27 years ago, two albums that massively influenced my taste in music were released, Nirvana’s – Nevermind and Red Hot chilli Peppers – Blood, Sugar, Sex, Majik. It got me thinking about the albums that mean something to me and ones that have shaped my tastes in music today. The nineties for one, were a cross-pollination of different genres and I flitted and floated between grunge, punk and indie. I still revisit these albums below regularly, although inevitably I’ve played them to death. I could very easily triple this list as these sorts of articles usually spark mass debates, so I’ll say now that this list is by no means complete and mainly focusses on my teenage years.
JOY DIVISION – UNKNOWN PLEASURES – 1979
When I heard this album I knew without a doubt that Joy Division were going to be my favourite band – and ten years later, they still are. Formed in the wake of the punk explosion in England, Joy Division were the first band in the post-punk movement that didn’t express themselves through anger and energy but instead through feeling and emotion, shining a light for the rise of melancholy, alternative music in the ’80s. The band were famous for their signature haunting melodies, enunciated by the isolated and eerie lyrics of Ian Curtis. Joy Division’s emotive power was very important to the growth of independent music in the 80’s. Back then Northern men tended to hold their emotions in and were encouraged to not show any weakness, however, Ian Curtis wrote and sang about his struggles and problems quite candidly. This was a huge pull to me that someone could be so open and honest about their darker side and thoughts – I’ve been hooked ever since.
Sadly, Ian Curtis committed suicide just as the band where starting to take off. He did however, forge a lasting legacy which continues to influence and inspire people long past his untimely demise back in 1980.
THE STONE ROSES – 1989
The Stone Roses were the leaders of the Britain’s late eighties’ Madchester scene, merging Pop, Dance and Indie Rock in a seemingly effortless manner. They drew thousands of fans to their famous gig ‘Spike Island‘, apparently the sound wasn’t very good but the atmosphere and feeling of everyone coming together cemented the gig in history. The band are famous for setting the scene for all that the nineties would birth. Soaking up the influences from the time of Madchester, (think The Smiths, James, Magazine, Buzzcocks etc) and the rise and dominance of the Haçienda and acid house.
RED HOT CHILL PEPPERS – BLOOD SUGAR SEX MAJIK – 1991
I have spent many, many hours listening to Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik, probably because its the album that got me fully into guitar music. Highly innovative and original, it’s the fifth album from American rockers Red Hot Chilli Peppers and I bought it on cassette back in 1991. My mother thought a little different, full of sexual innuendos and references to drugs and death it wasn’t exactly what my mum thought she was buying her 11 year old daughter! Full of funky rock songs, Anthony Kiedis’ vulgar poetry shows his bawdier side, coupled with huge riffing and even some rap choruses, this album was a highly-regarded staple of ’90s alternative rock. The guitar solo on ‘I Could Have Lied‘ is glorious. This is by far the best work from the band and you will struggle to find anything as highly charged and powerful in their discography in my opinion.
NIRVANA – NEVERMIND – 1991
Grunge took the music industry and myself by storm in the early nineties and thats all thanks to grunge pioneers, Nirvana. Delivering fresh sounds Kurt Cobain, the front man for Nirvana, created songs that no one was used to hearing before and I was hooked. When Nirvana released Nevermind in the early nineties, hits like, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit‘ and ‘Come As You Are‘ were played everywhere and Nevermind quickly became one of grunge’s most unforgettable albums of the nineties. Although to me this album seemed over produced and commercialised the bands sound, it opened up the doors to me to their much heavier earlier stuff, which I much preferred. Ending in tragedy, Kurt Cobain sadly took his own life in 1994.
SNOOP DOGGY DOG – DOGGY STYLE – 1993
1993 saw my attention drawn away from Grunge for little while and an album I could not get enough of was Doggy Style from Hip-Hop artist Snoop Doggy Dog. One completely out of the box for me this one as I’ve never been a ever of Hip Hop but I loved this, I knew every lyric and still do. Now about those lyrics… at times they are admittedly a bit shallow as they are all about sex and weed – which admittedly isn’t very deep and meaningful! However, how these lyrics are delivered is whats important here, Snoop has an instantly recognisable voice, one that cuts through tracks with an effortless cool. Snoop’s style makes him easily one of, if not, the most famous rapper in the world.
OASIS – DEFINITELY MAYBE – 1994
The birth of Britpop hit us all like a tidal wave, out went the ripped jeans and unwashed hair and in came trackie tops, sideburns and men doused in aftershave. Oasis sang songs about having a great time, feeling good, getting smashed and most importantly, daring to dream. They signed to independent record label Creation Records in 1993 and released their record-setting debut album Definitely Maybe in 1994. Boasting one of the most impressive openers on any album is ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star‘ with its laddish, cocky swagger. The album’s biggest anthem for me personally is ‘Live Forever‘ which despite losing some of its impact (due to overplaying), it still remains one of the most iconic and loved tracks from the bands 18 year reign. Oasis did what hadn’t been done since the Sex Pistols and that was put all eyes on them. The press couldn’t get enough of them – and they still can’t despite their split in 2009.
If you had to sit down and explain to someone what music you love and why, what albums would you choose?