I did a lot of debating about this list. I realize that while there have been hundreds of great records from across the musical genres that have influenced me as a person, a musician, a songwriter, and a radio show host, these are the 20 records that hold the MOST meaning to me with a short explanation of how or why they are here. Bear in mind, these are only MY personal favorites and expect that many people will disagree with me. That’s fine. Feel free to create your own list and then tag me in it. I’d love to know what records have had that kind of impact. These are no particular order.
* Rush – 2112: Before this, NOTHING like this had ever been attempted to this degree. Rush all but took Progressive rock to an entirely new level with this album. From the acoustic sounding “Oracle” to the metallic sounding “The Temples Of Syrinx”, this was a masterpiece of the highest degree. The only word that comes to mind for this CD is EPIC.
* Slayer – Reign In Blood: No one has ever bettered the ferocity, pace, and unadulterated aggression of this album. Packing 10 songs into a mere 28 minutes, this CD leaves no room for taking a breather. This CD changed the face of Thrash metal. Everything before this paled in comparison. Most everything since does as well. This is the soundtrack for ripping your neighbor’s head off.
* Quiet Riot – Metal Health: This CD came almost immediately after Shout At The Devil with the same ferocity and drive that made Crue so huge. The songs on this album were just pure fucking energy. I was 13 years old, living in California when this came out. This was the record that made me want to grow my hair long and be a rock star.
* Manowar – Kings Of Metal: The Quintessential METAL band. Recognized as the World’s Loudest Band, Manowar hit the world with this CD in 1988. This band has always been truly unrelenting in what they stand for. I saw this band at Pine Knob Music Theater the year this came out. Jetboy opened for them and while putting on a killer show in their own right, sounded mellow in comparison. Manowar tore the joint to the ground. I remember not being able to hear for 4 days afterwards. My ears literally bled that night.
* Mother Love Bone – S/T: The first time I heard this band, I knew there was something special about them. This Seattle band had the amazing ability to bridge the gap between 80’s style hard rock and the coming grunge style. With vocalist Adam Wood and 3 of the guys that would later go on to form Pearljam. The band Debut was one of the most critically acclaimed releases ever. It all died with the death of Woods. To understand HOW huge an influence this band had over Seattle hard rock and metal, understand that Woods pallbearers were Chris Cornell, Stone Gossard, Jerry Cantrell, Chris DeGarmo, Kim Thayil, and Dave Grohl. His funeral was attended by over 1000 people. This CD stands today as what might have possibly gone on to be one the biggest bands ever.
* Savatage – Gutter Ballet: Savatage was a band that took metal and mixed it with the magic of Broadway. I have heard this band compared to Meatloaf on Steroids. I have always considered them to be the perfect band. Mixing the heaviest aspects of metal with the best conceptual aspects of Prog and Broadway, this band had a way of pulling you into their world and not letting you go. “When The Crowds Are Gone” is still the song that I want played at my funeral.
* Stryper – To Hell With The Devil: This is the record that got me into Christian Metal at a time in my life that probably saved my life. Having just been placed into foster care and all but abandoned by my family, it was that little bit of hope from this CD that kept me off that edge.
* Kreator – Coma of Souls: When I discovered this CD, it was a whole new world for me. I had never heard anything so savage and unforgiving in sound. In my angriest, darkest moments, this was the CD that I would turn on in my headphones and just blast the world away. I can’t even begin to calculate how many people I terrorized with this record!
* Guns N Roses – Appetite For Destruction: When this CD came out, the rock world was NOT prepared for what would come next. Axl and Company took the world by storm. Some of the grittiest, gut-level hard rock ever recorded. This was a BAND. Any one piece of the puzzle taken away would have made this a TOTALLY different album. This is still possibly the greatest pure hard rock CD ever.
* Blackfoot – Strikes: As the son of a Truck driver, no record holds more significance to my early years. They were spent in the front seat of my Dad’s truck, listening to this record hundreds of times. “Highway Song” was our JAM and we’d listen to it as loud as we could stand while trading air guitar solos. It’s really one of the few GOOD memories I have with my father.
* Boston – Boston: There was no record that I played more as a kid. I played this thing so many times that I would wear the grooves out on it and force my Dad to buy me a new copy.
* Pink Floyd – A Momentary Lapse of Reason: I know most people would pick The Wall or Dark Side Of The Moon as their go to Floyd record and while I love both of those records, THIS was the record that really made my sit up and truly listen to Floyd as a band. Another record that I would get totally lost in during my years in foster care. There was a long period where I couldn’t get to sleep if this wasn’t playing in the background.
* Ted Nugent – Double Live Gonzo: separating the Politics from the music is hard for a lot of people to do. I’ve never had that issue with Ted. As far as LIVE records go, few capture the pure, raw, primal energy of a live show better than this one. When I decided that I wanted to be a rock star, this was the record that I went back to as a HOW TO for being a live performer.
* Motley Crue – Shout At The Devil: Not sure there was a record that I fought harder to own this one. My Dad wouldn’t let me buy it due to the name. Then one Xmas, My uncle received a copy as a gift. He wasn’t a rock fan and hated it. I received the proverbial multi-color ‘prep’ turtleneck style sweater that was the most ghastly thing I’d ever seen at that point in my life. After remarking how awesome it was and he wished he’d received that instead of the Crue record, a deal was struck and I disappeared into my Grandfather’s basement to FINALLY rock out to my long sought after bounty. My Dad just said screw it and let me have it. It was the TRUE turning point in my rock evolution.
* Tourniquet – Pathogenic Ocular Dissonance: This record has the same kind of impact on me that Kreator did. I attended a Christian Metal festival with my church group and this was one of the bands playing. Up to this point, Stryper has been my real only exposure to heavier Christian tunes. I was in utter shock of the ferocity and off the wall style that this band played with. Still one of the most unique metal records ever recorded in my opinion.
* Queen – Night At The Opera: Do I even need to explain this record? Another record that I played so much that I would wear copies out.
* Slade – Slayed: The very first record that I ever bought with my OWN money. Still one of those records that instantly puts a smile on my face and takes me back to a simpler, happier time before the world had a chance to make me jaded.
* D.R.I. – Dealing With It: My intro to punk and hardcore music was this record, right here. Also my very first punk concert. Still one of the most intense most pits I’ve ever been in, as well. I hope the punk record that I’m currently writing is HALF as intense as this record.
* Funkadelic – Maggot Brain: One of those records that many people still don’t fully understand. There’s just something about the grooves and funk of this record though that I love. The title track is still one of the greatest guitar tunes ever recorded, in my opinion.
* Cyclone Temple – I Hate…Therefore I Am: I bought this record with my best friend when it came out. 6 months later, when he committed suicide, his suicide note was just a small passage from one of the songs on this record. This is still one of the most flawless thrash records ever captured on record.