10 Albums That Changed My Life: Jim Vallance

As a seasoned songwriter for some of the music world's largest stars, Jim Vallance gave Goldmine the 10 Albums That Changed His Life and influenced his technique to write a hit song.
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Songwriter Jim Vallance. Photo by Tristar Media/Getty Images .

Songwriter Jim Vallance. Photo by Tristar Media/Getty Images .

Over the course of his long career, Canadian songwriter Jim Vallance has written hundreds of songs for artists ranging from Aerosmith to Ozzy Osbourne and from KISS to Loverboy. But it’s his co-writing partnership with fellow Canadian Bryan Adams that firmly cemented his reputation as the go-to songwriter with hits like “Cuts Like a Knife,” “Heaven” and “Summer of ‘69.”

Vallance started out as a drummer for Canadian rockers Prism in the mid-1970s, but left the band soon after completing the first leg of their debut tour due to a dislike of the rigors of touring, to move into studio work and concentrate on songwriting primarily. This evolved into his longstanding partnership with Bryan Adams.

Vallance gave Goldmine the list of albums that changed his life.

— Joe Matera

  

Pet Sounds_

The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds

My parents gave me a Ventures album I already had, so I exchanged it. The shop owner had a suggestion: “If you like The Ventures, you’ll love The Beach Boys.” I hurried home and put my new Beach Boys on the turntable, ready to enjoy some “surf music.” Instead, what came through the speakers baffled and confused me! It was the furthest possible thing from “surf music.” But I kept listening and slowly, it grew on me. Fifty-plus years later, Pet Sounds, remains a personal favorite.

  

The Beatles — Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

I was 15 years old when I purchased Pepper in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, the week it was released. I admit I was puzzled by the album, but I was also totally captivated, right from the opening track. There’d never been anything quite like it, bold and whimsical in equal measure. A game changer. Everything about Pepper was new, unexpected, surprising ... like a bizarre, quirky, carnival ride, each song completely different from the next. I was blown away. I still am.

  

experienced

The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced

A friend at school asked me, “Have you heard ‘Purple Haze?’” When I finally did, it shook me to the core. In an instant, everything you thought you knew about music was out the window. Hendrix took what was considered “possible” on the guitar and ventured into the realm of the “impossible.” His life and his career ended much too soon, but in that short period of time Jimi Hendrix changed music forever.

  

Bob Dylan Another Side of Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan, Another Side of Bob Dylan

In my mid-teens I had a crush on a girl named Betty. And Betty had a brother, Murray, who was a huge music fan, He introduced to the music of The Byrds — songs like “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “My Back Pages” — and then he told me those songs had been written by Bob Dylan. Bob who? Murray insisted I take his precious Dylan album home and listen to it. “You’ll get it,” he said. And eventually I did.

  

Close to the Edge

Yes, Close to the Edge

In 1971, Yes’ Fragile album caught my ear, in particular the song “Roundabout.” I was impressed with the virtuosic musicianship, the tight interaction between bass and drums, and Rick Wakeman’s classically-tinged keyboard work. Close To The Edge was released a year later and I was doubly impressed. I listened to it again and again and again: side one, flip the vinyl, side two, repeat.

  

Rolling Stones Let It Bleed

The Rolling Stones, Let It Bleed

In 1964, you were either a Beatles fan or a Rolling Stones fan. Two camps. No middle ground. I chose The Beatles, and as a result I missed much of the Stone’s music for the rest of the ’60s. Then, during the summer of 1969, I heard “Honky Tonk Women” in a record store. I was immediately drawn to the track’s swagger; the hybrid of Blues, R&B, Country and rock. Plus, I loved the minimal, stripped-down verses ... just cowbell, guitar, drums and Mick’s vocal. [“Country Honk” later appearing on Let It Bleed.] From that moment on, I was a hardcore Stones fan.

  

Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin

The first time I heard Led Zeppelin was when my friend Alex played “Good Times Bad Times” at top volume through a pair of oversize, heavily amplified speakers, outdoors, lunch-hour. The word “heavy” doesn’t begin to do it justice. I’d never heard anything like it. Thunder reimagined as music. How else to describe it? I still haven’t fully recovered.

  

The Band, The Band

The Band, The Band

It was their second album, simply titled The Band, that first captivated me. I loved the seemingly loose (but, in fact, impeccably tight) performances and the authentic throwback to the American South and days gone by ... shades of Country, Bluegrass and early rock and roll.

  

Joni Mitchell Blue

Joni Mitchell, Blue

Her lyrics are deeply personal, yet wholly relatable; her voice is angelic; and the combination of dulcimer, acoustic guitar and percussion manages to sound “old school” and refreshingly new at the same time. If ever I wore-out an album from constant replay, Blue is the one. It was then, and remains now, food for my soul ... my favorite Joni Mitchell album.