There has been a recent trend going around on Facebook apparently in which people put up 10 albums that influenced them.  The problem is that it’s supposed to be just one album at a time and you’re not supposed to list the reasons why it influenced you.  What’s the point of that?  Why list something that was influential but not give any idea as to why?

Well, my brother Kelly thought the same thing.  He put together a list of the 10 albums that really influenced him.  Except there are a few things.  1 – He didn’t want to put up just one a time because it works better as one story.  2 – He wanted to make certain to include that story as part of it.  And 3 – Like me, he’s not on Facebook.  So when he sent me his list to read, I offered to put it up on the blog for him.  So here, in my older brother (six years) Kelly’s own words, are his 10 albums that influenced him:

I would guess many people’s musical tastes were influenced initially by their parents and/or older siblings.  I don’t think that is the case for me.  My parents didn’t listen to rock music that I recall and the album they had that most influenced me was probably Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits.  John followed the American Top 40 pretty closely for a while and there were some songs that I really liked (“Rock n’ Roll Fantasy” by Bad Company coming to mind), but I don’t remember him having albums of his own that he played.  Plus, he liked “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang which made me discount anything else he may have recommended :) .

There are a couple of times I listened to a song that I remember very distinctly as life-changing for me musically.  The first is when my friend Patrick Maxwell played me “Hello, Goodbye”.  This led to me my initial favorite band, The Beatles.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band:

(The Beatles, 1967)

I got this for either Christmas or my birthday.  My pick for their best album.  I might have gone with The Beatles: 1962-66 (the Red album) or 1967-70 (the blue album), but I didn’t want to pick any greatest hits albums.

My best friend prior to leaving Albany, Michael Jacobs, was a big influence on me musically.  His dad had been in a band and was the manager of a local club where some fairly big bands (Foghat e.g.) had appeared.  He introduced me to the band that replaced the Beatles as my favorite: The Who.


(The Who, 1969)

I bought this on cassette and it was the first album of theirs I got.  “Pinball Wizard” was probably my favorite song at the time.  If I had more exposure to FM radio, this probably would have been Who’s Next.  That is their best album and the first CD I ever bought.

I had a few other cassettes and some albums before we moved to California, but none that I would put on this list (Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd) is a good contender though).  I got some more tapes after moving, but again none that would make this list.  Ghost in the Machine (The Police) might be the closest.

The other musically life-changing song for me was when my friend Steve Brase played me “New Year’s Day” on a Walkman prior to a cross country race our first year in high school.  This led to a new and still favorite band: U2

Under a Blood Red Sky:

(U2, 1983)

This is the first album of theirs I bought and it still resonates.  Of course, if I discovered them a few years later, this spot would have gone to The Joshua Tree.

Steve introduced me to a lot of music in high school and made a bunch of tapes for me.  Some albums that came close to making the list were: Hot Rocks: 1964-71 (Rolling Stones) [disqualified for being a hits compilation], Everywhere at Once (The Plimsouls) and Ain’t Love Grand (X).  He also introduced me to what was a co-favorite for a while: The Alarm.  I played their albums in the car a lot (Stacy can verify).


(The Alarm 1985)

Probably my favorite of their albums, but Declaration is close.

My third favorite band in high school was another Steve introduced me to: R.E.M.



Fables of the Reconstruction:

(R.E.M. 1985)

My favorite of all their albums, even those that came out later.

College led to exposure to a lot of new music.   A couple of albums came close to making the list including: Live in Australia (Elton John), End of the Innocence (Don Henley), Robbie Robertson (Robbie Robertson) and The Unforgiven (The Unforgiven).  The one that makes the list is:


(XTC, 1986)

“Dear God” is a masterpiece.  Their greatest hits album (The Compact XTC) is well worth getting.

I enrolled in a CD club for a while where you had to purchase a certain number over a period of time.  After getting the ones I really wanted, I started getting some that I didn’t really know other than they were supposed to be good.  Legend (Bob Marley) would have made the list if I ended up being more into reggae.  The one that does is:

What’s Going On

(Marvin Gaye, 1971):

The title song is also a masterpiece.

I didn’t listen to Bruce Springsteen much until Born in the U.S.A., but “Youngstown” from The Ghost of Tom Joad got me listening to him more.  One of my athletes (Sean Kenna) was a huge Bruce fan and insisted on making me two discs of lesser known songs.  The clincher for me was:

The Rising:

(Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, 2002)

An amazing response to 9/11.  One of my favorites of his albums, but Born to Run has to be his best (the title song isn’t even on side one and my favorite song of his [“Jungleland”] is the last song on side two). A few years after The Rising came out, Sirius started the E Street Radio channel.  I listen to it almost exclusively when I drive (they have only had a U2 dedicated channel for brief periods).

I listened to AA (Adult Alternative) radio quite a bit prior to getting satellite radio.  This led me getting a few albums that I really like (including No Mermaid (Sinead Lohan)), but this one makes the list:

Michael McDermott

(Michael McDermott, 1996)

Stephen King wrote the liner notes for this not very well-known singer-songwriter.  “Bells” is probably my favorite and “Say Hey Charlie Boy” reminds me of a friend from high school.

Around the time Michael McDermott came out, Kathy took me to see Smokey Joe’s Café: The Songs of Leiber & Stoller.  It was fantastic and would probably make the list if it wasn’t a compilation.  The cast version of “Stand By Me” (which closes the soundtrack and the show) is awesome.

Kevin asked Terry to get him an album that was labeled Parental Discretion (not sure either of them actually realized it though) when he was eight.  Fortunately, I was there when she gave it to him and was able to confiscate it.  I listened to it to make sure he shouldn’t (he definitely should not have at that time) and I really liked it.

American Idiot

(Green Day, 2004)

A phenomenal album.  “St. Jimmy” always makes me of think of Bruce’s Jimmy the Saint (from “Lost in the Flood”).