15 Aug Pat’s Top 40 Before 40: The Full List
31. Frank Zappa – Hot Rats (1969)
The jazz inspired aspects of this record stand out for me, but it is in many ways an outlier in the Zappa catalogue. It’s not his funniest or most musically dangerous record. And yet it’s my favourite. It unites a post-bebop language with advanced forms and electric instruments. In grade 9, when learning the first four chords to “Teen Spirit” was a major accomplishment, this music opened my mind to a larger, more dangerous world.
Trimmed Naval Beef covered “Willie The Pimp” often. If we ever meet, I encourage you to ask me about the bizarre disaster that occured when I played this tune in Stephenville in April 2005. It is not fit for the internet but Zappa would’ve loved it.
32. James Brown – Star Time (1956-1984)
Once I was a part of a James Brown tribute show that sadly never came to be. The band leader supplied us with tapes from this boxed set. For about a year, it was all I listened to. That reminds me of the power of cassettes. They force you to listen to the whole thing. Yes, you can fast forward but truly it’s easier to engage the sound around you in the moment.
This is music that is best considered as feeling first. It just happens to be music. But that which is contained in this phenomena transcends the sound itself. It is not the sound of resistance, courage, and togetherness. It IS all of those things.
33. Jimi Hendrix – Smash Hits (1968)
The first band I was ever in was with Jimmy Rose (guitar/vocals) and Dave Lindahl (drums). I didn’t own a bass at the time and was one of the early borrowers of Steve Power’s blue Maya. This bass weighed about 25 pounds. It was extremely difficult to play. It didn’t sound particularly good, but I adored it. I wonder where she is now.
I also didn’t own an amp. Jim’s dad had some type of radio with a quarter inch input that sufficed until I got a Randall combo amp, which to this day is the cleanest, nicest amp I own.
If memory serves, we practiced a lot. Certainly every other weekend and possibily more frequently than that. Dave had a floor tom from the depths of hell. It sounded like your last thoughts before the gulliotine. Jim had a BC Rich Warlock likely going into a Peavey product. We didn’t have a name (yet) but we enjoyed playing music we enjoyed.
Jim lent many tapes and CDs, including a Cream Greatest Hits that nearly made this list. But it was the sound, audacity, fearlessness, and commitment of Hendrix that stimulated me the most. Hendrix, Miles and Coltrane occupy a special place in my listening diet. Every few months I nourish myself with just their sounds, each time reminded of the smell of smoke and ashes in my basement with Dave and Jim. If it were ever possible for us to gather again and play, I would love that.
34. Doula – In The Garden (1999)
This is the album that inspired this entire list. This one is way up there. Doula (and Maza Meze) performed at Sound Symposium in 1998. They let me sit with them, right in the middle of their ensemble, during a workshop. Just sitting right in the line of fire, not playing, just listening. I was transported. It was one of the first times “Music” and “Kindness” were directly connected. They just wanted to share. My cassette copy of this record is toast, so I found this on eBay. My eternal thanks to Roula, Maryem, Deb, Ernie, and John too for teaching me an important lesson very early on…to never hold onto the music so tight that it’s all to yourself.
35. Joe Pass – Virtuoso (1973)
This was brought to my attention by my guitar teacher Gary Davis. Complete command of the instrument and language. This is the kind of guitar playing I enjoy the most. Maybe it’s an only child thing but I appreciate how versatile and independent the instrument is.
I had a regular solo guitar gig at a pizza restaurant on George Street in St. John’s for 2 years. It paid $75 and I got one pizza. Other than the constant dither of getting paid (another early lesson in dealing with club owners who have their plates too full) I loved that gig. I got paid to do what I want to an appreciative audience. Much of what I attempted was inspired by this record.
36. Keith Jarrett – Survivors’ Suite (1977)
While this unscientific tabulation of records that have influenced me the most is not in chronological order, this one ought to be ranked highly. It contains some of my most favourite music on record, specificallyfrom 12:40 till 18:40.
This band changed my life. I didn’t know humans could do this. I think it has probably influenced everything I’ve ever done. It’s a level of commitment and originality, on par with my respect of Ornette, that is ceaselessly fascinating.
37. Bill Frisell – Gone, Just Like A Train (1998)
Not my most favourite Frisell record, but the first one I had and extremely influential.
Frisell is a painter with sound. These miniatures were all I listened to for a very long time. I note that I’ve made similar statements in the creation of this list, but they are all true. I use streaming services and make playlists and enjoy the freedom the technology provides. But I am convinced that the creation of an encyclopedic musical mind – a storehouse of possible and connectable sounds – is only manifest with consistent, thorough listening to the point of addicition.
Bill Frisell was at Banff May 27, 2004 and I had the rare and wonderful chance to play with him in a club setting alongside some insanely talented Jazz Workshop participants. We played a piece of mine called Fresh Duds that ended up on my first record. He was kind, graceful, and needless to say he entirely nailed it.
38. Blind Willie Johnson – Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground (1927)
The Voyager Golden Record might be the only aspect of humanity that exists if a sun storm wipes out the Cloud and takes all of our information with it. When I first moved to Victoria, which is less a city and more like grade 9 for adults, I took immense solace in this tune. I play it for students all the time and even did a presentation on the recording at Open Space a few years back.
If humanity was indeed wiped out and this would be one of the few pieces to exist in our absence, I would be ok with that. This is music, for me like a Pollack or videos of wild deep sea life, that stops time and makes me wonder if it’s all just a dream anyway.
39. Remember Shakti (1999)
I’ve met a handful of true geniuses in this life, Zakir Hussain being one of them. In April 2009, I was part of a workshop at Carnegie Hall with Zakir Hussain in New York City. Playing on that stage was, as you can imagine very special. My cousin Margaret Mary came to the gig as did my friend Tim Ries. It was nice they were there in order to prove it took place. The workshop was filled with expert musicians and it was an honour to play alongside Kinan Azmeh, Jeremy Kittel, Dinuk Wijeratne, and many more. This article documents exactly what we did. I’m pleased the writer acknowledged just how we learned this music. All entirely by ear. We could make our own charts, but none were provided. It was thrilling.
While known as a tabla player, it was in fact his singing that captivated me the most. He is music. There’s no disconnect whatsoever. That person is music. I saw this band play at Roy Thompson Hall.
40. The Muppet Show Album (1977)
I’m 100% serious. This record has everything and represents the height of Henson’s genius. Whatever is happening with that enterprise is just atrocious. But this was everything to me. I think it stimulated my interest in music and show business more than any other single record.
This curated list of mine leaves out notable records by Bob Dylan, Marc Johnson, and SRV that have also impacted my life in major ways. The Muppets, with their combination of musical integrity and humour and the confident singular voice from Henson, stand alone. My pal Drew and I did a puppet making workshop with Tim Gosley who worked with Henson. I hope my music, now or in the future, is as alive as these characters. I hope that when people are around my music they believe it is real but also from an imaginary and altogether wonderful place beyond time, free of style and genre.
I have enjoyed making this list, which is offered here in full. Thank you for reading and I hope you check out some of these sounds. If you want to know who I am, these records go quite a way towards that. If you make lists like this for yourself, I’d love to explore them. Please zap them my way.
- Ornette Coleman – Song X (1986/2006)
- The Shaggs – Philosophy of the World (1969)
- Barry Elmes – Climbing (1991)
- Eberhard Weber – Yellow Fields (1976)
- John Coltrane – A Love Supreme (1965)
- Bix Beiderbecke – At the Jazz Band Ball (1927)
- Extreme – III Sides to Every Story (1992)
- DJ Olive – Sleep (2006 and 2016)
- John Hiatt – Bring The Family (1987)
- Eric Dolphy – Last Date (1964)
- Christopher Parkening (1993)
- The Commitments Soundtrack (1991)
- Nigel Kennedy – Beethoven Violin Concerto (1992)
- The Blues, Volume One (1963)
- Alison Krauss – Forget About It (1999)
- Telefon Tel Aviv – Map of What Is Effortless (2004)
- Dave Douglas – Charms of the Night Sky (1998)
- Ron Miles Trio (1999)
- Wynton Marsalis – Standard Time Volume 2 (1991)
- Miles Davis – Live in Tokyo (1964)
- Jean Martin Trio – At The Farm (2003)
- Don Cherry – Art Deco (1988)
- Dizzy Gillespie – Dizzy Gillespie Reunion Big Band (1968)
- Freddie Stone – In Season (1992)
- Rob McConnell – The Best Damn Band in the Land (1974)
- Weather Report – Mysterious Traveler (1974)
- John Nugent – Did I Tell You? (1990)
- Thelonious Monk – Monk’s Dream (1963)
- The Complete Dean Benedetti Recordings of Charlie Parker (1947-48)
- John Scofield and Pat Metheny – I Can See You House From Here (1994)
- Frank Zappa – Hot Rats (1969)
- James Brown – Star Time (1956-1984)
- Jimi Hendrix – Smash Hits (1968)
- Doula – In The Garden (1999)
- Joe Pass – Virtuoso (1973)
- Keith Jarrett – Survivors’ Suite (1977)
- Bill Frisell – Gone, Just Like A Train (1998)
- Blind Willie Johnson – Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground (1927)
- Remember Shakti (1999)
- The Muppet Show Album (1977)