Here is where I talk a little about various artists whose music I own, beginning with the A’s. (S/T means self-titled.)
Since MTV was a big part of my early music experience, I tried to find videos of one song for each band just for fun. Apologies in advance for some of the more lurid examples, I mostly picked them based on the song, not on the video content!
Alice in Chains (1990 Facelift, 1992 Dirt, 1992 Sap, 1993 Jar of Flies, 1995 S/T, 2009 Black Gives Way to Blue, 2013 The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here) — When I was working at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland as a Research Assistant, I was sharing an apartment with a postdoc who owned a copy of Dirt. I picked it up out of curiosity and immediately fell in love with the dark, brooding sound. RIP Layne Staley, but also glad to see the band release new material.
Fiona Apple (1996 Tidal, 1999 When the Pawn…, 2005 Extraordinary Machine, 2012 The Idler Wheel…) — Accidentally got a chance to see her in 1996 at the LIVE105 “Green Christmas Ball” when she was just an up-and-comer. Love her voice and the mix of melancholy and playfulness in her songwriting.
Aqueduct (2001 Power Ballads, 2005 I Sold Gold, 2007 Or Give Me Death, 2015 Wild Knights) — “The Suggestion Box” was a big hit in the Seattle area shortly after we arrived, and the first album turned out to be quite enjoyably quirky, with interesting complex rhythms throughout and fun pop culture references in the songs.
Arcadia (1985 So Red the Rose) — Famously self-described as the “most pretentious record ever,” I just don’t care. This is one of my all-time favorite albums, pretty much all the aspects of Duran Duran I loved the most amplified and stripped of all the other stuff. Moody, dark, complex, with some awesome videos and guest appearances by Sting and Grace Jones, what’s not to love? Only bummed they stopped after one release. (And sadly their awesome videos are not online.)
Jon Astley (1987 Everyone Loves the Pilot (Except the Crew), 1988 The Compleat Angler) — Wait, wait, this is NOT Rick Astley (unrelated) and this is NOT a rickroll. Jon Astley is a producer turned songwriter who dropped two albums in the late 80’s of droll British pop infused with great wordplay. “Jane’s Getting Serious” was his one hit, but the rest of his stuff is absolutely worth a listen, especially if you enjoy wordplay.
Audioslave (2002 Audioslave, 2005 Out of Exile, 2006 Revelations) — Rage Against the Machine with Chris Cornell on vocals? As with many supergroups I think expectations were too high, and although I ended up buying all three released albums, I’m not entirely sure they hold up. Will have to revisit them.
Avenged Sevenfold (2001 Sounding the Seventh Trumpet, 2003 Waking the Fallen, 2005 City of Evil, 2007 S/T, 2010 Nightmare, 2013 Hail to the King, 2016 The Stage) — When we got a new car in 2012 it came with Sirius/XM radio, so the wife and I started listening to the hard rock/metal station Octane, which is where I first heard these guys. It’s been a while since I added a new rock/metal band to the mix, but they hit the right mix of dark and epic for the most part. I even don’t mind too much when they get a little country in their ballads. Note that the video below is only for horror aficionados.
311 (1995 S/T) — These guys had a very interesting sound. I got hooked on a couple of singles from this album (“Down” in particular) and eventually picked it up. I always enjoyed the album but never quite got to the point where I wanted to do a full dive into their catalogue. A few years later they released my favorite tune, “Beautiful Disaster,” but I never picked up the album it was on.
AC/DC (1980 Back in Black) — I owned a few early AC/DC albums as a cassette collector, due in large part to needing to come up with 11 stamps for the record club subscription. When I switched to CDs, I chose to leave these guys behind. Eventually I decided this was the one album I couldn’t do without. The opening riffs of “Hells Bells” and the title track are the standouts here.
Tori Amos (1992 Little Earthquakes, 1994 Under the Pink, 1996 Boys for Pele, 1998 From the Choirgirl Hotel, 1999 To Venus and Back, 2011 Night of the Hunters, 3 singles) — When we arrived in the Bay Area in 1995, Tori Amos was a fixture on the local radio. Loved a lot about her earlier stuff, but interest kind of petered out after a few albums. Her vocal shenanigans (more prevalent in her live and later stuff) can kind of drive me crazy! But she also has quite a collection of hauntingly beautiful songs as well.
Adam Ant (2003 The Essential Adam Ant) — Adam Ant was a huge staple of the early MTV years. I remember (for perhaps obvious reasons) that they were playing the videos for “Goody Two Shoes” and “Strip” all the time. When I finally picked up this collection, I was particularly struck by how “tribal” his music sounded, especially the early stuff. Very unlike almost anything else.
Aerosmith (2006 Devil’s Got a New Disguise) — While the treacly ballads that seem to dominate their recent output really don’t do it for me, “Dream On,” “Rag Doll,” and “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” are worth owning this. I actually paid to see Aerosmith when I was a teenager, but skipped the main concert because I really only went to see the opening band Dokken.
Art of Noise (1988 The Best of the Art of Noise) — I identify this album very closely with my college dormmate Brian, who was a total AoN nut. My MTV days introduced me to “Close to the Edit” and I was a huge Max Headroom fan so “Paranoimia” was by definition awesome.
Asia (2003 20th Century Masters) — So many times I heard these guys on MTV. The videos for “Heat of the Moment” and “Only Time Will Tell” are permanently etched in my memory. Major nostalgia wave watching them again.