Cameron Carpenter – 10 CC – Faceoff
My god Facebook can be an ugly little sandbox to play in. It seems populated by narcissistic bullies who feel it is their right to yell as loudly as possible about what their beliefs are and try to shame you into seeing things their way. There is no compromise, there is no fear of repercussions, and there is little or no consideration of other’s feelings. If it was a bar I walked in to I wouldn’t even order a drink.
This was written before today’s expected verdict arrived from the Ghomeshi-trial and I can only imagine the heated debate that is going on right now. Like school it seems it is always the same people pontificating and picking fights like fourth-liners at a mid-seventies Leafs-Flyers game. They drop the gloves, rough somebody up, then look for their next target. Within seconds of a major news event someone who dies are either a hero or a villain, politicians have done something good or bad, people are guilty or innocent, countries are right or wrong. I really try not to engage. I will read, be offended, amused, sympathetic or question whether or not I would really want to hang out with you in the “real” world, and then move along and repeat the process a few hours later. For the most part my lips are sealed, but mental notes are being collected and organized.
Outside of being continually forcibly harassed to switch ketchups last week I was asked to list the 12 albums (no greatest hits or compilations, and, only one album per artist) that have always stayed with you. We used to call this our desert island picks. I will play along, but following my self-imposed social media rules, will present them here and not tag a gaggle of friends who will feel compelled or inconvenienced by my public pressure. No offence to the person who asked for my list, and, I really do enjoy reading everyone else’s musings. I could easily do the dozen, but, in keeping with my current 10 CC format will keep it to ten. Six weeks from now this list could change.
- New York Dolls – New York Dolls
The 1973 debut album that I loved before hearing a note. They had me when I saw the cover. Who the hell were these “guys”? From the first notes of “Personality Crisis” to the final fade of “Jet Boy” my rock’n’roll, glam and soon-to-be punk teeth were cut on this slab of vinyl. In those days each side of an album was meticulously thought out for timing, flow, single potential and peaks and valleys. If research could be done on worn-out grooves side two, starting with “Trash” and ending with “Jet Boy” would have been played about 4 to 1 over side one, with the exception of “Personality Crisis” which would have been the second most played song behind “Trash”.
- Alice Cooper – Billion Dollar Babies
Not my first Alice album but the one that has stuck with me the longest. This was the peak of the original Alice Cooper band and their most consistent and fulfilling record. The packaging was fantastic, the songs were perfect, the Bob Ezrin production was spot on and the tour was amazing. I love it to death.
- Sparks – Indiscreet
I first fell in love with Sparks when I saw them play “Talent Is An Asset” on either The Midnight Special or Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert. With Russell’s flamboyant falsetto and Ron’s stoic keyboard playing and brilliant lyrics, the brothers Mael had me for live-long fans. It was their sixth album, and by no means their most successful but every single song makes me smile and hours have been wasted away studying the brilliant album cover.
- Patti Smith – Horses
“Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine”. One of the great opening lyrical salvos on any album (but, I refuse to talk about religion). Raw, poetic, hippy-ish (which should have been a turn-off) and punky before punk was a thing. A fantastic Robert Mapplethorpe cover (it seems like the covers of my favourite albums are almost as important as the music within), and everything that was the New York art scene in the seventies. Essential to any collection.
- Mott the Hoople – The Hoople
It was their last studio album, did not contain their best song, but, somehow it would be the one that I would grab from the pile to have one more listen too. It was loud, angry and aggressive and showcased a band that was being ripped apart at the seams.
- David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars
This is the first Bowie that I actually bought but not the first one I heard. It was the final album with the Spiders from Mars and was yet another transition record as he was soon to leave the Ziggy world behind. It was a concept album that barely scratched the Top 100 in North America but it has stood the test of time and contains many of his most iconic songs.
- Television – Marquee Moon
Another New York classic and an album that inspired many more than it ever sold. Side One has four of the greatest rock songs in succession and, much like “Horses”, perfectly captures the gritty and arty New York scene of the late seventies. Often lumped into the burgeoning early punk scene this record owes more to the Velvet Underground than it does to The Ramones.
- The Ramones – Ramones
A fourteen song under thirty minute punch in the face that forever changed the face of rock’n’roll. It’s hard to imagine when you hear “Blitzkreig Bop” at a hockey game just how revolutionary that song and this album were way back in back in 1976. The under $200 album cover is one of the most copied in music history.
- The Clash – London Calling
I love “Sandinista” but there are two or three too many songs on the triple-album that make me nominate “London Calling” before it. It is a double-album and clocks in at over an hour and it really was the introduction to the eighties (having been released in late 1979 in the UK and January 1980 in North America). It is a dog’s breakfast of musical styles but somehow the boys do right by all of them.
- Elvis Costello – This Year’s Model
Hard to narrow it down to one Costello album this would be it. I couldn’t wait for the North American version of the record and grabbed the UK import with the slightly different cover and song selection. Although most of them were not hit singles, some of his greatest, most vitriolic songs reside on “This Year’s Model”.
Such a tough list to do and so many great and influential albums that didn’t make the grade this time around. It is also pretty obvious, at least for my generation, that those teenage records are the ones that you cling to for the rest of your life.
Cam’s column appears every Thursday.
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Cameron Carpenter has written for The New Music Magazine, Music Express, The Asylum, The Varsity, The Eye Opener, The New Edition, Shades, Bomp!, Driven Magazine, FYI Music News, The Daily XY, New Canadian Music, NXNE Magazine and Don’t Believe A Word I Say.