be Giants. Probably "Apollo 18" had the biggest impact on me, although its so hard to say, all of those first six albums or so are in my brain like splinters.

Jamison said...

Influence on my musical taste has come from a great a deal of places. Almost all of these came from unexpected people at unexpected moments, but resonated until my next trip to the record store, and from there the rest of my life.

1. 'Santa Dog' EP by The Residents. This recording is the slime-like sluggish residue left over from my brother's shitty ex-girlfriend. It makes so much sense in the context of that crap relationship somehow, except its good instead of horrible... It stayed in my brain for like two years when I saw 'Third Reich N' Roll' at the record store and took it home. It was probably another year after that before I heard 'Santa Dog' again. I started buying all of The Residents work at that point.

2. 'Coffin for Head of State' by Fela Kuti. Introduced to me by a drum teacher I often fought with, this recoding was confusing for a few months. It sounded like dirty James Brown that went on forever and didn't change much. Over time I picked up on the subtle yet consistent qualities of his music. It became pure bliss, and that's what it remained. Then I learned of the story of his life. Wow! Music IS the weapon of the future.

3. Sun Ra's 'Singles Collection' is not an cohesive album, but these peices were never part of an album anyway. Conceived of as small-batch 45's, they span his career and many of the cuts make up much of my top 100 favorite songs list. This is not the spacey Sun Ra you are familiar with, but rather a diverse collaborator and member of many bands. Trust me. Hear this album.

4. 'Axis: Bold as Love' by Hendrix. Electric rock has never been more beautiful and strange. This is an album that plays in my head without my consent.

5. Its hard to pick a 5th record to seal the deal on this list. I don't think I will. Instead I'll recommend all of the traditional musics of Indonesia... And that's a big task to tackle. Maybe start with the Nonesuch Explorer Series collection called 'Music from the Morning of the World'. Its been fun seeing the influence of this music introduced into the Residents' catalogue over the years.

That's five, but then that leaves out the music of Burma... Oh well, these things only get harder with age. That just means there's more to enjoy off of the list.


Dirk Boots said...

Here are another 5 important records:
1. King Crimson: In The Court of the Crimson King;
2. The Bonzo Dog Band: Tadpoles;
3. Sound D'Afrique (Volumes One and Two);
4. Henry Cow: Legend;
5. Brian Eno: Before and After Science.

The Mothers of Invention's "We're Only In It For The Money" gets honorable mention, and only because someone else listed "Absolutely Free." I mus also concur with another blogger that the first time I listened to a Residents record I had a similar experience of being unable to mentally process it. In my case it was "Not Available" and I wasn't at all sure what to make of it. But I kept coming back to it, and ploayed it for all my friends, and the rest id history.