I am resubmitting this article I wrote in 2009. I looked over the list again and I would still choose these albums.
Original submission date: October 7, 2009
In the age of iPods and iTunes, it seems that no one listens to full records anymore. I am as guilty of this as the next guy, but there are still some albums that I will listen to from beginning to end without skipping…these albums helped to form my music tastes. I could not place them in numerical order but these are the cream of my crop.
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill – Lauryn Hill (1998) – so Lauryn was this hip hop girl singing her soul out with the Fugees. Then they broke up and everyone wondered what would happen. Wyclef did some good stuff, Pras did some crazy stuff and Lauryn created this absolutely brilliant album. In one CD, she was hip hop, and soul and reggae and R&B and she was flawless. She raged and she loved and then she was gone. Lauryn has barely recorded a note since this album was released 11 years ago. Some say that she has jumped into the land of crazy, some say she is under the thumb of partner and father of her children, Rohan Marley. Who am I to say? All I know is, I am thankful for this fantastic record.
Debut – Björk (1993) – I remember Björk from high school. She was a member of “The Sugarcubes” then and I was considered “mod”! I liked her, in passing – but I could not get behind the beats that the band produced. Then came “Debut”. She took her voice to the highest highs and the craziest growls and moans and screeches that she could. Not everyone’s cup of tea – her atonal thing caught my ear. She even produced a MTV fave “Big Time Sensuality”. She danced on a flatbed with a crazy hairdo and worked her way into my heart. Forget the swan dress, forget the assault on the paparazzi, listen to the music.
Brown Sugar – D’Angelo (1995) – this was the last, great R&B album. Baby-making music, I call it. This man’s voice oozes with sensuality and his lyrics are nuanced. Is he talking about a woman or is he in love with his drug of choice – heroin? His voice soars with the angels and growls with a rawness rarely heard. Stunning.
3 Feet Hugh and Rising – De La Soul (1989) – in my senior year, I was moving out of my “mod” phase and embracing hip hop. I had heard “Me, Myself and I” and was enraged by it’s blatant sample of a childhood favorite “(Not Just) Knee Deep” – Parliament/Funkadelic. It took several listens to realize that they took the sample and made it their own. This is a completely listenable album. They re-invented sample after sample and still made the music fresh. They did not degrade women, barely used profanity – but still were hip hop to the soul.
Songs From the Big Chair – Tears for Fears (1985) – I was a freshman in high school when I was introduced to this British duo. They helped to nurture my immense love for Brit-Pop. Roland and Curt were pop perfection. From “Shout” to “Head Over Heels” this album is just a splendid pop gem from start to finish. The fact that they got the name of the album from a variation on a theme from “Sybil” makes them all the more great in my eyes.
Who Is Jill Scott: Words and Sounds, Vol. 1 – Jill Scott (2000) – This is the first album of a supremely talented woman. She can sing the roof off of a house and whisper a baby to sleep. She is a poet and uses her words to discuss relationships. Relationships with men, relationships with parents and relationships with women – how we treat each other and how we love each other. Superb!
Sign O’ The Times – Prince (1987)- anyone that knows me, knows that I am so in love with this man! This all over the place album features my senior quote, my 2nd favorite Prince song of all time and Sheena Easton! I mean come on! This is the best beginning to end Prince album! Cryptic and full of meaning at the same time…is it possible? Yep!
The Low End Theory – A Tribe Called Quest (1991) – Lisa and I listened to this CD from beginning to end in her car. We sat outside of our boyfriend’s (we were dating brothers) apartment and we forgot all about them. This trans-formative album showed us what else hip hop could be. It was not all misogynistic, it was not all sampled beats and goofy dances. It could be thought-provoking and evocative and oh so smooth. To me this is the best hip hop album of all time…for those that think hip hop is all noise – I beg you to check this out.
Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me – The Cure (1987) – I was 16 and in love. The tracks from this great double CD take me back to that time and always puts me in a great mood. This was more accessible than the Cure had ever been. Robert’s mewling “why can’t I be you”? was perfect and the horns and the band knocked it out of the park.
Funkentelechy Vs. the Placebo Syndrome – Parliament (1977) – when I was 6 years old my dad brought this album (yes – vinyl) home and played it over and over again. My sister was scared (Sir Nose), my mom was irritated and I was in love. I did not know what “funk” was – but I knew that it moved me in such a way that I was hooked. This is the first album that I recall from beginning to end and one of the first “albums” that I purchased for my iPod. True feel good music and truly part of my life’s soundtrack.
Check some of these out and let me know your thoughts!