I got tagged in a music prompt yesterday which inspired me to make this little post. The challenge was to post 10 music albums that have had an impact on you throughout your life. I’ve done a few of these types of prompts before on Facebook, also back in the Myspace days and even further back through to my time on LiveJournal as music is such a big part of my life. I am emotionally attached to it. Music moves me to tears, makes me angry, fills me with hope and confidence and is linked to so many parts of the jigsaw of my life. I have noticed when compiling my list, they are pretty much all albums from my teen years. I thought about the more classic artists I love (The Beach Boys, George Michael, Metallica, Prince, The Kinks, Pink Floyd) and artists I have discovered and adore later in life (SBTRKT, Jose Gonzalez, Skrillex, Disclosure, Ecca Vandal) but it’s more a case of particular songs with those kinds of artists for me, rather than their albums having a massive influence on my life. Actual albums that I know from cover to cover, each song being the perfect transition to the next, weaving a story throughout my life were all from my teen years. I often joke that I’m stuck in the 90’s but I guess that’s true. I feel so connected to music and I guess the heightened emotion of teen-hood has really influenced my list. I wanted this to be true to me, not a show off list of the eclectic and amazing tastes I’d like people to think I have. With a different and bigger audience now, I’d love to share with you 10 albums that are so important to me and of course to hear about yours, too.
In no particular order, here are my picks:
Antichrist Superstar – Marilyn Manson
I started listening to Marilyn Manson when I was around 15 years old. I had already thrown myself into the alt music scene working my way through UK Indie and Grunge (which I’ll touch on later) and then I discovered Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. I was personally a little to young to appreciate Trent Reznor’s skills, song themes and industrial-type leanings (that all came flooding in later) but the call of Manson’s catchy marching beats, razor-like vocals and creepy vibes called to my little dark soul. I love most of Manson’s earlier work but this album in particular resonates with me on such an emotional level. It helped me become less scared at a time when bullying was rife at secondary school. It helped me care less about those who hurt me and made me feel strong enough to be a better, more honest version of myself. The experience of seeing many of these particular tracks live too will also last a lifetime in my memories. No matter what you think of the man himself, he is one hell of a performer and this album, to me, is full of some of his finest.
My favourite tracks on the album: Angel With The Scabbed Wings, Kinderfeld, 1996.
Experience – The Prodigy
11 year old me fell in love with The Prodigy the first time I heard them. Having older siblings I was somewhat influenced by their musical choices, from Bananarama to Guns ‘N’ Roses and the rave scene. The prodigy’s amazing use of samples and dark, alien sounding electronic melodies pulled me right in. This particular album is branded into my brain. I know every second of it by heart and can sit and listen to it over and over again. It gets me motivated, hyper, freaked and chilled through a winding path of aural delight. It holds an extra special place in my heart as my husband loves it as much as I do. It never fails to remind me of him when I listen to it. Weather Experience is one of my favourite songs of all time, it feels like it takes me to a different plain when I listen to it. There are some absolutely stellar Prodigy tracks that aren’t on this album of course but this one just had to make my list.
My favourite tracks on the album: Your Love, Out Of Space, Weather Experience.
Unplugged – Alice In Chains
I’m not usually a fan of live albums but two appear on my list. How contrary of me! The first of the live albums is this beauty. I adore Alice In Chains and this Unplugged album contains some of my favourite songs, uniquely performed with passion and pain. I am a sucker for gut-wrenching performances and darkness within music. Layne Staley’s performance throughout this highly anticipated ‘return’ show is so raw, stripped and open that I can’t help but be drawn in by it again and again. Certain songs actually make my heart hurt. The delicate reworkings of some of their most monstrously grinding sludgy grunge tracks is just perfection to me.
My favourite tracks on the album: Sludge Factory, Down In A Hole, Would?
Unplugged In New York – Nirvana
My second live album on a top 10 list of albums from someone who (in general) hates live performances… Yep. I thought long and hard about which Nirvana album to have on my list. They needed to be here as grunge was, has been and will continue to be a massive part of my music life. I discovered the grunge scene through Nirvana. So many weird and wonderful doors of musical exploration were opened to me from Kurt Cobain’s starting point. I adored the beautiful melodies weaved within heavy oppressive rhythms and relentless guitars. The raw energy and fight mixed with hurt and cutting realness of depression reached out, touched my soul and I never looked back. I wouldn’t have discovered one of my favourite genres without Nirvana and they are still to this day one of my favourite bands. I chose this album as very much like Alice In Chains, the reworkings of some of my favourite songs intoxicated me. The versions of Jesus Doesn’t Want Me For A Sunbeam and Where Did You Sleep Last Night are stunning.
My favourite tracks on the album: Plateau, Oh Me, Where Did You Sleep Last Night.
The Bends – Radiohead
A few years prior to my darker heel turn, I was big in to the UK indie scene, as was most of the UK preteen/teen population. I loved a bit of Blur Vs Oasis banter, the quirkiness of the likes of Pulp and Space, the Northern delights of The Charlatans and of course the Modfather himself Paul Weller but Radiohead was the band which really got in to my soul. This album is full of gems that take me right back to being a DM boot and velvet jacket wearing, hair dye obsessed 14 year old. Thom Yorke’s music has followed me through my life journey in many ways, I even named my first born son Thom! This was the album that was at the centre of my indie-loving world and has transcended through that phase with me.
My favourite tracks on the album: The Bends, Just, Black Star.
Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morissette
I had already experienced the joys of riot grrrl power via my grungy explorations but Jagged Little Pill’s feminist, emotional and strong themes were something brilliant and new to me back then. Morissette’s voice was like nothing I’d heard before, conveying such raw feeling in such beautiful ways. I was a little young at 14 to truly understand some of the concepts of songs like Not The Doctor and Perfect (a song which as a mother now makes me uncontrollably cry every time I hear it) but it fast became another album which would again grow with me through my youth to adulthood transition.
My favourite songs on the album: Perfect, Right Through You, Wake Up.
El Diablo – Will Haven
Honestly, I had to stop myself from putting numerous Will Haven Albums on my list. This band snatched my musical interests, threw them into a mosh pit, set fire to them, raised them from the dead and threw them right back at me. I am lit inside when I listen to them, especially this album. I get goosebumps. I get vivid flashbacks of the numerous times I experienced these guys perform live… the brutal guitars penetrating my eardrums perfectly in sync with the intense guttural screams of Grady Avenell electric shocking my senses. At 16, I was full on in to the London gigging scene at any opportunity I could get. Most weekends were spent either at Brixton Academy or London Astoria watching the ever growing ‘nu-metal’ scene with my best friends. I adore heavy music and I still sometimes long for the days where I was able bodied enough to throw myself in to a heaving crowd of flailing arms and banging heads to get physically and mentally absorbed into the music.
My favourite songs on the album: I’ve Seen My Fate, Ego’s Game, Foreign Film.
Adrenaline – Deftones
Going to see the Deftones was actually how I discovered Will Haven, as they were support for them at one of their London shows. Much like Will Haven, Deftones were a massive part of my live gigging years. I have lost track of the number of times I’ve seen them live and each time was a fantastic experience. Chino Moreno’s vocals are unlike any other, reaching ear-splitting and etheral high pitches mixed in with deep growls and beautiful melodies. I lived for the chaos of gigs! Lining up for hours outside, seeing your friends in queue and being giddy with the sheer excitement and anticipation of how the show will go. Piling in to a sticky floored venue with hundreds of others, beers spilling, avoiding cigarette burns, toilet queues, barriers, pits… it’s still so clear in my mind. I have taken Deftones with me through my life and will continue to do so. Their albums have helped me through some really really rough times and when I need a bit of reminding about who I am, how strong I can be and what I’ve come through, whacking Adrenaline on never fails to come through for me.
My favourite songs on the album: Bored, One Week, Engine No.9
Pretty On The Inside – Hole
This album reminds me of my best friend which is why it will always be on this list. It was the soundtrack to my early teen years and one of my first tastes of the kind of raw, dirty music that would occupy my heart for years to come. We made so many memories with this as our fuel. We were both Courtney Love obsessed. She influenced our style, hard. We’d spend hours trawling through Camden and High Street Kensington markets hand in hand looking for baby doll dresses, Mary Jane shoes, lace collars, ripping our tights and generally becoming content with finding something that finally felt like ‘us’. We released frustrations through creativity and expression, we both learned to play the guitar and would write pages and pages of illustrated diary style pieces and original lyrics to each other. We may not wear it as visibly now but I know my best friend and I are still those chaotic messed up baby doll princesses in a little pocket inside ourselves. Being able to go and see Courtney Love live in London together in 2014 was like a teen dream finally come true for us both. Much like Adrenaline, this album reminds me that I am, we are, stronger than we feel at times in our ‘grown up’ lives.
My favourite songs on the album: Garbage Man, Berry, Pretty On The Inside.
Siamese Dream – Smashing Pumpkins
Last on my list is Siamese dream, released in 1993 when I was 11/12 years old. I didn’t actually discover it until I was about 15 when I’d heard Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness and wanted to hear more from Smashing Pumpkins. I was blown away the first time I heard it and I still get goosebumps now 25 years later. Each and every song is technically obese with so many full layered sounds and emotionally bursting at the seams. It is precision and perfection. It also tells a tale of absolute darkness for the band. Rumours were rife of terrible pressures within the band due to drug addictions, relationship and communication problems and Billy Corgan having somewhat of a tyrannical lead over the band with how each and every little thing was played. He was under immense pressure both as an artist to become the next Nirvana and personally too, wrestling with demons of depression and suicide simmering to the surface while undergoing therapies to help deal with his hard and broken childhood. Through all of this, Siamese Dream was born. A true labour of obsession, emotion and passion. When I listen to it, I get moved in so many ways. The album takes me away with it, swirling amongst the buzz of guitars and swollen strings It is beautifully delicate yet head-poundingly heavy at the same time. Similar to how I feel about Manson, Corgan is a musical genius, regardless of his personal struggles and choices. To me it’s truly one of the greatest albums ever made and it will always be kept in my heart.
My favourite songs on the album: Quiet, Soma, Spaceboy
Are you a fan of any of these albums or artists? What 10 albums have been a strong influence in your life? I’d love to hear about them!