Those of you on the board who know my musical tastes are gonna roll your eyes at some of my selections, but for me, the following albums produced an immediately positive and visceral reaction out of me the first time I heard them. Not even Elvis Costello can do that for me, but these did the trick:
Big Star, #1 Record/Radio City
My buddy and I had a long-standing Christmas tradition of going to Rolling Stones in Norridge and buying each other the CD of our choice. I know how stupid it sounds (we were just buying ourselves a CD, right?), but for two equally obsessed-for-music dudes such as ourselves, we didn't sweat the small details like that; we just bought the other guy the disc, said Merry Christmas, and enjoyed the discs in the car of whoever was driving that night. My choice in '92 was this amazing two-fer. I'd heard the Posies' version of "Feel" on the b-side of "Suddenly Mary", then heard the original in 2nd Hand Tunes Evanston. Hmm, Big Star? Then of course was the reunion, and my curiosity was piqued. I listened to it, and said, "There we go. This is amazing!!!" It was the first critically-acclaimed CD to actually live up to all of the hype that had been heaped upon it.
The Loud Family, Plants and Birds and Rocks and Things
This, along with the aforementioned Big Star disc, are my two faves of all time. When I heard Plants for the first time, I didn't need to think on it whether or not I loved it; I just knew. (God, that sounds like a high-school girl describing a crush on the school quarterback. Except this is no crush, this is trooLove, brothers 'n sisters!!). When you take powerpop and add a healthy dose of experimentation and found sounds and a so-weird-it-shouldn't-work-but-it-does EVH guitar solos mixed in, it was a powerful experience. Still is for me.
Other love-at-first-listen-and-still-love-'em discs:
Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers, LAMF: The Lost '77 Sessions
Cheap Trick, Cheap Trick 1977
Jellyfish, Spilt Milk
Love Nut, Baltimucho
Todd Rundgren, Hermit of Mink Hollow and The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect
Primal Scream, Vanishing Point