Do you ever listen to your favourite bands new song and hear a riff powerful enough to sweep your psyche into a state of euphoria?
Chances are that riff, those lyrics, and those musicians have been influenced by some of the old-time greats. So, I’ve put together a little list of classic LPs that have provided great inspiration to the realm of modern music – five LPs that you should all be acquainted with!
5. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Damn The Torpedoes (1979)
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers are renowned for having inspired generations of musicians with their genre-bending rock’n’roll, and to this day are still releasing chart-topping music, such as last year’s Grammy-nominated album Hypnotic Eye. The band released their self-titled debut LP in 1976, yet it wasn’t until 1979 that they garnered international fame for their critically-acclaimed record Damn The Torpedoes.
The record was a showcase of Petty’s unparalleled song-writing abilities, turning political issues, tales of love, loss and abandonment into poetry, ultimately producing one of the biggest tracks in music history, Refugee. The intense riffage and innovative musicianship highlighted has inspired hordes of alt-country crooners, indie rockers, and old time rock’n’rollers for generations.
4. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin I (1969)
Most every Gen Y has heard the name Led Zeppelin being thrown around, presumably due to their dads playing Communication Breakdown on repeat in car whilst head-banging like a maniac (ok, maybe that was just mine). But nonetheless, Led Zeppelin I served as the first LP from the most creative band in rock’n’roll history. With Robert Plant on vocals, the legendary virtuoso Jimmy Page on guitar, John Bonham giving the band a heartbeat, and John Paul Jones throwing in some of the most recognised bass riffs in music, this record threw them into the deep end. They were huge almost instantaneously, playing shows around the world to fans and fellow musicians equally as shocked to see a band so solitary in sound, so prodigious in technique, and so undeniably sensual in appearance. This record featured classics such as my dad’s favourite Communication Breakdown, Dazed & Confused, Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, and I Can’t Quit You Baby. The whole LP is worth listening to from start to finish. So if you don’t have one buy a turntable, put on this record, light a candle and you’ll see your future flash before your eyes.
3. Cream – Fresh Cream (1966)
The 60s were a time of evolution; musical evolution, fashion evolution and political evolution. Super-group Cream were pioneers of each and every aspect of change at the time, and in turn changed the world of music. Blues guitar ‘God’ Eric Clapton, the Buddha of bassists Jack Bruce, and the ultimate time-keeper and, arguably the greatest drummer on earth, Ginger Baker teamed up to intertwine blues and rock’n’roll, with psychedelic undertones. Their debut LP Fresh Cream saw them take classic blues standards and turn them into something peculiar and unrepeated; it saw Bruce’s lyrics fall seamlessly into riffs so intricate that even the blues greats such as B.B King and Buddy Guy wanted a slice. They were a breath of fresh air in the industry and this record was the perfect example of the changes enshrouding them.
2. Joe Cocker – Cocker Happy (1971)
Released in Australia in 1971, Cocker Happy features a compilation of the greatest tracks of 1968-1970 from English vocalist, Joe Cocker. It spent eight weeks at the top of the charts, and has since proven to be timeless. Cocker’s famously raspy, rich vocals that stunned the crowds at Woodstock and soaked up every last bit of consciousness from them, were highlighted incomparably in the 12 hits on display including Feelin’ Alright, Delta Lady, Darling Be Home Soon and Hitchcock Railway.
Yet the stand-out of the record, and quite possibly his entire career, was his cover of The Beatles’ With A Little Help From My Friends. Exuding passion and soul, his vocals dripped intensely over the heavy piano and guitar riffs, and fell straight in line with the female backing vocals that made each of his songs what they were – a whole lot of soul-aching, heart-breaking, knee-shaking blues inflicted rock’n’roll.
1. The Staple Singers – Be Altitude: Respect Yourself (1972)
It’s undeniable. The Staple Singers have been the staple for all soul singers worldwide since the days of old, and Be Altitude: Respect Yourself was the beginning of an era for all female vocalists who were searching for a little inspiration. Featuring some of their most influential tracks Respect Yourself, and I’ll Take You There, Mavis’ trademark vox made even the most gospel of songs seem sultry, and with Pops on guitar and the assistance of their fellow Staples, the sounds concocted were of their own class and quite frankly, flawless. Be Altitude: Respect Yourself, and the Staples Singers as a whole, have made their way into people’s playlists for decades and given contemporary funk and soul artists a platform to work off. As Nikki Hill once told me “she’s [Mavis Staples] one of my heroes… well, I think she’s everybody’s hero, I mean c’mon!”.
Peace, love and keep singin’ the Blues,