Tuesday, April 3, 2012

15 Albums...

...that will always stick with me.

A friend posted a note on Facebook a while back listing 15 albums (records) that will always stick with him, with a challenge for everybody who read to do the same. These are off the top of your head albums that you always enjoy listening to or that tie into specific memories of times of your life.

I liked the idea and posted my fifteen, even though I knew I would be on the receiving end of some mockery. I like what I like. After some thought, I decided to write about my choices and how they influenced me. This may be a multi-part post, but I hope I can get it in one. 

This isn't to defend my choices, rather explain why they are important to me. 

1. Hootie and the Blowfish: Cracked Rear View.  This album came out while I was in high school. My group of friends listened to it constantly. It has a great mix of mellow and upbeat songs, and the lead singer has a great voice, right in my range. 

2. The Oak Ridge Boys: Step On Out. I've mentioned this album here before. I had this one on tape, and I completely wore it out. It won't even attempt to play anymore. I love the songs. Even more importantly, listening to the Oaks made me want to sing. I wanted to be Richard Sterban (the bass) when I grew up. My genetics didn't give me his lower register, but I still sing bass in choirs and I love singing.

3.  The Manhattan Transfer: Very Best Of.  The Transfer are a great vocal jazz quartet. Smooth, cool, and with a great blend. They know how to sing. This album evokes my time in the audition choir of my high school. I always felt like it was a huge stroke of luck that I got in to the choir, and I learned a lot while I was there.

4. Bon Jovi: Crossroads.  The band's greatest hits album. Another that my group of friends listened to in high school. I still enjoy listening to Bon Jovi, and Always, the new single from this album, is still a song I love.

5. Maná: Sueños Líquidos. THE great Mexican rock band. This was the first album of theirs that I bought after returning home from my mission to Peru. Still one of my favorite bands and this album is still one of my favorites from their catalog. I'm always excited when I find out they have a new album on the way.

6. Shakira: Pies Descalzos
7. Shakira: ¿Dónde Están los Ladrones? I knew putting two albums by the same artist was a minor faux pas, but I went with my gut instinct on these two. Shakira was just becoming popular in Latin America while I was in Peru. I heard her songs everywhere. These are her best albums, especially since her music changed quite a bit when she started doing English albums. The songs here are simpler and more heartfelt. And there are several really amazing tunes as well. Good stuff.

8. Meat Loaf: Bat Out of Hell 2: Back into Hell. Man do I love some Meat Loaf. Guy has a good voice and the song progression on his albums is great. This came out while I was in high school. Still love the CD and "I Would Do Anything For Love"? Epic.

9. Elton John: The Lion King. Great soundtrack. Amazing songs. My friends and I drove an hour and a half to St. George to see the movie on opening night. The opening song, "Circle of Life," ends with a huge boom from the drums and shows the movie title. A kid sitting in the row in front of us turned to his mother and asked, "Is it over already?" Cracked us up.

10. Billy Joel: River of Dreams. What an album! So many great songs. Again, released during my formative years of high school. I love me some Billy Joel, and this album is tops. The title track, Lullabye, All About Soul, all great tunes with some great philosophical and emotional content. Love it.

11. Enya: Shepherd Moons. Another high school album. Enya's music is achingly beautiful, haunting. It tends to immerse you in the moment. The entire album is great, but of particular note are Caribbean Blue, Book of Days and How Can I Keep From Singing. I tend to relate particularly well with the latter.

12. Evanescence: Fallen. This album was a revelation for me. It hasn't held up over the years since its release, but it showed me that there are bands out there that combine two of my favorite elements of music: a great singing voice and the driving drum beats and music of rock. This has lead me to two of my current favorite groups: Issa and Halestorm. 

13. Vocal Point: Instruments Not Included. Another high school album, but important for much more than that. This was my introduction to great a cappella music. I can't spell it, but I love it. I have three gigabytes of a cappella music in my iTunes library, and I'm always on the lookout for more. I even recently joined an a cappella group here in Korea, and it has been lots of fun.

14. 1986 London Cast: The Phantom of the Opera. Sarah Brightman is amazing on this album. This album was part of the reason I came to love musical theater so much. I can't put into words how influential this album was.

15. Sara Bareilles: Kaleidoscope Heart. I love this album. Most of the tracks make me emotional. Everybody has that one album that they feel was written about them. This is the album written about me. It's almost scary how much I relate to it.

There you go.