Saturday, July 15, 2017

50 Albums that Influenced Me (Disc Five)

by Germar Derron

(find "Disc Four" here)

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 made 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.

10.  Michael Jackson, Off the Wall (1979) Thriller is etched for all time, but that momentum started here. And to many industry insiders, this is the superior project. Think about it. Which songs get more spins today--"Rock with You" and "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," or "Thriller" and "Beat It?" I'll wait.  Then: 8.5 + Now: 9.5 = 18 

9.  The Strokes, Room on Fire (2003) Before buying--and loving--this album, I thought that rock had died. I rarely love being this wrong. Then: 9 + Now: 9 = 18  

8.  Wyclef Jean, The Carnival (1997) Mannnnnn, Clef started a song, stopped the song, then re-started the song from the bathtub. How do I know? Because it's IN THE SONG. If you don't like something about this album, then you don't like joy and happiness. Here, Wyclef was a goofball, lyricist, dope producer, and knowledge dropper. Then: 9.6 + Now: 8.5 = 18.1 

7.  Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP (2000) He's white, but he was never Ice. This  album was a game changer. Em proved that you could be fun, intelligent, and sincere, while outselling boy bands and not being "pop." Dre gave him instant cred, but he worked for the rest.  Then: 9.9 + Now: 8.9 = 18 

6.  New Edition, Greatest Hits Vol. I (1991) In four years, these songs will be covered in your standard music history/appreciation courses. NE is that important. Every boy band doesn't get a biopic, especially not one designed to carry a television network. Then: 9.5 + Now: 9.5 = 19 

5.  Maroon 5, Songs About Jane (2002) This could be the best debut album by any band . . . since 2002. I liked the album so much that I spent $200 on concert tickets, assuming that I'd find a date. I did. But when I arrived at the venue, I realized the tickets were back at home--45 minutes south on I-85. Then: 9.4 + Now: 9.6 = 19 

4.  Amy Winehouse, Back to Black (2006) My drunk driving roommate, drunkenly proclaimed the greatness of this album, back when I only knew about "Rehab." He kept saying, "mah [brother] I cain't belee you ain't know bout dis--it's so jazzy."  No, it's not jazzy. It's doo-wopish 50s-60s girl group greatness. It's an updated, arguably better, Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. During that terrifying drive home, he shrieked loudly over Amy--"fuckery." On that night, I  discovered a new favorite: song, album, and word.  Then: 9.9 + Now: 9.5 = 19.4 

3.  Amy Winehouse, Frank (2003) Back to Black pushed me to purchase Frank. I didn't get it. It seemed dated, more-British, less polished, and awkwardly produced. Eventually, I realized that it was even better than B2B. Her talent is uncanny. And she was just 19. Then: 9.5 + Now: 9.9 = 19.4 

2.  Foo Fighters, In Your Honor (2005) I liked a few of their songs, and I like Nirvana. So on a lark, I decided to pick up this double album. Dave Grohl's growl got me through the worst of times. "Were you born to resist or be abused? Is someone getting the best of you?" Then: 9.9 + Now: 9.7 = 19.6 

1.  Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle (1993) Another 19-year-old phenom tops this list. Of all the albums that I've purchased, this is the most consistent, from start to finish. A lot of credit goes to Dre, but Snoop is an almost unparalleled lyricist, with the smoothest delivery. Plus, The Dogg Pound, The Lady of Rage, and The [fabulous] Dramatics.  Then: 9.9 + Now: 9.9 = 19.8 


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