Flavio's Top Five Most Influential Albums
Everyone who is into music makes lists of influential albums. It’s a never-ending obsessive process. I’m willing to admit that I categorize all of my music in one way or another, but I won’t expose all my personal habits. We all have “those” albums that we deem influential. You know those albums. These albums stand the test of time and we think of them when we digest new musical catalogs. “You can hear a lot of *artist of influence* in their drumming,” we say. The following albums I deem influential in that way.
1. NEU! by Neu
The masters of Krautrock! If you don’t know what Krautrock is, it’s okay. Not a lot of people do. Krautrock is a buzzword like “grunge” that music critics throw around when they can’t describe a band’s music. It’s racist, but there you have it. Neu is a German progressive rock band (and I use that term VERY loosely) from the early 1970s. Neu consists of Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother, who started Neu after splitting away from Kraftwerk (another rad group).
Neu’s first album NEU! is one of the most punk rock albums not dubbed “punk rock”. People bicker about when punk rock officially began. Some say the Sex Pistols started punk, others say the Velvet Underground. I say, who cares? Genre labels get in the way of things, pigeon-holing one band or another over sound.
NEU! has some of the greatest drumming I’ve heard. It’s nothing technical, but it’s so groovy that you can’t help but tap your foot. People get worked up over technical ability. Who cares? You can be technical, but still be boring as hell (e.g., Dream Theater). When NEU! came out in 1972, a few years before the Sex Pistols hit the scene, it allowed for simplicity while going into the far reaches of the mind. Neu paved the way for artists such as Sonic Youth, Brian Eno, Porcupine Tree and David Bowie.
2. My War by Black Flag
This album is ridiculous. It caused so much commotion in the 80s hardcore punk community that it’ll forever stand the test of time. Back in the day, close-minded punkers complained about how hardcore punk bands were getting “too weird”. This coming from individuals who were ostracized for being “too weird” is beyond me and makes this album a must have for anyone into underground rock music.
When Henry Rollins joined Black Flag in 1981, he became a target for other punk rockers. He is an intense free-thinker who isn’t afraid to be honest. He said that music isn’t for fans, but for the band itself. After the release of their album Damaged, Rollins and the band experimented with slowing down the tunes and having songs clocking in at over 6 minutes. In the hardcore punk world, that’s the equivalent to Pink Floyd’s Echoes. My War is so heavy and emotionally intense that it influenced bands such as the Melvins and Nirvana. Kurt Cobain put the album on his Top 50 Albums of All Time.
3. Meat Puppets, II by (the) Meat Puppets
The Meat Puppets are another of Cobain’s favorite bands whom he covered on Unplugged. The band hails from Phoenix. Imagine Hank Williams, Sr. taking LSD while listening to Damaged era Black Flag. It has twang and energy but so much psychedelia that I can’t describe it. It’s hauntingly surreal and beautiful. If you’re from Arizona, you must listen to this album. Drive down the interstate and crank it up. Get lost in the sounds of the desert.
4. Zeit (Largo in Four Movements) by Tangerine Dream
Besides my love for punk rock, I’m a fan of ambient music. Anything that plucks at my heartstrings without saying a word is worthwhile. This is one of those albums. Tangerine Dream are a German electronic music group (me and those German musicians, eh?) who have done everything from the soundtrack of Apocalypse Now to the score of Grand Theft Auto, V. This album marks the beginning of “dark ambient” music.
Zeit means “time” and the philosophy of the album is based on the idea that time is motionless and exists only in our minds. The album cover depicts a solar eclipse. Enough said. Pick it up to enjoy for yourself.
5. Another Green World by Brian Eno
I learned about Eno when I first listened to Ambient 1: Music for Airports. I was blown away by how emotionally charged his music is. It’s something you don’t hear often. Before Eno started producing purely ambient music, he wrote quirky guitar-oriented pop songs. When he made Another Green World, he took a different approach. Only five of the 14 tracks have lyrics. He worked with Phil Collins, Robert Fripp and John Cale while creating this masterpiece.
I thought of going for ten albums, but I’d probably write tomes on every album. Music is a universal language. I’ve never met a person who doesn’t enjoy music and I don’t think I will.
* Bookmans is your store to explore. We can’t guarantee stock so if you are interested in a particular LP or CD of an album mentioned in Flavio’s top 5 influential albums, please give us a call and we’ll check our orange shelves for you. Otherwise, we hope you will come and browse.