15 Albums

(Challenge: Think of 15 albums that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life or the way you looked at it. They sucked you in and took you over for days, weeks, months, years. These are the albums that you can use to identify time, places, people, emotions. These are the albums that no matter what they were thought of musically, shaped your world.)

This was hard as there are a lot of individual songs that got hard-coded into my internal jukebox but not the albums. I tried to separate them from those albums that I played over and over.  Didn’t count Christmas Albums. Nor comedy albums. First time through, there was 39 albums. Tough weeding it down.. You can read through the bold to see the titles or read the blathering to find out a little more about why it is on my list. No particular order.


  1. Al Stewart: Past, Present, & Future  This isn’t the “Time Passages” Al Stewart. Great acoustic guitar. Lyrics about world history from late 1800’s to end of WWII. And a very cool acoustic guitar tune at the end (Nostradamus). The buddy that introduced me is a huge WWII buff and explained a lot of the lyrics.
  2. Elton John: Captain Fantastic  One of the first albums I owned. The cover was somewhat scandalous and my mom disapproved. That, of course, made it cooler. Being a semi-autobiographical album, there was a comic about his life, including Bernie Taupin (the guy who wrote the lyrics for all his not-crappy albums). Related: my Uncle Phil looked *exactly* like Elton John on the cover of Honky Chateau.  Other albums of his that got extensive playing were: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Caribou, Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only the Piano Player, Here And There (a very raucous version of Burn Down The Mission)
  3. Rush, Hemispheres, Permanent Waves, Vapor Trails, actually most of them. Mission, Grace Under Pressure.    This is the one artist/band that I have listened to the most in my life. After discovering them with the Hemispheres album, I have bought and extensively listened to every album they have come out with. They have intelligent lyrics, amazing musical ability, and they absolutely rock harder than any band that use more than 7 chords. At various points in my life, a song has meant something personal to me and got excessive airplay.
  4. Ambrosia: Somewhere I’ve Never Traveled   Just different enough to catch my attention. Has a song “Dance With Me George” about George and Chopin.
  5. Andrew Lloyd Weber & Tim Rice: Jesus Christ Superstar  What? A rock star singing in a musical about Jesus?!?!! How cool is that! Ian Gillan (lead singer for Deep Purple) sang Jesus on this album. The intensity of the songs, the singing, and the ending really hit a nerve for me. What’s the buzz? tell me what’s happenin’….
  6. Barbra Streisand: The Broadway Album   I don’t care for her very much and don’t have any other music by her. But this one was excellent. The show tunes (especially Being Alive) are catching and well done.
  7. Meatloaf: Bat Out Of Hell    Man oh Man, did this one get played a lot. The sheer gonzo over-the-top drama of the title track with it guitars and this dude that sounded like Thor on Broadway. The naughty Paradise by the Dashboard Lights. The entire album was aimed squarely at every part of teenage boys except that part that contained any brain cells. Wore out the vinyl on this one…
  8. John Moriarty Trio, Featuring Bonet: So Many Stars    Worked in Seattle, was at a trade show in San Francisco. Walking back to the hotel after dinner and drinks, we stopped at a Hilton on the way (a *long* walk) and had a few more drinks. This group was playing there. Piano, bass, drums, and this woman with an amazing voice. She sang Avalon, First Time Ever I saw Your Face, Funny Valentine, Fever, and Get Here. Her voice cut straight past my already lowered consciousness and seared into my soul. I asked if she had a CD and she did. Haven’t seen or heard of her ever again. This is *not* Lisa Bonet. The album shows up on Amazon, but it isn’t in stock.
  9. Neil Diamond:  Hot August Night   great live album. I still remember the drums in the encore.
  10. Cleveland Symphony, Beethoven’s 9th.  I’ve listened to several versions of the 9th and this is the one that I like best.  13:31 into the 4th movement is one of the most stirring sections of music ever written.
  11. Limeliters, Through Children’s Eyes   This is one from my youth. My parents bought it when we were kids and it got listened to over and over. The Limeliters were a folk trio similar to the Kingston Trio. They got about 50 kids in the studio and sang, told jokes, and had a lot of fun. I still have most of the jokes memorized (“What did the painter say to the wall?” “One more crack and I’ll plaster you.”   What weighs 900 lbs, has four wings, and is yellow all over?” “Two 450lb canaries”) The final tune “This Land Is Your Land/America The Beautiful” still chokes me up with the harmonies and kids singing in the background.
  12. Francis Dunnery, Tall Blonde Helicopter  Kind of a quirky album. He had just come out of rehab and was in a particular mood. It was very fun to hear my kids yelling “I Believe I Can Change The World!” along with the song.
  13. Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass A Taste of Honey   My dad had this one. The music was pretty good but really, the only reason I remember it was the album cover. In hindsight, I am fairly sure she was not naked under there, but it was fun imagining.
  14. REO Speedwagon, You Can Tune A Piano But You Can’t Tuna Fish    The song Roll With The Changes (discovered about the time I went into college) led me to the album. Lots of good tunes that I really enjoyed. “The Unidentified Flying Tuna Trot” is one of the finalist for best song title.
  15. Styx, The Grand Illusion    Played this one to death also. Just liked all the songs. Cool side note: The church youth group sang Come Sail Away at their “secular” concert. I was part of the backing band and my son Erik played the piano.

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