by Walter Price
Maybe I’m a bit weird… shh, let me finish. I mean in music tastes. I have little to no boundaries. I find it easy to move in and out of genres like a ghost through walls and I waste no time explaining I will never be pigeonholed. I assembled a lengthy list of important albums that have come in and out of my life but I have rested on just five that have truly made a change in or maintain lingering fingerprints on my life.
KISS – Rock and Roll Over (1976)
I was 5 years old when i first heard this album and at this time I truly thought the best music in the world was from The Mickey Mouse Club and The Jackson 5. Why my mother gave me this album at such a young age still baffles me to this day. But, if she hadn’t my love of music exploration would have been delayed by years and I thank her every time I put on an unknown artist and explore what they or who they are. After hearing KISS, I started to secretly dig into the family vinyl collection and discovered a huge world outside of Mickey and Michael.
Eagles – Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) (1976)
Sure, this spot on my list should be filled by Van Halen’s “1984” but as I was thinking about my mother’s unknowing influence on my lifelong music loving self, I kept thinking about all the weird, mysterious and priceless days listening to Dr. Hook, Rolling Stones and The Eagles with her. “Take It To The Limit” was my jam. I didn’t know what it meant, I didn’t know then about the music politics behind the release of this collection…I just remember being able to sing the lyrics in a car cruising around Austin with my mom. That will never be forgotten or replaced.
Sex Pistols – Nevermind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols (1976)
This album was a bit of social reverse engineering in my timeline. I found this album after my buddy Chris first gave me a cassette of The Minutemen in junior high school. I’d heard of the Bollocks before and probably even had heard a track or two but it wasn’t until circa 1986 that I dug into this gem. This wasn’t The Pretenders, Van Halen, RUN DMC or whatever else I was into at the time…this was ugly rock n roll and I immediately became enthralled. Although I was one of the last in my young posse to discover this album, I ran around trying to introduce this dynamite to everyone like I’d either invented it or was the very first human to hear it.
I can taste the air of that time period as I write this, fantastic.
The Smiths – Hatful of Hollow (1984)
“What difference does it make…”, indeed.
I’ve been obsessed with a few things in my day but nothing musically like The Smiths. Again, this album was wedged into my life by a school friend but it’s hard to say which one. I was kind of poor at the time so almost all my music was hand-me-downs of sorts. I swear, when I put this cassette in my boombox I was instantaneously transfixed. This was pop music like nothing I had ever heard.I have never been a mopey, depressed soul but I wallowed in dark happiness at the somber lyrics submersed in unbelievably fantastic guitar work. This album or collection, if you wish, started a 7 year obsessive quest for all things not popular radio offerings. Hatful of Hollow was my gateway drug to everything beautifully not the norm.
Morrissey, Johnny, Andy, Mike and whoever gave me this album, I thank you all for changing my life.
Willie Nelson – Across the Borderline (1993)
What?! “There are so many better Willie albums than this weird almost forgotten pile.”, some of you are saying in irritated and exhausted breaths but this is my life buckaroos and buckarettes.
The year was 1993 in Austin, TX and my life was changing, I was in and out of college, smoking tons of marijuana and trying to figure out who I was for the umpteenth time. I lived in a house with a werewolf and a psychopath. I worked at Pizza Hut, rode an old motorcycle and was emotionally lost.
I went to Waterloo Records one day trying to find something, anything to spark interest in my meandering soul. A lifelong Nelson fan, I had heard of all the troubles the outlaw was having at the time and asked the clerk if I could listen to Willie’s new one. As clear as day I remember the dude saying, “It sucks man.”…never you mind, I went into the booth and WOW! Had Willie Nelson gone insane….No, he found the perfect opportunity to make changes in perceptions.
By the time I got to his collaboration with Sinéad O’Connor on the classic Peter Gabriel/Kate Bush “Don’t Give Up” I was sold. I called the clerk an idiot and went home to immerse myself into what I consider to this very day one of the most important albums Willie Nelson has ever released.
I quickly apologize to The Cult, The Hanks (Snow and Williams), New Order, Van Halen, Dr. Hook, Tom Petty, The Rolling Stones and Johnny Cash and a haunting and lengthy list of awesome albums I left behind…I love you all.