The 101 albums that changed my life (PART 3)

The beat goes on, and so does my top 101 playlist. We’ve got power chords, punk rock, loud guitars, and lyrics that raised a few eyebrows.

Want to know where it all started? Check out part one and part two of the top 101 albums of all time.

Now, get set for the next 20 favourites that shape the story of my life (so far)…

57. Don Morrison – Random Notes (2006)

Adelaide born Don Morrison has done it all. He has played in pubs, clubs, and halls. He has even been made an honorary citizen of Texas.

Now you are probably wondering, ‘who the heck is this guy?’ But I rate Don Morrison as one of Australia’s finest songwriters, singers, and guitarists. He’s shared the stage with the likes of Midnight Oil, Hunters & Collectors, and Billy Thorpe to name a few.  

My first introduction to Don’s music was when I was listening to Adelaide’s 3D Radio and ‘A Conversation with A Man from EMI’ was playing. This song is a funny tale of Don’s music career. Filled with plenty of hilarious references to Adelaide, I just had to call the station to inquire as to whose song it was.

They pointed me in the direction of a little second-hand CD store in Port Adelaide where I stumbled across the album ‘Random Notes’. A great album indeed. 

So the next time you visit the ‘20 Minute City’, check out the gig guide and look up Morrison. There might be a good chance he may be playing at the Workers Club in Semaphore.

56. Violent Femmes (1983)

The debut album by the Violent Femmes. Mostly recorded in July 1982. To everyday folk, Gordon Cano probably sounded like the worst musician/vocalist in the history of music. On the contrary, he and his fellow band members are extremely talented.

They caught the attention of university students early on and have since expanded their audience by at least three generations. I have been fortunate enough to have seen the Femmes play live at least four times and will drive across the country to see them play again. Every song is a crowd-pleasing sing-along.

55. The Rolling Stones – Hot Rocks 1964-1971

Back in the mid-90s I joined a dodgy mail subscription CD club and as a result, I purchased this compilation. I am not even sure if I paid for it.

Nevertheless, you’ll be the life of any party when you throw this on. Covering all of the biggest hits from the 60s this compilation has it all. Songs that I enjoy playing on the guitar include “Jumping Jack Flash”, “Can’t Always Get What You Want”, and “Paint it Black”.

54. Stone Temple Pilots – Purple (1994)

This album really hit home with me. I still belt out “Interstate love song” on the guitar (with wifey vocals, it’s a whole lot  of fun). The album was a commercial success for the band selling 3 million records. Other songs of interest include ‘The Big Empty’, ‘Vaseline’, and ‘Pretty Penny’

I must mention Dean DeLeo is probably the most underrated guitar player of our time. Scott Weiland on the other hand is one of the few vocalists that is comfortable singing his lyrics (naked) in a slower acoustic format. Not too many artists are capable of exposing themselves the way Scott has done. He also had a spell with Slash as vocalist for Velvet Revolver – certainly worth looking into. RIP Scott.

Fun fact. The album’s first single, ‘Big Empty‘, made its debut at STP’s MTV Unplugged acoustic performance in 1993. The song would later appear on the soundtrack to the 1994 Brandon Lee film The Crow, which reached number one on the Billboard charts. I was also a big fan of this soundtrack.

53. Live – Throwing Copper (1994)

If you didn’t have this CD in your collection then it was most likely stolen. Well, at least that’s what happened to me. So I bought this one twice. Needless to say, this album was huge.

If you weren’t listening to ‘Lightning Crashes’ at least four times a day on the radio, you were most likely singing along to ‘Selling The Drama’, or ‘I Alone’. This band certainly had plenty of Live energy (pardon the pun) and I only wish I had seen them perform.

52. Buffalo Tom – Sleepy-Eyed (1995)

I’ve always tried to sing along with the anthemic lyrics of Bill Janovitz but much to the disappointment of others who might be in earshot. Needless to say, I’ll continue to strum along to his songs on guitar.

I have fond memories of this album in particular, ‘Summers Gone’ which I had previously heard on a Triple J Hottest 100. Sleepy Eyed is a collection of clean sounding alternative rock tracks that hook you in. ‘Tangerine’ and ‘It’s You’ are also contagious and cool to play.

51. Jon Spencer & The Blues Explosion – Sideways Soul (1999)

I love this band. Jon Spencer on guitar, vocals and organ, Judah Bauer on guitar, Russell Simins on drums. I saw them live at Big Day Out (99) and got to see Russell Simins kick a hole in his bass drum during ‘Fudgy The Whale’.

He didn’t miss a beat as the ‘roadie’ did some running repairs on stage with gaffer tape. Best described as unconventional progressive blues rock, this American trio has their music style largely rooted in punk, blues, garage, rockabilly, soul, noise rock, rhythm and blues, and hip hop. Quite the mix but certainly influential. More interesting also is that they don’t use a bass player.

50. Grinspoon – Guide To Better Living (1997)

Originally unearthed by Triple J and hailing from Lismore, NSW, this powerhouse band made a statement. 

After seeing them play live in one of their early performances at Livid Festival I knew their alternative metal and post-grunge sound was going to be a sure thing with the punters. From start to finish this album shows just how polished these guys actually were. I love the vocal style and lyrics on this album and I think Phil Jamieson really proves himself.

Then there’s the guitar sound of Pat Davern, which often reminds me of the band Helmet. Pat has been a big inspiration for me especially when I’m ‘drop D’ tuned on my Gibson and in the mood to play loud. It’s fair to say Pat has introduced me to a riff-heavy tracklist. My favourite riff is “Champion” but there are so many great tracks such as ‘Just Ace’, ‘Pedestrian’, and of course ‘Sickfest’.

I don’t believe Grinspoon was able to back up the success of this album with any of their future releases. Perhaps addiction may have played a part. And any future release singles sounded a little too commercial for my liking. Either way, this album is a solid start from a homegrown Aussie band. 

So this weekend, pour yourself an imperial pint of homebrew and have a listen to ‘Bad Funk Stripe’.

49. The Pixies – Death To The Pixies (1997)

“Boy, you sure can holler”Anonymous

Kurt Cobain claims he spent his career basically ripping off this band. J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr was also appreciative of these folks well before anyone knew what alternative music was. So who were the Pixies?

Founding member, Black Francis (vocalist/guitarist), was the primary songwriter who often sang surreal lyrics about off-beat topics such as aliens and biblical violence. The band are associated with the Alternative Music boom in the 90s and their loud-quiet-loud shifts in song structure inspired the likes of Nirvana, Radiohead, and The Smashing Pumpkins.

This collection of songs covers 1987-1991 and features classics such as ‘Here Comes Your Man’, ‘Gigantic’, ‘Monkey Gone To Heaven’, ‘Velouria’ and many more. A must-have for any Alternative Music enthusiast.

48. Akoustic Odyssey (2007)

This little gem of a band resides in Adelaide and I was fortunate enough to see them perform several times. A lovely mix of acoustic guitars and wind instruments. This band started as a duo by Joshua Tsounis (guitar) and Anne Harrington (percussion) before it quickly grew into its current format of seven members.

Their first major performance was at the Adelaide Fringe Festival (2006) and their popularity has grown ever since. I particularly like Joshua’s guitar style. Originally a guitarist in a heavy metal band, Josh realised he was increasingly becoming deaf, so he switched to the acoustic guitar, or so the story goes. Either way, they are a great band and their songs are extremely hard to play.

47. Iron Maiden – Life After Death (1985)

“Forgive me father, for I have sinned… I have listened to the devil’s music”.

I confess I was a massive Maiden fan in my teens. When I wasn’t drawing their mascot ‘Eddie’ (who featured on every album cover), I was listening to this double CD compilation which BTW shreds.

Some of the greatest riffs ever recorded and all packaged into this collection of Iron Maiden’s best tracks including ‘Number of the Beast’. This is even better on the live DVD. The band were in their prime when they recorded this live performance so sit back and enjoy.

46. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Chronicle The 20 Greatest Hits (1976)

Covering songs from 1968 to 72 this chronicle is a good starting point for CCR fans alike. There is no point in rattling off my favourite tracks.

Just listen to all twenty tracks and tell your friends “You heard about these guys on the grapevine”.

45. Fleetwood Mac – Rumours (1977)

Rumours of break-ups, bed-hopping, relationships, and straws up nostrils. This album punches above its weight and still sounds good in 2022.

The intention was to write a pop album. Lindsay Buckingham pitched the song ‘Go Your Own Way’ to Mick Fleetwood by banging on a tissue box to demonstrate how he wanted the drums to sound. It’s fair to say heavy drug use and relationship break-ups helped to shape the album’s lyrical content. And how does a band write a best selling song with just two chords?

Crazy, and we still hear countless covers of these songs today with the recent ‘Dreams’ remix. I particularly like the feuding lyrics to ‘Go Your Own Way’. A song that essentially recounts the break-up between Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. 

Rumours was an instant commercial success selling over 10 million copies within the first month of its release and 40 million worldwide today making it one of the best selling albums of all time.

44. Rodriguez – Cold Fact (1970)

I didn’t realise I was searching for Sugarman until I found him…

Probably the most bootlegged album of all time. This debut album from American singer/songwriter Rodriguez sold poorly in the US and was subsequently dropped from his record label forcing him to find work in construction and blue-collar roles.

Fortunately, someone took a copy of the album to South Africa where bootlegs made their way into every backyard party making Rodriguez a household name. He later toured South Africa in 1998 and played 6 live sell-out performances. The 2012  film ‘Searching For Sugarman’ tells the fairy tale story of how this tour was put together and put a lot of the rumours to bed.

One such rumour suggested Rodriguez had become so disillusioned with the music industry, that he set fire to himself during his final live performance. Of course, this never happened but people living in South Africa and Australia did want to know what became of the man, the myth, the legend. Turns out he was living a humble life in his hometown of Chicago.

Fast forward 28 years and he finally got the recognition (and a few bucks) that he deserved.

My favourite songs include ‘Sugar Man’, ‘Crucify Your Mind’, and  ‘I Wonder’. But I’ll let you be the judge.

43. Dramarama – Cinema’ Verite’ (1985)

The first and very influential album from this American alternative rock group took pride and place in my collection. ‘Anything, Anything’ was a song I first learned on the guitar and still love playing it to this day.

“I’ll give you candy, give you diamonds
Give you pills, give you anything you want
Hundred dollar bills
I’ll even let you watch the shows you want to see
Just marry me, marry me, marry me”

This song still sounds like it could have been released yesterday. A real timeless jam. My other favourite track is ‘Emerald City’ and I have been seen stumbling my way through this one drunk on stage. The album itself is a mix of power pop, and alternative rock songs that are pleasant enough to listen to on any occasion.

42. The Smiths – Singles (1995)

The Smiths are Andy Rourke (bass), Mike Joyce (drums), Morrissey (vocals), and Johnny Marr (guitar). Now everyone loves to talk about how great Morrisey was but I feel compelled to discuss the guitar genius that is Johnny Marr and the song, ‘This Charming Man’.

That opening riff. The whole song. Incredible. Johnny is one of the most underrated guitarists.  As a guitarist myself I can say that soloing is infinitely easier than the complex chord-based riffs Johnny is known for. It’s easier to play one note at a time than rapidly switching chords. 

Now Morrissey. Definitely the most gifted and hilarious lyricist and a great singer. He is Oscar Wilde, reincarnated as a rock singer. 

Punctured bicycle
On a hillside desolate
Will nature make a man of me yet?
When in this charming car
This charming man
Why pamper life’s complexity
When the leather runs smooth
On the passenger’s seat?
I would go out tonight
But I haven’t got a stitch to wear
This man said, it’s gruesome that someone so handsome should care”

(This Charming Man)

41. Soundgarden – Superunknown (1994)

I remember it like it was only yesterday. Buying this CD, firing it up on my TEAC stereo, and reading the lyrics along with each song. My brother had walked into the room and remarked “That’s a cranker to have in your collection”.

Superunknown certainly captured the heaviness of the band’s earlier releases while displaying a more diverse range of influences. The song ‘My Wave’ features a chunky 5/4 riff and Matt Cameron’s drumming really shines on this track – a huge factor in the band’s success.

‘Spoonman’, ‘Fell On Black Days’, and ‘Black Hole Sun’ are all great songs that unravel some of the depression the great man Chris Cornell had experienced. It certainly set the tone for the album and has since been regarded as one of the greatest grunge albums ever produced selling 9 million copies worldwide.

“Cry, if you want to cry
If it helps you see
If it clears your eyes”

RIP Chris!

40. Toothfaeries – Where? (1998)

The Toothfaeries are a long disbanded folk-punk band from Brisbane, Australia. Formed in 1991 by Marcello Milani and Grant MacMillan, the band lineup changed a fair bit over the years. I was fortunate to see them perform live in their seven-piece format at the Big Day Out 1997-98 and bought both their albums ‘High Heels Pumpin’ and ‘Where?’.

I also saw the Two-Faeries (drummer and vocalist) at some bowling club in Brisbane back in 2003. I got to speak with Marcello who was happy to show me how to play my favourite song, ‘Who-B-Dat’. Which features my fave lyric…

“It’s so easy to hide away from life and just do nothing.”

You will find their music on YouTube and I recommend checking out their live performances such as the Woodfolk Festival in Brisbane in 2007. 

Finally, these guys deserve more credit than they get, one of the best bands in OZ!

39. The Jimi Hendrix Experience (2006)

I am fairly certain my guitar listens to this album when I am not home. Most likely toggling between Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. 

This box set features live performances as well as some rarities. This list includes ‘Purple Haze’, ‘Highway Chile’, ‘Little Wing’, ‘Gypsy Eyes’, ‘Stone Free’, ‘Hey Joe’ and ‘Foxy Lady’, among others. I have always enjoyed playing these songs on the guitar, particularly, ‘Purple Haze’.

There was something charming about Hendrix and his music. The band consisted of Hendrix (vocals/guitar), Noel Redding (bass), and Mitch Mitchell (drums).

Fun fact. The day the album was released Hendrix played the song ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ unrehearsed at Saville Theatre with Beatles members Paul McCartney and George Harrison in the audience. It was a jaw-dropping moment for McCartney, Harrison and the audience, as no one in history has done what Hendrix did.

38. Alanis Morrisette – Jagged Little Pill (1995)

A girl (friend) got me onto this album in the mid-90s. I had heard a couple of songs on the radio but didn’t think too much of it until my long time sweetheart had decided that she “didn’t love me anymore”.

This sadly resulted in my ego going on a 6-month vacation. So to hear these lyrics touch upon themes of aggression and unsuccessful relationships, over a pop-grunge sensibility to Morissette’s angst, was music to my ears.

37. Offspring – Smash (1994)

An album so good I had to buy it twice. Another of my many CDs that was unfortunately stolen but hey, I can’t say I blame a peep for liking great music. ‘Come Out And Play’ was a song my friends and I used to jam out on in the garage days back in ‘95. We weren’t really good at playing our instruments then but who cares right?

It’s all about having fun and that’s what we did. Along with Green Day’s Dookie, Smash was responsible for bringing punk rock into the mainstream and helped pave the way for the emerging pop-punk scene of the 1990s. 

‘Self Esteem’ was another of my favourite tracks to play. The lyrics are about an abusive relationship in which the girl takes advantage of her boyfriend, as he has “no self-esteem” to stand up to her. Sounds familiar (eye roll). In a nutshell… This art form depicts the human population very well.

We’re all blockheads.

So, what do you think of my list so far? Now it’s time to read PART 4

2 thoughts on “The 101 albums that changed my life (PART 3)

  1. Love the Femmes, Live & Alanis, those three were played over and over and over and I still play two of them now. Big fan of CCR too.

  2. Know a few of these ones and as to Alanis Morrisette, my ex hubby loved her album and played it non stop at the weekend and I’m not sure why, but I was never into her singing so would go outside and do gardening. It also amazed me with Fleetwood Mac when I heard the song only had 2 chords.

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