So this has been making the rounds on Facebook – the top 10 albums that most affected you in your teen years. And OF COURSE I wanted to jump on board, but I thought it would be infinitely more fun to turn it into a blog post than to do it on Facebook. Who doesn’t love photos of album covers and embedded video, amirite?
The only thing to keep in mind is that back in those days, I was very much a radio listener, not an album listener. Granted, radio played a much larger assortment of music back then, not just the same twenty songs that happen to be trendy that minute. You actually got to hear tracks that weren’t necessarily the latest singles, so I was still exposed to quite a lot. And also keep in mind that this list might not reflect my favorite songs, but they are the albums I played to death.
Def Leppard – Hysteria
One thing to know about me: I have a deep, abiding and totally unabashed love of ’80s rock. What can I say? I grew up with it. And Def Leppard, the undisputed kings of the power ballad, were a particular favorite. How much did I love them? They were my very first concert, for the Adrenalize tour way back in 1993. My family and I were on vacation in upstate New York and that’s how we spent one evening. In case I hadn’t mentioned it before, my parents are pretty freaking cool.
Garbage – Garbage
Garbage’s Scottish, redhaired lead singer, Shirley Manson, is a bit of a hero to me.
I thought I did a damned good job paying homage last Halloween to one of the most badass women in rock ‘n’ roll, someone I’d idolized since first seeing the video for “Stupid Girl” back in 1996. This album, with its unique, stylized industrial sound, still gets quite a lot of play in my house, and I was thrilled to see them live for the first time last summer.
Bon Jovi – These Days
What kind of self-respecting Jersey girl would I be if I didn’t have Bon Jovi on this list?? We come out of the womb fist-pumping to “Livin’ on a Prayer.” However, the album that had the greatest impact on me wasn’t Slippery When Wet or New Jersey – it’s the oft-forgotten These Days. Released at the height of the grunge era, it’s a very un-Bon Jovi-like album: achingly beautiful, yet dark and brooding and melancholy. Perfect for a thirteen-year-old, in other words. And having just Wikipedia’ed it, I see that it’s considered to be their best effort. Good. I wholeheartedly agree.
(And can we just take a moment to appreciate just how spectacular Jon Bon Jovi’s hair is? I mean, come on.)
Aerosmith – Pump
This is one of the great American rock albums from the greatest American rock band. There is no arguing this point with me – it is fact. I’m sure all of you music snobs are sneering and lifting your noses and, if you even deign to acknowledge Aerosmith, point to Rocks and Toys in the Attic instead. No. When taken as a whole, Pump is the superior album. Every track hits you like a sucker punch and begs to be played at the highest volume (eleven, maybe?). And it’s dripping in sexuality and innuendo…what teenager wouldn’t gravitate toward that? This has been in regular rotation – first on vinyl, then on CD and now on my iPod – since it came out almost thirty years ago.
The Beatles – 1962-1966 (The Red Album)
Oh, my heart. These cheeky lads stole it, in a rather belated, decidedly localized version of Beatlemania, when I came across my parents’ cassette version of this album decades ago. Just the red album, the early years – I don’t think my folks had the blue one, with the later material, which is probably why I’m more fond of everything pre-Rubber Soul.
I eventually wore that tape out too, shredding it to ribbons.
Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
I just need to say one thing: this album is fucking brilliant. How can something be so utterly of its era and yet completely transcend it? And “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” will go down as one of the greatest hard rock songs of all time.
The Eagles – Hell Freezes Over
I’ll never understand how or why it’s become trendy to bash the Eagles. I was raised listening to them and their music never did anything but make me happy. While I didn’t get to see them during the Hell Freezes Over tour (something that will remain a point of contention in my family until we’re all dead. AHEM, MOM AND DAD), I’m so, so glad I had two other opportunities in more recent years.
And for what it’s worth, out of all the celebrity deaths of 2016, Glenn Frey’s hit me the hardest. I’m still not quite over it, and I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to hear one of my favorite songs, “Already Gone,” without a twinge of sadness.
Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run
This. This is the pinnacle. This is the best album ever.
I can remember waking up extra early so I could spin my mom’s vinyl a few times before school. It was that important to me.
And if Born To Run is the best album ever, then this is the best song.
Oasis – The Masterplan
As you’ll see in another second or two (if you didn’t know already), this band is hugely important to me. But I was torn as to which album should fill this spot. Should it be Definitely Maybe, that groundbreaking masterpiece that helped usher in the era of Britpop? Or should it be The Masterplan, a collection of B-sides that are just as good as the songs they were meant to support?
The Masterplan won out, in large part because it spotlighted Noel Gallagher’s brilliance, not just as a songwriter but as a frontman. “Going Nowhere,” “Talk Tonight,” the title track…all incredible.
Oasis – (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?
And here it is. The album that changed everything. I went into a bit of detail about it in a post a few months ago, so I won’t exhaust you by rehashing it. But this album helped define not just my adolescence but who I am today.
Honorable mention: Backstreet Boys – Millennium
Laugh if you will (I am), but I can’t not mention this one. The soundtrack of two girls – me and my sister – as we crisscrossed the flatlands of Jersey in my purple Pontiac one idyllic summer. I have such good memories associated with this album. And really, how can you not like this song??
And that’s that! Comment/compare/debate/argue/ridicule as you will – that’s half the fun of these things.