On social media, a million people are listing their Top Ten Teenage Records.
But I think number-constrained lists are asinine, and I don't want anybody to see this, so I'll do my list here.
I've been thinking about this for a couple days, off and on, and I think I've finally got it somewhere close to comprehensive—at least, comprehensive with respect to the things that didn't turn out to be complete dead ends, so forgive me for not owning up to trying like a bastard to like the Soup Dragons or whoever, or leaving out the week we all pretended to like Urban Dance Squad or my brief, bad Nitzer Ebb phase or whatever. (Also I'm leaving out my guitar-weenie period, so go ahead and add Joe Satriani and Steve Morse and Ronnie Montrose and whatever back in. MAN was Ronnie Montrose's The Speed of Sound a great record.) And this isn't my teens: this is just what I was into in high school, and maybe a little bit before. So 88-89 to 91-92. Finally: you're right; all I was listening to was white guys yelling over clatter. I did grow up a little and discover things like "black people and women making music" but I'm not trying to gloss up my history.
- AC/DC, Highway to Hell, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Blow Up Your Video; my first favorite band of my own, and, yes, I do still think Blow Up Your Video is a good record
- Voivod, Dimension Hatröss; I think I heard this before I heard Black Sabbath and it broke me permanently
- Screaming Trees, Invisible Lantern, Sweet Oblivion; two records that absolutely bookended my high school listening and living; Invisible Lantern changed what I thought music was: I first heard it and thought "this is the worst thing I have ever heard in my life", and kept listening because it was so awful, and then I looked up one day and said "this is brilliant". Sweet Oblivion was a record I thought was actually about me: half its songs seemed to limn my life exactly
- Ramones, Leave Home; I'd been given a book about rock and roll for Xmas 1987 or 88, and I read about punk rock, so when I saw this tape at Sound Warehouse for 3.99, I picked it up. It did the trick (and Halfway to Sanity and Pleasant Dreams rocked my shit as well, later)
- Metallica, The 5.98 Garage Days E.P.; which I never owned, but borrowed off a kid at an Alateen meeting. Still the best Metallica record, still where I first heard the Misfits, still the last moment where Metallica seemed to have a sense of humor
- Jimi Hendrix / Otis Redding, Live at Monterey Pop; was one of the first tapes I bought, and I wore it out—the Hendrix side, anyway, because I was too young and dumb to like the Otis Redding part
- GWAR, Scumdogs of the Universe; which I think I memorized one year—I still remember being asked to stop playing it in a car on one road trip...
- Pop Will Eat Itself, This Is the Day, This Is the Hour, This Is This; I still know most of the words to this record
- Minutemen, Paranoid Time 7" / fIREHOSE, flyin' the flannel; probably the best artistic decisions I made in high school
- Soundgarden, Louder Than Love; because if you're a theater kid who will probably never have sex, "I know what to do / I'm gonna fuck fuck fuck fuck you fuck you" is the best lyric you can imagine
- R.E.M., Dead Letter Office; at a summer camp for smart kids, I turned a kid onto Screaming Trees and Black Sabbath; he turned me onto R.E.M. and Joy Division, so, you know. Win-win
- Joy Division, Substance; I used to cry most times I'd hear "Transmission"
- Black Sabbath, Paranoid; the funny thing about turning a kid onto Black Sabbath is that I'd bought the tape like three days before I played it for him
- Blue Őyster Cult, Secret Treaties, Agents of Fortune; Treaties was a grade-eight discovery, a record I genuinely thought was evil, because every time I bought it, something bad would happen to me; Agents came later, and I remember a summer where I basically only listened to it and Hüsker Dü for months (ETI and Debbie Denise meant a lot to a doofy white kid who liked HEAVY TUNES and sentimentality)
- Hüsker Dü, Flip Your Wig, Warehouse: Songs and Stories; gol DANG are these songs good—and the guitar sounds! Dang were these records good
- Televsion, Marquee Moon / Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Blank Generation; like I said, I learned about punk from a book
- Frank Zappa, Hot Rats; guitar solos rule, I thought ("the Gumbo Variations" sounds pretty good back to back with Marquee Moon)
- The Who, Quadrophenia; I mean, if you like Hüsker Dü, you like the Who
- Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation; remember tape clubs? I got this along with five other records: Tin Machine, Tom Petty's solo record, and a couple I no longer remember. I didn't really get this record, but I had read a little Dick, and a little Gibson, so I knew I was supposed to like it, and I did
- Patti Smith, Horses; because when you get a lot of records out of your uncles' crates, sometimes you get lucky (and your mind gets blown)
- the Big F, the Big F; the best hard rock record of 1989, maybe
- Game Theory, Lolita Nation; the best pop-rock double album ever, maybe
- Screaming Blue Messiahs, Totally Religious, Bikini Red; gave me much of the best guitar tone and wittiest post-blues songwriting I ever heard, and no matter how much I loved it then, it took me decades to catch up with this
- Caterwaul, Portent Hue; because it turns out that I'm a goth weenie, when the guitar player is noisy and brilliant enough Dinosaur Jr., Just Like Heaven 7", Little Fury Things cassingle, Bug, Green Mind; but maybe I knew that already, because I already knew that I loved a couple Cure songs, especially when they were played by mutely hostile jerks from Massachusetts?
- Mudhoney, Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge; bought this the same day as Nirvana's Nevermind; listened to 'em both, put Nevermind away and listened to this a lot for a year or so—Dan Peters is still one of my favorite drummers, based on "Good Enough"
- Flesh Eaters, Dragstrip Riot; why did I get into Flesh Eaters before X? Well, because I bought most of my records from SST Records mail-order and the first X song I heard was "Fourth of July", which turned me off that shit until like 2003 (also this record is amazing)
- Paranoise, Constant Fear; you know how idiots like to say "the internet has all human knowledge on it"? This record has essentially no internet presence whatsoever, but I have intense memories of its bizarre jazz/industrial metal riffs and horribly yelpy Cold War paranoia lyrics (the thing on Spotify is terminally bogus, do NOT try to tell me it's what I'm talking about, because it fucking isn't, it just isn't shut UP)