Top 25 Most Influential Albums meme

From Johnny B, whose intro I’m also purloining:
The title is self-evident, and I’m taking it to mean 25 albums that were most influential in shaping my music-listening tastes for all time. This is, as many have noted, VERY DIFFICULT- mostly because I’m trying to list albums that were truly influential, rather than just being a favorite.

BLUE – Miles Davis. First jazz album I could recognize without looking, led me to investigate others.
BEST OF JOAN BAEZ- Joan Baez. Oddly-named album that came out in 1959(!), with her performing several folk songs that became staples of the Green Family Singers, notably “So Soon In the Morning”.
WEST SIDE STORY Original Soundtrack. It was the Quintet version of Tonight (“The Jets are gonna have their way tonight”) that I discovered you can have more than one melody going on at once. The rest of the album’s great, too.
LIVE AT CARNEGIE HALL – Pete Seeger. A live album from June of 1963 that also influenced the repertoire of my father and the Green Family Singers.
BEATLES VI – My first Beatles album that we used to lipsynch to. Not my favorite, but the one that launched my Beatles obsession in earnest.
PARSLEY, SAGE, ROSEMARY AND THYME – Simon & Garfunkel. The first S&G album in the house, it was purchased, not by me or my sister, but by my father, in large measure for 7 O’Clock News/Silent Night. It launched my near complete Paul Simon collection, which led me to Dylan.
SUPREMES SING HOLLAND-DOZIER-HOLLAND – Motown albums in the day were disappointing. It had the hits, sure, but much of the rest of the albums tended to be weak. Not this one, which features Remove This Doubt later covered by Elvis Costello. More importantly, it highlighted the composers in a way that forced me to look at liner notes more carefully.
AFTERMATH – IMHO, the first decent Rolling Stones ALBUM; many more would follow. It also has the first pop song I owned of greater than 10 minutes, Goin’ Home; didn’t know you could DO that.
DISRAELI GEARS – Cream. A friend of mine chastised my 7th grade history teacher for referring to the group as The Cream, rather than Cream. Anyway, this was something unlike anything I’d heard before.
THE BAND – The Band. This is the second album with the brown cover. Roots music that was new and yet familiar.
BLUE – Joni Mitchell. An appreciation for the female singer-songwriter generally, and this one in particular.
TEMPTATIONS GREATEST HITS, VOLUME 2 – This was an album of my sister’s that was half the David Ruffin-led group, and half the Norman Whitfield-produced group featuring Dennis Edwards. It showed a real evolution of the group and of Motown generally.
LED ZEPPELIN – I remember clearly the day in June 1969 I heard the first LZ album at Harry Shuman’s house. It was an OMG sensation.
VOLUNTEERS- Jefferson Airplane. Very much an album suited to my budding activism.
WHAT’S GOIN’ ON- Marvin Gaye. Social consciousness in Motown music.
SURF’S UP – Beach Boys. While I owned Pet Sounds, I didn’t embrace the rest of the band’s oeuvre until this one, which launched an investigation both forward and back.
TALKING BOOK – Stevie Wonder. Though his later 1970s work was even better, this was the first album of his that I owned where he wrote, played, produced almost everything. (The Music of My Mind album did that also, but I bought it later.)
THAT’S A-PLENTY – Pointer Sisters. Eclectic. 1930s jazz, country, funk. I like me some eclectic music, which is why I enjoy Elvis Costello’s SPIKE so much.
LONDON CALLING – the Clash. While there were songs that moved me before this in the punk movement, no album was as significant.
DISCIPLINE – King Crimson. There’s a whole body of Robert Fripp’s work (the Roches, Daryl Hall) that I really enjoy, but this was the first in this time frame.
REMAIN IN LIGHT – Talking Heads. That whole fusion of what made them work for me coalesced here. The fact that I saw them live around this period (1983 or ’84) did not hurt.
REM- Murmur. This somehow got me to listen not only to them but also U2, who I have somehow linked in my mind.
ATLANTIC RHYTHM & BLUES – This is seven 2-LP sets covering 1947-1974 that got me in touch with lots of music of the past. And while this wasn’t a box set per se – it is now, with 8 CDs – it did motivate me to buy other historic boxes such as Chess, plus ones covering my growing up period, such as Phil Spector, Motown and Buddah.
NEVERMIND – Nirvana. I really didn’t know I was supposed to take this seriously. “A mosquito, my libido”? But I liked it and somehow ended up getting a bunch of Pearl Jam as well.
AMERICAN RECORDING – Johnny Cash. The first record on his new label in 1994 not only gave me a new appreciation of John R. but of the artists he covered.

Note that there are plenty of artists I like, such as the Mamas and the Papas, Elton John, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen who don’t make the list just because, in my mind, didn’t meet the criteria.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

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