Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 80: Douglas Blair

Douglas Blair is the lead guitarist of the American heavy metal band W.A.S.P. He is a long-serving member of the band that he originally joined in 1992. The American guitarist is nowadays based in Finland. In addition to W.A.S.P., he is active with various projects, including his own band signal2noise. Douglas is the inventor of both the GuitarCross and the Blair Mutant Twin guitar. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson checked in with Douglas to find out about the five albums that made him wanna be somebody.

Led Zeppelin “The Song Remains the Same” (1976)

“With small plastic-box co-axial speakers mounted to the wooden headboard of my childhood bed, I’d listen with my head between them on the pillow every night while falling asleep. Starting with the rush of the crowd and then Bonzo’s hi-hat crescendo into ‘Rock and Roll’, this record took me straight into Madison Square Garden and the irreplaceable magic of the live chemistry that was the core of Zeppelin. And it may have single-handedly injected straight into my soul the desire to be in a band! This record is ingrained so deeply within, along with live records from that era such as KISS ‘Alive!’, Rush ‘All the World’s a Stage’, Peter Frampton ‘Frampton Comes Alive!’, Lynyrd Skynyrd ‘One More from the Road’, Thin Lizzy ‘Live and Dangerous’, Robin Trower ‘Robin Trower Live’ and Judas Priest ‘Unleased in the East’ – they truly informed my pre-Van Halen, pre-MTV development regarding guitar playing and band visions. And, along with guys likeJoe Perry, Rick Derringer, Frank Marino, Ted Nugent and Pat Travers, this really showed how the 70s were a truly epic time for American/English/Canadian guitar. Highlights: ‘The Rain Song’ (I still perform an acoustic arrangement of this often), ‘No Quarter’ (my power duosignal2noiseperforms this live and has recorded this), ‘Whole Lotta Love’.”

Type O Negative “October Rust” (1996)

“A never-ending soundtrack to autumn and October – the season of the Scorpio – every single year, since its release. A dark romance, with sensuality, humour, sadness and rage – also a great soundtrack to aspire to last through during… certain interpersonal physical activities. Highlights: ‘Love You to Death’ (‘Am I good enough? For you?’), ‘Be My Druidess’ (‘I’ll do anything to make you come’), ‘Red Water (Christmas Mourning)’ (‘Just last year I dined with eleven’), ‘My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend’(Our meat triangle’), ‘Cinnamon Girl’ (a Neil Young cover), one of their many epically re-imagined covers. Type O’s irresistible stew of The Cure, Black Sabbath and Hallowe’en emblazoned with Peter’s earthquake of a voice are perfectly packaged in this collection. Amazingly clever harmonies, instrumentation and bass guitar are hidden behind the sometimes kitschy but engaging humour and intensity of the delivery. Tool’s iconic ‘Aenima’ had also been released around this time. The circus/vampire keyboards are just classic.”

Poe “Haunted” (2000)

“Her second record, the MTV favourite created a beautiful family story that takes every listener on its long journey. This artist was way ahead of her time. She found cassette tapes of messages to her from her deceased father and, along with her brother, created a beautiful aural and written story around it. ‘House of Leaves’ was her brother MarkDanielewski’s companion story, which made it onto the New York Times best sellers’ list the same year. Then she disappeared. This extremely diverse record is tied together with effective and affecting segues. Highlights: ‘Haunted’, ‘Control’, ‘Wild’, ‘Hey Pretty’ (with an awesome re-mix voiced by her brother Daniel, and describing a white-knuckled drive down the iconic Mulholland Boulevard in Hollywood), ‘Amazed’.”

Wynona “Lost Hill” (2002)

“Discovering this Copenhagen-based Americana band, watching them on a rainy outdoor city festival in 2002, me and my ex – by complete serendipity – then heard their entire debut record played over the PA as the festival closed the next day. We promptly trekked across town to buy copies at the local record store, which we both wore out within the next year – while taking two trips abroad to see the band in Denmark. One trip was on my birthday and the other to see their final show under the big tent at the legendary RoskildeFestival in July 2003. Camilla’s divinely natural and intensely personal voice merges with Jesper’s living and breathing Telecaster and the pedal steel slide guitars, with a space as big as the Montana sky above and around them. Some songs are so sad, it is very hard to listen to them without being transformed. They released a second record, ‘Santiago’, in 2003, before splintering out into several already-formed groups. Just one of those right-place-at-the-right-time things that become such an unexpected influence. Highlights: ‘Railroad’, ‘Lost Hill’, ‘Rain Weather’.”

Steven Wilson “Hand. Cannot. Erase.” (2015)

“This record is the most recent in my list, seamlessly connecting my 70s prog past (Yes, Rush) with Steven Wilson’s solo and Porcupine Tree present, as far as playing and song structure. Guthrie Govan is stellar as is Marco Minnemann – this line-up was a climax of sorts, never to be again. But, eclipsing the actual playing found here, are the human stories found within that touch on many aspects, as Wilson is so, so good at. Ninet Tayeb, a popular Israeli singer, stars here as well. Highlights: ‘Hand Cannot Erase’, ‘Perfect Life’ (its video and its remixes. Well, hardly words to describe), ‘Routine’ (maybe the saddest story Steven Wilson ever tackled, aside from ‘The Raven That Refused to Sing’ and ‘Drive Home’), ‘Happy Returns’ (and the final delivery of the listener back into the world). And every other song in between – taking me out of this world and back. Steven’s music – of all versions – has connected with me more than any other modern music, giving eternal hope that there will always be a new Prince, Bowie, Van Halen, Dylan. They only look different and sound a bit different from generation to generation. But they tell the world’s stories, through the human heart. Definitely number one.”