The album that changed my life

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st album Yvonne Chaka Chaka . Singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka. Picture: Michael Walker

 Musicians and music lovers tell of albums that really spoke to them...

 

Yvonne Chaka Chaka, legendary singer who recently released her new album Amazing Man:

Dance With My Father by Luther Vandross. It touched me. It brought back fond memories of my father and of how much I loved him.

I remember singing to the song, acting as if the broomstick was a mike.

One specific memory that I have is of my father piggybacking me and taking me everywhere he went. My father cared for me like a woman would. He would put a blanket over me, and that is a memory I treasure dearly.

st album Stephen Segerman Record shop owner Stephen Seegerman. Picture: Michael Walker MICHAEL WALKER

I still listen to this song regularly, and wishing that I could dance and sing with my father.

It didn’t quite change my life, but it makes me feel good and see the beauty of life.

Today I adore any type of music that is inspirational and not insulting to women – songs such as (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman. I love music that’s motivational in nature but also meaningful.

 

Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman, owner of Mabu Vinyl, of the famous Searching For Sugar Man documentary fame:

Rubber Soul by The Beatles. They were the biggest new pop group around and we were always thrilled to hear their new albums. So when my dad brought this record home for me, with the newest Rolling Stones LP (December’s Children) it was a major musical event, especially when we looked at the cover of the LP.

That was the most striking thing. This group of mop-tops whom we had grown to love looked very different. The image was distorted and strange, like nothing we had seen before. We sensed something new was going on just from the cover even before we heard the music.

I later found out that the cover picture was a mistake. When The Beatles were looking over potential cover pictures, in slide form, this slide slipped in the projector and created the image that we now see. The projectionist was about to correct it, but The Beatles stopped him. The rest is history, the psychedelic era had begun...

The Beatles were pushing ahead with this new kind of popular music and taking chances and being broadly creative with all aspects of it. So for us music fans, whatever they did influenced us – their clothes, hairstyles, sound, attitude, and lyrics – everything they did was new. If you followed The Beatles, your life changed every time they released an album.

Rubber Soul was no exception. It introduced us to psychedelic, veiled drug references, the beginnings of more rock-oriented pop sound, sitar-based pop songs, and more.

This was actually the first of their albums to feature only songs written by The Beatles, no more cover versions, and unsurprisingly all strong songs.

My favourite track is Norwegian Wood, which was different to anything else on the LP, or anything they had done before. It had George Harrison playing the sitar, which was another first. The song, we later found out through wild rumour, was about drugs (apparently “Norwegian Wood” was a type of high grade marijuana) and about one of John Lennon’s affairs while still married to his first wife Cynthia. But the style of the song was unique and introduced us to The Beatles “trippy” new musical direction.

Back in 1965, aged 11, we weren’t listening to music for any reason other than we just liked all the new pop music that was coming out. It was the age of The Beatles and we were just massive fans like everyone else.

 

Paige MacMahon, singer and guitarist with the band Paige Mac:

Talk On Corners by The Corrs. Fallen by Evanescence also moved me. I was 10 years old when I first heard these albums, both being CDs belonging to my brother, Ryan.

The Corrs are a super melodic band, their songs always got stuck in my head and they made me want to sing their music. So I did, and then realised that I could hold a note.

Evanescence first made me realise that your feelings can be literally translated into music. The strength in Amy’s voice was also inspiring for me.

I have since bought both of these albums online, but seldom listen to them now as I have new favourites that relate more to my life at present. But when I do hear them, they rebirth the feelings I had growing up and I can see myself playing my guitar and singing the songs with my friends back then.

My favourite tracks are Evanescence’s Hello – the melodic climbs and the violin still get me. Only When I Sleep by The Corrs was a great piece of poetry for me then.

When I heard them, I was at that stage where you start questioning things like why was I that girl and what kind of woman I would become. So I looked for stories and I found the stories of The Corrs and Evanescence resonated with my soul-searching.

I think the purpose of it was for me to feel something, to learn that music isn’t just appealing noise but a direct translation of our feelings. And that sometimes it’s easier to sing than to talk about how you feel. Music can speak to your soul even before you know in your mind how you feel.

I love music in general. I’m a sucker for good old music. Guys like Bill Withers, Louis Armstrong, Nina Simone and Nat King Cole.

I also love the Dave Matthews Band, harder bands like Oh Sleeper and Chevelle and then the modern wonders of Amy Winehouse, Adele, Michael Kiwanuka and Ben Howard.

 

John Vlismas, stand-up comedian:

 

Licensed To Ill, by the Beastie Boys. I must have been about 14 or so when a cousin played it for me on vinyl. I got taken hostage immediately by how bold and brilliant and bad-ass these guys sounded.

It taught me that you could take a real gift and do something rebellious and outspoken, but also very, very funny. As I’ve got older, I realise just how good the production on the album was. The Beasties were/are brilliant – it’s sad that we have lost one.

I ordered a copy from the only real record store in town and it cost R35 – a sum outrageous at the time.

I was living in Durban, a half-Greek, half-Afrikaans geeky kid, overweight, socially anxious and with a yearning for the alternative, but without the nerve to explore.

I grew up in a tight-knit, hard-working family with self-employed parents who taught me to work harder than the guy next to me, and to always be looking out for the next curve ball. We were raised to avoid borrowing money, to keep our noses clean and to treat people the way we’d like to be treated.

Like the Beastie Boys, I may have wondered off track, but a good foundation showed me the way back home – for that I am grateful to my mum and dad. When I was done raising hell, their door was open – not many people are big enough to give you a second chance.

Today I have a massive CD collection, which I am gradually migrating to digital, and I give discs away once they are in my “music heaven”.

If it didn’t change my life, the album certainly introduced me to a wider spectrum, and did a lot to erase the sounds of Duran Duran that had found their way into my head.

So many songs have become anthems for revolution, spiritual, political or otherwise. Obviously I’m talking about music, not that c**p you find littering the shelves at Musica, that’s just pop producers shifting units, not artists aiming for the heart. Any truly great art takes you hostage and lets you go slightly different, even if briefly – hopefully for ever.

If I check out my most played list today, I’m glad to say it’s crazy: Pantera, Puccini, Patlansky, Tricky, KOBUS, Johnny Cash, Tom Waits, Adele, Ninja Tunes.

The best things I’ve heard this year are Dan Patlansky’s new album, and The Orb featuring Lee Scratch Perry – two soulful albums with kick.

 

Cameron van der Burgh, Olympic Gold medal swimmer, who will be participating in the World Championships 2013 in Barcelona this July:

Parachutes by Coldplay, but all their albums really.

When I first listened to it, I was 15 and going through a tough time with swimming and school.

Nothing was really going right and I was starting to doubt what I was good at and should be doing with my life.

Listening to the lyrics and then seeing millions of people singing them like me made me feel that I was not alone.

My favourite track is Trouble. I still have a copy of the album and when I listen to it, it gives me flashbacks of where I was and how far I have come since then.

I was into rock before like Blink-182 but I listen to pretty much everything now.

There is a time and place for all sorts of music. I like house when I am racing, alternative when I am chilled and so on.

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