This blog is all about the books, images, and movies that carry us through our lives.
But what about the music?
This is the music that rocked (and still rocks) my life; it's what scored the ups, downs, and horizontal shuffles of my youth, and shot me like heroin into the veins of adulthood.
What about you guys? What music rocked your world?
'Ballroom Blitz' was my first encounter with The Sweet, the UK "glam rock" band that changed my world. The energy of the song spoke to me, and kick-started my passion for music.
But it was Sweet Fanny Adams ('74), their second album, that blew me away completely, and still does.
Amazingly, the album had none of the band's successful singles of the period. Instead, it focused on hard, driving, soaring rock compositions that revealed a side of the band usually reserved for the "B" sides of their hit singles. This music, which was their personal preference, came to be known as "glam metal".
I was verbally stoned for promoting the band at school when I was twelve years old. They were perceived as only a 'bubblegum rock' band, not the innovative metal pioneers they actually were.
Brian Connolly (vocals) and Mick Tucker (drums) are dead. Andy Scott and Steve Priest survive.
I catch up with good friend and fellow filmmaker Jim Van Bebber on a fairly regular basis. During my last visit, during which Jim showed me his cut of a great new music doc, I introduced him to this album, and felt sure that he would respond to it.
I blasted "Set Me Free" and "Sweet FA" from his speakers, and he totally got it.
He, too, was blown away by what he heard.
Unfortunately, fuck-ups in release patterns, timing, and an insane decision to blend two albums into one, robbed the band of deserved notoriety in the US, but respect for the band amongst profession musicians was high.
Recommended listens: Set Me Free, Miss Demeanor, No You Don't, Burn on the Flame, Sweet FA, Action, Turn It Down, The Man With The Golden Arm (which features an incredible drum solo from mick Tucker), Restless and My Generation (superb cover of The Who's classic)
I accidentally discovered Melbourne's Pipe Records in '77. It was located in a shadowy corner of an arcade off the intersection of Flinders Lane and Swanston St.
I was hunting for a Sparks album and a rumored Bryan Ferry bootleg. The proprietor, a passionate, difficult German, glared at me as I entered his tall-ceilinged world. "Do you have any Sparks albums?" I asked. His glare remained and intensified and he sized me up. Then he reached for a set of headphones and plonked them on my head:
"Fuck der fuckin Sparks!" he said. "Forget them. THIS is what you need."
Slightly shaken by his surly demeanor, I waited in silence for what I (apparently) needed.
What began to fill my senses was the musical equivalent of an orgasm.
Daniel was right. I DID need this. I needed it bad.
He played the mesmerizing "Stardancer II" from Klaus Schulze's Body Love 2, still my favorite album of many amazing Schulze works.
An original member of Tangerine Dream, he quit and went his own way early on. He defined, and continues to define, electronica.
Body Love 1 was the soundtrack to Lasse Braun's '77 Body Love, a slow moving but beautifully shot (in French) porn movie. The soundtrack sold so well that Schulze released a follow-up volume along similar lines; it's better than the original.
The use of Schulze's music in Body Love disappointed me greatly. Having been dropped into hypnotic states by both albums for years, I was sure that the movie would be an erotic revelation. How could it not be with this music? Well, the cues are poorly integrated with the images, and the mixing is surprisingly low. Schulze's music often plays like muzak in the background of dialog scenes. What the hell was Braun thinking? Was he on drugs?!
Any way you look at it, Body Love 2 is an exceptional, groundbreaking work of electronica. As I have never been a drug user, what it does to me is what I imagine good drugs do to those who choose them as the vehicle for their astral travels.
Recommended albums: Body Love 2, Body Love 1, Timewind, Moondown, Dune, Le Vie Electronique I & II, X and Mirage.
The son of the late Maurice Jarre, from whom he was estranged, Jean Michel Jarre has produced mind-altering works of avante-garde electronica for three decades.
Oxygene ('76) marked my first encounter with his stunning work, and this was followed by the amazing Equinoxe ('78) and Magnetic Fields ('81); that album's introductory cue is revelatory.
My favorite Jarre albums, though, are Rendez-Vous ('86), Revolution ('88) and Chronologie ('93).
I can't quite describe what Jarre's music does to me.
It inspires me, expands my periphery, and throws me into a void from which I emerge refreshed and revitalized.
Apparently, several Jarre cues can be heard on Grand Theft Auto 4. Who could have predicted that?
I saw Godfrey Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi ('82) when it first played at the Forum Theatre in Melbourne. I'd seen and heard nothing quite like it before. I knew nothing about Phillip Glass at the time.
I rectified that quickly by purchasing every LP I could and attending a live concert.
The Photographer ('83) is forceful, unrelenting, hysterical and cathartic.
It defines the great composer for me, and is my favorite of his many brilliant works, which include the score for Scorsese's stunning Kundun ('93).
It is the composer's music (from Koyaanisqatsi) that can be heard on the current Watchmen trailer. There are several Glass cues in the film, too.
I can't add anything that hasn't already been written about Glass, one of the greatest living composers.
I can only envy someone who is about to discover him for the first time. I remember my first time, and it was so sweet.