As lead singer of multi-platinum rock brats Ugly Kid Joe back in the '90s, Whitfield Crane almost certainly never envisaged releasing a reflective album of heartfelt, stripped down songs. But that's what he's about to do as one half of RICHARDS/CRANE, alongside Dropbox and Godsmack man Lee Richards.
The album came out of their previous entanglement as members of Another Animal, and features guest performances by the likes of classical Indian artist Vishal Vaid and Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge and Slash fame.
We caught up with Whitfield and asked him about the key records that influenced his development and continue to guide his musical journey.
Richards/Crane will be released on May 20.
1. The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Axis: Bold As Love (1967)
"Jimi Hendrix always influenced me from day one and was one of the artists that really affected me. When I grew up the art of vinyl was always really exciting.
"If you open up the Bold as Love vinyl it’s got a load of deity-type stuff from India. And of course the songs on that record are amazing."
2. The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland (1968)
"Jimi really bought in a lot of different musicians that he loved for this record. In particular on this album I found 1983… (A Merman I Should Turn To Be) to be a long, patient and lyrically inspiring song."
3. Cat Stevens - Tea For The Tillerman (1970)
"He took pop stardom to the very top. It’s not the prettiest place but he left that and found spirituality. I recently saw him perform in San Francisco and he was so unashamed in his positivity.
"You can hear such a profound centre and inspiration in his lyrics in this record. He’s a special guy."
4. Lynyrd Skynyrd - Street Survivors (1977)
"This is a record that makes me joyous to this very day. My sister gave me this record when I was in Freshman year in high school.
"She said I’d be done with it by junior year and of course I was never done with it – I’m still not done with it. Great songs and a really powerful band – I think one of the better American bands to date."
5. Van Halen – Van Halen (1978)
"What an electrifying record – unbelievable really. You think of Van Halen as just a big party band, which of course they were. But if you really listen to that record it’s dark as fuck.
"Something I noticed later is the difference between a lot of bands that were super successful were the backup vocals. With Michael Anthony hitting that high, it was like a barbershop quartet."
6. AC/DC - Highway To Hell (1979)
"That was the other album my sister gave me. That album is great. If you want a dark, dark, dark song, you listen to Night Prowler.
"There’s also a moment in Beating Around The Bush where Bon sneaks in the lyric 'You’re the meanest woman in the world I know’. You really need to know he’s saying that to even believe that he can wedge those syllables in."
7. Pink Floyd - The Wall (1979)
"An incredible opus. Word on the street was that they put everything they had financially into making it. The people that worked on it took quite some time to do it.
"It’s gone on to be this iconic, incredible record. I don’t think it’s limited to the time signature and is a coming of age record."
8. Judas Priest - Sad Wings Of Destiny (1976)
"That record is frickin’ crazy. It’s got such dimension – the three dimensional genius of Glenn Tipton writing his ass off.
"If we were gonna send out music to space to represent heavy metal one I’d send would be Victim Of Changes and also Black Sabbath’s Sabbath Bloody Sabbath – those songs are the top of the mountain."
9. Metallica - Master Of Puppets (1986)
"That’s got Cliff Burton all over it. Those guys made it really fast. I’m pretty sure when Metallica were young they didn’t know they were making Master Of Puppets.
"I’m sure that they must be amazed at how it turned out. It’s so brutal and great and hungry and young – inspiring and dimensional, almost orchestral. A really special record. It just gets better."
10. Al Green - Call Me (1973)
"That drummer is so fuckin’ crazily in the pocket. I don’t think there’s but one or two symbol hits on the record which opens up the entire vocal.
"Al Green’s voice is a fuckin’ tuned Steinway piano. If you ever just want to space out and be inspired by some really good songs just listen to the album Call Me."