|Public Enemy, Takes a Nation to Hold Us Back, 1988|
1/10 In no real order I am posting 10 records that have had a great influence on me and I have kept in my life since my youth. As a kid my family had lived in the Lehigh Valley outside of Allentown and I remember spending many summers up in the Poconos. So when I heard Public Enemy's 1988 album "It takes a nation of millions to hold us back" for the first time and it blew my mind when Flavor Flav referencing the Poconos in lyrics of song "Cold Lampin With Flavor". More so hearing "Terminator X" mix the records on the tracks and in the music always amazed me and showed me at an early age the amazing art form of mixing records.
|Wendy Carlos, Switched on Bach, 1968|
2/10 of influential albums in my life, in no order. As a kid before high school, I favored primarily three kinds of music, hip-hop, rock and classical. In grade and middle school I was in choir and band, as well as being in the Church choir at a Church which hosted the infamous Bach choir of Bethlehem. My grandfather had sung in the Bach choir and performed in East and west Germany with the choir. I love Bach and the organ pieces was the only thing that would get me through the boring, bland and meaningless of going to church. I wanted to compose music inspired by composers like Bach and to eventually sing in the Bach choir myself like my grandfather but new adventures called me to Chicago. I had gotten into some electronic music in Chicago such as listening to Kraftwerk and when i found Wendy Carlos's "switched on Bach" as a kid it pulled two worlds together in my mind, the mystery of electronic music, with the love and feel of the Bach organ and harpsichord. It was as if NASA had shot my mind to a one way mission to space!
|999, Wild Sun, 1981|
3/10 Another influential records I had gotten as a kid living in Chicago in the 90's. It was 999's 1981 12 inch single of "Wild Sun". This song has been really important to me as a person who suffers from severe depression as listening to the song over and over again has gotten me through some dark times in my life and reminded me to be strong. I wish I knew suffered from depression as a kid when I bought the record though at Reckless Records on Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago. Still to this day I listen to records when I am under the weather as it reminds me that I am not the only one that feels down sometimes and it reminds me to be strong because I am me and there is no one else like me.
|The Specials, 1979|
4/10 This record is probably one of the most influential albums of my teenage years. There are even pictures of me floating around in back alleys of Chicago wearing a white shirt, thin black tie and black pants with a shaved head. The Specials got me into English ska such as English Beat, Selecter Slits & Madness. English ska opened the doors for me listening to Jamaican ska such as Toots and Maytals, Dandy Livingstone, The Skatalites, just to name a few, as well as listening to Trojan Box sets collections. Through ska I had gotten into dub which to be honest without ska and dub music I would not be alive today.
|A Tribe Called Quest, Midnight Marauders, 1993|
|Crass, Christ the Album, 1982|
|Beastie Boys, Ill Communication, 1994|
|Devo, Oh no! It's Devo, 1982|
|The Residents, Duck Stab, 1978|
9/10 Well here is an album from a band that shows the depths of my pre altered state teenage weirdness. I had first come across the Residents in the re-search republication of "Search and Destroy" zine. The photos of the band with eyeball heads and tuxedos, mystified me. After hitting Chicago record stores I found the Ryko disc release of "Hell" at Lorie's Planet of Sound in Lincoln Square. The album "Hell" was part of a two volume collection of Residents song along with "Heaven" and if you put the two albums together it would make a picture of "god''. The 2nd album i had found by the Residents was "the third Reich and Roll" which made a parody of American classic Top hits of Rock and roll, sound like you crammed 45 singles through an organ grinder of sorts. Though I chose here to post the album "Duck Stab" as I felt it was the one that fit through the flow of my selection of this top ten albums. The song "Hello Skinny" that appears on this album is a Residents classic as well as "Lizard Lady". Of course the track "Bach Is Dead" gives me a good laugh being a big fan of "Bach". Duck Stab also has a really good creepy birthday song entitled "Birthday Boy", which makes a good track to put on happy birthday mix tapes. After diving further into the Residents catalog I started to get into the amazingly weird guitarist "Snakerfinger" who appears on a number of early Residents albums and Snakefinger also released a number of solo albums on the Residents label "Ralph Records". Though Ralph records I got into other bands such as "Tuxedomoon", and the very odd "Nash the Slash" and "Renaldo and the Loaf" (which i discovered makes really bad first date music to play that flowed out of the bad idea fountain). I suppose I was a weird kid and finding the resident as a teenager fed the weird and absurd part of my mind as I travelled through a world that tried to bombard me with pop culture in the American Nightmare. Weird and the freaky is something I can relate to and this very much is a piece of weird and freaky Americana.
|Kraftwerk, Man Machine, 1978|
10/10 Like rings of an electro tree Kraftwerk has inspired and come into different layers of my life. The first Kraftwerk album I picked up at a record store in Chicago was "Man Machine" and this is another album that I have had so long that the jewel case has become scratched up and frosted. What is very interesting about Kraftwerk is how many different genres of music they had influences in, I remember countless of samples from Kraftwerk found in hip-hop, Miami bass, techno, electro and so many covers of Kraftwerk songs by Snakefinger, Balanescu Quartet, Big Black, Señor Coconut, Borghesia, Siouxsie and the Banshees, just to name a handful. Besides Kraftwerk inspiring many forms of electronic music and hip-hop you see many influences of Kraftwerk in electro punk and even contemporary composers. Later in the late 90's my free jazz friends in Dallas had gotten me into krautrock and this reconnected me again with Kraftwerk with their early recordings and previous project "Organisation". What also impresses me about early Kraftwerk recordings with Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger who are on early Kraftwerk recordings later left the group to form the band "Neu" which I am also found of. From electro, to hip-hop, Miami bass, techno, acid house, synth punk to contemporary composers, Kraftwerk continues to be one of the most influential modern musical groups that has had such a huge influence on me as well.
Honorable mentions (because 10 is not enough):
De La Soul, 3 feet and rising, 1989
Dead Boys, Sonic Reducer, 1977
Dead Kennedys, In God We Trust Inc, 1981
Lene Lovich, Stateless, 1978
Yellow Magic Orchestra, 1979
Killing Joke, 1980
Front 242, Offical Version, 1987