Korea Guitar Readers Top Ten Albums Part 1

I thought it would be fun to find out what Korea Guitar’s readers listen to and what influenced them.  I’ll run this in parts so there isn’t too much information overload.

This edition features yours truly, Van Walker of The Bump City Band in Daejeon, South Korea, Matt Ross of Atlantic A.M. and Fake The Future, also in Daejeon,  Armin Kamal of Infrared in Ottawa, Canada and Chris Catero of Razer, from Phoenix, Arizona and David Robinson of Atlantic A.M. in Daejeon.  These are their favorite Guitar Albums.

Ken Vantour (Daejeon, South Korea)

(Most of my choices are from the heart.  Special moments that hold great memories for me.)

  1. Rush – Permanent Waves220px-Rush_Permanent_Waves

It was Moving Pictures that got me into Rush, but Permanent Waves quickly became my go to.  In my humble opinion, this album and Moving Pictures both had perfect side 1’s.  The solo in Jacob’s ladder sends chills down my spine and Natural Science is an absolute monster.

Guitarists: Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee

Favorite Tracks: Natural Science, Jacob’s Ladder

2. Van Halen – Van HalenVan_Halen_album

This is my trapped on a desert island album.  The infamous Brown sound, this album redefined Rock and Roll guitar.  The solo in Ice Cream Man is the reason I play guitar.

Guitarist: Uncle Eddie

Favorite Track: All of them

3. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble – Texas FloodStevieRayVaughanTexasFlood

Had the distinct joy of interviewing Stevie’s bass player in Double Trouble, Tommy Shannon.  This album was really the first record that got me into the blues.  I love everything SRV did, but this one is a step above the rest.  Texas Flood should be mandatory listening for every guitar player in the world.

Guitarist: SRV

Favorite Track: Texas Flood, Pride and Joy (Holy Crap!!!!)

4. Iron Maiden – PowerslaveIron_Maiden_-_Powerslave

I know this choice is a weird one for Maiden fans, but this album is the one for me.  The first time I saw Maiden was on this tour and the songs from this album were definitely the highlights.  Not many bands can record a 13 minute song (Rime of the Ancient Mariner) and not bore you. Not a bad tune on this one.

Guitarists: Adrian Smith, Dave Murray

Favorite Tracks: 2 Minutes to Midnight, Powerslave

5. Ozzy Osbourne – Blizzard of Ozz220px-Blizzard_of_ozz

Randy Rhodes…’Nuff Said

Guitarist: Randy Rhodes

Favorite Track: I Don’t Know, Mr. Crowley, Dee

6. Metallica – Master Of Puppets220px-Metallica_-_Master_of_Puppets_cover

Simply put, this album should be called Masterpiece of Puppets.

Guitarists: Kirk Hammett, James Hetfield

Favorite Track: Master Of Puppets, Battery, Sanitarium

7. Def Leppard – Pyromania220px-Def_Leppard_-_Pyromania

The simplicity is what gets me here. The tour for this album was  the first concert I ever saw, so it holds a special place in my heart

Guitarists: Phil Collen, Steve Clark

Favorite Track: Too Late For Love, Rock! Rock! (Til You Drop)

8. Extreme – Pornograffitti220px-Extreme-pornograffitti

Screw More Than Words…This album rocks…hard.  Nuno’s rhythms are out of this world and his solos ain’t too bad either.  He’s one dude I want to feature on this site.  (By the way, More Than Words rocks in its own way)    

Guitarist: Nuno

Favorite Track: He Man Woman Hater, Decadence Dance, Get The Funk Out

9. I Mother Earth – Scenery and Fish220px-Scenery_And_Fish

This is a strange pick, until you hear the album.  Do yourself a favor…GET IT!  Jag is a beast and there are no duds on this one.

Guitarist: Jagori Tanna

Favorite Track: One More Astronaut (That Breakdown!  Whew), Like A Girl, Used To Be Alright

10. Judas Priest – Defenders of the Faith220px-Defenders_of_the_Faith

I know I’m in the minority on this one (Painkiller is usually the fav among Priest fans), but when I heard the first few seconds of Freewheel burning, I was hooked.  This album is a tour de force guitar-wise.  KK Downing was also the first international star to be interviewed on Korea Guitar.  I owe him a beer or 12.

Guitarists:  KK and Glenn

Favorite Track:  The Sentinel (Those trade off solos make what little hair I have left on my head stand up), Freewheel Burning, Rock Hard Ride Free

Honorable mention: Queensryche-Operation:Mindcrime, Every VH album, Aerosmith-Toys In The Attic, Scorpions-Love At First Sting, Triumph-Thunder Seven, Steve Vai-Passion and Warfare and the list goes on.


VAN WALKER (Daejeon, South Korea via Detroit and Chicago)

(Van was the first guitarist to answer Korea Guitar’s 20 Questions on August 30 2014.  Check out his interview here)

Van is from Detroit but currently lives in Daejeon, South Korea.  He is the singer/guitarist with Daejeon’s Bump City Band.

 Van Halen – Fair Warning

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced

Steve Vai – The Story Of Light

Metallica – Master of Puppets

AC/DC – Back In Black

The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers

Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti

Stevie Ray Vaughan – Couldn’t Stand The Weather

Aerosmith – Rocks

ZZ Top – Tres Hombres


ARMIN KAMAL  (Ottawa, Canada)

Armin Kamal, husband, father, ex P.I., Hi Tech worker and metal head!…..Currently the lead singer and guitarist of the thrash metal band Infrared, which was resurrected after a 27 year hiatus and are just about to release their first album in early 2016. (Korea Guitar: Hopefully to be featured on Korea Guitar Soon!)

 Metallica –Master of Puppets

Perfect album start to finish

Metallica –Ride the Lightning

Great solos, the title track stands out for that.

Scorpions- In Trance

Uli Roth is the king of wicked and soulful guitar riffs….period.

Scorpions- Virgin Killer

Your Light and The Sales of Charon are insane for guitar riffs with total feeling

Scorpions- Taken By Force

Megadeth –Killing is My Business

The riffs shred as much as the solos

Megadeth-Peace Sells

Just memorable all the way through

Megadeth- Rust in Peace

Perfect album start to finish

Iron Maiden –Iron Maiden

I loved the raw energy of the guitars and the vocals

Iron Maiden- Killers

Same as first album

Iron Maiden- Number of the Beast

Perfect album start to finish

Queen- Sheer Heart Attack and A Night at the Opera

All things Queen are killer. Brian May really has a unique style all his own

All AC/DC albums 1981 and earlier

This band introduced me to rock and got me hooked. The vocals and guitars were so raw and powerful….loved every note.


MATT ROSS: (Daejeon, South Korea via Charlotte, North Carolina)

(Matt was also featured on Korea Guitar with his band Guilt Kick.  Check out his interview here)

Matt Ross sings and plays guitar for Daejeon bands Atlantic A.M. and Fake the Future.

  1. Queens of the Stone Age-Songs for the Deaf220px-Queens_of_the_Stone_Age_-_Songs_for_the_Deaf

One of the most righteous records of the 21st century and a showcase for Josh Homme’s glorious C tuned guitar sound. Simultaneously heavy, sexy, sly, and dangerous.

Key Tracks:Song for the Dead”, “No One Knows

  1. Ramones-RamonesRamones_-_Ramones_cover

Any guitar player who says the Ramones are easy to play has never tried to do what Johnny Ramone did the way he did it. Most of them can’t hang. And The Ramones played even faster live.

Key Tracks:Blitzkrieg Bop”, “53rd & 3rd

  1. Black Sabbath-Master of Reality220px-Black_Sabbath_-_Master_of_Reality

Very few albums match Master of Reality’s sheer heaviness. Tony Iommi is one of the few guitarists we can really say helped usher an entire genre into existence.

Key Tracks:Lord of this World,” “Into the Void

  1. Metallica-…And Justice For All220px-Metallica_-_...And_Justice_for_All_cover

I’m a diehard Master of Puppets guy, but …And Justice is where Hetfield and Hammett really pushed themselves into new and interesting directions. Metallica would never be this daring again.

Key Tracks:Blackened”, “One

  1. My Bloody Valentine-LovelessMyBloodyValentineLoveless

A guitar album so crazy you can mistake the guitars for keyboards. Kevin Shields and Belinda Butcher pushed rock guitar to an almost unrecognizable place with pedals, loops, extreme multi-tracking, and dozens of other tricks.

Key Tracks:Only Shallow,” “Soon

  1. PJ Harvey-Rid of MeRid_of_Me

Sparse, heavy, jangly, primitive, and gorgeous, this was PJ at her rawest. This record buries a lot of the so-called heavy alt-rock stuff of its era. Key Tracks:Rid of Me”, “50ft Queenie

  1. The Beatles-A Hard Day’s NightHardDayUK

The Beatles, even in their early stages, made complex music sound simple. Unusual chord voicings abound. The Beatles never met a 7th chord they didn’t like.

Key Tracks:A Hard Day’s Night”, “If I Fell

  1. Helmet-Meantime220px-Helmet_Meantime

Heaviest record of the 1990s. Jazzheads playing deceptively simple sounding metal. Any guitar player who tells you Drop D is cheating has never tried to play Helmet.

Key Tracks:Meantime”, “Turned Out

  1. Prince-Purple RainPrincepurplerain

Sure, there’s a lot of non-guitar stuff happening on Purple Rain but you can’t deny Prince’s mastery of the guitar. All his solos in particular here are just classic.

Key Tracks: “When Doves Cry”, “Let’s Go Crazy”

  1. Iggy & the Stooges-Raw Power220px-StoogesRawPower

James Williamson brought the thunder on this one. I remember getting this record when I was 15 and slowly realizing that all the rock music I liked sounded like the Stooges. Gloriously unhinged stuff.

Key Tracks:Search & Destroy”, “Shake Appeal

CHRIS CATERO (Phoenix, Arizona)

Chris Catero-Razer
Chris Catero-Razer

(Chris was recently featured on Korea Guitar.  Check out his interview here)

Chris is the bass player with Phoenix, Arizona based hard rock band Razer and was also the touring bassist with guitar legend Marty Friedman.

From Chris: The order of this list probably changes day to day for me but here are the guitar albums that are must-haves in my opinion:
1) Van Halen – “Van Halen” Van_Halen_album
Undeniably the greatest guitar album of all time…it spawned an entire generation of players unlike anything that had come before it and to this day stands as one of music in general’s watershed moments. Eddie’s tone and phrasing were totally unique, and the band itself kicked ass. Total game changer.
2) Ozzy Osbourne – “Blizzard Of Ozz” 220px-Blizzard_of_ozz
To me this album was just a step behind “Van Halen 1” in influence but really was my introduction as a kid to classical music within the context of rock. The “Mr. Cowley” solo alone still inspires air guitaring of the highest order!
3) Stevie Ray Vaughn – “Texas Flood”StevieRayVaughanTexasFlood
I hate overly technical guitar music that is all chops and no emotion, and this is the album I’d always point to for the best example of being able to have great chops AND play with amazing emotion and phrasing. What Stevie could do on guitar was unreal as you felt every damn note he played.
4) Iron Maiden – “Piece Of Mind”Iron_Maiden_-_Piece_Of_Mind
This album is the pinnacle of twin lead guitar playing in heavy metal. Adrian Smith and Dave Murray took the 70’s Thin Lizzy-ish formula and made it the standard by which all metal bands after followed. Every young modern metal band who plays twin leads apes their formula yet never can quite do it as good…
5) Megadeth – “Rust In Peace”220px-Megadeth-RustInPeace
Ok one could accuse me of being partial because I played and am friends with Marty Friedman, but well before I every met Marty this nugget of guitar mastery was infiltrating my guitar psyche. To me this is the absolute greatest thrash guitar album ever created. The material is super technical yet catchy as hell and makes you completely throw the horns at every turn, and Marty’s leads were so exotic and intoxicating he made all his contemporaries seem just a little quaint in comparison.
6) Whitesnake – “Whitesnake ’87”220px-Whitesnake_(album)
John Sykes is a god, there I said it! I’ve heard a lot of guys try to cop his style but it’s never quite like the real deal, and Sykes’ tone was impeccable. His leads on a technical level aren’t quite as hard as they seem, but the feel, phrasing and sheer veracity in which they’re played is what totally sucked me in (addendum B to this album would be the first Blue Murder btw!). Awesome songs and awesome guitar playing = $ and this one is all money!
7) Scorpions – “Lovedrive”220px-Scorpions-album-lovedrive
Admittedly this might not be the quintessential album Michael Schenker played on but this one led me to all his other records as a young kid. And this one has probably my most favorite instrumental of all time in “Coast To Coast”. Schenker to this day plays 2-3 songs from this album every night in his own set which speaks volumes on the material here.
8) Judas Priest – “Screaming For Vengeance” 220px-Judas_Priest_SforV
Kind of like Iron Maiden, Priest in my mind define two guitar hard rock/metal. Glenn Tipton and KK Downing worked so well together to make this HUGE wall of guitar on albums and like Maiden their styles complemented each other well. “Screaming For Vengeance” has a very unique guitar sound and there’s just tasty goodness on guitar all over this one.
9) Black Sabbath – “Heaven & Hell”220px-Black_Sabbath_Heaven_and_Hell
Tony Iommi nowadays deservedly gets massive props for being the godfather of heavy metal guitar but in the 80’s when shred was in full bloom a lot of people thought he was just “okay” as a soloist. But if you listen to “Heaven & Hell” (my fav Sab album btw) Tony’s tone is incredible and his licks and phrasing are totally memorable. The reverbed out guitar solos in “Die Young” and the outro of “Lonely Is The Word” just get me every time.
10) Scorpions – “Best Of Scorpions”220px-BestOfScorpions
This is the one from the 70’s with Uli Roth on guitar. I could pick “Taken By Force” too here but it was the best of compilation that got me into Uli’s playing. Ritchie Blackmore usually gets cited as the master of bridging rock and more technical classical type guitar playing at the time, and I really love his playing too, but I think Uli was lightyears ahead of anyone else in the 70’s as far as the fusing hard blues rock playing with fluid and fiery technicality, Blackmore included. All you have to listen to is the intro solo in “Sails Of Charon” to get just how far ahead of other players he was at the time.
DAVID ROBINSON – (Daejeon, South Korea)
 Anyway, I’m David. I’m from England. I live in Daejeon, and like to play guitar in bands. I currently play in Atlantic AM.
1. FLEETWOOD MAC – RumoursFMacRumours
The music you listen to as a kid really never leaves you. Lindsay Buckingham is still my guitar hero, and I catch myself ripping off FM melodies all the time!
Fave song: The Chain
2. GUNS N ROSES-Appetite For DestructionGunsnRosesAppetiteforDestructionalbumcover
The first album I bought. Probably won’t ever stop singing the guitar solos in noraebangs (Korean Karaoke rooms).
Fave song: Night Train
3.  IRON MAIDEN – Somewhere In Time220px-Iron_Maiden_-_Somewhere_in_Time
Almost impossible to pick a single favourite Maiden album (just like The Replacements, I don’t actually think they ever made a completely fulfilling album front-to-back, and work better as a compilation band), but this one has Stranger In A Strange Land and Alexander The Great on it, so that seals the deal. It also brought in the synths which pissed a lot of people off, but I liked them.
4.NIRVANA – Bleach220px-Nirvana-Bleach
My Dad bought me this album when I must’ve been 10 or 11, and I distinctly remember initially being disappointed and confused. Like, it was heavy and noisy so that was cool, but it didn’t sound or look like Skid Row, so that was weird. Eventually I came to love it, which I guess took me the first steps away from hair metal, and began a gradual ushering-in of thousands of bands with short hair and shitty recordings.
Fave Song: Sifting
5. DEFTONES – Around The Fur220px-Deftones_-_Around_the_Fur
This was some of the first heavy music I heard that didn’t seem loaded with any of the embarrassing baggage often associated with heavy metal. Still sounds brilliant and fresh now; an amazing combination of crushing riffs and delicate melodies.
Fave song: Around The Fur
6. AT THE DRIVE-IN – Relationship Of Command.220px-At_the_Drive-In_-_Relationship_of_Command_cover
This album brought home to me what “punk” means, or at least what it can be. When I first heard “Cosmanaut” I had no real idea what I was hearing but realised that it was everything I liked about rock music.
Fave song: Cosmonaut
7.  MOGWAI – Come On Die YoungMogwai-come-on-die-young-cover
Maybe the best instrumental album ever. Bleak, sprawling, beautiful. One of the first “guitar albums” I got into that didn’t really rock.
8. TEXAS IS THE REASON -s/t EPR-2763668-1337182543-2727.jpeg
Perfect “post-hardcore” in the truest sense: guys who previously played in hardcore bands making more melodic music and writing killer songs. Flawless EP.
Fave song: Antique
9. AFGHAN WHIGS – Gentlemen220px-Gentlemen
Everything Greg Dulli has played on has been great. Can’t think of any other musician with a 25-year career who I can say the same about. Not sure if any other band in history would be capable of stealing the bassline of the Jackson 5 tune “I Want You Back” and the chords from the Twin Peaks theme, and somehow make a brilliant, snarling rock song documenting the ugly end of a relationship.
Fave song: Debonair
10 LIFE AT THESE SPEEDS – To Your Health life
It’s an wonderful thing to live in a place where your friends are making incredible music and you can see their bands play regularly. When I lived in the States, in Portland, OR for a few years in the mid 2000’s I was fortunate enough to experience that. LATS did “emo” music properly and were pretty much my ideal band.
Fave song: Author’s Name
If you would like to submit a list of your ten favorite albums, send me an e-mail to koreaguitar1@gmail.com
Don’t forget to like Korea Guitar on Facebook.  Click here.

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