The brief is this: ask a bunch of rock stars to pick ten albums that changed their lives and explain why or what was so cool about those records. This was a blast and turned up a ton of insights and cool stories.

Listen, good general classic rock book perfect for your self or for a present to any music fan—I’ll sign to whoever ya want, add a message etc., whatever. The book is gorgeous, with cool larger 9 ¼” x 7” format, 288 pages, full colour throughout, tons of pictures of album covers plus rare band photography and a foreword by Nancy Wilson.

Included are: Ian Anderson, Rod Argent, Marty Balin, Bev Bevan, Mick Box, Rick Buckler, Clem Burke, Bun E. Carlos, Gerald Casale, David Clayton-Thomas, Stewart Copeland, David Coverdale, Dennis DeYoung, Thomas Dolby, K.K. Downing, Dennis Dunaway, Roger Earl, Lita Ford, Bill Gould, Peter Koppes, Alexi Laiho, Jake E. Lee, Ian McCulloch, Graham Parker, Dave Pirner, Suzi Quatro, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Benmont Tench, Devin Townsend, Mark Tremonti, James Williamson, Nancy Wilson and James “JY” Young and many more!

As the Introduction sez (the one I sent, before the edit!):

Just a quick hello and a thank you for joining us on 10 Albums That Changed My Life. To imagine that these great musicians and their enthusiasm for these records is helping to educate both young and old on the great history of rock ‘n’ roll is a satisfying thought indeed.

I must say that this has been a most pleasurable book to write—and compile: some of these first appeared in Goldmine magazine, where this idea first originated—because in the process of listening to these stories, I realized how intimate music can be to people. After hearing these folks skip and jump their way through a list of ten records, barely containing themselves in many cases, what they’ve done for us is pull back the curtain and reveal something about themselves.

Odd that is it through the process of picking two fistfuls of albums they like, but such poignant trips down memory lane, the stories of first records ever, the tales of being on the spot when history happens, the inspiration that had folks pick up a set of drumsticks for the first time… if you are a successful musician, a pro, someone who has worked and is working in the industry, then I suppose it makes perfect sense.

All of these glowing stories made for chats that were educational and in many cases just more than a bit magical. Invariably, it had me scurrying over to my record racks, the CD racks, or Spotify or youtube, for listens languid or indeed pointed, looking for the comparison explained or the nick of a riff admitted to or other clear forms of imitation and instruction from one generation to the next. I hope reading these responses has the same effect on you as a reader. Because indeed, in the aggregate, I must say this adds up to a pretty swell history of rock ‘n’ roll classics from a pretty wide range of years, but with one thing in common—these records have been around long enough to have stood the test of time.

Which brings up a point. As time rolls on, I can imagine that future editions and renditions of this book will find younger generations talking about records more recent and so on and so on. But that can’t happen without the passage of time, and so what a lot of this inaugural book becomes is a big, bold celebration of classic rock—which is called that for a reason. Broadly speaking then (but only broadly), what falls out of the exercise as somewhat of a trend is the idea of artists from the ‘70s and ‘80s teaching us about artists and albums from the ‘60s and ‘70s, but also in some instances, from the ‘50s. In other words, our cast can generally be called of a classic rock ilk, but of many, many music disciplines (albeit mostly some form of rock). And what they are talking about are the records that inspired them to do what they do—and that requires them to examine their formative years.

The speakers who kindly volunteered lists represent album sales in the tens of millions and there are fully ten musicians here who are members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Most have known the experience of gold and platinum records on their walls and again, most pertinently, anybody who jumps at a chance to do a list like this, they absolutely love music. Indeed, the only thing that they just might love more than the songs themselves is telling other people about them. I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s more than easy to get swept up and sold by the enthusiasm on display here, to the point where it’s mission accomplished—no matter what your age and experience consuming music, you will be checking these records out to find out what the fuss is all about.

And I must add that beside all the big stars, some from our cast were chosen because they were well-respected critic darlings and musicologists that I knew would have some interesting things to say. There are heavy metal people, alternative rockers, proggers, folkies, jazzers, psychedelic artists, session musicians and those who were there in the ‘50s (of note, all are performers—we’ve not included producers or managers or promoters or journalists here).

And then once your long trip learning the merits of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll records of all time draws to a close, and as you wend your way toward the end of our cornucopia of album recommendations, you will find a handful of appendices, two that try to make a spot of statistical sense of what just happened, and one that adds a few highlights from the lists we had gathered that we didn’t feel worked out to full-blown ten-record entries.

All told, again, I hope you learn as much reading this and are filled with the same rich sense of nostalgia as I was in hearing these quick, compartmentalized stories. I know I have discovered quite a few new records to enjoy deeply, to which I otherwise had not paid enough attention or treated with the amount of respect that it deserved. That is the ultimate benefit I’ve gained from this exercise and I hope that by journey’s end, you get to that place as well.

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Martin Popoff
P.O. Box 65208, 358 Danforth Ave.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
M4K 2Z2

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