Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 41: Tom Allom

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Tom Allom is an English recording engineer and record producer. As an engineer, Tom worked on Black Sabbath’s first three albums. As a producer, he has worked on eleven Judas Priest albums. During his career in the studio, he has also worked with acts such as Def Leppard, Krokus, Y&T, Rough Cutt, Kix, Genesis and Pat Travers. Roppongi Rocks boss Stefan Nilsson talked with Tom about the records that gave him his firepower.

Frank Sinatra “Sinatra–Basie” (1962)

“One of the first albums I ever bought for myself. I had been a Sinatra fan ever since my brother brought home the ‘Songs for Swingin’ Lovers!’ album one weekend and after a school jazz club trip to see Duke Ellington I became a fan of big band music and discovered Count Basie for the first time. When a school friend told me they had made an album together I rushed to buy it. I still listen to it often – it’s the coming together of a true Rolls Royce of a crooner and the brash hard hitting and incredibly tight Basie band – both of them the best ever in my view.”

James Brown “Out of Sight” (1964) single

“Not an album but a single this time. James Brown’s ‘Out of Sight’. The first soul record I ever heard and I immediately fell in love with the saxes riffing together in fourths and the amazing vocal. It was a completely new and original sound to my young ears and is still one of my all-time favourites. Although the ‘Godfather of Soul was on Smash Records, a division of Mercury, he opened my ears to all the Motown and Stax artists. When the legendary Stax/Volt Tour hit Europe in 1967 I bought tickets for the London performance at the Albert Hall. It was a feast of my favourite music. All the musicians wore outrageously colourful outfits, hats with feathers, two drummers, one left-handed and one right so that their matching drum fills round the tom toms went in opposite directions. It was a fantastic spectacle. All thanks to my first taste of James Brown – you legend!”

Steely Dan “The Royal Scam” (1976)

“I hadn’t listened to the Dan before I heard this album but this amazing work led me to buy their whole catalogue. ‘The Royal Scam’ totally blew my mind. Just epic musicianship that set the bar so high and I love the captivating imagery of the stories told in each track. Quite simply, it’s a masterpiece. Enough said!”

The Eagles “Their Greatest Hits” (1976)

“On my first trip to North America in 1975 I heard ‘One of These Nights’ in a hotel bar, I think somewhere in Canada. Don Felder’s guitar solo just did it for me. It builds so perfectly. I bought the album as soon as I returned to England and wore it out! I’ve always been a fan of vocal harmonies and The Eagles make great use of them. The arrival of Felder in the band and producer Bill Szymczyk, who produced most of the tracks on the album, brought a harder more rock-oriented edge to their music. Bill was largely responsible for Joe Walsh joining the band to make the dizzyingly successful ‘Hotel California’ and he also produced the follow up ‘The Long Run’. He has a straightforward and clean production style which I love. He also happens to be a very good friend!”

The Cure “Disintegration” (1989)

“I love the sounds on this album – I’m still trying to figure out how Robert Smith created half of them! Even though it’s a very introspective work and probably the result of a certain amount of hallucinogenic substances, the majestic and unique sounds and haunting lyrics draw me in every time I listen. I find the album quite irresistible and no one has produced anything remotely like it in the 30+ years since its release.”

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