Let me first preface this entry by saying that these albums I am listing are the ones which most influenced me personally and in my writing. I am not saying these are the 10 best of all-time, in fact there might be a few of them that you've never heard of. I will do my best to explain why these albums are listed here, and also give you a couple of tracks you should check out. Okay, without further delay:
10. Parachutes - Coldplay (2000) Much in the vein of Radiohead's The Bends, the debut album by Britain's Coldplay is a melodic and moody masterpiece. This is before the mainstream accepted them. A very simple formula, guitar, piano, drums, bass, and thoughtful lyrics. It is easy to be inspired by this album as I was.
Must Hear Tracks: Shiver, Trouble, Sparks
9. Grace - Jeff Buckley (1994) An amazing voice, that is the very first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Jeff Buckley. Probably not too well known, mostly due to his untimely death in 1997, Jeff Buckley, son of musician Tim Buckley, was blessed with a voice angel's would have envied. His melodies and lyrics will pull you into a new world as they did for me. Unfortunately for me, and many others, I did not discover this extremely talented artist until after his death.
Must Hear Tracks: Last Goodbye, Grace, Lover You Should Have Come Over
8. Use Your Illusion I & II - Guns N Roses (1991) Now I am sure that many of you will say that Appetite For Destruction was a better album, and you'd be right, but these are albums that influenced me. These two albums captured GNR at their excessive best, mixing the hardest bone crunching rock with legendary ballads. Axl Rose's voice and Slash's guitar prowess made even the weakest songs worth hearing. These guys were once the biggest band in the world, too bad that huge egos will probably stop a real reunion from ever happening.
Must Hear Tracks: November Rain, Estranged, Don't Cry, You Could Be Mine
7. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band - The Beatles (1967) Any list of influential albums and artists had better include something by The Beatles or it is incomplete. This is one of the first 'concept albums,' meaning that the entire album is one subject. The subject is a fictional band and their act. The Fab Four influenced everything that came after them. There is not much else I could say about them.
Must Hear Tracks: Sgt. Pepper/With A Little Help From My Friends, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, A Day In The Life
6. Ten - Pearl Jam (1991) From the gut busting opening track Once all the way through the long, slow fade of Release the debut album by Pearl Jam helped to define a generation and save music from glam and hair bands. The subjects touched upon by Eddie Vedder in his songs could be related to by anybody, and his sheer honesty and power in his voice could make you relate to them if you couldn't before. He made you feel it. Along with Nirvana, Pearl Jam took music in a different direction and forced the mainstream to follow it.
Must Hear Tracks: Jeremy, Black, Release, Porch
5. Coil - Toad The Wet Sprocket (1997) The last release by this alternative, folk band is the one that spoke to me the most. The music is crisp and laid back in most spots which allows the lyrics to come through and be heard. Lead singer Glen Phillips wrote in a way that I often tried to mimic, at least in the way he expressed himself. I had always thought if I was in a band they would probably likely resemble Toad The Wet Sprocket.
Must Hear Tracks: All Things In Time, Whatever I Fear, Dam Would Break
4. The John Lennon Collection - John Lennon (1989) I was only three when Lennon's Double Fantasy came out in 1980, so this greatest hits collection was my first chance to hear, and truly appreciate, the magic that was John Lennon. Lennon spoke of simple things like love and life, which I understood, but then he also spoke of things greater than himself, like world peace. I listened in awe of John Lennon's words, they helped me to better express myself in my own writing. His song, Woman, was the level I reached for whenever I wrote about love.
Must Hear Tracks: Woman, Imagine, #9 Dream, Watching The Wheels
3. Achtung Baby - U2 (1991) As with Guns N Roses, I am sure a lot of you will say that Joshua Tree was the better album. In my opinion this album is the best artistic expression by U2 as it catches them smack dab in the middle of their shift from straight rock to the experimental sound of Pop. This was the first album I heard in which I truly liked every song on it, Bono has become what John Lennon was as far as writing about topics greater than himself. The music of U2, which was the background of a lot of my own lyrics, is at its peak here.
Must Hear Tracks: One, Zoo Station, Mysterious Ways, Love Is Blindness
2. OK Computer - Radiohead (1997) My first reaction upon hearing this masterpiece was simply 'wow.' Radiohead managed to inspire probably between 100-200 of my poems with this album. Each song sends you on a different journey, but each journey is special in its own right. Like U2's Achtiung Baby this album catches Radiohead smack in the middle of a change from rock to electronic. I wish I could hear this again for the first time, it inspired me and blew my mind more than any album besides the one that comes next.
Must Hear Tracks: Subterranean Homesick Alien, Airbag, Paranoid Android, Karma
1. Nevermind - Nirvana (1991) Kurt Cobain is the reason I am a writer in the first place. Each and every song on this album stands alone as an inspiration. Kurt became to me what John Lennon meant to my father, and as with Lennon and the Beatles, Nirvana has influenced all rock music to come after. I will always remember where I was the first time I heard Smells Like Teen Spirit, that song and this album changed my life more than any before or since.
Must Hear Tracks: All of them, but if I have to choose a few: Lounge Act, Come As You Are, Drain You, Smells Like Teen Spirit