Influential ALBUMS of my youth

Bridge over Troubled Water (1970)

We walked to Woolco.

This is the first ALBUM I bought. My second choice (that I couldn’t afford) was The Beatles.

Previously I had only purchased 45 singles.

Though Rockin’ Ronnie no longer recalls this episode, I’m quite sure he telephoned me in 1974. I rode my bicycle over to his place in Lakeview where he played me Queen II.

It was a revelation.

… “Side White” and “Side Black” (instead of the conventional sides “A” and “B”), with corresponding photos of the band dressed in white or in black on either side of the record’s label face. …

I’ve been a big Queen fan ever since.

The Scottish band Nazareth got BIG in Canada before the States.

They were my first LIVE concert. It might have been the Loud ‘n’ Proud tour. Or possibly the earlier Razamanaz tour.

In High School we listened to both those albums a lot. For a short time.

I lost faith later thinking they had gone too commercial. Sold out. 

Most of the music I like best was introduced to me by friends, especially Ron and Kate.

One exception was The Eagles. For some reason I considered them my discovery. I kept insisting High School friends pay attention.

Their fantastic debut album was Eagles (1972).  But it was Desperado (1973) that I loved best.  Every track superb.

  • Tequila Sunrise
  • Doolin-Dalton
  • Twenty-One

I graduated High School 1975 age-16 and took a gap year. We saved money to tour Europe spring 1976 in an orange VW van.

Leaving Canada my favourite album was The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle. (1973)

Springstein wasn’t all that famous yet.

Jon Landau saw Bruce playing Cambridge, Massachusetts’ Harvard Square Theater on May 9th, 1974 and declared him the future of Rock and Roll. But it took Born to Run, released August 25, 1975, before he got really famous.

By the time we got back from Europe, Springstein was arguably the #1 recording artist in the world.

To this day, I love all early Springstein.

I had a punk era. Clash. Sex Pistols. Patti Smith. But I’m thinking it was Television that was most important to me. I recall playing Marquee Moon (1977) full volume in my parent’s back yard. No doubt the neighbours hated it.

Though you’ve probably never heard of this album, critics raved. In Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (2003), it ranked 128th.

During University we spent a lot of time listening to LIVE punk at the Calgarian Hotel.  My favourite local band – The Slits.

Another influential album for me during my University days was the first Violent Femmes album.

Most of the tracks were written when the songwriter, Gordon Gano, was 18 years old and still in high school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Add It Up“, “Blister in the Sun“. Powerful raw songs as relevant today as they ever were.

Billie Jo Campbell, a 3-year-old, was walking down a street in California when  her mother was approached and offered $100 for taking this photograph.

I could include Leonard Cohen on this list. But even more important to me was Stan Rogers.

I don’t recall owning any of Stan’s albums. By that time in my life everything was Cassette mixed tapes

… therefore I’ll add The Very Best of Stan Rogers (2011) .

Stan died in a fire aboard Air Canada Flight 797 on the ground at the Greater Cincinnati Airport at the age of 33.  Tragic.

I listened to Stan most after his death.

When traveling people would ask me to recommend Canadian music.  I consistently recommended Stan Rogers and The Tragically Hip, quintessential Great White North music.

At Altadore Gym Club in the 1970s and 80s we listened to a LOT of Stones and Led Zeppelin. Best album?

Perhaps Led Zeppelin IV.

There are many, many more influential bands of course.

Talking Heads, James Taylor, Prince, Fleetwood Mac, Elvis Costello, B-52’s, …

Like most people my age, I felt popular music got worse in the 1980s.

I listened to less and less. Bought very few CDs.

At some point I gave up on music entirely. Today I listen exclusively to audio books and podcasts.








A Study in Scarlet Women – by Sherry Thomas

A Study in Scarlet is an 1887 detective mystery novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, featuring the debut of Sherlock Holmes.

A Study in Scarlet Women, a 2016 mystery novel by Sherry Thomas, the first entry in the “Lady Sherlock series“, in which Sherlock Holmes is actually a public persona created by a woman detective named Charlotte Holmes …

Sounded a great plot device.

Charlotte is Sherlock. Her partner a wealthy widow, Mrs. Joanna Watson, whose husband was an army doctor killed in Afghanistan.

Sadly, I know Sherlock. And Charlotte is no Sherlock.

Constance Grady for Vox gave it two and a half stars saying “A Study in Scarlet Women has a killer premise, some interesting character work, and a regrettably poorly structured plot.”[4]

As I post there are 3 more Lady Sherlock sequels. But I won’t carry on.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

I haven’t read a lot of Steinbeck.

But this story felt familiar. Perhaps I read it as a teenager.

Of Mice and Men is a novella written by John Steinbeck.

Published in 1937, it tells the story of George Milton and Lennie Small, two displaced migrant ranch workers, who move from place to place in California in search of new job opportunities during the Great Depression in the United States.

George Milton is street smart, but uneducated man. Lennie Small, a bulky, strong man but mentally disabled.

George’s loyalty to Lennie is the main theme.

The novella has been banned in places in the USA for various reasons. It remains required reading in many other American, Australian, Irish, British, New Zealand and Canadian high schools.

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

One for the Money (1994) is the first novel by Janet Evanovich featuring the bounty hunter Stephanie Plum …

Before this novel, Evanovich was a Romance novelist.

There are parallels with her character Stephanie Plum, laid off from her job as a lingerie buyer for a Newark department store, who goes to work for her cousin Vinnie, a bail bondsman.

One for the Money is a light-weight easy read. Short and silly.

If you saw the 2012 movie, it’s true to the book.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

This mystery series had run for 24 books as of 2017.

An Arabian Journey by Levison Wood

I wasn’t much impressed with an earlier book – Walking the Himalayas.

But Arabian Journey was fascinating from start to finish.  I listened to the audio version with the author reading.

He started September 2017 in Northern Syria during the final days of ISIS.

He then moved through the Middle East for six months, often without a plan or visa for the next stop. He slept on the rocks of the empty quarter and in 5 star hotels.  He had guides. And hitchhiked through war zones.

… Wood will share tales from his most recent journeys across some of the most perilous danger zones on earth.

With behind-the-scenes moments from his travels over the Caucasus mountains and his circumnavigation of the Arabian Peninsula, Levison will challenge the myths and stereotypes that plague these ancient lands.

Levison’s fascinating and humorous anecdotes reveal the real life stories of the ordinary people he met who call these places home: from Palestinian fighters to Iraqi snipers; refugees to Bedouin nomads.

If you want to know what it’s like to be ambushed by ISIS, have tea with Hezbollah and cross pirate-infested waters in a wooden dhow …

Click PLAY or watch a trailer for the theatre show on YouTube.

There’s also a documentary TV series called Arabia with Levison Wood.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

The Silent Patient has an interesting premise.

… a woman’s act of violence against her husband―and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive.

It’s getting great reviews.

Brad Pitt’s company snapped up the film rights.

That alls said, I found it a bit slow.

Psychology has never been an interest of mine. Also, the surprising twists and turns simply seemed too unlikely for me.