Friday, July 07, 2006

Top 25 Records: 5-1

And now for the top 5 on my list, and it's a group as formidable as it is divergent. Two of these records were debut albums on small indie labels and two were lesser recognized efforts from already established acts. While one is a greatest hits record, it was new to me. Three of the records are straight out of my back yard while growing up.... New York City. And now with out further rambling... THE TOP FIVE!!!

#5 The Ramones - Mania. I have to thank my sister and her friends for introducing me to Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy. Obviously these punk rock icons were at it years before I was even born, so when Mania came along in the late 80's it gave me the perfect opportunity to catch up on what I had missed. I was deep into listening to 80's rap at the time and first broke that obsession for the Ramones. Others followed and pushed open my mind to other types of music, but the Ramones changed my musical life, albeit years after they had done the same for the generation before me, but I can't help when I was born. Favorite Track: #9 Blitzkrieg Bob.

#4 LL Cool J - Radio. This one I owe to my cousin who arrived in my life from Arkansas when I was 10 bringing with him tons of rap cassettes. Along with other early rappers of the mid 80's he played LL over and over on his Alpine while we cruised in his Olds with the T-tops. I picked up Radio on cassette myself with money I got for my 11th birthday, but I had already memorized all of the songs by listening to his copy. I turned the bass all the way up on my little box and blew the speakers out later that summer while listening to "Dear Yvette" while my folks were out of the house. The music was obviously different then anything my young ears had ever heard at the time, being as rap wasn't yet on the radio in 1986 or 87, even in New York. By the time Bigger and Deffer came out the next year I had a great little collection of rap, and I still have all my 80's rap which I prefer by leaps and bounds over what is out now. Favorite Track: #1 side B (#6 on cd) Rock the Bells.

#3 Liz Phair - Exile in Guyville. All the records in the top 5 represent moments in my musical history when my interests diverged. In the mid to late 90's I was on to heavier rock music, but still holding on to my roots in classic rock, 80's rap and even what some call easy listening (#2). But the one thing almost all the groups I liked had in common was a male voice. Liz Phair was the beginning of a shift in musical paradigm for me. Her vocal style was raw, sensual, strong and playful all at the same time. This record had the sound like it was recorded in an evening in someone's basement and I love that about it. Listening to Guyville is almost like following only the soundtrack to a movie, where in you hear stories and have a picture painted for you. The difference between it and other records I liked was there was this kick ass girl cursing and being sexual, and I can't lie and say that didn't grab my attention. But, more then that, the songs are just really great. They are well written and played and even though some say Liz isn't the greatest singer, I think someone with more vocal talent would have ruined them. Favorite Track: #12 Divorce Song.

#2 Billy Joel - Turnstiles. As an Italian - American kid who grew up in Jersey I was actually issued each Billy Joel record at birth, and then as new ones came out they just showed up at my door, kind of like Time Life books. All through out my life, no matter what kind of musical tangent I have been off on Billy has been there. I think he is the consummate musician and performer, and of all his records I think this one is head and shoulders above the rest. I know people think I'm crazy, especially those who really love Billy, but I'll make my case. Miami 2017 is my favorite song of all time so there is that, but also consider the other 7 tracks. 1. Say Goodbye To Hollywood 2. Summer, Highland Fall 3. All You Wanna Do Is Dance 4. New York State of Mind 5. James 6. Angry Young Man and 7. I've Loved These Days. Wow! Any Billy Joel Show you see, even now in 2006 will feature at least 7 of these 8 songs and the last one I went to he played them ALL. I can listen to this record any time, any place no matter what my mood is. Favorite Track: #8 Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out On Broadway)

#1 Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy. Another 8 Track masterpiece, and another mid career record by a band who is almost always celebrated more for their other works. I first started to dabble in Led Zep at the feet of my sister, in the mid 80's but I was too hooked on rap to go over full time. It was as a freshman at St. Joe's Prep Seminary that I wrapped myself around Zeppelin. I thank Juan, Mike, Mike and Pat for hooking me, and all they had to do was play D'yer Mak'er once. I ran up to Juan and asked "who was that?" and he responded with a shocked look "It's Zeppelin, man" I am sad to say that I have never paid for a copy of this record, but have in fact stolen 3 of them. The first was Juan's tape which I never owned up to. The second was my friend Ira's CD when I was in my next high school and the third was another copy of the CD I took out of the collection of a friend of my sisters husband. Too Much explaining? Well fuck you. Along with being the best record I have ever listened to, which some people could disagree with me on, this record has the hands down best B-side ever. Dancing Days, D'yer Mak'er, No Quarter, and The Ocean are the best grouping of songs ever etched into one side of plastic, 'nuff said. Favorite Track #2 Side B (#6 CD) D'yer Mak'er.

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