The Ten Album Challenge

Created: January 31, 2020

10 Albums that I liked and which most influenced me

This is a continuation of page 1 and includes two honorable mentions.

PAGE 2

Day 7, Sell Out, The Who

I challenged Dan Chicorel with this one. So much rock and roll takes itself so seriously. This album was the band's salute to top 40 radio, even featuring ads the band wrote. It preceded Tommy, and you can hear some of the same themes on both albums (compare Sell Out's "Rael" with Tommy's "Amazing Journey")

I later learned that British album releases are different than their American counterparts. Two lines in the American release of Real weren't in the British CD I bought years later. Two entire songs from the British release weren't in the American. And the American release was done with a touch of reverb throughout, while the British was not.

I was surprised that The Who never had a single rise higher than 8 on the US charts and never hit 1 on the British charts (per Wikipedia.) This album contained "I Can See For Miles", one of their two US #8's (the other being "See Me, Feel Me" from Tommy.

Who's Next may have been a better album, but this is the one that made me a lifelong fan of the band. By the way, this side of the album features band members Pete Townshend and Roger Daltry. The other side has John Entwhistle (considered by many to have been rock's best bassist) and drummer Keith Moon.

Day 8, In the Court of the Crimson King, King Crimson

This one utterly blew me away. It was my freshman year at college. Tim Prosser in one instant introduced me to both headphones and this album. It was the essence of the best progressive rock. Guitarist Robert Fripp was the leader, but it featured bassist/vocalist Greg Lake (later of Emerson, Lake and Palmer) who was remarkable.

I mention the headphones because they emphasized many of the recording techniques that were so great. And I wasn't even on drugs!

FM radio had pretty much differentiated itself from its AM counterpart as the one that would play longer songs that were far less "pop" oriented and there was no mistaking who was playing this one. "21st Century Schizoid Man" got the bulk of the airplay, though the haunting "I Talk To the Wind" with its gorgeous flute was always my favorite. It stands up today as one of my all-time favorites.

And the album cover...

Challenge to Robert Cassidy. I think this affected me like "Baker Street did him.

Day 9, Just Pickin', Freddy King

I've had two really great guitar teachers. The first was Michael Locke who not only taught me guitar, lifting me up a couple of notches after I thought I'd never get any better. To teach me musicality, he had me learn songs from this album, not just kinda like his style, but note for note, bend for bend. It was incredibly enlightening and I'll be forever grateful.

Freddy came to prominence back when there was generally black music and there was white music and rarely were there crossovers. But King, who had a wonderful voice, recorded an instrumental "Hideaway" which indeed crossed over and became a big mainstream hit. Johnny Harper (my other great guitar teacher) later argued about this album. I always felt that when Hideaway became a hit, the studio execs rushed him into the studio and said "We need to make an album to follow up Hideaway. We want it in two weeks!" So King did a brain dump of his killer guitar licks and, with his talent and experience came up with a guitarist's guitar album. Harper thinks more went into it than that.

King only sand on one track, the last, and his voice was sublime, but he'll always be remembered for his guitar work. I challenged Alan Mayer (who teaches guitar) in part because his wife Robin challenged me.

Day 10, Electric Ladyland, The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Last but SO not least, I actually borrowed this album from my best friend's sister and wore it out, so I had to replace it. The worn out cover I found on the internet you see to the right is pretty much what Linda's looked like when I was done with it.

A double album with no weak tracks, it features both Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" (which Dylan loved) and "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" which he made famous as simply Voodoo Child at Woodstock. This song was actually derived from an extended jam with Steve Winwood, titled just "Voodoo Chile" which is also on this album. Hendrix broke another jam "Rainy Day Dream away" into two parts, calling the second part "Still Raining, Still Dreaming." This is my favorite.

It's all utter brilliance. "1983 (a merman I should turn to be)" is so bizarre that I have no idea how he conceived it, let alone made it work so incredibly well. Of course we'll never know on what journies Jimi would have taken us. His memorial gravesite was my Washington stop of my 50 State Pledge. He is missed.

I HAD to challenge ex-bandmate Larry Carver who is even a bigger Hendrix fan than I am. And that's saying something.

Honorable Mention, Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass), The Rolling Stones

This one got nudged out when I added Bill Cosby. It's very seldom that a "Greatest Hits" compilation is indeed all hits. Of course they later came out with a double album of hits, but that was much later for this incredibly venerable band.

Much like The Byrds with "Mr. Tambourine Man", it was an opening lick, this one to "Last Time" that got me hooked on not just a band, but on rock and roll. It's been said that most of my generation would pick either The Beatles or the Stones, and I'm an unabashed Beatles fan. But this album made it close. Many years later, my band still played both Last Time and "It's All Over Now".

 

"Satisfaction" was so popular that when I was in Babe Ruth League, a guy I carpooled with noted that it played every time as we rode in. Later, after it was no longer on the charts, the team had a reunion and darned if it wasn't played en route! 

Honorable Mention, The First Family, featuring Vaughn Meader

I stand by my Bill Cosby album selection, but it was a bit of a knee jerk reaction for including a spoken word album. After posting it, I considered this one. Not long after JFK became president, this satire of life in the White House came out and was a huge hit. Like Cosby, I memorized much of it, and worked up a pretty good JFK impression.

Of course, I didn't understand most of the album. I was 11 when it came out, and the political references were generally over my head. It didn't matter. Kennedy had such a distinctive voice, and much of it was still funny to my 11 year-old mind. I still remember his inventory of kids' toys in the bathtub ending with "The rubber swan is mine." 

 

Kennedy's assassination was pretty much the end of Meader's career, but his 15 minutes of fame were epic!

Other comedy albums made an impact - "Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America" and Alan Sherman's "My Son the Folk Singer" were standouts for me. Oddly, I never owned a Weird Al album.