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Added by JxSxPx on 19 Dec 2008 09:03
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I decided – why the hell not give making a 100 Favorite Albums list a try? It started as just a fluke, but then I decided I wanted to do a write up on them, post their pictures, do the whole bit. So, here we are now. And, I know, I wanted to make it 100 and it ended up as 101. Even numbers be damned!

But, as I was combing over the list one last time looking for an album to cut, I was re-listening to a lot of the ones I thought I could drop over and over, and I realized something: I’d rather have an odd number of albums on this list than cut any more of them. You can say that the last two are tied for the No. 100 position if it makes you happy. There’s another reason behind the number 101.

KROQ, the radio station that introduced to me to many of these artists before I even knew their names, is 101X. As a tribute to that station, and even more specifically, to Rodney Bingenheimer, the Mayor of the Sunset Strip, the DJ who made KROQ what it is, I decided to stick with 101. I’m happy with the list being 101; it’s more inclusive that way.

And now…the rules:
• Any album by any artist in any genre from any era was up for inclusion. If it moved me, inspired me, or infected me with its greatness, it is here. Some are the usual suspects, some aren’t. The inclusions might surprise, the exclusions might as well. But that is part of the process. This is by no means definitive and subject to change. But, these albums are the ones that I feel the strongest about right now.
• There’s only one album per artist. It pained me so much to narrow it down that much, but I was running out of room at a very alarming rate, otherwise.
• I tried to keep the greatest hits, compilations and live albums to a minimum, but certain artists have their best moments/albums in this manner.
• Every album has songs recommended for downloading. Think of them as an album’s “standout track” or “highlight.” Each album gets at least one song, depending on the length. The Top 10 have a minimum of two songs recommended for downloading.

To see my 100 Favorite Music Artists click here.
People who added this item 269 Average listal rating (178 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 0
Pet Sounds - The Beach Boys
During the earliest writing sessions for Pet Sounds, Brian Wilson turned to his then-wife and said, “I’m gonna make the greatest album! The greatest rock album ever made!” Inspired by the Beatles’ Rubber Soul, a record which he believed to have no-filler, Wilson wanted to top it, to bring a new maturity and depth to pop song craft. I like to think he accomplished all of his goals, and that quote is true for me.

I firmly believe that Pet Sounds is the greatest album ever made, a work of exquisite artistry and beauty. The type of immaculate artwork that comes along once in a generation, if you’re lucky. Listening to this album is the closest I ever get to prayer it touches me that deeply. I distinctly remember for my first listening experience with this, having mostly known the Beach Boys as surf-pop enthusiasts with song after song about girls, cars, and surf and, being a casual fan at the time, I wanted to check out more of their work. I know this was frequently thrown around as their best album, and one of the all-time greats.

I listened to it on a loop. I finished my first listening experience, and thought to myself that this was something special. Then I listened to it again, and again, and again. I must have listened to it about five times that right, just on a loop, enchanted and thrilled by the found sounds, the symphonic textures, and the sheer beauty of it all. It was overwhelming, it was fulfilling, and I didn’t want to ever end.

Pet Sounds is a deep look into Brian Wilson’s fracturing psyche, and the sound of change between teenage despair and adult lamentations. Even the love songs have a twinge of sadness to them. “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” fires out the gate with a sugar-rush of Beach Boys harmonies, bubblegum pop, and puppy love lyrics, but then you listen closer. That title is more of a question mark, the sound of someone trying to convince themselves it would be nice for all of these things to occur. This dichotomy is not focused on enough when we talk about Pet Sounds.

But I understand it. Those harmonies are densely layered, the orchestrations are new, the arrangements are luxurious, and the song craft is towering, there’s just so much available to discuss and discover on a purely aural level that it’s easy to forget about the other aspects of pop music. “God Only Knows” is one of the most beautiful pop songs ever written, not much else comes close. Clearly building upon the foundation of Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, which Wilson has referenced as a major influence numerous times over the years, “God Only Knows” finds Wilson building a better, stronger, more ornate Wall of Sound. That heavy dose of lyrical melancholy clashes with the vocal euphoria, and no less than Paul McCartney will back me in saying “God Only Knows” is one of the greatest pop songs.

This sounded like nothing else in 1966, and, in many ways, it still doesn’t sound like anything from our time either. “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)” finds a way for the beat to swoop down in a way that sounds like the entire track is sighing. Then there’s everything strange and wonderful going on in “Caroline, No,” the album’s closer. There’s not enough space here to get into it all, but Wilson finds tone colors and sounds that take it into space-age pop song. It’s strange, it’s beautiful, it’s vibrant and colorful, it’s sad and mournful, it’s everything that makes Pet Sounds a masterpiece. DOWNLOAD: “God Only Knows,” “I’m Waiting for the Day”
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People who added this item 107 Average listal rating (62 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 0
Return of Saturn - No Doubt
After 1995’s Tragic Kingdom, one of those massively successful 90s albums that mostly seems like the stuff of music industry fairy tales than reality in our iTunes age, No Doubt were stranded in the land of Serious Career Re-Think. Two years of touring had the band exhausted, confused and spent. But since when do music executives truly care about the well-being of their artists? The product is all that matters, which it took the band another two-and-half to three years to complete. What took so long? First, they tried working with producer Matthew Wilder again and things didn’t work out. Then they hired Michael Beinhorn, the producer of Hole’s Celebrity Skin (amongst other works), but they couldn’t get their schedules aligned. Finally, Jimmy Iovine told them to work with Glen Ballard in an effort to rush out some kind of product. In-between they worked with Jerry Harrison, guitarist/keyboardist for the Talking Heads, on the Go soundtrack’s first single, “New.” “New” perfectly captures their New Wave sound, and one wonders what the former Talking Head’s production efforts would have turned up over an entire album. However, his lone contribution is astounding. In 1999, they turned in the album to Interscope, but Interscope said that there was no real single, as none of the material was terribly up beat. Gwen Stefani agreed to go back into the studio and work on a few more songs, Tom Dumont and Adrian Young didn’t want to. As a peace offering, Dumont sent Stefani a few demos he had made in his home studio. It worked, and out of that return to the studio came “Ex-Girlfriend” and “Simple Kind of Life.”

How would No Doubt deal with a music scene that wanted nothing but nu-metal, bubblegum pop, and mall-friendly rap? Return of Saturn opened strongly, but soon fell somewhere into the limbo that wasn’t the ‘in crowd.’ This was a pity, but, in hindsight, probably the best thing that ever happened to the band. Saturn was a genre-bending offering, a retro/New Wave concept album about Stefani growing older, her desires for domesticity, and how her rock and roll career puts her at odds with these simple yearnings. While her vocals are always going to be slightly kitschy, something about them sounds like Ethel Merman-does-ska and I say that as a diehard No Doubter, the band’s musculature is wonderful. As quickly as they can think up new genres to bring into their sound, the band integrates them into a sturdy and solid groove. Think about how “Marry Me” puts the atmospherics of the Cure and a vaguely reggae groove together. Alternatively, how lead single “Ex-Girlfriend” combines something vaguely hip-hop with a surf-punk fury that can only come from Southern California. Or how “Six Feet Under” takes Stefani’s singer-songwriter emotionality and marries it to a Blondie-esque dance-rock soundscape. Yes, Return of Saturn is a downbeat listen, but it’s an emotionally rich and rewarding listen. Its failure empowered the band to go all-out and make the Blondie-meets-Cars-and-Police hybrid album Rock Steady, which is objectively their greatest achievement thus far. Yet there’s something so cathartic and rewarding about Saturn. It’s a true album. Saturn wasn’t the first time that they used their own artistic voice, but they were smart enough to say “Fuck it!” to commercialism and follow their muse. It’s paid off a lot so far. Even if appears to be all quiet on the new music front lately. DOWNLOAD: “New,” “Bathwater”
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People who added this item 118 Average listal rating (67 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 0
Staring at the Sea: The Singles documents my favorite Cure era, from the early Wire-esque art-punk of 1978 to the gloomy, eccentric art-pop wallflowers of 1985. It ends right before Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me and Disintegration launched them into the pop stratosphere and made them arena-rock gods. The poster boys for disaffected, alienated youth for an entire generation, The Cure’s earliest singles are probably their best. Before Robert Smith settled his vocal technique into a series of sobs, wails and cat-in-heat moaning, he could sound positively aggressive (“Play for Today”), existential (“Killing an Arab”), playful even (“The Lovecats”). This is the Cure at their most adventurous and interesting. Don’t get me wrong, I love songs like “Just Like Heaven,” “Pictures of You” and “Wrong Number,” but they can become slightly formulaic in comparison to the experimental glee that pervades tracks like “The Walk.” Think about how the minimalist aggression of “Jumping Someone Else’s Train” segues into the ominous atmosphere of “A Forest” before going bonkers with “The Hanging Garden” and dancing neurotically in “Let’s Go to Bed.” While Kiss Me and Disintegration might be their best, most cohesive albums, Staring at the Sea captures them when they didn’t care about maintaining an image or sound for very long. Sometimes compilation albums can perfectly summarize a band’s appeal and their musical and cultural influence. Staring at the Sea does that perfectly, and is the perfect argument that one isn’t allowed to wear all black and mope unless they own this album. DOWNLOAD: “Jumping Someone Else’s Train,” “A Forest,” “Primary”
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People who added this item 117 Average listal rating (79 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 0
Music from the Motion Picture "Purple Rain" - Prince & the Revolution,Prince
Prince, the diminutive pansexual pagan sex god of rock, has led a long and varied musical career. But no one moment’s influence has lasted quite as long as this soundtrack to the vaguely autobiographical film (which is a unintentional camp delight as much as it is cringe-inducing). Purple Rain launched Prince from critical darling with a strong chart and cultural presence into a global superstar, an Icon, and proved that he is one of the greatest musical artists of all-time. But how did one album do all of that? Well, that one album contained such immortal songs as “The Beautiful Ones,” “Darling Nikki,” “I Would Die 4 U,” and “Baby, I’m a Star.” These songs mutated, expanded and redefined their genres and the expectations of them establishing their places in our pop culture lexicon not just in 1984, but for posterity. “When Doves Cry” is a funk song with no bass turning it into an eerie but beautiful classic, “Let’s Go Crazy” showcases Prince’s volcanic guitar skills by ending in a metallurgic solo, and “Purple Rain” turned the stadium rock ballad into a heartfelt soul and R&B blockbuster. It’s one of those rare albums that never feel long enough, and you just keep hoping that it will never end because every single moment is just too good to be true. The only thing that could have made an already stellar/A+/five-star album even better? The inclusion of b-sides from the era like “Erotic City,” my favorite Prince song of all-time. DOWNLOAD: “Purple Rain,” “When Doves Cry”
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People who added this item 129 Average listal rating (87 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 0
Parallel Lines - Blondie
Debbie Harry, with one bored kick of her stilettos, kicked down the door marked “No Girls Allowed” in the world of rock & roll. Before her girls were allowed to sing pop, soul, R&B, country, blues, jazz and harmonize in groups, but they weren’t allowed to participate in the misogynistic world of rock. From the kitsch friendly debuts, in which Harry parodied, and paraded around as, a dumb blonde falling into tabloid headlines and b-movie storylines, a few things were abundantly clear: Harry was not a dumb blonde, no man’s bimbo and she was a real, grown-up woman. And no album better summarizes her newly created rock goddess persona than Parallel Lines, the album that broke them in the U.S. and could effectively act as a greatest hits. Parallel Lines hasn’t gained a pound since first debuting in 1978, and has set the template for any self-respecting female in rock with its ironic art-pop, the career maps of Madonna, No Doubt, Garbage, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and countless others attest to this. Let us discuss the songs for a moment: the icily remote disco-rock of “Heart of Glass” was the biggest hit, “Fade Away and Radiate” describes the romantic (?) relationship between Harry and a TV, “Just Go Away” proves that above all they really had garage-punk roots, “One Way or Another” is a punk-dressed-as-a-girl-group girl-stalks-boy romp. You want to be a million-selling pop group, follow this simple formula: get a ridiculously beautiful blonde singer who looks bored with it all, a bunch of mop-tops in mod outfits and revamp the sounds of girl group pop, Motown and Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound. That sound you hear at the end of the album is the birth of the New Wave, of which Blondie was the most successful and influential group. Long may the Queen of the Manhattan demimonde reign! DOWNLOAD: “Heart of Glass,” “Sunday Girl”
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David Bowie undoubtedly laid a lot of the groundwork for punk, glam, art rock, New Wave, electronica, industrial rock and who knows what else by embracing his inner alien, feminine side or by actually being a gender ambiguous extraterrestrial. Anyway which way you want to look at it, he’s a genius and the music he makes attests to his immense talents and forward looking eye. Before Madonna was reinventing herself with every album and bringing underground genres to the mainstream, there was David Bowie rocking it out with his red mullet and half-ton of glittery makeup. He made it perfectly fine for mainstream artists to embrace their avant-garde art school leanings and explore new concepts, sights and sounds; he brought wit and sophistication to rock. Other characters he created include Aladdin Sane, The Thin White Duke, Major Tom, but they all pale in the moonage daydream glow of Ziggy Stardust and his Spiders from Mars. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars isn’t just, quite possibly, the greatest concept album, but his finest hour since it predated just about every sight and sound of the 70s/80s punk and New Wave scenes by about five to ten years. “Ziggy Stardust” rocks harder than anything else on the album, “Starman” embraces his peculiar persona, and “Suffragette City” takes infectiousness to a whole new level (all together now: “Wham! Bam! Thank you ma’am!”). Those are just the three well known singles. David Bowie is one of my biggest heroes, I idolize the man to the point of near derangement, so I firmly believe that everyone should own this. Actually, I believe that everyone should start with this album and then go exploring, and I would be willing to tell you where to go next. DOWNLOAD: “Suffragette City,” “Hang On to Yourself”
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People who added this item 32 Average listal rating (19 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 0
Specials - The Specials
With a brash and headstrong energy, political fervor and urge to dance, Specials kicked off the hugely influential Two-Tone era. The Specials were a biracial group of English punks with a deep love for reggae. The phrase “mutant reggae” was practically invented for this punk-ish take on Jamaican ska, itself an old genre that wasn’t quite as hedonistic. Tales of working class life (“Stupid Marriage”), racial strife (“Doesn’t Make It Alright”) and bad nights out partying (“Nite Klub”) fill out the originals, and the covers are taken from their laid-back origins and given a sped-up snarl. With production by Elvis Costello and a guest appearance from Chrissie Hynde, yes, as in the lead singer of the Pretenders, this is one of THE documents of the New Wave. Specials is one of those rare albums that is a greatest hits in everything but name. And when combined with the 1980 follow-up More Specials, it plays like two discs worth of some of the most inventive, politically aware and energetic music from the period. But how is this so influential? Without the success of the Specials, the rest of the Two-Tone bands (including Madness, the (English) Beat and the Selecter) wouldn’t have stood a chance at making a dent in the charts, the ska-crazy southern California music scene wouldn’t exist and generations of skater-punks wouldn’t have a band to idolize. DOWNLOAD: “Gangsters,” “Too Much Too Young”
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People who added this item 157 Average listal rating (104 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 0
Like a Prayer - Madonna
Madonna had used her three previous albums to become one of the biggest pop icons of the decade, and with Like a Prayer, she decided to take complete artistic control and thrust herself from an icon of a decade to an Icon, period. From the guitar shriek, sudden stop and emerging choir that rings in “Like a Prayer” to the humorous bit that sees Madonna confronting St. Peter about not being on the guest book for Heaven, this is our first glimpse into the real woman behind the cultural provocateur. However, since we are talking about the woman who made shocking the world an art form in and of itself, it didn’t come without some controversy. The Pepsi contract and music video scandal are well documented, but the cheeky reference she gave in a Rolling Stone interview about this record being a documentation of her growing up process, something she said she was still in the midst of, paints a clearer picture of her real intentions. Artistically speaking, she may have surpassed this collection with Ray of Light, but this one means more to me. This was the first time that Madonna revealed naked, vulnerable, contradictory emotions on a record, and that is an act of bravery for any artist to do. The death of her mother (“Promise to Try”), AIDS (“Spanish Eyes”), her divorce from Sean Penn (“Till Death Do Us Part”) and her relationship with her father (“Oh Father”) all get touched upon. And in the title track, which remains her greatest song, she crafted a beautiful song which works on multiple levels: the sacred, the heartfelt, the profane and the celebratory. DOWNLOAD: “Like a Prayer,” “Love Song”
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People who added this item 19 Average listal rating (14 ratings) 8.4 IMDB Rating 0
Pretenders - The Pretenders
Chrissie Hynde was a new kind of woman in rock: sexually confident, tough, sassy, begging for your catcalls, ready to fight you for giving them to her, yet a big softie at heart. From the opening drum roll of “Precious” to the final pounding of “Mystery Achievement,” the self-titled debut album from the Pretenders remains a forceful and hit filled record. The cat-eyed biker chick siren call of “Up the Neck” is only matched by the tough-as-leather dangerous sex of “Tattooed Love Boys.” The sparse, nearly instrumental “Private Life” flirts with an almost-reggae groove, and there’s even a Kinks cover, “Stop Your Sobbing,” which Hynde injects with her own brand of hardened sass. But the softness of “Kid” and “Lovers of Today” show that beneath the entire bad girl posture is a vulnerable romantic. No one before or since has quite compared to Hynde’s patented brand of rock feminism, Shirley Manson is a close modern equivalent though. But Hynde is still rocking her skinny jeans, eyeliner, biker boots and “fuck off” attitude, a true inspiration. DOWNLOAD: “Tattooed Love Boys,” “Precious”
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People who added this item 23 Average listal rating (16 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 0
Los Angeles-based junkyard Beat poets John Doe and Exene Cervanka were like the White Stripes before Jack and Meg ever hooked up. They redefined how aggressive and hard-hitting country music could be by giving it a punk makeover. “The World’s a Mess; It’s in My Kiss” never quite makes clear what’s in Exene’s kiss, but it does make it clear that she wants you to go with her on a trip to hell and back. “Sugarlight” is either about a gay trick with drug issues, a drug deal, or some combination of the two. And “Johnny Hit and Run Paulene” describes a drug deal and rape in horrifically candid and simple terms. They recall the best of the Doors and, luckily for them, they’ve come armed with Ray Manzareck, the Doors keyboardist, as a producer and a rockabilly cover of “Soul Kitchen.” This remains the best West Coast punk album, and this is arguably the greatest album to ever be recorded about my hometown. DOWNLOAD: “Los Angeles,” “The World’s a Mess; It’s In My Kiss”
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People who added this item 550 Average listal rating (405 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 0
London Calling - The Clash
London Calling is the moment when punk hit the mainstream and branched out. The Clash ran punk through reggae, dub, ska and every other genre that they could think of. None of it is anything less than totally amazing. I know that you’ve heard the Clash described as the only band that mattered during their heyday, this album is why people believed that. The first time I heard it I was exhausted and confused by the end – dizzy and high off the sheer amount of creative force and invention, the greatness that I couldn’t quite grasp on just one listen. I didn’t feel a musical rush like that again until I first heard Pet Sounds, which should tell you something about this album’s greatness. DOWNLOAD: “London Calling,” “Hateful,” “The Guns of Brixton”
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People who added this item 742 Average listal rating (557 ratings) 8.5 IMDB Rating 0
Revolver - The Beatles
The Beatles used the recording studio as a stop-gap between tours, a place to record a product to propel their tour oeuvre and keep their record label rolling in money. But something funny happened around A Hard Day’s Night, Help! and Rubber Soul: the Beatles learned that the studio could be a place of artistic exploration and wizardry. While Rubber Soul was their first LP filled with sonic and lyrical experiments, Revolver makes that album's idea of experimentation in content and form look cute in comparison. Revolver was a bold and innovative new direction for the group. But there’s something extra special about what Revolver brought to the pop music landscape. Perhaps it’s that both individually and as a unit they figured out that their palette could be as wide, colorful and varied as their imaginations, a message which has been taken to heart by everyone else since. DOWNLOAD: “Tomorrow Never Knows”
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People who added this item 3 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 9.5 IMDB Rating 0
Warm, In Your Coat - Romeo Void
Debora Iyall never got the credit she deserved – before there was even such a thing as slam poetry, she was delivering it over jazz/punk/dance hybrid grooves. Romeo Void was like a combination of Blondie, Pretenders, and the Waitresses, which means that they were a great band. All three of their albums are great, but Warm, In Your Coat takes the best moments of those albums and distills them down into one set (it is missing a few notable tracks like “Fear to Fear” or “Say No”). With her dreamscape imagery and poetic inclination, it should come as no surprise that Iyall and co. met at art school. These jazz-punk songs obviously had an influence on Garbage and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. And “Never Say Never” remains one of the greatest songs to have emerged from the New Wave. DOWNLOAD: “Never Say Never,” “Chinatown,” “Talk Dirty to Me”
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People who added this item 46 Average listal rating (24 ratings) 8.8 IMDB Rating 0
This Year's Model - Elvis Costello
Icon/genius Elvis Costello is a god-like figure amongst the alternative rock nerds, but he’ll never top this set. It burns through spongy reggae (“(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea”), bristly punk (“Pump It Up”) and twitchy New Wave (“You Belong to Me”) without breaking a sweat, or letting up for even a moment. I adore My Aim Is True, but This Year’s Model trumps that album by simply having the Attractions as a backing band. The Attractions gave Costello’s music and lyrics the attitude and energy that it needed. His wit wasn’t called acidic for nothing, but I feel like he’s just being honest. Without a doubt this album helped set the template for the main musical styles and explorations that would go on throughout the 80s. DOWNLOAD: “Radio, Radio”
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People who added this item 221 Average listal rating (140 ratings) 8.4 IMDB Rating 0
At Folsom Prison - Johnny Cash
At Folsom Prison is the sound of Johnny Cash stepping in front of an audience and into his personal mythology, his eternal image. Everything that attracts, moves, and thrills me about Johnny Cash is right here: his humor, spirituality, rebellious spirit, immense talent, voice, the list just goes on. The announcements add you-are-there verisimilitude, and the audience is as important and prominent as any of the instruments. But this is Johnny’s show through and through. He performs old favorites, which are given a harder sound, an almost early punk danger, by being performed in a prison. It is the quiet moments that linger, though. DOWNLOAD: “Cocaine Blues,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Greystone Chapel”
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People who added this item 159 Average listal rating (100 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 0
Most would insist that Highway 61 Revisited is the greatest thing that Dylan ever recorded, and I wouldn’t argue against that. But I’ve always had a fondness for Bringing It All Back Home, which is no slouch in Dylan’s repertoire. “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “Maggie’s Farm,” “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” (the most beautiful kiss-off ever written) are just four of the tracks on here. This is also the sound of Dylan in transition, semi-electric in spots but still mostly acoustic. With this album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, Highway 61 and Blonde on Blonde, Dylan’s 60s output is an embarrassment of riches, and each is someone’s favorite. There really is no wrong answer when it comes to which is the greatest of them, the question really is which is your favorite and this just happens to be mine. DOWNLOAD: “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”
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People who added this item 5 Average listal rating (3 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 0
Sunrise - Elvis Presley
Depending on whom you ask, these songs helped invent rock & roll, and “That’s All Right” is day one of a revolution that has touched and influenced everyone. It should go without saying that Elvis Presley was one of the most influential people to move, live or breathe. These songs are when he was just a nervous nineteen-year-old mama’s boy; his voice doesn’t have the later husky swagger or confidence in cuts like “Suspicious Minds” or “Jailhouse Rock.” This is when Elvis Presley was just a country boy, and he frequently sounds like he can’t believe he’s being allowed to get away with what he’s doing. “My Happiness” is the dawning of Elvis Presley, The Icon, by having the distinction of being his first ever recording. Disc one, all of the singles he cut for Sun, bursts with energy and vitality, disc two is the sound of a revolution in its infancy; all of it is essential listening. DOWNLOAD: “That’s All Right,” “Mystery Train,” “I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone,” “My Happiness”
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People who added this item 152 Average listal rating (95 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 0
Horses - Patti Smith
Patti Smith is many things – artist, writer, actress, feminist icon, legendary musician – but her greatest legacy might just be introducing real poetic fury and imagery into rock. She’s the High Priestess of Punk for a valid reason (she’s also known as the poet laureate of rock). These nine songs can sound like babbling nonsense without a lyric sheet, but stick on the headphones and pay attention to what she’s speak-singing. It’s nine songs worth of unapologetic female sexuality, strength, violence, nightmarish visions, Catholic guilt and anger. The androgynous cover only hints at the dichotomy she brings: both very feminine and more aggressive and masculine than any man (horses are a poetic sexual symbol, after all). There is one thing that she is, regardless of any conceptions of gender: a rebellious genius. DOWNLOAD: “Land: Horses/Land of a Thousand Dances/Le Mer (De)”
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People who added this item 525 Average listal rating (371 ratings) 8.5 IMDB Rating 0
The Velvet Underground & Nico - The Velvet Underground, Nico
To put it incredibly blunt: without The Velvet Underground & Nico what we think of as modern rock, alternative music and avant-garde art rock wouldn’t exist. Underneath the narcotic laced glamour and primal noise rock of songs like “Heroin” and “Waiting for the Man” are the Sun Records, Phil Spector and Motown influences of Lou Reed's youth. But with the spiked edges and hardened deadpan that Lou Reed and Nico embedded into the vocal performances, it sounds like something incredibly new, scary, sexy and artsy. Despite being forty-nine-years old, this still sounds fresh and exciting. It has been famously said that few people bought this when it first came out, but those who did all started bands. Buy this and Nico’s Chelsea Girls and discover the roots of punk, metal, industrial and New Wave music. DOWNLOAD: “Heroin”
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People who added this item 201 Average listal rating (107 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 0
Extraordinary Machine - Fiona Apple
To say that this had a troubled birth would be a massive understatement, but it would also be a massive understatement to declare that both versions of the album are absolute masterpieces. The original Jon Brion produced takes are glorious pieces of baroque art-pop, and the Mike Elizondo produced takes on the official release are just as deliciously bizarre. A genre bending and redefining work, it marries punk aggression, brainy singer-songwriter lyricism and some jazz flourishes to a group of songs about a very bad breakup. This is a full-course meal album with not a moment that can be easily digested outside of it. I am convinced that in a few years this will be canonized as a classic: own the official, download the leaked demo. DOWNLOAD: “Tymps (The Sick in the Head Song)”
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People who added this item 323 Average listal rating (180 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 0
Give Up - The Postal Service
Ben Gibbard takes a break from being the main creative force behind Deathcab for Cutie and decides to go New Wave/synth-pop. He brings along a few of the other ‘00s indie rock superstars, like Jenny Lewis. Who knew that this would go on to become one of the defining albums of my generation? With his soft, sensitive voice and the swirling and pulsating synthesizer programming, this album sounds like it came directly out of 1985. “Nothing Better” effectively being a redo of “Don’t You Want Me,” “The District Sleeps Alone” sounding somewhere between The Cure and New Order, and “National Anthem” sounds like something Talk Talk would have cooked up. Thanks to their recent disbandment, that hoped for second album is essentially the indie pop Chinese Democracy. DOWNLOAD: “Such Great Heights”
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People who added this item 104 Average listal rating (58 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 0
Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas - Danny Elfman, Marilyn Manson, Panic!@ the Disco, Fiona Apple, Fall Out Boy, Paul Reubens, Catherine
The Nightmare Before Christmas sounds like a long-lost Oingo Boingo album. That is as far away from a complaint as I can make it. In fact, that is one of the numerous reasons why I love the film. I was worried about this two-disc re-release when I first heard about it, it had mostly to do with the covers, but the demo tapes from Danny Elfman’s earliest work on the film are a joy. And Fiona Apple and Marilyn Manson do the originals proud, the less said about the other three covers the better. DOWNLOAD: “Kidnap the Sandy Claws,” “What’s This?,” Fiona Apple’s “Sally’s Song,” “Making Christmas [Demo]”
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People who added this item 88 Average listal rating (51 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 0
Beautiful Garbage - Garbage
Shirley Manson is a great front woman for a sound like this, somewhere between New Wave and electro-shoegazing. For years, she projected the image that was both threatening and vulnerable with buckets of eyeliner, ass kicker boots, and a smoking-in-the-girls-room persona. Beautiful Garbage reveals the complex human emotions inside of her android dominatrix leaving the listener moved (“Cup of Coffee”), enraged (“Silence is Golden”), or bouncing along to something that only sounds like frothy pop (“Breaking Up the Girl”). This is the album that’s the most divisive amongst the critics and the fans, but I have always loved it. What can I say other than I love how ambitious and messy it is. DOWNLOAD: “Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go)”
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People who added this item 55 Average listal rating (30 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 0
Arular - M.I.A.
M.I.A. is where CNN and Pop Art meet and produce electronic hip-hop music. Her subject matter is fiercely political: “Amazon” is about Stockholm syndrome, “10 Dollar” is about child prostitution, and “Pull Up the People” is about the plight of the poor. I listened to this on repeat for days, months even, on end when I first bought it. It sounds like a futuristic/retro party with M.I.A. standing on a soap box in the middle of the dance floor chanting her political slogans into a megaphone. Get this and you’ll understand why she couldn’t get a Visa to record Kala in this country, or so the rumor goes. DOWNLOAD: “Sunshowers”
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People who added this item 264 Average listal rating (180 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 0
Rumours - Fleetwood Mac
Stevie Nicks is like a West Coast witch who comes armed with poetic bombs and latent darkness beneath the lace. She’s what has always attracted me to Fleetwood Mac, and she’s got the best cuts on this album. This is really saying something since this is the best glossy southern California pop album ever recorded. There is no such thing as a bad song on here. Yes, it famously details the emotional turmoil and breakups of the relationships within the band, but it all sounds so sunny and wonderful. DOWNLOAD: “Gold Dust Woman”
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People who added this item 317 Average listal rating (191 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 0
White Blood Cells - The White Stripes
The White Stripes picked up where X left off. They too make alternative country/punk/blues songs about screwed-up relationships, except Jack and Meg is the entire group, whereas John and Exene were part of an ensemble. No matter, this duo rocks harder than most bands with more guitarists and an actual bassist. “Fell in Love With a Girl” is the punk salvo of a first single, but everything on here is fantastic. This and Elephant prove that their legacy is here to stay, and they might just go down as the essential group of the past fifteen years. DOWNLOAD: “We’re Going to Be Friends,” “Fell in Love With a Girl,” “I Think I Smell a Rat”
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People who added this item 157 Average listal rating (92 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 0
Blue - Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell is one of the all-time greatest – singers, guitars, artists, songwriters, she does it all, and she does it all exceptionally well. Blue is her greatest recording, but by no means her only essential one (this is second in a series of six fantastic albums). This song cycle, written mostly while on a European vacation, reflects love’s labors lost and won among the L.A. hipster set. The minimalist approach – all acoustic, mostly just piano and guitar – reflects the blunt truths in the lyrics. If this record does not move you, there is something wrong with you. DOWNLOAD: “All I Want”
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While Darlene Love might have been the powerhouse vocalist in Phil Spector’s stable, Ronnie Spector was the one that created the most magic with his Wall of Sound. With their beehives, winged eyeliner and tight mini-skirts, the Ronettes were the bad girls on the girl group pop block. The drum intro to “Be My Baby” inspired every punk on the CBGB’s scene. This might be delightful pop music from the 60s, but it’s got edge and Ronnie’s voice is pure New Yawk sass. It’s only recently been made available on CD, in a box set containing all of the albums released by artists in the Phil Spector stable that is worth your time. DOWNLOAD: “Be My Baby”
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People who added this item 60 Average listal rating (40 ratings) 8.4 IMDB Rating 0
Violent Femmes - Violent Femmes
Acoustic punk sounds like a contradiction in terms, but that’s what this is. The lyrics and vocal performances are just as messy, abrasive as anything cooked up by the Stooges or Ramones – they’re just surrounded by unplugged instruments. Violent Femmes features classic moments: “Kiss Off”’s great countdown, “Add It Up” has the great lyric “Why can’t I get just one fuck?” and everyone knows “Blister in the Sun.” Nothing beats the kinky sex tale of “Gone Daddy Gone.” These are perverse and hilarious tales of twisted sex, bad relationships and teenage angst. DOWNLOAD: “Gone Daddy Gone”
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People who added this item 329 Average listal rating (203 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 0
Post - Björk
Björk is not from our planet; that much is abundantly clear from her version of “disposable pop music.” This is pop music beamed in from outer space, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not breathtakingly beautiful, luscious or gorgeous – all of which it is. “Army of Me” is an industrial house number, and “It’s Oh So Quiet” is a variation on big band swing. These are the only two songs that are remotely classifiable by genre. Everything else is deliriously strange but innovative and exciting. DOWNLOAD: “Hyper-Ballad”
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People who added this item 178 Average listal rating (98 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 0
Most of these songs barely qualify as such – they play out more like diary entries set to music. “Unsent” being one of the prime examples, but “Your Congratulations” features a nearly out of tune piano and her wailing something about her mother, or her fans, or both. Would I remove them from the album if given the chance? Hell no, I’d rather keep the experiments and barely-songs than lose them. This is Alanis’ bravest, darkest and deepest record. DOWNLOAD: “Are You Still Mad,” “Baba,” “So Pure”
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People who added this item 209 Average listal rating (130 ratings) 8.6 IMDB Rating 0
Legend does what every greatest hits compilation is supposed to do: distills an artist’s entire body of work into the purest form of their creativity and talents. This one also distills his genius into every form it took. From the spiritual (“Redemption Song”) to the socially conscious (“No Woman No Cry”) to the chilled out grooves (“Three Little Birds”), every facet is presented in its best moment(s). This could possibly be the only reggae album you’ll ever need. But where’s the fun in only having one? DOWNLOAD: “No Woman, No Cry [Live],” “Redemption Song,” “Is This Love”
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People who added this item 171 Average listal rating (114 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 0
Transformer - Lou Reed
As if practically laying the groundwork for punk, New Wave and heavy metal with the Velvet Underground wasn’t enough, Lou Reed teamed with David Bowie to explode glam-rock and gay visibility on Top 40. “Goodnight Ladies” is delivered with a nod and a wink; just take a guess as to why. “Walk on the Wild Side” is a tell-all about the Factory’s assortment of druggies and cross-dressers. Naturally, it was also the only time Lou Reed ever had anything close to chart visibility. This is an immersion into the Manhattan demimonde. DOWNLOAD: “Vicious”
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People who added this item 214 Average listal rating (141 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 0
Ramones - Ramones
The Ramones wanted to be the Beach Boys, but they couldn’t play their instruments, sing or harmonize as well as the Beach Boys could. It didn’t matter in the end – Ramones is a hard and driving, but slightly poppy, album which paved the way for every punk to come. They dressed alike and looked like a roving gang of delinquents, even sang like them too (“Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue” anyone?). Songs like “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” and “Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World” proved that punks had hearts. Their tight jeans and beat up Converse remain iconic. DOWNLOAD: “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend”
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People who added this item 128 Average listal rating (91 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 0
The Stooges - The Stooges
The Stooges are the godfathers of punk, heavy metal and hard rock. “Real Cool Time” and “1969” are drug-fueled, confrontational early punk jams. But it’s not all about trying to pick a fight or getting high, “I Wanna Be Your Dog” is a kinky and disturbed sex song. Iggy Pop & the Stooges are under-appreciated and underrated elder statesmen who deserve more recognition for their enormous contributions to music. Start with the debut then move on to Fun House and Raw Power, and maybe you’ll agree with me that they should have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame a long time ago. DOWNLOAD: “I Wanna Be Your Dog”
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People who added this item 29 Average listal rating (17 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 0
Zenyatta Mondatta - The Police
Every single one of the Police’s five albums is a winner, but there’s something about this assembly of songs that just hits the sweetest spot for me. You have the well-known stuff like “Driven to Tears” or “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” right next to songs like “Voices in My Head” and “When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around.” This album, their third, sees the group operating at their zenith. Sting’s strong vocals and solid bass lines merge with Stewart Copeland’s drum and Andy Summer’s guitars to consistently create magic. Within six years the band would release two more albums (including their most-popular final release Synchronicity) and break up, but the Police left behind one of the strongest catalogs in the history of New Wave. DOWNLOAD: “Canary in a Coalmine”
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They only recorded one album, but that one album was hugely influential to a look and a sound. Johnny Rotten was one of the scariest punks around, what with his lyrics in “Bodies” combining Holocaust imagery with abortion and all sorts of other incendiary things. “Anarchy in the U.K.” is practically an English punk National Anthem, or maybe that’s “God Save the Queen.” Confrontational, scary and noisy – this is one of the best things to come out of the original punk era. You can’t claim any kind of punk loving status without owning this. DOWNLOAD: “Pretty Vacant”
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People who added this item 158 Average listal rating (101 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 0
Louder Than Bombs - The Smiths
This was intended as a holdover to whet the appetite of American fans while they recorded their new album. In reality, this collection of non-album singles, b-sides and rarities was their swan song. Many of their best songs are on here: the rockabilly of “Shakespeare’s Sister,” the vulnerable “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want,” the bouncy pop of “Ask,” and the list goes on. The assortment of sounds and styles show that the Smiths could be the best British bands since the Beatles. This mammoth twenty-four song collection is a great showcase for a great band. DOWNLOAD: “Sweet & Tender Hooligan,” “London,” “Ask”
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People who added this item 63 Average listal rating (38 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 0
Entertainment! - Gang of Four
Before M.I.A. was performing her Pop Art/punk/hip-hop fusion, there was the jittery acoustic punk styling of Gang of Four. Songs like “At Home He’s a Tourist” and “Anthrax” burn with political vitriol, but these punks also know how to make it all sound like a dance party. “Ether” is a strong message about oil, but it has a skittering guitar line that’s impossible not to dance to. Make sure you track down the remastered edition since it includes the Yellow EP. It’s about twenty songs worth of hugely influential material, bands like the Rapture and Interpol think they sound like this. DOWNLOAD: “Ether”
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People who added this item 314 Average listal rating (224 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 0
Back To Black - Amy Winehouse
This is a modern Motown album. Songs like “Rehab” and “Back to Black” sound like they’ve been hidden in the very back of the Motown vaults, if those songs were about drugs and contained words like “dick.” It’s a slim record, a little over a half hour, but it packs a lot of wallop in its short running time. Most of that has to do with Winehoue’s writing and singing talents. It’s tragic that she burnt out so hard and so fast, but we'll always have this album to remind us of her gifts. DOWNLOAD: “Rehab”
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You can’t call yourself a ska/punk fan without having this compilation somewhere in your collection. Listening to songs such as “Best Friend” or “Can’t Get Used to Losing You” show where the third-wave ska revivalists got their sound. The latter singles move towards a more New Wave orientated sound, and turn up even bigger jewels: “Save It for Later” and “Mirror in the Bathroom” are glorious. Be a good little rudie, put this on and skank the night away. DOWNLOAD: “Mirror in the Bathroom,” “Save It for Later,” “Tears of a Clown”
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People who added this item 157 Average listal rating (97 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 0
Courtney Love cleaned up her act for a short period in the late-90s, wore haute couture, and became an actress, but she still rocked like a hellcat. “Celebrity Skin” and “Boys on the Radio” are full of her Dorothy Parker-like quotable nature. The California pop sheen given to tracks like “Northern Star” and “Malibu” hint at the richer songwriting of which she was capable. This isn’t a sellout record – she screams and wails far too much for it to be that – it’s just a successful combination of her hard rocking edge and Top 40 aspirations. DOWNLOAD: “Malibu”
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People who added this item 70 Average listal rating (51 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 0
Tapestry - Carole King
Carole King had been writing hits for other people for, roughly, ten years before James Taylor told her to record some of her own songs. That she can create so many different sounds with so few instruments speaks to her talents as a songwriter. I actually prefer her earthy reading of “(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman.” This, along with Joni Mitchell, pretty much created the female singer-songwriter niche that’s so popular nowadays. DOWNLOAD: “(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman”
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People who added this item 12 Average listal rating (9 ratings) 8.6 IMDB Rating 0
The Scream - Siouxsie and the Banshees
First of all, that cover is downright creepy. Second, Siouxsie Sioux is a Gothic siren luring you into her freakish underworld where she’s the queen. Every track is an ominous descent further and further into her underworld (yes, even The Beatles cover sounds demented). “Carcass” is also the most gleefully happy sounding (love?) song comparing someone to dead pork. DOWNLOAD: “Carcass”
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People who added this item 247 Average listal rating (151 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 0
Fever to Tell - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Karen O alternates between yelping, wailing like a cat in heat getting stuck with pins and trying out a Chrissie Hynde imitation. Each variation produces some interesting music. “Pins” and “Y Control” are throwbacks to the days when punk and New Wave meant the same thing. “Modern Romance” and “Maps” prove that there’s a real human being underneath all of that inhuman screeching – how very New York cool. DOWNLOAD: “Maps”
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People who added this item 758 Average listal rating (527 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 0
Nevermind is the album everyone goes crazy for, but MTV Unplugged is Nirvana’s single greatest moment. Half the set is covers, but the bruised humanity and vulnerability that Cobain gives them makes them wholly original. By the very end, and with historical context, this does sound like an extended cry for help or a descent into the abyss. This isn’t a live album: this is Cobain giving you a glimpse into the real human being behind the doomed icon. DOWNLOAD: “Pennyroyal Tea”
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People who added this item 24 Average listal rating (19 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 0
Broken English - Marianne Faithfull
Prior to this Marianne Faithfull was the notorious good girl-gone-very bad in England – she was caught using with Mick Jagger, and her overdose was the subject of “Wild Horses.” She got herself clean, but sounded like every bad thing she’d ever done went straight to her vocal chords. She uses this to her advantage over riotous songs about personal politics, being a junkie and lacerating an ex-lover. This is a great moment for women in rock. DOWNLOAD: “Why D’ya Do It?”
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People who added this item 134 Average listal rating (82 ratings) 8.4 IMDB Rating 0
Substance - Joy Division
Joy Division were an atmospheric and sullen post-punk/New Wave band. But singer-songwriter Ian Curtis was able to write a great, practically danceable, punk single, check “She’s Lost Control” or “Autosuggestion.” But nothing will ever top “Love Will Tear Us Apart” – the tear stained account of his crumbling marriage, life, sanity which was one of the first hugely successful New Wave singles. An entire generation of Manchester rockers was obviously taking notes. DOWNLOAD: “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” “Transmission,” “She’s Lost Control”
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Ray Charles was more of an interpreter of songs than a singer-songwriter. The Genius took several country standards, most by Hank Williams and the Everly Brothers, and turned them into country/R&B fusions. Given a new context, many of these songs now speak about the Civil Rights era, but they’re also a rocking good time. This is the best illumination of Charles’ talents. DOWNLOAD: “I Can’t Stop Loving You”
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People who added this item 47 Average listal rating (24 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 0
Singles Going Steady - Buzzcocks
Somewhere along the way the Buzzcocks became the under-appreciated English early-punks. They weren’t as scary as the Sex Pistols or politically fired-up as The Clash, but they were a solid band. Here’s sixteen pieces of evidence, including “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays” which re-imagines England as a punk Wonderland. Try not to pogo along, I dare you. DOWNLOAD: “What Do I Get,” “Orgasm Addict,” “Ever Fallen in Love?”
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