Top 101 albums that changed my life (PART 1)

So I guess you could say I had a moment to retrospect. Well, actually, I had plenty of moments after living through two years of COVID lockdowns. Nevertheless, It was a whole lot of fun writing this blog and reminiscing on the ‘Glory Days’.

Okay, so before anyone gets upset about what album I forgot or what they think should be in this top 101 or how much of an idiot I am because I have no musical taste whatsoever… I just want to point out that these are my top 101 albums that influenced my life. 

I’d also like to point out that I come from the era when ‘real’ bands wrote ‘real’ songs for ‘real’ albums. The past decade sounds like a mish-mash of artists that record to a sample loop on their computer and release ‘throw away’ singles. With a few exceptions of course.

There isn’t a whole lot of longevity in that and I do wonder what albums will last the test of time? Who will peeps be listening to in 20, 30, 50, years from now? 

Please let me know in the comments section below. I’m particularly interested in what others think about the music industry then, now, and tomorrow.

101. Paul Simon – Graceland (1986)

‘I’m going to Graceland’… well, at least that’s how I felt when my favourite uncle (Phil) tipped me off with this album. Not a bad reference point for a thirteen-year-old kid, wouldn’t you say? Although my mum did ask “why I had wasted my money?”.

As it turned out, only after a few short weeks my cassette somehow found its way into her tape deck. I often caught her listening to ‘Diamonds on the Soul Of Her Shoes’ as she was ironing the clothes. Not that I blame her. The album itself is a subtle yet refreshing tracklist of easy listening songs. And let’s not forget Chevy Chase’s lip-syncing cameo appearance in the official music video ‘You can call me Al’. Certainly an amusing contrast.

100. Crowded House – Self Titled (1986)

“She came all the way from America… she had a blind date with destiny…and the sounds of (insert some obscure reference)”.

What a great album and given my parents were divorced, this hit me on familiar territory. Probably the most definitive album by this band featuring several of their best songs.

99. Scatterbrain – Here Comes Trouble (1991)

This album spent 16 weeks on Billboard’s album charts, peaking at #138 and much to my delight, contained a cover version of Cheech and Chong’s ‘Earache My Eye’. The single ‘Don’t Call Me Dude’ was my favourite track and quite often I might feel the need to bomb heavy metal band Hidden Intent’s Facebook wall for fun with their Youtube video. 

The album artwork is by American Artist Robert Williams who also did the famous robot violation scene on the Appetite for Destruction album. According to Williams, he “was only merely suggesting the boy gets electrocuted”. A sense of humour closely aligned to this band.

The follow-up single ‘Down With the Ship (Slight Return)’ featured the main riffs from a number of classic rock and heavy metal songs, as detailed below. Good fun all round. Can you name each tune? What can I say other than these guys are cool. Just “don’t call them dude”.

98. Primus – Sailing The Seas Of Cheese (1991)
Nestled in the hills far away was the album… ’Sailing the Seas of Cheese’. This was the second studio album by the American rock band Primus, released in 1991.

It spawned three singles: ‘Jerry Was a Race Car Driver’, ‘Tommy the Cat’, and ‘Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers’. Les Claypool was on another level which is obvious when you listen to him play and sing ‘Tommy the Cat’. A fun, hectically alternatively funky tune that will blow your mind.

97. Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks (1977)

The only studio album from this band, but what a statement. This was the start of the anti-establishment punk movement and Michael James Hucknall (Simply Red) knew he was seeing something special at one of the band’s earlier gigs.

This album is revered as being the most influential punk album of all time. I would also say it was a gateway for many aspiring guitar players to feel good about playing loud and technically lousy. ‘God Save’ Johnny Rotten!

96. Simply Red – The Very Best Of (2003)

I know what you’re thinking but hey… are you feeling lucky? Throw this on and I guarantee this double CD compilation will set the scene for romance. Mick Hucknall was not just a great songwriter but could back it up with his live performance.

So, pour two glasses of red, grab your Tinder date by the hand, and enjoy everything that was and still is… Simply Red. Kissy kissy.

95. Jamiroquai – Travelling Without Moving (1996)

The album features the international hit single Virtual Insanity. It sold over 8 million copies worldwide, and correct me if I am wrong, but holds the Guinness World Records as the best-selling funk album in history.

No one with ears can deny Jason Kay’s (JK) abilities, particularly his voice. After seeing the band perform live in Brisbane (2002), I was an even bigger fan. ‘Travelling Without Moving’, ‘Cosmic Girl’, and ‘Virtual Insanity’ all showcase the band’s talents. So pretend your car is a Ferrari and crank this album up loud. JK would have wanted it that way.

94. The Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness (1995)

“Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage”. At least that is how I feel living with COVID restrictions for almost two years. Be that as it may, the Pumpkins knew how to write great lyrics and great music and this double CD compilation is a wonderful collection of songs.

My favourites were, ‘1979’, ‘Zero’, and ‘Tonight, Tonight’ which in my humble opinion are a testament to the skill and talent of this indie rock band. Rumour has it they disbanded because there were no more original sounding riffs.

Not sure if that is truly the case however, I empathise with their need to hang up the guitars and spend all the money they made. 

93. Morcheeba – Big Calm (1998)

I came across this band when I was living in North Queensland back in the early 2000s and from the get-go appreciated their sound and style. It might have been the cocktails I was drinking at the time or perhaps the smell of the salty sea air but whatever it was I understood where this band was coming from.

I quite often throw this album on and listen to it in its entirety on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Apart from the track ‘The Sea’, I couldn’t even tell you what the tracklist is other than to recommend listening to the album and just appreciating how their music draws you in and makes you feel.

Very uplifting.

92. Skid Row – Skid Row (1989)

Who didn’t love this debut album from Skid Row!? Angry or not you felt a connection with the band and their life from rags to riches. The story goes that Skid Row opened for Bon Jovi on their 1987 Slippery When Wet Tour with original vocalist Matt Fallon (Anthrax).

Sebastian Bach was then introduced to Skid Row by the parents of Jon Bon Jovi, who had seen Bach singing at a wedding and the rest is history. Sounds like a similar story to Vince Neil (Motley Crue). 

But yes I was an angry teenager so I naturally gravitated toward the rebellious song ‘Youth Gone Wild’. I still appreciated the slower, more meaningful ballad, ‘I Remember You’ which I believe is Sebastian Bach’s ‘Swan Song’ and the jewel in Skid Row’s crown.

91. Dokken – Back For The Attack (1987)

This is Dokken’s greatest, most successful album which features the song ‘Mr Scary’. Guitarist George Lynch is considered to be one of the most famous and influential 1980s metal guitarists and is known for his unique playing style and sound.

He is ranked No. 47 on “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” by Guitar World magazine and No. 10 on “Top 10 Metal Guitarists of All Time” by Gibson. George is certainly one of my favourite guitarists and for good reason.

Anyone who is brave enough to learn to play ‘Mr Scary’, I guarantee your fingers will bleed.

90. Beatles – Number One (2000)

This compilation album by The Beatles has everything you want and more. I admit I wasn’t a fan of the Beatles until much later in life. I must have finally matured!

Either way, I can fully appreciate their ability to write great songs. Standouts for me are ‘Get Back’, ‘Day Tripper’, ‘Hard Day’s Night’, and… oh well…let’s just say the entire album.

89. Midnight Oil – Diesel and Dust (1987)

“Out where the river broke, the dry wood and the desert oak..steam at 45 degrees.” I don’t know about you but to me, this ‘throw a shrimp on the barby’ Aussie concept album sums up the Australian summer.

Especially when you are driving lost somewhere out the back of Bourke. I have always respected this band and their good friends Yothu Yindi (YY). In fact, YY only just missed out on this Top 101. That said, Dead Heart and ‘Beds are Burning’ are just great songs and a lovely segue into the band’s next album Blue Sky Mining.

88. Bruce Springsteen – Born In The USA (1984)

Would you believe this was Bruce’s seventh studio album? It sold over 30 million copies and rightly so with the mega-hit songs Dancing in the Dark’, Cover Me and Glory Days.

An album that you can listen to from start to finish. Thanks Mum for buying this cassette back in 1984.

87. Jane’s Addiction – Nothing’s Shocking (1988)

Ranked in the 500 greatest albums of all time (Rolling Stone) this album packs a punch. Greg Prato (All Music) called Nothing’s Shocking “a must-have for lovers of cutting-edge, influential, and timeless hard rock.”

In 2006, Q magazine placed it at number 32 in a list of the “40 Best Albums of the ’80s”. I rankJane Says as one of my favourite songs to play on the guitar and ‘Nothing’s Shocking’ as one of my favourite albums to listen to.

86. Moby – Play (1997)

Everyone who was anyone had this album. And why not? It was something special. I had never even heard of Moby and had no clue this was his fifth album until I was introduced to it on a warm summer’s evening in tropical North Queensland (1999).

My friend had subsequently enlightened my musical taste to include this whole new genre of music (electronica). Of course, I bought a copy the very next day. It’s a bit tricky to play his songs on an acoustic but nevertheless, a great album from start to finish – it’s pure genius. Just press PLAY.

85. Eric Clapton – Time Pieces (1982)

This greatest hits album is not only the finest collection of Clapton’s best songs from 1970-78 but great to throw on at a party when you don’t know what to play.

Stand out songs include Cocaine, ‘Layla, and Shot The Sheriff’. Everyone’s a winner with this album.

84. Dire Straits – Brothers In Arms (1985)

Thanks to my favourite uncle (Phil) for putting me onto Dire Straits at an early age.  I was a young and impressionable 13-year-old at the time and just loved my Money For Nothing.

When I wasn’t listening to the album I was trying my hardest to learn the riff to that song. Still can’t play it very well.

83. Hilltop Hoods – Drinking From The Sun, Walking Under Stars Restrung (2016)

This 2016 remix has it all from Cosby Sweater to Montagne performing on ‘1955. A song about dreary Adelaide still living in the past.

I am originally from Adelaide so I get it. I am particularly proud of the fact these boys were Blackwood High lads. I guess some great things do come from Adelaide. Coopers Pale Ale also comes to mind.

82. Meatloaf – Bat Out Of Hell (1977)

Selling more than 43 million records worldwide there was a good chance you came across this vinyl in your parent’s collection. Certainly a New Year’s Eve favourite and rightly so. But it certainly wasn’t all Meatloaf and gravy in the pre-production days.

The album was written and developed by Jim Steinman who adapted the material from a futuristic rock version of Peter Pan, Neverland. Despite the album making sense to peeps retrospectively, it was difficult finding a record company that would sign them at the time.

Even the great Clive Davis (CBS Records) told Meatloaf and Steinman, “Do you know how to write a song? Do you know anything about writing? If you’re going to write for records, it goes like this: A, B, C, B, C, C. I don’t know what you’re doing. You’re doing A, D, F, G, B, D, C. You don’t know how to write a song…. Have you ever listened to pop music? Have you ever heard any rock-and-roll music…. You should go downstairs when you leave here…and buy some rock-and-roll records.”

Of course, Meatloaf answered with something along the lines of “F#@K You Clive”. Nevertheless… That was the one that got away for Clive and a whole lot of other record labels. RIP legend.

81. Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color (2015)

‘I Don’t Wanna Fight’ anyone on the album’s reputation as being nothing short of groundbreaking. I remember driving to work, possibly feeling a little depressed as it was a Monday, listening to local Adelaide station 3D Radio.

They had a reputation for playing non-commercial alternative music usually from bands no one has heard before. As it happened their album of the week was ‘Sound & Colorwhich I immediately fell in love with. Music to my ears as they say.

I purchased the album that week and made the title song my morning alarm. Even to this day that opening keyboard riff still soothes my restless soul. The album crosses over into a few different genres. Expect to hear a mix of ‘Americana Psychedelic Southern Soul Rock’.  

80. Foo Fighters – The Color and The Shape (1997)

Dave Grohl… You are definitely ‘My Hero’. This album was one of my favourites and when I listen to it now, it takes me right back to 1997 when I was living on the sunny Gold Coast. Oh, those were the days. Plenty of good times and great music.

This was the second studio album and the follow up to their first successful studio album (self-titled) which could have easily been selected into this Top 101. Or maybe it has.

Fun fact. Dave Grohl wrote and recorded all the instruments on his first album. Monkey Wrench was the first single release and I bought the album based on that one song. I didn’t even bother to listen to any other tracks when I purchased the CD. Which was ‘ballsy’ at the time, especially when CDs cost $30. And believe me when I say I had been stung before (eg. Soul Asylum). 

Hey Johnny ParkandEverlong’ are also right up there in my faves list but either way, it is an album that you listen to from start to finish. RIP Taylor Hawkins.

So, what do you think of my list so far? Now, it’s time to read PART 2.

5 thoughts on “Top 101 albums that changed my life (PART 1)

  1. Hi Rach and thank you for your comment. In the time I have been working on this post two musicians have died … which I hope is not a reflection of my work ethic.

    The good news is…. I have almost finished part 2 so stay tuned. Long live the music and power to the people. Your true and ‘fur-real’ music fan forever, Harmy

  2. I absolutely agree with you about the “real” songs, music comment. A lot of the albums in your list I know and love and some I grew up with. It’s great to hear a lot of these songs are still played today for the younger generation to enjoy. My daughter (21) did music in high school and some involved studying bands from the 80’s and 90’s. She commented one day that songs from that era are way better than most of the stuff produced now. I enjoyed going through your list and reminiscing.

  3. Yes, can agree on majority of them here..bringing back memories too. Some of the bands though, I have never heard of before. Onwards to read Part 2 now. 🙂 By the way I love top 100s of things too 🙂

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