Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 76: Dregen

Dregen in Tokyo in 2010. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Swedish guitarist and vocalist Dregen first made a name for himself with Backyard Babies. Then he co-founded The Hellacopters and later joined Michael Monroe’s band. He has also been recording and touring as a solo artist and has collaborated with many other artists. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson checked in with Dregen to find out about the five albums that shaped this bad to the bone rock star.

KISS “Alive!” (1975)

“There could potentially be more KISS records among this top 5 list, but if I had to choose just one, I’d pick ‘Alive!’ It totally blew me away. I dug the three first albums, but here are the same great songs with a turbo engine as well. I also love the sound and production of ‘Alive!’. It’s sonic and unpolished.”

Sex Pistols “Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols” (1977)

“I got this album from my mom as a ‘bribe’ for helping her with cleaning the house. It blew me away. It still does today. The songs and the timeless production. It still, over 40 years later, sounds so good and not dated. The extra bonus was that you have to wear sunglasses just by looking at the cover.”

The Ramones “It’s Alive” (1979)

“I’m such a sucker for great live albums. And great bands.”

Demolition 23 “Demolition 23” (1994)

“Such an underrated album by Michael Monroe and Sami Yaffa from Hanoi Rocks. Nasty Suicide was in the band too, but not on the record. Great songwriting and simple, but genius production by Little Steven. Demolition 23 was Backyard Babies’ first real support tour so this album brings up a lot of great memories.”

Bob Dylan “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” (1963)

“Can still not understand how Mr. Zimmerman, at the age of 21, could pull off and write such a song and lyrics as ‘Masters of War’. The album also includes evergreens like ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’, ‘Girl from the North Country’ and ‘A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall’. I’ll leave it right there.”

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 75: Ian Haugland

Ian Haugland of Europe backstage at Club Citta, Kawasaki, Japan in 2019.
Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Before he made it big with Europe, drummer Ian Haugland auditioned and was offered a place in Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force (he turned it down) and played with Candlemass’ Leif Edling in the band Trilogy. In 1984, when he was about to turn 20, he joined Europe and today he is still the anchor of the band’s rhythm section. In the 1990s, he played drums with Glenn Hughes (including on the “Burning Japan Live” album). When he is not recording or touring with Europe, Ian hosts his own rock radio show for the Rockklassiker radio station in Sweden. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson checked in with Ian to find out what five albums made him rock the night.

Deep Purple “Deep Purple in Rock” (1970)

“I remember the first time I heard ‘Speed King’. It was like being hit by a freight train! In my opinion, this is the first true hard rock album. The whole band is on fire and the songs are all killers no fillers.”

UFO “Phenomenon” (1974)

“This album and drummer Andy Parker’s playing was my first guiding star to become a drummer. ‘Doctor Doctor’ from this album was the very first song that i tried to play along to when I started playing drums. There was no easy way without computers or YouTube at hand. All you could do was just listen to the song in your headphones, and concentrate real hard to try and figure out what the drummer was doing, and then try to do the same!”

Rainbow “Rising” (1976)

“This album featuring the legendary drummer Cozy Powell made me realise that I wanted to be a rock drummer too. Cozy’s thunderous drumming on ‘Tarot Woman’, ‘Stargazer’ and ‘A Light in the Black’, paved the way for my future rock’n’roll dream!”

Emerson, Lake & Palmer “Brain Salad Surgery” (1973)

“This is one of the first albums that I bought just by looking at the album cover painted by the great late Swiss artist H.R. Giger. Totally futuristic and one of a kind, just like the music that sounds as fresh today as it did back in 1973!”

Rush “2112” (1976)

“It was my brother’s girlfriend at the time that had this album in her record collection. I remember being totally hooked from the first seconds of ‘Overture’. I just couldn’t understand how amazingly great players they were and how many great songs they had on one album. Since that moment I’ve been a diehard Rush fan, and still am today!”

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 74: Derrick Green

Derrick Green of Sepultura in Tokyo in 2018. Photo: Caroline Misokane, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

American vocalist Derrick Green has been fronting Brazilian heavy metal band Sepultura since he successfully auditioned to join the band in 1997. Prior to joining Sepultura, Derrick sang in the American bands Outface and Alpha Jerk. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson checked in with Derrick to find out about the five albums that changed his life.

Rush “Moving Pictures” (1981)

“One of the first albums that I ever purchased was an album by the band Rush, ‘Moving Pictures’. This album changed my life in many ways. It started me on the road to buying vinyl as much as possible. It opened the door to my curiosity of music an art. I love the album artwork because it looks so mysterious and I had no idea if the artwork was related to the music which I found out it was in my mind. I knew then that the songs on the album would stand the test of time and still ring true today.”

Descendents “Milo Goes to College” (1982)

“The same day that I purchased Rush’s ‘Moving Pictures’ album, I purchased the next album that changed my life which was from a band called Descendents and the album was ‘Milo Goes to College’. I was mystified by the simplicity of the album cover and I felt there was a story behind the title of the album. The lead singer had gone off to pursue the profession of a scientist. I thought this was so cool and punk rock to leave the band at such a great point in their career. This was a strong introduction into the world of punk and hardcore music. Fast pace, great melodies, clever lyrics, everything that I could relate to that was going on in my life at that time. Rebelling and questioning everything, I was ecstatic to know that there were other people that felt the same way that I did.”

“Walt Disney Presents Peter and the Wolf” (1958)

“This album was a game changer for me and my love of classical music began at a very young age because of this album by Sergei Prokofieff. It started a realization in my mind that music could create such a magnificent story. This album helped in brightening my imagination. Each instrument became a character in the story. This was absolutely mind blowing to me.”

The Beatles “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (1967)

“I still remember where I was and who I was with when I first heard this album. It was at my neighbour’s house in our new neighbourhood and it was with my first white friend. I’ve never heard anything like this before. Every song was so memorable and easy to sing along to. I thought they had the perfect formula for writing songs but each song had its own character. Still when I listen to it today it brings back a flood of memories of my childhood and the innocence of being a child.”

U2 “War” (1983)

“It was refreshing to hear this album for the first time. I knew that the times were rapidly changing and U2 had their finger on the pulse of what was really going on in the world. I love the fact that they were from a place I’ve never been to, I knew nothing about, but I could still understand the message that they were communicating with their music. I wanted to collect everything they had ever done and anything they were going to produce in the future. I became an instant fan. I still have not seen them live. I don’t want to ruin the image I’ve held in my mind for so many years.”

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 73: Ross The Boss

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

New Yorker and guitarist Ross Friedman, aka Ross The Boss, first made a name for himself with punk rockers The Dictators. In 1980, he co-founded heavy metal band Manowar. Ross has also played with Shakin’ Street, Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom, Brain Surgeons, Death Dealer and many more. He continues to create and perform new music with the Ross The Boss Band. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson checked in with Ross The Boss to find out about the five albums that made him a king of metal.

BB King “Live at the Regal” (1965)

“When I first started playing, I was a blues freak. I still am. I think that’s one of the most exciting blues records ever made!”

The Who “Live at Leeds” (1970)

“I really love live records. I think The Who are one of my favourite bands of all time That record captured them at their peak. Some people would argue with me but that era of The Who was just absolutely magnificent. Untouchable!”

The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (1967)

“I bought it the day it came out. It totally changed music forever.”

Black Sabbath “Master of Reality” (1971)

“I think ‘Master of Reality’ has Tony Iommi’s best riffs. I’m a huge fan of Black Sabbath and all of their records but ‘Master of Reality’ is my favourite.”

The Jimi Hendrix Experience “Are You Experienced” (1967)

“Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Are You Experienced’ totally took the electric guitar to new heights. The beginning of a new era!”

“To be honest with you, my favourite albums keep changing but today as I write this those are my favourites. Of course, Cream has to be in there but alas!”

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 72: Lars Chriss

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Guitarist Lars Chriss co-founded Swedish heavy metal band Lion’s Share in 1987. The band released its self-titled debut album in 1995 and has to date released six full-length albums. Lion’s Share is currently working on a new album and a few singles from it have already been released. In addition to Lion’s Shares, Lars is also active as a sound engineer and music producer for international artists. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson checked in with Lars to learn about the five albums that rocked his world.

KISS “Alive!” (1975)

“A friend had a cassette with KISS ‘Alive!’ on one side and ‘Destroyer’ on the other side. I was totally blown away and had never heard anything like this before. After this I was totally into KISS and they’ve had a huge impact on my life ever since. At school we made costumes, built our own guitars, put on the make-up and did a big show for all the kids – playback of course. I have met everyone except Eric Carr and Mark St. John. Bruce Kulick did a guest solo on the song ‘The Edge of the Razor’ from the Lion’s Share album ‘Emotional Coma’. I was actually supposed to open up for KISS on their farewell tour last year in Gothenburg, Sweden with the band Johan Kihlberg’s Impera. We’ll see if they manage to come back and if we still will be the opening act.”

Black Sabbath “Mob Rules” (1981)

“This is my favourite album of all time. No one has had such a huge influence on my guitar riffing and songwriting style like Tony Iommi and Ronnie James Dio. In November and December of 1999, Lion’s Share did a tour opening up for DIO, Motörhead and Manowar. I was in heaven being able to hang out with my teenage idols every day – and of course especially with Ronnie. Lion’s Share also backed up Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, DIO) at a drum clinic he did in Stockholm, Sweden in 2010. I think we did ‘The Mob Rules’, ‘We Rock’, ‘Stand Up and Shout’ and ‘Heaven and Hell’ with him, which was really cool. I remember him calling us Black Sabbath Junior, which was a huge compliment of course.”

ABBA “Arrival” (1976)

“People always ask about the Swedish music wonder and if it’s something in the water up here. I think we all have ABBA to thank for a lot of the great musicians, producers and songwriters to come out of Sweden. Benny Andersson is a genius when it comes to writing very complex music that still sounds simple and catchy. His music is timeless and I’m sure people will listen to his songs long after he’s gone. My generation grew up with the ABBA influence all over the radio and TV here in Sweden, and I think that’s what the Swedish music wonder comes from. Every kid was also able to pick an instrument and play as one of the things to learn in school back then. I played guitar with a teacher in school weekly from when I was about ten years old up until I was 16. However, I am not sure if it’s still like that in Swedish schools…”

Judas Priest “British Steel” (1980)

“The band that together with Tony Iommi has had the biggest influence on my songwriting in Lion’s Share. We were honoured to contribute to the official ‘A Tribute to Judas Priest – Legends of Metal’ album with ‘A Touch of Evil’ – together with Saxon, Testament, Helloween, Mercyful Fate, Devin Townsend and others. The liner notes were written by Glenn Tipton and KK Downing, which was very cool. As teenagers both Nils Patrik Johansson and I were huge fans of The New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) style, and I think I still have a lot of those influences when I write riffs and songs.”

Lion’s Share “Lion’s Share” (1995)

“Not even close to being my favourite Lion’s Share album, but since this is about records that changed my life, it must be in here since it was my first album release ever. We first got signed in Japan to Zero Corp, which at the time had Judas Priest and Michael Schenker on the label. I think Symphony X, who also were signed there, put out their debut around the same time we did. It was mind-boggling to imagine people on the other side of the globe buying and listening to the songs I wrote in my bedroom. From what I understand, it sold pretty well both in Japan and Sweden and opened a lot of doors which later got us signed to Century Media and got us on our first tours with Saxon, etc. ‘Sins of a Father’ from that album has been a huge fan favourite through the years, and we also released a new recording of it recently with our current singer Nils Patrik Johansson and a more updated sound.”

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 71: Mia Wallace

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Mia Wallace is the bassist for thrash metal band Nervosa and black metal band Abbath. The Italian musician is also playing with Niryth and Kirlian Camera. Previously, she has performed with acts such as The True Endless, Skoll and Triumph of Death. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson checked in with Mia to hear about the five albums that created perpetual chaos for her and helped shape her as an artist.

Sepultura “Roots” (1996)

“The energy I felt listening to “roots, bloody roots” was unbelievable. Headbanging came basically automatically and for the first time!”

Billy Idol “Rebel Yell” (1983)

“I listened to this song and I realised how important the bass is in a song. How much the bassist is NOT noticed and of course, I had a super crush on Billy and his charisma.”

Doro Pesch “Love Me in Black” (1998)

“That’s when I realised how much power is inside of a woman. God save the Queen!”

Motörhead “Ace of Spades” (1980)

“Wait a moment! That’s how a bassist is noticed! Being cool as hell! I discovered that Lemmy was, and still is, the essence of rock‘n’roll, and I discovered that he is god.”

Immortal “Battles in the North” (1995)

“Oh, my goodness! Who is this guy with war paint??? I discovered the cold mountains of Norwegian black metal. Now I am becoming part of this history almost 25 years later, with the living legend Abbath.”

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 70: Ronnie Bergerståhl

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Ronnie Bergerståhl was the drummer for Swedish death metal band Grave for more than a decade. He currently plays with Demonical, Goathead and Nattas and has also played with many other acts such as Centinex, Entombed A.D., Julie Laughs Nomore and World Below. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson checked in with Ronnie to find out what five albums made him become a servant of the unlight.

Helloween “Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part II” (1988)

“This is my absolute favourite album ever. When I first heard Helloween back in 1988, it was actually their debut album, ‘Walls of Jericho’. The lightning-fast double bass drums did for sure strike the metal nerve in me. I had some problems with the vocals though. I didn’t like Kai Hansen’s voice that much, but the music was ace! Then when I heard ‘Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part I’, they had a new singer: Michael Kiske. That was it for me. Then came ‘Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part II’ and with the opening song, ‘Eagle Fly Free’, I was floored. There isn’t one bad or dull moment on the album. The vibe is extremely positive and the musicianship is stellar. From the drumming by my favourite drummer, the late Ingo Schwichtenberg, who tragically committed suicide in 1995, to Kiske’s vocals. 100% joy.”

Iron Maiden “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” (1988)

“What can you say? It’s absolutely amazing. The vibe of the album is in my opinion very harsh and dark. This is not a ‘happy’ album whatsoever. From the opening kinda intro on ‘Moonchild’ to the last note of ‘Only the Good Die Young’, it’s a brilliant album. Dickinson’s voice peaked on the album in my opinion and the twin guitars by Dave Murray and Adrian Smith… Jesus Christ! Amazing! The rhythm section with Nicko McBrain on the drums and Steve Harris on bass really shines here. Without a doubt, this is Iron Maiden’s best album to date.”

King Diamond “Them” (1988)

”A Danish occult singer who had sung with Mercyful Fate. When that band called it quits, Kim Bendix Pedersen formed a new band named after his alter ego/stage name, King Diamond, with one of the guitar players from Mercyful Fate, Michael Denner, Swedish guitarist Andy LaRocque, former Mercyful Fate bass player Timi Hansen and Swedish drummer Mikkey Dee. They released their debut album ‘Fatal Portrait’ in 1986, which is a stunning album. Then they did the album that most fans believe is their best one, ‘Abigail’, in 1987. I never got the hype of ‘Abigail’, although it is an amazing album. In 1988, they released my favourite album, ‘Them’. It all starts with an intro which scared the crap out of me when I heard it the first time. Then the classic and famous drum intro roll from Mikkey. That set the standard for the album. Amazing. ‘Them’ is a concept album. Very dark story which I won’t go into any further. I urge you all to check it out. Listen to it with head phones in darkened room for the ultimate feel.”

Death “Human” (1991)

“My favourite death metal album of all time. What makes it so good is the drummer, Sean Reinert. Sean passed away a few years ago, but his legacy will for sure live on through his performance on ‘Human’. The musicianship on ‘Human’ was something that no one had heard before when it came out in 1991. The speed of the double bass drums was and is eve to this day, ridiculously fast. The songs are so complex, but the four of them managed to get it done with perfection. Sean on drums, bass player Steve Di Giorgio, guitarist Paul Masvidal and guitarist, vocalist and the guy who started the band, Chuck Schuldiner. Chuck died from a brain tumour in 2001. This is extreme metal, without being too over the top. The lyrics are actually very clever. No Satanism or blood and gore. It’s smart, extreme music, almost a bit jazzy. The bass player plays a fretless bass with his fingers. An amazing album from an amazing band.”

Guns N’ Roses “Appetite for Destruction” (1987)

“A masterpiece when it comes to hard rock. GNR was my first ‘love’ when it came to hard rock and metal. However, what got me interested from the start was the album cover. I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. It still is. Unfortunately, with all the censorship and stuff like that, they changed the cover art. Anyway, as a drummer myself, I really liked Steven Adler’s drumming on the album. It’s so far away from being ‘perfect’ but it’s perfect for the songs on the album. He has an outstanding groove, which suits the songs like a glove. The tempos within the songs are like riding a rollercoaster, but it just feels right. The musicianship overall is amazing. From Adler to the unique bass sound of Duff McKagan, to the toxic twins Izzy Stradlin and Slash on guitars. Then top that with Axl’s voice. It doesn’t get much better and more rock’n’roll than this album.”

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 69: Fred Estby

Fred Estby in Tokyo in 2016. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Swedish musician Fred Estby co-founded pioneering death metal band Dismember in 1988. The band released its debut album “Like an Ever Flowing Stream” in 1991. Fred was the band’s drummer for most of its existence. After some years apart, the original line-up reunited in 2019 and remains active. Fred has also played in several other bands such as Carnage, Necronaut and The Dagger. Additionally, throughout his career as a musician, he has been engineering and producing music, both in the studio and live. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson checked in with Fred to find out about the five records that made him feel the darkness.

KISS “Rock and Roll Over” (1976)

“During the first week of first grade, a class mate brought this album and a couple of other albums of theirs along with the KISS dolls. The music and image stirred something in me that I couldn’t explain.”

KISS “Dynasty” (1979)

“The first record I bought with my own money when it came out in 1979, 47 skr = $5.”

Judas Priest “Defenders of the Faith” (1984)

“I was at summer camp in 1984 and my dad sent me a copy on a cassette tape since he found the vinyl record when I was away. It wasn’t easy to get hold of the latest hard rock and heavy metal albums where I lived back then.”

Metallica “Kill ‘Em All” (1983)

“Together with the ‘No Life ‘til Leather’ demo, my heavy metal world upgraded to something I didn’t think was possible. There was a band that was faster and more aggressive than Motörhead?!”

Slayer “Reign in Blood” (1986)

“The extreme metal album of that time that presents never-ending hooks. That record influenced my riff writing immensely.”

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 68: Mantas

Mantas backstage in Tokyo in 2018. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Jeff “Mantas” Dunn co-founded British heavy metal band Venom in 1978. When they released their 1981 debut album “Welcome to Hell” they changed metal forever. Venom had a massive impact on thrash metal and all forms of extreme metal. The black metal sub-genre got its name from Venom’s second album. In addition to his pioneering work with Venom, Jeff has released albums and toured with his own band Mantas and reunited with former Venom frontman Tony “The Demolition Man” Dolan in the band M-Pire of Evil. The two Venom brothers are now carrying on the Venom legacy in the band Venom Inc. Venom Inc released its debut album “Avé” in 2017 and has toured globally. A new album is currently in production. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson checked in with Mantas to hear about the five albums that changed his life.

T. Rex “Ride a White Swan” (1972)

“The first album I bought as a kid with my own allowance money. My first immediate memory of this album is the majestic ‘King of the Rumbling Spires’. Released on Music For Pleasure/Fly Recordings and produced by Tony Visconti, probably the most notable songs on this album are the title track and the simply brilliant ‘Debora’. At this point all I had was magazines with photos of Marc Bolan and Mickey Finn, I had no idea what their performance was like. Then one day I vividly remember being at primary school on a rainy day and because we couldn’t go into the playground at break time the teacher put the radio on for us. It was the top 10 countdown and I waited eagerly to see if my favourite song, T Rex’s new single, at that time would be number 1. ‘And this week’s number 1 is, ‘Metal Guru’ by T Rex! This meant a guaranteed appearance on the BBC Thursday evening show ’Top of the Pops’ and that was my first ‘live’ visual experience of Marc Bolan. I’m still a fan to this day and have often wondered where his music would have gone had he still been with us. In mannerisms and movement, he could have been the prototype for Paul Stanley. But more than anything he was a great and innovative songwriter.”

Slade “Slayed?” (1972)

“Bought for me by my parents as a Christmas gift. Slade were definitely my first favourite band. Great guitar driven rock’n’roll with that voice that could break the sound barrier. ‘The Whole World’s Goin’ Crazee’, ‘Mama Weer All Crazee Now’, ‘Gudbye T’Jane’… One of the most consistently successful bands of the glam era of the 70s and this album, for me as a young fan way back then, was just pure Slade. As a footnote, is it just me or was there some similarities between the costumes of Dave Hill and Ace Frehley, hmm, I wonder? Actually, I think my first experience of what I would call a guitar solo was on the track ‘Look Wot You Dun’.”

KISS “Hotter than Hell” (1974)

“My first KISS album, again bought with my allowance money from a department store in Newcastle. I still have that original copy and, apart from ‘Alive!’, definitely my favourite early KISS album purely for the concept of it and the memories it evokes. Whilst flipping through the vinyls in a city centre department store as a kid looking for some heavy music, I landed upon a battered copy of ‘Alive!’. I was fascinated by the creatures on the cover and was desperate to hear what they sounded like. Unfortunately, the money in my pocket wouldn’t stretch to the cost of this album but right behind was an equally battered copy of ‘Hotter than Hell’. Now this I could afford and so the purchase was made and as soon as that needle hit the groove I was hooked – instant KISS fan! This album probably doesn’t contain my absolute favourite KISS songs but it is the album that I clearly remember purchasing and the effect it had on me from the first listen. It still contains some great material though.”

Judas Priest “Unleashed in the East” (1979)

“I first saw Priest in 1979 and that night changed my life and this album captures them perfectly, even if there are overdubs. Who cares? it sounds great. Early Venom used to play ‘The Green Manalishi’, albeit a Peter Green song. For me ‘Exciter’ was most certainly the first double bass drum song I ever heard. ‘Sinner’ and ‘Victim of Changes’ are most definitely two of the high points of this album for me and who can deny the absolute genius of ‘The Ripper’? I’ve been loyal to Priest ever since and it’s no secret that KK Downing was a huge influence on me and in some way became a distant mentor as I began my journey in the world of bands and music.”

Motörhead “Overkill” (1979)

“An album that had more influence on my early songwriting than I realised and the first line-up of Venom with Clive Archer on vocals used to perform a very respectable version of ‘No Class’. It was only years later when re-recording some of the Venom classics and analysing the songs that I realised just how much of an influence Fast Eddie Clarke’s playing was in my early songwriting attempts. That loose clanging rhythm and blues infused solos certainly must have soaked into my musical subconscious. As a side note of interest, when I returned home with my newly acquired copy of ‘Overkill’, I eagerly opened it to discover to my delight that it was green vinyl. I still have it in my collection today.”

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 67: Tony Franklin

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

English bassist Tony Franklin, aka The Fretless Monster, made a name for himself performing with Whitesnake, The Firm, Roy Harper and Blue Murder. He went on to perform with artists such as John Fogerty, Marty Friedman, Kate Bush, Quiet Riot, David Gilmour and many more. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson checked in with Tony to talk about the five albums that changed his life.

Queen “A Night at the Opera” (1975)

“I bought Queen’s ‘A Night at the Opera’ on the strength of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ which ruled the UK charts in late 1975. I was transfixed. At 13 years old, I’d never heard anything like this album. Symphonic in its scope, musically diverse – from hard rock to vaudeville: operatic, adventurous and playful. I never realised that rock music could be so dynamic and daring. I went on to see Queen live six times from 1977 to 1986. Their recorded and live performances influenced me immensely. With innovative production techniques, bold songwriting, outstanding musicianship and powerful captivating live performances, Queen had it all.”

ABBA “Greatest Hits” (1975)

“My dad owned the album, and at 13 years of age I played the album repeatedly. I still love ABBA and consider them masters of pop music songwriting, production and performance. Even at that age, I was aware of how skillfully they created musical hooks and passages that filled every second with meaningful melodies, sounds and rhythms. As I grew older, I appreciated their talents all the more, as I understood how difficult it is to do what they did, especially in the pop music format. Anyone who wishes to better understand the art of crafting timeless pop music, should make a sincere study of ABBA’s music.”

Jaco Pastorius “Jaco Pastorius” (1976)

“This album was brought to my attention by brilliant British jazz pianist Johnny Patrick. The album was released in 1976, but I didn’t hear it until 1979 when I was barely 17 years old. I’d been playing fretted bass for six or so years. Johnny placed the headphones on me, late at night, simply saying, ‘listen to this’. I was astounded. I never realised that bass could do so much! Jaco’s harmonics, his tone, his groove, and his compositions spawned a complete paradigm shift in my musical journey. I had to have a fretless bass, which I did, later that same year. Fretless bass has become my signature instrument, and this was the album that ignited the fretless spark.”

Stevie Wonder “Talking Book” (1972)

“This album has appeared at various times in my life, each time presenting me with different gifts and inspiration. This might well qualify as my sole desert island disc if I was forced to choose. First introduced to me by a friend in 1980, it covers many aspects of music that are dear to me. Pure inspiration, phenomenal songwriting, great performances, daring creativity, passionate vulnerable love songs and a funk and groove like no other. Stevie Wonder taught me more than anyone about groove and pocket. His use of complex chords and harmonies in essentially ‘simple’ songs – as in the opening track, ‘You Are the Sunshine of My Life’ – is nothing short of genius. Emotionally he shifts gears on ‘Maybe Your Baby’, which also has one of the nastiest and most innovative grooves I’ve ever heard. ‘You and I (We Can Conquer the World)’ is possibly my favourite love song, succinctly expressing vulnerability, inevitability, spirituality and commitment. Home to the iconic ‘Superstition’, ‘Talking Book’ is a stream of consciousness of consecutive musical gems that never fails to uplift, inspire and touch me.”

“Standing in the Shadows of Motown” soundtrack (2002)

“In 2008 I became aware of the powerful and emotional movie ‘Standing in the Shadows of Motown’. Featuring the legendary Funk Brothers, the band that played on almost every Motown song from 1959 to 1972, it highlighted the little-known heroes and innovators of this groundbreaking era in Motown’s history. A friend of mine sent me the Deluxe CD of the soundtrack from the movie. Disc 1 featured music from the movie. However, Disc 2, is musical treasure – select (mostly) instrumental remixes of the original Motown masters. My appreciation for Funk Brother bassist James Jamerson went through the roof. My respect for him was already sky high, but hearing these remixes brought my love for him to a whole new emotional level. His creativity, boldness, vision, execution and pure instinct elevated him to an almost other-worldly status in my estimation. The inspiration I received from this album is boundless. While there are plenty of Jamerson bass-only versions available, as well as the original songs themselves, to my ears, nothing comes close to highlighting his brilliance (and the rest of the Funk Brothers) as this little-known album.”