Twenty Influential Albums

Note: I made a collection of twenty albums on burned discs as a gift for my friend and physical therapist Chaula. Afterwards, I wrote a little bit about them. They are in alphabetical order.

1. The Animals: Retrospective . . . Such a great band. Eric Burdon is one of my favorite singers. One of the greatest bands of the sixties.

2. Aotearoa: Strange Weather . . . These guys -- and it's just two of them -- are friends of mine. I met them the first time I played the Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood, and I've followed their music ever since. These guys are master loopers; they loop electric guitar with a bunch of effects and play the drum set; switching instruments and vocals depending on the song. This album is their magnum opus. It's one of my top ten favorite albums of all time. These guys are pretty much the reason that I got into looping.

3. Barenaked Ladies: Rock Spectacle . . . A great album; listened to it in middle school, great musicianship and live performance, some of the best renditions of songs, better than the studio recordings. If you can get past the band name (which my mother had a hard time with), they're a real treat.

4. The Best Of CAKE . . . One of my favorite bands, this is a compilation that I made for myself, taken from four or five of their albums. People either love CAKE, or they can't stand the dry beat poetry, sarcastic articulation laden vocals. There's really no in between, I've found.

5. Chaula's Surf . . . The Ventures, Dick Dale & The DelTones, CW, and the Beach Boys. Pure surf sound.

6. Chuck Berry: The Great Twenty Eight . . . the king of rock n roll. This album covers a lot of ground. You'll notice that many of the songs sound the same -- that's because they are pretty much the same, with just different lyrics. But this music wasn't a thing before Chuck Berry started doing it, so it was his style, and he took it as far as it could go. His influence is vast, from the Beatles, to the Rolling Stones, to Elvis . . . no one could play rock without crediting Chuck Berry. He just turned ninety, and he's coming out with a new album. 

7. Dave Brubeck: Time Out . . . A great standard jazz album, perfect for driving around Christmas shopping, good holiday music. You'll recognize Take Five, but they're all great songs on this album.

8. Fela Kuti: Zombie . . . The famous album that caused a governmental uproar and backlash in Africa against Fela Kuti. Amazing composition, AfroBeat music from the creator of the genre. A great introduction to the artist.

9. Glenn Gould: Goldberg Variations . . . the Canadian prodigy Glenn Gould was a neurotic musical genius in the fifties, which is when this amazing album was released (1955). "French Suites" is also a recommended album of his. This is Bach, by the way, and nobody can play Bach on piano like Glenn Gould. 

 10. The Best of John Cale: Cale's early musical career started with experimental music, most notably with the influential art-rock band the Velvet Underground. His solo career was successful, his music more subdued to be sure. He also produced Patti Smith's music, the Stooges, and Nico, the German ice queen singer. As an aside, these songs take me back to when I was first released from Stanford; I had a new and healthy lease on life, and these songs fill me up with that feeling again. 

11. Lou Reed: Coney Island Baby . . . Lou Reed has has an amazing career, both solo and as the frontman of the Velvet Underground .(Reed died in 2013, while I was living in LA. I was so sad. Brubeck died that year, too.) This is one of his cleaner albums, a tight, bright, nicely produced and beautifully rendered album. One of my favorites. He has a much more raw and offensive side: The Blue Mask, Transformer, Street Hassle, Metal Machine Music, there's plenty to get into, but this one is one of my favorites for sure.

12. Morphine: Cure For Pain . . . A hugely influential album for me, a top five in the list of favorite albums of all time. Listen to the sound of the two string slide bass. With the baritone sax and the jazz drums, Morphine is a sound all on it's own. A huge influence on my lapslide playing. I think that this is their best album.

13. Red Hot Chili Peppers: By The Way . . . After Paul Simon's Graceland, this album ranks #2 in my all time favorite albums. I love the Red Hot Chili Peppers, I have nearly all of their albums -- this one came out when I was a freshman in high school. Blood Sugar Sex Magic, Californication, and Stadium Arcadium are albums that are time period pieces of my life. This album is amazing. 

14. Seu Jorge: The Life Aquatic Sessions . . . This guy plays David Bowie songs on classical guitar, singing in Portuguese. There's a film directed by Wes Anderson, an art film called The Life Aquatic; Seu Jorge does the soundtrack for the film. Wes Anderson makes some beautiful artsy films with amazing soundtracks -- Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, Life Aquatic, and Moonrise Kingdom are some good ones.

15. Simon & Garfunkel: Sounds of Silence . . . Freshman year, this album was the soundtrack of my life. I remember each song, playing on my walkman, as I walked through the high school hallways, or took a stroll downtown alone. April Come She Will and Kathy's Song are some of my favorites.

16. Television: Marquee Moon . . . The often overlooked 1970's new wave band Television's magnum opus album that influenced so many musicians. A major influence on my lead guitar playing (when I play electric, something you've haven't seen yet). The melodic scales that Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd play on this album are amazing. I listened to these guys sophomore year; they were introduced to me by Marc, who made me all those cds. Also Richard Hell, Patti Smith, Lou Reed, The Velvet Underground, the Clash, the Grateful Dead . . . Marc changed my life. He's why I share music like this with people. 

17. The Velvet Underground : Self Titled . . . One of the most influential bands way ahead of their time, this album was after John Cale was fired by Lou Reed, and replaced by Doug Yule. This album was a game changer for the band, in that it had a lot of soft, intimate, beautiful songs, whereas the first two VU albums were a tirade of feedback and offensive subject material. My favorite band in the whole world, even above the Chili Peppers. Although not my favorite album (my favorite would be their second release "White Light/White Heat"), this is still a beautiful experience.

18. The White Stripes: De Stijl . . . Now separated, this husband and wife duo (or brother and sister, as they once claimed), are the originators of a style now known as garage blues. Their earlier albums are more raw, bordering on punk rock, trash garage rock, with a lot of noise, offensive to many. I love this band, I saw them in Tennessee in '06. Jack White continues to create music, but I have since tuned out, because I don't think that his new stuff is any good. This album is a good, cleaner introduction to the White Stripes, and you can probably get a sense of my lapslide and blues style influence from them. 

19. Xavier Rudd: Solace. . .This album is the reason that I play lapslide. Ben Harper, too, but I heard Xavier Rudd first. This is where I first heard No Woman No Cry on lap slide, and my life changed. This whole album is why I play lapslide in the style that I do. I've seen this guy three times, the first time was amazing, the second time was so so, and the third time I walked out because I was so bored. The first time I saw him, it was just him, with a lap slide, and he played digeridoo and percussion with his feet while he played. Xavier Rudd plays all the instruments on this album. Solace was shown to me by my best friend Dustin (as was the White Stripes, Ben Harper, Morphine, and a bunch of others). In a totally inappropriate anecdote, I lost my virginity to this album. Good stuff.

20. The Zombies: The Singles 1964-1969 . . . one of the greatest (and most overlooked) bands of the sixties. This album covers a lot of ground; there's not a song that I don't love on this album. The Zombies were an amazing act (the remaining members are actually on tour right now. Old!), but the band received no recognition whatsoever until they had disbanded. They had been broken up for years when their first hit "Time of the Season" finally came out. 

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