"This is hard, man!"
“This is hard, man! Picking your 10 favourite records…there is so much good stuff out there,” says metal legend Rex Brown. “I listen to all kids of crazy shit, from Sinatra to Slayer.”
The eclectic nature of Brown’s record collection is evident throughout debut solo album, Smoke On This…, and it is a body of work that melds classic grunge with Brown’s ‘70s rock influences.
Again, we shouldn’t be surprised at the album’s sound, as Rex reveals that his early influences played a big part in the making of this, his first ever solo release.
“On this new record, I went back and listened to a lot of this stuff to figure out why I started doing this in the first place,” he says.
All the more reason for us to delve back through Rex’s go-to albums as we discuss the records that changed his life.
1. Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti (1975)
“My sister left me an abundance of Stones and Beatles records, Jerry Lee Lewis and all this kind of stuff.
“I had the Elvis records on Sun ’78 singles. But, for me, the ones that changed me were things like Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti or III. I’m a die-hard Zeppelin fan.
“I was a late bloomer with Zeppelin. I got tired of the whole bubblegum, KISS, Love Gun shit. I went back and listened to those records that had came out three or four years earlier; it’s just great songwriting.”
2. The Beatles - Revolver (1966)
“Revolver was one of the first records that really grabbed me.
“I don’t why know I keep going back to that album. People say, ‘Dude, the White Album!’ But Revolver is so good. Listening as a kid it had so many great tracks.
“Everything seems to go back to The Beatles. I can see that even though I lean more towards The Stones because I like the dirty grit. But when it comes to pure songwriting since I have been alive, it’s always been The Beatles. Without The Beatles a lot of these records on this list wouldn’t have been made.”
3. ZZ Top - Tres Hombres (1973)
“ZZ Top is one I keep going back to. Now that I’m playing as much guitar as I am now, this is a record I keep going back to.
“Every song on that record is great. If you listen to Billy Gibbons’ guitar sound and the way he pieces the songs together, it is one of the best-sounding records that you could possibly get. Stick the vinyl of that on and it’s great.”
4. Aerosmith - Rocks (1976)
“This was definitely one for me. I love this and Get Your Wings.
“I used to listen to this record on a crackly old stereo. I’d get more power if I ran it mono sometimes. I could do that and stash weed in the back of the other speaker.”
5. The Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers (1971)
“I loved anything from ’67 to ’74 by the Stones. I think a lot of that work has been overlooked from a musician’s standpoint.
“Sticky Fingers really did it for me, and I know that is one of the more popular ones, but if you listen to Beggars Banquet or even Let It Bleed, that stuff created the culture that we have today - I really believe that.”
6. Stevie Wonder - Songs In The Key Of Life (1976)
“If I don’t say this record then I’m not a real musician. That record is just over the top.
“I remember listening to that and you could hear the joy coming out of Stevie. It is pure. It is such a wonderful record.
“I would listen to all kinds of stuff back then. We were making the transition to the big city to Arlington when I met the Abbott brothers. Before then, I lived in a small town in Texas with a population of like 1,000 people and all we had was AM radio.
“That changed everything because on the AM radio we would just listen to America and Bread.”
7. KISS - Alive! (1975)
“This was just imperative. You had never seen anything like that, but as well the riffs were just insane, you know. I don’t mean the ones that were played all over the damn radio but Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll and shit like that.
“You look at that album cover and it grabs you. But there are some really good songs. I had to go back and get the earlier records to figure it out.
“A year later Frampton came out with Comes Alive and everyone started putting out live records.”
8. Humble Pie - Rockin’ The Fillmore (1971)
“This is one of the greatest records ever made. It’s only five songs, but I recently got a new copy of it on vinyl and they’ve remastered and remixed it and it took me back.
“Stevie Marriott: that voice was insane. This is just one of those records that has so much power to it.
“Humble Pie was one of those bands that could do anything - and they did. I really enjoyed that about this band. Even today, Stevie Marriott’s voice is in the top three with Paul Rodgers and [Steven] Tyler.”
9. Black Sabbath - Master Of Reality (1971)
“When I was about 10 years old, I had an eight-track of Master Of Reality.
“A lot of people don’t like Never Say Die, but I think that is one of the greatest records that they did as well. I’m not saying that Master Of Reality is the greatest record that they ever did, but it was the one that turned me onto Sabbath.”
10. Soundgarden - Badmotorfinger (1991)
“I’ve always been the rock ‘n’ roll guy in the band. One that struck me was Badmotorfinger.
“When that came out, we were still playing clubs and you had to wear the fuckin’ poofy shirt. That record came along, and I had heard the EP, but when I heard that record that was it.
“There’s been some great records that have come since then, I have been part of a few, but I don’t look to toot my own horn. I’m still trying to get over what happened to Cornell. That voice, my god.”