Written By Braddon S. Williams

Roxy Music: Sirens

Roxy Music was a band I had read about and seen pictures of in the various rock magazines I used to learn so much from in my youth. Roxy Music were this mythological elegant glam rock band from England; sophisticated and ultra-hip.

When they released Siren in 1975, the lead off single (titled Love Is The Drug) got some decent air time on radio and I finally heard what I had been missing.

Brian Ferry’s suave lounge lizard persona was similar in style and substance to David Bowie’s, but Ferry had his own thing going, and I really like it. I didn’t hear the rest of the album (and indeed the rest of their excellent catalog of work) until much later, but Roxy Music definitely lived up to what I had perceived them to be.

They carved out a little niche of their own in a time when individuality was recognized as a prized quality. Their album covers were artful creations, too.

Siren’s model was Jerry Hall, who was dating Ferry at the time, and went on to be Mick Jagger’s other half for a longer time than any other woman. She certainly looked stunning in the role of the siren on the rocks.

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Gojira: L’Enfant Sauvage

French progressive death metal maestros Gojira released their major label debut in 2012, the ferociously creative L’Enfant Sauvage (French for The Wild Child). Led by Joe Duplantier on lead vocals and guitar and his brother Mario Duplantier, one of the best and most original drummers in extreme metal.

Gojira writes songs with deep philosophical meaning, often with an environmental message, setting them apart from most of their contemporaries.

The music is savagely heavy, but somehow cerebral and thoughtful at the same time. Some of the highlights of L’Enfant Sauvage include The Axe, The Gift Of Guilt, Planned Obsolescence, Liquid Fire, Explosia, Mouth Of Kala, and Born In Winter.

I was extremely fortunate to witness Gojira live with my 2 favorite bands, Opeth and The Devin Townsend Project. Gojira joined their ranks with their intensely hypnotic and brutal performance.

I can’t recommend them enough…if you haven’t heard them yet, what are you waiting for?

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Kiss: Ace Frehley

During my formative years as a budding guitarist, Kiss was my biggest inspiration. They were also the headliners of 2 of the first 3 concerts I ever attended.

When all four of the original members of Kiss released solo albums in 1978, I was most excited to hear what lead guitarist/spaceman Ace Frehley would come up with. Needless to say, Ace did not disappoint!

His solo disk proved to be the biggest hit of the bunch, and the most critically acclaimed. Although Ace didn’t write it, he had the biggest hit single of any of the Kiss solo records with his cover of New York Groove ( a Russ Ballard song originally recorded in 1975 by a British glam rock band called Hello). Frehley gave the tune a soulful, vaguely disco-inspired groove and hit the charts with a vengeance.

The rest of the album was more typical of the work Kiss was famous for…hard rocking gems like Speedin’ Back To My Baby, Rip It Out, Ozone, Snowblind, I’m In Need Of Love, and the killer instrumental Fractured Mirror.

Anton Fig supplied killer drums to compliment Ace’s wall of guitars and surprisingly solid vocals.

The other Kiss solo records all have their moments, but Ace Frehley is the one to own, because it definitely owns all the others!

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

James Taylor: Sweet Baby James

I’m not here to claim James Taylor as an influence, but he certainly has filled my ear holes with interesting sounds.

He has lived a life filled with extreme highs and lows, so in that sense I guess he has inspired me as someone who doesn’t quit. I like that.

I like his Sweet Baby James album, too. Released in 1970, Sweet Baby James was recorded when Taylor was essentially homeless. Things got better from there, but when they got better, he became a junkie. Then he got clean. Along the way he racked up awards, huge sales, adoring fans, and a supremely impressive portfolio of songs.

I think a lot of what contributes to James Taylor’s success (aside from his obvious talent) is his inherent likability. Music fans want to be moved by people with kindness and wisdom. I think that is a lot of what draws me to the man’s music. I can’t really think of him as an underdog, but he has worked steadily at his craft and he has faced his demons, and these things are important to me.

Sweet Baby James has Fire And Rain, Steamroller Blues, Country Road, and that fabulous title song…and it has James Taylor picking magic on his acoustic guitar and singing in that voice that makes everything seem like it’s going to be okay.

https://youtu.be/l9MncdJ_lOs

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Jim Croce: You Don’t Mess Around With Jim

Just thinking about Jim Croce brings back tons of memories of my childhood and my formative years of learning to play guitar.

Jim Croce released You Don’t Mess Around With Jim in 1972, so I would have been 10 years old at the time. I remember being fascinated with the title track, hearing it constantly on AM radio and buying the single. The tale of the pool hall hustler and the revenge of the man named Slim who was wronged just painted this vivid picture in my adolescent mind; very cinematic.

This was a trait of country music, but Jim Croce’s stuff was a hybrid of rock, folk, blues, and country and it was simply “feel good” music.

When I was learning to play guitar I had a teacher who had me pick up a songbook of Croce’s stuff and taught me to finger pick. This gave me an inside look at how these songs were composed and performed, and it carries a lot of wistful nostalgia with the memory.

This album contained so many great songs, like Operator (That’s Not The Way It Feels), Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy), New York’s Not My Home, Photographs And Memories, Hard Time Losin’ Man, and the incredibly moving Time In A Bottle.

If you don’t like Jim Croce, I don’t know if we can even have a legitimate friendship!

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Tori Amos: Little Earthquakes

I dearly love Tori Amos. She is a fearless artist who stands up for her beliefs and follows her vision no matter what the current musical climate dictates.

In 1992 Tori released her solo debut, Little Earthquakes, a treasure chest of great songwriting. Due to the unique quality of her vocals, acoustic piano based songs, and overall originality of her writing, Little Earthquakes sounds as fresh now as it did then…the mark of a true artistic statement.

The emotions and reactions that all these songs provoke have given them deep meaning to the listeners who have followed Amos with cult-like intensity throughout her career, whether they identify as outsiders, abused, misunderstood, angry, or simply as human beings with intelligence and hearts.

Some of my favorite Tori Amos songs are on this album; Silent All These Years, Leather, Precious Things, Crucify, Girl, Little Earthquakes, Winter, Tear In Your Hand, and China. A friend once said of Tori that she is probably the closest thing that humans have in actually hearing an angel sing.

He has passed over and I hope he can still hear Tori sing. R.I.P. “Cosmic” Harvey Hevenor.

Influences And Recollections of A Musical Mind