- JOY DIVISION: UNKNOWN PLEASURES: 1979: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: Joy Division’s debut album. They would only release two albums and this was the only Joe Division release before the suicide of singer Ian Curtis on the eve of their first American tour in 1980 and release of album number two. Only two albums but they left a large impact. At the time the debut was released the band wasn’t happy with how producer Martin Hannett had altered their sound but it proved to be the right sound. Chilling music. Curtis’s isolation and alienation was clear in his singing and songwriting. Joy Division was one of those bands in the early 80’s that I read about and knew of long before I ever actually heard them. There were no radio stations anywhere near where I lived who would play anything like this. They were busy plugging the new Foreiger song or whatever. The first Joy Division song I actually heard was a cover of Love Will Tear Us Apart by Paul Young. When the compilation Substance was released I finally heard what I had been missing. She’s Lost Control, Shadowplay, New Dawn Fades, I Remember Nothing some of my favorites from this. A splendid debut. At the time of his death Ian Curtis would have had no idea the impact he would have on music.
- R.E.M. OUT OF TIME: 1991: 4 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: Not close to being my favorite R.E.M album but my all time favorite R.E.M song and one of my favorite songs of the 1990’s is on this album- Losing My Religion. Losing My Religion gave R.E.M . a big hit it reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. The key to the song- the mandolin riff. Never get tired of that song.
- XTC: ENGLISH SETTLEMENT: 1980: 5th album from XTC is a double album. Senses Working Overtime one of their best songs. 15 songs and a lot going on. This is the first time I’ve heard the album- they are getting into the kind of groove here that I like- the pop songs that I like hearing from this group and the type of music that would dominate their work from this point on. Their best album to this point. The tour supporting the album would end up being the last one for the group- Andy Partridge having a breakdown and no more touring.
- THE BEATLES: SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND: 1967: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: In ranking The Beatles openers I’d rank Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band at #7 out of 12. Great song and opening to their most famous album but there is pretty great competition. The Beatles openers were stronger than their closing numbers.
- THE BEATLES: PAST MASTERS I: 1988: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: They finally got around to collecting all the b-sides and rarities and putting them out in two volumes when the CD era began. Much needed.
- BILLY JOEL: THE STRANGER: 1977: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: Joel’s fifth album and he put it all together. A pop masterpiece. I like him much better as a pop singing/ writer. As a rock and roller he is second rate in my opinion. Four Top 40 hit singles on this album and the album tracks were just as strong. Just The Way You Are is a pop standard.
- SCOTT WALKER: SCOTT 4: 1969: 4 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: American born English singer- songwriter. Most of his success has come in England. Baroque pop. This album is considered one of his strongest works. 10 songs coming in at 32 minutes. The album has been praised by the likes of Radiohead and a fella named David Bowie.