As a musician, it is just as important to listen to music as it is to play it. It’s the same as being an author or any type of writer. As Stephen King once said, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” Now obviously it is slightly different, but honestly, there are no two ways about it, if you don’t listen to music a lot then what is the point of being a musician in the first place? The albums and artists I am about to talk about are the ones who have shaped me the most throughout my life, some of these are straight from childhood, and others are from later life and actually directly tied into making me realise the type of music I want to make with my own band.
Again, these are some of many choices out there for music lovers, I’m also going to attempt to keep this to one album per artist but in some cases, it just hasn’t been possible I’m afraid. I am also adding in the year each of these albums was released, as some of them have been in the game for a while and I know some people will think they peaked after a certain point in their careers and I really just want to hammer home that isn’t the case at all.
Now let’s talk about some music and albums that will shape your life.
10. Along Came A Spider – Alice Cooper (2008)
This was the first album I had ever brought with my own money. My mum showed me Alice Cooper when I was 4 and I had her old copy of his greatest hits album but that was about as far as my knowledge of him at that point would have gone. In 2008, a 7-year-old me had his mind blown when on a family trip to HMV I noticed the voice playing through the PA sounded very familiar, and I noticed a shelf full of the new album from Coop himself. I couldn’t believe he had more songs than the 20 or so I had already heard, remember at 7 years old I didn’t have a lot of concept of what an album was, and that was me honestly.
I bought the CD (which I still have to this day) with my pocket money and think from the moment I got back into my Dad’s car the thing got played religiously, and to this day is still probably my favourite Alice Cooper album. Keep in mind this is the latter half of Coop’s career, and in my opinion, it is about as good as any of his big hits. I’d soon find out a few years later that it is actually a concept album about a serial killer, which in all honesty made me love it even more haha!
9. Beyond The Valley Of The Murderdolls – Murderdolls (2002)
So, young me had just been shown Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson (the holy trinity of shock rock as I like to call them, more on them later). Whilst playing with either WWE or some form of universal monster toys, I noticed on Scuzz TV a few guys singing a cover of White Wedding by Billy Idol, with a singer who sounded like Alice Cooper and a band who looked like they could play for either Coop, Zombie or Manson and I was immediately hooked.
Once again, Mother dearest came to the rescue and happened to have a copy of their debut album, Beyond The Valley Of The Murderdolls and I had found myself another band to fall in love with from the looks of it. It only lengthened when I discovered the video for Dead In Hollywood which features Marilyn Manson and then shortly after finding out that the guitarist was Joey Jordison, who was also the drummer for slipknot at the time. This music was simple, effective and straight for the throat, to say it blew my mind would be an understatement.
8. Skeletons – Wednesday 13 (2008)
Keeping it close to the Murderdolls family, I also learnt shortly after discovering that frontman Wednesday 13 had his own solo project of the same name. My introduction to him I believe was when I realised a lot of the songs Murderdolls were playing were reworked versions of songs from Wednesday’s old band, Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13, however, my first full album experience with him would have been 2008s Skeletons. This album at the time was just everything I wanted in music. Fun hard rock that flowed extremely well and had enough of that Alice Cooper vibe that I wanted to hear. In my opinion, the production side of things is the only downfall this album has, and is why it is so underrated. I honestly think if he remastered, or even re-recorded it with a modern production it would be regarded as one of his best albums.
7. Hellbilly Deluxe 2 – Rob Zombie (2010)
Criminally underrated album. In fact, if this album had a different name and not billed as a follow-up to Mr Zombie’s extremely successful Hellbilly Deluxe, it would have been better received by the fans. Honestly, though, this album has so many god-tier Zombie songs!! I don’t know how you wouldn’t like it if you are a fan of Zombie’s other work. There is honestly nothing you shouldn’t like here. Songs like Sick Bubblegum, Jesus Frankenstein and Mars Needs Women are just all Rob Zombie at his finest. Seriously, if you haven’t heard about this hidden gem then go check it out, it is 100% worth your time.
6. American Idiot – Green Day (2004)
I’m sure this album has influenced every musician my age in some way shape or form. I’m actually not too sure what to say because the album is just that huge and for me, it was one of the ones I always listened to. I remember seeing the video for American Idiot on Kerrang TV, then I just seemed to know all sorts of Green Day songs. I think if you regularly had Kerrang on they were a hard band to avoid as they never seemed to be off of it. I actually think I could probably act in the Basket Case video. Green Day are the first band I have ever seen live, so they will always hold a special place in my heart and I’ll always love them. Simply put, listen to Green Day.
5. We Are Chaos – Marilyn Manson (2020)
As far as I am aware, this is the most recent album on here.I have been a fan of Manson since I can remember (regardless of whatever controversies may follow him). I would probably name him as the biggest influence on my own band, E.B & The Deadlights, as would quite a few other people. Now, the reason this album resonates so much with me is because 1) it is brilliant and 2) I’m not one who would like to be typecast into one genre of music.
When Deadlights started, I knew rightly due to a dark image and a song or two which contained screaming we would be shoehorned into being a metal band regardless of the type of songs we were putting out, as unfortunately some people just think like that. Now, for some reason it never clicked to me that my own favourite artists didn’t really care much about what genre they were going to be labelled into, they just did their own thing and We Are Chaos is the album I kept coming back to. Honestly, it is one of those albums I will put on with the intention of just listening to one track then end up listening to the whole thing from start to finish. It is a masterpiece and up there with Antichrist Superstar in every way.
4. Welcome To My Nightmare – Alice Cooper (1975)
I did say there’d be a few recurring artists appearing here. This album is a masterpiece in every sense of the word. You have basically taken rock n roll and broadway together and made one unstoppable Frankenstein’s monster out of them. It has horror, it has love, it has drama and a boatload of theatrics and too many genres to mention.
Alice Cooper is underrated in how much trailblazing he has done for the music world. I know everyone says Black Sabbath started metal (and I agree to an extent), but take a song like The Black Widow and imagine how heavy that must have been back in 1975. No one would have heard anything like it. This album and Alice Cooper, in general, deserve much more praise for all he has done in and for music, because no one else has or ever will again have a career as Coop does.
3. Mechanical Animals – Marilyn Manson (1998)
So, Manson releases Antichrist Superstar, practically becomes public enemy no.1 and one of the biggest stars of the 90s and was more or less considered a metal act, which he was but he wasn’t if you get me. But for talks sake let’s just say yes he was a metal artist. So what did he do? Write an album that was incredibly different from the previous ones he had done, including the one that had made him a star and just went full on Ziggy Stardust in all honesty, and boy did it work.
The album for me as far as classic Manson goes is probably my favourite. I am a man who is not a big fan of long albums, but this one gets the exception. This hour-long masterpiece tackles the trappings of fame and drug abuse, something Manson himself was probably dealing with, and contains some of his biggest songs, such as The Dope Show, Rock Is Dead and Coma White. I think if you ask ten Marilyn Manson fans what their favourite album of his is, at least seven of them would pick Mechanical Animals.
2. Bat Out Of Hell – Meat Loaf (1977)
Bit of a curve ball maybe if you’ve read the rest of this list. As I’ve said before in previous articles, when I was younger for every Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson song that was played there would be a Beach Boys or Prince song that followed, so it wasn’t all shock rock for me. Meat Loaf is still a theatrical rocker so it isn’t too far from home. Honestly, if you don’t like this album don’t worry, it’s ok to be wrong sometimes. My number one recently dethroned this in what is the best album ever written in my opinion, but honestly, I am still torn at times.
This album has everything from epic rock classics to beautifully soul-destroying ballads, this album has a song for everyone. Meat and Jim Steinman both wrote some very good music when they weren’t working together, but together they were just about untouchable, Bat Out Of Hell is without a doubt one of the best (if not the best) albums ever written. It is an album every person on God’s green earth should hear at least once, and may both Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman rest in peace.
1. Sex, Death & The Infinite Void – Creeper (2020)
Another recent one, and honestly it surprises me sometimes how much I love both this album and band. Creeper is a band most people reading this list probably haven’t heard of, but they have released an absolute modern masterpiece in Sex, Death & The Infinite Void. This band have literally just tossed genre out the window, and after five years of releasing three eps and one album which at heart were punk rock releases, the band decided to completely tear down their musical and visual house and rebuild.
What they have landed on is an all-out rock n roll fest with sprinkles of brit pop and too many other genres to name. For me, this album widely opened my eyes when it came to making music and made me realise that just because you have released one album with one primary sound it doesn’t mean that you need to stick to that one sound for your entire band’s discography. This album has gotten me through quite a bit in the last few years, both creatively and personally, and I would say that having just toured with the likes of Alice Cooper and The Cult if you currently have not heard of Creeper as of now you will have very soon.