Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Tom Petty has inspired me and provided my ears with pleasure since his very first album, but I didn’t get the opportunity to see him live until 1994’s Wildflowers was released (the concert I attended was actually in 1995, but it was the tour in support of Wildflowers). This was technically Petty’s second solo album, but all the Heartbreakers with the exception of Stan Lynch played on it, and the guy who recorded the drums for the record (Steve Ferrone) joined the band in ’95. At any rate, like all Tom Petty albums, there were no weak songs, just hits and amazing deep cuts from beginning to end. Some of the highlights for me included Time To Move On, It’s Good To Be King, You Wreck Me, Crawling Back To You, Honey Bee, and the amazing title song. Oh yes, and there was this little hit single titled You Don’t Know How It Feels. He did pretty good with that one. It was quite difficult (actually virtually impossible!) to pick just one Tom Petty album for this list, so expect some more down the line.

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Peter Gabriel first entered my musical orbit via his tenure as the lead vocalist of Genesis. I would see pictures of him in all sorts of outrageous stage costumes in Circus magazine and became intrigued by his creatively bizarre fashion sense. After he left the band and started a solo career I eventually got around to actually listening to his music. His third self-titled album (also known as Melt, due to the cover shot of his face, um…melting!) came out in 1980, the year I graduated high school. By this time, Gabriel had married his progressive rock pedigree with a wide array of world music instrumentation and rhythms, and I was captivated. Incredible songwriting, coupled with Gabriel’s distinctive voice, both soaring and raspy at the same time, resulted in Games Without Frontiers, Intruder, Family Snapshot, And Through The Wire, and the majestic Biko. In time I went back and really got into the Genesis stuff, too. But this was the first, and a lot of his stuff remains in my playlists today.

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Brain Salad Surgery, 1973’s entry in the progressive rock hall of fame from England’s Emerson, Lake And Palmer, was a dazzling display of virtuoso musicianship and creativity. The band caught my attention with a headlining appearance at the California Jam, one of those enormous outdoor concerts that was televised as part of the In Concert tv show. Keyboardist Keith Emerson was seated at a grand piano at one point and then raised high above the stage by wires and then commenced to spin end-over-end. Quite a spectacular stage effect, and pre-dating Tommy Lee’s spinning drum set by over a decade. Anyway, the band’s performance captivated my young eyes and ears and led me to this grand album. Featuring the half hour long Karn Evil 9 (changed from its original name because lyricist Pete Sinfield told Emerson it sounded like a carnival…much cooler than the original Ganton 9), a masterpiece of sci fi weirdness, the whole album is full of Greg Lake’s majestic vocals, Carl Palmer’s excellent percussion skills, and Emerson’s collection of Moog synthesisers, pianos, and organs. Progressive rock done right by ELP, Brain Salad Surgery also featured one of the most distinctively disturbing album covers of all time, created by H.R. Giger.

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Brain Salad Surgery, 1973’s entry in the progressive rock hall of fame from England’s Emerson, Lake And Palmer, was a dazzling display of virtuoso musicianship and creativity. The band caught my attention with a headlining appearance at the California Jam, one of those enormous outdoor concerts that was televised as part of the In Concert tv show. Keyboardist Keith Emerson was seated at a grand piano at one point and then raised high above the stage by wires and then commenced to spin end-over-end. Quite a spectacular stage effect, and pre-dating Tommy Lee’s spinning drum set by over a decade. Anyway, the band’s performance captivated my young eyes and ears and led me to this grand album. Featuring the half hour long Karn Evil 9 (changed from its original name because lyricist Pete Sinfield told Emerson it sounded like a carnival…much cooler than the original Ganton 9), a masterpiece of sci fi weirdness, the whole album is full of Greg Lake’s majestic vocals, Carl Palmer’s excellent percussion skills, and Emerson’s collection of Moog synthesisers, pianos, and organs. Progressive rock done right by ELP, Brain Salad Surgery also featured one of the most distinctively disturbing album covers of all time, created by H.R. Giger.

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

I can’t pinpoint precisely when I realized how much Tom Waits has impacted my musical taste, but Mule Variations seems like a good album to spotlight. It had respectable sales, solid reviews, and is full of amazing songs, like so many of his albums. Tom Waits is in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, but he is decidedly outside the mainstream. His music is timeless and exists in its own orbit, but quality generally always finds its audience, and Mr. Waits definitely has his cult followers, folks like me who recognize his quirky genius. There is no-one else like him, nor will there ever be another to fill his void when he finally stops creating his unique visions. Mule Variations, released in 1999, contains one of my very favorite pieces, titled “What’s He Building In There?” not so much a song as a series of observations and questions set against a backdrop of quirky sound effects and ominous noises. The album kicks off with the raucous Big In Japan, backed by Primus, and there are several gorgeous Waits ballads, like Hold On, House Where Nobody Lives, and Take It With Me. This music isn’t for everyone, but so much of my favorite stuff falls outside the lines, the territory of the genius named Tom Waits.

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Tool’s ├ćnima, released in 1996, was one of those albums that stood so far out of the ordinary in respect to everything else that was going on at that time. It was basically its own genre, a blend of progressive metal that existed in defiance of any and all trends. The ’90’s were pretty much known for grunge and all of its imitators, but I was fascinated by bands like Tool who created a mystique, not appearing in videos or saturating their existence in the press. Less was more in terms of their image, but their music spoke loud and clear, and it was a revelation. The title track, spelled ├ćnema, along with Eulogy, Forty Six & 2, Jimmy, and the massive closing song, Third Eye, are among my personal favorites. Maynard James Keenan’s voice and vocals are spellbinding, and Danny Carey’s drumming is astonishing. Tool play by their own rules, and the faithful have been waiting for a decade for some new music. I have no doubts that when it comes, it will continue to influence and mesmerize!

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

AC/DC had 2 major arcs in their career…the Bon Scott years and the Brian Johnson years. I am firmly in the Bon camp (no disrespect to Mr. Johnson, because his legacy is golden, too). Their first live album, 1978’s If You Want Blood You’ve Got It, was a single disc slab of hard rock dynamite. The mix is as raw and in-your-face as any live album in the history of rock, just pure energy and electricity; guitars, bass, drums, and the howling whisky drenched glory of Bon Scott at his finest. Angus and Malcolm Young’s riff fueled explosiveness and the granite bedrock 4/4 time primal stomp of Cliff Williams’ bass and Phil Rudd’s drums fill all these AC/DC classics with incredible power. Let There Be Rock, Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be, The Jack, High Voltage…all crushers, no weakness. This album was the first one that made my dad get up and leave the room! As a teenager that was important…it let me know I had found something that spoke to me. It speaks to me still and always will!

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

While we are on the subject of live albums, I believe it is time to show Canada some love. Rush released All The World’s A Stage, their first of many live discs, in 1976. For all intents and purposes, this was my introduction to the incredible power trio. I have always loved the raw edge and insane vocal range that Geddy Lee displayed on this album. His voice positively shredded throughout this double album of highlights from their first 4 studio records. By Tor And The Snow Dog (featuring Alex Lifeson conjuring all sorts of noises and ripping lead work), In The End, Bastille Day, and Working Man (featuring the first of many jaw dropping Neil Peart drum solos) are all amazing, but the live rendition of 2112 really grabbed my attention the most. Rush made a lifelong fan of me with this album, and although they progressed monumentally throughout the years, this one will always claim a warm spot in my rock ‘n’ roll heart.

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

I know this one will attract some haters, but I am offering a disclaimer right up front. This post is strictly about Ted Nugent’s music, particularly the music contained on this amazing live album released in 1978. This post is NOT about Ted’s politics, his hunting, or his treatment of women. I’m not here to defend the man’s character, but I will take a stand and defend his guitar playing, which inspired me tremendously as a budding rocker. Live, the man was a force of nature, and tracks like Hibernation, Great White Buffalo, Motor City Madhouse, Stormtroopin’, and the immortal Stranglehold are simply massive jolts of hard rock dominance. He even included a pair of new songs recorded live for this record. The intro stage rap for Wang Dang Sweet Poontang is legendary (and to the dj’s on my high school radio station who played it while a majority of the student body was in the lunchroom to hear it and subsequently were suspended for a few days…I salute you!). So, hate all you want, I even agree with a good chunk of it. Just be fair and give credit where credit is due. Nugent rocked the stage like few others in the ’70’s…Gonzo indeed!

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Okay, let’s be clear…Kiss Alive! was a game changer. How much or how little of it was actually recorded live is a moot point by now. This record influenced myriads of musicians famous and non-famous alike. It launched Kiss into the stratosphere of ’70’s arena rock in a way that none of their studio albums ever could. Kiss was born for the stage, born for the visual and visceral live experience, and this album distilled everything they did well. High energy anthems delivered at top volume with over the top crowd raps by Paul Stanley, scorching guitar solos by Ace Frehley, a long drum solo from Peter Criss, and Gene Simmons in all his demon bat glory. All their early classics are represented…Black Diamond, Firehouse, Deuce, She, C’mon And Love Me…and of course, Strutter. You wanted the best and you got it…the hottest band in the land…Kisssssssssss!

Written By Braddon S. Williams

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