No one knows how to actually put their favourite 10, 20 or 50 albums into a list but we asked Drummer PG Branton to do his best for his top 10 choice cuts. So, without further ado, here goes…
Riding in like a bastion of Rock, Metal and alternative, and maybe somewhat surprisingly down the list, is Appetite For Destruction by Guns n’ Roses. Released in July 1987, I was only a young un back then, but this was my first tentative step to what has become a large part of my life ever since. From the opening riff of “Welcome to the Jungle” to the “Fuck Off!” in “It’s So Easy” I was hooked. I still partner this album to a family holiday in Portugal, I was pretty much listening to it on repeat, wearing out the tape, literally, and was particularly fond of the opening lines of “Nightrain” while preparing to take off from Manchester Airport. This album has a magical status for me, all the songs really can’t be overlooked, with classics all the way through, including sexual gratification noises in “Rocket Queen” (the volume was often turned down slightly at this point to corner teenage embarrassment!). Most crucially, I think that Steven Adler’s parts on this debut are a combinaton of subtly playing to the song and incredible timing. This album also has a lot of childhood memories of myself and Stew King, forever my partner in crime. This, one of only a few pieces of music back then, that we would not defer from!
When Seattle’s cool, alternative music scene found its way to suburban York, it was probably the last place it thought it would ever end up; and being front of that queue, and probably turning in his grave at the very thought of being listed in a fans top 10 album blog, would be Kurt himself. But Nirvana’s Nevermind had a lasting projection on me. I guess I was discovering new boundaries and was consuming new music at such a pace that quenching the appetite was almost at critical levels of mass! Released in September 1991 it was far from what I had been listening to at this point. I can remember watching “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on MTV at a friend’s house and was instantly floored by its lo-fi sound, an angry but relatable force and of course Dave Grohl’s indie rock fusion drumming. With its cocktail of simplicity, stand out bass lines, hard rock/punk edge and, with a lack of actually knowing what was being sung, it was intense, and we loved it! I was perhaps still looking for the harder aspects of music so “Territorial Pissings” was a key member of the set. Underneath the screaming though, and the jump about memories of the 1990’s, I still remain a fan of songs like “Drain You”, “On A Plain” and “Lounge Act” – lesser known than the main releases of this album but for me, retain a special place in my heart. This was what we wanted and needed, it was my style and the kind of music that we smoked cigarettes to at every alternative night at every night club in York then!
Okay, what?! Yeah that’s right, nothing like Nevermind, Bleach or In Utero, there was Sepultura. A Brazilian band that was, at the time of Arise, going toe to toe with Nirvana. Arise was released in the same year as Nevermind but to a different fanfare than the rise of grunge. Sepultura had its large elements of Thrash and some Death Metal tones but also had a groove that was sometimes similar in parts to Pantera but also had the rebellion nature of its hardcore or punk styles. I was kind of intrigued with the way Sepultura used motions in their songs, going into different tempos and feelings within a single song, the belief of the rhythm, particulary cultural and some of the weird Guitar solos that were otherworldly at times. None more so than “Desperate Cry” a beautifully crafted tune that conveys all its power and mastery perfectly. As for intros, the title track “Arise” certainly makes its mark of intent, abstract, Brazilian, industrial and fantastic. “Dead Embryonic Cells” had the most bizarre title I had come across, almost overtly trying to shock, something I took to easily. A special mention for their Live recording (Which I owned on VHS) the brilliant “Under Siege – Live in Barcelona” which not only has the loveliest interviews, but also contains Igor’s amazing drumming in the instrumental opener as well as “Orgasmatron”! Happy days!
I suppose a “Rock’s” out of the question? Sheffield, Steel City, just down t’road and a local (ish) Rock band! No, you can’t watch “Full Monty” and not think some “Leppard” should have featured in this film. There are of course other bands from Sheffield, Arctic Monkeys, Bring Me The Horizon, and Pulp but Def Leppard did make one hell of a fine album back in the 80’s. Hysteria was released in August 1987 (it was a good year!) in what was a triumph for the band, after taking 3 years to complete due to delays and the accident that caused Drummer Rick Allen to lose his left arm. Inspirational indeed, as the band stood by Rick when I guess at the time, he could easily have not wanted to, or be able to, continue and without knowing how logistically he would carry on. But they did and after hearing “Animal” back on TOTP’s back in 1987 (it got to number 6 in the UK charts) it blended rock, a little bit of the sleaze rock vibe, glam rock and massive feel good hooky choruses. I think I can remember my sister showing me the album in a record shop, so after phony attempts to tape Sunday evenings Top 40 (made via a pressing of record, play and pause buttons), I eventually ditched them in favour of making Hysteria my own. “Rocket” and “Women” were of course, along with “Animal”, the big hitters, but there were other ample choices on this solid album, “Pour Some Sugar On Me”, “Gods Of War” and “Run Riot” my most favourable and over listened too! – I was confused and slightly uncomfortable with “Love Bites” though. And I still am!
“From Under The Cork Tree” I admit, I don’t like every single song on this album, but what I did like I really liked and, no one else I knew was listening to them at the time either. Fall Out Boy’s second album was released in May 2005 and I believe I first saw “Sugar We’re Goin Down” on MTV, not the later Concept video but older Lo-fi cut version. I was taken with the song already but the “tour” style video was a massive selling point, I still love watching this video, maybe a little too much than any other. I wasn’t too sure what was happening with some of the song titles but, “Our Lawyer Made Us Change the Name of This Song So We Wouldn’t Get Sued” as an opener is one of my all-time go to FOB songs, I love the riff especially after the first chorus. “Dance Dance” is easily the radio unit shifter but “XO”, “Of All The Gin Joints In The World” and definitely “I Slept with Someone in Fall Out Boy and All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me” is an absolute gem. Getting the sense I like the more up-tempo songs? No Drummer likes fast songs, right?? This album had the high school wonder, the self-loathing, songs of depression and FOMO all wrapped up in a Leonard Hofstadter kind of way. Perfect if not a little ironic!
There isn’t much British influence going on here and it isn’t going to change yet. Dead Kennedys are a band that grew to prominence in the late 70’s and 80’s with their anarchic and frenetic punk, rock/hardcore crossover. I first came to know about the Dead Kennedys via Napalm Death (an English band!) as I had a recording of “Nazi Punks Fuck Off!” originally by Dead Kennedys. I was aware that Napalm Death had mentioned influences by DK (and could hear them) and was therefore a fan by default. I first bought “In God We Trust, Inc” on Vinyl no less, and was so enamoured by Jello’s insane, “Roger Rabbit” style delivery that it was hard to resist. Admiring the political themes woven into the songs, the comedy element really spoke out too. I would put “Government Flu” as a brilliantly heavy song, imagined in different tuning but none the less D.H. Peligro was drumming so fast (even faster on Bedtime for Democracy) that you could see how metal would use them as a major influence. I loved the weirdness, the blasphemy, the pointing fingers at American politics, even if I didn’t know who they sometimes referenced. “Terminal Preppie” was hilarious, “Trust your Mechanic” and “Forest Fire” likewise not holding back on satire and hauling the rich and famous over the coals. Sticking in their Country and Western moments didn’t lose any irony either but the most essential part of “Plastic Surgery Disasters” is “Moon Over Marin”. An environmental song but subtle lyrically compared to other songs, its more conventional set up seems to have connected with people too. As a fan of the faster stuff, I do think this is one of their best, for vinyl lovers, the A side is absolutely a juke box of Kennedys classics.
Into the gritty part, as the final four gets tight. At 4 is a band that not only took on more of the political side of music and using this as a force but also opened my mind in how to use swearing in songs to such an extraordinary extent. Rage Against The Machine released their self-titled debut in 1992 but I don’t think I got to notice them until 1993. My first song? Yep, that’s right. “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!” Heavily censored on mainstream UK TV so “Killing In The Name” had to be heard or seen elsewhere (Channel 4’s The Word in 1993): You don’t get TV shows like that anymore!! But there is more than the gratuitous outrage on Killing. Songs such as “Bullet In The Head” and “Know Your Enemy”, delivering their violent social and political observations and debate. As a drummer, I have always been a fan ever since I heard the groove and timing of Brad Wilk. Not so much about the fills and bells and whistles of more prog rock styles, it was laid back, groovy, full of hip hop and dripping with funk at times, it was a head turner. Brad also introduced me to the china cymbal (or more how to deliberately use it), nothing better for asserting a noise of power. As far as I can remember this album not only created a whole statement back then, and still today; the cover illustrating frustration and ignorance, amid the social inequalities and turbulence in American Society, but again, as an impressionable teenager or young adult, “Rage Against The Machine” was a motherfucker of an album, leading the teenager’s dream, a suburban “Freedom” soundtrack. York’s own “Take The Power Back”.
Slipknot. Masks, horror and metal. Taking a look at Duality for the very first time was a revelation. “Vol 3: (The Subliminal Verses)” was released in May 2004, and I can positively state that Slipknot were the missing part of my puzzle. I knew when I saw that video of them trashing the house with their fans, I had found a band that knew how to put two worlds together, with frightening quality and direction. I instantly loved the concept of bringing the dark and morbid fascination of wannabe serial killers with quality heavy music, it was perfect art. I bought “Vol 3: (The Subliminal Verses)” on CD and was already falling into a one-way relationship just by looking at the sleeve art. Songs like “Duality” and “Before I Forget” are of course some of the best writing on the album as far as I’m concerned. Lyrically, as well they have some of the most underrated words; interesting, intelligent and insightful. There are others too “Pulse Of The Maggots”, “Prelude 3.0” and “The Blister Exists” all songs that have been with me since I first played them on my crappy stereo. I am a fan also of the more demoted songs. Songs like “Danger – Keep Away” showing a more soulful and emotive feeling; haunting of course, but also lingering with a cold beauty. This album is King Joey Jordison sat on his throne. I think to some extent, his vision and style of attacking the drums still inspires me. I am not for one moment going to say I can play like him, but just how he plays and the way he goes about his drum parts; again, tasteful and intelligent. Well played!
No, not the Beatles, but A7X. The White album. Again, another drummer who has inspired me a lot. Released in October 2007 this album is the last to feature The Rev, who passed away in December 2009. It has a lot of interesting songs, a bit more commercial perhaps than Slipknot, more metalcore in the early days (though they hate that tag) pushing towards classic Heavy Metal and Hard Rock. “Almost Easy” is one of their best personally, with its stylish double handed double bass/cymbal patterns and its half and half verses. But songs like “Scream” and “Afterlife” have enough of that classic Avenged Sevenfold motif to outlast others. There are some lesser songs, but “Brompton Cocktail” is one that peaks the attention, mostly because of the content and for its future insightfulness. If you want to hear the quality and brilliant strangeness of The Revs backing vocals, then “A Little Piece Of Heaven” is a must, not only for its sordid content but for its value as a song crafted by the man himself, truly a great song, and one to remember him for. Finding this album was a bit of luck, I had never heard any music by them but somehow, and I do not know how it happened, but I heard “Afterlife” and the rest is history! At the end of the album is the mellow “Dear God” a county-esc easy listener. A great B&W video accompanies this song also. A lasting memory and tribute to The Rev, and for his contribution to my style, this album is easily one that sits high on my list.
Okay, there is only one band that could ever have this spot. IRON MAIDEN!
If anyone who knows me, knows that I am completely obsessed with them. I have chosen two albums, one because it was the first album of theirs, I ever bought, and the second because it’s one of their best. If truth be told I could have picked any of the 7 studio albums and 1 live album from 1980’s such was their power! Iron Maiden are not everyone’s cup of tea and I’m totally happy with that. If it wasn’t for Maiden though, myself and Stew King would not have had anything to fascinate about. As teenagers with not much to do, we watched all the videos, “12 Wasted Years” and “The First 10 Years: The Videos” as well as all the Kerrang compilations! “Killers” released in February 1981, and “The Number Of The Beast” released in March 1982 are very different albums but not for the obvious. On the “Killers” album, most songs were already gig fodder before they were signed, “The Number Of The Beast” was written after killers had been written and predominantly toured. Even though the only member of the band that changed was swapping singers Di’Anno for Dickinson, it felt totally different. For the songs, the very first note on “Killers” of “Ides Of March” said it all. Clive Burr’s touch is phenomenal on here and continues through “Wrathchild” all the way out to “Drifter” I love this whole album, it has so such mystery and feel to it, and it still sounds great today. An absolute “Killer” cover as well!!! More than drums, the style of the 80s themed covers of London town, the guitar tones and solos, the thundering galloping bass of Steve as well as the working-class lads from east London all fell into it. “The Number Of The Beast” is one that needs no introduction. The title track and its introduction prove to set the tone. “Run To The Hills” is one of the finest moments in rock history and a song that changed Maiden into superstars. Even the weird songs like “Invaders” are cool, even though that bass line is bat shit crazy. Each song has its own part to play, “The Prisoner”, “Children Of The Damned” and the glorious “Hallowed Be Thy Name”, forever the live show closer. From Artwork to songs, a British band that was in my eyes the definition of complete. I have sat for hours and analysed the drums, admiring Clive Burr on all his 3 albums he played on. As for Nicko? Well, let’s just say that albums such as “Powerslave”, “Somewhere in Time” and “7th Son” are now exalted in my house! Long Live The Greatest Ever, Nicko McBrain!!!
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