Duff McKagan writes for Reverb every Monday and Thursday.
Being the youngest of eight kids exposed me to a LOT of music that my older brothers and sisters were listening to at any given point during my youth. Some of my earliest memories are of leafing through album covers like the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Jimi Hendrix's Axis: Bold as Love, or the day-glo orange Don and the Goodtimes record.
Duff McKagan writes for Reverb every Monday and Thursday.
It was in the '70s, however, when I first started to have my own musical awareness--a sense of identifying my "self" inside the songs of a particular band. The '70s bore witness to a mighty sea change in musical tastes. From the epicness of Led Zeppelin and the dirtiness of Aerosmith sprang the coming of the Ramones and punk rock. The '70s seemed also to bring an antagonistic dividing line between urban and suburban--disco and rock--that seemingly only the mighty Prince was finally able to erase.
All I knew, however, was that there was music I loved, some I didn't, and some I outright despised. (No need to bring up what my teenage dislikes were. I was a kid, and I truly felt like my opinion was the last word in cool back then!)
For me, the '70s was when I saw my first rock concerts and first all-ages punk shows. I saw Aerosmith tour their album Rocks at the Kingdome, as well as Zeppelin's last Seattle show at the same venue. I saw Cheap Trick, Ted Nugent, KISS, and countless others at the now defunct Coliseum (now KeyArena). When punk rock hit Seattle, I started my indoctrination in what good local music was all about, as well as hearing touring national and international bands. From the Cheaters and Telepaths to the Avengers, Black Flag, DOA, and X, the '70s seemed to have it all. Will we ever see another decade quite like the '70s? It's hard to say, but one thing is for sure . . . I am going to continue our discussions from the last few weeks and put up another of my lists. This time, however, it will be centered around the great decade of the '70s.
As I have stated prior to previous lists: This is by no means my be-all, end-all list--just a conversation starter.
ABBA, ABBA (Greatest Hits): Anyone who is or has been a songwriter will surely testify to the song-craftsmanship that makes up the basis of ABBA. Golden and blissful sounds of the '70s.
Motörhead, Ace of Spades: When these guys first hit the scene late in the decade, hardcore rock fans finally found a safe place that would shepherd them through the confusion found a few years later in the rock '80s (except for GN'R . . . of course!).
ZZ Top, Tres Hombres: Kick-ass American blues from down Texas way. Yeah, I know that I've pimped these guys a lot lately . . . but I really can't say enough about just how great they were and are.
Led Zeppelin, anything: These guys put a soundtrack to my life not only in the '70s, but also now and again to my life now. Seeing these guys at the Kingdome was definitely one of the true rock moments that I have drawn upon in my professional life. I couldn't possibly say enough about the rhythm section of John Paul Jones and John Bonham. Shit, man, when Bonham's drum solo started, I smoked a joint, went to the hot dog line, waited in the line, got my hot dog, came back to my seat, and ATE my hot dog, and Bonham was STILL doing his drum solo! Perhaps not as eloquent as a picture as I was trying to portray here, but funny nonetheless!
Aerosmith, Rocks, Draw the Line, Toys in the Attic, et al.: I remember looking through an Encyclopedia Britannica back in '73 or so, and seeing that Aerosmith was America's answer to the Rolling Stones. Maybe this was an over-simplistic explanation of who they were at the time, but it certainly got me into what was to become a fascination with early Aerosmith.
Thin Lizzy, Dedication (The Very Best of Thin Lizzy): Oh, Rosalie! I really, really love this band. A couple of years ago when I was in Dublin on tour with VR, I stumbled out of my hotel one morning in search of some coffee. As I took a sleepy turn to my left, I ran smack into a life-size bronze statue of singer Phil Lynott. When I got back to the hotel lobby, the desk manager asked me if I saw the statue of "de goy prom Tin Lizzy?" Indeed I had.
Bad Company/Free, anything: Paul Rodgers sang his first Free song at the age of 16, I just found out the other day. 16! Both these bands should be a staple in anyone's CD collection.
Badfinger, anything: A magical band with a tragic ending. Some say that Badfinger was cursed, others say the Beatles wrote their songs for them. Whatever . . . they were really great.
The Sweet, anything: "Desolation Boulevard" and "Action" are the blueprint of rock fantasy.
Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks: A record that changed the way we all thought about rock music.
The Clash, The Clash: A band for the people, by the people. This band took the mystery and untouchable-ness out of the equation for fans like me.
The Ramones, anything: Do I really have to say anything at all?
Prince, Prince: The end of the '70s gave reign to a new king, and his name was Prince Rogers Nelson. Once in a while, a true musical visionary is born.
AC/DC, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap: Along with the Saints and Radio Birdman, AC/DC kicked our asses from all the way Down Under!
The Germs, (GI): After the Pistols, the Germs took punk music to another level and hardcore was born.
Earth, Wind and Fire, anything: Another band that really gave the '70s a soundtrack.
KISS, Alive!: She's a Capricorn and I'm a Cancer!
Cheap Trick, Cheap Trick at Budokan: Maybe the best live record ever.
Ted Nugent, Ted Nugent: Actually the ONLY Terrible Ted record I own, and it's a classic, if you ask me.
OK, so these are just a few of my favorites. As we've done in the past few weeks, please write in with comments or additions.