The musical challenge currently circulating on Facebook is…
Copy this post as a status update. List 10 albums that made a lasting impression on you as a TEENAGER, but only one per band/artist. Don’t take too long and don’t think too long.
Like most “list challenges” on Facebook, I resisted doing this at first, but then got into a discussion about a friend’s list on HIS page, and even as I typed that “I never do these things,” I was already filling out the list in my head.
As I told him, MY problem in making a list of ten ALBUMS that influenced me as a teenager is that, as a teen, I mainly bought 45s, not albums. I was definitely more of a singles buyer. 45s were 99 cents (or $1.29 for an oldie), and albums were $5.99, $6.99 or more. So I seldom bought NEW albums… although I’d see what I could score used at flea markets/yard sales/etc. This is one reason I always was listening to music that was ten or more years old… those were the albums (and singles) I found in flea markets.
Used and old and inexpensive = yes. New and full-priced = seldom.
…while “Heart” by Rockpile was one of my favorite SINGLES as a teen, I never bought the album (SECONDS OF PLEASURE) till I was in college. Same with the Bee Gees, Springsteen, Dylan, and so many others: I loved all those SINGLES of theirs, but didn’t buy the albums till much later.
The other problem I had was one that I suspected was reflected in the lists of friends whose high school tastes were, shall we say, amazingly precocious and eclectic for 15-16-17 year olds. A lot of the lists looked backloaded, which is to say, constructed through the lens of adulthood, in particular an adulthood that wants to remember listening to really great music, but NOT listening to sucky top 40 or pop stuff. As this same friend says, I’m not seeing much Kansas, Styx, or Journey on these lists.
The fact is, when I try to think of music I liked back then, my current tastes can’t help but rewrite the narrative in some ways, so that albums I owned in high school but didn’t really play that much have grown in importance to me, while others I played but have grown tired of since, I’ve pushed to the back of my mind.
So I tried hard to think of the albums that I played a lot back then, whether I’d still listen to them today or not.
So… having given those caveats, here’s the list I came up with. Ten albums by nine artists (I didn’t know about the “one album per artist” stipulation when I made my list… sorry!) and then a bonus artist, who, if I was honest, would probably knock every other album out of my top ten.
But what fun would THAT be?
My list, in no particular order:
Pet Sounds / The Beach Boys (Yes, I really did buy, play, listen, and become obsessed with Pet Sounds as a teen. I think I was lucky in that I discovered Pet Sounds as an adolescent. No album meant more to me as a teen musically, emotionally, spiritually, or intellectually. And I am certain that people who don’t connect with it met it too late in life to really appreciate it.)
The Beach Boys Love You (This 1977 album taught me one of the biggest musical lessons that I could ever learn: when someone you love does music you don’t get on first listen, STICK WITH IT. I HATED this album at first listen, but little by little it grew on me, and it remains one of my five favorites by ANYONE to this date.)
Monty Python’s Matching Tie and Handkerchief (I always loved the Pythons, and this album wildly creative in so many ways. Not just the content; not just the packaging; but the physical album itself was a gag: one side of the album was cut with parallel lathes. What’s that mean? It means that there were not one, but TWO grooves with different content running parallel on the album side. So if you dropped the needle, you didn’t know WHICH program you’d get. Further, they labeled both sides “side two,” so… I had to put an X on the “twin groove” side. One of the best musical and recording practical jokes EVER.)
Strange Days / The Doors (one of those “don’t play it anymore” albums, but for the year I was in my perfunctory adolescent Doors phase– age 14– this was my favorite of theirs. Probably because I stumbled on a used copy for 50 cents at Renninger’s Flea Market. I haven’t listened to it in years. Classic rock radio has almost killed the Doors for me, with the exception of L.A. Woman, which I also don’t listen to.)
Jan and Dean Anthology Album (I had a lot of Jan and Dean albums, but this one was the one I played most. I loved every song on the record, and a nice bonus was the booklet, with a history of the duo and a detailed discography chart that showed not only recording dates and chart positions of their hits, but the cars they each were driving and the girls they each were dating when the records came out. Talk about essential teenaged information!)
Rust Never Sleeps / Neil Young (The first Neil Young album I ever bought, and still my favorite in so many ways. I can’t remember what impelled me to buy it; maybe that a couple friends I knew already loved Neil. But I bought it full price, and I never regretted it.)
Blast From Your Past / Ringo Starr (I got this for Christmas 1975, and I still think this is the best solo Beatles compilation album ever, and, if you want to count compilations as actual albums, maybe Ringo’s best solo album period.)
The Notorious Byrd Brothers / The Byrds (Side one is still one of my favorite album sides by anyone.)
Split Ends / The Move (I loved Electric Light Orchestra, and listening to ELO led me back to the Move and this album, which I probably played more than any ELO record as a teen, save maybe Out Of The Blue United Artists took the Move’s final album, Message From The Country, and cut a couple songs, replacing them with five of the best single sides ever made in succession by any band whose name didn’t begin with BEA: “Do Ya,” “California Man,” “Chinatown,” “Down On The Bay,” and “Tonight.”)
Elvis Presley (his first album) (I had The Sun Sessions and I loved that, too, but somehow I’ve always preferred Elvis’ first album with “Blue Suede Shoes” and “One Sided Love Affair” and a handful of Sun outtakes (“Trying To Get To You,” “Just Because”). I loved this album so much that I even tolerated it in RCA’s abominable “Electronically Reprocessed” fake stereo. (I learned, by the way, how to “correct” that and un-process the album so that it was in relatively echo-free mono.)
Finally, as my “bonus that probably trumps everything else on the list”…
Name Your Beatles album I mean, really. Any one you’d pick, even YELLOW SUBMARINE. I first heard them all– in the US versions– as a teen, and each one of them was the most important and influential thing I’d ever heard at the time I heard it.