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Albums That Changed Us – Gerard’s Picks

four_devil_hornsEvery once in a great while we’ll get one of those projects that we just can’t wait to devour.  This be that kind of project.  Three albums that changed us?  It was kind of hard at first, but I feel that I was able to come through with my picks loud and clear.  Funny enough, all three of my choices were discovered on or around the same time.  Same decade, for sure.

I initially got into hard rock and metal during the mid 80’s.  Me and some friends would buy AC/DC, Judas Priest, Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister albums at the local K-Mart and I’d listen to the albums at friend’s houses.  That all came to a crashing halt when one of my friend’s snitch uncles told his mom that we were listening to satanic music.  My friend’s mom threw out his record collection and then that rolled over to my mom making me throw out my record collection.  Those were dark days indeed.  For a brief time, I did get into hip-hop, but there was something that just wasn’t right.  I was faking the funk, if you will.

I will say the that catalyst for changing my ways would be the start of the grunge movement with Nirvana and Soundgarden leading charge, but they would pale in comparison to the three albums that really molded me into the man I am today.

Let’s go.

Destroyer

Kiss – Destroyer

Back in the winter of ’92 I was over at a friend’s house during Christmas break and he had this storage shed in the backyard that his dad asked us to help him empty out.  It was mostly garbage for the most part, but then we hit gold!  The entire Kiss catalog was in there and it was glorious!  His dad had the entire 70’s Kiss catalog (with make-up) in near mint condition.  The album that caught my eye was “Destroyer.”  I was like, “who are these guys?”  I was big into fantasy artwork and noticed that fantasy illustrator Ken Kelly had done the artwork for the album’s cover.  Forget it.  It was a done deal.  From then on I was hooked!  They were everything I wanted in a band.  They had catchy tunes, had a great look and image, and were pretty much superheroes, considering I was also heavily into comics at the time.  It was a meshing of sorts.  Whenever I’m asked who my favorite band of all time is, I always answer with KissKiss and the Destroyer album is what re-started it all.

QueenAKindofMagic

Queen – A Kind of Magic

I was already aware of Queen and some of their major hits, but what makes my second album truly meaningful is that it was discovered in a movie.  One of my favorite films of the 80’s is the original “Highlander” starring Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery.  Queen did all of the original songs and some music for the film.  Not having cable television or the means to acquire the film, I watched it for the first time when it premiered on the Fox network.  As soon as it started, in which  Sean  Connery narrates the prologue of the film, and the Freddie Mercury vocals hit with, “Heeeeeeere we are, born to be kings……”,  I was a goner.  I developed an obsession with trying to track down the soundtrack to the film but it wasn’t available anywhere.  This was also years before the internet, so I had to do it the hard way.  One day I was at my local record shop flipping through the Queen catalog and I came upon this brightly colored cassette box that had the boys wearing these loud jackets and looking caricature-like.  I turned the cassette over and there they were; the Highlander song listings!  It turned out that the soundtrack to the film was an actual Queen album entitled: A Kind of Magic.  It ended up getting chewed up by my tape machine, so I ended up buying the cd later on.  This was the first time that film and music had come together for me.

Lit

Lit – A Place in the Sun

Lastly, we come to our final selection.  1999 was a great year for rock in general.  Mtv and various other music networks were actually giving plenty of airtime to many rock artists.  Lit was a band based out of Orange County, just south of Los Angeles, California.  The members from Lit had a throwback kind of image reminiscent of a 50’s rock ‘n roll band, but transported to the then present.  They were all about classic Cadillac cars, pin-ups, retro clothing, Las Vegas, gambling, etc…  In essence, they were the “Rat Pack” of rock ‘n roll.

At first I really didn’t care for them all that much.  They had a tune that was getting massive airplay, but I wasn’t it feeling yet.  It would not be until I actually saw them live for the first time at the annual KROQ Weenie Roast in Irvine, California, that I would see what all the fuss was about.  Lit opened up the tiny Budweiser second stage and completely obliterated it.  There were probably about 250 of us on the grass, but no one was sitting down.  The boys played an almost full set before they stepped off the stage.  That was all it took.  A month later they would be off on tour opening up for Offspring and playing the main stage at Woodstock ’99.  My boys were all growds up!

Me and my crew became unofficial roadies, meaning that anytime they were in town, we would see them.  My siblings are also big Lit fans and we would see them together as well.  Sometimes I’ll get asked the usual question of who’s your favorite band?  Now I answer and say that Kiss and Lit are my favorite bands of all time.  Hell, it’s because of Lit that I grew out my goatee to emulate Jeremy Popoff, the guitar player (but ended up looking like Wayne Static from Static-X, go figure).  Yes, I was a fanboy, heart and soul.

Ah, those were the days! 🙂

As of this writing, through triumph and tragedy, and believe me, all three bands have had their share, they’re are still rockin ‘n rollin’ just like they should be.  I’m sure all of you that are reading this have had a particular band come along at just the right time that they shaped your lives somehow.  It’s almost romantic, I think.  I’m glad we got to write this project up, it was like being transported back to some great moments in my life. Rock on!

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

9 Responses to “Albums That Changed Us – Gerard’s Picks”


  1. Brian White

    Now I knew you would have a KISS album on there 🙂

    But I was kind of surprised by the other two choices.

    Unless I’m getting my facts wrong, rumor has it that Bruce’s brother Bob Kulik played all the lead guitar parts on Destroyer and that Ace was nowhere to be found during the recording sessions. This also happened to Gene on Dynasty I think too. This is why, IMO (despite the legendary KISS of the 70’s), the Revenge lineup will always be my favorite. These guys just clicked… and best of all… no drugs!

  2. Gregg

    Queen! What a great band. Though I’ve listened to ‘A Kind of Magic’ in its entirety, I liked what I heard. What an awesome band that lost its frontman waaaay too early. I’ve never heard of Lit. Maybe I would recognize one of their chunes if I heard it.

  3. Gerard Iribe

    Brian, I heard the same, but that Bob and several other guitarists played on that album. Funny enough, when I got into Kiss (the make-up days) they were already doing the Revenge tour and I bought the Kiss X-treme close-up and Kiss: Konfidential long form videos.

    Lit had the #1 rock tune of that year with “My Own Worst Enemy.” C’mon, Gregg, I know you’ve heard it before.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sc5iTNVEOAg

  4. Sean Ferguson

    There’s a lot of KISS fans here at whysoblu! I like Queen although I don’t think I’ve ever heard that album and I’ve never heard of Lit either. Is their music 50’s style or is it just their looks and album covers?

  5. Gerard Iribe

    Sean, just the looks and covers. All rock ‘n roll.

  6. Brian White

    I believe, if I have my facts straight, that Gene did not play a note on Dynasty.

    I loved Bruce and Eric in the band. I remember seeing them on the Revenge tour and I was blown away by their energy. When I saw them on their unplugged tour they were good too. But when they put the makeup back on and went out on tour… their energy was just zapped.

    I appreciate KISS for their legacy, but man… Carnival of Souls should have been supported more and not just treated as a throw away demo. There were some decent tracks on there.

    Never really got into Lit or Queen so I can’t speak on their behalf. But for awhile in my life (up until 1994), I worshipped the ground KISS walked on.

  7. Gerard Iribe

    Yeah, Gene played bass on his two tracks and Paul played bass on his track, and Ace played bass on his.

    I did enjoy Carnival of Souls, but that was obviously their version of grunge, since that’s what was popular at the time.

  8. Brian White

    Maybe I was confusing this:

    “Fig also played all the drums on the next album Unmasked, although he was uncredited and Criss appeared on the cover art.”

    But I swear I remember reading something about Gene.

  9. Gerard Iribe

    Fig played in all of Unmasked and Dynasty with the exception of Peter’s song on Dynasty.

    regrets to