The best way to celebrate your birthday?

Going to the record store of course! Whenever I think of record stores, I think of the line from Almost Famous:


I got three amazing albums for my birthday. Two I bought for myself – The Moody Blues Days of Future Passed and The Stone Roses 1989 debut album, and the other was a gift – Led Zeppelin II. These are all albums that I would call perfect albums. If you’ve seen my perfect albums list, you’re maybe wondering, what makes an album perfect? All of the albums on that list are perfect in their own way. They’re albums I can listen to from start to finish, or if it’s not a concept album I can listen to it on shuffle. One of my favourite things about albums is how the songs flow together. I want to talk about these albums and why I think they’re perfect and pick some key tracks to listen to on these albums. It’s a difficult choice picking key tracks on a perfect album because sometimes one song, you just can’t have stand alone and it’s gotta have the next track as well playing. It’s common on a classic rock station to hear “We Will Rock You” with “We Are The Champions” playing afterward. Or with Pink Floyd (they’re especially famous for concept albums although they weren’t the first to have one) playing “Speak To Me/Breathe/On The Run” or “Brain Damage/Eclipse” from Dark Side of The Moon. With Santana, when you hear “Black Magic Woman, almost always hear “Gypsy Queen” afterward. With Led Zeppelin you hear “Heartbreaker” and then “Living Loving Maid”. Those two songs were on Led Zeppelin II, so let’s talk about Led Zeppelin II.

Led Zeppelin II, as you can see is the second album released by Led Zeppelin. Led Zeppelin released two albums in 1969, nine months apart. In my opinion Led Zeppelin II was better than Led Zeppelin I, but both albums are brilliant. Led Zeppelin II has an iconic cover. I like the font they used and the colour scheme is pretty awesome. Fitting to the zeppelin theme, which was a name given to the band by Keith Moon when Jimmy Page approached him to form a supergroup, right around the time Beck’s Bolero was recorded, the idea for the album cover was inspired by a WWI photograph of a squadron in front of a plane. One advertising campaign said “Led Zeppelin – The only way to fly”. They really proved that slogan with this album. Here’s a picture of the ad on Led Zeppelin’s website. That’s enough talk about the looks of the album, because this is really supposed to be about the music. The album starts off strongly, which is a characteristic that is important for a perfect album. You gotta get the listener interested and wanting to hear the rest of the album. “Whole Lotta Love” is one of the best known Led Zeppelin songs. It was a great version of “You Need Love”. Another great version from the 60s to check out is The Small Faces version, love Steve Marriott’s voice. My favourite blues version is Muddy Waters version. The album has a blues influence throughout. “The Lemon Song” was actually a re-working of “Killing Floor”, a blues song loved by many classic rock bands. “Bring It On Home” was a Willie Dixon cover. While Led Zeppelin unfortunately ripped off blues musicians and it definitely was not right to do that, they do great versions of these songs. The strongest tracks on the album besides “Whole Lotta Love” are “Hearbreaker/Living Loving Maid”, “Ramble On”, and “Moby Dick”.

The Moody Blues were a band that changed in sound a lot over the years. In the mid 60s they had more of a British Invasion sound, but by 1967 that changed and they had some early prog elements in their music. Their record label suggested they do a classical album based on Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, but instead Days of Future Passed came to be. I highly recommend Days of Future Passed. I really could see Disney doing a movie a lot like Fantasia using this music. I’m a huge Disney fan by the way and this album is very Disney like in a good way. It’s classical music for those who don’t like classical music, since it’s modernised and has elements of rock music in it. It even has a bit of a trippy sound to it. The album is a concept album about a typical working day and you can see it in the song titles like “The Day Begins”, “The Morning”, “Lunch Break”, and “Evening”. This album was especially famous for the song “Nights In White Satin”. The narration sounds cool and I love how the songs flow together. A unifying theme and songs that segue into each other is an important part of a concept album. This album definitely was influential and important to the progressive rock subgenre. Before Jon Lord’s Gemini Suite, Electric Light Orchestra forming, and Rick Wakeman’s Six Wives of Henry The VIII, there was this album. This is an album you need to listen to from start to finish for the best experience, however, “Tuesday Afternoon” is still great to listen to alone.

I’m not the biggest fan of 80s music (my favourite decades in music are easily the 60s and 70s), but the 80s definitely had great things about it and I like some 80s music and I can see that the decade had its share of influential music. The 80s had a variety of music, a little something for everyone from ska to synthpop to metal to dance music. Madchester began in the 80s and inspired the 90s Britpop subgenre. Madchester was a subgenre of rock that took influences from psychedelic music, electronic dance music, and punk rock. The Stone Roses formed in Manchester in 1983. They were founded by singer Ian Brown and guitarist John Squire. Ian Brown loved punk music and Northern Soul. John Squire loved punk music. Later on Mani and Reni joined the band. Reni was inspired by dance music. They released their first single in 1985 called “So Young”, but it was not successful. After that they released singles “Sally Cinnamon” in 1987 and “Elephant Stone” in 1988, both excellent songs. In 1989, The Stone Roses was released. This is my favourite album of the 80s. The Jackson Pollock inspired album cover was designed by John Squire. It starts off with the hit “I Wanna Be Adored” and finishes beautifully with “I Am The Resurrection”. My other favourite tracks on this album are “She Bangs The Drums”, “Waterfall”, and “Bye Bye Badman”. The album has influences from 60s and 70s rock and sounds ahead of its time. It still sounds fresh today. NME ranked it as the best British album of all time. It’s definitely worth a listen.

I hope to make posts later on about the different influences of classic rock. This is a little preview of what I want to do with this. I want to talk about the diversity of influences since many genres of music have shaped classic rock and made it what we know it as today.