This particular post was my first on Facebook a couple of months ago, so I thought I’d share it here with you. Read on.
I’ve been tagged on this topic a couple times, so I thought I’d spend some time thinking aboout it and here’s my choices, in somewhat loose chronological order. Some of these are double choices, as they were both sides of a cassette tape, so I’m counting them as one.
Magical Mystery Tour – The Beatles: First record I ever bought with my own money. There used to be a radio station in Mexico City (where I lived during my childhood) called Radio Éxitos that would have a Beatles hour from 3-4pm daily. I would listen daily, without fail. Didn’t know anything about music, but sure did like this music, well enough to start a “record collection”.
Born To Run – Bruce Springsteen: I used to listen to KMET-FM in Los Angeles on my walk to school every morning. I had no idea who The Boss was, but I identified with his themes of alienation, disenchantment, and rebellion. Plus he writes damn good songs…
Hard Promises – Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers: The Waiting had always been one of my favorite songs, as it would get pretty good airplay on Mexican FM airwaves during its release. Mike Campbell’s guitar playing on this record, along with Springsteen and Strummer, converted me into a disciple of the Fender Telecaster.
Punk and Disorderly, Vol. I (Compilation, Posh Boy Records): I used to know this guy Greg in high school in California who was a punk rocker, who could really draw well and always had painstakingly detailed renditions of logos from his favorite punk bands emblazoned on his blue denim MEAD binder. We were brand new juniors then (I was 16 at the time, as I skipped a year forward), and I asked him “Greg, what’s punk rock?” I’d never heard of it south of the border, so he smiles and loans me this tape. “Race Against Time” by Charged G.B.H. leads the sonic assault, followed by the Vice Squad, Dead Kennedys, and U.K. SUBS. I listened to it several times that night with headphones, slowly but surely reorganizing my neurons and preparing them to receive the band that changed my life forever.
The Clash/London Calling – The Clash: The following day, I asked Greg if he had anymore and loans me another tape, this time by Strummer and Co. Life as I knew it has ceased to exist. My mission in life became to learn how to play guitar, and the seed of desire to play music in a band is planted. Question authority and everything I know, try look at things differently. The electric guitar becomes a lifelong obsession, fueled by rock’n’roll.
Under The Big Black Sun/Los Angeles – X: Two words: Billy Zoom. Gretsch guitars, a big beat, pulsating bass, and the intensity and desperation of living in L.A. all bottled up on 2 slabs of vinyl. Listening to X, I hear something that sounds oddly familiar, but can’t really put my finger on it. Much later, I’d recognize it as rockabilly.
Rodney on The ROQ, Vol I, III and III and Rat Music For Rat People Vol I (Compilation): More punk rock education. DOA, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, The Nuns, Flipper, TSOL, Social Distortion, Agent Orange, Adolescents, The Vandals and more…
Never Mind The Bollocks – Sex Pistols: Another platter full of guitar fury, cranked up to the max. “No Feelings” was my favorite cut on this record, with stellar rhythm guitar from Steve Jones. Very influential to my development as guitar player.
Tim – The Replacements: As I was more or less “broadening my horizons”, I started listening to music other than punk rock, as I knew it. Read about this album in the L.A. Weekly, listened to it, and loved it. I think that listening to this album started me thinking in terms of “songs”, other than in terms of “guitars”.
Declaration – The Alarm: A record of anthemic songs that understood how I felt at the time, and the prospect of entering adulthood “And now they’re trying to take my life away, forever young I cannot stay…”
Generation X/Kiss Me Deadly/Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls – Generation X: Listened to these albums endlessly. Songs about rebellion, teenage love, and fun, all three records sound very different but excellent nonetheless. Profound, romantic, “Kiss Me Deadly” is one of the greatest love songs ever written, along with “Train in Vain” by The Clash. More great guitar on all three.
The Reckoning – R.E.M.
Lone Justice – Lone Justice
Pursuit Of Happiness – Beat Farmers
These records here mark a change of direction in my musical development as a player and listener as my first examples of roots rock/country rock in my turntable. R.E.M’s “Don’t Go Back To Rockville”, Lone Justice’s “East Of Eden” and The Beat Farmers’ “Hollywood Hills” pretty much helped crystallize my current approach to guitar and songwriting, even during my years in rockabilly.
Rant ‘n’ Rave/Built For Speed – The Stray Cats: First real introduction to rockabilly, while I was overseas in Germany during the late 80’s. Before guitar, didn’t like ‘em so much – I didn’t get the MTV aesthetic, and as a “punk” I’d found them too bland or “oldies” sounding. After I’d been playing for about 3 years, I got bit by the rockabilly bug and Brian Setzer becomes a “guitar mentor”.
Best of ACE Records – Link Wray: Upon my return from overseas, I played in a number of bands until I finally landed a gig in a L.A. based outfit called The Ultramatics. I placed an ad in Music Connection magazine that mentioned Generation X, The Clash, X, surf and rockabilly, and it was answered by Rick Ballard and P.J. Wolff later on that week. I went and met them at Ben Franks in Hollywood, I brought down a walkman cassette player and we listened to each others recordings on the spot. After chatting a bit, we exchanged numbers and demo tapes and arranged for a jam at their rehearsal studio in downtown L.A. I was thrilled to play in a band that did this kind of music, and after joining, we started exchanging some records. Rick turned me onto Link Wray and the lo-fi rockabilly tones that dominated the band’s sound.
Gravest Hits/Songs The Lord Taught Us/Psychedelic Jungle – The Cramps: ‘nuff said. Fuz guitars, tons of tape echo, and psychobilly insanity. I wanted to be the next Congo Powers. Lux Interior will be missed.
Legends Of Guitar: Rock, The 50’s (I & II), Rockabilly Hits (vol. I & II): Essential cuts from Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Stray Cats, Ray Campi, The Blasters, Tex Rubinowitz, Robert Gordon, Johnny Horton. An excellent set of primers.
The Blasters Collection/American Music – The Blasters: Another huge influence, right up there with Los Lobos and X, as far as L.A. goes. Little did I know that I’d be making records for Rockin’ Ronnie Weiser’s ROLLIN’ ROCK RECORDS 10 years later.
SUN Records Collection (box set): No explanation needed. Cash, Presley, Perkins, Jerry Lee, lots of cool R & B, honky-tonk… the list goes on.
The Buck Owens Collection (1959-1990) – Buck Owens: The Bakersfield sound that influenced countless others.
Honorable mentions: The Virginian (Neko Case), Reverb Deluxe (The Derailers), Savvy Show Stoppers (Shadowy Men From A Shadowy Planet), Everywhere at Once (The Plimsouls), Urban Beaches (Cactus World News), CD presents The Avengers (The Avengers), Armed Forces/This Year’s Model/My Aim Is True (Elvis Costello), Caress of Steel (Rush), Let It Bleed (Rolling Stones), Boy/The Unforgettable Fire – U2, Vienna (Ultravox), Flat Duo Jets (Flat Duo Jets), plus lots more.. Bowie, Nick Lowe, Cheap Trick, Hanoi Rocks, lots of power pop, new wave, honky-tonk, soundtrack instrumental stuff, etc. Check out my profile here on Facebook for a more detailed list. Hope you didn’t find this too boring!
Thanks for reading,