Monday, September 27, 2004

Some of my favorites

I know that I've said alot about music, and since you know that music is important to me I thought I'd create a list of some of my favorite albums, songs and songwriters so that my influences can be seen. Perhaps you'll even listen to some of my choices.

Pink Floyd's "The Wall" is one of the best albums I've ever heard. It has flow, a good story, and incredible songwriting. The guitar work is so emotional and still sends shivers up my spine after all these years.
The Moody Blues "Days of Future Passed": Wow! This one goes back a few years but offers something fresh on every listen. The orchestral work is moving and of course the songwriting is superb. Everything falls into place in this album, pulling the listener into the experience.
Queensryche "Operation Mindcrime" is probably the only 80's concept album that really rocked. Sure it launched the group into fame, but it's too bad they are best known for "Silent Lucidity." Geoff Tate's voice is a thing of beauty and the dueling guitars blend seamlessly. I wish that the group would have developed into better songwriters though, since the follow up albums were lacking in that area.
AC/DC Highway to Hell & Back in Black; Quite possibly the best hard rocking, power chord albums of all time.

Metallica's Kill 'em All. I heard this album for the first time at a friends house. He had bought it from an import record store. This was before it was released in the US. Our jaws were on the ground for at least an entire day. This was the music that we were looking for. Fast, heavy, relentless. Their subsequent albums were incredible as well, then came the "Black album." Sorry but I lost all respect for them after that.
Led Zeppelin: Physical Graffiti. This double album is perfect for a long night of anything requiring a sound-track. From the growling guitar in "As I lay Dying" to the mediteranean influence of "Kashmir" this album is Jimmy Page's answer to "Hey you stole that riff from Robert Johnson."
Well that's probably it for albums for right now. I think it's time to discuss songwriters and songs:
Bob Dylan: What can't be said about this guy? He's done it all; political commentary, storytelling, social commentary, the abstract. Bob Dylan is Americana, even if he refuses to be identified as such. His songwriting is prolific and has spanned at least 4 decades that I know about. This guy is a living legend. My favorite songs by this guy are: Don't think Twice, It's Alright, Tangled Up in Blue, Knocking on Heaven's Door and of course All Along the Watchtower. Sure I know that some of them are mainstream, but's DYLAN!
Pink Floyd: They always seem to put the right note exactly where it belongs. They never, it seems to me, have too many or too few notes. They've always made me feel whatever it is that they want me to feel. "Great Gig in the Sky" is a perfect example. I feel lonely, overwhelmed yet somehow hopeful when I hear this song. To me David Gilmour is the perfect guitarist, not necessarily the most skilled but definitely plays with more feeling and emotion than anyone I've heard today.
Speaking of emotional playing one cannot exclude Gary Moore. This guy has chops. He can rock with you, make you boogie, or capture the tears in your song while his guitar sings and cries. Check out "Parisienne Walkways" or "Still Got the Blues" if you want to know what I mean.
Randy Rhoads was and would be the best guitarist in the world if he still walked this earth. This guy transformed heavy hard hitting metal into something that could adapt, a force that could drive you to soaring heights. He is the reason that Ozzy succeeded in his departure from Black Sabbath. Just listen to the way that Randy combined blues driven rock with classical driven intensity. Give a listen to the solos from "Mr. Crowley" and think about this: There was no finger tapping involved at all, everything was either picked or hammered on. The guy was a genius. I wonder how much of a metal god he would be today if he lived. We miss you.
Iron Maiden made metal fast and exciting. They gave us "Eddie" and all sorts of double entendre to work with, the songwriting was clever and descriptive. Songs like "The Trooper" and "Flight of Icarus" made us think of history and mythology in ways we never thought of them before. And what about the "galloping horse" rhythm? Enough said, they make the cut.
In the same breath as Iron Maiden, one cannot help but discuss Judas Priest. Rob Halford's voice is an inspiration to all the screaming metallions out there. He is the metal god. With the guitars of Glen and KK fueling the heavy metal flames, Priest ruled the metal world of the 80's. Listen to Victim of Changes or Screaming for Vengeance if you want to hear his incredible vocal range. I think that these last two groups inspired more would be guitarists than any other bands combined. These guys rocked.
And out of Europe, Germany actually, came the Schenker brothers and The Scorpions. And it was good. Who hasn't wanted to "Rock you like a Hurricane' or had a "Blackout," who hasn't listened to Klaus's voice and wondered how he sings so well in English yet when he speaks...oy ve!
There are too many more hard rock interests for me to elucidate: groups like Kiss, Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Deep Purple, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble, Steely Dan, Foghat, The Cars, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kix, Dio, Danzig, Helmet, Dokken, Skid Row, Ratt; Cake, solo artists like Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, Neil Young, George Lynch, John Lee Hooker, BB King, Albert "the ice-man" Collins, Jim Croce, Paul Simon, Frank Black, Billy Idol, Jimi Hendrix. The list could go on for about two hundred more names.
As far as my classical influences go, (and yes, I do listen to classical music) I am absolutely astounded by the hard driving rhythms in Tchaikovsky, by the smooth flow to Strauss, by the sheer inventiveness of Mozart and the ever present sadness in Beethoven.
Music, in the short and long runs, is a very important part of my life.


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