I emailed a handful of friends to please send me a list of “The Top 5 Records That Changed Your Life.” The first two responses I got are from John Citrone of Folio Weekly and Keri Smith of Park Ave CDs (Orlando) and the band Gomek.
Here is John.
and here is John’s reply…
“Josh, This was really hard, dude. REALLY hard.
1. Jimi Hendrix – Band of Gypsys
Hendrix changed my life in so many ways, but this was actually the very first record I placed on a turntable by myself. I was 5 years old (back in 1972) and my parents had a badass record collection including this legendary album. Though “Band of Gypsys” was released shortly before Hendrix died, it is an example of what a magician the man was when he wasn’t completely out-of-his-skull stoned. His chemistry with old friends Billy Cox and Buddy Miles is palpable and humbling. Hendrix is the reason I play guitar left-handed. Just look at that gorgeous album cover. At age 5, and you see that Hendrix is holding the guitar that way, then YOU hold the guitar THAT WAY.
2. Sly and the Family Stone – Stand!
My introduction to the world of funk, also at an early age, also extracted from my parents’ record collection. Though P-Funk is heralded as the greatest funk band ever, I always preferred Sly. (Don’t get me wrong, P-Funk is the shit.) But Sly and his band could create sweeping epics of funkiness without losing context or groove. Also, I was challenged intellectually by this record (as challenged as a 5-year-old could be) by the song “Don’t Call Me Nigger.” I asked my mom why they were using the word I was always told was bad. She said they were trying to make a point about how BAD that word is. It took me a very long time to understand what she was getting at.
3. Kate Bush – The Kick Inside
This album turned me on to the possibilities of the female voice (which is why most of the music I write is created for female vocalists). Kate Bush is such a magnificent song writer, performer and vocalist. This record kicked off a decades-long love affair that continues today.
4. Frank Zappa – Sheik Yerbouti
Though not Frank’s most complex or challenging record, it was my first FZ album. I now own more than 250 vinyl Zappa records, countless CDs, more than 120 video tapes of concerts, interviews, documentaries and so on. The man was the most brilliant composer in modern music. Further, FZ opened my mind to the music of everyone from Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk to Mahavishnu Orchestra and King Crimson to Edgard Varese and Stravinski to John Cage and Philip Glass to Johnny Watson and so many other artists I never would have discovered were it not for Uncle Frank.
5. Tie Between:
John Zorn – Circle Maker (Masada Strings)
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum – Grand Opening and Closing
Too close to call. Masada is just so fucking amazing, especially the string ensemble compositions. Zorn is a fucking genius – period. Sleepytime is, in my opinion, the most progressive (not in the bad way) band currently working. Dark, complex, violent and humorous. No better combination exists.
Five records is just too few. I would have to also include Joni Mitchell’s “Court and Spark” and “For The Roses,” The Beatles “White Album,” Black Flag’s “Damaged,” absolutely Kiss’ first “Alive” record, Led Zeppelin’s “Physical Graffiti,” Metallica’s “Ride The Lightning.” And hundreds of others that now reside deep within my DNA.”
Next up is Keri Smith.
Here’s Keri (at Richmond Best’s Friends Day, 2005)
And here is Keri’s Response…
“Well really, the record that changed my perspective on music was Reversal of Man’s “Revolution Summer.” I was sixteen or seventeen, sitting in my friend’s apartment and I found the zine part of the record. Reading it, I realised there was a whole aspect of punk and hardcore that I didn’t know about. I related to the politics in the zine more than anything else surrounding me at the time, and when I heard the record a few minutes later, I knew I’d found something important.
That record continued to set the standard for me until I heard His Hero Is Gone’s “Fifteen Counts of Arson.” It was probably the heaviest thing I’d heard, except for bands like As The Sun Sets who I always thought were kind of a joke. I listened to His Hero Is Gone for a whole summer, and through them found other bands like Drop Dead, Nine Shocks Terror, and Void. The record made me want to learn more about heavier music, and is probably responsible for most of the “punk” records I subsequently bought.
I also owe a huge debt of gratitude to Karp’s “Mustache’s Wild.” Karp had these ridiculous, yelling vocals, which you can still hear in their newest incarnation Big Business. Karp made me want to bang my head, hard. Everytime I put on that record, I get too excited for words. These are all records that helped me learn something about my place in the world, or my place in punk rock or hardcore. I think that hip hop, like punk, also has the ability to shape one’s impression of themselves and their surroundings.
The hip hop record that changed everything for me was J Dilla’s “Doughnuts.” I know a lot of other people will say the time thing, but it’s true, this record changed my perspective about hip hop completly. It got me excited about the possibilities of records and record collecting, and all the samples and manipulations that come along with it. After Doughnuts, I started buying back all the records I remembered from middle school, and learning a whole history of music that I’d forgotten about. The excitement I feel about hip hop now is the same excitement I had when I first started learning about hardcore (even though I’m STILL stoked on hardcore, forever).
For my fifth record, I have to choose the True Feedback Story 7″ that was given to me a few years ago by a good friend. I think it’s the only 7″ they have, although I’ve heard of unreleased recordings collecting mold in Gainesville somewhere. I’ve listened to this 7″ so much I’ve had to get a second copy to use when I make mix’s for people (without all the scratches and pops I’ve lent to it). It’s one of my favorites because of a song on it, “Pop Song 99.” There’s a line in the song, “I lay with unanswered letters, stay at home, don’t answer the phone, and play record after record.” It has become one of those things that I often repeat to myself riding my bike home at night, or when I’m sitting in my room, playing my favorite records over and over to myself.”
Keri’s sings for the band Gomek. You can listen to them here – http://www.myspace.com/gomektheband.
Feel free to comment, but if you’d like to send in your own “Top 5 Records That Changed Your Life” list, please email them to me at email@example.com. Thanks.