Invariably a new “hey everyone do this and nominate someone” pops up on facebook. It’s during this times I usually hang low and hope people forget about me. It’s not that I don’t have favorites or music that has shaped my own tastes, no. I just don’t like trendy things. If everyone is doing it, I’ll wait. In fact, when Forest Gump came out, I would not watch it until blockbuster had ever single copy in the store available for rent.
So to be different, a requirement for me to be pretty much anything at all I suppose, i’ll do it but post it here. If you really want to know what influenced me, come to “my house” (renegaderadio) where I talk about this stuff all the time. I also know I would never do this 10 days in a row before getting bored and start chasing squirrels.
Since you’re here; lets go. Lets start with one of my first album purchases and then I’ll just freestyle.
1981. Air Supply; The One That You Love. In all fairness I could have picked the GoGo’s Vacation also since it was a 2-fer that infamous Wal Mart day. But I’ll go with the bigger impact on me. I was already a sucker for the slow emotional songs and hey, this was a gold mine in that regard. At 16 songs like “Here I Am”, “The One That You Love” and “Sweet Dreams” were about as much sugar coated music as any mid-range teen could handle. While I’m still into the slow love songs; the expression of that sure did change over the years.
Now for the Freestyling.
Meatloaf – Bat Out of Hell. For the longest time I thought the lyric “let me sleep on it” was “i’m a stickball man”. Makes no sense today, no. Didn’t make any sense then either but that’s what I sang when it came on the radio. Over the years, Meatloaf would be far and away my favorite rock vocalist. While Bat out of Hell is musical genius by Meatloaf and Jim Steinman, some of my favorite Meatloaf songs have nothing to do with Steinman. Take THAT traditionalists. From the incredible album cover to production perfection, Bat out of Hell remains at the top of my list of most complete releases of all time.
REO Speedwagon – High Infidelity. Take it on the Run sold me. My own seclusion to pop radio much of my young life kept me in disco and what we now refer to as “yacht rock” so these bands I missed, I eventually found. From there I had a wonderful time backtracking into their discography. Enter REO Speedwagon. They are one of the bands that made me dig back and crack up laughing at their humor in tuning a fish. TUNE A PIANO, TUNA FISH??? GET IT???? Album cover, funny; music great, artist amazing. As for Hi Infidelity “Tough Guys” wins my favorite song from this release. When you can get the little rascals into your music, you’re tipped over to genius.
The Bright – Objects of my Affection. Who, you may ask? In doing local music you meet some incredible local bands. One of “the brightest” spots of this has been watching The Bright and getting to know them all on a personal level. We even broadcast a live interview from their amazing home studio and I have a cover of “Bennie and the Jets” we did live that day. But Objects of My Affection is another rare trip into musical perfection. Haunting vocals and impeccable musicianship created a style no one could ever match. Back when released in 2011 I did a review of and in 2015 i made sure it made it into our archives. I’ll let that article do all the work. While they no longer put out new music, The Bright is one of the best things to come out of local indie music to me.
Aaron Lee & The Gambling Souls. Self-titled, I suppose. Aaron has been around since the days when I saw him sing with his band Paperface. From there he went on to be the front man for Faktion and now he’s just doing his own thing. Thankfully that includes putting out some of the best melodic rock music that can be found on the internet. What do you know, I’ve got a review for this one too. Version 2.0 continues to inspire me to reinvent myself when needed; to become that “version 2.0”.
Heart. Just Heart. It was 1985 and I was diving into rock and roll, buying 2 concert tickets left and right to take a date. From there it was a bet among my friends who’d I’d take vs. a date because I couldn’t find one or chickened out in asking. There was so much incredible music in this release that helped shift the tone of rock from the early 80s “yacht” style and put rock back into the mainstream focus. Saw them live on this tour and still have the bandana.
In fact I wore that bandana when local tribute band Even it Up played at Lava Cantina on May 1st to reopen the world. A tad dramatic I know but I got to see live music again and I could not have picked a better group to see. This release set the tone for what I would consider good to great moving forward.
Night Ranger – Dawn Patrol. I suppose I could have done Midnight Madness as this is when I “discovered” them with “You Can Still Rock in America”. Instead I went to Wal Mart and snagged Dawn Patrol on cassette and slapped it in my auto-reverse; music search JVC cassette deck of my 1974 Plymouth Satellite. However songs like “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me”; “Sing Me Away”; “Call My Name” hit me just a tad harder. Just keep in mind I own most Night Ranger releases regardless of who was singing and if given a chance, I’ll damn sure be going for a photopass so I can take pics. Legally this time. 🙂
38 Special – Tour de Force. Just damn, ya know? Just damn. From “What if I had Been the One” to “Undercover Lover” southern rock took me in and gave me a home. “See Me in Your Eyes” was one of my “sit in this parking lot (in my aforementioned Satellite) and rewind this one over and over” songs of the cruising Clinton, OK streets 80s days.
Rush – Grace Under Pressure. Gotta be honest here; I don’t pick this as Rush’s’ best. Far from it as I would find. But the video generation was kicking off and “Distant Early Warning” was on MTV quite often and I was hooked, quickly backtracking and joining BMI or RCA record clubs to get more of their collection for a penny to find another side of music I’d not known before. So I tag this as influential because it opened the door to another side of rock I had just not experienced yet.
Chris Gaines – In…The Life of Chris Gaines. This one made me stop and rethink what an artist can do when they try to change things up and explore another side. Many artists do experimental releases (like KISS, The Elder) but so few pull off such a change so well. Already a legend in country music, Garth Brooks took on an alter ego to break away from previous pretenses. Despite a whole production story behind this; I just focused on the music. From covering a country feel to a plethora of originals that rock you out or steal your heart, In…The Life of Chris Gaines is another 10 to me that sets the standard for what music can be.
I didn’t dig too deep on this; just took what came to the top of my mind. But music like this is what helped shaped what i consider “greatness” today. In many ways some of these artists have set the bar so high, I don’t think it could ever be topped.
But given that “it could happen” is quite possible, it sure is a lot of fun to keep listening and hope to find that emotionally defining moment in that very next song.5