Miles Davis made his opinions on the term fusion as a descriptor for this period of his music stingingly clear. Nonetheless, Bitches Brew blended modal jazz with, essentially, a rock rhythm section to rebirth the fomer's position as the wildly influential genre it had always been.
Arguably the poster album for shoegaze, Loveless is a masterpiece combining elephantine riffs with dream-pop haze, awash with reverb and overdriven guitars - and complimented by an equally iconic sleeve of cherry-drop psychedelia.
Can you really call yourself an audiophile if you don't own a copy of Wish You Were Here? Well, yes, of course you can, but most audiophiles own one regardless. Try Tim Buckley Starsailor. There are of course more experimental and, some might say, more interesting Beatles albums than this. But even if we disregard any sonic value in terms of production, Abbey Road in particular is if nothing else proof that 'straightforward' pop music can and should be art.
Try Big Star 1 Record. If you're going to get Nile Rogers in, then a compressed and radio-friendly recording is never going to cut it. Recorded largely using live instruments, Random Access Memories is one of the few chart-topping dance albums that facilitates, in fact demands, deeper listening. Try Tame Impala Currents. Where others can falter in combining hits with poignancy, however, Berry, Stipe, Buck and Mills here created a timelessly beautiful and pensive record.
Buy it on Amazon: R. Automatic For The People. Their being so prolific has made The Flaming Lips' discography difficult to navigate for those who are only now being introduced, but The Soft Bulletin is a sonic photograph of the band at their best: an expansive and eclectic pallet of musical and lyrical brilliance.
An innovative melting pot of funk, gospel and soul, Innervisions is a record whose production toes the line marvellously between precision and abandon with ballerina-like poise. Buy it on Amazon: Stevie Wonder Innervisions. Try Curtis Mayfield Superfly. So smooth and smoky is In The Wee Small Hoursit paints sonically the same picture of streetlights and cigarettes adorning the sleeve. Try Peggy Lee Black Coffee.
Does Gaye's soulful satin vocal, soaring as it does above What's Going On 's spacious jazz- and blues-drenched arrangements, belie somewhat this remarkable record's themes of social injustice? Or does it elevate those messages beyond the realms of the archetypal political concept record?
We could imagine Holst leaving us a nasty Facebook comment when he saw The Planets on this list, given how much he despised its popularity. Our apologies Gustav, but few classical suites cover so broad a spectrum of mood and tonality as this. Some have theorised The Planets also serves as an allegory for the tumult of life itself. Though his father took him out of school early, Eric Bibb could hardly have had a better education in terms of music, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Bob Dylan and Taj Mahal.
Spirit and The Blues is a virtuoso catalogue of Bibb's signature slide and fingerpicking playing, and blues- and gospel-steeped vocal. Try Eric Clapton Me and Mr. Which is testament to how truly brilliant it is. One of the finest roots reggae albums of all time, and undoubtedly Lee 'Scratch' Perry's finest hour-andminutes.
If ever there were a place to begin with Jamaican music, this is it. Try Burning Spear Social Living. There are those who believe James Murphy worked out the algorithm for chart-bothering indie music and created LCD Soundsystem in its image - but something so calculated would not explain the digital-with-analogue glory and wit of their three albums.
Here's to hoping Murphy's forthcoming return matches up to this, the last LCD studio album. When this private press was picked up by a collector at a Canadian flea market and subsequently shared online, the mystery of the man known as Lewis caught the imaginations of record lovers as much as the music itself.
Rumours circulated he was a con artist who fled Los Angeles after not paying for L'Amour 's photo shoot, or that he was actually an extra-terrestrial. Lewis remains a mystery, but the merits of his velveteen croon certainly do not. Buy it on Amazon: Lewis L'Amour. Try Azure Ray Azure Ray. Audiophile-wooing experimentation isn't restricted to the music on this ambient-cum-modern-classical album, either: "Some concerts were recorded on old portable reel-to-reel recorders, some on simple cassette tape decks.
Some were roughly recorded on the house engineers' mixing desks, and others were more advanced multi-track recordings. Buy it on Amazon: Nils Frahm Spaces. Try Ludovico Einaudi Elements. Our consistent lauding of this Ukranian continuous-music pioneer is really rather fitting when you think about it. It's usually best not to think when listening to Lubomyr Melnyk, however, rather meditade and bask in his ambient glory. Paul Thomas Anderson documented the recording of this collaboration in his film of the same name, so you can actually follow the album being created.
And what a group it is collaborating: Israeli guitarist Shye Ben Tzur, Radiohead creator-in-chief Jonny Greenwood and Indian ensemble Rajasthan Express recorded Junun in the latter's home state, with Nigel Godrich's light-fingered production letting the sounds of nesting birds and surrounding streets permeate a fusion of musical culture that perhaps oughtn't work but absolutely does.
Try Shye Ben Tzur Heeyam. Boards Of Canada's blend of field recordings with often ambient synth lines has inspired a hoard of software plug-in developers who'd seek to emulate their immediately recognisable signature sound. Perhaps Tomorrow's Harvest isn't always the most accessible of records, but it's an intriguing and affecting listen. Though live sets are largely comprised of knob-twiddling, the record was produced with live instruments that give Kiasmos its own sonic bent on the ever-expanding house music landscape.
Buy it on Amazon: Kiasmos Kiasmos. Try Rival Consoles Sonne. Another record the artist would possibly balk at us including, the recording of Baltimore was not a particularly enjoyable time for Nina Simone, who seems to have disagreed with pretty much everything jazz producer Creed Taylor decided to do. Astonishingly, she ended up recording her vocals for the album in a single hour-long session.
Buy it on Amazon: Nina Simone Baltimore. Dre is widely considered one of the world's finest composers of hip-hop beats. Buy it on Amazon: Dr. Dre Try Notorious B. Ready To Die. Brian Eno's fascination with complexity born of simplicity is spotlighted marvellously on Ambient 1. For its second track, for example, Eno simply recorded each 'ah' sound and left them to loop with varying delays to create a cavernous, overlapping soundscape that in our minds remains one of his finest ambient compositions.
It's difficult to comprehend, but Richard James has claimed blissful ignorance to any of the classical or electronic artists by whom he appeared to have been influenced while creating Selected Ambient Works. Regardless, there is a definite otherness to the record that, despite its apparent forebears, keeps it from being at all derivative in a way that tempts us to believe those comments are true. Try Burial Untrue. We have Will Epstein largely to thank for the existence of Darkside.
It was he who recommended multi-instrumentalist Dave Harrington when electronic musician Nicolas Jaar was searching a third musician for his live band while touring his album Space Is Only Noise. Psychic is an exploration in genre and instrumental arrangement that is sonically unparalleled by anything else we've heard. Buy it on Amazon: Darkside Psychic. This is the last album before Biffy Clyro made the switch to chart-topping anthemic rock, and Simon Neil has admitted to wilfully toying with his audience.
It'd be pure gimmickery if Infinity Land wasn't such an incredible album, full of melodic beauty meshed with angular guitar riffs and obscure rhythmic patterns. Try Oceansize Everyone Into Position. Nominated for the Mercury Prize, where it was pipped by Young Fathers' also-brilliant DeadLP1 is a meld of electronic experimentation and sharp-tongued lyricism juxtaposed with Tahliah Barnett's almost angelic vocal.
Try M. Were there a mob family dealing in industrial music, Trent Reznor would be its Godfather. This is probably Nine Inch Nails's best-known work, though even those who've never heard the name before now might recognise Hurtwhich Johnny Cash covered for his album American IV.
TV On The Radio appeared to be in less experimental mood on their unexpected latest album Seedsthe first since multi-instrumentalist and co-songwriter Gerard Smith died of lung cancer inbut Return To Cookie Mountain is the record that really gets to the heart of band. Recurring themes of alt-rock, gospel, hip-hop and electronic music are interspersed with so many other genre influences you'd probably need your toes as well as your fingers to count them all. Punched with such technique and craftsmanship, however, you can't help feeling admiration as you fall to the floor.
Would Elephant still be one of the finest garage rock records ever written if it weren't for the dirt beneath its fingernails? Amp hum, sniffling musicians and creaking chairs all inhabit the mix, but the homespun production only underlines the strength of the songs — low-fi or Slide Through And Chill - DaFunk$hun - The Album (CD, there's no denying an astonishing rush of guitar-pop glory like "Tractor Rape Chain.
The hits came later, but this is where Oasis established a beachhead on these shores in the war to restore British rock to the throne. To kick-start the Nineties, Neil Young reunited with Crazy Horse, cranked the amps and, as a songwriter, took a look back to see if anything was still standing.
The long guitar solos are this album's real story, however. They're ragged and glorious, indeed, and they turn this look back into a look ahead: The guitar barrage of grunge is right around the corner.
Not that their rockers "Flip the Switch" or ballads of taunting regret "Already Over Me" are missing. For the Stones, Babylon will do just fine. This instrument-switching Scottish outfit represented the ultimate triumph of twee, that British subgenre that applies rock-style hipness and amateurish fervor to unrock interests such as coffeehouse folk, French s pop and the works of Burt Bacharach. Casually led by real-life choirboy and Smiths admirer Stuart Murdoch, Belle and Sebastian attached cello, trumpet and strings to a skiffle beat and melodies devised after hours of lonely listening to vintage Top Forty radio.
Not since Nick Drake had so quiet a band spoken so loudly. Rage Against the Machine's first two records sound better than they used to, now that we know they were leading up to something.
But they sure don't howl or move like The Battle of Los Angeles. Zack de la Rocha has figured out how to project with his major-threat mouth, while bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk beef up their arena muscles. As a result, Battle captures Rage in all their stadium-shaking ferocity, blasting righteous propaganda to the cheap seats. Rage's macho bluster trips up their politics; even the kinda-sorta-feminist "Maria" is the sound of real men stuck on their own potency.
But hopefully that's a temporary glitch — with BattleRage have already pushed their noise and their message further than the Clash ever dreamed possible. She has it all: songwriting skills, a voice that drips soul whether singing or rapping and the coolest name in showbiz. She also had Timbaland, whose dubbed-out aquaboogie rocked bodies with a whole new funk style. They were two kids out to conquer the world, and they did with "The Rain," turning an Ann Peebles oldie into an interstellar booty patrol.
Missy struts her stuff through jams like "Sock It 2 Me" and the hysterical "Izzy Izzy Ahh," throwing in the words beep beep whenever she could fit them and just generally getting her vroom on. On the rest of Dig Your Own Holeparticularly the Beatlemaniac swirl of "Setting Sun" and the Day-Glo surge of "The Private Psychedelic Reel," the British DJ duo showed that a playing other people's records — sliced, diced and blown to ingeniously reconfigured bits — is a valid form of composition, and b dance music is a matter of both mind and body.
A mad scientist who obviously doesn't get out of the lab much, DJ Shadow spends Endtroducing rewiring the Mo' Wax sound he helped invent. This snootiest of British dance labels made stars out of train-spotting DJs, hooking up countless samples and special effects into a hypnotic pastiche of tripping, hopping beats, and Shadow was its biggest star of all. The dystopian New Age of Endtroducing sounds like an alien spacecraft touching down on the autobahn late at night, probably to check out Earth's used-vinyl bins.
This is DJ culture at its boldest: steeped in the past but zooming into the Space Age future. Stepping out from the pioneering British trip-hop group Massive Attack, Tricky put a match to his own sweet-leaf mix of Jamaican dub tricks, industrial post-punk clang and vintage Bronx-projects hip-hop, and blew the smoke all over the dance floor. The contact high was a whopper. Ripe with impending apocalypse the dark, heaving menace of the grooves and battered-warrior soul vocalist Martine's maternal vigor, Tricky's low gangsta mumbleMaxinquaye is the end-of-the-century counterpart to Public Enemy's mid-Eighties black-power addresses: voodoo rhythms and guerrilla mixology celebrating the survival of the fittest and the inevitable victory of the righteous.
Back when the Fugees' The Score was selling more records than Nike was selling shoes, Wyclef Jean was just one of two dudes backing up the gorgeous Lauryn Hill. Clef is that rare and necessary thing: the brilliant class clown. Made in the wake of the power-chord mother Green and the no-arena-left-unturned world tour that followed, Out of Time was an exercise in folk-pop understatement that, perversely but deservedly, made R.
For all of its apparent melancholy the raindrop sound of Peter Buck's mandolin, the bleak sigh of a pedal steel guitarOut of Time is a grand lift, elegant sanity with sure-shot songwriting. In "Losing My Religion," "Low" and "Country Feedback," Michael Stipe sings not only about lapsed faith and consuming loss but of quietly regaining ground and equilibrium. And you get the big-grin bounce of "Near Wild Heaven" and "Me in Honey," because redemption is always a good excuse to go dancing.
An artfully crafted, intimate song cycle, August and Everything After seemed to explode on impact. Vividly produced by T Bone Burnett, its post-punk bleakness married to old-school rock influences, August became that rare album over which both alterna-kids and classic rockers could bond.
Sure, there are a few moments when you can hear how badly the Crows want to be Van Morrison, the Band, R. Rhyming over melodic funk with his trademark diction, Brooklyn's finest made what was almost an L.
Album) voice stopped you in its tracks. It recalled Billie Holiday a bit, sure, coming from high in the back of her throat, piercing the ear a little, but wasn't really it.
It was Erykah Badu, from Brooklyn via Dallas, her head wrap tall and tight, singing of knowledge and philosophy and fulfilling unrequited love in the next lifetime. Everything that Lilith Fair later made trendy in the Nineties governs this album's haunting songs: introspection, empathy, accessible but inventive music and, most of all, an undeniable voice.
Amid the album's springy New Wave melodicism, O'Connor's love of black music is evident, particularly in the gorgeous Prince-penned "Nothing Compares 2 U. She's just above average in technical singing ability, but this girl from the projects of Yonkers, New York, became a cultural necessity because she had Everywoman crosses to bear and a superhuman ability to make you feel her. On her second album, My LifeMary J. Blige shows a rare gift for pouring her heart into a recording, to make her soul come through the speakers.
Collaborating with Sean "Puffy" Combs on original songs and interpolations of tracks by Barry White, Curtis Mayfield and Roy Ayers "My Life"Blige displays her ongoing struggle to love herself, and, as she says on the marquee single, to just be happy. The subtly autobiographical album ended up making her a megastar and crystallized the burgeoning hip-hop-soul movement. The apotheosis of the Wu-Tang dynasty, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… is powered by the RZA's somehow off-balance, hyperdetailed production, Raekwon the Chef's verbal intercourse — lyrics so dense you need the Staten Island Rosetta stone to make sense of them — and Ghostface Killah's brilliant supporting role.
Ghostface's exuberance at finally getting to spit his style on the mike pulses through his every verse — where Raekwon comes off as a cool-criminal mastermind, Ghostface's larger-than-life persona leaps out through the speakers. Never before have the Tony Montana fantasies of young black men, the dreams of transforming giant bricks of pharmaceuticals into giant stacks of dead presidents, been portrayed with so much precision, poetry and pathos.
Following up their earthshaking Achtung BabyZooropa further embellished the new model U2. These are the superstars, after all, who audaciously reinvented themselves on their eighth album — exchanging chiming guitar for funkier riffing and dense, hip-hop-meets-industrial production, unrestrained wailing for insinuating talk-singing, fever for a bubbling heat. Zooropatheir ninth outing, emphasized the shift: Instead of the mythic, desert-landscape cover shot of The Joshua Treethere's deconstructed video imagery; for the desperate spiritual questing of "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," they substitute the monochromatic dead-end musings of "Numb.
Cypress Hill's formula has been imitated so much, it's easy to forget how shocking it sounded at the time: crazy L. B-Real and Sen-Dog come on as a hip-hop Cheech and Chong, praising the sweet leaf with a devotion rarely seen beyond the parking lot at a Phish concert.
While the rappers twist their "Latin Lingo" into vato rhymes about blunts, guns and forties, D. Muggs pumps bongloads of bass into paranoid sound collages like "Hand on the Pump," and when you turn it up loud, the beat goes boo-ya. As Black-American-music royalty, Janet Jackson has had every significant moment of her growth recorded. With Control, she had her cotillion. With Rhythm Nationshe announced her political and sexual awakening. And with Janet. Using soul, rock and dance elements, as well as opera diva Kathleen Battle, Janet unleashed her most musically ambitious record, guided, as always, by producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.
Two albums before, she'd innocently sung, "Let's wait awhile. For many Depeche Mode fans, Violator is the crowning glory of the boys' black-leather period. In "Sweetest Perfection," "Halo" and "World in My Eyes," they turn teen angst and sexual obsession into grand synth-pop melodrama, and their attempt at guitar rock resulted in a hit with "Personal Jesus.
Recovering from the flop of 's Walking With a Panther, LL dusted himself off and brought a new edge and power to his big-mouthed style as he reached full manhood and hip-hop-veteran status. With huge punch lines, gigantic bravado and that LL voice filled with charisma and cool, Mama speaks of the less-dangerous side of street life — booming car radios and jingling babies and around-the-way girls with Fendi bags.
The legendary Marley Marl supplied the wildly danceable funk, the album was a tomahawk dunk — and LL's career, once again, was in full effect. You have to put up with stuff to enjoy a Jane's Addiction album: noodly jamming, hyperbole and a hippie-ish insistence on music's pagan power.
But give them a chance and you'll find yourself immersed in the crashing waves of Dave Navarro's guitar and Steven Perkins' polyrhythmic drums, and hear in Perry Farrell's screeching the call of the good god Pan.
Ritual is the album most likely to convert skeptics. Not only does it have two great singles — the game of sonic peekaboo "Stop! Hard rock became a weirder place. Surveying an American landscape littered with crushed hopes, Springsteen stares down the darkness but fights it only to a draw.
That a rocker of this magnitude would make a folk album this forlorn spits in the eye of the rising Dow. Throughout the album lonesome travelers and restless strangers battle their lives with drink, religion and the active search for somewhere better than here.
No one needs convincing. The rugged, world-weary tones of Vitalogy were a head check for Pearl Jam, as Nice Guy Eddie Vedder and his stadium-grunge all-stars grappled with their strange new role as the world's biggest rock band.
The Nineties were the all-time high-water mark of silly genre names, and trip-hop may be the silliest of all. But Massive Attack really did invent a whole new style, manipulating hip-hop's boom and reggae's throb into their own slow-motion funk noir, inspiring Bristol, England, neighbors such as Tricky and Portishead to explore cinematic dance grooves heavy on the atmospherics.
Their influence has spread to all corners of pop and rock, not to mention upscale shoe stores and cafes everywhere. Daddy G, Mushroom and 3-D made their most majestic statement on Protectionwith colossal beats and first-rate vocal guests. Tricky makes a great cameo, but Tracey Thorn of Everything but the Girl steals the show in the eight-minute title track, a stand-by-your-woman soul ballad that takes off into outer space and gets home in time to do the dishes. All eyes were on him before he even said it.
After a slew of arrests on both coasts elevated him to icon, and a near-death experience followed by months in jail made him a prison martyr, Tupac Shakur leapt out of the clink and into the most badass label in the industry: Death Row. The most combustible MC of all time then proceeded to burn a hole through America with a twenty-seven-track double album filled with bluster, bravado, Cali funk and Tupac's towering ego.
His MC skills aren't abundant, Album), but he spits his rhymes with an arrogance rare even on Planet Hip-Hop and sits back as he magnetizes you like only the sexiest of outlaws can. Sleater-Kinney made good on the promise of the early-Nineties riot-grrrl movement, linking punk anarchy and radical-feminist insurrection. On Call the DoctorTucker, Carrie Brownstein and then-drummer Lora McFarlane careen around in songs like "Hubcap" and "I'm Not Waiting," moving at warp speed from pretty to terrifying, from earnest observation to nearly incoherent rage.
These weren't the first bandmates to focus female fury and desire to the beat of a kick drum, but they could make music as fully arresting as their ideas.
And no other rocker has Tucker's voice — a bloody wail that goes soft at the center, a voice that feels like flesh pressing against you. Some real-life girls mentioned on Pinkerton are ones Cuomo had crushes on but didn't date: a lesbian, a girl in one of his classes who rebuffed his invitation to a Green Day concert and an eighteen-year-old in Japan who wrote him a fun letter and with whom he became obsessed, wondering if she thought about him when she masturbated.
With all those true confessions, it's no wonder that Cuomo is somewhat embarrassed by Pinkerton now — and that the record became a cornerstone of the next decade's emo movement. Portishead don't make dance music, exactly — the torchy gloom beat of Dummy is music for staring into your Rob Roy at a. Geoff Barrow mixes a swellegant trip-hop pastiche of astro-lounge beats, plush soul keyboards and spy-movie guitars, with Beth Gibbons belting the bluesy cocktail ballads of a jaded Bond girl.
The seductively sleek torpor of "Sour Times" and "Glory Box" has inspired countless imitators, but Portishead got it perfect the first time with Dummya bizarre love triangle between a man, a woman and a sampler. Jay-Z took the pay cut from big-time hustler to MC in stride, spitting his smooth-criminal genius in a string of dense poetics about dealing the stuff, escaping the feds and dripping in diamonds all the way to the bank.
The case for best MC in the post-B. Proof that the gods of rock are unfair bastards: A former TV moppet from the not-so-dirty North hooks up with Wilson Phillips' producer and makes an opportunistic angst-rock platter that not only sells 13 million copies — it doesn't suck. In fact, Slide Through And Chill - DaFunk$hun - The Album (CD, it's damn near flawless, from the hello-it's-me phone rage of "You Oughta Know" to the sisterly "You Learn.
Jagged Little Pill is like a Nineties version of Carole King's Tapestry : a woman using her plain Slide Through And Chill - DaFunk$hun - The Album (CD voice to sift through the emotional wreckage of her youth, with enough heart and songcraft to make countless listeners feel the earth move. A hip-hop mod squad from the streets of Dirty Jersey, the Fugees combined streetwise flash with righteous boho cool on their second album to become the biggest rap franchise this side of the Wu-Tang Clan.
The Fugees prove themselves a damn fine wedding band with their covers of "Killing Me Softly" and "No Woman, No Cry," but they hit even harder in gems like "Family Business," trading vocals over a loop of Godfather-style acoustic guitar. The Score crosses boundaries of gender and geography, reinventing hip-hop as music for an international refugee camp of brothers and sisters with the inner-city blues.
Lauryn and Wyclef took different roads on their solo joints, but The Score laid down the blueprint for the Fugees' vision of the world as a ghetto. The showstopper: "Red Light Special," an impossibly steamy make-out ballad that undresses and caresses everyone with ears to hear it.
CrazySexyCool established TLC as pop pros who could do it all, combining the body slam of hip-hop and the giddy uplift of a jump-rope rhyme without breaking a nail. As Butt-Head so eloquently put it, "This chick is weird. On Rid of Me, she summons the thunder of classic Seventies rock with help from producer Steve Albini. Harvey wails about that not-so-moist feeling in "Dry," proclaims herself "king of the world" in "Ft. Queenie" and raises hell in "Man-Size," putting her leather boots on to go stomp the whole planet into submission.
It had been five years since Appetite for Slide Through And Chill - DaFunk$hun - The Album (CD, so when Use Your Illusion I and II — separate albums released simultaneously — dropped, they exploded. Slash and Izzy Stradlin let fly a brutal twin-guitar assault, taking all "the trash … dumped into the brain" and firing it back with machine-gun fury. A soaring version of Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" is their can't-we-all-just-get-along plea.
Guns n' Roses couldn't — even with themselves. But these albums stand on their own incendiary terms, souvenirs of a season in hell. The title echoes HarvestYoung's countryish album of two decades earlier, and the music recalls its gentle flavor. Harvest was a mellow bestseller, an uncharacteristic middle-of-the-road pit stop in a decade of deeply personal and sometimes highly eccentric releases, and Harvest Moon also sounds as if it was made for lazy hammock-swinging afternoons.
But beneath its placid surface are the craggy scars of middle age, when holding onto and cherishing love see the title track is a lot more difficult than finding it. Technically, this album isn't instrumental — Bilinda Butcher's dreamy croon wafts throughout, gently defining post-punk girlishness. Guitarist and resident genius Kevin Shields also sings sometimes.
But the instrumental quality of the vocals — the fact that they matter as tone, not language — helps define Loveless ' new paradigm. No more would experimental bands require pompous poets ranting about lambs on Broadway.
Sonic textures, from electrical-storm dissonance to feather-soft harmonics, could carry meaning and hit the gut. Imparting this truth and setting the stage for post-rock, electronica, Garbage and Beck, My Bloody Valentine vanished into the ether they'd generated. If they never return, Loveless was enough. But this brutish beauty gave Soundgarden a lock on the "Led Zeppelin for the Nineties" crown.
A heavy-metal band with punk-rock nobility and no time for lemon-squeezin' corn, guitarist Kim Thayil, bassist Ben Shepherd and drummer Matt Cameron hammer Chris Cornell's vocal anguish in "Fell on Black Days," "Black Hole Sun" and "Like Suicide" into brilliantly warped power-thump sculpture. It's rare when forty years into a career, an artist unleashes an indisputable masterpiece. Johnny Cash pulled it off, though.
American Recordings was the brainchild of Cash and producer Rick Rubin, who had the genius to recognize that Cash's incomparable voice alone with an acoustic guitar and a clutch of great songs was a can't-miss proposition. American Recordings is stark, stirring and, at times, even funny. Best of all it restored a master to much-deserved pre-eminence. The nice guys finished first.
Queens-born and -bred A Tribe Called Quest brought you egoless hip-hop that let you dance to their smooth, jazzy sounds, chock with horns and upright bass and chill alongside their laid-back attitude.
His distinct nasal voice light and delicious, his liquid flow as warm and comforting as an electric blanket, his natural charisma shining through the speakers, Q-Tip makes The Low End Theory feel like an easy conversation with an old friend.
The nineteen tracks on Being There are spread across two CDs — a sound aesthetic decision. Each disc functions as a self-contained entity digestible in a single forty-minute sitting. Together, both halves aspire to the nervy sprawl of double-album predecessors such as London Calling and Exile on Main Street, records that forged unified personal statements out of a bewildering variety of styles. Being There is a product of ambitious versatility, particularly in the string-band textures conjured by multi-instrumentalist Max Johnston and the pliant rhythms of bassist John Stirratt and drummer Ken Coomer.
Dre—produced album, which earned Em respect, fortune, fame and a lawsuit from his mom. Trent Reznor has the shock-antic instincts of an old Hollywood B-movie producer. He made publicity hay out of the fact that part of this album was recorded in the L. Having shed one persona after another for more than three decades, Bob Dylan finally found one he could embrace: brokedown, death-haunted bluesman.
That sets the tone for the ten songs that follow, a night journey that's all roads and no destination, all outskirts and no town. The sad-eyed man of "Highlands," a swirling sixteen-minute epic, is still moving, however, as the album ends, desperate to elude the reaper, nearly out of his mind with weariness, nearly out of time. Millions of us made time to listen to Billie Joe Armstrong whine as he and his band of Bay Area punk snots won America's heart with fast guitars, bouncy drums and the fakest English accents ever recorded.
Their hits fit together like a stack of Pringles: "Basket Case" takes off with a case of the creeps and a melody that plays tricks on you, while "Longview" and "When I Come Around" vent the usual teen spirit with groovy hooks that the Bay City Rollers would have appreciated. Green Day took the booming Cali-punk revival to middle America: Cuter than Muppets, funnier than Weird Al, Green Day showed no signs of growing up here — which made their later transformation into politically charged arena-rockers that much more remarkable.
Rhymes about drug dealing, project living, beef and martial arts. Furious flows that roar through speakers like controlled screaming. The Wu create an air of wildness that promised violence to anyone who challenged them and to some who didn't. A generation of fans memorized every word. Madonna finally gets back into the groove, rocking the dance beats that made her a star in the first place, for her most shamelessly disco album since You Can Dance.
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