There are some albums that come immediately to mind when I think of great albums. …And Justice for All, Master of Puppets, and Metallica (the “Black Album”) by Metallica, Rumours by Fleetwood Mac (other than two tracks), Ah Via Musicom by Eric Johnson, The Real Thing by Faith No More, a bunch (Animals, Dark Side of the Moon, The Wall, The Division Bell, Wish You Were Here, and A Momentary Lapse of Reason) by Pink Floyd, Back in Black by AC/DC, Collective Soul by Collective Soul, Naveed by Our Lady Peace, The Joshua Tree and The Unforgettable Fire by U2, the list goes on and on.
But then there are some albums that I don’t listen to all that often, but every time I do, I think “Holy crap, this is a great album”. Here are a few:
- X&Y, Coldplay — “Square One”, “Talk”, “Fix You”, “White Shadows”, “A Message”, “Twisted Logic”, and “Speed of Sound” are all great songs. Each of their albums has been better than the previous one, so I’m really looking forward to picking up their new one.
- Californication, Red Hot Chili Peppers — I’m not that huge a fan of the Chili Peppers other stuff. I have Blood Sugar Sex Magik as well, and it’s certainly got some good songs (“Under the Bridge” is one of their best), but some of the other tracks on that album I don’t particularly care for. I’ve only listened to Stadium Arcadium a couple of times, and so far it’s mostly forgettable, but I’ll have to give it a few more listens. Californication, on the other hand, doesn’t have a bad song on it (“Porcelain” is probably the worst and it’s not that bad), particularly “Emit Remmus”, “Road Trippin'”, and “Around the World”. I love the guitar on “This Velvet Glove”.
- Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, Sarah McLachlan — “Possession” is a great song, and the acoustic version included as a bonus track is even better. “Hold On” may be one of the saddest songs ever written by anyone.
- Left of the Middle, Natalie Imbruglia — a little different from most of the other albums in this list, since there are a couple of songs on this one that aren’t that great (“Don’t You Think” and “City”; “Impressed” is pretty good but goes on too long), but “Torn”, “Leave Me Alone”, “Wishing I Was There”, “Pigeons and Crumbs”, and especially “Smoke” are really great songs.
- August and Everything After, Counting Crows — fantastic album, especially “Round Here”, “Omaha”, Mr. Jones”, “Anna Begins”, “Rain King”, and “A Murder of One”. Their second album was pretty good (“A Long December”, “Angels of the Silences”, “Another Horsedreamer’s Blues”), then they just dropped out of the world of good music completely. I lost interest when I heard the boring “Hanginaround” from their third album, and “Accidentally in Love” from the Shrek 2 soundtrack was just awful.
- Beautiful Midnight, Matthew Good Band — “Hello Time Bomb” and “Load Me Up” are two of my favourite songs. Pretty much every other song on this album is really good too, particularly “Failing the Rorschach Test”, “The Future is X-Rated”, “Apparitions”, “Running for Home” and “Suburbia”.
- Arc of a Diver, Steve Winwood — he sang, played all the instruments, co-wrote all the songs, and produced, engineered, and mixed the album. Pretty much the definition of a “solo album”. Oh yeah, and all the songs are great too.
- Crest of a Knave, Jethro Tull — I’m not really familiar with Jethro Tull other than this album, and it’s a little heavier than what I expected when I first heard it. One of only two rock albums that I own that use a flute (the other is Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie by Alanis Morissette), and in both cases the flautist is the singer. The haunting “Farm on the Freeway”, which makes excellent use of the flute, is an amazing song.
- High Class in Borrowed Shoes, Max Webster — I’m a big Webster fan, and this is beginning-to-end their best album. “Rain Child” is about the only song I wouldn’t consider “great” (and it’s not bad), and “On The Road” is one of my favourite Webster songs.
- Robbie Robertson, Robbie Robertson — “Hell’s Half Acre” is simply a great rock song, “Broken Arrow”, “Fallen Angel”, “Showdown at Big Sky”, “Sweet Fire of Love” (with U2) and “Sonny Got Caught in the Moonlight” all all really good, but the pièce de résistance is “Somewhere Down the Crazy River”. “You like it now, but you’ll learn to love it later.“
- She’s The One Soundtrack, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers — Forgettable movie (I found it unrealistic because Jennifer Aniston’s husband didn’t want to have sex with her, and yet wasn’t gay), but a great soundtrack. “Angel Dream (No. 2)”, “Change the Locks”, “Walls (Circus)”, “Hope You Never”, “Climb that Hill”, and “Asshole” are all really good. The instrumental songs are skippable.
- The Turn of a Friendly Card, The Alan Parsons Project — Weird in the sense that the band does not have a lead singer, but used a bunch of different singers. I could list titles of good songs, but I’d just be listing the whole album.
Sorry, it was going to be a “Top Ten” list, but I got a bit carried away and ended up with twelve albums.