The Sunday Times (UK) - 100 Albums To Love

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The Sunday Times (UK) - 100 Albums To Love

Post by RB » Thu May 25, 2017 2:47 pm ... -h96r0kf60
The Sunday Times, May 21 2017, 12:01am

100 albums to love
Kendrick Lamar, Dusty Springfield, Nick Cave, Blondie: they’re all here, in Culture’s hot list of rock and pop classics

Compiled by: Dan Cairns, Anna Conrad, Jonathan Dean, Mark Edwards, Helen Hawkins, David Mills, Lisa Verrico and Louis Wise

Blood on the Tracks
Bob Dylan (1975)
Dylan’s lyrical sophistication and music came together in his best album, a complex account of a relationship going wrong, filled with the pain of regret and nostalgia.

Steve McQueen
Prefab Sprout (1985)
Exquisite art-pop, heart-tugging melodies and stop-you-in-your-tracks lyrics about love, loss, denial and death from Paddy McAloon, one of British pop’s unsung geniuses.

Blur (1999)
Damon Albarn’s break-up with Justine Frischmann inspires a masterpiece, sonically and lyrically fascinating throughout. The big hit was Tender; the big talking point, heroin.

Back to Black
Amy Winehouse (2006)
It made her a superstar, but propelled Winehouse even further down a dark road she had already been travelling for years. Our best tribute? To remember her for this album.

Sea Change
Beck (2002)
The polymath joker of slacker pop has his heart broken and records his best album: lush, string-backed ballads that make being a lost cause sound really quite lovely.

Deserter’s Songs
Mercury Rev (1998)
Apparently, if timed right, this mimics the rising sun, from dark to light. Perhaps, but the gloom is suffocating: beautiful psychedelia from a band who would never sound better.

Pale Green Ghosts
John Grant (2013)
A bad break-up, drugs, HIV: Grant had had a decade of it when he made this angry, tender opus full of ballads and bangers. A masterclass in swearing.

Skeleton Tree
Nick Cave (2016)
Cave has talked about the death of his son and how he struggles — a lot. His grief is overwhelming: Distant Sky suggests that a parent should never bury their child.

Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space
Spiritualized (1997)
It’s tough to lose a lover, tougher to lose one to someone who looks like Richard Ashcroft — so it’s easy to feel Jason Pierce’s pain here, never starker than on Broken Heart.

American IV
Johnny Cash (2002)
The press was, rightly, taken by Cash’s cover of Hurt, by Nine Inch Nails, a song about the end sung by a legend about to die. But don’t forget the other highlights, such as the rousing The Man Comes Around. A fitting farewell.

Stina Nordenstam (1996)
It doesn’t get much darker than this. Two of the songs are about real-life child murders. But the reclusive Swede turns misery into astounding music.

Unknown Pleasures
Joy Division (1979)
Initially written off as raw, doomy, bleak and intense, these were the qualities that made this album great.

Björk (1993)
Björk brought the wildness and weirdness of her isolated homeland, Iceland, to London’s arms-aloft clubland on her first post-Sugarcubes disc. In her feral yelps, joyful lyrics and jubilant delivery is the same sense of absolute freedom you feel standing on top of a mountain or out of your mind at a rave.

Blue Lines
Massive Attack (1991)
Hip-hop that moved at its own strange, stately pace and brought punk, dub and apocalyptic soul to the party. This still has the power to stop listeners in their tracks.

Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston (1985)
Her debut was elegant, soulful R&B pop, made bewitching by that belting gospel voice straining at the seams.

Diamond Life
Sade (1984)
It could have been coffee-table schmaltz, but her icy delivery, the sparse, jazzy backing and the unsettling certainty of her words hinted at something far darker.

Elastica (1995)
Some debuts effectively ruin a band — the energy can’t be repeated and the thrill has gone. So it was with Elastica, whose blistering first record popped so vibrantly, they were left reeling.

Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
Courtney Barnett (2015)
Listening to this treasurable young singer-songwriter is like hearing snatches of a cool conversationalist in a bar: natural, deadpan-witty and oh-so-alive.

Is This It
The Strokes (2001)
In 37 minutes, these five don’t-give-a-stuff New Yorkers proved sleazy garage rock, given punchy production and poured into skinny jeans, was the coolest sound on Earth.

The xx (2009)
The first song here sums up their sparseness, a trick that later filtered as far as Beyoncé. The rest of the record remains surprising, too: pretty, pure, and somehow both warm and icy cold.

John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
John Lennon (1970)
An album of savage candour and therapy-induced catharsis and pain, which includes Mother, his shattering cry out to Julia Lennon.

Kelis (1999)
An astonishing mix of futuristic soul, hip-hop and R&B. The first of Kelis Rogers’s many reinventions.

Channel Orange
Frank Ocean (2012)
His mixtapes had fans in a lather, and his first “official” LP did not disappoint. Astonishingly composed but still innovative, even ramshackle, it confirmed him as a soul singer for a new generation.

Boy in da Corner
Dizzee Rascal (2003)
In British grime’s first wave of success, the 18-year-old’s debut was the clarion call: sharp, witty, relentless, set to pristine beats.

Stop Making Sense
Talking Heads (1984)
Nine tracks from the Jonathan Demme concert film capture the band at their peak: immaculately tight funk with a post-punk bounce.

MTV Unplugged in New York
Nirvana (1994)
Kurt Cobain died six months after taping this acoustic show of hits and rarities. The final act of a baffled genius.

1969 The Velvet Underground Live
The Velvet Underground (1974)
Taken from fans’ recordings of concerts, the album captures the aggression and energy of a group who famously never played the same way twice.

Live at Massey Hall 1971
Neil Young (2007)
Playing his home city, Toronto, solo and acoustic, this is Young at his most unfiltered. It is full of hits, including Old Man and, most bruisingly, The Needle and the Damage Done.

Bob Marley and the Wailers (1975)
The performance that cemented Marley’s reputation and delivered the famous version of No Woman, No Cry.

I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning
Bright Eyes (2005)
Few musicians took on Dubya, but Conor Oberst did: a career highlight, this album about protest and hedonism is why people called him the new Bob Dylan.

Nas (1994)
Illmatic’s status as hip-hop’s greatest debut album remains undimmed. Dazzling verbal dexterity, a born street poet’s touch, breathtakingly inventive production and beats: it had the lot.

Pure Comedy
Father John Misty (2017)
Josh Tillman, aka Father John Misty, is antagonistic, infuriating, arrogant: Kanye West with a guitar. But here he captures the tedium and panic of modern living better, arguably, than anyone.

Let England Shake
PJ Harvey (2011)
An album about this island’s stroppiest nation. “England’s dancing days are done,” she sings, and that was before the uncertainty of the past year.

The Clash
The Clash (1977)
The true fan’s favourite: the urgency, even savagery, of the songs, and the band’s brutal performance of them, is punk at its most polemical.

The River
Bruce Springsteen (1980)
A compact classic, this double album contains all the Boss’s toughest themes. The track The River is one of the great ballads about the left-behinds.

New Amerykah Part One
Erykah Badu (2008)
A sprawling, psychedelic vision of the modern American black experience, this channels all Badu’s anger and frustration into seductive, woozy hip-hop soul.

Sound of Silver
LCD Soundsystem (2007)
They’re set to release a new album this year, but James Murphy and co will struggle to match this masterpiece, which set lyrics about friendship, anxiety and death to music that defies you not to dance like a loon.

Off the Wall
Michael Jackson (1979)
Thriller’s predecessor is the true masterpiece. Melding funk, disco, pop and balladry, and magicked into sonic effervescence by Quincy Jones, it captures an artist in total control of his extraordinary gifts.

Prince (1982)
This wildly experimental double album proved that, aged 23, he could match his musical idols in any genre he turned his tiny hand to.

Taylor Swift (2012)
Funnier and feistier than 1989, its lyrics retain the sharpness of a seasoned country storyteller, while Max Martin introduces her to dubstep.

Janet Jackson (1986)
Freedom might be a better title, as the recent divorcee sticks two fingers up at expectations and goes on a sexy, “breaking free” dance spree instead.

In Colour
Jamie xx (2015)
The main brain behind the xx flees to the dancefloor to create a record that belongs in the half-finished warehouses of modern city clubs.

Let It Bleed
Rolling Stones (1969)
The Stones’ farewell to the 1960s is predictably bittersweet, but the songs, from Gimme Shelter to You Can’t Always Get What you Want, are unanswerable.

The Writing’s on the Wall
Destiny’s Child (1999)
Few of Bey’s albums hit the sweet spot as relentlessly as her girl group’s primer in R&B and pop. A masterclass in sass.

Daft Punk (2001)
Having filled dancefloors with their techno debut, the French duo upped their game with addictive synth-pop that was both endearingly retro and fiercely futuristic.

The Sound of... The Greatest Hits
Girls Aloud (2006)
A compilation of several albums of stone-cold pop brilliance, sung by Cheryl et al and penned by their hitmakers, Xenomania.

MIA (2005)
On her debut album, Maya Arulpragasam, aka MIA, nailed the sound of Noughties London, a raucous global mix of electro, dancehall, hip-hop and pop.

Kanye West (2013)
The lyrics are awful, yet what he does in each song is exceptional: mixing samples and beats and noises into surprising coherence, with some screams and squelches.

Pixies (1989)
Their most accessible disc, catchy and summery, with Black Francis’s yelp there to scare the nans.

Appetite for Destruction
Guns N’ Roses (1987)
Steeped in sleaze and aching to offend, America’s bestseller was a hard-rock masterpiece made by Sunset Strippers with nothing to lose.

Portishead (2008)
Here the Bristol band experiment: it sounds like a factory the day before being destroyed, with only the hymn-like The Rip (about death) offering any respite.

Lust for Life
Iggy Pop (1977)
While the same year’s The Idiot was dark and gloomy, this pulses with the energy of one of Pop’s live shows.

White Stripes (2003)
Jack White’s emphatic guitar-playing and driving vocals are two of modern rock’s wonders. Riveting.

Dusty in Memphis
Dusty Springfield (1969)
Misunderstood on its release, adored ever since, this soul classic celebrates Breakfast in Bed and much more besides.

The Greatest
Cat Power (2006)
A real change of gear, this has Chan Marshall ditching the angst and self-laceration, and emerging with her lightest, most accessible album ever.

Rihanna (2016)
Rihanna’s eighth album is a triumph, filled with exciting risks, experimentation and a knockout ballad (Love on the Brain) for good measure.

Rock Bottom
Robert Wyatt (1974)
The Soft Machine drummer’s voice rises to high squeaks and tender lyricism in songs about his love for his wife.

Carole King (1971)
Only “soft” if you don’t sing along, though I Feel the Earth Move and A Natural Woman should be heard in silence.

The Trinity Session
Cowboy Junkies (1988)
Recorded in a church with the band circled around one mic, this slo-core pioneer contains Lou Reed’s favourite version of Sweet Jane.

Kid A
Radiohead (2000)
OK Computer’s electronic follow-up became a saying: “Do a Kid A” stood for a band who smash their template and lead fans to all-new sounds.

Pet Sounds
The Beach Boys (1966)
The beautiful harmonies were 1950s-ish, the beach-scene lyrics mid-1960s — and the arrangements a foretaste of pop-meets-classical to come.

22, a Million
Bon Iver (2016)
Justin Vernon can do it all: jazz, electro, pop, hip-hop and gospel. They meld beautifully on this move from log cabin to main stage.

Patti Smith (1975)
Free verse, feral garage rock, utter conviction (and utter insouciance) and a Robert Mapplethorpe cover shot. This was an in-your-face statement of intent.

Marquee Moon
Television (1977)
Spiky Big Apple punk, mellifluous art-rock, serpentine guitar solos: Marquee Moon created a totally new sound.

Before and After Science
Brian Eno (1977)
A mix of art-rock and ambient instrumentals, this captures Eno between his collabs with Bowie and Talking Heads.

For Your Pleasure
Roxy Music (1973)
The glam rockers’ finest moment, with Brian Eno still on board and Bryan Ferry’s songwriting at its sharpest.

The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (1967)
The Bonzos broke down the wall between novelty-record humour and the pop world. Nobody has bettered their destruction of lounge lizardry, cool jazz and most other musical styles.

The Sun Collection
Elvis Presley (1975)
A compilation of the 1950s tracks Elvis recorded at Sun Studio, and a salutary reminder of the virtues of rock’n’roll basics when his performances were at their most bloated.

Modern Vampires of the City
Vampire Weekend (2013)
Can you be both political and personal, allusive and specific, complex and simple, melodious and dissonant, all in one song? Absolutely, the arty New Yorkers argued.

Hot Buttered Soul
Isaac Hayes (1969)
Think Walk on By should be 12 minutes long? This is for you. A sexy fever dream for the person who always wanted to take drugs, but didn’t.

Stevie Wonder (1973)
To the glorious heft of the vocals, funky arrangements and dancy rhythms, add dynamite songs such as Don’t You Worry ’Bout a Thing and Higher Ground. A tonic.

Parallel Lines
Blondie (1978)
Fusing new wave with bubblegum pop, Blondie’s hit-packed third album was as sassy and streetwise as it was sweet. Still irresistible.

Daisies of the Galaxy
Eels (2000)
Feelgood? Yes, for a singer who made a career out of death and a dad he thought hated him. This is him shrugging most of it off, with a cheerful, melodic strut.

New Boots and Panties!!
Ian Dury (1977)
Dury’s mix of music hall, pub rock, funk and extraordinary wordplay here reached its zenith.

Matthew Sweet (1991)
Out of Matthew Sweet’s divorce came one of the greatest guitar-pop albums, full of jangly riffs and scorching harmonies.

Jellyfish (1990)
Most bands who cite the Beatles as an influence ape Lennon, but this, the finest power-pop album of the 1990s, is a riot of McCartney-esque melody.

Arcade Fire (2004)
“If the children don’t grow up, our bodies get bigger, but our hearts get torn up,” goes Wake Up: has there been a more apt line for becoming an adult? A majestic, euphoric record of love and leaving home.

The Slim Shady LP
Eminem (1999)
As his funny, foul-mouthed, cartoon alter ego, the whiny white kid from Detroit found the confidence to match his dazzling delivery. Offensive, yes, though he mostly bad-mouths himself.

Fever to Tell
Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2003)
Capturing that moment when a young band fall giddily in love with the possibilities in front of them, the New Yorkers’ debut fizzes with tension, fervour, longing, lust.

Original Pirate Material
The Streets (2002)
Gobby, gabby, lairy and leering, Mike Skinner’s first album took a relish for wordplay, a genius for beats and a keen ear and sharp eye for human absurdities and frailties, and fashioned them into a masterpiece.

Grimes (2012)
Claire Boucher’s album managed to be both deeply weird and deeply pop, an alternative sugar rush whose hits — Oblivion, Genesis — summon up all the dreaminess of youth.

Paul Simon (1986)
Paul Simon heads to South Africa and culturally appropriates, sorry, borrows the sounds of the country for his finest solo record, bursting with reinvigorated life.

Carrie & Lowell
Sufjan Stevens (2015)
The most heartbreaking album of 2015, written after the death of Stevens’s mum, this is an honest (“F*** me, I’m falling apart”) offering on how he dealt with grief.

Joni Mitchell (1971)
A relationship breaks down to exquisitely simple accompaniment, dominated by Mitchell on guitar and piano, and, above all, by her pellucid voice.

This Year’s Model
Elvis Costello (1978)
Costello unleashed himself on his second album, channelling rage, sarcasm, bile and bitterness on a set of songs that are the sonic equivalent of marauding attack dogs.

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill (1998)
Astonishing both musically and lyrically: a concise diary charting break-ups, grudges, romances and, in To Zion, the joy of motherhood.

good kid, m.A.A.d city
Kendrick Lamar (2012)
The Compton rapper is a consummate storyteller, none more so than on his bravura second LP, sketching out his teen years in the LA ghetto.

Déjà Vu
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (1970)
A wall of country-rock sound, and the songs are still minty fresh, from the sweet Teach Your Children to Stephen Stills’s angsty 4 + 20.

Wish You Were Here
Pink Floyd (1975)
For all that it is a commentary on the music business and the mental decline of former member Syd Barrett, it’s the terrific music-making that stays with listeners.

Fleetwood Mac (1977)
It’s still miraculous that a band who were falling apart could record an album as light, perfect and enduring as this.

Untrue (2007)
Moody electronica for city driving: the clutter outside whirrs like the computers making the sounds inside.

Takin’ My Time
Bonnie Raitt (1973)
Her sassy country rock evokes bowling down an open highway, heading for that dusty truck stop with the penned alligator out back.

Agaetis Byrjun
Sigur Ros (1999)
Sigur Ros’s quiet, then loud, soundscapes mirror the empty roads of Iceland, when suddenly a glacier appears.

Trans-Europe Express
Kraftwerk (1977)
The electronica kings are fine travelling companions, propelling you onwards with their hypnotic robo-rhythms.

The Cars
The Cars (1978)
A slice of late-1970s new wave from this infectious, bouncy Boston band.

Scary Monsters
David Bowie (1980)
A mid-career marvel, as Bowie plays with disco flavours.

I’m Your Man
Leonard Cohen (1988)
Cohen amped up his acoustic songs with jazzy-perky instrumentals and sexy backing singers: a treasure trove of great tracks such as Tower of Song.

This Is Hardcore
Pulp (1998)
Jarvis Cocker and co’s follow-up to Different Class went over to the dark side of art-rock on a black-as-night album suffused with seediness and dashed hopes.

New Adventures in Hi-Fi
REM (1996)
This scattergun album is a dark beauty. Michael Stipe was grieving for his friends River Phoenix and Kurt Cobain, and the results are melodic, angry, sad and experimental.

Arctic Monkeys (2013)
Alex Turner melds hip-hop and rock, leaving the scrawny Sheffield brat behind for an LA-based sex god.

Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
The Beatles (1967)
Many Fab fans would opt for Rubber Soul or Revolver, but Sgt Pepper is definitive in that it was the last time that — with unlimited studio time and extraordinary technological innovation — the band pulled together as a unit. They not only produced a revolutionary work of art, but set an example for every band since. Each generation has fallen under the album’s spell. And almost every poll has crowned it the best, or most influential, album of all time. Nonbelievers regularly snipe, with some justification, at its unevenness; bemoan the absence of two of its greatest songs (Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane) thanks to EMI’s demands for a new single as sessions for the album got under way; or cite Macca’s trite When I’m Sixty-Four and George Harrison’s self-indulgent, sitar-soaked Within You Without You as fatal flaws. Yet somehow it resists criticism. The iconic sleeve, the standout songs, the air of summer-of-love liberation that infuses the music: Pepper is much more than just an album. It’s a time capsule, a talisman. No wonder we treasure it.
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Re: The Sunday Times (UK) - 100 Albums To Love

Post by StevieFan13 » Thu May 25, 2017 3:35 pm

I like how recently-skewed this list is! Stuff from this year and last alongside the established classics.
Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand - Sir Duke (1976)

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Re: The Sunday Times (UK) - 100 Albums To Love

Post by Bruno » Thu May 25, 2017 7:31 pm

Very good find!

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