11 Impactful Albums Still Relevant Today
Article and photos by Melodie Yvonne Ramey
I recently became faced with a challenge. It was not the kind of challenge that held the balance of good or evil in its hands, nor was it the type whose consequence would be life or death. I would merely be going into combat with myself on this one, but it would definitely be a battle of wits.
The invitation from a Facebook friend simply stated, “In no particular order – 10 all time favorite albums that really made an impact and are still in rotation, even if only now and then. Post the cover. No need to explain. Nominate a person to do the same,” Of course, ultimately, it would prove to be far more difficult to refrain from explaining myself than what it would be to think of albums.
The things that have made an impact on me in my life jump to the forefront prominently for a reason, you see. They are things that I feel everyone should DEFINITELY experience, or things that likewise people REALLY REALLY shouldn’t. Music is certainly in the former category. It doesn’t matter whether it is the best bits of the classics or the musical equivalent of water boarding it all needs to be heard to help us find ourselves.
Listening to many different genres and artists is how we shape our tastes and part of how we learn who we are inside. Finding that relatable sad melody or that glorious battle theme that leads one’s team to victory is what helps to shape our lives. Music can teach us that feeling is ok and that we are not alone. These are all the reasons that I had a tremendously difficult time keeping my explanations to myself in this little musical summons to contest. Consequently, anyone that knows me at all knows that if I keep things in too long eventually they’re going to burst like Niagara Falls. So, without further ado may I present to you all the things that I was supposed to keep to myself…
11 Impactful Albums Still Relevant Today
- Paul’s Boutique – This album by the Beastie Boys set them apart as more than just frat boys fighting for their right to party. Now don’t get me wrong. I was fighting right along with them, but partying was not what made the biggest impact on me. I was already in love with their rhymes, and the Boys’ cross pollination with rock was a whimsical treat, but it was Paul’s Boutique’s funky style that truly showed me the way. These boys had become men, and when they sang out, “Hey, Ladies! Get Funky!” I knew that one of the ladies they were calling out to was me, and I have remained funky forevermore.
- The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Stand By Me – This movie was an awakening for many young impressionable children including me, but it was the soundtrack that made the biggest impact on my life. The music sucked the viewer into the time period and world of the characters more than any I had heard. It made me want to be there walking down those tracks and singing right along with them. I had heard classics before, but not like these. Stand By Me introduced me to a new world of music, a world including Ben E. King, and for that I will always be grateful.
- Blind Melon – There are very few musicians that continue to influence the world years beyond their untimely death, but Blind Melon’s Shannon Hoon is one of those magnificent and magnanimous souls. He wrote lyrics that were wise beyond his years, and the band’s melodies tickled my eardrums and taught my brain to dance at a very young age. Songs like “Change” and “Tones of Home” have strong places on the soundtrack of my life, and have helped me conquer some of my most evil demons. This album has held up wondrously over time , and I highly recommend that every song except “No Rain” has a spot in everyone’s own personal rotation.
- The Real Thing – This legendary album by Faith No More influenced more of today’s musicians than what I could even begin to count, so it’s no wonder that it had such an impact on my young brain. I was lucky enough to get to do the lighting for my 8th grade talent show, and I’ll never forget the moment that the song “Epic” came pouring off the stage and filled the room. I didn’t know what “It” was, but I knew I would scour the Earth for more from this band until I could find out. I’m still looking.
- Elvis’ Golden Records – I don’t know if it was Elvis Presley that made an impression on me, or the fact that my father mesmerized me from a very young age with his spot on Elvis style guitar playing and vocals. Elvis’s bluesy gospel style of rock ‘n’ roll helped shape my tastes early on. His performances were always unfettered, and fervent hip shakes displayed in an age where it was deemed scandalous is what helped teach me not to be afraid to dance.
- He Thinks He’s Ray Stevens – The first concert I ever attended at the age of 10 was actually at the Little Nashville Opry in Nashville, Indiana with country comedy genius Ray Stevens. I had acquired this album long before, however, and realized that it was pure gold. Everyone knows that music holds an artist true feelings, but we often forget that those feelings can be lighthearted and fun. Ray Stevens helped teach me to not take myself or even the world so seriously. In a day and age where everyone is offended so easily I believe this album holds a valuable lesson. It holds the wisdom that it’s OK to disagree, and still be friends. The album teaches that if you take a step back you realize that a lot of things, even politics and religion, are a lot funnier than you may think they are and it’s ok to laugh even if sometimes that means laughing at yourself. I believe one of my favorite songs from the album, “Mississippi Squirrel Revival”, is even more relevant today than it was the day I first heard it, and if that song doesn’t make you smile I don’t know what will. Put this album on repeat anytime you need a good uplifting chuckle.
- The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack from Dream A Little Dream – I realize that some might see this movie as a giant cesspool of 90s teen angst wrapped up with your stereotypical Coreys. I can’t argue that point, but that doesn’t make me any less in love, and it doesn’t make this soundtrack any less relevant. Yes there is an occasional toe dip into something that sounds like 80s pop being killed with a saxophone, but those moments do not undermine the product as a whole. A beautiful love triangle of crooning, classic rock, and 90s faux grunge takes over the other 75% of the album with a great finesse. This wonderful concoction successfully introduced multitudes of 90s teen girls that only came for the Coreys to something other than Poison… which I’d say makes it a win all around.
- Little Earthquakes – I have many favorite power women in music, but Tori Amos ranks very highly with me for reasons other than her ability to rock out. One of my favorite shirts came from a Tori Amos concert. Emblazoned on the front it loudly whispers, “when pianos try to be guitars”. Little Earthquakes embodies that glorious statement. I always felt part of her message, particularly on that album, was that it was ok for a girl not just to have feelings, but to actually say those feelings out loud. Broadcast those feelings. Sing them at the top of your lungs, and screw anyone that tries to make you feel ashamed. Tori taught me that a person is not just a culmination of the bad things in their past, and that you can take the pain and turn it into something beautiful. I believe Little Earthquakes is highly identifiable for anyone that might be struggling with their voice or identity like I was, and should be picked up and reveled in at the nearest record store today.
- Lazaretto – It is a widely known fact that Jack White is a genius. Musically Lazaretto stands up to every standard the world has set for him as well as even the standards Jack has set for himself. I have to admit, though, that it is not the musical genius in this case that makes this album stand out for me. The thing that makes the most impact on me is the brilliance that went into the actual art of the album creation. The intricate album details and hidden treasures make Lazaretto clearly more than just another Jack White record. I can’t even imagine a virtuoso so intelligent that they sit around and think things like, “Hey let’s etch a hologram into this record plus hide a couple of songs in the center paper.” Whoever that brilliant person is I think I would marry them right now today… with an ironclad prenup of course 🙂
- The Score – This is one case where I feel actually explaining myself is a little redundant. Honestly, if you don’t know why this album is impactful we are probably not friends. Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, and Pras Michel are all stellar artists on their own, but together they passionately embody their melodies and become agents of hip hop itself. I’m not ashamed to admit that the reason I have the words “No Woman No Cry” tattooed on the back of my neck are not because I’m a big Bob Marley fan. I mean don’t get me wrong I love Marley he’s cool, but for me those words came from the Fugees.
- Sailing the Seas of Cheese – Well, obviously I threw in an extra here as the original challenge stated to name the top ten. I just couldn’t justify leaving a single one of these albums off this list, especially not Primus. Moreover, call me superstitious, but I kinda like the number 11 a little better anyway. The brilliance of Les Claypool was another treasure out of my childhood memory chest brought to me again by the brilliant gentleman in my class at school. It was the Beastie Boys that taught me about the funk as I said before, but it was Les Claypool as he was Sailing the Seas of Cheese that taught me what truly funkalicious was. I mean come on, name one other bassist that successfully centered an entire band around themselves not once or twice, but steadily for an entire career, AND did so with magnificent style. Point made. If you don’t have this album go buy it now, and don’t talk to me until you’ve listened to it at least 11 times.
Well, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed my “11 Impactful Albums Still Relevant Today”. Did you like my album choices? Let me know in the comments, and check out more of my musical opinions now in my reviews section at melodieyvonne.com/category/reviews/music-reviews/
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