Hey Tuesday! Oh yeah! Made it through another week….and here I am. I started writing this blog post about a dust-up I had with a (now) former friend on Facebook over the idea of early openings here in the United States. While that would be quite the Bardic thing to do, its really not the direction I want to take. Just know this – I am against the idea of these openings, not because it would make President Trump look bad (he does a far better job of that then I could ever imagine myself doing). I am just not willing to put peoples’ lives on the lines for political expediency. #TwoQuid
Anyways, I thought I would do something that was a bit more fun. I have seen a ton of these “Top Ten (insert genre here) Albums” all over the internet. I decided I would do the same thing…the Top Ten Albums in Tommy’s Opinion. Now, these are not the top ten albums ever made. These are ten albums that I would wear out if they were in cassette or vinyl form. In other words, these are my favorite albums.
So, in no particular order – simply because I would have too much trouble trying to put these in any order.
Van Halen – Women and Children First
Van Halen was one of the first bands that I listened to when I was first climbing into the music scene. This album is raw and full of energy. The album opens with “And the Cradle Will Rock,” a song that I swear was written about my teen-aged years. The beginning sound of the song is actually a full can of beer being rolled along a keyboard, according to the mythology of the album. Other standout tracks on this album for me include “Fools” which has one of the best rhythm riffs I have ever heard, “Could this Be Magic?” and “In a Simple Rhyme” which are the last two tracks on the album. Don’t mistake this album as a highly produced gem…its styling is very raw and un-produced, a knock that music critics laid on it at that time.
Black Sabbath – Live Evil
This was the first “real” Black Sabbath live album. The previous live album was a bootleg that had been produced and released by a small company in Europe in the late 1970s. It has since been repackaged and released as “Past Lives” in the Sabbath catalog. Ronnie James Dio is fronting the band in this concert footage, and the “Heaven and Hell” version in here is not to be missed. For me, this was the first live album that I ever bought, and I instantly fell in love with the music stylings of Iommi, Butler, and Appice. While I know Bill Ward was the original drummer of the band, Appice is such a better drummer.
Warlord – Deliver Us
In the mid-1980s, there were tons of bands coming out on the smaller independent labels. And me? I was completely in love with this movement. Bands like Steeler, Mercyful Fate (coming up), and Slayer (also coming up) were getting their feet into the metal marketplace. Bands like Metallica, Trauma, and were showing up on compilation albums that were designed to showcase these new, seemingly unheard of bands. One of the best, in my opinion, was the unheralded band Warlord. This album is a little over-produced and even muddy sounding in places, but the excitement that a new band has is evident in their playing. This album has the haunting ‘Mrs. Victoria” as well as the title track that are amazing standouts for me. I bought this album in late 1984, and played the cassette until I wore it completely out. I have bought it numerous times since then – until CDs came out. 🙂
Pantera – Cowboys From Hell
Pantera created a wild style all their own. I have strong memories of this band. I used to hang out with them from time to time, when they were still on the Dallas music scene. Not only were they some of the best folks to party with, they were also some of the most down-to-earth people I have ever met. “Cemetery Gates” is probably the most well-known song from this album, but I also have a lot of love for “Primal Concrete Sledge” and “Message in Blood”. The album is just an awesome classic.
Mercyful Fate – Don’t Break the Oath
At one point, I slipped into the black metal world, and it was this album that was my introduction. Probably the most sinister looking cover I have ever seen on an album, and some of the most fiendish lyrics ever – this album is a literal gem. If you are looking for a scary song to play during Halloween, its definitely “The Oath”. This was also the album that caused my mother to believe I was dabbling in Satanism, a common fear amongst most parents during this particular time frame (1984-1985), as it was the beginnings of the moronic Satanic Panic. Lots of Baptist ministers swindled a lot of money out of their parishioners utilizing much of the heavy metal music world as a scare prop.
Slayer – Haunting the Chapel (EP)
There’s a lot of good Slayer music to pick from, but for me its the very beginning. Their 1983 Extended Play is what I considered as Slayer at their very best. Probably one of the fastest (in terms of playing) that I had heard at this time, this band was essentially the jet-engine of the metal scene, when most bands were following the slow, plodding style of Black Sabbath’s early 1970s style. For an example of that, see the band Trouble who have several good albums.
Buffy Saint-Marie – I’m Gonna Be a Country Girl Again
What? You thought my entire world was heavy metal? It might seem that way, but I traveled all over Europe in a Ford Pinto, listening to nothing but 1950s and 1960s country. All thanks to my father. This was one of his albums that I really enjoyed. Buffy’s lyrics are upbeat and fun. Her voice is pretty and pure. The styling is the typical back beat, guitar and fiddle that was so prevalent during the time. But this album takes me back to sunny days, laying in the field, and watching the clouds drift by.
Halestorm – Vicious
There is no way in the Nine Hells that I am going to leave off my favorite band. Lzzy Hale, AreJay Hale and the rest of the band are so much fun to listen to. Tons of sexual innuendo, lots of great rhythm guitar…it was hard to pick any one album over the other. So I went with the album that has my favorite song from the band, “Do Not Disturb”. Other awesome songs on this album include “Killing Ourselves to Live”, “Uncomfortable” and “Heart of Novacaine”. This band rocks…and Lzzy is one gorgeous woman who is very sure of herself and her self image – a truly deadly combination.
April Wine – The Nature of the Beast
I would be completely remiss if I didn’t save the last two spots for a pair of Canadian bands that I absolutely adore. The first of these is April Wine, and an album that just doesn’t have any throw-away tracks on it, at least as far as I am concerned. “Sign of the Gypsy Queen” is probably the most well-known song on here, but I am far more partial to “Big City Girls”, “One More Time” (A great song to end the album on), and “Caught in the Crossfire.” There’s also the minor hit “Just Between You and Me”. I own several albums from this band, and I have to say I really love all of them. They have fun playing, and don’t take themselves too serious – a mix for success in my book.
Rush – Permanent Waves
Of course, I cannot leave Rush out of this list. This has been my go-to band for many years. Each album has fantastic songs with extensive time changes and incredible lyrics written by the late Neil Peart. Each member of this band were masters of their respective instrument. Permanent Waves is my favorite album because of two songs – “Different Strings” and “Natural Science”. “The Spirit of Radio” and “Freewill” are far better known and excellent songs to. But the last two songs on this album are just incredible pieces to play back-to-back. Really, there’s not a terrible album among their entire history.
I left several of my favorites bands off of here, including Phish, and the Grateful Dead. Their music is a part of my daily life, but not for their albums – rather for their live music, most of which I have gathered through bootleg materials. As such, I did not add those to this list.
During this quarantine period, I have found that music is my solace. I have spent a lot of time going through some of my older music and reliving periods of my life through the songs. For instance, Adam and the Ants, as well as The Clash, the Buzzcocks, and the Sex Pistols tend to take me back to a time of living in Europe as a pre-teen and in my younger teen years. I never really understood the songs, but loved the stylings…even though my parents hated it, as most parents tend to do with their children’s musical tastes.
Well, I hope you enjoyed my little stroll down memory lane…make your own lists…share them here if you want…or on your own blogs (and share the link here). We will all have very distinctive musical tastes…I think it would be a lot of fun to explore those…