JAIMIE VERNON – The Top125 Most Influential Top100 albums – Part 2

vernon_1997For those that missed my blog last week entitled “ The Top125 Most Influential Top100 albums – Part 1” containing the most influential artists/albums for me in my 35 years as a musician you can find it here. This week  I wrap up the list with the remainder of the alphabet. Enjoy…or get annoyed. Your mileage may vary.

999999 – “The Biggest Prize In Sport”
One of the most underrated pop-punk acts to come out of the exploding, and confusing, UK punk scene in the mid-1970s. “Biggest Prize…” was a sing-a-long pub album with massive hooks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUXhca0_sI8

NAZARETH – “Greatest Hits”
Every teenage rec room party had a copy of this on hand…for no other reason than “Love Hurts” was on it – and gave awkward teens a good 3 minute cop-a-feel slow dance tune. But Nazareth had some great records.  Besides…when else could a 13 year old scream out “now you’re messing with a son-of-a-bitch” at the top of their lungs without Mom & Dad slapping them upside the head?

NEW YORK DOLLS – “New York Dolls”
Loose, sloppy and a whole lot of raw energy. The Dolls were before my time but their debut album stands up as a pre-Pistols one-off ‘fuck you’ to the corporate music biz. My band Moving Targetz used to play “Trash” at 100 MPH. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wun5Cg-xr-s

GaryOConnorO’CONNOR, Gary – “Strange Behaviour”
Canada’s Gary O’Connor is actually best known as a songwriter – having written hits for .38 Special, Tina Turner, Joe Cocker and others. But he’d spent his formative years as a performer – initially with the band Cat in the 1960’s and Liverpool (aka Aerial) in the 1970s. After signing with Capitol in the early 1980s as a solo artist and cracking the adult charts with a monster ballad called “I Believe”, he switched to RCA and produced this synth & guitar heavy album with producer Dee Long (Klaatu). Every tune is solid – though extremely dated now – and featured the monster atomic aged hit “Shades of ’45”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ai6PlftGOIM

ODDS, The – “Good Weird Feeling”
Until I heard Gordie Johnson’s Big Sugar, Canada’s The Odds were the loudest band I’d ever heard live. But underneath the sonic assault were many great pop singles. ‘Good Weird Feeling’ stands as the culmination of all their greatest attributes – vocals, power pop melodies, and a twisted Canadian rye sense of humour. And they were favourites of Kids in the Hall too which gave them instant cred. Check out the video for “Eat My Brain” where The Odds do battle against the evil minions from Pursuit of Happiness and Junkhouse. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZFPiG8dEBk

A lot of the post-New Romantic wave coming out of Britain left me cold (I’m looking at you Deepdish Camode and Spandex Buffet). But OMD was pleasant to the ears in a synth-pop MOR kinda way. I always felt they were Tears For Fears’ introverted little brothers; in 1987 I lifted design ideas from ‘Dazzle Ships’ for my second Moving Targetz album ‘Bulletproof’. “If You Leave” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPmTGFg06zA

OrsonORSON – “Bright Idea”
ORSON – “Culture Vultures”
Forget Maroon 5. Funky white rock doesn’t get much better than this, now defunct, five-piece. They were from LA and went to England to become chart and media darlings. Canadian music producer Brian Gagnon turned me on to them. Impeccable taste, that boy.

PAYOLA$ – “No Stranger To Danger”
PAYOLA$ – “Hammer On a Drum”
PAYOLA$ – “Here’s the World For Ya”
PAYOLA$ – “Between a Rock and a Hyde Place”
The Payola$ were a British Columbia punk band led by ex-Brit Paul Hyde. After raising eyebrows with the politically incorrect “China Boys” on A & M Records, Hyde and guitarist/producer Bob Rock decided to write some pop songs and take their social observations to the masses. They hit pay dirt with “Eyes of a Stranger” and had several top selling albums, gold records and JUNO Awards TM. Then David Foster got his hands on the band and destroyed their soul as badly as he destroyed Chicago’s. Thankfully, the group reconvened as Rock ‘n’ Hyde to have another hit album called ‘Under the Volcano’ which they produced themselves. Caught their short-lived Payola$ reunion in 2008 (I think) at a dinner theatre in Hamilton, Ontario. Their last EP ‘Langford’ was rip-snorting balls to the wall fun.

Pink FloydPINK FLOYD – “Piper At the Gates of Dawn”
PINK FLOYD – “Atom Heart Mother”
PINK FLOYD – “Meddle”
PINK FLOYD – “Relics”
PINK FLOYD – “Dark Side of the Moon”
PINK FLOYD – “Wish You Were Here”
PINK FLOYD – “Animals”
PINK FLOYD – “The Wall”
PINK FLOYD – “Momentary Lapse of Reason”
Pink Floyd’s output highlighted various firsts in my life – most of those many years after these albums were released. Great headphone music (you kids wouldn’t know anything about that what with your screechingly annoying iPod MP3 audio files). Get Dad to set up the old stereo system, sit in a dark room with a pair of headphones and listen to ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ in its entirety. Weed is optional; Got to see them live…twice. Check out the early Syd Barrett fronted wig out “Bike”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmW17QvUhRM

Platinum BlondePLATINUM BLONDE – “Standing In the Dark”
What Duran Duran did to teenage girls’ panties with synths, Canada’s Platinum Blonde did with guitars (mostly). As a former Police tribute band in the late 1970s, ex-Brit Mark Holmes re-tooled the act with a lot of industry muscle and money to become teen hearthrobs. But, guess what? Their songs were catchy as all hell. It also didn’t hurt that their videos were visually cutting edge for the time period. Ex-Deserters member Kenny MacLean would join the trio for album #2 and took the whole Tween baiting visage one step further. Sadly, MacLean died in 2008 but Holmes has kept the spirit alive with a new iteration of the group – one that actually released some pretty decent new material in 2012. I managed to contribute a discography to their SONY ‘best of’ package several years ago. Are you sitting comfortably? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4SOnBDe7qs

POLICE, The – “Outlandos d’amour”
POLICE, The – “Regatta de Blanc”
POLICE, The – “Zenyatta Mondatta”
POLICE, The – “Ghost In the Machine”
POLICE, The – “Synchronicity”
Before Sting became a tantric, smug douchebag, he was a snot-nosed, defiant Mod douchebag. Five truly solid albums of white Reggae/Jazz/Pop that were initially a breath of fresh air (but now sadly turned into FM gold by overexposure). Had the band carried on they would have seriously damaged this legacy. By splitting up when they did The Police punctuated their career with something to be truly proud of; was fortunate to have met drummer Stuart Copeland in L.A. in 2004 while he was music supervisor for the awesome Mandy Patinkin cable vehicle ‘Dead Like Me’. Copeland is very outspoken about the shame of the music business. I like him a lot. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQEIYjS1ePY

Elvis - AlmostPRESLEY, Elvis – “Almost In Love”
Was never, ever an Elvis fan. People fawned over the looks and charisma but when you sit and listen to the songs through non-rose coloured glasses well, the writing and production hold up…but his singing just doesn’t. My apologies to the Cult of Elvis…but that massively exaggerated vibrato and ridiculous vocal histrionics (which have now become a pop culture cliché) just makes me want to spork my ears out. When I was finally old enough to buy my own albums with my weekly allowance I got this Elvis album for $1.99 in a K-Mart bargain bin. I warmed to it and played it endlessly next to my Gary Lewis ‘Listen!’ LP and Elton John ‘Greatest Hits’. It’s truly unlistenable now…with the exception of the song “Edge of Reality” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-VSn-NHK2Q

PrevitiPREVITI, Mike – “Extraordinary”
A guy that I discovered at an International Pop Overthrow Festival appearance in 2005 in Boston, Massachusetts (thanks David Bash!). Tried to sign him to my own record label but he had, rightfully, bigger plans for his career. If you can track this album down on iTunes and anything else Mike’s done since, get it. I did a cover version of Mike’s song “Audio” on my 3rd solo album….he was nice enough to sing back-ups on it! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSr81ECuoKQ

PRINCE – “Purple Rain”
The Purple One is a phenomenon. ‘Purple Rain’ was his creative zenith. An album like this comes along once in a music career – if you’re lucky. He’s been doing nothing but amusing himself ever since. And why shouldn’t he? He’s Prince for fuck’s sake. Prince rocking the title track live: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHoUU7bZ4PA

PrismPRISM – “Armageddon”
I blame my love for this record on the teenage girls I hung around with in high school (it’s also why I owned REO Speedbuggy’s ‘High Infidelity’ and Styx’s ‘Cornerstone’). The girls swooned over the ballad “Night To Remember”, but the rockers smoked – especially the title track. A step up from “Spaceship Superstar” for anyone unfamiliar with this record. The late Ron Tabak was a mother*cker of a singer.

QUEEN – “The Game”
QUEEN – “The Miracle”
Before you shoot me because the first 5 albums aren’t on this list you must understand that Queen came to me via their 7″ singles output – I had them all…including “Killer Queen” which never charted in Canada. When I began eating music for breakfast as a musician in 1979 and 1980 you could NOT avoid ‘The Game’. “Another One Bites The Dust” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” were ubiquitous radio fodder. But the album had deeper (and even better) cuts like “Dragon Attack” which remains one of my favourite Queen tunes of all time – the bass line is relentless. Years later while writing my music magazine Great White Noise, ‘The Miracle’ landed on my desk via EMI Music’s promo department. The world had abandoned the group but I found something brilliantly refreshing about the minimalism they had adopted and the sheer Top40 hooky-ness of the new tracks. People still hated it. I still have a soft-spot for “I Want It All”, “The Miracle” and “Invisible Man”. Your hatred may vary. “Dragon Attack” from Montreal, 1981 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnJqZkY67JI

QueensrycheQUEENSRYCHE – “Empire”
Vocalist Geoff Tate’s singing is an acquired taste. The band had initially caught my attention with their 1980s rendering of the Dalbello song “Wanna Get Close To You”. ‘Empire’ shaved down the thrash metal aspects of their brilliantly written, but impossible to digest, ‘Operation: Mindcrime’ with 1990s production techniques, a focus on melody and solid rock sonics. “Silent Lucidity” is the best version of “Only Women Bleed” that Pink Floyd never recorded. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHapAsmvGEU

David QuintonDAVID QUINTON – “David Quinton”
Saw this former Mods/Stiv Bators drummer at Larry’s Hideway in 1980 promoting this independent Bomb Records album. Went out and bought it the next week and never looked back. The anti-ballad “When Lullabyes End” became a staple in my personal repertoire for years. David and I re-recorded the tune in 2006 – it’s on iTunes I believe. The album itself was released on my label in 2001 – copies should be floating around on Ebay (try the CD Basement store front – Allan should still have copies cheap). David’s still a monster drummer for the reformed versions of Arson and The Jitters. Oh, and he’s an entertainment lawyer too! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dKuHJLs6-o

Rational Youth
RATIONAL YOUTH – “Cold War Night Life”
RATIONAL YOUTH – “All Our Saturdays”
Canada’s answer to minimalist synth-pop came in the form of Montreal duo Rational Youth featuring Tracy Howe and Bill Vorn. Through a number of line-up changes they became a real performing live act (featuring Brave New Waves radio host Kevin Komoda) that eventually added a rhythm section and recorded for Capitol Records. The early material is minimalist square wave stuff (“Saturdays In Silesia” being the most popular of their 12″ single releases) while the mid-80s output is power pop courtesy of Dee Long’s (Klaatu) production sensibilities. I was proud to have contributed the 12” remix version of “City of Night” to the running order of EMI Music’s ‘best of’ collection in 1996. The label couldn’t find the tapes…but I had the vinyl. Tracy Howe autographed the record and returned it to me in person. What a guy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCHafXHrzdk

Dave RaveRAVE, Dave – “Valentino’s Pirates”
The former Shakers/Teenage Head vocalist and guitarist struck out on his own in the late 1980s and found an audience in…Russia, of all places. ‘Valentino’s’ debuted on infamous Russian label Melodiya (a first for a Western act) and remains one of Rave’s most upbeat and biographical works. It was the first of Dave’s albums to see release on my Bullseye label. He’s put out some solid albums since – including the under-rated ‘Everyday Magic’…but ‘Valentino’s’ remains my favourite. Here’s “Weight of the World” filmed in Red Square, Russia http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_N8zs0Y8OBc

REED, Lou – “Transformer”
REED, Lou – “Berlin”
REED, Lou – “Coney Island Baby”
Lou’s an acquired taste. During my Berlin Bowie phase Simon Bedford-James (of Swedish Fish, MAdE fame) introduced me to Reed’s ‘Berlin’ as a contrast in styles. You’d never know that Bob Ezrin produced it. I was sporadically curious about Reed’s other releases as well including Velvet Undergodun. I have to be in a certain mood to put this stuff on…but Lou is Lou and I respect that. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZzGbPrnUZQ

ResidentsTHE RESIDENTS – “Meet the Residents”
The mysterious eyeball-headed act from San Franscisco was introduced to me via the ‘Duck Stab’ single by my dear old eccentric friend Ivan Judd (ex-Moving Targetz, Swindled). Over time he’d subject me to the Residents’ continued boundary bending releases (even saw them at the Danforth Music Hall in 1981 with the late Snakefinger). But nothing beats sheer endurance for listeners like their debut ‘Meet the Residents’. I dare you to listen to ALL of it in one sitting. They should have used this record to destroy Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Bin Laden would have come out of those mountains in 7 minutes flat. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUxN4gyarEw

ROBERTSON, Robbie – “Robbie Robertson”
Having grown an appreciation for Daniel Lanois’ production chops on Peter Gabriel’s ‘So’ and U2’s ‘Joshua Tree’, I began seeking out other Lanois’ productions. Robbie Robertson (The Band) finally shed his soundtrack production hat and decided to finally commit to a proper debut solo album. It features help from Lanois’ team of usual suspects – The Neville Brothers, The BoDeans and U2 among others. A brilliant masterpiece of Robertson cool and atmospheric resonance. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfTI-chysUM

RushRUSH – “Moving Pictures”
For those that know me well, having Rush on any list of mine is a miracle. I cannot emphasize my complete distaste for this band. However, credit where credit is due. Terry Brown and the power trio peeked with this break-through commercial release on the back of the radio hits “Tom Sawyer” and “Limelight” – solidifying the Wayne’s World mythos of Scarborough basement air-drumming for all time. I grew even fonder of the album years later when Brown told me some interesting production stories from the sessions including the fact that “Limelight” was a live-off-the-floor soundcheck used to set the studio microphone levels before production of the record had even started – only the lead vocal and guitar solo were re-done for the final album master. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUNxqE_3N0c

Peter SchillingSCHILLING, Peter – “Error In the System”
Schilling took quite the beating for daring to write a sequel to Bowie’s “Space Oddity” on his seminal debut single “Major Tom” – but the album from which the song was sprung is a solid piece of songwriting and production from the German artist. “The Noah Plan” and the poignant German reading of “Silent Night” stand out as highlights. 3, 2, 1….. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zIBwN3qaR0

SEAL – “Seal”
SEAL – “Seal II”
Like most of the world, I would have never given Seal the time of day had Trevor Horn not been behind the production of these albums. Overtime I’ve grown to like not only Seal’s voice, but his positive lyric writing. The records are uplifting even when he’s in a melancholy mood. Joni Mitchell even pops up on ‘Seal II’. And you know that can’t be bad. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Btl5PYdpcNs

Sex Pistols
SEX PISTOLS – “Never Mind the Bollocks”
SEX PISTOLS – “The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle”
Never mind the Ramones, here’s the Sex Pistols. Fuck OFF!

SIMPLE MINDS – “Once Upon a Time”
Simple Minds was always a peripheral curiosity for me. I like a few of their early tunes like “Catwalk”. Most of it was a little too precious for me, but following their breakaway hit “Don’t You Forget About Me” from the ‘Breakfast Club’ film they soon caught my ear. The follow-up record, ‘Once Upon a Time’, (which DIDN’T contain the soundtrack song) was just as brilliant. “Ghost Dancing” and “Sanctify Yourself” were stellar follow-up singles. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XtRoVofo8A

SpecialsSPECIALS, The – “The Specials”
Always loved Two-Tone music out of England – The Selector, The English Beat, etc. – but the album that always resonated the most from that movement was the debut album by The Specials. A mob of black and white performers huddled into an 8-track studio just making great Ska music together without a care about slick production or pretense. One day not many years ago a buddy of mine gave me a copy of the LP he stole from a party in the 1980s. It belonged to Toronto fashion maven Kingy Carpenter. “A Message To You Rudy” is one of the best in its class. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cntvEDbagAw

SPIN DOCTORS – “Pocket Full of Kryptonite”
The world would learn to loathe the Spin Doctors only because radio and TV didn’t know enough to stop playing “Two Princes” and “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” when the songs wore out their welcome. But I had my first official ‘date’ with my second wife at Canada’s Wonderland seeing these guys (with Soul Asylum!) one day. The album has a soft-spot in my heart. Besides, you cannot deny guitarist Eric Schenkman a place in the cool guitar riffage Hall of Fame. Jimmy Olsen’s Blues: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrQCro68sRU

Split EnzSPLIT ENZ – “True Colours”
SPLIT ENZ – “Waiata”
Before Crowded House the Finn Brothers had this bizarre Kiwi act that eventually made its way to the shores of North America. Saw them blow Tom Petty away at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1981 with only the opening guitar line of “I Got You” as a weapon of mass instruction. One of the coolest, weirdest acts of its time. And when you spun ‘True Colours’ on a turntable in the dark and turned a flashlight on it, the vinyl cast triangles on the ceiling like a laser light show! [Styx’s ‘Paradise Theater’ did something similar. Bravo A & M Records!]. “What’s The Matter With You?” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uuTpUEBq2s

SpoonsSPOONS – “Arias & Symphonies”
SPOONS – “Tall Back”
Canada’s answer to the global synth-pop invasion of the early 1980s. ‘Arias & Symphonies’ holds up to anything the Brits were doing at the time. “Nova Heart” was one of the first indie videos to make it onto Canadian television – pre-MuchMusic; ‘Talk Back’ was a monster Nile Rogers produced synth-funk fest (and pretty much bankrupted the band’s label Ready Records). Music aside…Sandy Horne playing bass was all any red-blooded Canadian boy needed. Are you smiling in winter? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OzTQ1EPr48

SqueezeSQUEEZE U.K. – “Cool For Cats” [10” EP]
SQUEEZE – “Singles, 45s & Under”

SQUEEZE – “East Side Story”
The lady that introduced me to The Specials also introduced me to Squeeze (who had the suffix ‘U.K.’ attached to their name at the time). One of the most consistently clever and catchy power pop acts of the last 30+ years. I’m proud to have seen them at the Masonic Temple with Paul Carrack in the band during the ‘East Side Story’ tour. They’re cool for cats. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pblSU5M1d1Y

STARR, Ringo – “Ringo”
STARR, Ringo – “Blast From the Past”
Ringo’s a loveable old codger. Not the greatest singer, but always puts on a great show and works with the industry’s best when he records. Not much in my collection from him but he hit his stride with 1973’s “Ringo” which featured contributions from the rest of the former Beatles.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZ4EmA5X-PQ

StyleCouncilSTYLE COUNCIL – “Café Bleu”
I will probably never forgive Paul Weller for allowing The Jam to implode, but his Motown-esque musical reinvention in The Style Council had me momentarily distracted with the debut ‘Cafe Bleu’. As brilliant as “My Ever Changing Mood” and “You’re The Best Thing” are, this should have been the beginning and end to this project…but Weller kept on with it until it became bloated and self-indulgent. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtFlbz136m8

StyxSTYX – “Grand Illusion”
STYX – “Pieces of Eight”
STYX – “Cornerstone”
Like Boston’s debut, Styx’s ‘Grand Illusion’ was a mandatory work required in the pantheon of suburban teen record collections. I followed Styx through to 1979’s ‘Cornerstone’ (only because it featured the chick magnet ballad “Babe”) but lost complete interest by the time of “Killroy Was Here” – though “Mr. Roboto” remains the most entertaining novelty song ever recorded by a major name act. Having my all-time musical hero, Gowan, now in the band has renewed my interest in their more rock oriented material of late. Fortunately for everyone involved Gowan doesn’t sing “Babe” during the shows.

SugarRaySUGAR RAY – “14:59”
SUGAR RAY – “Sugar Ray”
On the back of the 1990s SoCal explosion that also produced No Doubt and Smashmouth, I found something truly entertaining about these punks meet rap DJs turned power pop musicians. It’s innocuous fun and most satisfying driving with the top down in the summer time. I will not apologize.

SupertrampSUPERTRAMP – “Crisis? What Crisis?”
SUPERTRAMP – “Even In the Quietest Moments”
SUPERTRAMP – “Crime of the Century”
SUPERTRAMP – “Breakfast In America”
I must admit that ‘Breakfast In America’ was my go-to album of choice first. I then went backwards and investigated the rest – some material was already familiar to me as Larry Gowan used to play picture perfect covers of this stuff in his Prog band Rhinegold. The albums were filled with opuses (usually something I abhor) and featured dynamics missing from some of the Pink Floyd albums during the same time period. They had me until Roger Hodgson left and then all bets were off. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6aWDxuhD0FI

SweetSWEET – “Desolation Boulevard”
Save for the break-out early 1970s hit “Little Willy”, England’s Sweet just could not get arrested in North America. Then they released “Ballroom Blitz” and the walls came down. 1974’s ‘Desolation Boulevard’ in Canada was a weird studio album with some older UK singles also tacked on at the end by Capitol Records on this side of the pond. It produced the hit “Fox On the Run”. Following that it was back to collecting their singles like “Action” and “Love Is Like Oxygen” but Sweet remain an underappreciated act on this side of the big pond to this day. I attempted to remedy that by releasing a tribute album to them in 2002 entitled ‘Are You Ready, Steve? A Tribute to The Sweet’ featuring some of the best North American power pop acts paying homage. You should be able to find a copy on Ebay. Pick up the 2004 re-master if you can find it…it has bonus tracks. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLLHb7dAKmo

TEARS FOR FEARS – “Mothers Talk [EP]”
TEARS FOR FEARS – “Songs From the Big Chair”
TEARS FOR FEARS – “Seeds of Love”
TEARS FOR FEARS – “Saturnine, Martial & Lunatic”
TEARS FOR FEARS – “Everybody Loves a Happy Ending”
I don’t know what it is about these gloomy naval gazers that has kept me coming back. ‘The Hurting’ was a depressing mix of synth-pop angst but spawned great tracks like “Suffer the Children”, “Pale Shelter” and “Mad World”. Canadians took an immediate liking to them and they would sell out four nights at Massey Hall in 1985 (of which I was sadly unable to get a ticket). The sophomore release, ‘Songs From the Big Chair’ made them into monster radio and MTV stars. It was hard to top that…and when they returned with the tune “Sowing the Seeds of Love”, the world turned on them with a fierce backlash against their borrowing of all manner of ‘Beatle-isms’. What the naysayers missed was that the ‘Seeds of Love’ album was one of the most melodic modern JAZZ records going and featured the amazing voice of Oleta Adams on a handful of duets. The band would then endure an identity crisis of mass ego affliction with Curt Smith going solo leaving Roland Orzabal holding the name. He made a solid effort to carry on with two or three albums…but it took 2004’s reunion record ‘Everybody Loves a Happy Ending’ to show that the duo needed each other to bring their audience back. We currently wait for a new follow-up. Here’s the original 1982 7” single mix of “Suffer the Children”…which kicks the shit out of the ‘Hurting’ version. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKr3ivefMPE

TEENAGE HEAD – “Teenage Head” (original version)
TEENAGE HEAD – “Frantic City”
Punk but not punk. Parts rocka-a-billy, parts straight up snarling rock and roll. Teenage Head should have been huge. Unfortunate turns of events, bad management and a fickle market never allowed these guys to reach their full potential. Three minute slash and burn rockers dominate the original debut album (not the later remixed version after they made a name for themselves). Seek it out…you’ll wonder why you never heard this album on the radio. Instead, you’re probably more familiar with their commercial break-through ‘Frantic City’ containing the double A-sided “Something On My Mind” and “Let’s Shake”. Alas, lead vocalist Frankie Venom died way too soon. They still had some road left to plow. Here’s “Picture My Face” from ‘The Last Pogo’ fil (1978). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oc_wy8KNVXQ

TonioKTONIO K – “Life In the Foodchain”
Punk’s answer to Warren Zevon. Quirky stories about vampires and revenge.

TROOPER – “Hot Shots”
Like Nazareth’s ‘greatest hits’, every Canadian is required by law to own ‘Hot Shots’. Everything’s there: “Boys In the Bright White Sportscar”, “Raise A Little Hell”, “We’re Here For a Good Time”, etc. Ironically, the band had two more hits the year after this was released so you don’t get “3 Dressed Up As A Nine” or “Janine”. I believe that was addressed on the recent CD re-issue on Universal. Singer Ra McGuire and  guitarist Brian Smith had my band Moving Targetz open shows for them in Southern Ontario in 1991. Very friendly and hospitable (they shared their beer with us….now THAT’s Canadian). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aOjx4UQVwE

U2U2 – “War”
U2 – “Unforgettable Fire”
U2 – “Joshua Tree”
U2 – “Achtung Baby”
One of the most disliked bands on the planet. Hate ’em all you want. Their legacy is solid and their growth as artists has given them longevity. I loved the sparse production from Steve Lillywhite on ‘War’, but Daniel Lanois’ more atmospheric twists gave the group second life…and a whole lot of material to sustain them on their world record breaking tours even to this day. “Two Hearts Beat As One”…from a time before Bono became a bigger douche nozzle than Sting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIuAFBRyjj4

GinoVannelliVANNELLI, Gino – “Black Cars”
In the 1970s I always found Vannelli’s image as a slimy-looking greaseball machismo caricature seriously laughable which was later played to great effect by Eugene Levy on ‘SCTV’. But, man this motherf*cker could sing. And after he all but disappeared in the early 1980s (a sad reality for many 1970s solo artists trying to stay relevant), Vannelli did his homework, re-invented himself and beat the ‘kids’ at their own game with an album fresh full of technology and great, quirky Top40 tracks that allowed him to compete against the Corey Harts and Bryan Adams’. The title track might be the greatest Cars song never written by Ric Ocasek. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1m39piBT2vE

VAN HALEN – “Van Halen”
VAN HALEN – “Van Halen II”
The first time I heard Eddie Van Halen play “Eruption” I nearly gave up on a music career before I’d even gotten started. But soon it became a shtick. Fortunately, like Led Zeppelin, the first two albums are all you will ever need. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1uz_aDo0YA

Vital SinesVITAL SINES – “Collage”
VITAL SINES – “Big Dark Dreams”
Originally known as The Offenders, Toronto’s Queen Street mavens schooled me in live music. I idolized singer Rick Winkle and the band and when they finally stepped out from their punk past and established themselves as both dark and anti-gothic, I was hooked. The video for “Collage” was a game-changer on MuchMusic – elevating Canadian independent acts as more than just space filler on the fledgling network’s playlist. ‘Big Dark Dreams’ – featuring the multi-talented Kurt Swinghammer as new guitarist and album cover designer – was a bold stab at commercial appeal and was a staple on CFNY. A shame they were never able to realize their full potential…apparently, there’s another full album in the vaults that has never been released. ‘Cmon, Rick…get it up on iTunes! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6B4wNOG2l4

WHO, The – “Meaty, Beaty, Big & Bouncy”
I always appreciated The Who…and so I got myself a greatest hits package. But a good friend of mine, Terry Lusk, introduced me to the rest of the catalog over the course of many years and I’m a fan retro-actively. For you trivia buffs: “Substitute” was the first record that producer Terry Brown ever mixed/engineered when he was asked to create a quick mixdown for the band’s US single. Long before moving permanently to Canada. “Call Me Lightning”, which doesn’t appear on this collection, is actually my fave Who track of all time. I didn’t know what the damn thing was called until Joan Jett handed me her cover version of it in 1991. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCvs5pqsMEA

XTCXTC – “Go 2”
XTC – “Drums & Wires”
XTC – “Skylarking”
The first time I heard “Making Plans For Nigel” I think my head exploded. What the fuck is THIS?, I thought. It was like an alien culture had been listening to the Beatles but interpreted it completely ass-backwards. Counter-puntal drum beats, choruses in bizarre places and wacked out anti-melodies and time signature. I was in heaven. Few of my friends had the same appreciation. Oh, and “Dear God” might be the greatest protest song never written by John Lennon.  Ah, we go “Meccanik Dancing” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7WUNKUcEfM

ZappaZAPPA, Frank – “Joe’s Garage Act I”
The drummer in my punk band lived and breathed Zappa. He’d have house parties and would line up all of Zappa’s 60+ albums (at that time) in front of his stereo so he could regale – and offend – the most timid of attendees. I had a high tolerance level and would eventually come to appreciate even the most inaccessible of Zappa’s iterations, but ‘Joe’s Garage’ stands up as not only a humorous concept album about the music business…but the songs are clever, catchy and exceptionally played. One of the few accessible records he ever put out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VOa9IZ86Ak

ZZTop – “Eliminator”
ZZTop has always been a guilty pleasure for me. Not a fan of the blues. Not a big fan of Southern Boogie, but there’s something about these bearded weirdoes that I always found honest and straight forward. At four chords and simple arrangements they were, to me, the Southern Rock equivalent to AC/DC’s lunk-head assault. I appreciated their spotty early records and the snicker inducing titillating lyrics of “Tube Snake Boogie” and “Pearl Necklace”, but their MTV-era comeback was one of the greatest band re-inventions since, well…Michael Jackson. No pretense – just cars, women & guitars. That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll kids. Here’s one the least overplayed tracks from the album. A tasty bump ‘n’ grind called “I Need You Tonight”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGr4NHj92rY

Send your CDs to: Jaimie Vernon, 180 Station Street, Suite 53, Ajax, ON L1S 1R9 CANADA


Jaimie’s column appears every Saturday.
Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS ButtonJaimie “Captain CanCon” Vernon has been president of the on again/off-again Bullseye Records of Canada since 1985. He wrote and published Great White Noise magazine in the ‘90s, has been a musician for 35 years, and recently discovered he’s been happily married for 16 of those years. He is also the author of the Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia and a collection of his most popular ‘Don’t Believe A Word I Say’ columns called ‘Life’s A Canadian…BLOG’ both of which are available at Amazon.com

15 Responses to “JAIMIE VERNON – The Top125 Most Influential Top100 albums – Part 2”

  1. Jaimie,hoping it was an over-sight but you forgot The Ramones.

  2. Was never influenced by the Ramones. This isn’t a list of the best bands in the world (which they are)….just a list of albums that influenced me as a musician. The Ramones never played into that at all. I was a Toronto/Brit punk guy…the New York punk scene managed to bypass my radar at the time.

  3. Enjoy the reads Jaimie. Won’t get into any debates, pro or consabout you choices because they are your choices and your influences. Maybe another time over internet soda.
    Just curious on your use of the word rye. Twice now I have seen you use the term rye instead of wry. Do you mean wry sense of humour or rye as they have an alcohol induced sense of humour (perhaps both)?
    Just curious. Keep up the good work.

  4. Great list Jaimie! I enjoyed your take on the music we both grew up with as we must be the same age. It was a great time to grow up music-wise if not a bit frustrating as we just missed so many classic events or concerts by the time we were old enough. Yesterday I was tsalking to a friend about the Pink Flod concert at Ivor Wynn Stadium we Both would
    Would have gone to had we been a few years older. I could have seen Genesis with Gabriel do The Lamb live … Surprised they weren’t on your list but come to think of it I don’t remember much progressive rock on there. No Yes. Fragile?

    You mention “Dear God” by XTC. The Skylarking album was produced by Todd Rundgren and he thought that was the best song they had and wanted it as the centerpiece of the album. Andy Partridge didn’t like it ( and didn’t like Todd much from what Ive read) and the song was left off the recorded. Dear God ended up on a B side of a single and was quickly discovered by radio and became a hit. The record was recalled and rereleased including Dear God. I guess there is a reason why they say “Todd is God” when referring to Rundgren.

    I’m surprised Todd didnt make your list. A lot of great music over his long career. He was often ahead of his time. It was in producing and arranging (and band Utopia) behind Meatloaf’s massive Bat Out of Hell album (also not in the list?).

    • The New York Dolls were on the list and that was produced by Todd as well.

      • There was something about those first couple Dolls albums I really liked. I bought tickets to see them a few years ago at a club in Vancouver even though I couldn’t imagine them pulling off being “The Dolls” in their 60’s but it was a great show. David Jiohansen still has that “heroin skinny” look and the moves and he and Sylvain Sylvain really pulled it off.

        Pick up a copy of Todd’s “Nearly Human” album from 1989, a lesser known but really great album.

  5. As my musical consciousness didn’t start to form until around 1973/1974…anything on my list from before that time period was a matter of happenstance later in life. I didn’t, and still don’t, do much musical archaeology which is why there’s no Todd on my list (I have the XTC single “Grass” that featured ‘Dear God’ as the B-side). The song actually appeared on the original CASSETTE version of the album because they could make it fit….but, as you say, was left off the vinyl initially. I still have that original tape in my collection.

    As for Prog Rock. Absolutely hate it. I explain why in my next book ‘Life’s a Canadian Rock’ which I’ll have out by month’s end. Needless to say, as someone who struggled for years practicing my ass off just to be a middling to semi-competent guitarist, Prog Rock was nothing but a slap in the face. I have no time for pretense or virtuosos. It’s an entire genre of people saying “look at me! Aren’t I better than YOU?” No thanks. I like music that is uplifting and includes the audience…not alienates and divides.

    • I also began my my musical journey in 1973 spending the entire summer that year with my transistor radio glued to my ear. I bought many 45s like Free Ride, Smoke On Yhe Water, Kodachrome, etc, 1973 is still the most memorable and nostalgic year of my life. The year I discovered music, my first true love. By 1974 I bought my first Long Play record, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. ( I did own and love some Beatle LPs passed on by older siblings). But every time I discovered a new band I immediately went backwards and checked out was they had done earlier.

      As far as prog rock goes I think it is unfair to label the whole genre as pretentious because they were gifted artists. I own a guitar and play terribly and if I disliked every musician better than me i wouldn’t listen to anything. There are many beautiful uplifting songs. Listen to Firth of Fifth or Cinema Show on the Selling England By the Pound album by Genesis for example.

      But yes the 3 minute pop song was and still is the most uplifting music for me. Nothing gets me going like say The Kings “Switchin’ to Glide/ This Beat Goes On. I guess it was listening to Beatles records interspersed with Dr Suess in the late 60’s.

      • Johnny…we share a similar musical growth it seems. Thanks for reading…even if we don’t have the same musical tastes on everything. I don’t have a problem with musicians that are better than me – only the ones that use it as a means to denigrate and alienate an audience. There is nothing remotely interesting watching someone else masturbate with a guitar/drums/etc. It’s absolutely boring as hell…especially for 15 or 20 minutes at a time.

  6. The fact that you include Styx in any way, shape or form almost destroys any credibility you may have as a real music fan, but I write that off to you being a young punk and still negotiating the ways of the world. Ha! More telling are all of the unknowns-to-myself— the Peter Schilling (whose album I have seen but never heard), the Dave Rave (heard you mention them but, again, have never heard) and the Mike Previtt. To make a statement about The Who says nothing because you have to have lived under a rock your entire life to not have an opinion. The unknowns and lesser-knowns give insight. I am so glad that not once in your lengthy tome did you mention The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. Had you done so, I would have written you out of my will.

  7. I got that Elvis Almost In Love album and yes Edge Of Reality is the best cut song on the album which m,ay had been the B side of Almost in Love which charted somewhere in the #90’s but there were moments Elvis can sing like Bobby Darren on a good day. Edge Of Reality had that acid Rock like instrumentation that came around the same time.

  8. I visited many sites except the audio feature for audio songs current at
    this website is genuinely wonderful.

  9. Terry Dale Says:

    Great list I think I owned just about every one of these albums. I really wish there was more of this quality of music today as it is hard to find.

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