Five vinyl records that changed my life

The cover of BB King's Take it Home.

The cover of BB King's Take it Home.

AT ABOUT age 13 people used to ask me what sort of music I was into, and I often had no response. 

Most kids my age could tell you every song in the top 40, but I could barely name a contemporary artist, and certainly could not tell you a non-contemporary artist.

I got my hands on a few CDs I am too ashamed to name now, but I assure you were cool at the time, but I still did not really have a genre of music I was into.

My friends loved the music of the day, which had not quite gone into the full electronic mode it has now, but was rapidly approaching that, yet I never warmed to it. That music made them want to dance, but there was not a twitch in any muscle of my body when I heard most music circa 2004.

Despite no strong interest in any genre of music, I decided I wanted to play guitar because I thought it would be cool.

The first song I learned in lessons was “Zebra” By John Butler, and the second was “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix.

The former song was great, a real catchy tune, and the artist was actually alive and is one of the few I have ever seen perform.

But it was the latter that opened my mind to a whole new world. I was mildly conscious the world existed thanks to being force fed the Blues Brothers as a child by my parents, but new next to nothing apart from that.

I went searching through my dad’s record collection for songs by Mr Hendrix, and I could not find any, although dad helpfully set me up with a few records that shaped my musical tastes to this day.

Take It Home - BB King

There is nothing particularly special about this album, other than it was created by “The King of the Blues”. At the time I tried googling it and the internet clearly had not heard of it either.

I wanted to put it on my iPod but had no such luck, and was stuck listening to it at home. I understand that is how most readers of this article grew up, but to me as a millennial it was unthinkable that such a fine piece of music was not digitally available.

The staccato licks of BB King’s Lucille stuck in my mind, and I found myself at JB Hi-Fi soon after, rifling through the CDs, trying to find some of his work, eventually finding a greatest hits album, although none of the songs from Take It Home were on there.

I recall a road trip I made to Victoria with my dad, and to this day I can still picture driving along the Great Ocean Road with Second Hand Woman stuck in my head.

The King was my first true musical love, and looking back, it is obvious how much his influence has shaped my own (poor) guitar playing ability.

Led Zeppelin II – Led Zeppelin

This is still one of my favourite albums. It is everything great about Led Zeppelin in my opinion.

The strong blues influence is what drew me to it. The Lemon Song was one I swore I would learn how to play on guitar, thanks to its mesmerising opening lick.

I eventually found the sheet music to the song and figured out how to play it. And also that Jimmy Page straight up flogged that song from the great “Howlin’ Wolf”, although like most tunes Page and the Zeppelin boys ‘borrowed’ in my opinion, they improved them and also opened the interest in discovering the roots of their music for many like myself. I would never have discovered “Howlin’ Wolf”, if not for the blatant copyright infringement of Led Zeppelin.

Irrespective of that, The Lemon Song is a great track, as is Whole Lotta Love and Heartbreaker, which is one of my favourite Zeppelin songs.

To this day I still can’t quite figure out some of the lyrics to Bring It On Home but that harmonica intro is amazing, and I actually bought a harmonica, just so I could try to play (again, poorly) along.

Ramble On is another pearler, and whenever I hear it I always find myself in a state of nostalagia about my childhood.

Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles

I can recall as a child hearing my dad rave about The Beatles, and thinking that a band with a name like that must have been the lamest thing the 60s could have produced.

It wasn’t until about age 14 that I listened to possibly the greatest album ever made and realised that I was a complete moron and should grovel at the altar of Lennon and McCartney and beg for their mercy and forgiveness.

Dad’s copy was, as far as I am aware, an original release, and dad if you read this if you could leave it to me in your will that would be excellent.

If you haven’t heard this album it is one you really should listen to, and even if you don’t like The Beatles, appreciate what they were and how a lot of their music has probably indirectly shaped much of today’s.

Willy and the Poor Boys – Creedence Clearwater Revival

I first heard Fortunate Son in the opening credits of Battlefield: Vietnam and was hooked. 

Unfortunately, Shazam did not exist at the time and I had no idea who sung it or even what the song was called.

Months later, at party my family attended, Fortunate Son was playing on the CD player, and in a frenzy I ran to grab the adults to ask what the song was.

Little did I know it had been sitting in my dad’s record collection all along.

Creedence was a great band, and all throughout high school I listened along. One friend, in particular, used to love teasing me about listening to them, but the music sounded so good to me that I did not care.

Down On The Corner was another track I adored. A local business used to run it on their television ads and I had always hummed along, unaware that they had borrowed it from the great Creedence.

Another Creedence track, not on this album, I Heard it Through the Grapevine could also be heard playing in my house on a regular basis, again on vinyl. It is an 11 minute long song, and in my opinion, probably Creedence’s best. It, of course, was a Motown song, and my interest in Motown music was opened because of Creedence.

Paranoid – Black Sabbath

This was an album I listened to a lot in my teens but never truly appreciated until about a year ago.

My musical tastes have mostly been limited to blues based music, usually from the 60s, but Black Sabbath has led me to start exploring some of the finest work the 70s have to offer and in genres other than blues, which I never thought I could ever enjoy.

The themes of death and destruction, along with an oddly anti-drug undertone, on this album make it, for me, much more than a musical masterpiece, and more into the feelings of a world worried about nuclear war and a growing prevalence of destructive drug use.