Jennifer Batten Interview: 10 Albums That Changed My Life

Jennifer Batten Interview: 10 Albums That Changed My Life

Photo: courtesy of Jennifer Batten

You wouldn’t often associate the music of Michael Jackson with guitar heroics, even though you probably should, given that he had the likes of Eddie Van Halen (“Beat It”), Steve Lukather (also “Beat It”), and Slash (“D.S.,” “Morphine,” “Give into Me”) threw their respective hats into the ring over the years. Those names aside, though, it was Jennifer Batten who slayed the proverbial pop dragon, adding heaping doses of flair, skill, and showmanship to an already over-the-top stage show. It couldn’t have been easy to stand out when perched beside the literal King of Pop, aka Michael Jackson, but Jennifer Batten did so with relative ease, dazzling audiences alongside Jackson from 1987 to 1997 while accompanying him on three massive world tours.

But that’s not all, as, if you can believe it, Batten’s next stop, at least, from a guitar perspective, was even more monumental than her first. After her days with Jackson ended, Batten hopped aboard the good ship Jeff Beck, sharing the stage with her idol, and playing on his records, Who Else! (1999), and You Had It Coming (2001) further establishing herself as a seriously versatile force to be reckoned with.

Those two monstrous stops aside, Batten has released three outstanding solo works, Above Below and Beyond (1992), Jennifer Batten’s Tribal Rage: Momentum (1997), and Whatever (2007), while lending a hand as a session player with a myriad of diverse artists such as Sara Hickman, The Rainbow Girls, Carl Anderson, Carmine Appice, Bulldozer, Black Sand, and many more. Among those sessions works, the aforementioned Appice-led Guitar Zeus record from 1995 is particularly legendary.

These days, Batten is as busy as ever, still touring, recording, and finding exciting ways to challenge herself and her audience. Indeed, few do it as well, and in such awe-inspiring fashion as Jennifer Batten, and that’s probably because of her diverse array of influences. To that end, thinking back on the albums that shaped the guitarist, the songwriter, the shredder, the session player, and the artist, Jennifer Batten dialed in with to run through the ten albums that changed her life.

If you’ve taken the time to listen closely, or if you’re the adventurous type that’s heard some of these before, you’ll be aware that bits and pieces of these iconic records are scattered throughout Batten’s playing. And if you haven’t taken in these records yet, now that Batten’s hipped you to them, can you hear it?

# 10 – Tectonics by Adam Freeland (1999)

You’ll find this record on YouTube, but it’s hard to find a physical copy. I discovered this record in my electronica phase around my Beck years. It really influenced my thinking in writing regarding form and use of sounds, as it’s much more adventurous than the typical verse-chorus bridge form. I find it interesting throughout.

# 9 – Music for the Jilted Generation by The Prodigy (1994)

Jeff Beck turned me on to techno electronica and The Prodigy. I never would have discovered them otherwise. He was always looking for something fresh. And although people think I got him into that genre, it was the other way around. That whole era with Jeff jetted me into the genre, and many elements of it ended up on my Whatever CD, which was almost all written for Jeff. This record sent me in the direction of multiple layered drum loops, vocal samples, and sound manipulation.

# 8 – Heavy Weather by Weather Report (1977)

Again, I find the ethnic elements so intriguing and fresh, especially the song “Birdland.” It’s very symphonic music to my ear, but most of it is improvised, which adds an exciting, dangerous element. I once saw them play the first of two shows at a college and was astounded about how they could manage another set on the same night. They were so on fire and relentless the entire time. It felt like the ultimate band unity and focus. They left everything on the stage. Wayne’s phrasing and note choices were so inspiring I often thought of picking up a soprano sax only to learn his solos and nothing else.

# 7 – Volume 1: Sound Magic by Afro Celt Sound System (1996)

This album is some of the deepest music you’ll hear. The blend of African rhythms, talking drums, and Irish music is right up my alley, as I’ve been interested in ethnic music ever since watching the Tarzan movies as a kid. It’s fresh and adventurous. All my solo records dive into ethnic expansion.

# 6 – Slider by Bruce Kaphan (2001)

I sent a copy of this pedal steel CD to Jeff Beck because I discovered it when I was gigging with him. He said he’d wished he’d recorded it. I knew it would resonate with him, as he was always searching for more vocal-like ideas, which ultimately led him to master the tremolo bar. This is a desert island disc for me. It’s lush, ethereal, harmonically rich, and perfect.

# 5 – Solo Guitar by Joe Diorio (1975)

I discovered Joe Diorio while I was at school at GIT (Guitar Institute of Technology) in 1979, which is now called MI (Musicians Institute). I went to almost every show Joe played for a couple of years, including a private party he likely had no business getting me into. I learned several of his solos and tunes and memorized his intervallic designs book as well as a book he did called Fusion. Joe had an ethereal sense combined with ‘50s be-bop that expanded my ears to what could be possible. Joe inspired me to incorporate large intervallic skips.

# 4 – At Fillmore East by The Allman Brothers Band (1971)

This record was my total immersion into Southern blues. I listened to it hundreds of times. I was a freak for Duane Allman’s slide work and Greg Allman’s soulful vocals. The long, extended solos of the ‘70s took you on a journey few have patience for anymore.

# 3 – B.B. King in London by B.B. King (1971)

This era of blues records is when I began jamming to records in my bedroom as a teen. Once I figured out the keys, I was off to have fun for hours on end.

1 & 2) Blow by Blow and Wired by Jeff Beck (1975/1976)

Both of these Jeff Beck records had an equal impact on me. I learned every solo in each. It was a huge education in note choices and phrasing, but especially in feel, sensitivity, and expression.

Jennifer Batten Interview: 10 Albums That Changed My Life

Photo: courtesy of Jennifer Batten

Jennifer Batten Interview: 10 Albums That Changed My Life article published on Classic© 2023 claims ownership of all its original content and Intellectual property under United States Copyright laws and those of all other foreign countries. No one person, business, or organization is allowed to re-publish any of our original content anywhere on the web or in print without our permission. All photos used are either public domain Creative Commons photos or licensed officially from Shutterstock under license with All photo credits have been placed at the end of the article. Album Cover Photos are affiliate links and the property of Amazon and are stored on the Amazon server. Any theft of our content will be met with swift legal action against the infringing websites. Protection Status

One Response

  1. Avatar Anonymous November 13, 2023

Add Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Classic Rock Christmas Songs
Our 10 Favorite Classic Rock Christmas Songs
A Thousand Horses Albums
Complete List Of A Thousand Horses Albums And Songs
Blackmore's Night Albums
Complete List Of Blackmore’s Night Albums And Discography
Jeff Buckley Songs
10 Essential Jeff Buckley Songs
Can Albums
Top 10 Can Albums
Kiss Bootlegs
KISSteria on Vinyl: Ten’ 70s-era Bootlegs for Records Collectors
10 Essential Metal Albums Released Between 1970 and 1995
10 Essential Metal Albums Released Between 1970 and 1995
The River Album Bruce Springsteen Should Have Released
The River Album Bruce Springsteen Should Have Released
Mick Jagger and Sammy Hagar
Will Sammy Hagar or Mick Jagger Be The First 100 Year Old Rockers?
Comic Con 2023
Comic Con 2023 Rocks New York City
The Misunderstanding Of The Way AI Was Used In Now And Then
The Misunderstanding Of The Way AI Was Used In Now And Then
Beatles Song Now And Then
Just Saying “New Beatles Song Released Today” Is Breathtaking
Tim Lefebvre Interview
Tim Lefebvre: The Interview
Liberty DeVitto: 10 Albums That Changed My Life
Liberty DeVitto: 10 Albums That Changed My Life
Rob De Luca of Spread Eagle, Sebastian Bach & UFO: 10 Albums That Changed My Life From humble East Coast origins to grandest stages worldwide, veteran bassist Rob De Luca has seen and done it all. De Luca first hit the local Boston rock and metal scene in the late 80s after meeting guitarist Paul DiBartolo, bonding over Van Halen before forming Bang. Regional success came quickly, but eventually, the members of Bang went their separate ways, with De Luca and drummer Tommi Gallo heading to NYC and hooking up with Ray West and, later, DiBartolo to form Spread Eagle. By 1990, Spread Eagle was on the fast track, with a contract through MCA Records and a self-titled debut album poised to crush skulls. But poor timing and MCA's sad indifference left Spead Eagle out in the cold despite being a hard-boiled answer to Guns N' Roses's West Coast sleaze. Spread Eagle's first chapter came to an end in '95. As for Rob De Luca, his nimble fingers and gift for melody and songwriting kept him moving forward. Soon, he found a gig with former Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach and the legendary outfit UFO. And in 2010, after coupling up with Ray West and his cousin Rik De Luca, Spread Eagle retook flight. During a break from Spread Eagle's increasingly busy touring schedule, Rob De Luca dialed in with to run through the ten albums that changed his life. But only after adding, "I made a playlist of these songs, including some I've written or co-written. Do you hear any of these albums' influence on me?" Listen here: 10) Gentlemen by Afghan Whigs (1993) Here's an entry that was so important to me. This may be the darkest break-up album of all time. Greg Dulli has been in many projects, but I feel Gentlemen is his zenith. Somewhat undefinable at times but always profound and honest. Listen to "Gentlemen," "Fountain and Fairfax," and "What Jail Is Like." 9) In on the Kill Taker by Fugazi (1993) By this time, I had been sucked in and spit out by the major-label record industry. Glam came and went; grunge was history, too. I was searching for new sounds. When I heard Fugazi's twin guitar approach, I knew this was what was missing. Fugazi may be considered a less polished sound than the albums above; however, once you "get it," it hits you like a ton of bricks, and there's no going back. From the moment I heard Fugazi, I went to every NYC show after. It's easily some of the best concerts of my life, and possibly my favorite bassist in Joe Lally. And their DIY ethics refused to charge us more than $5 a show! In on the Kill Taker is a powerful album demonstrated in songs such as "Smallpox Champion," "Great Cop," and "Public Witness Program." 8) Appetite for Destruction by Guns N' Roses (1987) I discovered many of these albums (sometimes long) after they were released. However, I was at the right place at the right time for this one. Steve Ostromogilsky had a Berklee College of Music lunch card and used to sneak out sandwiches for me. One day, he invited me to hang out at his place and listen to music. As we got off the train, he put Sony Walkman headphones on my ears and said, "Hey, check out this brand-new group." A song like "It's So Easy" was so different from the popular Sunset Strip sound at that time. Me and about 499 other informed rockers were lucky enough to see them on their first East Coast tour at the sold-out Paradise on Commonwealth Avenue, Boston (the same street Aerosmith started on). I saw Gn'R every tour after until I took a break when Buckethead joined. Gn'R is the band I've been lucky enough to see the most times live, almost 100! Everyone on this album is just stellar. Axl [Rose] had the tones, power, melodic sensibilities, and foresight to do what no other singer did then. Slash's playing was beyond memorable. Duff [McKagan] is one of the most underrated bassists in rock history, and learning his Appetite basslines is a masterclass. Steven [Adler] had the natural swing, and Izzy [Stradlin] was the secret weapon songwriter. Everything that's been heralded about this gem is deserved and true. Check out "It's So Easy," "Out Ta Get Me," and "Mr. Brownstone.' 7) Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd (1975) Another contender for my favorite album and band of all time. Using The Beatles machine (same recording studio, engineer, record label), Pink Floyd made what I feel is their strongest, most cohesive album (my second favorite of theirs would be Animals). This list mainly consists of bands with an instantly recognizable sound. Floyd is certainly no exception to that! This album included a solid handful of undeniable rock radio classics, bookended by two halves of the mind-blowing song "Shine on You Crazy Diamond.' That song was written about former band member and founder Syd Barrett. It would be hard to live in a world without this album. Check out "Welcome to The Machine," "Shine on You Crazy Diamond (parts 6-9),' or even better yet, listen to the whole thing in one sitting! 6) Decade by Neil Young (1977) About this time, I started playing guitar. As a beginner, it was comfortable jamming to this album because the chord changes were simple—a great "first ten years" retrospective of Neil's stunning, unique songwriting. Neil is a treasure who always writes from the heart and stands up for what's right. Check out "Southern Man," "A Man Needs a Maid," "Down by The River," and "After the Goldrush." 5) Highway to Hell by AC/DC (1979) When I heard this album, I was firmly "me." My life would be 100% focused on hard rock music forever. AC/DC are like air; they're ubiquitous. Everyone knows them and their incredible songs. However, as a young teen in Wilmington, Delaware, I only had WMMR 93.3 FM Philadelphia and a few friends to inform me about the world of Rock outside my bedroom. AC/DC had not gone mainstream, and their albums were available primarily in the USA as imports. To put things more in perspective, I only knew two people in the world who had heard of AC/DC. A friend had an import that we played in Steve Buckley's basement, which sounded ripping. When Highway to Hell was released, WMMR started spinning the title track, and I immediately bought the album, listening to it every single day after school. Then WMMR announced AC/DC was coming to the Spectrum in Philly, supporting Ted Nugent! I liked Ted but loved AC/DC, so my good friend Mick Cummins and I bought tickets, and he drove us up to the Spectrum (where we saw most of our concerts). Bon Scott was in fine form, and the band went over great. Although the crowd knew Ted better, Angus [Young] wouldn't let anyone upstage him. I'll never forget it! Unfortunately, Bon would be gone in 6 months. Check out "Walk All Over You," "Touch Too Much," "Shot Down in Flames," and "If You Want Blood (You Got It)." 4) Toys in the Attic by Aerosmith (1975) By the time I heard this, I was now in my teens. I had a childhood friend up the street, Jim Linberg (we're still good buddies). His older sister had a great album collection, including Toys in The Attic. Once I heard that groove, my taste changed. I lost interest in rock music that didn't have some sort of "swing" feel to it. I think Rocks is a slightly better Aerosmith album (and possibly my favorite album of all time), but both are perfect or very close. Check out "Uncle Salty," "Adam's Apple," "No More No More," "Round and Round," and "You See Me Crying." 3) Alive! by Kiss (1975) When I was still a little kid, I asked for Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke album for Christmas. The entire family came over for an enormous feast, and I dropped the needle. When my mother heard the content, she turned off the album and said I had to exchange it. My mom was cool, but I was young and knew much more about life than she suspected. Anyway, the next day, she drove me back to the store. In the music section, promoted on an "endcap" was a Kiss Alive! display. I had never heard of Kiss, but that cover picture told me I had to have it! My first foray into hard rock. Check out “Strutter.” I went through my Kiss phase very quickly, I believe in a matter of months because I discovered the previous entry, Aerosmith's Toys in the Attic. 2) Honky Chateau by Elton John (1972) When I was a wee lad, my parents bought a used Volkswagen camper van from my uncle Ozzie. My favorite Elton John album is Yellow Brick Road, but Honky Chateau is great and easily one of his best. It sent me down a lifelong rabbit hole of loving everything about the 1970s partnership between Elton and lyricist Bernie Taupin. The simple beauty of voice, the master songwriting, the perfect backing band, the clear, unobtrusive recordings, and always Bernie's incredible lyrics. The day this album was released, Elton became an unstoppable force that conquered the music industry. Check out "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" and "Rocket Man." 1) Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles (1967) Another tape that was included in the VW Camper. The van had a bunch of music tapes, and one was Sgt Pepper. I was too young to understand the sophistication of the music, but that was one of the many skills of The Beatles. They attracted listeners at every level, even little kids. I still feel that immediate connection to Sgt Pepper; now, I hear so much more. It's an album that changed the world and the world of music. Check out "Lucy in The Sky with Diamonds," "A Day In The Life," and "Fixing a Hole."
Rob De Luca of Spread Eagle, Sebastian Bach & UFO: 10 Albums That Changed My Life
Jim Suhler Interview
Jim Suhler: The Interview
Jon Anderson Albums
Complete List Of Jon Anderson Solo Albums And Songs
Samantha Fish Albums
Complete List Of Samantha Fish Albums And Discography
Blue October Albums
Complete List Of Blue October Albums And Discography
Steve Howe Albums
Complete List Of Steve Howe Solo Albums And Songs
Classic Rock Bands Still Together But Overdue For A New Album
Classic Rock Bands Still Together But Overdue For A New Album
When Glam Bands Went Grunge In The 1990s
When Glam Bands Went Grunge In The 1990s
25 Most Famous Female American Singers Now!
25 Most Famous Female American Singers Now!
The Grateful Dead's Keyboard Players
A Look Back At The Grateful Dead’s Keyboard Players
The Chick Corea Elektric Band The Future Is Now' Album Review
The Chick Corea Elektric Band ‘The Future Is Now’ Album Review
In Harmony albums
A Look Back At Both ‘In Harmony’ Rock Star Children’s Albums
John Miles Rebel Albums Review
John Miles ‘Rebel’ Album Review
Aimee Mann’s Solo Debut Album "Whatever."
30 Year Look Back At Aimee Mann’s Solo Debut Album ‘Whatever’