13 albums

Been thinking about doing an experiment whereby for the month of September I listen only to a few key albums that were massively influential to me in my teens. Things that made me want to pursue music.

I DJ on Friday nights, so I’ll have to make an exception to accommodate my show, and I’m working on demos, so naturally I can’t help listening to my own stuff there, but aside from that I think it’s time to reconnect with the albums that hit me so hard back in the day.

I picked the following 13 albums [no particular order]:

Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols [Sex Pistols]
This is What You Want, This Is What You Get [Public Image Limited]
Nevermind [Nirvana]
The Downward Spiral [Nine Inch Nails]
Antichrist Superstar [Marilyn Manson]
Appetite For Destruction [Guns N’ Roses]
Joe’s Garage [Frank Zappa]
Express [Love & Rockets]
The Sky’s Gone Out [Bauhaus]
Songs of Faith and Devotion [Depeche Mode]
Seven & the Ragged Tiger [Duran Duran]
Cargo [Men At Work]
Shooting Gallery [Shooting Gallery]

Of course it leaves a lot out. My friends will ask where the Skinny Puppy and Front Line Assembly are. Well, truth is that while I listened to Puppy and FLA in high school, it took a few years of growth til I really became a hardcore fan. Ditto KMFDM and a bunch of other bands I love now and have loved for ages. Might have to do the experiment a second time, then.

But in the meantime, if you want to know what I’m listening to when I’m not DJing, see above.

Let’s see if I can sort out the right order here…

I used to sneak into my brother’s room to listen to his copy of Seven & the Ragged Tiger because at that point in my childhood my parents still thought that only Anne Murray and the Care Bears were acceptable listening for my age. So I’d sneak into his room to listen on headphones, pretending I was listening to the Care Bears record.

Around the same time, I also started to listen to Men At Work, first with Business As Usual in the same way I listened to Duran Duran and then I stole Joe’s cassette copy of Cargo for my Walkman. So much better than the Mini-Pops cassettes my mother thought were OK.

A couple years later my habit of listening to the late night countdown of the day’s top songs on LG73 [CKLG, 730 on the AM dial in Vancouver] introduced me to “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and by that point I was allowed to pick my own cassette out at the mall record store so long as the cover art and song titles passed inspection with my mother. So I quickly discovered that actually “Sweet Child O’ Mine was the lamest track on Appetite For Destruction. Thus began my like of hard rock sleaze, as I also got into the LA scene bands at that point. This was, oh… grade 4 or 5. And to think that 10 year olds today get stuck listening to the Jonas Brothers, truly the decline of western civilization…

Speaking of which, Shooting Gallery was one of Andy McCoy’s projects after leaving Hanoi Rocks and apparently getting clean. The same might not be said for his lead singer, Billy G. Bang, who long since vanished into the drug dens of NYC after the short-lived project broke up. Too bad, he had an incredible voice, and Shooting Gallery’s blend of hard rock with more exotic elements light almost gypsy-sounding riffs, etc. were definitely my favorite out of the “sleaze rock” scene [well, them and Faster Pussycat…]

Anyway. The next was when I got into old punk when I was around 13. While I did eventually start to like the Clash and the Ramones etc. it really begins and ends with Johnny Rotten. I was a huge Sex Pistols fan and also got massively into Public Image Limited. I would go order every book about the Sex Pistols from England’s Dreaming to I Was a Teenaged Sex Pistol to 12 Days on the Road: The Sex Pistols and America and others whose titles I’ve long since forgotten and listened to Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols and everything I could get of Public Image Limited on repeat and watching The Great Rock n Roll Swindle and Sid and Nancy constantly. Choosing a PiL album for this was tough as it could have been any of them, but the memory of listening to This Is What You Want, This Is What You Get on cassette over and over again slightly edged out Compact Disc and That What Is Not.

Shortly afterwards [Grade 9/10], my friends got hugely into Nirvana and I got hugely into old goth. Like with PiL, Bauhaus and Love & Rockets were hard to pin to just one album, but both The Sky’s Gone Out and Express edged out the other albums. I also got into Joy Division and the Cure, but never quite as much as Bauhaus and Love & Rockets.

This was also around the time a long like of Depeche Mode grew into love. DM was my first concert in Grade 10, the Songs of Faith & Devotion tour. While they’ve put out many great albums, for me this is the greatest one for songs, though Music For the Masses and A Broken Frame come very close. I was gradually getting drawn more and more towards electronic artists and soon the industrial wave would come.

Grade 11 was when Nine Inch Nails hit. Through them I discovered Skinny Puppy, KMFDM, Ministry and all the rest, though they were a bit like Depeche Mode in the sense that I liked these bands for a long time before it built into a strong love, and most of the industrial bands I love now I didn’t fully love them til my mid-20s [hence their lacking on this list of 13 albums].

Nine Inch Nails also begat Marilyn Manson, well not really but in terms of me finding out about Manson. And I connected to his work right away, though Antichrist Superstar actually didn’t come out til I was near the end of Grade 12. Prior to that I was listening to Portrait of An American Family way too much.

Alongside NIN and Manson, Grade 11 also saw me getting into Frank Zappa. Actually, mid-Grade 10 I went with my brother to see Duran Duran play at the Pacific Coliseum, Warren Cuccurullo was their guitarist then and it was a few days after Frank Zappa died, so prior to Duran Duran’s set as things were turned over from the openers to their stage set up the sound system played Joe’s Garage. I thought it was hilarious and cool and asked my brother if he knew who the artist was. And of course he did. And I got Joe’s Garage on CD for Christmas from my mother, who had by this point come to not be so horrified by song titles like “Crew Slut” and “Fembot in a Wet T-Shirt.” Or maybe she was just glad it wasn’t the goddamn Sex Pistols.

Grade 11 and 12 was also when I started listening to Nirvana. Kurt was already dead, of course, but you couldn’t avoid hearing Nirvana everywhere in the high school art room as people fought over the CD player and Nirvana was usually the happy medium everyone liked. So I eventually got a copy of Nevermind.