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20 Albums That Changed My Life - The Soundtrack To My Head

Article By: C T Herron
Non-fiction



Because I'm a music nerd, I thought of 20 albums that had such a profound effect on me they changed my life. I dug into my soul to find the music that brought me to life when I heard it. Royally affected me, kicked me in the arse, literally socked me in the gut - you get the picture!


Submitted:Apr 9, 2012    Reads: 73    Comments: 1    Likes: 1   


A life in twenty albums...

1. Darkside of the Moon - Pink Floyd
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Usually I would avoid being cliched by listing a band's most popular album as my fave, but this is not about the record that's your fave is it, it's about the one that changed you, and with any band that you've subsequently bought every other one of their albums of, it's always the first record by them that you heard that is the one that shaped your attitude towards the group, for good or bad. So while 'Animals' and 'Momentary Lapse of Reason' remain my favourite Floyd records, not neccessarily the first one I heard (because all my family have listened to Floyd since I was a baby) but the first one I noticed, was Darkside of the Moon, specifically the last two tracks 'Brain Damage' and 'Eclipse'.

I came home after work and caught my flatmate listening to the tail-end of the album, after listening to the last couple of tracks I said ''What the f*ck was that? Flip that record over and go right back to the beginning, that was awesome!'' And then the slow fade in of the heartbeat and the subsequent forty odd minutes of sheer musical genius changed my life forever!

I had finally noticed that Pink Floyd were actually THE greatest band that has ever walked the face of the earth, I mean they are Gods among Gods in the music world, and they weren't even a punk band! Which probably marked the beginning of my realisation that you could be a commercial band and still be very good. So this opened a lot of doors leading to The Doors, Led Zep, The Beatles, Hendrix and many more, all thanks to the Floyd. I could probably talk about Pink Floyd for the rest of the day so I'll just nip it in the butt right now. I spent the next few months buying up every Floyd record ever released and was never dissapointed by any of them (well, except maybe Ummagumma, but come on, that shit is nuts!!) Nowadays Floyd posters adorn my walls, my wardrobe is filled with Floyd tee-shirts and I have every one of their albums on vinyl, CD and Mp3 - If you want to go on a journey with music, roll a joint, turn the lights out, put your headphones on, turn up the volume and put Darkside of the Moon on. The Easy-Star All-Stars version of the album called 'Dubside of the Moon' is an almost-equally great version of the album and keeps it fresh and vibrant.

2. Nofx - The Decline
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Although it wasn't the first album by them I heard, it's gotta' be the one that changed me. Apart from maybe the Floyd, I've never been quite so enamoured with a band as I was with Nofx in my mid-teens. This band marked the moment I matured from metal into punk rock. I morphed from sun-dodging goth to wind-spitting punk in one swift bound. I used to think metal was the music for me, I thought it was the genre that defined me as a person, but I was so very, very wrong, I simply hadn't discovered punk yet. Nofx opened the roads for me which led to all the thousands of brilliant punk bands I listen to today and without which my life would have been very different, for the worse probably. Since that day eleven years ago, punk has been my religon (for want of a better word) and several mohawks, a thousand pits, a lot of bad punk tattoos and a vast trail of anarchy later - I am still a punk and probably will be now til' the day I die (shit, I've got punk tattooed across my belly so I'll have to be won't I).

As far as this record is concerned it is a groundbreaking record by a pioneering band. They rejected the punk ethos of short, fast songs that don't breach the two minute mark and went all out and made an 18 minute long punk song, which you might think would be an absolute disaster, but which actually formed into a masterpiece of modern musicianship. The lyrical content is astounding, the fortitude of drummer Erik Sandin to get 18 minutes of almost solid punk drumming down in one take is unrivalled (and he really does it, I've seen them play it live! For an encore!! After already playing about 30 songs!!!). Anybody that has heard this record, punks and non-punks alike, will agree it's one of the best songs ever written. It's perfect, from the sleeve design, to the unique see-through picture disc CD, to the ferocity of the guitar, to the funky bass lines and fading trumpets, everything you could want in one song can be found right here.


3. Neil Young - Harvest
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A chef, and good friend I worked with, used to talk about Neil Young a lot, he was just getting into him at the time, and although I knew the name and my dad used to play 'Rockin' in the Free World' on his guitar, I was not really familiar with the mystical workings of the musician, sorry, is that magician, Neil Young - The man who single-handedly invented grunge and then modestly handed it over to the Sub-Pop bands more suited to its purpose. The man who took country music to unprecedented levels. The man who took the folk of Guthrie and Dylan and raised it a notch. The man who wrote possibly one of the most heart-achingly sensuous songs ever, 'Cortez the Killer'.

There I was (''My God, there I am'') doing my Xmas shopping, about four years ago to the day, with my friend's recommendations echoing in my head, when I saw 'Harvest' sitting on a stand by the checkpoints in Borders for the bargain price of £3! Well, how could I not buy it!? I picked it up, shoved it in with the armful of Xmas presents I was buying, and in an offhand and nonchalant way I forgot about it and brought it home.

When I got home I went into a quiet room, rolled a joint and put it on. Half an hour later I've just had one of the most hair-raising musical experiences of my life, every single track on this album is a classic on its own, the record as a whole is one of the most poignant concept albums around, and the sweet harmonica and nebulous chords that carry Young's contrasting, unique, whiney-nasal vocals through are just a catharsis personified in an artform.

4. Rancid - And Out Come the Wolves
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Rancid are the modern-day Clash, picking up the baton where the band left off in the mid-eighties and taking it to new heights for a public that had a Clash-shaped hole in their lives. Tim Armstrong is the Bob Dylan of the punk world, from the 40-fags-and-a-bottle-of-scotch-a-day-voice, to the neverending stream of brilliant songwriting. Tim is the mastermind behind not only Rancid, but the seminal ska-punk band Operation Ivy, as well as the more recent but no less wonderful Aggrolites collaboration 'Poet's Life', and not forgetting the ground-breaking combination of styles like punk, metal, drum n' bass and rap that make up the fresh sound of the Transplants.

It took me a long time to get use to Rancid, their split with Nofx helped, but when I finally acknowledged them for the punk masters they were, I didn't know how I'd ever lived without them. 'Out Come the Wolves' was the first record by them that grabbed me by the balls and swung me around, it's evident just from the opening track that Matt Freeman is one of the most talented bassists, not just in punk, but in the whole musical spectrum, and with such punk/ska/reggae anthems as 'Ruby Soho', 'Junkie Man' and 'Roots Radicals', this has got to be one of the best punk records since the seventies, and its worlwide sales affirm that. With such legends for fans as Iggy Pop and Joe Strummer, Rancid along with Nofx and Bad Religon (who I hate!) are undoubtedly the three kings of the modern punk kingdom and this album will always have its place on this list. Its counterpart 'Life Won't Wait' is also worth a mention for it is no less amazing.

5. Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited
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My misconception of Dylan had always been the boring folky Bob Dylan that you see in such overrated songs as 'Times They Are-a Changin' and 'Blowin' in the Wind', so I was very surprised one day when me and my mate decided to take some magic mushrooms and watch a documentary about Jimi Hendrix, to hear the splendid 'Like a Rolling Stone'. To hear that song, in all its glory, for the first time, while tripping, was really something else! ''Who the fuck is that?'' I said ''It's amazing!'' So I was bowled over to learn from the narrator on the TV that it was Bob Dylan - Hendrix's biggest influence - ''What? Dylan doesn't sound like that, that song is just too cool for him!?''

I almost immediately went out and tracked down the album that the song belonged to, 'Highway 61 Revisited', I was astonished to discover a darker, different, more-rocking side of Dylan. This wasn't just folk, this was blues, rock, country, all overlayed with this rolling piano sound that just swept the whole thing along in this wonderfully cheery way, offset by Bob's strange jibberish that I've since grown to love so much. Of course I know NOW that Dylan is one of the most significant figures of the century, he has probably, one way or another, influenced just about every noteworthy musician that has come along since 1969. Of course I know NOW that Dylan, with his sandpaper and glue voice, is one of the most diverse and cultured singer/songwriters that has ever picked up a guitar and sang.

He veers wildly from album to album, relentlessly encompassing and devouring folk, blues, rock, country, flamenco and just about any other guitar sound you care to mention. Every song on 'Highway 61' is a delight, and the brilliance is unrelenting, as it effortlessly hops from 'Tombstone Blues' to 'It Takes a Lot to Laugh...' onto 'Buick 6' and the divine 'Ballad of a Thin Man' this is a king-hell-bastard of an album as his friend Hunter would have said, so hand in your ticket and go watch the geek.

6. Nirvana - Nevermind
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Kurt Cobain was a snivelling, crying, bitch-of-a-'man', he moaned and blubbed about his tragic life that, which when you read his life story, wasn't all that tragic. The only things he had to complain about was a mysterious stomach pain and his parents' divorce, anything else, he either made up or brought on himself, his life is far less tragic than mine for instance, as well as a million other people's, but for the fact that he was a pussy - we are grateful, because had he not been so sorely affected by the slightest of things, then he wouldn't have 'cooked up' some of the most magnificent anthems of teenage angst of our time.

There are two states of Nirvana for me, when I first heard them at 14yrs old my punk sensibilities hadn't begun to evolve, so I didn't really understand the attraction of Incesticide and Bleach (not including the stand-out tracks like 'About a Girl', 'Blew', 'Dive' etc.) but I loved Nevermind and In Utero and blasted them long and hard for many an adolescent night in my youth. Now, it's the other way around, perhaps it's because In Utero and Nevermind are overplayed by now, but I much prefer the growling, snarling assault of the first two albums, to the cleaned-up and polished-off sound of the last two, but it's probably because I'm a punk now, and those first two have punk at their core.

There aren't many singers in rock with a voice as wrought with emotion as Kurt's (despite him not really having anything to be upset by) and it's bewildering that one small band could produce two such massive superstars as Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl, sorry Krist Noveselic!

Nevermind, is seasoned with sprinkles of lines that stick in your head for years, ''Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not after you'' is like a mantra to me, and with the wall of sound that the guitars in it pack and such timeless tracks as 'Teen Spirit', 'Polly', 'Come as You Are' and just about every other song on that album - it definetly gets a position on The List, as well as many other people's lists too, undoubtedly...

7 The Ramones - Subterranean Jungle
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Considering I had already been listening to punk for five years before I got into The Ramones I was a late Ramones developer. Nowadays I have their badge tattooed on my arm (well I wouldn't want to get the t-shirt, that's like a fashion accessory these days) and my own son is named Rudy Ramone Herron, making him an honorary member of the band, and that makes him the only one who's name really IS Ramone!

The interesting thing about the early American punk scene is the common misconcievance (at least by the British) that punk rock was invented in London in 1977 with the explosion of The Pistols, The Clash and The Damned etc. but in actual fact, punk has its roots in the USA, with bands like The Troggs, The Kingsmen, Iggy & The Stooges, New York Dolls, Velvet Underground and of course The Ramones. Punk rock was about ten years old in America when a young entrepeneur named Malcolm McLaren decided to import it to the UK, and fashioned a whole scene in his image, spearheaded with his band the Sex Pistols, but it was all just a rip-off of the American version, everything, from the music, to the clothes, to the attitude. This is not to say the London punk movement of '77 wasn't a historic and monumental moment in music, it was, it just wasn't an English invention that's all, as much I'd like it to be - it's not. What the English did do however, is they managed to drive punk right over the edge of a cliff into self-destruction and therefore ensure that the genre would be unmarketable for at least the next 20 years with record companies not wanting to touch anything that was even loosely associated with punk after the antics of the Pistols on their American tour. This annoyed The Ramones somewhat because they always wanted to be big stars, but it probably went someway to keeping the genre alive - by storing it underground where it wouldn't lose its freshness so quick.

The Ramones were a brilliant group, they directly spawned the Pistols and The Clash, and they were the pioneers of pop-punk, in its true form, not the muddied version that exists today with bands like the Offspring and Greenday. Subterranean Jungle was the first Ramones album I heard, and it was unlike anything I had ever heard before, bubble-gum pop somehow mixed in with gritty punk, Joey's harrowing, haunted vocals cap off the whole sound, and unbelieveably Johnny manages to use the same three chords over and over again and always seem to be able make them sound new and refreshing everytime, regardless of the fact. 'Time Has Come Today' is a phenomenal song, and the bit in the middle where it all breaks down and then builds up into a crescendo before the ultimate release, is the very central character of The Ramones, the fundamental sound from which they built towering anthems of songs that will last forever. 'Everytime I Eat Vegetables it Makes Me Think of You' is still one of my all-time top 100 favourite songs, and other pearls like 'Outsider', 'Highest Trails Above', 'Psycho-Therapy' and 'Indian Giver' are some of the best punk ballads ever written. That's why this album gets a position on my chart, if nothing else, it started my foray into old-skool American punk bands.

8 David Bowie - The Singles Collection
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I dunno' if the rules allow me to put a compilation in, but as it stands, this is the first Bowie album I picked up and paid attention to, so it's gonna' have to be the one I cite in this particular list, the 'Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars' came afterwards for me.

I mainly looked out this album because I remembered listening to 'Space Oddity' as a child and pretending to be a spaceman launching into orbit, which, of course, is what the song's about... although it could be a metaphor for an overdose, because the lyrics in it always remind me of the time I overdosed on LSD, the sort of hopelessness of it all as you give up your lifeline and allow yourself to just float away to die.

Obviously, being a greatest hits, this album is smattered with musical gems - 'Starman' is a song that takes you places, then 'Ziggy Stardust' and 'Suffragette City' which also appear courtesy of 'The Rise and Fall...' album. 'Changes' and 'Life on Mars' appear on here plucked from the classic 'Hunky Dory' album, and even in my Golden Years I have come to appreciate the poppier ditties like 'Modern Love' and 'Let's Dance', which I had previously deemed too cheesy to be any good, but I have lately conceded to, sometimes, when applied professionally, like a sandwich, a little cheese can go a long way. So if I'm not allowed a compilation, well, it's too late, but my next choice would be 'Rise and Fall...'. The Singles Collection though, is the first, but by no means last, Bowie album to sweep me off my feet and put me into orbit, so it's the one that makes The List.

9 The Clash - London Calling
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For an out and out spectacular punk rock record you want The Clash's self-titled debut release, for something equally as good in its own way, with a bit more musicianship and variation, you want the epic London Calling album.

The Clash were really starting to find their feet with this third album and when they wrote the title track they really struck gold - for the first, but not the last time in their career. London Calling is an eerie song that sounds as if zombies have overrun the world and made a hit record, if it's not one of the few apocalyptic rock songs in existence (i.e Hendrix's 'All Along the Watchtower', The Stones' 'Paint it Black' and The Animals' 'House of the Rising Sun') then it's damn close. Even though the album is riddled with hits - 'London Calling', 'Train in Vain' and 'Guns of Brixton' to name a few - the songs sandwiched between the popular choices are every bit as hit-worthy. My favourites off this album are 'Spanish Bombs', 'Wrong Em' Boyo', 'Right Profile', and my own son Rudy takes his forename from the stupendous 'Rudy Can't Fail'. This, and every other Clash album changed the way I looked at music forever, drawing influence from, and introducing me to, reggae, ska, jazz, dub and countless other styles. Phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust! RIP Joe Strummer.


10 Dead Kennedys - Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death
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Thinking about it, the Dead Kennedys were the very first 'old-skool' punk band I got into. They are a very, very powerful band. Their music possesses a strange energy that can gain control of your mind if you're not careful, I know, cos' they've flipped me out a few times with their brutal exposure of the seedy underworld of the government, and their damnation of the shattered American Dream, I got high and had to actually be pinned down once, and forcefed Ecstasy to calm me down, but that was in my younger, more impressionable days.

The track 'Kinky Sex Makes the World Go Around' is a sharp, biting number that envokes feelings of fear and anger, although the track is a mock conversation between the President and the PM, you can bet your arse it's not far off the mark. Jello Biafra is a great politician, he's easily the most political figure in music, crapping all over Bono and Geldof. He has run for mayor of California and came very close to winning. He has also penned some of the most controversial songs to have ever hit the shelves, indeed he is single-handedly responsible for the Parental Advisory sticker you see adorning records with 'explicit content'; the result of a court battle the Kennedys faced for using H.R Giger's painting, 'Penis Landscape', as one of their album covers, which depicted a squadron of decaying penises entering a wall of rotting vaginas...

'Give Me Convenience' is also technically a compilation of B-sides, but there is a lot of previously unreleased tracks on it, and furthermore, it was the first Kennedys record I heard, and some of their best songs re-appear on it - 'Too Drunk To Fuck', 'California Uber Alles', 'Holiday in Cambodia' - one of my personal faves on this album is 'Pull My Strings' which is a brilliant stab at popstars and music executives.

Happily, for many years, 'Convenience' was the only Dead Kennedys album I heard, later, a certain sous chef introduced me to the rest of their transcendent discography and I was blown away. The Dead Kennedys are one of the most important and politically charged bands that have ever lived, especially in the history of punk, and the eighties would have been a bleak decade for the movement without them around to stir up trouble with the fervent, blistering energy of their songs. Viva la Dead Kennedys!!

11 The Beatles - Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
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I heard the title track to this album during a Paul Mcartney concert on the telly, and I immediately wished to know the rest of the record. I was not dissapointed when I got it, how could I be? With such greats as 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds'. The title track and the reprise of it are still my two favourite tracks from this album, and still stir me up every time I hear them. This album changed my opinion of the band forever, before I had viewed them as a bunch of mop-topped hippy-wimps who sang cuddly love songs about flowers and hugs, but like with Dylan, I was very wrong. The Beatles it turns out, are as psychedelic as they come, and weren't the clean-cut snobs they originally appeared to be, quite the opposite, they were fellow acolytes of the beautiful mind-bending properties of LSD, and wrote many songs on the subject, not least 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' which is itself an acronym of LSD. It came to light that a lot of the Beatles songs were actually sexual innuendos and subtely disguised advocations of drug-use. So the Beatles earn my respect, and they also earn a position in this list. Again, it's worth mentioning the Easy-Star All-Stars version of this album 'Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Dub Band', which is almost-equally fabulous.

12 Queen - Greatest Hits Vol. 1 & 2
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Not only am I adding another compilation to my list, I'm also including two albums as one entry. This might seem like cheating but let me explain; I had the first two greatest hits as a double album when I was 7yrs old so that counts as one album to me. Plus, not only is it the first Queen record I heard, but if we're being honest about it they aren't really worth anymore than their greatest hits, so it was impossible to choose a studio album to put in its place, with the exception of a few tracks - 'I'm in Love With My Car', 'Death on Two Legs', 'Brighton Rock' and ''39' the rest of their stuff is pretty geesh - sorry Queen!

Queen generally aren't a 'cool' band to admit to liking, but they could never be excluded from this list, as I have listened to them since I was very, very, very young and still turn back to them now and again with fondest memories. I've been rocking out to Queen in all their extravagant campness since I was a small child, so they'll always hold a special place in my heart and on my list. My alltime favourite Queen songs from these albums are 'Under Pressure', 'I Want to Break Free' and 'Seven Seas of Rhye'.

13 Mad Caddies - The Holiday Has Been Cancelled
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'The Holiday Has Been Cancelled', although it is only an EP, is the very first Mad Caddies album that I heard and it struck me hard, because never before had I heard the now-classic combination of ska and punk. I had only been a punk for about a year by the time I heard this record and it opened the door to all the hundreds of quality ska-punk bands that I enjoy now.

The opening track, 'Falling Down', is a real get-up-and-go song like only the Mad Caddies know how to deliver. From the thirties-sounding trumpet dirge that starts things off, to the pounding beat and heavy guitars that inlay it after a couple of minutes, it knows how to shove a rocket up your ass and get you moving. The first time I heard this song I was having a party and someone put it on, when the heavy bit kicked in I was so smitten with it I performed one of my now legendary suicide-somersaults off the couch, and right through the coffee table, only problem being that at this particular time the coffee table was strewn with a fairly heavy covering of empty beer bottles and half-full glasses! I made beautiful contact with all this glass coming in off the tail-end of my mid-air flip, the downfall of this was that I was instantly lacerated in several places and was bleeding profusely by the time the song ended. Somebody, Bob Hall, I think it was, bandaged me up, and I moshed out the rest of the album covered in blood and smarting from various gashes and abrasions suffered during my stage-dive (or couch-dive as the case may be), but again, that was in my much-younger, much more reckless days.

This EP is a classic, culminating in a magnificent version of Abba's 'S.O.S' and I have fond memories of the high-jinks of that night in my now legendary party flat.'Holiday Has Been Cancelled' paved the way to a plethora of super-excellent Mad Caddies' albums for me to discover, that combined healthy doses of reggae, boogaloo, metal, pirate-punk and that strange 1930's Bugsy Malone trumpet sound that the Mad Cads are so adept at recreating and effortlessly mixing in with their already lively ska-punk sound. Although there are better Mad Cads albums, this one started it all off for me, and so it gets proud pole position.


14 Lagwagon - Trashed
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Although there is a wide array of exquisite Lagwagon albums and 'Trashed' is probably not the best one, but again, it's the first one I heard, and the first one they released. Lagwagon are the second punk band I ever got into after Nofx. Their superlative cover of Van Morrison's 'Brown-eyed Girl' is what attracted me to the album in the first place, as I had fond memories of the original version of that song from my childhood. I was glad to dicover a consistently pleasing album from what would become a consistently pleasing band. There are some first-rate tracks on here - 'Know it All', 'Lazy' and their gilt-edged version of Armchair Martian's 'Whipping Boy'. Although many Lagwagon albums have come along since and knocked this off the spot as the best one, it's the one that introduced me to the band and therefore has a special place above the rest...always.

15 Sublime - 40oz to Freedom
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It's like God himself wrote this album and handed it down to one of the greatest motherf*cking bands on planet earth - Sublime! When I first heard this album I was quite taken aback by the absolute perfection of it, this crazy jangle of reggae, punk, hip-hop, dub and ska, to name but a few of the genres it borrows heavily from, is exactly as it is named - sublime.

Their superior version of'Smoke Two Joints', is the hook, and from there it is a veritable smorgasbord of delights. Every song on this record is a stand-alone classic, when I got this album home I wore it out in no time and had to buy a replacement, a few replacement versions later I could still listen to this album all day and not get bored of it. There is everything you could want from a single release right here in one bundle of tight-fitting songs.

I think I'll have the lyrics to this entire album printed on my brain for the rest of my life, and if I was going to a desert island, and could only take one disc, this would be a serious contender. In the few short years Sublime were around they produced some of the best music I've ever heard and probably ever will. They were probably my first introduction to real reggae and even now with all the thousands of reggae bands in my collection they remain head and shoulders above the rest.

16 Me First & The Gimme Gimmes - Blow in the Wind
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Yes, I know, it's a cover band, but at the end of the day, they are so much more than a cover band; They are a super-group who bring their own stylish influence to every song they cover, and rarely do they cover a song which they don't improve upon vastly. A long time before I was familar with Bob Dylan I heard the Gimme's version of 'Blowin' in the Wind' and I instantly recognised it - I was suddenly transported back to nursery when we all used to sit on the carpet and listen to the nursery teacher play her guitar and sing 'Blowin' in the Wind'. Upon hearing the Gimmes version that early in my development as a music aficianado, I couldn't have told you Dylan was the original artist, but I didn't care. The Gimme Gimmes blazed through covers of sixties classics, tearing them up and blasting them out with a vigour that's sadly just not evident in so many bands today.

Every Gimmes album is a joy to behold, they turn crappy pop songs into blistering punk rock assaults, and aside from simply covering a song they also tend to mix the cover in with some riff from a classic old-skool punk song, barely even noticeable to the untrained ear, but there nonetheless. They all have their respective good, successful bands to which they are members - Foo Fighters, Nofx, Lagwagon, Swingin' Utters and No Use for a Name - so it is okay that they are only doing covers, (the only other cover band that comes even remotely close is Easy-Star All-Stars) and as the Gimmes are virtually a non-profit band, giving most their proceeds to charity, they garner a lot of respect in my opinion, and a firm place in my top twenty albums that changed my life.

17 The Slackers - Redlight
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When I first heard The Slackers with this album it changed my view of reggae and ska forever. The Slackers - though heavily inspired by The Skatalites - have an inimitable sound that shakes you to the very core. As with all the other bands in this list, I don't think they've ever released a bad song. Their live perfomances are literally among the best you could hope to see of any musical group alive or dead and their infectious melodies and impeccable style of rocksteady-reggae is second to no other band of the genre, only The Aggrolites come close. If I'd never discovered The Slackers my life would be very empty indeed, they deserve all the riches in the world for their contribution to music, and yet they remain modestly underground, and you can see a Slackers show for a tenner and still have the best night of your life. They are made even cooler by the fact they are on punk record label Hellcat, and just like that label, my top twenty list would be null and void without their presence on it.

18 Sex Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks Here's The Sex Pistols
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Nevermind 'Nevermind The Bollocks...' changing MY life forever, I think it changed a lot of people's lives forever, and it also changed the face of music to this day. When it came out, it smashed through the stale and boring charts of the seventies with all the grace of a tornado, and with it came a gargantuan breath of fresh air that swabbed the decks and cleared the passage for a million other bands. Some spawned from that first fateful Pistols gig, to an audience of about forty people (including Joy Division, Buzzcocks, The Fall, Morrisey, Mick Hucknall and Tony Wilson). All the rest formed from devout listening to the record once it came out, some bands who have cited it as a major influence are NOFX, Stone Roses, Oasis, Greenday, Nirvana, Guns n' Roses. to name just a few, all of whom went on to form successful bands of the future, why? Because the Pistols are the most inspiring band that has ever surfaced! There is no album on this planet which comes through with all the energy and aggression of this one, it's controversial, ferocious, and perhaps personifies anarchy in an art form. Not many people possess Johnny Rotten's personality and as far as frontmen go he's almost unrivalled.

When I first heard the Pistols it was a major inspiration to me, and although I'm not one, it should be an inspiration to aspiring musicians everywhere, because it proves beyond a doubt that you don't need talent, you don't need big record label executives, you don't need to be hip or happening, and you don't need to care who you offend, all you need is attitude and drive, and the Pistols were choc-full of that man. If they could do it, anybody that can pick up a guitar and gob can do it! Nobody's top twenty is complete without this installment, and certainly not mine! It is the epitomy of a genre that I've devoted over a decade of my life to - punk rock. This record will continue to be the bar of excellence for every punk band still to come to attain to. 'Nevermind the Bollocks' by the Sex Pistols is present in the CD collection of every music nerd in the world, and not without good reason!

19 Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
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I love Fleetwood Mac, I don't care what anyone says, when they hit it, it's solid fucking gold. My mum used to listen to 'Tango in the Night' a lot when I was a small child and the title track from that album holds a lot of memories for me, as well as being a bloody good song.

It wasn't until I was a lot older, only a couple of years ago in fact, that I tried to listen to them again. I started, randomly, with Rumours, and couldn't believe that I hadn't realised before just how much more there was to the band of my childhood. When I heard 'The Chain' break into that bassline that just sends chills up your spine everytime you hear it, I was overcome with the magnificence of it. 'Secondhand News' is a favourite from that record too, I can't get enough of the female vocals in Stevie Nicks, and the melodies are always just so f*cking catchy that you almost can't bare it, and you have learn to relax and just let it flow through you, then you begin to appreciate it. To top it all off nobody can argue with 'Go Your Own Way' as a legendary stand-alone song that'll never grow old. So this album, as hard as my last two choices are, is probably a deserved and wise decision.


20 Marilyn Manson - Mechanical Animals
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As much as it pains me, considering Waterboys, Rolling Stones, Ten Years After, Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, The Jam, The Pixies, The Aggrolites, the Travelin Wilburys and many, many others are all glaringly obvious omissions from my list, I'm going to have to include Marilyn Manson somewhere. Although it may not be 'cool' to like him now, it was very cool when I was 14yrs old, and with the whole nu-metal thing going on it dominated much of my early teens and therefore needs to have a place in the albums that changed me. In a toss-up between Korn, Marilyn Manson and a couple of others that I'll spare myself the embarassment of mentioning, I choose 'Mechanical Animals', because even to this very day it is an album of sheer genius. Wholly unlike any of his other works, and drawing deep inspiration from David Bowie, this is unarguably the pinnacle of Manson's career. It's a very heartfelt, genuine and soothing album. It's calm and beautifully chilled out at some parts as in 'Coma White', and totally fucking rocking at others as in 'Rock is Dead'. The lyrics and imagery contained within this masterpiece are indescribable, and if Manson sounded like this with every record he released, he'd surely be one of the greatest superstars of this era, but alas he doesn't, and isn't.

I can't deny 'Mechanical Animals' a place on my list because although it is not as good as any of my aforementioned omissions, it was a real turning point in my life - when nu-metal showed me that music could be heavy, it could be loud, it could be fast and aggressive and swearing was okay - it was all about freedom of speech. As a nice little bonus my stereotypically evil stepmother abhorred swearing of any kind, so with the simple act of putting on a bit of Marilyn Manson etc. I could get under her skin, a small amount of revenge for what she did to me...why she never figured out all she had to do was take my music away to completely destroy my life I'll never know... perhaps she realised that by messing with my music she would be crossing a line that would undoubtedly push me over the edge, my mind would have probably snapped and nobody wanted a monumental blowout of those proportions. So I've got Manson and co. to thank for supporting me during a particularly trying five years of my life, and for that reason alone they're probably more worthy of entry here than any of those other bands!

It's been a blast...thankyou for the music...see ya' in the pit!!!





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