5 albums that will transport you to another planet

Every once in while you have a listening experience that changes the way you think about music and what it can do.  Most of these albums had been out for quite a while the first time I heard them, but each had a huge impact on me both as a music lover and a musician.  Totally cosmic, man.

1) Yes - Close to the Edge

The first time I heard this album was the closest I've ever had to a religious experience listening to rock.  I remember sitting there, headphones on, my eyes closed, and just becoming completely enveloped by the music.  Amazing playing, complex, intricate arrangements, and Jon Anderson's soaring voice and weird/mystical lyrics.  Wow, what an eye-opener.

2) Queen - Queen II

The greatest thing about this album is that it is completely unique - nothing else sounds quite like it.  As with most great things, it is an acquired taste, and definitely takes a number of listens to appreciate. Queen made full use of studio technology with multi-layered guitar and vocals, and Freddie Mercury really starts coming into his own here.  Outstanding playing and arranging by the whole band.

3) Rush - Moving Pictures

Even though this album contains most of Rush's best known songs (Tom Sawyer, Limelight, YYZ) it never gets old for me.  I still remember hearing this album as a fledgling drummer and thinking 'Oh, I have a lot of work to do'.  Another awesome album to listen to with headphones in the dark.  Super tight playing and arrangements, and killer production by Terry Brown.

4) Allan Holdsworth - Metal Fatigue

The first time I heard Allan Holdsworth play, all I could think was 'how is this guy not massively famous?'  The answer of course, is that Holdsworth is a guitarist that only plays what he feels and doesn't pander to popular tastes or fads.  His music is beautiful, and his facility as a guitarist is almost unbelievable.  It also doesn't hurt that his band over the years has used some of the most amazing session players ever.  On a personal level, he is also one of the nicest, most humble guys I've ever met.

5) Porcupine Tree - In Absentia

Dark. Heavy.  Atmospheric.  Intelligent.  Porcupine Tree is finally starting to get some of the credit they so richly deserve.  Steven Wilson, the bands guitarist/singer/producer and primary song writer has created an amazing sound, mixing the psychedelic sounds of Floyd with some very dark, crunchy metal.  He also has a drummer that is arguably the best rock drummer playing today - Gavin Harrison.  Almost shocked me speechless the first time I heard it.