Albums that changed my life*

by Richard on July 26, 2006

My friend Andrew Careaga is inviting bloggers to share 10 life-changing albums. This is as good an excuse as any for breaking my recent near-silence here. So here are my 10 life-changing albums, in this particular order.

  • A Night at the Opera - Queen
    I know - Bohemian Rhapsody is probably over-rated, but this is an album of such range and power, it had an immediate and lasting effect on me when I first heard it, aged 12 I think. My friend Bratty had a stereo and we spent many happy hours annoying the neighbours (and his mum) with this one. Amazing stuff.
  • Inflammable Material - Stiff Little Fingers
    For me, this is punk at its finest, The Clash’s London Calling notwithstanding. There’s a savage anger to the music and lyrics that is overwhelming and absolutely compelling. Politically charged but absolutely not politically correct, Inflammable Material still moves me even after all these years. If you only have one punk album in your collection, make it this one. But don’t play it to your mum.
  • Out of the Blue - Electric Light Orchestra
    I realise that this is going to blow my punk credentials right out of the water, but at my age there’s no use pretending to have any street cred. OotB is pure pop, but with more than a nod to 70’s ‘prog rock’. Not every track is a classic, but a couple of duds is surely acceptable on a double album. My punk and metal mates were appalled by it, but it has stood the test of time. Jeff Lynne deserves more credit than he generally receives.
  • Hymns to the Silence - Van Morrison
    There is a spirituality about this album that drew me in the first time I heard it. Van Morrison is a genius. ‘Nuff said.
  • Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
    I had to put something by Pink Floyd here, and it was a toss up between this and ‘Dark Side of the Moon’. This was the album that alerted my teenage self to the machinations of the music industry. You wouldn’t think we’d need reminding, but the success of Sandi Thom shows that the industry still has the power to pull the wool over our eyes.

5 more albums tomorrow…

* OK, “life-changing” might be putting it a bit strong. Call it exagerrating for effect.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }


Andrew 07.26.06 at 11:20 pm

Glad you’re boarding the band (er, album) wagon, Richard! I’ll be posting to your list soon, as I get through my backlog.



Kim 07.27.06 at 5:30 am

How about (in chronological order):

Cream, Fresh Cream (1966)
The Beatles, Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
The Doors, The Doors (1967)
Bob Dylan, John Wesley Harding (1967)
The Band, Music from Big Pink (1968)
Laura Nyro, Eli and the Thirteenth Confession (1968)
The Grateful Dead, Workingman’s Dead (1970)
Bob Dylan, Desire (1975)
Bob Dylan, Slow Train Coming (1979)
Joan Armatrading, Me - Myself - I (1980)


Beth 07.27.06 at 8:38 am

Hmmm… In no particular order:

Pink Floyd: A Saucerful of Secrets
R. E. M.: Automatic for the People
Alanis Morrisette: Jagged Little Pill
Paul Simon: The Rhythm of the Saints
Bob Dylan: Desire
Tori Amos: Under the Pink
The Beatles: Revolver
k. d. lang: Ingenue
Louise Attaque: Louise Attaque
Nine Inch Nails: The Downward Spiral


Richard 07.27.06 at 8:38 am

A good list, Kim — not a Dylan fan at all, are you? ;)


Wood 07.27.06 at 10:27 am

Most of these are quite obscure, but most of them very firmly date me. All of them have introduced themselves to me at quite important times of my life.

From my teens:
Paul Simon: The Rhythm of the Saints (1987)
The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses (1990)
REM - Out of Time (1992)
REM - Lifes Rich Pageant (1985)
Belly - Star (1993)
Robyn Hitchcock - Eye (1989)

From university:
Nick Drake - Bryter Layter (1972)
Belle and Sebastian - The Boy With the Arab Strap (1998)

From the recent upheavals in my life:
The Postal Service - The Postal Service (2003)
The Arcade Fire - Funeral (2005)


Paul 07.27.06 at 4:22 pm

Several together from the seventies:
Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd
There’s One in Every Crowd - Eric Clapton
Led Zeppelin IV
and then later:
The Ramones Leave Home
Yemenite Songs - Ofra Haza
A Salt with A Deadly Pepa - Salt’n'Pepa


Andrew 07.27.06 at 11:12 pm

Wood - An interesting way to categorize those albums that have had an influence on your life.



Beth 07.28.06 at 1:23 am

This has made me think - it’s interesting (to me, not to anyone else - but hell, it’s one a.m. and I feel like sharing) that almost all of my university-age significant albums have been of classical music. The Nine Inch Nails is a crucial exception… But I could have added Bach’s Mass in Bm (the Gardiner recording); Medieval English Music by The Hilliard Ensemble; Steve Reich: Music for Eighteen Musicians; Christ Rising by the Choir of The Queen’s College; Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater.

And if you haven’t heard ‘Christian Zeal and Activity’ by John Adams, go and do so right now.


Wood 07.28.06 at 8:41 am

Music’s always been pretty important. It’s like my life has often had a soundtrack.

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