The first article in this series is here.
6. 52 Street– Billy Joel (1978)
Doesn’t every great story start with a girl? In the fall of 1978 a friend came up to me at school and asked me if I liked Billy Joel. I didn’t even know who he was. My friend went on to tell me there was a girl in the grade ahead of me who wanted me to go to his concert with her. Back in my day, girls didn’t just up and ask boys out (would have made life easier if they had). At that point I couldn’t have cared if Billy Joel was a harp player. All I knew was a super cute redheaded girl who was older than me wanted to go on a date. I was unprepared for what was about to transpire, the 52nd Street tour rolled into Maple Leaf Gardens and blew my mind. My fading memory tells me that Billy Joel played 7 encores and came out for one final song all by himself and remarked, “don’t you ever fucking sleep Toronto,” which was met with thunderous applause as he kicked into Angry Young Man . What an unbelievable showman. The next day I bought his entire back catalogue.I was so excited by the experience, I wanted to be able to relive it over and over again. Thank you to that little red haired girl for having the courage to get someone to ask me out.
7. Destroyer – Kiss (1976)
Kiss was another one of those bands like AC/DC who just sold me on the first listen. This was just a kick ass rock and roll record. Shout It Out Loud and Detroit Rock City are still two of my favourite Kiss songs of all time. I wonder if my early love of Detroit Rock City spawned my lifelong affection for the Detroit Tigers. Many years later I was giving a talk to some high school aged kids and I asked an old friend, Paul Jenkins, to be a guest speaker. His opening remark was “I was thinking last night about when I met Todd; it was in 1976 on a bus headed for Maple Leaf Gardens to see at a KISS concert” Some kid pipes up: “I was like, three.” This album was also my first exposure to a creation by Canadian producer Bob Ezrin–but more on that later.
8. The Wall – Pink Floyd (1979)
I can’t imagine a greater concept album…EVER! When this record came out I spent every Friday and Saturday night for months lying on the floor of a friend’s bedroom (cause we could smoke in his house) chemically altering our brains, sipping Colt 45 beer, just listening over and over again to this record. About a year ago my business partner introduced me to Bob Ezrin (producer) and it was all I could do to contain myself from gushing, “OMFG! You’re BOB EZRIN you produced some of the biggest albums of my life!” So if you are reading this, Bob, thank you for your contribution to all of our musical lives.
9. London Calling – The Clash (1979)
Bands like 999, The Beat and The Sex Pistols already had me leaning to the new wave / punk scene. I don’t know what I can say that hasn’t already been said. One of the greatest records of all time…a pivotal band for the time. Like it is with all the great bands, you just get it. They put it out there and you felt it. I still remember a show at Exhibition Stadium in the early 80’s with Black Uhuru that blew my mind.
When you watch this clip…just watch the crowd when the music starts…..they had IT!
That riff, that riff… that stick in your head riff for Rebel Rebel…..that track, from this record, sent me into a world of exploration. David Bowie had such a mystique about him. He was a king of re-invention and I am happy to have seen him live the day before I left for University. Sept 3, 1983 at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto (approximately where BMO field now stands). Tickets were something like $50, which was outrageous for the time, but I would have paid triple to see him play that show.
To close, here are some honourable mentions– because it was hard to choose only ten!
- The Who – Who’s Next (1971)
- Outlandos d’Amour – The Police (1978)
- Van Halen – Van Halen (1978)
- Look Sharp – Joe Jackon (1979)
- Teenage Head – Teenage Head (1979)
- Nebraska – Bruce Springsteen (1982)
- What’s your top 10? I would love to hear it. Comment below, or get in touch with me (@toddamus) or @MrZouch on Twitter to let me know!