Platters that matter: 20 albums that changed my life (#10—#1)

At long last, I present the conclusion of my list of 20 albums that have had the most impact on me and my love of music. For a brief refresher, you can check the back half of the top 20 here. But for your convenience, here’s the list:

#20 — Queen, The Game
#19 — Seals & Crofts, Summer Breeze
#18 — Kiss, Creatures of the Night
#17 — Iron Maiden, The Number of the Beast
#16 — Run-D.M.C., Raising Hell
#15 — Kiss, Alive!
#14 — Rush, A Farewell to Kings
#13 — Miles Davis, Kind of Blue
#12 — Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Pictures at an Exhibition
#11 — various artists, Jazz Master Files

OK, now that we’re all caught up, let’s finish this thing already. As a reminder, this is no particular order but I know people love countdowns so there you go.


#10 — Genesis, Duke

If Rush was my gateway drug into progressive rock, then Genesis was my first major score (damn, I suck at drug references). Anyway, while Nursery Cryme opened me up to new possibilities in musical composition, it was the more straightforward and pop-leaning Duke that became part of the soundtrack of my life. Although it signaled a further break from the group’s progressive past, the dynamic performances and raw, emotional lyrics hit me like a bag of bricks.

I got into Duke during my freshman year of college, an emotionally turbulent time for me to say the least. While I loved the music on this record, the themes of troubled relationships and emotional loss really left a mark on me. Part of the album was informed by Phil Collins’ crumbling marriage, which was brilliantly reflected in “Misunderstanding” and Please Don’t Ask.” But the songs that will stick with me forever are Tony Banks’ dreamy and slightly morose “Heathaze” and the dense, dramatic “Cul-de-Sac.”

#9 — The Beach Boys, Endless Summer

This album is proof positive that compilation albums aren’t always a cheap record company money grab. I knew and dug a handful of Beach Boys songs when I nabbed this collection many years ago, but by the time I made my way through all of its 21 songs I was totally converted. This is no ordinary greatest hits package, rather it’s a document of much of the best pop music American had to offer in the 1960s (which is funny when you consider that I bought this in Canada).

I quickly moved to snap up as many classic Beach Boys albums as I could after hearing this, and I’ve never looked back.

#8 — Mr. Bungle, California

Some time around 1999—2000 I was in a huge rut with my music. I felt like I had explored as much as I could with pop, rock, and metal, and there was nothing left to discover. So I went to one of the few places on the internet you could go back then to research music — the All Music Guide. I started plugging in my favorite bands to see what it recommended, and it was likely my love of Faith No More that brought me to Mr. Bungle, Mike Patton’s “other” band. I read about their most recent album, California, and decided to give it a shot.

Good call on my part. I got no further than the second song, “None of Them Knew They Were Robots,” when I felt my passion for music rekindle. I felt like I had been dropped in the middle of a strange, exotic land where I didn’t know the language but I understood what everyone was saying. Bungle’s brand of schizo music jumps from gentle pop crooning to techno to surf music to death metal, usually in the course of a single song. California excited me like no album had in a long time, and led to my second Great Musical Awakening.

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