Monday, July 10, 2017

50 Albums that Influenced Me (Disc One)

by Germar Derron

For a former music major-saxophone player-producer-audio engineer-songwriter-label intern-artist manager, I barely write about, talk about, or even think about music. Maybe I'm bitter. Did I just say "former?" WOW. This list covers the 50 albums that mattered most in my life. 

To make the list, I had to have acquired the full album through some legitimate means. So, very few post-2008 albums make the list because: 1) do CDs still exist?; 2) are there "record" stores?; and 3) Spotify, YouTube, and Pandora. These albums are not necessarily my favorites. And many of my favorite artists and most of my favorite songs are missing. The "then" and "now" scores depict how my feelings have changed with time. Those two scores combined determined the album's overall rank.

Honorable Mention: Bobby Brown, Don't Be Cruel; Kanye West, Life of Pablo. The King of R&B just missed the cut because even though that album has five hits and changed the direction of a genre, it didn't influence my life. Honestly, Pablo almost made the list based on three songs. But that violates the spirit of the list--as does the fact that I never bought that album (thanks YouTube).

50. Duke Ellington, A Five Disc Collection that I Can't Prove Ever Existed (had to be a 90s thing) As a young saxophonist trying to find my way, I felt this more than Parker or Coltrane (or Kenny G). Then: 6 + Now: 6 = 12/20

49. D.J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, He's the D.J., I'm the Rapper (1988) My dad got the cassette when I was a wee lad. Eventually, he left it in my room. It was my kind of rap--fun and relatable. Plus, Will had bars. Then: 6.5 + Now: 6.5 = 13/20

48. Nirvana, Nevermind (1991) Who doesn't like Teen Spirit? Many years later, post-college, I realized that the album was groundbreaking, as was the band and frontman. Then: 5 + Now: 8.5 = 13.5/20
47. John Lennon, Imagine (1988) The first of a few soundtracks on the list--this album introduced me to The Beatles, in the best way. All the easy to digest hits were on one disc, plus "Strawberry Fields Forever." Then: 6.9 + Now: 7 = 13.9/20 

46. Born Jamericans, Kids from Foreign (1994) My Caribbean friends call them soft, but I don't care. In the 90s, African-Americans got re-connected to their island brethren (and sisthren). BJ was my tin can and string line to the tropics' darkest regions. Then: 7.9 + Now: 6 = 13.9 /20

45. Destiny's Child, The Writing's on the Wall (1998) My boys were bumping Jay. I bumped his future wife (not literally, but I'm not mad that you went there). This was "real" DC at their peak, even if they weren't invited to do the video. Listen, and hear the birth of our brightest star. Then: 7 + Now: 7 = 14/20 

44. Janet Jackson, Velvet Rope (1997) Three different generations of couples were not too lonely while playing this album. Personally? . . . I have no comment. Then: 8 + Now: 6 = 14/20

43. TLC, CrazySexyCool (1994) My list and myself are very pro-woman. In their day, TLC was the biggest female act of all time. I had a red light in my bedroom from elementary ages until I finally understood why it was so cool. Then, my dad removed my red light. Then: 8 + Now: 6 = 14/20

42. Michael Jackson, The Essential Michael Jackson (2005) Yes, my list is filled with greatest hits-type collections. This album re-introduced me to all of his classics that were too old for my generation to really know, and too "new" for my parents to care for. Personally, I Blame it on the BoogieThen: 7.5 + Now: 7 = 14.5/20 

41. Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience (2013) Initially, I thought the songs were superfluously long and grandiose. I was wrong. It's an instant classic, and like nothing else on this list. Then: 5 + Now: 9.9 = 14.9/20  

40. Justin Timberlake, FutureSex/LoveSounds (2006) Here, JT graduated from his boy band and bubblegum background. And for a few years the #1 R&B act and the #1 rap act were white dudes--with weird blonde hair--that had a beef in the early 00s. Say what? How did we let that happen? Then: 8 + Now: 7.2 = 15.2/20 


COME BACK FOR DISCS 2-5


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