Recently we caught up with Jackson Benge (Guitar) of Pavement Entertainment band (hed) p.e.. We asked him to share his top ten albums of all time with us, what they meant to him and why they stood out. Jackson has been playing for (hed) p.e. for over a decade now and has almost 20 years of guitar playing under his belt.
This is a great look into the inspiration of the riffs and guitar work for the last decade of (hed) p.e.. Their new album “Evolution” drops July 22nd on Pavement Entertainment.
10. Stone Temple Pilots – “Purple “
This album was one of the first ones I ever became obsessed with. At the time, I was just starting to get into Rock music. I listened to this record non-stop. Dean DeLeo is one of the most underrated guitar players out there. He played leads, even during that brief period when leads weren’t considered all that cool, and played them with so much feel and tastefulness.
His style incorporates classic rock and psychedelic, but is reminiscent of guitar legends such as Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and Jimi Hendrix. “Vaseline”, “Meatplow”, “Army Ants”, and “Lounge Fly” are among my favorite tracks. Scott Weiland’s voice is one-of-a-kind and he is one of my favorite vocalists of all time. I love this record now just as much as I did then.
9. Korn – “Korn”
Every once in a while, a band comes along and turns the music scene upside down. Korn helped me recover my faith in creativity; especially in the realm of heavy music. With this album, and albums to follow, they legitimately created a new sound. The bass was no longer just an extension of the guitar riff. It was it’s own force to be reckoned with.
They took some of the most dirty and gritty guitar tones and mixed them with a dry, sub-driven rhythm section. On top of that, Jonathan Davis’s vocals and lyrics took off in a direction no one had ever heard before. When you talk about emotion, Davis really lets his demons out. Dissonant guitar chords and drone effects have become the signature Korn sound, and this album introduced the world to that.
8. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Blood Sugar Sex Magic”
The Chili Peppers have a long list of amazing work, but this album is definitely a favorite of mine. John Frusciante’s approach to the guitar is like no other. He had a bit of a Hendrix feel at times, but brought a whole lot more to the table as well. Flea is just a freak of a player and when you couple that with Chad Smith’s drumming, it’s a foundation that can’t be shaken.
The album takes you on a journey through some dark subjects such as in “I Could Have Lied” and mixes it up with feel-good grooves such as “Give It Away”. No track is without feel or groove and from beginning to end, this record is a masterpiece.
7. Jimi Hendrix – “Are You Experienced?”
For the course, Guitar Playing 101, Hendrix is THE prerequisite for all applicants. That’s just the way it is and how it will always be. There isn’t anything you can say about Jimi that hasn’t already been said. He took everything that came before him, ripped it apart, put it back together, amplified it tenfold, and threw it in your face.
He turned the guitar into more than just an instrument by turning things that weren’t considered conventional into the convention. All the intensity and showmanship that Jimi had would have been difficult to capture on record, but this album, I feel, does a great job.
6. Megadeth – “Youthanasia”
This is the first Megadeth album I ever bought and it was one of those mail-in trial subscriptions that allowed you to pick ten CDs and they shipped them to you for free. One of the CDs I chose was “Youthanasia”. This album isn’t as talked about as albums like “Countdown To Extinction” or “Rust In Peace”, which are both albums I love, but this one has a special place for me. It’s a huge sounding record compared to the others, musically and sonically.
Also, the line up including Marty, Nick, and David is my favorite, even though the other line ups are amazing as well. The guitar riff for “Train of Consequences” is so unique to me in that it uses a muted strum, but it is so percussive that you don’t really hear notes for that portion of the riff. That blew my mind when I first heard it. Not to mention, the riff actually sounds like a train. Marty’s leads are not only technically advanced, but compositionally sophisticated and mature. It’s almost like he is showing off without trying to show off. The songs were written with a more traditional approach than previous records, but the guitar tones and the way they were mixed are impeccable.
5. Black Sabbath – “Paranoid”
This album is a classic. It is responsible for influencing pretty much any metal band who came after, whether directly or indirectly. Unfortunately, enough time has passed where kids can now get away with listening to Metal without really knowing Sabbath’s music. But, if you listen to Metal, and never listened to Black Sabbath, you should know that the bands you like were most likely influenced by Black Sabbath and, thus, you have Sabbath to thank for that.
If you wanted to investigate, however, start with “Paranoid”. As Rick Rubin put it, this music is really, “Pre-Metal.” The songs did not follow the standard verse, chorus, verse, chorus format. The music was riff-based and Tony Iommi is known for his uncanny ability to crank out an endless supply of riffs like the Federal Reserve prints money. Geezer Butler plays the bass almost like a guitar; doing scale runs and bending the notes, while Bill Ward holds down the foundation with the strength of an ox and razor sharp precision. Bill and Geezer are locked. Ozzy’s vocals can’t be touched. “Paranoid” truly stands the test of time.
4. Kiss – “Destroyer”
After the release of “Alive!”, Kiss really stepped up the sound of their studio albums. Destroyer just sounds more massive than their first three studio albums, which are also great. With anthems such as “Detroit Rock City”, “God of Thunder”, and “Shout It Out Loud”, it’s no wonder Kiss’s music translates so well to large audiences. Everyone always talks about makeup and theatrics, but these guys came from the school of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Cream, and The Who.
I think it shows in the music. I also love that, even with the anthems, they still don’t take themselves too seriously. The lyrics to “Great Expectations” are a reminder that these guys have no problem paying tribute to the groupies. Kiss hit it out of the park with this record.
3. Motley Crue – “Too Fast for Love”
I am a huge Crue fan and the first time I heard “Take Me To The Top”, I was floored. This album is incredibly raw. Mick Mars mentions how he was surprised by how well the album did, considering he saw it as more of a demo than anything. But, that rawness contributes to the sound in a positive way for me. It’s got some Punk elements and some Metal elements, done in a way only Motley Crue can do.
“Live Wire” smacks you in the face immediately with that opening riff. It’s so simple and yet so crushing. And it’s the perfect way to open a record. I had so much fun playing along to that record, even though I had to tune my guitar down a whole step.
2. Ozzy Osbourne – “Diary of a Madman”
A lot of people talk about “Blizzard of Ozz” when discussing Randy Rhoads, but I have to mention this record. With songs like “Over the Mountain”, “Believer”, “You Can’t Kill Rock and Roll”, and the title track, “Diary of a Madman”, this album is the perfect follow up to Blizzard. Randy was really able to showcase his classical training a lot more on this one. The way he blended his guitar tones created a very unique and dark sound.
The solo in Diary sounds so ominous with his note selection and really creates its own mood within the mood of the song. But, Randy excelled at that anyway. Ozzy’s signature vocal sound, combined with top-notch song writing, makes this album an all-time great.
1. Alice In Chains – “Jar of Flies”
This record showcases some of the most haunting vocal harmonies you will ever hear. Layne and Jerry each had their own unique vocal sound, but when they stacked them together, it created an unmatched timbre. Layne was known to use old, beat-up microphones he found somewhere in order to get different tones, but his voice was unmistakable no matter what.
The guitar is crisp and clean and Mike Inez has a bass tone that cuts through steel. This album is about ambience and mood. They created an atmosphere where chords could ring out longer, solos could sustain and soar across the floor tracks, and the drums could breathe deeper. On top of that, the songs themselves are phenomenal. The lyrics go from happy to sad in a moment’s notice, but they are profound in their poetic subtlety.
That’s how Alice does it on every record, though. Everything complements everything else and that’s why I can listen to this record without having to think about the fact that I’m listening to it. Alice is my favorite band and I love every one of their records, but this album inarguably stands out from the others.