Welcome back to the list! Here are albums 75 - 51!
#75. NO JACKET REQUIRED – PHIL COLLINS
How to make an album cover: step 1, FACE
Another album I approached with basically no objectivity; Phil Collins has always been one of my favourite artists. Epic drum breaks, interesting lyrics, and an overall great sound has clearly been something that Phil Collins excels at. Enter No Jacket Required probably Phil Collins most pop oriented venture. You may recognise a couple of songs from the album, like One More Night, Only You and I Know, and We said Hello Goodbye but the song that stays on everyone’s mind is the literally – meaningless song Sussudio, a clunky but catchy tune that may take you a couple of listens to fully enjoy. The album is pretty good, and every track carries the weight of its star lead. It certainly can be called one of Phil Collins best works, but I’ll choose Face Value most other days. No Jacket Required is certainly good but wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be.
#74. ELLA FITZGERALD SINGS THE COLE PORTER SONG BOOK – ELLA FITZGERALD
What is this, a Jazz – oriented crossover episode?
From the First Lady of Song, we see a number of covers of some of the most well-known jazz songs in history, written by Cole Porter. Ella Fitzgerald is clearly the focus here, showcasing her dominance in the vocal jazz scene and demonstrating her gradual but steady rise to taking the world by storm, still seen in Fallout games as well as various movies and tv shows. There are a couple of tracks you may recognise from other albums, such as Don’t Fence Me In, Anything Goes, I’ve Got You Under My Skin and Ace In The Hole. Clocking in at almost two hours in length, this is one of the longest albums on the list, which Ella Fitzgerald certainly carries, through her incredible diction and scat – singing, backed up by Buddy Bregman’s Orchestra. It is quite long winded in parts but is maybe worth sticking on.
#73. HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED – BOB DYLAN
How one song can ruin an album
Bob Dylan is a good songwriter, perhaps one of the best. He may be a bit whingy, but he certainly tells his message in a great aural fashion. Highway 61 Revisited would, and probably should, be higher up in the list if it weren’t for Desolation Row. Desolation Row is a dreary song, which is being carried inefficiently by a simplistic guitar melody and Bob Dylan not using his best voice. The images conjured up by the lyrics are interesting and almost poetic, but I don’t want eleven minutes of such a simplistic, and quite frankly boring tune. I’m going pretty hard on it because the rest of the album is pretty good, maybe even great. Like a Rolling Stone is one of my favourite folk songs, a near perfect blend of fantastic lyrical style and excellent performance that Bob Dylan is known for. I would recommend it, but don’t forget that a quarter of the album (!) is pretty boring. Check out Bob Dylan’s single Hurricane, a shocking ballad of a real-life story of police brutality and systemic racism.
#72. RAMONES – RAMONES
No points for album name…
My bashing of Sex Pistols may be a little harsh, but I truly believe Ramones should have the fame that Sex Pistols acquired in only three years. Cited as the first punk rock band, Ramones released the above album in 1976 to quiet success, which has gradually spiralled into widespread respect for one of the pioneers of punk rock. Ramones is an engaging listen, with their leading track Blitzkrieg Bop making notable appearances in sofa adverts and recent Spiderman movies. Ramones manages to capture an incredibly recognisable sound of clashing rock instruments. There’s only so far you can go with punk rock, however, especially when you are charting incredibly new territory. I may be tempted to listen to more music from Ramones, but I will admit that the album is mercifully short, at a little under half an hour. For my money, this is where Punk truly started.
#71. SYNCHRONICITY – THE POLICE
Around the world in forty-four minutes
One of the reasons music is fun is because so many different genres can be combined to make a number of different results. Synchronicity is one of the best examples of this variety, as part of the World Music genre. This means it can combine a number of different cultural sounds that allow The Police to effectively replicate so many different national sounds, with singles such as Tea In The Sahara and Wrapped Around Your Finger. As you might be able to imagine, synthesizers have been used liberally in Synchronicity, which sometimes makes the album sound overworked, if you catch my meaning. There is a lot of interesting tracks in the album, but it was another one that failed to grip me as hard as some of the other albums on this last have done. I really love Wrapped Around Your Finger and Every Step You Take but the album didn’t really land with me, despite its variety.
#70. PARKLIFE – BLUR
The British Invasion: Electric Boogaloo
In between their screams and accents, Blur have a good thing going for them. Being one of the leading acts in Britpop, Parklife is credited as a very loose concept album, detailing loads of different stories from all around South England, not necessarily connected, other than through geography and the band. It’s a bit close to home for my liking, but there’s some great Sunday morning stories here. Girls and Boys is one of the strangest songs on the poster, and I wasn’t even sure I liked it until the final minute and a half. And then I imagined going out with my friends back home in a less pandemic – y time, and I suddenly felt right at home. Damon Albarn’s accent is one of the bands most recognisable aspects. Definitely not my favourite album, by a long shot. It’s quite long, and it doesn’t strike the same chord which makes me want to keep listening to it. But otherwise, there are certainly worse albums to listen to.
#69. LIVE AT THE APOLLO – JAMES BROWN AND THE FAMOUS FLAMES
The Genius of Love
One of two live albums on the poster, Live At The Apollo is a great representation of showing James Brown doing what he did best: displaying his great voice. Live At The Apollo is considered the peak of his career and considered THE pioneering figure of funk music. I can’t say that James Brown has been my favourite figure in soul music at any point in my life, but its good to see him on the album. While it doesn’t contain any of his more recognisable tracks, its still his recognisable voice that carries the performance. Out of the two live performances on the poster, the other album has a more interesting audience and is by a star I generally prefer.
#68. 21 – ADELE
The Neo – Soul version of Fleetwood Mac
Adele can certainly sing. She has a fantastic voice, and was right to quit her day job, considering how this album is the highest selling album of the 21st Century. It’s a shame that the album doesn’t really do much for me. I like Set Fire To The Rain, but I don’t think I can stomach an entire Adele album like I can with other albums. I can certainly appreciate the widespread opinion that Adele writes quite good lyrics, has an amazing voice and is a decent length, it just isn’t doing much for me. It isn’t even the basic fact that a large majority of her songs are about mostly the same thing, I just don’t find it very interesting, and its difficult to write about an album that doesn’t interest me a lot.
#67. YOU’VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY – FATBOY SLIM
The prompt for the worst SAT NAV joke ever
Yes, I live quite close to Brighton, and no, I have never met Fatboy Slim. I did meet Joffrey from Game of Thrones once, though, so I’ll try to remember you when I’m on the red carpet. Fatboy Slim is a staple in Big Beats music, similar to work from The Prodigy. You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby was the breakthrough album for Fatboy Slim, and is a huge part of Big Beat Music. Right Here, Right Now is still played at the beginning of every Brighton and Hove Albion game, present pandemics notwithstanding. The Rockafeller Skank and Praise You have always stayed with Fatboy Slim as some of his most famous songs and are some of my favourite works of his as well. You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby is, however, limited by the fact that the rest of the album, whilst not unbearable, doesn’t make me want to revisit the album any time soon. I would say it definitely belongs on the poster though.
#66. GOODBYE YELLOW BRICK ROAD – ELTON JOHN
Still not seen Rocketman, is it any good?
Before he wrote soundtracks for incredibly underrated DreamWorks animations and self – indulgent biopics, Elton John actually had a career. A lot of people would argue Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is probably his peak album, and for good reason. Candle In the Wind, with some heart-breaking tweaks to its lyrics, became one of the highest selling singles of all time, but Benny and the Jets and Saturday Night is Alright (for Fighting) show Elton John can write a banger about literally everything. It’s a shame there’s a lot of other albums I prefer to it, but on a list of cherry-picked albums, I would argue making it on the list is an achievement in its own right (not that Sir Elton needs any more…).
#65. DISCOVERY – DAFT PUNK
RIP in Peace, boys
In light of the recent tragedy, I think it’s time to say fair well to France’s most memorable cyborgs. They have had a very good run, but the electro – disco duo has called it quits. And there isn’t a better place to revisit their works than with their second album Discovery. Whilst being a bit drawn out in some areas, specifically towards the end, Discovery contains some absolute bops, with a very playful set of songs that replicate some of the duo’s fondest childhood memories. Tracks such as Crescendolls, One More Time, Harder Better Faster Stronger and Something About Us are standouts in this classic album of sci – fi smashes. There’s not much point in saying a lot about the album, if you have heard Daft Punk anywhere, you aren’t in for many surprises with this album. At an hour’s length, it is certainly not the longest album on the poster, but it sometimes felt like it.
#64. THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS – DAVID BOWIE
Album cover spider free…disappointingly
Here’s another album I was looking forward to. I’ve listened to Bowie for years but had never come around to listening to what is almost definitely his most famous album. And it’s pretty good! Which is disappointing when I wanted it to blow my mind like other albums on this list did. Starman and Moonage Daydream are the standout tracks for this album, based on Bowie’s own interest with space, like the rest of the album. I also feel that Rock and Roll Suicide doesn’t get the love it deserves, ending the album with a very fitting whimper. I like Spiders from Mars but Scary Monsters and especially Hunky Dory are albums which I think are better.
#63. SONGS FOR SWINGIN’ LOVERS! – FRANK SINATRA
The Sultan of Swoon swings for the moon
We’re now a third of the way down the list, and this is where things start getting good! It’s kind of amazing to me that such hit names like Sinatra and Martin clearly struggle to make their own definitive album. It’s probably because a lot of the songs they sing aren’t written by them (see Ella Fitzgerald sings the Cole Porter Songbook for a better explanation), but Songs for Swingin’ Lovers is often considered his best work. It features my favourite Sinatra song I’ve Got You Under My Skin, an undeniably catchy tune that shows Sinatra singing some of his absolute best work. The rest of the album is similar to Dean Martin Sings!; good, but you’re probably better off getting a compilation album if you want the absolute best. I think I prefer Sinatra over Martin because of the kind of nepotism that isn’t even worth hiding. Even as I write, I struggle to think of a single other song on the album, other than my obvious favourite. So, let’s call it what it is; the album is this high on the list because of my nepotism.
#62. ALL MOD CONS – THE JAM
Don’t do unspeakable things with your oyster card…
Here was another baffling choice for the poster. Maybe I can get over the use of The Jam, but not even including two of their most famous tracks (which I admittedly know them for) A Town Called Malice and especially Going Underground. So not a great start. But listening to the album has sort of changed my mind. In terms of what can be expected from The Jam, All Mod Cons is a solid representation of their works. It draws heavily from The Who, which is a fairly big win in my book, and has that classic hard rock/punk/mod vibe that I have become curiously attracted to in recent years. It’s a pretty decent album, but not one I would suggest you stop what you were doing and listen to it.
#61. NEVERMIND – NIRVANA
Talk about embarrassing baby pictures…
Everyone knows Smells Like Teen Spirit; it is probably one of the most famous hard rock songs of all time. So if you know that song, you know what Nevermind is about. Roaring electric guitars, overpowering drum kicks and Kurt Cobain’s strangled singing voice are what make up Nirvana. And to say this album did well is like saying Cobain was partial to the smack. After all this, I can fairly comfortably say that Nevermind deserves the praise it has got over the years. Nirvana has managed to create this teen rebellion vibe that has stapled itself pretty well to grunge and alternative rock bands and is probably responsible for over a dozen albums on this list.
#60. THE BODYGUARD – WHITNEY HOUSTON
Do you like Whitney Houston?
Probably not as much as me. But The Bodyguard is a really weird one for me. The Prom Queen of Soul absolutely carries the first half of the album, demonstrating one of the best singing voices of all time in some beautifully written songs. It’s basically what 21 was trying to do for me. I Will Always Love You is excellent. But for my money, I Have Nothing is a better performance, showcasing the great dynamic of her voice, as well as Run To You and Queen Of The Night. I might even consider Houston’s performance on the first half as perfect; I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s just a massive shame about the rest of the album. It’s certainly not bad, by any means, with performances from Kenny G, Joe Cocker and SOULSYSTEM. As good as Houston? Not in this universe. It is certainly a good album, and I certainly recommend it, but The Bodyguard is almost two entirely separate albums. But as the highest selling soundtrack album of all time, with some of the highest selling singles of all time, you have probably already heard something from it. Try Whitney Houston’s albums from 1987 and 1985, annoyingly titled Whitney Houston, if you love the first half of the album.
#59. ELEPHANT – WHITE STRIPES
OHHH BOBBY ZAMORA!
Catchy chants aside, it’s probably worth mentioning that Elephant is not for everyone. It’s largely part of the garage rock scene that bands like The Strokes and Green Day find themselves at home in. You probably recognise Seven Nation Army, if not by the name, then by its iconic guitar riff that has been used in sporting events to political rallies. And it is a pretty catchy song, even if it does apply that same voice effect The Strokes use that absolutely grates for me. As for the rest of the album, Elephant is a nice little pick n’ mix of hard rock and gospel that would make the Rolling Stones proud. It’s a strange album with little bits of hard and soft rock but is at least worth checking out.
#58. ELVIS PRESLEY – ELVIS PRESLEY
The Wonder of the King
I had a good feeling the King of Rock would appear on the list somewhere, but I wasn’t really sure how. Because most people can name an Elvis Presley song, but not an album. Could it have been one of the albums where he is backed by the Philharmonic Orchestra? Or From Memphis, which includes one of my favourite Presley songs Suspicious Minds? Nope. The choice they went for was his debut album, which after listening to, makes more sense than I probably give it credit for. It is the most classic form of Elvis there is, his deep voice, quick and sharp like a needle made of Christmas pudding, including his classic hit Blue Suede Shoes and the brilliant Ray Charles song I’ve Got A Woman. On revisiting, it is much better than I remember it being, a great balance of classic rock hits and his lesser known, softer touches like I’m Counting On You and Blue Moon. Elvis performed incredibly in most songs, so it might be worth checking out his other albums.
#57. HOUNDS OF LOVE – KATE BUSH
Talk about first impressions!
Right out of the gate, Hounds of Love starts strong with one of Kate Bush’s best songs, Running Up That Hill (Deal With God) a song that instantly got me excited for the rest of the album. And then the rest of the album doesn’t quite live up to that first high but is still a good listen and worth recommending. Hounds of Love falls into that weird genre of art – pop, with Bush mainly using a synthesiser to put the album together, so instantly that made me equate her to Stevie Wonder. Whereas Wonder sings in the traditional Motown style of love and societal issues, Bush tends to lean more towards fantastical images. Hounds of Love is simply impressive from the stance that Kate Bush managed to arrange the album from her own demos. There are some vibrant singles here, including Cloudbusting, Hello Earth and Jig of Life, all of which are incredibly varied songs with a myriad of different elements.
#56. AMERICAN IDIOT – GREEN DAY
Garage rock gone mainstream
A rock opera through and through, Green Day’s hit album from 2003 is likely their most well-known work. I’m more partial to the Dookie era of Green Day, but American Idiot is an excellent demonstration of disenfranchisement and frustration at a distant media. Some of the most famous rock songs from the early 2000s can be found here. The lead single is obviously included here, as well as Boulevard Of Broken Dreams, Holiday and my personal favourite Wake Me Up When September Ends. I prefer Green Day to, say, The Strokes because Green Day doesn’t feel incredibly over the top when it tells me its problems; I prefer Billy Joe Armstrong lamenting over his dead father as opposed to a Julian Casablanca’s whinging about a girl passing him off. The tune is also much easier to follow and appreciate as opposed to some bands on here and features really defined guitar work which separates the musical wheat from the chaff. Green Day at its heaviest can get repetitive and start to mesh together, but I’ll let it slide for at least sprinkling in some Boulevards and Septembers in there.
#55. DISINTERGRATION – THE CURE
It’s Friday, I’m in the CfJ
It’s thought that lead singer Rob Smith, towards the end of his twenties, was experiencing an uber amount of stress from his bands success and started to lapse back into the use of hallucinogens. It was while he was experimenting with drugs that he produced this album with the rest of his bandmates. I found that out when I did a bit of research into this album, but I don’t think anything has surprised me less than that story. So what is left is a depressing array of goth music, that does drag but is still really interesting. The music is gloomy, with droning keyboards and synthesizers backing each track. The unimaginatively titled Lovesong is a particular standout, as well as well as Homesick, if you want to drown out everything in your life with some depression, if the “kiss of treachery” is what you’re into.
#54. READY TO DIE – THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G
Once in a Life Time Opportunity
Whilst Biggie’s legacy can be found in his tragic unsolved murder, I don’t think that it’s fair to look at that as his biggest contribution to the world of music. As somebody who has a passing knowledge of the East – west rap conflict of the 90s, The Notorious B.I.G’s debut album is a great case study as to what will be missed. It’s a fairly long album, but it has some excellent singles, including Big Poppa, Unbelievable and Everyday Struggle. But my personal favourite is Things done Changed, an exciting overview of what is to come, showcasing a glimpse into the very personal, but tragically common struggle which Biggie Smalls was part of. Biggie’s voice hits like a drum, with his large frame allowing for his personified deep voice to cut through with alongside his incredible lyrics.
#53. PAIN IN MY HEART – OTIS REDDING
The coronation of The King of Soul
Whether it be through covers of his work, or the many artists who have taken inspiration from him, Otis Redding has left a mark on music that might go unmatched. As you have probably guessed, Pain In My Heart is Redding’s debut album, with some of souls most classic singles, including These Arms of Mine, Lucille and Stand By Me. Redding is known for having an incredibly powerful voice at times, which makes the restraint of this album a little jarring. Despite living a relatively short career, Redding might have made the safe decision to publish an easy listening album, which he has achieved dramatically! This falls very comfortably in that laid back style of soul that can be enjoyed by most people, so pop this on for a history lesson as to one of the most important soul albums ever.
#52. O HOLY NIGHT – LUCIANO PAVAROTTI
The brightly shining star
The vast majority of the albums on this list have included a band, or at least more than one person. With a few exceptions, Pavarotti’s voice clearly stands out as one of the recognisable in Opera. O Holy Night is a collection of incredibly memorable pieces, even if you aren’t fond of Opera. The album is as powerful as his voice, as he is clearly the selling point of the album. The orchestra breath-taking as well, is headed expertly conducted by Kurt Herbert Adler. O Holy Night falls comfortably in the study music genre, staying away from anything lofi.
#51. SCREAMADELICA – PRIMAL SCREAM
Using drugs to make music? Perish the thought!
Here’s another weird album I’m not sure how to describe. Falling into that ever – elusive genre of alternative rock, Screamadelica has made itself known as one of Primal Scream’s best works, and one of the highest selling albums of the ‘90s. The list really is endless for the amount of music that hasn’t either been fuelled by alcohol or drugs, but it doesn’t take a genius to work out the source of Screamadelica’s neo – psychedelia. The opening track is easily my favourite, despite it absolutely falling into the category of ‘misleading openers’ (I’m sure there’s a better name for it). Other than that, you have a great selection of hits like Inner Flight and Loaded – Andy Weatherall Mix showing some of the best of House Music. Primal Scream is definitely a band I’m going to stick with.
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