Records are an important part of our daily lives here at AYC Media. We frequently make lunch trips to Main Street Music, and our eyes are firmly fixed on rare Discogs finds in our spare time. We tend to play around 10 to 12 records each day. Some are good, while others a really, really bad.
To round out the year, we've listed each of our favorite albums below (listed in no particular order, of course).
Guns-N-Roses, “Appetite for Destruction”
The first time I saw the “Welcome to the Jungle” video, it blew my mind. I remember asking myself, ”What the hell is going on?” The song and album turned me towards heavy side of rock and away from the light, hair band sound. I begged for the album as a kid and, finally, when I got it, I played it religiously over and over. This is the first album I think I ever had that I could listen to from front to back and truly loved every song on it. It got better and better with every play. And it really is just as BAD ASS an album you can get–a classic piece of rock history that will live on forever.
Pink Floyd, “The Wall”
Although any song on this album arguably stands alone, this is one of the few records that I start on track one and won’t stop until the last note of “Outside the Wall” has played.
Aside from the emotional journey experienced throughout the album, I enjoy the metaphorical symbolism of walling yourself off from the outside word, looking inward at oneself and one’s actions, and ultimately learning how to break through the barriers you have created. It forces me to remember where I am on my road by not taking success for granted without taking a moment to remember where I started and where I hope to be.
I currently own six copies of this album ranging from CDs and MP3s to two copies on vinyl and the DVD. "The Wall" ranks as one of my all-time top records and has had an influence on me from early on, through today, and will continue to as I travel along my future path.
Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys “In Concert”
I first heard this album while visiting a friend in Austin, Texas. I was never one for country music, and I had never even heard of Texas swing music before, but, for some reason, the setting and sounds all of the sudden clicked for me. There's something about the tempo and laid back vibe of the music that just puts me at ease. The album is perfect for pretty much any scenario, too. It doesn't matter if you're cooking, hanging with friends or working–Bob Wills really creates an relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere.
Christopher Cross, “Another Page”
Of all the great albums out there, I would have to say Christopher Cross’ “Another Page" has left the greatest impression on me. The smooth melodies and touching lyrics make me feel like I’m on a yacht during the summertime. I can simply put on this record and work the day away knowing that everything is “All Right.”
Electric Light Orchestra, “Best Of…”
I've just always really liked ELO. I've always thought that they were incredibly interesting, and the incorporation of an orchestra with 70s rock just floored me since I've first heard them. Most of their songs are happy-go-lucky, and they're just classic songs in that era. I also thought it was interesting that, according to Wikipedia, the band holds the record for having the most Billboard Hot 100 Top 40 hits (20) of any group in US chart history without ever having a number one single.
Marillion, “Best. Live”
Marillion’s “Best.Live” is a compiliation of live performances by the British Progressive band Marillion. Largely unknown in North America outside of one single from their third album in 1983, Marillion has been around since the late 70s and has 17 studio albums to their credit (and one on the way!). They're also notable as the first band to crowdfund a record, securing funds for a tour and recording advances purely through internet preorders for a string of records starting in the late 1990s, setting a precedent that is commonplace today with the help of sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter.
I picked up my first copy of “Best.Live” when they swung through Philadelphia in 2012 on a rare North American tour. At that point, I'd just started to get into them, and this album is filled with a songs spanning nearly their entire career, so it was a great vehicle to jump into all of their four decades. I'm not normally a fan of live music unless I'm actually in the audience, but this album showcases just how effective Marillion is at working a crowd, and it's produced to not allow the audience to get in the way of the music. It's a thick stack of music-4 LPs–and in traditional Prog style, there's one song that takes up an entire side.
Kopecky Family Band, “Kids Raising Kids”
I remember the first time seeing them live. They took the crowd by storm with their energy and passion for the music. Not long after this, we became friends, and I feel lucky to spend time with them each time they come to town. This album is my go-to in the office.
Bruce Springsteen, “Darkness on the Edge of Town”
In contrast to his previous record “Born to Run,” which favored trying to escape a small town, “Darkness…” focuses on the characters who stayed and how their lives unfolded.
The songs “Racing in the Street” and “Factory’” share dreams that were never realized, offering a beautifully sad look into the narrative of folks like Springsteen's father (himself a factory worker) in New Jersey in the 1960s and 1970s.
Despite the fact they written 37 years ago, these songs continue to be relevant to basic American hardships in 2014.
Destiny’s Child, “8 Days of Christmas”
This album really kicks and is my favorite to listen to during the holidays. It’s also my favorite to listen to all year round.