“5 Albums That Changed My Life” with Darius Holbert

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Darius Holbert’s choices for 5 of his favorite albums make him someone I’d probably like to hang out with. He composes musical scores for film, TV, and news media, which is pretty awesome. Check out his choices after the jump.

1) Jeff Buckley – “Grace”

This album is pretty damn perfect.  Anytime an artist can cover Leonard Cohen and have it be the definitive performance AND cover a Benjamin Britten carol all the while without sounding like a pretentious, twee ass, you know you have a national treasure on your hands.  Jeff absolutely had it all: a stellar ear and poetic sensibilities, blazing guitar chops, a voice like the perfect combination of all the greatest rock and pop voices of all time, un-self-conscious good looks, and a helluva killer band.  It’s a corny old chestnut that gets way overused, but this genius left us far too soon.

2) Guns n’ Roses – “Appetite For Destruction”

I had to buy two cassette tapes of this because I wore out the first one in a matter of days.  An amazing zenith of a perfect band hitting its stride at the perfect time, like filling a vacuum that nobody knew was there until it was filled.  In the dictionary next to the word ‘rock’ it has an mp3 of “Mr. Brownstone”

3) A Tribe Called Quest – “Low End Theory”


I know every goddam word to this record, come test me in a karaoke bar and I will destroy all comers.

4) D’Angelo – “Voodoo”

This was like a sea-change when it came out.  It was reminiscent of what had gone on before, but sounded totally brand-new.  The writing was fresh, the band was monstrous, and the whole package worked as a glimpse into an heretofore unseen voodoo world.  Plus Saadiq’s bass playing on “Untitled” is HOLY MOTHER OF JESUS good.

5) George Jones – “50 Years of Hits”

I cut my teeth on the honky-tonks of the Chittlin’ Circuit and country music has always been a great unrequited love of mine.  This album from The Possum showcases some of country’s greatest writing and sangin’ for half a century.  I’ve always held that the Tin Pan Alley guys like Cole Porter and even the Brill Building writers went into country music in the 60s and 70s.  The way they pack such epic songwriting into 2 and a half minutes is unmitigated genius.

And just because there can be no list from me without a Zep appearance…

6) Led Zeppelin – III


There was a year in my life where I listened to nothing but The Zep.  I’m sure my mother thought I was into Satan, but it was probably just D n D. Pick any album from these guys – you won’t find a better quartet ever – this one just happens to have “Out On the Tiles” and “Immigrant Song.”  The rhythm section on this band cannot be beat and they never got near as many chicks as pretty Plant and Page.  Fairly sure they got plenty of chicks though.

And also because I’m not good at math, here are more life-changers yet:
Miles Davis – “Birth of the Cool” – with Gil Evans’ arrangements this IS modern jazz
Chris Whitley – “Weed” – A man, a resonator guitar, and a minidisc recorder (remember those?)  Jaw-dropping in its delivery (Chris’ not the minidisc’s.)
Erich Kunzel; Cincinnati Pops Orchestra  – “Copland: The Music of America” – this is the sound of America and it was written by a gay new york jew. How great is this country?!
House of Pain – “House of Pain” – How can you not Jump Around when you hear Shit Kickers?

Darius Holbert is an award-winning composer of music for film, television, and new media. Having studied music at London’s Royal Academy of Music and the University of North Texas, his music is featured on myriad television shows such as American Horror StoryGrey’s Anatomy, and American Idol. Likewise, his films have won awards at Sundance, LA Film Fest, and more. Recent top honors notably include best original film score at the Moondance International Film Festival. Not limiting himself to composition, Holbert also lends a hand to producing records, musical directing productions, and artist development.
Be on the lookout for a number of new projects from Darius: he just wrapped on the score for a Peter Berg documentary to kick off Berg’s new HBO docfilm series next month.  He’s working up score for his 2nd season on the Hulu exclusive show, Quick Draw, as well as scores for a number of new films including the new horror feature Old 37. The upcoming slate for Holbert also includes works for a NYC modern dance company, a norwegian documentary series, and a new album from the artist Everlast.


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