25 albums that influenced my life

I found this of the Phoenix's post in early 2009 and decided to make my own list. This initial list came from a Facebook link which said: Think of 25 albums that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life or the way you looked at it. They sucked you in and took you over for days, weeks, months, years. These are the albums that you can use to identify time, places, people, emotions. These are the albums that no matter what they were thought of musically shaped your world. When you finish, tag 25 others, including me. Make sure you copy and paste this part so they know the drill. Get the idea now? Good. Tag! You’re it!

The things that stand out in these albums are (1) the lyrics that reflect my life during that exact moment of time and (2) the unique voices that bring my experiences to life. The music seems to mold itself to the occasions and the circumstances that suit me the most, making it personal not only to the composer, but to me. 

The list is eclectic to say the least and comes in no order whatsoever. Just don't fall off your chair.

  1. Slippery When Wet - Bon Jovi. My very first casette tape! It was the album that opened up my world to rock. Till today, I feel a sense of nostalgia whenever one of the tracks is on the radio or on my ipod. I still have the tshirt in my wardrobe somewhere, no he did not sign it for me.

  2. Use Your Illusion 2 - Guns N' Roses. As usual, Singapore banned the outstanding Illusion 2 album in 1991. I walked into my neighbourhood store and bought it right off the shelf. So much for censorship. Way better than Illusion 1, I spent many hours listening to Axl's yowl and wallowing in the aftermath of my parent's divorce. Get in the Ring makes me smile and Civil War is still relevant today.
  3. Diamonds and Pearls - Prince & The New Power Generation. 1991 was an outstanding year for music with Guns N' Roses and Prince. This was the first full-length Prince album that I owned. It was my comfort album through all the times I had to pick my baby bro up from the day-care centre. It also suddenly occurred to me that this man writes damn suggestive lyrics! I likey! Needless to say, some of his best songs are filed under Music to Make Love to...or Get Horny with...

  4. Off the Wall - Michael Jackson. Yes, Thriller is the definitive but I really loved Off the Wall for showcasing a major breakthrough talent. Till today, nothing gets me on the dance floor faster than Don't Stop Till You Get Enough. Black, white, whatever, Michael Jackson had the voice and the talent that just transcends the decades.

  5. Faith - George Michael. Yet another banned album if only for ONE bloody song. I was 10 years old, I wanted to have a geetar, to have faith, a father figure and a leather jacket, I though George Michael was pop royalty. It was the album that made me realize that Singapore should just let the people decide if George Michael is dirty or not. Yes, I started being a rebel at 10.

  6. Blood Sugar Sex Magic - Red Hot Chili Peppers. In a case of wonky censorhip, no one thought to ban this album. Blood sugar, baby, we had it, sex magic! I wonder why? I was 14, awed and slightly scared by this album. Plus there was the guys were in silver, the monks, references to drug taking, breaking the girl and people being naked in the rain. I wanted to cower and celebrate, yea at the same time.

  7. Nobody Else - Take That. The one thing that made Take That stand out was that they had a member who wrote their songs, not Diane Warren, not Cathy Dennis or anyone else. So yes, some of the songs were sappy but they were not overly manufactured. I loved this album and the title track because it reminded me of the people I have standing behind me all these years. Plus, I never realized how many women I've met over the years actually attended their Singapore concert with me. Amazing.

  8. I've been expecting you - Robbie Williams. Who knew the loutish one from Take That had it in him? The lyrics from No Regrets sound as bitter and as angry now as they did then. Perhaps his success was what prompted the band to re-form after so many years. But still, Robbie did his best work with Guy Chambers. His later stuff was ok but never really came close to this. Till today, I don't have many regrets about the things that I've done.

  9. Set Yourself on Fire - Stars. I first heard this album sometime in 2005, thanks to my friend Uncle Lim. In 2008, I had the pleasure of seeing them in Singapore. What I really love about their music is that the songs are literally so sad and so depressing sometimes that its all you can do, not to weep. The album is set up there with Grace.

  10. Suede - Suede. I almost fell off my chair when I heard The Drowners, then came Metal Mickey, Animal Nitrate and The Next Life. It was a fantastic way to be introduced to the Britpop phenomenon. The voice is so distinctive it sparked a plethora of copycats, the lyrics reflective of London circa 1990 and the music, loud and jangly enough to wake up a generation of naysayers who said that rock is dead. Pooi to you.

  11. Parklife - Blur. It sounds like the best of British punk injected with smart lyrics and beats that are just too infuriatingly catchy. Ten years after hearing this album, I was shopping in Hot Topic in the US where they were playing Parklife. A teenager in the store turned to the retail clerk and asked, is this new? It made me roll my eyes, shake my head and gave me a new appreciation for Blur.

  12. Different Class - Pulp. Lemme tell you a secret. *Whispers* This was actually the album that sparked off the singing loudly and off-key. Bet you'd never guessed, right? Stop cursing, Ms Lee...you can curse Jarvis Cocker for coming up the songs :P

  13. What's the Story Morning Glory - Oasis. So Blur won the battle of the Britpop bands back in 1995, but honestly, which album did you prefer? For me it was these lads who arrogantly declared that they were the best thing since Jesus Christ. 1995 was the year I was feeling my way around the working world and more or less like a single parent and this album helped me get to my feet each day. Where were you while we were getting high?

  14. Musicals: Rent. Because Jonathan Larson rocks, because you will always have friends who are there for you and because the issues are still relevant today. The rest of the musicals that I love, include Les Miserables, Chicago and Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

  15. Soundtracks. I very rarely buy soundtracks but these are the two that influenced me the most. Dirty Dancing for taking me back in time and Velvet Goldmine for showing me that there is more than one way to listen to Thom Yorke. I still have it on play in my ipod today :o)

  16. Without You I'm Nothing - Placebo. That whiny voice is unmistakable. The lyrics dark, jaded and wry. I listen to this when I'm angry and it takes away some of the pain. This is sex, drugs and rock and roll at its dirtiest and rawest. 

  17. Grace - Jeff Buckley. Whenever I feel blue and disheartened, I turn to the one man who sounds just as blue and disheartened as me. Sometimes sweet, sometimes reflective, with a raw edge, The album is never maudlin. It never fails to lift me from my sad spirits, especially after really tough times where I just want to be left alone. Thanks to Jean for this recommendation.

  18. Prolonging the Magic - Cake. When Singaporeans came up with the word bo chap (indifferent), I bet they never thought how it would sound like. Well, when infused with cheeky humor, it sounds exactly like this. Never fails to make me smile.

  19. Vs - Pearl Jam. I hated everything to do with my family at that time, especially my dad and his family. Everything that was horrible and nasty about families, these people personified. The lyrics: "Don't call me daughter, not fit to, the picture kept will remind me" hold a particular meaning to me.

  20. Poses - Rufus Wainwright. There is the mounful voice, the love for Judy Garland, the theatrical music...and who can resist the Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk? The album was a kaleidascope of songs, that ranged from tearful to funny. And in case you didn't realise, gay men are just like the rest of us too.

  21. Contra la Coriente - Marc Anthony. I picked up salsa dancing in 2005 and this was one of my favourite salsa albums from that period. Its a mix of modern pop and salsa which really catches the feet and makes the heart dance. Who knew the geeky guy in the glass could make such wonderful music? He may not be much to look at but I really love his music.

  22. Lie to Me - Jonny Lang. I stumbled across his debut album in 1998 and wow, he was a 16-year-old kid with an old-time blues sound that just reached out over the teeny-bopper boysbands that were so popular at the time. Reinvigorating, well, except for the song Good Morning Little Schoolgirl. It still sounds salah (wrong) today.

  23. Achtung Baby - U2. Also released in 1991, this album kick-started a whole lot of musical experimentation for the band. This was the first U2 album that I bought and have loved thoroughly at every listen, especially through nasty maths classes in secondary school. Who needs maths when you have Bono?  I'd also like to say that subsequent versions of the brilliant "One" are crap.

  24. The Bends - Radiohead. The whole world I know and their grandmas love Radiohead.  I cannot stand it! This was my first and only Radiohead purchase and it inspired me never to buy another Radiohead album. That said, I only love Fake Plastic Trees and Creep cos Roo played it to death in the office. In a cruel twist of fate, my sister LOVED them and bought all the albums, subjecting me to years of aural torture. Na beh.

  25. Jagged Little Pill - Alanis Morisette. This one album is the one I keep coming back to after breakups or when I get pissed off at some idiot man or another. The voice is distinctive, sharp, angry, they lyrics went from woman pissed off from a breakup to, kind of optimistic and then resigned to circumstances that she couldn't change. The personal lyrics hit home and it one one of my favourite records of 1995.

The list is finally done. Took me over two weeks to do this and boy, was it an ordeal. Some people remember things by sights and sounds. I remember things by the music that was an integral part of my life at that time. Guess everyone has their quirks.


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Ever prodded a sleeping dragon, only to have it whip up and bite you in the ass? Well, neither have I. But I advocate that you should try everything...once ;P


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