Wednesday 28 June 2017

My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 1)

My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 1)
Just over a year ago, I wrote a five part series of blogs, sending much praise most high to my favourite albums from each decade (starting from the 60s and ending with the 00s), much love, thank you God for this music, Amen. It was an idea I had for a while and I was stoked with the execution, not because I thought they were great bits of writing or anything (well, they were, but) but because the motive behind them was actually a sneaky one, a hidden ploy to try and shove my music taste into other people's faces, granting me an easy collection of urls to throw at my friends when they asked me what I wanted for my birthday or Xmas. I WANT VINYL. I WANT THESE VINYLS SPECIFICALLY. BUY ME THESE FUCKING SPECIFIC VINYLS YOU ASS BALL.

The months have passed as they do, some friendly folk bought me some friendly vinyls, I bought a load more myself, and at the time I type these very words, I own 30 out of the initial stated 50, which isn’t bad for a year of collecting when you’re an alcoholic. But as I approached the finish line, I didn’t feel the sense of achievement one might expect. No, instead I felt miserable, because I am a dramatic masochist and I crave pain. I desire the perpetual chase towards an impossible dream. I need the suffering when nothing is attainable and then I ultimately die unsatisfied, mid-complaint. Which is exactly the purpose of this blog. To top-up the list of vinyls I am requesting for my collection, and therefore impossibly increasing the volume of money needed to do so, piling on the stress.

So let’s get to it then, but before we do, please keep in mind that these aren’t necessarily my favourite albums I’ve never reviewed (despite the title), but rather just the first ones that came to my mind. Hence the “part 1” bit. I'll probably write one every year because I really enjoy writing album reviews. If I had to write nothing but album reviews for the rest of my life, I’d be about 20% happy.

Oh, and finally, if you do feel like buying me vinyl, then may Lorde bless you! Allow me to help by directing you towards all the articles featuring albums I’ve reviewed. Buy me any one of these please thanks!

The Top 10 Albums Of The 60s
The Top 10 Albums Of The 70s
The Top 10 Albums Of The 80s
The Top 10 Albums Of The 90s
The Top 10 Albums Of The 00s
The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (even if a bit outdated)
Worst to Best: David Bowie
Worst to Best: Sonic Youth
Worst to Best: Nick Cave
As well as a Top 50 from every year this decade: 2010, 2011 (short stories ugh), 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.

My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 1): 10. Jethro Tull - Aqualung

10. Jethro Tull - Aqualung (1971)

Progressive Rock

The biggest debate between fans and the band, was whether or not Aqualung could be considered a concept album. Scholars argued that the folky effort attacked organised religion as a whole, attempting to make a distinction between the doctrine of the Church and God himself. Jethro Tull, on the other hand, said this was rubbish and it all meant nothing. Regardless, it is us, the buyers, who deserve to label Aqualung whatever we like, because it was we who lifted this record as the group’s crowning achievement, forever unchallenged as their most famous thing, still to this very day. The old school hard rock solos and medieval type of whimsical fantasy flavour coupled with the sprightly trademark flute meanderings (the main aspect you will always remember this sound by) was initially ignored by critics, and yet now, thanks to us, this release is universally agreed upon as one bonafide classic from the entire progressive rock genre, and you are so welcome, Jethro. For me personally, however, I think progressive rock is shit, an overrated style ruined by how seriously it takes itself, but I cannot deny that the presence of all good records should trump even the content, and in that regard, Aqualung’s presence has the aura of legends.

Selected Accolades:
Peaked at #4 on the UK Album Chart
Seven million copies reported sold worldwide
#43 on Prog’s list of The 100 Greatest Prog Albums of All Time
#7 on Q’s list of the 40 Cosmic Rock Albums
#22 on The Village Voice’s list of the 1971 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll
#30 Classic Rock’s list of the 100 Greatest Rock Albums of All Time

My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 1): 09. Nick Drake - Pink Moon

09. Nick Drake - Pink Moon (1972)

Contemporary Folk

After his last two albums flopped miserably, Nick Drake was in a bad way. He was suffering from major depression disorder, refusing to take any medication and smoking far too much weed, all of which crippled the man, rendering him incapable of writing or recording during his darkest bouts of torment. Thankfully, he persevered as best he could, and came out the other side with Pink Moon, an album so painfully soft and bare that it exposed his deteriorating mental state on one immensely intimate stage, considered his greatest work by almost everyone since. The accomplished acoustic guitarwork and hushed vocals move in solitude without any additional glazing, lonely but finding peace within the quiet of being alone, running for only 28 minutes because that’s all the effort he could gather, yet still troubling a sweet yearning inside of me, wishing to sit with the singer, hold him, lie to him that everything was going to be ok, and then ultimately die with him. Because, regrettably, that’s exactly what happened. It took three decades for this album to be recognised as the treasure it deserved to be, but upon initial release, no one cared, and shortly after, Nick committed suicide with an overdose of prescribed antidepressants, stubbing his career out short, and leaving this as his final statement.

Selected Accolades:
#320 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
#48 on Melody Maker’s list of the All Time Top 100 Albums

My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 1): 08. Metallica - Metallica Black

08. Metallica - Metallica [The Black Album] (1991)

Heavy Metal

With three members going through a divorce, the continuous mixing and remixing, and a price tag that exceeded £1 million, these turbulent recording sessions produced something nobody could have ever expected: the most important metal album of the 90s, bridging the gap between the heavy punches and slick commercial appeal, featuring nothing but instant classics and absolutely zero filler. Naturally, the purists were appalled by this sedated and uncomplicated delivery, disgusted that the thrash had been sheened out of their precious leaders, but there was very little they could do except watch Metallica as they skillfully dodged every predictable trademark within the style they’d helped to popularise, right to the top of the charts, unperturbed by the fans who’d loudly turned their backs on them, swearing the worst sin the scene could articulate: they sold out!. Such a dirty term was not unwarranted either, as the sly trade of their dedicated fanbase for a much more lucrative one was a very calculated strategy, leading to so much radio attention that a large majority of this record has been severely overplayed, to the point that listening to it now can feel as jaded as an ancient sunburn. But do you remember your first time?? Goddamn. Regardless, even if you don't, you cannot argue that The Black Album is a metal phenomenon of the most royal statures, Metallica suddenly finding themselves as household superstars, wobbling on top of a monstrous podium, and then swiftly falling off shortly afterwards, never to return up there again.

Selected Accolades:
Debuted at #1 in 10 countries and spent four consecutive weeks at the top of the Billboard 200
One of the ten longest Billboard charting discs of all time (363 weeks in total by February 2016)
At sixteen million copies sold in the US alone (the first album in the SoundScan era to do so), it’s one of the best-selling albums ever, worldwide
Won the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance
#16 on Melody Maker’s list of the Best Albums of 1991
#8 on The Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop critics poll for Best Album of 1991
#52 on Spin’s list of the 90 Greatest Albums of the 90s
#252 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time

My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 1): 07. Madonna -Ray of Light

07. Madonna - Ray of Light (1998)

Downtempo Pop

Remember 90s pop? It sucked! The airwaves were infested by boy bands and bubblegum princesses, selling sex and platform sneakers to underage children via easy-stick beats and repetitive lyrics—a practice Madonna herself had helped nourish, granted. But that’s what makes Ray of Light all the more special. Rather than follow the safe path she’d previously sprinkled her sugar upon, Madonna discovered a spiritual atmosphere to escape with, an inner peace which was set free by her fascination with Kabbalah, Hinduism, Buddhism, and the daily practice of Hatha Yoga. She then partook in vocal lessons, hired the right people, and set about birthing a record that combined eastern aromas with ambient technos and trip hoppy drum patterns, bending any cohesive genre without becoming a messy hybrid, forever maintaining an electronica dance pop core, refusing to spoil the lengthy party. And the result was no short of ethereal, her most mature offering still to this day, one rich package which was feathery without daintiness and subtle in its sexiness—clear from all the ‘Madonna sexiness’ we had come to expect, anyway. And it hasn’t dated in the slightest. If someone ever claims to hate Madonna, this is the record you use to prove them wrong. Honestly, it was the main inspiration for this very article.

Selected Accolades:
Won four Grammy Awards from six nominations
Peaked at #1 in 18 countries
The biggest first week sales by a female artist at the time
Sold more than 16 million copies worldwide
#367 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
#241 on NME’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
#17 on Q magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Albums Ever
#10 on VH1’s poll of the 100 Best Albums of All Time

My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 1): 06. Elliott Smith - Either / Or

06. Elliott Smith - Either/Or (1997)

Indie Folk

If there ever was a poster child for tortured artistic depression that managed to hang onto some level of obscure integrity, you don’t get a story as sad and as beautiful as that of Elliott Smith. And while any one of his six studio albums are worthy of developing an obsession over, it’s Either/Or that is often lauded as his masterpiece, as well as the offering which thrust Smith much deeper into the popular spotlight (owed massively in part to these songs playing a predominant role in the film Good Will Hunting). Such praise makes even more sense when you’re dying, as this is the album equivalent of heartbreak, the sound of a beaten drug addict, absent in the introspection of his own self loathing, yet breezed over in such a fragile typical indie fashion that you end up listening to it very cautiously as to not crack it down any further. Ignore the position, as this is probably my overall favourite record on this list, and while his last days are still up for debate, the idea that Elliott ultimately stabbed his own heart to death only makes these words all the more poignant.

Selected Accolades:
#20 in the Pazz & Jop poll of the Best Albums of 1997
#36 on Blender’s list of the 100 Greatest Indie Rock Albums Ever
#59 on Pitchfork Media’s list of the 100 Greatest Albums of the 1990s
#149 on NME’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time

My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 1): 05. Converge - Jane Doe

05. Converge - Jane Doe (2001)

Math Metalcore

Y’know, sometimes I sit in the morning, just eating my cereal, and I wonder: what would it take to create an absolute landmark of the mathy metalcore genre? And then I remember, Converge did that! Probably accidentally, but still, they totally did it! How they achieved this, however, is a little less obvious, but I have a theory. It goes that they stuck to the proposed definition by charging full fucking force forward (it would be difficult to go any harder, really), armed with the tried-and-tested aggressively technical time structures blasting all over the show, an onslaught which guaranteed satisfaction from even the fussiest veterans of the fashion. But anyone can do that! No, what rather set Jane Doe miles higher, was the emotional depth to its themes, a rare album which focuses on the anger one feels after a breakup, and how these reflections of love abruptly spoil and sharply shatter into tormented screams of passionate hatred towards that one single individual. Such a timeless story, one we we all relate to, and the perfect soundtrack to smash your ex's possessions up with, while permanently scarring the whole genre’s storyline, simply in the right place at the right time. Oh my gosh, I do know those feelings well though. We all do.

Selected Accolades:
#1 on Terrorizer’s list of the Best Albums of 2001
#21 on Kerrang!’s list of the 50 Albums You Need to Hear Before You Die
#10 on Loudwire’s list of the Top 11 Metal Albums of the 2000s
#1 on Decibel’s list of the Top 100 Greatest Metal Albums of the Decade
#15 on Rock Sound’s list of the 101 Modern Classics: The Final Instalment!
#5 on LA Weekly’s list of the Top 20 Hardcore Albums in History
#5 on MetalSucks’ list of the Best Metal Albums of the 21st Century... So Far
#1 on Noisecreep’s list of the Best Albums of the 2000s
#1 on Sputnikmusic’s list of the Top 100 Albums of the Decade

My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 1): 04. Curtis Mayfield - Superfly

04. Curtis Mayfield - Superfly (1972)

Chicago Soul Funk

Initially conceived as a soundtrack to the 1972 blaxploitation crime drama film Super Fly, Curtis Mayfield’s third studio album has since outgrown its movie counterpart substantially, not only in terms of reputation, but also unbelievably in terms of financial gross, functioning as probably the only reason someone would even watch the film in the first place anymore. Personally, I’ve never seen said movie, but the depth of funky soul on offer within the music itself is so vivid that I definitely saw something back there. The songs tell stories about drugs and poverty in the smoothest of suave and the sexiest of badass tones that I’ve got my own visual interpretation going on, and from what I’ve read, my version is better. Needless to say, the album was an immediate hit, tearing open the access point to the whole genre and authorising even the most soulless of homeboys easy entry, free funk for all. I mean, it was such a defining 70s record with so much mass appeal that you’ll probably feel like you’ve heard these tunes before, even if you haven’t, because it’s pretty much agreed upon as the most important and influential funk album ever made. And everything was different afterwards.

Selected Accolades:
#69 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
#63 on VH1’s list of the Greatest Albums of All Time

My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 1): 03. Lou Reed - Transformer

03. Lou Reed - Transformer (1972)

Glam Pop Rock

It isn’t really fair to do this, but fukkit: Transformer could very well be a Bowie record—and one of his better records at that. David's fingers behind the production desk shine through so strongly that one could almost confuse these compositions as the Starman’s own children, if only it wasn’t for Lou Reed's subpar (but perfectly suited) vocal delivery and much more daring themes suggested here. The homosexuality, the drug (ab)use, and the bitter humour were far more outright when you handed Lou the mic, apathetically imperfect and unafraid of danger, gueing together the man’s most purposefully accessible work, as well as some of the most memorable and relevant songs written in the whole of the 70s. As a result, Lou went from that freaky Velvet Underground cult hero to a proper superstar, finally catching up to the ranks of his friends, and that’s actually what makes this album so intensely special. It’s imagining the scene at the time: Reed and Bowie and Iggy and Nico and Warhol all taking drugs together and talking about art as if they were in the middle of something so important and significant—because they were. And I wanna be there. More than here. More than anywhere else in the world.

Selected Accolades:
#194 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
#55 on NME’s list of the Greatest Albums of All Time
#44 on HMV/Channel 4/The Guardian/Classic FM’s poll of the Music of the Millennium

My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 1): 02. Patti Smith - Horses

02. Patti Smith - Horses (1975)

Art Punk

Somewhat embarrassed by this, but it admittedly took me a few years to properly understand the power of Horses. The vocals were a bit too coarse for my virgin ears, not appreciating that Patti knew exactly how to work with everything she had. Her lyrics appeared too proudly overly-poetic to me, misunderstanding that she was a preacher, not trying to be clever but taking a stand, never in anger, but in a liberated defiance that answered to no one. Even the music seemed too cluttered yet uncomplicated back then, as I somehow missed the live quality behind it, as if Patti was inventing art punk in my own bedroom. Thankfully, I had enough insight to persevere based on its reputation alone, and one day BANG its importance gushed in, and never stopped gushing in, each listen exhibiting something new and perpetually growing all over me like a talking moss. Needless to say, I understand now. It’s a genuine legendary classic. A punk game changer which predates the Ramones, Sex Pistols and The Clash’s debuts. And it's potentially the single greatest influence on female fronted rock bands in history. So please don’t tell anyone I didn’t get it at first, I’d be so ashamed.

Selected Accolades:
Peaking at #47 on the Billboard 200 despite very little airplay
#3 in NME’s list of the Best Albums of 1975
#2 in Pazz & Jop's poll of the Best Albums of 1975
#10 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 Best Debut Albums of All Time
#44 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
Preserved by the Library of Congress into the National Recording Registry in 2009
Both REM’s Michael Stipe and Courtney Love stated that this album was the reason they became musicians

My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 1): 01. Wu-Tang Clan - Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)

01. Wu-Tang Clan - Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (1993)

East Coast Hardcore Hip Hop

Nobody likes the Wu-Tang Clan more than the Wu-Tang Clan, and I can’t say I really blame them. The trick was that they came across like a gang made up from individuals who balanced each other out, independent personalities with their own identifiable deliveries, but lifting one another up by meeting dangerous freestyle chemistries in the middle of their geeky obsessions. And 36 Chambers was the almighty seed, the basic source which grew into the Wu-Trunk, sprouting off countless solo album branches, each infested with bees, yet none holding a sword to this debut. The dirty piano loops and trademark kung fu samples were loosely tied together with all the humourous gangster interludes and violent druggy themes we now expect from the genre, but never doing so excessively, just an arrogant mess, purely urban and abandoned with slop around the edges. And even they had no idea what they’d done. They had created a phenomenon, a main contender for the most timelessly influential hip hop record ever made, scribbling all over history and leading the way for some of the biggest names in the game today. Rappers are still desperately trying to make albums like this but they just can’t do it, you know.

Selected Accolades:
Peaking at #41 on the US Billboard 200 chart
Sold over 2 million copies in the United States
#36 on Pitchfork Media’s list of the Top 100 Favorite Records of the 1990s
#29 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 Best Albums of the 90s
#82 on NME’s list of the Top 100 Albums of All Time

Read This Next Maybe

The Top 10 Albums Of The 60s
The Top 10 Albums Of The 60s