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(in no particular order)
If not the greatest, then certainly one of the greatest, concept albums of all time. The first time I heard this, I thought "This should be a movie." And then it was. And then I realized maybe it shouldn't be. Still sounds great after all these years.

KISS "Alive"
With all the mega-merchandising going on around this band these days, it's easy to forget that once they rocked with the best of them. "Alive!" is a powerful document of bombastic hard rock.

I first heard "Beat on the Brat" on the Dr. Demento radio show and thought that it was a better rock tune than a novelty piece. Listening to the rest of the album proved I was right. The Ramones set a standard that is still being followed.

ZZ TOP "Eliminator"
Terrific blend of guitar blues/rock and pop music. ZZ Top proved that Top 40 rock didn't have to be soft and sucky.

Yeah, I'd heard "Ace of Spades" and "Killed By Death" before - but I didn't realize how truly great Motorhead was until this album. From this point on, I was a Motorhead freak. This was the record that turned me but "Overnight Sensation" is still my favorite.

Before Pink Floyd did "The Wall," Alice offered this dark, campy concept album about a trip to hell. Yeah, "Welcome to My Nightmare" was first, but this one - with the green Alice on the cover - caught my eye...and ears.

DEEP PURPLE "Machine Head"
The very first rock album I ever bought and - to this day - one of my favorites. I bought it because it had "Smoke on the Water" on it but every song, including the classic "Highway Star" is nothing short of incredible. The import disc with the original solos and mixes is a must have.

METALLICA "Black Album"
It may be fashionable to say that the "Black Album" was where Metallica changed and "sold out." I don't give a shit. This album still kicks ass after being played three hundred and seventy billion times across the radio waves of the world. And I like "Load" and "Unload" too! So there!

DEVO "Duty Now for the Future"
About as far from a hard rock album as you can get, DEVO's second album was a triumphant experiment that blended the best of what was then called "New Wave" with slick rock. Daring, strangely hip and definitely unique, DEVO never bested this record, despite the fact that their next album, "Freedom of Choice" brought them their fame.

FEAR "The Record"
I hated this album the first time I heard it. I remember thinking, "Jesus, these guys are sick!. Later, I realized that's what made this record great. Fear proved that boundaries don't belong in art. Or punk rock.

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1) ALICE COOPER "Welcome To My Nightmare"
I was in the 7th grade in northern Michigan when the Principal of our school allowed the 8th graders to play music (on vinyl, of course) during lunch. That was the first time I heard tunes like "Department Of Youth," "Devil's Food,"
"Cold Ethel," and, of course, "Welcome To My Nightmare." I have been a major Alice Cooper fan ever since. This is one of only two recordings I have owned in all three of the most popular formats (vinyl, cassette tape and CD). The other one is listed below. I am married now with a wife and kids and whenever life's pressures get me down, I pop "Nightmare" in my stereo and it always works. It's magic and makes me fell better.

2) AC/DC "Black In Black"
The year was 1980, Y2K doesn't exist in the American vocabulary and Bon Scott is dead, leaving AC/DC with no lead singer. In walks Brian Johnson and "Black In Black" hits the music scene. I was totally taken from the first time I heard this record (on vinyl again). It was unlike anything I had heard before. Loud, hard, driving, with screaming vocals and a shitload of attitude - I was in musical bliss. I think the best part of "Back In Black" is its total disregard for the morals of the day and the sheer audacity of songs like "What Do You Do For Money Honey," "Giving The Dog A Bone," "Let Me Put My Love Into You Babe" and the rock anthems like "Back In Black" and "Rock'n'Roll Ain't Noise Pollution." This is the other recording I mentioned above that I have owned in all three formats. "Back In Black" still fucking rocks and I crank it as loud as I did 20 years ago.

3) VAN HALEN - Self-Titled Debut
Eddie, Alex, Mike and Dave hit the ground running with their debut release and the rock music scene has never been the same. Eddie Van Halen is heralded as the premiere rock guitarist of his day and for good reason. David Lee Roth is screaming his head off throughout, Mike Anthony and Alex Van Halen round out this very powerful quartet . The band's debut release showed a side of rock that was to become the musical standard for decades to come. This recording is as alive and vibrant as it was when it first hit the stores.

The first true live recording that I truly got into. Very powerful rock and roll combined with Bob's special live talents makes this recording something special and, let me tell you, I've seem Bob Seger live twice and each time he blew the roof off the 17,000+ arena. "Turn The Page" rules!!

5) ZZ TOP "La Grange"
Simple good time music that is hard to resist. I learned to play the bass on two or three of these tunes, but, honestly, anyone could. I really sucked at the bass and have long since given it up. This recording holds a special place in my heart and remains my favorite ZZ Top album.

6) AEROSMITH "Toys In The Attic"
Aerosmith in their heyday, on top of the world and selling out venues around the world, released this power=packed collection of hard rock tunes that should go down as the very best of Aerosmith and still stands as my favorite of one bitchin' band.

7) KISS "Alive!"
What can I say about Kiss "Alive"? It is possibly the best live recording ever made. The tunes on this album have stood the test of time and "Alive" remains at the top of my personal listening rotation. At the time "Alive" was released, Kiss stood for everything rebellious that a teen age boy could want in music. And my parents hated the whole look and loud noise so that just added fuel to the fire. Too bad the band sucks now.

8) RUSH "2112"
This is the first concept album I got into. The story just kind of grabs you and keeps it coming through out. Also Rush rocked the fucking house with this one. No bullshit, no hype, just killer rock'n'roll.

This is my experience with techno rock and I found the experience enlightening. The recording opened my eyes to a whole new sound that I found impossible to resist then and is still irresistible to this day. Other recordings by the Alan Parsons Project are nearly as good as this one, but none compare to "I Robot."

10) REO SPEEDWAGON "You Get What You Play For"
This was the first concert I ever saw and let me tell you in 1977 REO Speedwagon rocked my world and changed forever the way I listen to rock'n'roll music. The whole experience really gave me a hunger for live rock shows that is still prevalent in my life today. Whenever I want to experience it again, I slip the CD into the player and give it a listen; however, the CD version does not have a guitar solo by Gary Richrath that is out of this world. Luckily, I have the cassette as well and can enjoy it whenever I want.

christopher.gif (4523 bytes)I started listening to music in earnest when I was about 9 years old.   Unfortunately, I was listening to all the stuff that basically ended up on K-Tel Records. If you've just read this and lost your lunch, I don't blame you (however, you've got to admit, the late '70s was one hell of a time to be a pre-teen). But K-Tel Records only showcased hit songs played to death on the radio; the point of this article is to briefly discuss the albums that changed my views on music.

Basically, there were four albums that changed my approach to music.  These following four albums set me forth on the path that I still take - a path of discovery and enjoyment in the musical realm.

Call it corporate rock or whatever you want, but this is great stuff. Who could resist the air-guitar inducing "Juke Box Hero" or the monster power-ballad "Waiting For A Girl Like You"? Lou Gramm and Mick Jones were one helluva song-writing team.

JOURNEY "Escape"
Yep, more corporate rock, but there is no denying the strength of this album from beginning to end. Solid songs, great hooks, disciplined playing from Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain as well as one of the greatest voices in recorded music history, Steve Perry. It was nice to hear that a band with lots of middle of the road pop could really rock out when they wanted to like they did on "Keep On Runnin'".

STYX "Paradise Theater"
Arena rock without a doubt, but they certainly shaped my approach to music. This album also brought to my attention the notion of concept albums. It was also nice to see this very popular band have a member of the band who could really rock out - the James Young-penned "Half Penny, Two Penny" was a great rockin' tune.

This blues-based traditional Midwestern rock 'n' roll made a huge impression on me.   After the smash hits of "Still The Same" and "Against The Wind" I finally got a good picture of the breadth and variety of Seger's work with this double live album. From the classic "Old Time Rock N Roll" to the bombastic "Let It Rock" this was as satisfying as AOR music got in the late '70s and early '80s.  

However, it is time to focus on those albums that got me into heavier music and really changed my life. Rough Edge is here to recognize the music the made us the fans we are today. As far as heavy metal albums go, it would definitely have to be this solid collection of seven hard rock and heavy metal masterpieces.

AC/DC's "Highway To Hell"
What can I say, this album was killer. In retrospect, it was kind of sad to see Bon Scott reduce his vocals in a more accessible, radio-friendly manner for this album, but I loved the songs and the attitude. There was always something sinister about liking AC/DC due to their (undeserved, I might add) bad reputation. It doesn't hurt that the first song I played in a band was "Highway To Hell".

DEEP PURPLE "Made In Japan"
My uncle let me borrow his vinyl copy of "Made In Japan" and I listened to it from morning to night every day one summer. As I was listening to this double live album I became very aware of how each instrument sounded in a band. The piercing vocals of Ian Gillan, the artistry of Ritchie Blackmore's guitar work, the solid bass lines of Roger Glover, the vintage '70s sound of Jon Lord's organ, and the simple yet heavy beat of Ian Paice's drums taught me a lot about music in the framework of songs - the dueling leads of Blackmore and Lord were quite an inspiration.

DEF LEPPARD "Pyromania"
This was the album that taught me about 'hype'; at the time this record came out I was very narrowly focused on listening to AC/DC - in fact, I was listening exclusively to AC/DC - no other bands mattered to me. I kept hearing about this band called Def Leppard, but was too close-minded to even listen to the radio to hear them. Luckily, a friend convinced me to listen to "Pyromania." Wow!  Power and melody! The songwriting was excellent, the tunes were catchy, and the production was stellar.

IRON MAIDEN "Piece Of Mind"
I had started reading "Hit Parader" and I couldn't believe the fuss that was being made of the rivalry between Def Leppard and Iron Maiden as part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. I had Def Leppard's "Pyromania" and loved it, but I didn't have "Piece Of Mind" - damn, it felt weird and oddly satisfying to make a leap into enjoying something that was heavier and faster.

RUSH "Moving Pictures"
A friend somehow managed to get "Moving Pictures" for his birthday (on 8-track no less); we must have played this album ten million times, and guess what? I still get chills listening to it now. This album introduced me to the term "virtuoso." It was also the first CD I bought when I got my first CD player.

METALLICA "Master Of Puppets"
Just as buying Iron Maiden was a leap for me at the time, so was "Master of Puppets" - there was something bold and brave about my purchase of this album. It taught me that the best music of the era isn't necessarily on the radio. To this day, this album kicks my ass from beginning to end.

Well, there you have it, the first four albums that got me listening to music in a new light and another six albums that made me the fan I am today. Without the first four albums I may never have listened to the radio in the first place; without the last six albums I may never have continued to listen to heavy music.

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1. MOTLEY CRUE "Too Fast For Love" (1983)
I saw a cute girlie wearing a Motley Crue shirt. I had no idea who they were but I figured I better get the album so this chick might think I'm cool. It didn't work, but I loved the album and it began my transition from complete dork to the stud I am today. The album still rocks too.

2. DEF LEPPARD "Pyromania" (1983)
I was on the golf team at high school (I told you I was a dork). One of the guys on the team played "Photograph" for me. It fucking rocked so I went and bought this album, and found that the whole album was killer. Decided it was time for me to start dressing "metal." Bad choice. Still a very cool album, though Def Leppard is currently one of the worst bands on the planet.

3. THE RAMONES "Rocket to Russia" (1985)
My girlfriend was a punk rocker and she introduced me to what would become my all time favorite band. Every song was 2 minutes long, fast, funny and catchy. Completely original when you consider that what was popular at the time was Lionel Ritchie.

4. THE RAMONES "Pleasant Dreams" (1985)
More of my new favorite band. I was fast leaving metal behind. And discovering I was a punk...and a homo (just kidding, you fuckers!)

5. THE CLASH "The Clash" (1985)
Girlfriend introduced me to The Clash. I discovered that punk songs could be politically motivating and still be awesome. 

6. THE CLASH "London Calling" (1985)
More killer punk, but also cool reggae and shit.

7. THE CURE "Standing on the Beach" (1987)
Discovered that good music didn't always have to be heavy (hey, if our editor can choose Devo I can pick the Cure).

8. SUICIDAL TENDENCIES "Lights Camera Revolution" (1990)
This is THE perfect punk/metal album. As a musician, this album has influenced me like no other. Mike Muir is one pissed mutha.

9. SOCIAL DISTORTION "Social Distortion" (1990)
Second best band of all time. I love everything this band has ever done. As a   musician, it showed me that I could be really pathetic and  still succeed (hehe).  Also love the way Mike Ness puts his thoughts to song.

10. TOOL "Undertow" (1998)
I didn't discover this band until 1998. I had my head up my ass (still do). TOOL saved heavy music after Warrant, Winger and Poison ruined it. All the songs on this CD are perfect: heavy, pissed, intelligent.

paco.gif (2266 bytes)TOOL, "OPIATE"
The most intense rage of any band I have ever heard. Music does not get better than this.

There is not a bad song on this album. I still listen to it all the time and it never grows old.

The lyrics on this album blew me away. I haven't listened to it in a long time, but I still know every word to the title track and most of the others, too.

A very finely crafted, alternative punk album.

This was my introduction to Bad Religion. I've been a die-hard punk ever since.

I was coming home from college late one night and was flipping through radio stations and I just barely picked up a static-filled signal from a distant radio station which was playing the greatest song I had ever heard in my life, "Smells Like Teen Spirit." This album is still in heavy rotation in my CD player.

"I saw your Mommy and your Mommy's dead...." Does music get better than this? I don't think so. I once listened to this tape non-stop for two days straight.

Trent Reznor figured out how the make all the electronics not sound so wussy. Even though it all came out of keyboards, drum machines and computers, this album rocks.

This is one fast, angry album. It is great to listen to on the way home from work.

Listen to this and listen to Hole's new album, "Celebrity Skin." You will swear that they are two totally different bands. On "Pretty," Courtney is one angry little girl and, man, does she have a set of lungs.

james.gif (4113 bytes)BOSTON "Boston"
I have to admit that, growing up, I wasn't much into the hard rock/heavy metal albums that make my ears bleed today. I was more into Motown, classic rock, etc. However, BOSTON's signature debut album, released 1976, was a great start. With such classics as "Rock and Roll Band," "Smokin'," "More than a Feeling" and "Let Me Take You Home Tonight," Boston's multi-guitar driving rock sound was perfect for the late 70's when so much of the world was hooked on such pop disco crap as the Bee Gee's and Donna Summer. Though I wouldn't say it changed my world view or moved my life, BOSTON helped me to get through a troubling time in music history until good friends introduced me to a little known band named KISS.

GEORGE CARLIN "FM & AM" (January 1972)
The very first album I listened to until the tape was worn through to the other side. Though not a rock album, Carlin's comedy was intelligent and hysterical. His classic bits like "Wonderful WINO," "The Hair Poem," "Divorce Game," "Shoot (Shit with two O's)", and "Let's Make A Deal" made me want to listen to it over and over again because I never got tired of laughing at him. Carlin's irreverent humor helped lay the ground work in my psyche for the true master of comedy - Sam Kinison, whose humor would literally change me and my life.

To be honest, I didn't really care for this album when it first came out. But it grows on you. And grows on you. Until you say to yourself  "my god, this is a great album."

7. STYX "A.D. 1928 Rockin' The Paradise"
A great album in the 80s. Some solid, though not hard driving, rock music with some great lyrics. Rockin' the Paradise was one of my favorite party albums. With such hits as Too Much Time On My Hands , The Best of Times , and A.D. 1958 , Rockin' the Paradise set the stage for an even more daring effort, "Kilroy Was Here" and its stellar hit "Mr. Roboto."

6. THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT "Tales of Mystery and Imagination"
Though Mike Meyers pokes fun at The Alan Parsons Project in his latest film AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME, this band was a great concept band in the late 70's and early 80's. And this album defines the Parsons Project to a tee. Based on the poetry and fiction of Edgar Allan Poe, Tales unifies itself through the music as much as it does through the poetry.

5. MEATLOAF "Bat Out of Hell"
With such ballads as "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" and "Paradise by the Dashboard Light," what more is there to say? BAT OUT OF HELL is a rock opera that's music to the soul.

4. EDDIE MONEY "Eddie Money"
"Two Tickets to Paradise" was a great hit. And even though Money's career has had its share of ups and downs, he gives a truly fun concert.

3. BILLY JOEL "The Stranger" and "Greatest Hits Volume I & II"
Billy Joel is truly the troubadour of our generation. His mainstream rock style and lyrics not only speak to the heart ("I Love You Just the Way You Are") tell you a story ("Scenes From An Italian Restaurant") or give you something to rally around ("Only The Good Die Young." "The Stranger" is classic Joel and is the perfect introduction to a discography that is a must in my collection, at least.

2. BEACH BOYS "All Summer Long"
Okay, so it ain't even close to be called hard rock, but the Beach Boys' music was a soundtrack to the innocence that began the 60's in California and they remain rock icons today.

1. SAM KINISON "Have You Seen Me Lately?"
Rough Edge Millenium is about recordings that impacted our lives and here's the one that did it for me. Although this album doesn't have the rock tracks of his later offerings, Kinison's prophetic comedy lead the way to helping me re-evaluate the path I was on (I was languishing in seminary, believe it or not) and be true to myself. Sam's music, though mostly covers of classic hits like "Wild Thing" and "Mississippi Queen," was clean, polished and hard driving rock and roll, much like the life he lived. I'll miss him.

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Copyright 1999 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 31 Jul 2018 23:38:08 -0400.