Harrison explores varied tastes, favorite albums: Part One

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Roman Harrison, Columnist

This column will be slightly different. Rather than featuring a specific artist or album, I will highlight my favorite albums. That being said, my musical tastes are very diverse and constantly change, so my favorite albums now may vary greatly from my favorite albums in a month, but I still feel it’s time I produce a column of this type. It will simply add to my options for column format which I feel benefits both me and the reader. My favorite albums at this time vary greatly, ranging from the Beatles to Eric Church, with very little rhyme or reason among them.

Starting off the onslaught of musical genius is a debut album released in 1991 by a grunge band from Seattle called Pearl Jam. The album is called Ten and presents a raucous band of misfits to the world. Coming from a variety of different bands, members include vocalist Eddie Vedder, bassist Jeff Ament, guitarist Stone Gossard, and drummer Matt Cameron. Although it is a quintessential grunge record, it also features extensive classic rock influence, as the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin can be heard in the music. Although, what sets it apart from other grunge albums is Vedder’s dynamic vocal performance. It is an album that can be played from beginning to end and never require a skip due a bad song or repetitiveness. Despite thoroughly enjoying them all, my favorite tracks on the album would be “Black,” “Jeremy,” and “Garden.” Vedder’s lyrical ability to draw incredibly detailed pictures through these songs as well as the incendiary instrumentation make this album one of my favorites.

Traveling further down the sonic rabbit hole exposes a concept album that really invented the term. It is called Quadrophenia by the Who and is phenomenal. A true masterpiece, full of innovative instrumentation. John Entwistle’s bass guitar creates a destructive sound that blows  out of the speakers. Entwistle was one of the first to play the bass guitar. By that I mean rather than just keeping the beat as most bass guitarists of the time did, John played notes as a traditional electric guitarist would, creating music that is one of a kind. Through Entwistle’s bass guitar, Roger Daltrey’s vocals, Keith Moon’s drums and Pete Townshend’s guitar and songwriting, the Who produce a beautifully complex concept album about Mods and Rockers in England during the early 1970’s and adolescence at that time. Quadrophenia was released in 1973 while an accompanying movie of the same name was released in 1979. The album was one of the first concept albums and is the most influential body of work by the Who.

Following Quadrophenia and Ten, is, in my opinion, one of the best albums ever created. The Beatles’s White Album is a complex mastery of music. By the time it was released in 1968, each individual member of the band had already developed their own particular “sound” and interests. An album that had transcended time, it features songs such as “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” “Blackbird,” and “Dear Prudence,” as well as countless others. If I was to only listen to one album for the rest of my life, it would be this one. It is the only album in my personal collection that I have three copies of, one of which being an original numbered copy. The complexity and structure just resonates with me, as well as its ability to fit countless moods given its individual approach.

The final album in this exploration of my musical tastes is a relatively new one called Mr. Misunderstood by Eric Church. A terrific album full of anger and sadness as well as some joy, it is the first album I bought. Along with Church’s backup singer Joanna Cotten, the vocals on songs such as the title track, “Mr. Misunderstood,” as well as “Knives of New Orleans,” ”Mistress Named Music,” and “Mixed Drinks about Feelings,” transcend the traditional “country” genre and instead edge more towards rock music. Full of emotion, Eric Church’s music is powerful and gripping. I thoroughly enjoy the music as it fits a variety of moods and the energy it presents. Released as a surprise album in 2015, Mr. Misunderstood is certainly one of Eric Church’s best works.

Throughout this exploration of my “favorite albums”, I have come to the realization that I have too many favorite albums to list, especially in one column. That being said, I will be doing a Part Two of my favorite albums for my next column, as I thoroughly enjoyed creating this one. My musical tastes are constantly changing as well, so the albums the next column highlights may be vastly different from those included on this one.