This is Paul McCartney's favorite album," my father would say before putting the record on, as if Beatle-street cred would keep me in the room long enough to hear every song. It wasn't necessary: as soon as Brian Wilson's songs started playing, it was all over. This was not a dumb Beach Boys surf album. This was something beautiful and sad and sweet; a strange and lovely album that showed me a side of my somewhat emotionally distant father that I'd never seen. Some fathers like to give lectures, some like to give hugs, some like to play catch. My father liked to listen to Pet Sounds, and he wanted me to like listening to it, too.
While Pet Sounds IS amazing, it seems to be one of those generic hipster answers.. If you read the comments in the post, you'll find a plethora of even more hipster-ish responses. Cat Power? Really? I doubt you were listening to Cat Power ten years ago. Were you shopping at Urban Outfitters then too?
But I'm not knocking this chick at all. Pet Sounds is truly a great record. And I was raised the same way as a child, only my mother was the one obsessed with music.
But if you really want to know what record totally opened my eyes and made me "love" music (as if I didn't love it before), I'd have to say it was Devo's Freedom of Choice. Sure, I loved my mother's fifties and sixties gems, as well as my brother's bad eighties metal/early hip hop, but Freedom of Choice was the first record that I found, that I discovered on my own.
I bought it at a very early age... I must have been ten or eleven. I was digging through the discount bins at the old Rose Records on Schaumburg Road... and I found it for something like a couple bucks, which I'm sure was a fortune to me at the time. Something about the cover just made me want to check them out. The red dome hats and silver suits, the nerdish glasses...
...anyway, I put the record on and loved it from side a to side b. They may be dismissed as a one-hit wonder, a novelty eighties group, but it really was a great album. It made me buy their other records, and in turn it made me want to check out other bands.
And that, actually, is what I think makes a record like that so important. When it makes you want to track down similar artists, similar genres; when it makes you branch out and check out the artists that influenced them, and the artists that they influenced themselves, that's when a record really makes an impression.
So thanks, Devo.