Tuesday, October 24, 2017


As the high and low-brow seem to decrease the expanse that divides the two and sentimentality begins to overtake ironic detachment I think the world is finally prepared for music writers, or rock crit lit types, to begin unleashing the real songs and albums that helped inform our musical worldview.

Over the next week I’m going to try and outline the albums I believe, at my core, made me who I am today. Some of them will be old chestnuts that have been critically lauded from the get-go. Some of them are going to definitely fall into the “what-the-fuck?” category and some are probably best left in the “where-are-they-now?” files. Regardless, these are the albums and songs that turned me into a musical obsessive and a rock and/or roll convert for life.

KISS Ace Frehely (1978)

The Beatles Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

These are the first two albums I ever bought and I bought them together. I grew up in South Texas and the musical climate was rather, um, one-sided. I heard music with lots of horns and singing in a language I couldn’t quite decipher along with the occasional honky-tonk hit but for the most part is was a late ‘70s sequestered life-style.

My mom used to take me to this Mexican flea market frequently and it was there that I discovered the above two albums on vinyl. I knew the Beatles were cool because we had all kinds of songbooks of theirs by our piano. I had never heard KISS but I knew they were cool because there was a comic book that they were in put out by Marvel comics and Marvel comics was the coolest. Later, Marvel would also do a comic about Pope John Paul II. Ultra cool!

Anyway, I still remember throwing these discs on the record player at home and playing with the cardboard insert in the Beatles album but no being gutsy enough to actually detach and wear the cardboard moustache that was included with the album. The music kicked in and the squawking guitar, chugging drums and straining vocals hooked me immediately. I played that album over and over and it easily overtook the soundtracks to The Muppet Movie and The Jungle Book I had been grooving to at the time. Then Ace hit the turntable and while the effect wasn’t as powerful I did quite enjoy the massive amount of noise his guitar seemed to make in comparison with George and John’s more controlled effects.

Soon afterwards we got a station wagon with an 8-Track and it was in that wood paneled behemoth that I was introduced to Chuck Berry and his ding-a-ling and learned to rock out with Neil Diamond and his hot August nights.

The corruption had begun.

DISCLAIMER: For the record, I still love the soundtracks to The Muppet Movie and The Jungle Book as well ... it’s just that, well, the Beatles were just more rockin’, dig?

Original version of this post published on January 12, 2004

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