Records That Changed My Life

You probably figured this out years ago—particularly if we ever reviewed your crappy band—but music critics don't know everything. Oh, we know more than you, with your Pavement CDs and your stupid Misfits action figures and your twice-monthly trips to the used bin of the damned at Wherehouse, but not quite everything. So we hit up Orange County's great unwashed—hoping for the great, coping with the unwashed, and even letting a few of the office geeks around here weigh in if they came up with something decent—to find out exactly what unheralded works of musical genius you were in love with, especially if we didn't know about them. And this is what you told us we'd better be listening to. (Compiled by Gustavo Arellano, Andrew Asch, Kelly Hardy, Steve Lowery, Lara Rossman, Buddy Seigal and Chris Ziegler.)

"The Nomadds, from Freeport, Illinois—that's with two D's, by the way—were the big deal where I grew up. They worked for years as a club band, originally doing Little Richard and Chuck Berry and Everly Brothers kind of stuff. Then when the Beatles hit in '64, they suddenly became the hottest band in the area because they could do Little Richard songs and harmonize like the Everly Brothers, and it came out sounding like the Beatles. They also did a lot of original stuff, and they were just the best band I'd ever heard. They kicked butt live—I must have seen them 50 or 100 times live, every weekend. It was two guitars, bass and drums played through two amplifiers—one amp for bass and lead, and one amp for vocals and rhythm guitar—and it was the best live sound I ever heard, just like the records." (Billy Zoom, nice guy/punk legend/guitarist with X) TURBONEGRO, APOCALYPSE DUDES (Man's Ruin, 1998)
"I hated this album the first time I heard it. It was too rock in all the right ways: AC/DC, Cheap Trick, Alice Cooper and so on. I was expecting some punk band that would interest me for about a week with the newest take on Black Flag (only the Black Flag stuff you're 'allowed' to like, of course; not the better, hated psychedelic-metal stuff). Instead, my rock roots were revived, and I finally fell in love with a band that was as overtly homosexual as possible while still making fun of Pansy Division and rape victims and singing sad songs about pizza, good head and the prince of the rodeo. Apocalypse Dudeswas the best rock album of the '90s. Turbonegro made me wish I was a homosexual Norwegian rock boy, too." (Rex Reason, singer/guitarist in Cheaper Than Crack) OSCAR D'LEON, EXITOS 1(Musart, 1995)
"When I was about 13, I listened to a singer named Oscar D'Leon all the time. It's salsa music from Venezuela, and he was the best at the time. He came from another band called La Dimension Latina, which was from Santo Domingo, and he broke off from them. A lot of people don't know who he is, but he's the bomb. I recommend listening to him, especially his live album. I was just a youngster, but I listened to it all the time. I left home [in Panama], and it was a connection—it kept me from being homesick." (Rascalin, front man for OC reggae band Rascalin & the Roots Rockers) FULLY FULLWOOD (see for a mind-boggling list of albums Fullwood has appeared on)
"[Bassist] Fully Fullwood has been actually the foundation of reggae, and he has created a lot of inspirational bass lines in the music and worked with a lot of major artists—he fashioned and shaped them. He has his own band and his own signature name, but he also plays with artists from out of town like Mikey Dread and Michael Rose and Leroy Sibbles. He's one of the founders of reggae music—he goes back to Joe Higgs and even Bob Marley and originally played with Peter Tosh. He is among the inspirations and creators of reggae." (Kyng Arthur, OC-based reggae singer) OBLIVIANS, PLAY 9 SONGS WITH MR. QUINTRON (Crypt, 1997)
"I liked the Oblivians because they were totally this garage, sorta sleazy rock & roll stuff, and they were doing it in the '90s when not too many people were doing it. But this record is fucking rad—it's not like the rest of their stuff; they have a full-on organ going, totally Southern-gospel soul-inspired rock & roll. It sounds like something that would have come out of Memphis—they have that old-style feel, but it still sort of has that raw garage tinge to it. It just sounds so real and so good. This is like Elvis' gospel years, but for real. It'll give you religion!" (Andrew Reizuch, art student, ex-Treadwell bassist, other more obnoxious bands) LAURIE ANDERSON, THE UGLY ONE WITH THE JEWELS AND OTHER STORIES(Warner Bros., 1995)
"Laurie Anderson used to scare me when I'd see her fiddling away on her violin with that fucked-up hair and those googly eyes on local access music channels in Austin, but this album of a London performance blew me out of the water. She floats from one experience to the next, from being served dog meat in Pompeii to hanging out with Andy Kaufman. In the Kaufman chapter, she talks in that sweetly explicit voice—with cryptic background music behind her—about going to a bar with Andy while he demands women try and wrestle him down. The whole album makes your hair stand up on end as she takes you on obscure trip after trip, leaving you wondering, 'Did she really DO this? Or is it for art's sake?'" (Elise Guillot, bookstore sales, record store junkie) MOSE ALLISON, GREATEST HITS (Prestige, 1992)
"I believe Mose is the best white Delta blues artist around and doesn't get the recognition he deserves. He is the epitome of cool. When I'm relaxing with my stogie and brandy, Mose is my choice." (Phil Shane, King of Lounge) CHRISTOPH WILLIBALD VON GLUCK WITH SIMONEAU/DANCO/ALARIE, HANS ROSBAUD, ORCHESTRE DES CONCERTS LAMOUREUX, ORPHÉE ET EURYDICE, (Philips/Decca Classics, 1956)
"This fabulous recording of Orphée et Eurydice on Decca did more than anything else to formulate a sensibility in me. It was an original French version, but what was so beautiful about the recording was that you could hear every word in all its purity. This recording made me realize there was something behind the music, that this was a dramatic form and that the words really mean something. I was about 10 or 11 when I first heard it—this is back in the 1950s—and I still have a copy of it somewhere on old scratchy vinyl. Everything about it is wonderful: the quality of the performances, the quality of recording; it's all so clear that you can almost hear the singer smile." (Michael Milenski, general director, Long Beach Opera) TITA MERELLO, LA MERELLO (EMI Argentina, 2001)
"I remember the Argentine tango singer Tita Merello from my childhood when my mom would play her stuff all the time. The tango is very passionate; it's the South American blues. But the way Merello commands her vocals reminds me of punk. Her work during the 1930s and 1940s is an early form of feminism, and you can hear it in her voice and her lyrics that she's not going to be taking crap from anyone. Merello sounds something like a tango Bikini Kill." (Martín Sorrondeguy, singer in Limp Wrist, runs Lengua Armada Records) DOCK BOGGS, COUNTRY BLUES: COMPLETE EARLY RECORDINGS(Revenant, 1997)
"Boggs was a Virginia-based, coal-mining hillbilly whose murder ballads and death-obsessed ditties are so frightening that they can still induce chills more than 70 years after they were originally recorded. There's a haunting quality to all Boggs' recordings: a sensation of cobwebs across the face, the smell of quicklime and decomposing corpses, an aura of impending violence and doom that's downright disturbing. He sings of unrequited love, hard times in prison and desperate homelessness with a nervous and hurried phrasing that bespeaks a man running from demonic apparitions. In many respects, Boggs is the godfather of psychobilly punk groups like the Cramps and the Misfits, although he remains criminally obscure to all but the most knowledgeable music fans." (Buddy Seigal, OC Weekly music critic and musician) HARRY PARTCH, THE HARRY PARTCH COLLECTION(Composers Recordings Inc., 1997)
"Harry Partch is a very different person. He began writing music, and then one day, like in the '40s, he just snapped and burned all his music. He was frustrated by 12-tone composition, and he just decided to create his own music, which is this totally unique form that combines all these different parts like Chinese fables and Native American elements and Chopin. He created 43-tone music and 68 tones, and then because there are no instruments that can play that kind of music, he created his own instruments. That's one of the things I like about him—he wasn't experimental, you know, just throwing nails against a piano. He really wanted to entertain and engage people. And listening to his music made me want to just go my own way." (Keith Irish, bass player in Irish Bros./skatarist in Punk As a Doornail) FLIPPER, GENERIC (Subterranean Records, 1982)
"A sloth of a band—a hailstorm of distortion. Flipper's first LP is one of the greatest records of its time because it stands out as totally original in a time when originality was everywhere all at once. This record makes people want to start bands. It inspires. It makes you say, 'This is just so simple and stupid—I could do this!' And many, many bands have started due to someone finding Flipper in a used record bin, when that bright yellow cover called them to come see what punk rock is all about. If you haven't heard Flipper, you have never heard true punk music. You only think you have." (Lob, bassist in Instagon) MY BLOODY VALENTINE, LOVELESS (Sire/Creation, 1991)
"It's a candy-colored apocalypse, an album that is both painfully loud and achingly pretty. It's not an album that you go to looking for someone laying down eternal truths from on high—you sort of bring your sense of interpretation to it, and what you find are weird and woozy ideas about sex and death. Everything sounds like it was recorded one room and one century over. It has been described as what happened when Pet Soundsslams directly into Metal Machine Music: something that's indebted to a certain pure pop but at the same time technically oriented to bring you something never quite heard before. You don't come to this album to get your head ripped off—you come to it to get a perfect balance between extremes." (Ned Raggett, writer for All Music Guide, Freaky Trigger and Mean Street) VARIOUS ARTISTS, SCRATCH MASTERS (Z Rock Records, 1999)
"It came out just as I was learning how to DJ. Back then, DJing was growing as an art form and the word 'scratch' was just brand-new, so I'd pick up anything with that word on it. But this album was pretty much what all of the DJs listened to. It was beats, scratching, MCs and a lot of James Brown samples. It also was the first to use new instruments like the TR-909, which is something everyone uses now. It formed and influenced my sound and a lot of other DJs like Cut Chemist. Any time I go to a club and I hear it, I try to buy it from the DJ. Many won't sell it to me. Damn it!" (DJ Daniel, DJ at Club Raw and Club Swank/manager of Acropolis RPM) COMMON SENSE, RESURRECTION(MCA, 1994)
"Common used to be known as Common Sense. I always called him the John Coltrane of hip-hop because his vocalization is basically similar to the sound of a tenor saxophone—it actually has tonality and depth to it like an instrument. But the other reason why he's such an important artist to me is because of his lyrical content. He felt the same way I do about hip-hop when all the hardcore posing started to occur in the early 1990s. He wrote a cut called 'I Used to Love HER' You think he's talking about his girlfriend, but he wrote the song about hip-hop: he used to love her until she went through changes and stopped being the woman he fell in love with. Which is how I feel now." (Darryl James, owner of Tenacious Books/former publisher of Rap Sheet, America's only 100 percent black-owned hip-hop magazine)

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >