Gordon Raphael is an American record producer and musician who has worked with bands and artists such as The Strokes, Regina Spektor, The Wildhearts, and Hinds. This is a man who knows a lot about music, so who better to ask for his top 10 albums?
According to Raphael “revolutionary music, adventures painted with words and sound, has been one of my driving forces since I was ten years old. From our family home near Seattle, I received impressions of life in England, Hollywood, way back in time, in imaginary worlds, and of being inside of other people’s emotions purely based on songs. Almost immediately it was, “the weirder, wilder and more intense, the BETTER!”
Here are Raphael’s top ten albums from his vinyl LP collection, though he heard at least ten others screaming at him, claiming that he listened to them more and that they deserve to be on the list.
10. Photos of Ghosts by Premiata Forneria Marconi (1973)
Italian progressive rock featuring Moog synthesizer, violin, flaming guitar and drums. Gorgeous English lyrics by British poet Pete Sinfield. The title track is a poetic masterpiece with haunting atmosphere.
9. Love It to Death by Alice Cooper (1971)
Soon after Jethro Tull and Black Sabbath shoved music in a dark direction, Alice Cooper came out with this one. His raspy voice just rattles and burns; these songs have such incredible BAD ATTITUDE, that I fell instantly in love when I heard them on the radio. The song “I’m Eighteen” is, in my mind, sheer perfection.
8. Diamond Dogs by David Bowie (1974)
Under the influence of this album, I painted my room gloss black, installed white mannequins adorned in glittering silver gowns with flashing Christmas lights and rocked out for years. The cut-up lyrics on “Sweet Thing”, along with the mental imagery created by “Candidate” and the title track, inspired me to paint my nails in Day-Glo colors, wear rhinestone necklaces, tight fur-collared thrift store jackets and sometimes red satin dresses.
7. The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway by Genesis (1974)
Yeah, I thought Bowie was weird until I saw Peter Gabriel with his reverse Mohawk, “Slipperman” costume and portraying a black-leather-jacketed Puerto Rican named Rael on this record. It’s a double album with a deep archetypal storyline. The cover art is monumental and the music inside, a pinnacle of creative triumph.
6. Relayer by Yes (1974)
The caped keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman left the band for this one, and in stepped Swiss maestro Patrick Moraz. Patrick’s synthesizer dexterity combined with Yes’s intention to take us further out into space than we’d ever been before. The first time I heard this album it completely changed my life forever. Visionary.
5. Kimono My House by Sparks (1974)
Originality, virtuosity and a hell of a lot of GLAM POWER. This album is all about riffs, great singing and astounding lyrics. My fave track is “Thank God It’s Not Christmas”, that smashing song itself should be in the rock and roll hall of fame!
4. Blue by Joni Mitchell (1971)
Can’t really describe this one, just listen to it all the way through. She made her own musical language – the words, her vocal melodies, dulcimer and piano playing. It took me weeks to learn how to play two of these songs on piano! I will say that I have never cried along with an album as much as this one, a testament to its emotional power. Standout Tracks: “Blue” and “The Last Time I Saw Richard”.
3. The Cry of Love by Jimi Hendrix (1971)
Okay, it was hard to figure out which Jimi album to pick. He’s my big hero and this album (the second released after his death) really invigorates, inspires and fortifies my soul. “Straight Ahead”, “Night Bird Flying” and “Freedom” are the songs that have it all and say it all! Really energetic, displaying his inimitable guitar artistry and incredible voice.
2. My Goals Beyond by Mahavishnu John McLaughlin (1971)
One side offers jazz harmonic changes performed on two Ovation acoustic guitars, which have black rounded fiberglass backs. This, however, is not mellow nor is it intellectual. It ranges from clusters of bell tones floating in zero gravity, to buzzsaw intensity as if Motörhead was playing that jazz! The other side features Johnny plus seven musical masters going far out on ten minute long Indian-style meditations that are both lush and trance-inducing.
1. Kill City by Iggy Pop and James Williamson (1977)
This album was originally issued on transparent green vinyl by (LA label) BOMP! Apparently, former Stooges guitarist James Williamson wrote and recorded the songs in his basement and then got Iggy out of a psychiatric ward on a weekend pass to record all of the vocals. This record sounds UNHINGED and impressively wild. Iggy is in rare form, James’ guitar riffs are revolutionary, plus there’s a dirty growling saxophone as well. A must have!
ABOUT GORDON RAPHAEL
Gordon Raphael is a musician/music producer widely hailed for his work with The Strokes on their first two albums, Is This It and Room on Fire. This summer (2022) his debut book The World Is Going To Love This (Up From the Basement With The Strokes) will be published by Wordville. He currently resides in West Yorkshire, UK after living in Seattle, Los Angeles, London and Berlin, while still gushing about music like a hardcore fanboy.