Yeah I know, I'm late as usual with my update...been busy helping bury the world in Star Wars merchandise. Anyway, If you're still reading this crap you are definitely a glutton for punishment. This next batch of life changing songs from my formative years of 1977-1978 will dazzle and thrill you like the previous lists did...
When I wasn't playing my KISS records at deafening levels, and jumping around like a maniac playing air guitar and sticking my tongue out, I was being exposed to some exciting new music on the local rock station. Some of these albums I would buy right away so I could enjoy in their entirety, others would be bought later - but they all made their mark on me in their own way.
1978 The Who - Who Are You
This was not the first Who song I ever heard, we had some 'Old Who' in the house, My Generation, I Can See For Miles, Mary Anne With The Shakey Hand etc. So I was already aware of the band, but it was this song that grabbed me by the balls first (before CSI ruined it for me forever). This song made me a life long Who fan. I played the hell out of this album, with 905 and Trick of the Light becoming my favorite tracks off the album. Naturally over the years I bought every damn Who album I could get my hands on finally discovering my ultimate favorite Who track...The Seeker from the 1971 compilation album: Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy.
1972 Deep Purple - Smoke On The Water
What can I say that hasn't already be said about this song before?... "This was the first song I learned how to play guitar on..etc. blah blah blah" Well guess what? I never learned how to play guitar, too much work and it required patience. Two things that weren't in my wheelhouse back then...or now. If I couldn't pick up the guitar and rip out an Ace Frehley solo, then I wasn't gonna waste my time. BUT...BUT, I could play a mean air guitar as I've said before-and this is one of the songs where I perfected my technique. Smoke On The Water punched me in my young nuts. This is the first Deep Purple song that I remember hearing, and the funny thing is it would take me a week or two to figure out the name of the band that played it! The first time I heard it on the radio, I had missed the first minute of the song so I never heard the band name...but figured out the title of the song because of the chorus. So for over a week I'd listen to the radio hoping to hear it again and find out the damn band's name. I finally heard the DJ mention that Deep Purple's Smoke On The Water would be playing after the commercial break and I nearly shit myself! DEEP PURPLE! THAT'S THE NAME OF THE BAND! I got a cassette ready and waited to hit record, cuz that's what you did in the olden days when you heard a song on the radio that you liked-you made a tape. Well I played that damn thing a hundred times, memorizing the lyrics (no internet back then to look them up) and falling in love with the story. Sharing my love of this song wth some friends at school one day, I was told by one of my more enlightened friends (he had an older brother), that the song was about 'doing bongs', smoke on the water-get it?. What the fuck was 'doing bongs', I asked? "It's when you smoke pot in a bong, dummy." Well...what was a bong I asked? I was not looking too cool at this point as you can imagine. A bong was explained to me and I was more confused than ever because I thought it was about a fire. Needless to say, my friend was a completely misinformed fucking moron.
Deep Purple's Made In Japan was the first album of their's that I ever bought, and I'm glad it was the first. It exposed me to the band at their peak and LIVE. It was my first honest to God exposure to a bombastic 'jam-band' that could play the shit out of anything...I didn't know how to digest it at first. KISS was my favorite band remember...but Deep Purple was on another planet and it took me awhile to really grasp it. I mean come on, this album had the DEFINITIVE Live versions of: Speed King, Highway Star (with that crazy Goddamn Guitar solo), Child In Time (Howling banshee screams of Ian Gillan), Smoke On The Water (DUH!), Strange Kind Of Woman, Lazy & Space Trucking'! This band was so tight, to this day I'm still in shock when I listen to this album - that people used to play this good live with such ferocity. This album opened up my ears to an entire new class of music and musicianship. Ritchie Blackmore would become my favorite guitarists for a VERY long time (kinda still is...love his tone) but not for awhile. Ace Frehley was still THE guitar God and everyone else sucked - KISS was the greatest rock band in the world, remember?
(This song also introduced me to the name Frank Zappa and the Mothers, but that's a story for later.)
1974 J Geils Band - Musta Got Lost
The J. Geils Band, a band from Worcester Massachusetts (literally my back yard), quickly became one of those iconic bands that became part of the soundtrack to my childhood. For some reason this live cut of the 1974 track of 'Musta Got Lost' from the album 1976 LIVE: Blow Your Face Out, is the song I remember as being the first J. Geils tune to be tattooed into my brain. It was Peter Wolf's intro rap to this song that hooked me in. This guy is one of the best front men in the history of Rock n Roll, he owned the stage. No one could top his stage banter, he's the greatest. Ironically, once again it was a live performance by a band that made me a fan for life. These guys kicked some serious ass, they didn't put on a concert, they put on a PARTY. A great R&B influenced Blues Band, that gets your foot a-tapping. They are still on my iPod.
1977 Meatloaf - Paradise By The Dashboard Light
I'm as shocked as you that this song made the list...I feel a little dirty. Remember how I mentioned that I would buy albums based on the cover artwork? I rest my case:
What 12 year old boy wouldn't want buy this?! This cover is badass! AND it was done by Richard Corbin, an artist I had just discovered in Heavy Metal magazine - a magazine that would go onto change my life as well. Well, naturally I was taken about by the music on THIS one...actually I was a little confused. I didn't know what the hell to make of it. It sounded like the soundtrack to a musical my mom would have watched on TV. I was actually REALLY depressed the first time I played...I had spent $7 on it and that was a lot of money to me. So I didn't play it for a really long time until my friends started telling me that it's an awesome album. This is a time when peer pressure forced me to listen to it again. So I did, over and over again...and I still hated the fucking thing. I just didn't get it. I still don't. But whenever Paradise By The Dashboard Light comes on the radio, which it STILL does on occasion, I find myself singing all the fucking words. I think the only impact this song had on me was my desire to have sex in a car. (I can't believe this album sold over 43 million copies...)
1978 Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band - Hollywood Nights
Hollywood Nights! Another song about California! Who would have thought...I sense a strange pattern here, as if my destiny was prearranged by the music Gods. Oh! and ANOTHER Live track as well, that sucked me into fandom. Let's face it, Bob Seger kicks ass. I loved the 'story' in this song, it sounded so glamorous to 12 year old me - what the hell did I know. I would learn a few decades later what a God awful, shitty town Hollywood really is...but until then I would rock out to this song and all the others on the album: Stranger in Town. I love his voice, total rock n roll, like whiskey and cigarettes-like it should be.
1977 Steely Dan - Peg
Ahhhh, Steely Dan. The arrogant fucking hipsters from New York. I'm pretty sure this wasn't the first song I ever heard by them, it had to have been 'Reelin' In The Years', but that song didn't grab me the way this one did. It was the chorus of 'Peg' that perked up my ears. I couldn't make out what the hell I was hearing - was it horns, a voice, a weird ass sound effect? It was pretty cool and I dug it and would screech "PEG!" when I was alone, trying to mimic the sound. Years later I would discover it was Michael McDonald from the Doobie Brothers crooning that 'Peg' along with the horns that hooked me. But it would take until 1986, my sophomore year in college, for me to become a TRUE Steely Dan fan. It was a nice contrast to all the hardcore punk I was deep into at that time. In fact I would put Steely Dan on when producing all my great works of art for class, their bitchin' jazz, funk, R&B and pop grooves made the all nighters less painful. I never pretended to know what the hell they singing about-their lyrics are pretty fucked up, but what do you expect from a band named after a steam powered adult toy from the novel "Naked Lunch" by Edgar Burroughs.
How could I NOT love this band?
1978 Van Halen - You Really Got Me
1964 The Kinks - You Really Got Me
Here is a 'two for one' situation, and it's because Van Halen officially introduced me to The Kinks. When Van Halen's first album came out in 1978 it was a game changer for heavy rock/metal guitarists - Eddie Van Halen rewrote the book on how to play the guitar. People lost their shit. I became a fan of Van Halen from the very beginning. They were a really big deal in the 7-8th grade. It wasn't until I read that their biggest hit wasn't even theirs...it was by another band called The Kinks. How this band slipped by me before now is a mystery to me to this day. I MUST have heard a song or two of their's on the radio at some point? Well thanx to one of my Rock Magazines, I became enlightened and eventually purchased my first Kinks album. It was an import...that meant it was really special and was going to cost me more. I think I paid something like $12 for Well Respected Kinks, a compilation album from 1966. GREAT album! Side 1: A Well Respected Man, Where Have All The Good Times Gone, Till The End Of The Day, Set Me Free, Tired Of Waiting For You. Side 2: All Day And All Of The Night, I Gotta Move, Don't You Fret, Wait Till The Summer Comes Along, You Really Got Me. This was an incredible album for me to buy at the time...classic shit, right here. My love for The Kinks only grew from there. Two years later they would release their live album: One For The Road, (with the live version of Lola) and all of a sudden they were insanely popular again. I could finally find (and purchase) all their older albums that up until then were impossible to find. Their back catalog became relevant again. THEY became popular AGAIN...One of my favorite bands of all time. Pete Townshend once said: "the Kinks were...quintessentially English. I always think that Ray Davies should one day be poet laureate. He invented a new kind of poetry and a new kind of language for pop writing that influenced me from the very, very, very beginning."
So thank you Van Halen.
1978 The Cars - Just What I Needed
Yep...The Cars. I played the hell out of this album as well, it was a totally new sound than what I was accustomed to hearing. They called it New Wave. I had NO frigging idea what the hell that was supposed to mean-I just called it rock. Another band from Boston, that got a lot of airplay on the local radio stations, so they seeped into my DNA. I'm a sucker for that annoyingly hypnotic synthesizer sound in their songs-especially on their debut album. I guess this album would prime me (more like prepare me) for the crap that would come along in the late 70's early 80's when New Wave would dominate the airwaves. Yes, most of it would be total shit but I always had a soft spot for the Cars, they seemed to be better musicians than the rest. That's all I got, nothing witty or profound to say other than I really liked this album and I'd play it a lot.
1978 DEVO - Satisfaction
DEVO...talk about a total mindfuck in 1978. My first exposure to this band was THIS VIDEO on a late night music show-can't remember the name. I thought these guys sucked beyond belief. I told everyone I knew about this shitty band called DEVO...what the hell did DEVO mean anyway?! (I'd learn later) I was mesmerized. I couldn't take my eyes off them. I thought they were a joke band. They CERTAINLY weren't as great as KISS, what the hell was the deal with their costumes?! I totally wrote them off as shit. But the weird thing was, I couldn't stop talking about them. I was constantly telling people about this band, I couldn't shut the fuck up about this band. Then I started hearing them being played late at night on the radio, not prime time, but the time of night when DJs used to be able to pick their OWN music, and you'd be exposed to NEW stuff. Well one night they were playing album sides (those were the days) and they played DEVO's album: Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are DEVO! I heard Uncontrollable Urge, Satisfaction, Praying Hands, Space Junk, Mongoloid and Jocko Homo for the first time and... fell in love with the band. Didn't totally understand what the hell they were trying to do or prove, but it didn't matter at that point, I was digging the weird quality to it. It was totally different to my usual diet of heavy guitar rock and wailing vocalists. I started to dip my toe into the New Wave pool a little more...just a little bit. I later became a SPUD, a story for another time.
1978 Blondie - Picture This
Two words: Debbie Harry
Honestly, that's all I need to say. I heard Blondie for the first time on that same radio station, during that same late night show and was INSTANTLY hooked. I was instantly hooked because they sounded just like an updated garage band from the 1960's to me. The groove and keyboard sound hooked me in immediately. The album Parallel Lines, might as well be called a Greatest Hits album. Hanging On The Telephone, One Way Or Another, Picture This, Fade Away And Radiate, Pretty Baby, I Know But I Don't Know, 11:59, Will Anything Happen?, Sunday Girl, Heart Of Glass, I'm Gonna Love You Too, Just Go Away...I mean COME ON?! Debbie Harry SOUNDED sexy. Imagine how my head exploded when I finally saw a picture of her for the first time...12 year old Kenny had his first girlfriend. I was pathetic as hell. I was like a teenage girl pissing herself watching the Beatles, and most likely squealed like one as well. When I thought about her...I'm sharing too much right now, Debbie made me feel things. As for the song that REALLY sealed the deal for me, it was Picture This. Sure, I liked Hanging On The Telephone, One Way Or Another, Sunday Girl, Heart Of Glass, (the ones they played to death on the radio) but they didn't come close to being as sexy as Picture This. I loved the power of her voice in this song...the little growl in her voice drove (still drives) me nuts. Debbie Harry was hands down the sexiest woman in rock. Hell, she STILL exudes sex appeal at 70 years old.
FYI this picture hung on my bedroom wall for a very long time, and it was a lot to deal with for a 12 year old...I'm just saying.