Are you like me, where you have some albums that you come back to over and over again?
The irony of me writing guitar driven orchestral/ instrumental music is that hardly any of the albums that influenced me are guitar instrumental albums. In fact a lot of them aren’t even rock albums. I like albums with strong melodies and compositions, interesting arrangements but most of all they have to transport me to the movie in my minds eye. If the music impresses me but doesn’t move me…then I’m not interested really. When I write music I thing “what would the scene in the move be that this music would be used in”, I listen to music in much the same way.
1 Passion and Warfare by Steve Vai
This guitar album changed everything. Vai could make the guitar wail, sing, talk… its a masterpiece in composition and guitar wizardry. Vai brings out sounds from the electric guitar never before heard on record.
2 Book of Kells by IONA
This album probably saved me from becoming a metal-head. I was massively into Megadeth (Especially Rust in Peace Album) and stuff like that and I heard Iona play and it blew my mind. Ethereal soundscapes, soaring melodies and music that transported me away. Much of the celtic influence in my music can be traced directly to this album. Beyond these Shores is definitely worth checking out to. Dave Bainbridge’s started IONA and I now have the huge privilege of playing in his band, Celestial Fire.
3 Marching out by Yngwie Malmsteen
One of my earliest memories was my dad playing me a record by Itzak Perlman playing Paganini’s caprices. I was excited by the virtuosity and how impossible the music sounded. When I heard Yngwie, its just blew my mind! Firey virtuosity and bombast in the classical tradition of Paganni … I spent hours and hours learning his pieces.
4 Images and Words by Dream Theater.
I heard their song “Under a Glass Moon” on the Saturday night rock show with Tommy Vance on BBC Radio. Odd time signatures, insane drumming and THAT guitar solo…. My music features lots of odd time signatures and the longer songs can be traced to DT
5 Shostokovich Symphony 5.
I love Shostakovich, his music is dissonant, epic, powerful and beautiful all at the same time. A lot of my orchestral ideas are inspired by his music.
6 Little Earthquakes by Tori Amos
There is a lot of piano in my music, Tori’s album features haunting melodies and vocals and stunning piano compositions. Most of the piano parts on my album “Based on a True Story” are written by Mark Swift, however, the bits I wrote are very much influenced by this album.
7 Pornograffiti by Extreme
This is one of the few albums that I learned every song on it. I’m pretty lazy when it comes to learning full songs as I tend to just grab the ideas I like and put them into my own songs! Nuno’s playing and writing on this album really made it stand out from other guitar oriented bands in the day. Nuno’s Time feel is just fantastic.
8 Plaid by Blues Saraceno
My favourite guitar tone ever, my bluesier moments come from this guy… his swing feel and vibrato are just ace!
9 Flying in Blue Dream by Joe Satriani
There was an advert for this album in guitar magazines that I loved. It featured Joe, flying with his guitar through a blue space-like scene. When I was a kid, I used to practise my guitar on my bunkbed in the dark and dream of flying through space with my guitar on the lydian mode. Joe’s ability to write the perfect melody is something I miss in a lot of current guitar players repertoire.
10 Gretchen goes to Nebraska by Kings’x
None of my music sounds like King’s X but they are my favourite band: vocal harmonies… amazing songs. To be honest I love all of their albums. I listen to them more than any other band. Summerland is my favourite song ever! Dogman and Ear Candy are also firm favourite albums.
11 Lead me On by Amy Grant
What? A pop Country gospel album? Dann Huff and Jerry Donahue just rule on this album, and the songs are fantastic. It also features a piano song that I love called “if these walls could speak”… just never get tired of this album.
12 Metal Fatigue by Allan Holdsworth
Generally I’m not a fan of Jazz on guitar. I prefer it on horns. Allan Holdsworth is an exception to this. He is from my town and his playing transcends his instrument. This album just transports me away …
Exempt by Garsed and Helmerich, Lean into it by Mr Big, Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park, Rust in Peace by Megadeth, Slave to the Grind by Skid Row, Not all who wander are lost by Chris Thile, RATM, Audioslave, anything by Stevie Ray Vaughan, Fallen by Evanescence, The Heart of Everything by Within Temptation.
Were you surprised at any of my choices? Are any of these albums in your top 10?
Have a listen to my album here can you spot how any of these albums influenced my music? Feel free to comment below!