Miles Davis – Bitches Brew
This is a record that my father played a lot when I was growing up. I became very fond of it, and as it was probably one of the very first records I became deeply familiar with, I believe it shaped my understanding for what was considered ‘normal’ to include in a record. The eclectic, unpredictable and experimental nature of it is deeply fascinating to me, and remains so to this day.
Opeth – Ghost Reveries
I had been listening to a lot of metal music before I discovered Opeth. This record in particular really raised the bar for what I would consider progressive metal. The ferocity and beauty in the writing and moods was a real eye opener for me in regards to what could be expressed under the umbrella of heavy music.
Led Zeppelin – IV
It’s nearly impossible for me to pick a favourite Zeppelin record, but for me IV captures the best of each member. By this stage the Zeppelin machine is well and truly turning, and there’s an unstoppable depth and voodoo to each members performance and writing on IV that inspires me today, as much as it did the first time I heard it. The songwriting and texture is truly spellbinding.
AC/DC – Back In Black
AC/DC brought some of the heaviest rock songs known to planet earth on this album, and the execution in the simplicity is key to what makes this record important to me. The power of a simple idea is no better executed than on this album. Plus the production and attitude of the guitar playing is incredible.
Dream Theater – Scenes From A Memory
This album is (in my opinion) one of, if not, the greatest examples of progressive heavy music in existence. I first heard it nearly 20 years ago, and to this day it impresses me. I had not heard such mastery of each band member within a band until I discovered Scenes From A Memory. The true progressiveness and immense songwriting really shaped my own arrangements and provided me with a technical benchmark that I still refer to today.
Catch James performing at the Melbourne Guitar Show kicking off on Saturday August 3 at the Caulfield Racecourse.