Average Rating: 3.75
Rating Variance: 0.73
Objectivity Score: 70% (Fairly Balanced)
Sort by: Rating | Release Date | Rating Date | Name5.0 classicAC/DC Back In BlackArctic Monkeys Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm NotAwesome, brash songs with cartoonishly spiky guitar work and brilliant lyric writing, the Arctic Monkeys' debut album captures being 19 better than any other artist of their time. However, it is the narration of Alex Turner that elevates 'Whatever' to a classic: sometimes an observer and sometimes directly involved in his songs, Turner declares "there ain't no romance around here"- and whether he's talking about boys thinking with their smaller brain in clubs or bands putting their image before their message, he's right.Beastie Boys Paul's BoutiqueWhen was the last time an album made you laugh out loud?Bob Dylan Bringing It All Back HomePolitical satire has never been more blisteringly, hilariously cynical than 'Subterranean Homesick Blues', 'On The Road Again' and 'Bob Dylan's 115th Dream'.Bob Dylan The Freewheelin' Bob DylanJust Dylan tickling and plucking his acoustic and breathing through his harmonica, yet his lyric writing is truly masterful: these songs, of which seven are genuine greats, are simultaneously documents of their time and applicable in the world of today. Watch this kid, he could go somewhere.Bob Dylan Highway 61 RevisitedFinishing and ending with a masterpiece, 'Highway 61 Revisited' smoothly combines folk and blues to offer such works as 'Like A Rolling Stone', the soft, sad-eyed 'It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry', the sly 'Ballad of a Thin Man' and the majestic 'Desolation Row', possibly Dylan's greatest work. The smirking garage rock on 'Tombstone Blues', 'From A Buick 6' and the hilarious Biblical 'Highway 61 Revisited' ensure that the album isn't too serious, and only add to the greatness.Bob Dylan Blood on the Tracks'Blood on the Tracks' is ten love songs. None of them are soppy. Or cliched. Or self-absorbed. Each one of them says something true about the human existence, and it is truly remarkable that Dylan constructed an acoustic masterpiece, his first since 'The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan'. One of the best three albums of his legendary career. Best songs are 'Tangled Up In Blue', 'Idiot Wind', 'If You See Her, Say Hello' and 'Simple Twist of Fate', but, in all honesty, an album whose worst song is the excellent 'Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts' deserves its classic status wholeheartedly.Counting Crows August And Everything AfterDavid Bowie Low'Low' is a masterpiece. A breakthrough in production, intent, orchestration and styles. Joy Division, 80s synth-pop artists and Radiohead have surely listened.Gunther PleasuremanIf you love Spanish guitar fills I have the album for youJeff Buckley GraceJoy Division Unknown Pleasures'Depressing', 'brooding', 'isolated', 'minimalistic'. These are the common tags that get stuck to Joy Division's debut album, yet rarely applied is the most fitting one : ghostly. This is like listening to ghosts. From the wide, sparse 'Candidate' to the bone sawing guitars on 'Day of Lords' and 'New Dawn Fades' and the pulsing, undead basslines on 'She's Lost Control' and 'I Remember Nothing', "Unknown Pleasures" is as cold, industrial and threatening as an abandoned asylum.Kamasi Washington The EpicLed Zeppelin Led Zeppelin IVA triumph of rock so great it's almost improbable. The lightning lumber guitar work of 'Black Dog' opens the album guns ablazing, followed by Bonham's full tilt drumming and Jimmy's swaggering riff on 'Rock and Roll'. The mandolin driven, unashamed Lord of the Rings commentary of 'Battle of Evermore' is followed by the greatest song of all time with the greatest solo in rock history. Of 'Stairway To Heaven,' enough has been said, so I'll say no more. 'Misty Mountain Hop', powered by Jones' keyboard work, is one of the funniest LZ songs ever, followed by the beautiful rainy day poetry of 'Going to California' and the towering, hard blues of 'When The Levee Breaks.'Six five star songs on an eight song album. End of story.Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin IIA great in the Led Zeppelin catalogue. From Page and Plant's glowering opening on "Whole Lotta Love" (Jimmy later smashes the song with his impossibly precise, tight blues solo as Plant howls around him) to the beautiful "Thank You", this is definitely one of the most even works across the board by the English greats. The soft-loud blues of "What Is And What Should Never Be" and "The Lemon Song" remain fan favourites while Page assures his place in guitar immortality with his unaccompanied solo on "Heartbreaker". Bonham squeezes every last beat out of his drumkit on "Moby Dick" and Jones, working in light and shade on his bass for the whole album, plays that wonderfully evocative synth solo on "Ramble On" (for full effect, try listening to the solo with your left headphone in only). Bowing out with the muffly blues of "Bring It On Home" that explodes with a ridiculously Zeppelin-y riff, Led Zeppelin II showcases the complete package of rock's greatest ever band. Led Zeppelin Physical GraffitiMeghan Trainor Thank YouTook this from a 1.1 to a 1.2 Meghan Trainor I expect a thank you letterMiles Davis Kind of BlueWhen I was 5, my father told me that one day - one day - I would love Miles Davis. I can still remember the day that the doors grooved open and I finally did.My Bloody Valentine LovelessVocals croon like a whale in an endless sea of feedback. Having a way with pure noise and sounding angsty is one thing. Having a way with pure noise and sounding beautiful is another.Nirvana MTV Unplugged in New YorkNirvana NevermindOasis (What's the Story) Morning Glory?An album bursting with rich, flowing keyboard and guitar, and youthfully wise lyrics, ''What's The Story?" is truly one of the greatest works of the 1990s. From the ridiculously Beatles-y ('Roll With It', 'She's Electric', 'Don't Look Back In Anger') to deep statements of what it means to be a man ('Cast No Shadow') and euphoric triumphs of youth ('Wonderwall', 'Champagne Supernova'), Oasis construct a soulful, artistically satisified album.Patti Smith HorsesSmith writes punk for intellectualists: the extended, T.S Eliot style poet-pieces 'Birdland' and 'Land' capture the D.I.Y individualism and resistance to conformity of the Ramones or the Clash, but her music is more of a pounding, rollicking rock 'n' roll and her lyrics make her the female Dylan.Pink Floyd The Dark Side of the MoonHow do you spell m-a-s-t-e-r-p-i-e-c-e? Undoubtedly one of rock's finest, most intriguing, moments.Pink Floyd The WallA masterpiece and the most self indulgent album of all time. The two can, as it turns out, co exist.Powderfinger Vulture StreetPowderfinger Odyssey Number FiveRadiohead OK ComputerRamones Rocket to RussiaThe Ramones give some more so-stupid-it's-smart, hilarious punk. 'Sheena Is A Punk Rocker', 'Rockaway Beach', the faux-arrogance of 'I Don't Care' and 'Teenage Lobotomy' in particular are brilliantly clever and great for head banging to. And I'm a strong believer that, had the Trashmen not gotten there first, the Ramones would've made 'Surfin' Bird'. It is just their perfect song. Ramones RamonesThe album and band who showed that you could be heavy and fast, tough and funny, simple and original. Tightest line up ever, and such sheer fun to listen to.Sex Pistols Never Mind the Bollocks...Liars. No Feelings. Problems. Submission. Pretty much sums up mid 1970s Britain. It needed a shock, politically, socially and musically, and the Sex Pistols, bringing a new genre (political punk) to the UK, dropped the bomb. Dealing with Communism on 'Holidays In The Sun', abortion on 'Bodies', political staleness on 'God Save The Queen' and a simply sinister sneer of impending violence on 'Anarchy In The U.K', the Pistols became the most hated and loved band in England, and set out a ripple effect of punk clones.Television Marquee MoonIt is exceptionally difficult to settle on a rating for 'Marquee Moon' simply because, as with Sonic Youth's 'Daydream Nation', one of the many artists inspired by Television's alt-rock guitar heroics, it defies easy categorisation. An album released in 1977 'should' be in one of two polarised camps: classical prog rock or raw punk rock. Somehow, Television take a little of both whilst being indebted to neither - their heads are in the dizzying stratospheres of artistic, poetic, 'serious' rock yet their feet are firmly in the neon-lit, nightcity grime that punk crawled out of. Their stunning musical ability and very real, clear intensity makes them existential extraterrestrialists. "Elevation, don't go to my head", Verlaine croons, and indeed that balance between the real world and a liberating void is what makes each song here start from the ground up and take off until it sounds like it's floating. Each song gives the listener an embarrassment of tiny guitar riches: during the bridge, during the gloriously endless solos, during the intros, even during the choruses, when the focus should - that word again - be on the song's lyrical message, the twin Fenders of Verlaine and Smith interplay for dazzling trickery. The solos are as spectacular and transcendent as that of Pink Floyd's, yet they are unadorned by effects and overproduction, instead favouring crisp tone and naked virtuosity. 'Marquee Moon' is truly like, as Verlaine himself says on the title track, "hearing something else."The Clash The Clash (US version)A political punk album as dogged, punchy and sharp as 'Never Mind The Bollocks', but whereas The Sex Pistols were rotweillers charging everything with blazing machineguns, The Clash are fiesty terriers, using carefully constructed pieces of protest to get their message across; Joe Strummer's intense bark perfectly set against the edgy, tense guitar and throbbing choruses. England's every fault, political, industrial and social, is picked apart here: over-Americanisation ("I'm So Bored With The U.S.A"), businesses manipulating workers ("Career Opportunites", "Remote Control"), prevailing boredom ("London's Burning"), race ("White Riot"), increasing drug addiction ("Janie Jones") and conflict in the streets ("Hate & War", "Police and Thieves"). The style of music blends from biting punk on "Clash City Rockers" to impressive reggae on "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais" and rampaging 1960s blues on "I Fought The Law", and finishes with two songs that link up to the oncoming Seattle grunge movement: "Jail Guitar Doors" and "Garageland." An excellent album, and one far more direct in thought and clearer in construction than "London Calling".The Jimi Hendrix Experience Are You ExperiencedDecades after its release, 'Are You Experienced' is now regarded, thanks to its complex, magnificent songs that brings an entirely new, ready-made textbook on rock, psychedelia and guitar, as the debut that all debuts must be measured by. The Rolling Stones Exile on Main St.You can just smell the overpowering, intoxicating, ecstatic stench of rock n roll.The Rolling Stones Sticky FingersOne of the finest drug albums of the '70s, if not THE finest, 'Sticky Fingers' features the Stones sounding exhausted and jaded throughout, with weary, worn-in, shuffling pieces such as 'Sway', 'Wild Horses' and 'Moonlight Mile' capturing the soul-crushing grind of their hedonistic lives while 'Sister Morphine' and 'Dead Flowers' are two of the more powerfully nihilistic, nasty drug songs in their catalogue. In between, the chest-thumping grooves of the 'Can't You Hear Me Knockin'', 'Bitch' and the lascivious 'Brown Sugar' feature typically strutting performances from Jagger with tough, uncompromising dog-fighting from Richards and Taylor.The Smashing Pumpkins Siamese DreamWhen gritty, loud D.I.Y grunge was the sound of the day, the unashamed, layered beauty of 'Siamese Dream' was a deliberate act of individuality. That it so contravened the attitudes of its day makes its success not only remarkable but a relieving testament to the fact that great music outlives its day. Glorious, cathartic and dark yet tinged with moments of optimism and hope.The Smiths The Queen Is DeadA masterpiece that established the Smiths as Britain's greatest indie rock group, Marr as one of music's finest guitarist-architects and Morrissey as the absolute King of the Two Liner ("If you're so clever/Why are you on your own tonight?"). A flawless culmination of anthemic urgency ("The Queen Is Dead"), deathly angst ("There Is A Light That Never Goes Out"), beautiful grace ("I Know It's Over") and grandiose melodrama ("Never Had No One Ever").U2 Achtung BabyU2 The Joshua TreeU2 WarU2's first great album, and their most unashamedly political. The youthful spirit of 'Boy' is here, as well as the tempered, mature darkness of 'The Joshua Tree'. Best songs? 'Sunday Bloody Sunday', 'Seconds, 'New Year's Day', 'Drowning Man' and "'40"'.4.5 superbAC/DC Highway To HellAC/DC Let There Be RockThe mock Old Testament album title ain't kidding: AC/DC unleash a stampede of rock on this one. From the thundering blitzkrieg 'Let There Be Rock' to the mean, red eyed decadence of 'Problem Child' and 'Bad Boy Boogie' (with Angus' tense slamming on that one note in the bridge lifting the rage) and made-for-concert songs like 'Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be' and 'Dog Eat Dog', "Let There Be Rock" is the unsung rough diamond in the AC/DC catalogue. The album ends when the fat lady screams with the absolute brain-blowing 'Whole Lotta Rosie'. A good rockin' out to this one (and an air guitar to the call-and-response between Angus and the rest of the band in the bridge) is the most fun you can have listening to music. Amy Winehouse Back to BlackFor all her sass, dark humour and sloppy, what-kind-of-fuckery-is-this schtick, "Back in Black" is the sound of Amy Winehouse realising life's joke was on her.Billy Joel The StrangerA cool, smart rock 'n roll album that knows when to knuckle down and when to throw out the flash and theatrics. Joel discusses the temporary nature of modern life from work to ambition to identity.Black Sabbath ParanoidBlack Sabbath Black SabbathBob Dylan Blonde on Blonde"Thin, wild, mercury sound." This is the ecstatic description of 'Blonde on Blonde' coined by Dylan himself and, nearly fifty years after its release, it is still an insurpassably spot-on summation. The songs here are rock 'n' roll, but not as we know it: the cluttered, rollicking, roadhouse sound is the product of Dylan leading a perfectly eccentric band to create songs that are, at best, original, spectacular and inimitable. From the smoky blues of 'Pledging My Time' to the white-hot guitar bite of 'Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat' to the sweeping, regal lines of 'Sad Eyed Lady', this is the album that may define the 'classic Dylan sound.' And note: don't believe the hype that declares that Dylan is only surreal in his lyricism here. There is meaning to 'Visions of Johanna' and 'Just Like A Woman' that is enthralling to investigate and evokative to realise. Cold Chisel Circus AnimalsContaining two of Chisel's three greatest songs-'Bow River' and 'When The War Is Over'-as well as the barnestorming 'You Got Nothing I Want', 'Circus Animals' is a brilliant album.Coldplay A Rush of Blood to the HeadColdplay sound so much bolder on 'Rush of Blood' than 'Parachutes': opening with the humungous piano of 'Politik' and finishing with the chilling title track and the heartbreaker 'Amsterdam', Coldplay hit the big-bang button and end up with some of the best songs of their career, including 'The Scientist' and 'Clocks.'David Bowie The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars'Ziggy's greatest strength is its ability to pull together issues such as androgyny, materialism, messiah complex, homosexuality, institutionalised inequality and mortality in a 3-4 minute pop song with great hooks. A breakthrough in pop's presentation but also in pop's power in concise song writing.Guns N' Roses Appetite for DestructionJay-Z The BlueprintHey, I actually really like this one. I've always thought Jay-Z took his bullshit too seriously but there's enough panache - and more than enough killer hooks - for 'The Blueprint' to really work.Jeff Buckley Live at Sin-é (Legacy Edition)'Sin-E' is one of the more fascinating performances of a musician's talent and potential as well as his character, one that just gets better with retrospect. Buckley's artistic influences, from Nina Simone to Led Zeppelin, are here, yet it is the interaction with the audience - warm, honesty and witty - that rounds out the exploration of the charming man that Buckley was. Hardly any of the tracks from 'Grace' are what they would ultimately become - 'Lover, You Should've Come Over' is a nine-minute experimentation with several previously unheard verses, whilst the stripped back 'Grace' blazes with a gaunt ferocity. Buckley performs both French and Pakistani folk songs, proudly revealing his own passions. And, of course, that magnificent, searing voice and gorgeous, precise guitar is a pleasure to listen to. There are flaws, but not as you know them. After all, it takes a special kind of musician to take a Led Zeppelin song and make it overly ambitious...Johnny Cash At Folsom PrisonCash's best collection of simple, catchy melodies and simple, compelling, wonderful stories. And yes - it is most badass.Joy Division CloserBeautiful, dehumanised, sad. Like walking through an abandoned castle.Kanye West Late RegistrationFew hip-hop albums can boast to having successfully pulled off such an ambitious mix of drive, message, talent and production: nearly every song on this album - the tossed off 'Celebration' aside - combines a profound message - sometimes obvious, sometimes subtle - to go with the sophisticated jazz-soul composition. West's lyrical breadth captures endless overlapping complications of life in modern society and the precarious craziness of fame, which is why it makes perfect sense for him to lament African-American social hardship on 'Heard 'Em Say'and then skewer its glorification in the skits, or take a step outside of basking in adulation on the poignant 'Drive Slow' then thrust himself spectacularly into it with wide open arms on 'Bring Me Down'.Kendrick Lamar good kid, m.A.A.d cityI du no much about rap, but this album is excellent: neatly sidestepping all of raps excesses and pitfalls, Lamar creates enduring cityscape images of characters with the desperate need to escape the limitations of gangs and poverty but no means to do so.Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin IIILed Zeppelin The Song Remains the SameSix minutes of 'Dazed and Confused' could have been cut... and it's astonishing how far people have taken those six minutes and called this, one of the most mind blowing live sets ever, an average album.Lou Reed BerlinWhat is most confronting about 'Berlin' isn't its themes or plot, it's the fact that there is no character here that we would want to relate to. Even the music mocks our vulnerabilties and unease: until the album's conclusion, it dances along decadently without regard to its characters' suffering.Midnight Oil Diesel and DustUncompromisingly passionate, intelligent and (above all) important, 'Diesel and Dust' brings both the suffering and spirit of Australia's indigenous people to life with songs of belonging, recognition, identity and the struggle to achieve all three.Miles Davis Bitches BrewUltimately, "Bitches Brew" is heavy listening. It's hard to question the talent, creativity and quality that is in the music, yet it's harder to question that it may have been practical to shorten the massive piece lengths and balance out the crazy - quiet ratio. Listen to one piece at a time - and, trust me, it can be any one of these six - and you'll love 'Bitches Brew'. It's just waaaay too much for a single sitting.Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds Abattoir Blues / The Lyre Of OrpheusThis or 'No More Shall We Part'? For variety, it's undoubtedly ABLO: the Bad Seeds attempt and succeed at everything from gospel rockers to strummy folk to medieval ballads to grunge and swirling string 'n piano epics. This double album brings together, transcends and perfects everything Cave has attempted throughout his career.Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds No More Shall We PartBecause he's a writer who composes music and not a musician who writes, Cave's work has improved with age as he continues to create. 'No More Shall We Part' is a magnificent work of adult relationship ballads.Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds The Firstborn Is DeadCave once described 'Firstborn' as "steeped in the blues, but didn't really have anything to do with the blues on a musical level." 'Firstborn' does invert and pervert traditional blues for a greater sense of silence and emotion - the ominous midnight shimmer of 'Blind Lemon Jefferson' and 'Knockin' on Joe' and the unrelenting heat of 'Wanted Man' against the oppressive, percussion heavy 'Black Crow King'... with the epic 'Tupelo' bringing all this together. Who would've thought that an Australian band could have so accurately captured the mythology of the Southern US from a Berlin recording studio?Nirvana In UteroA corrosive, nihilistic torpedo that, while being a dark, primal suicide note filled with gritty instrumentals and Cobain's murderous growls ('Rape Me', 'Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle,' 'Scentless Apprentice'), also manages to be sad enough to have the tender farewell of 'All Apologies' without feeling forced or out of place. Oasis Definitely MaybeOverflowing with uncontainable yet short lived talent, 'Definitely Maybe' is packed with vocal hooks and big dream songs like 'Rock 'N Roll Star', 'Live Forever' and 'Supersonic'.Pavement Crooked Rain, Crooked RainSweeter than ever, Pavement remain the coolest cats on the block by not even sweating being cool at all. However, far from capturing the optimistic beginnings of Gen X's alternative movement, 'Crooked Rain' is full of cinematic farewells to the burst pipedream: ''It's a brand new era, but it came too late" sighs Malkmus sadly on 'Newark Wilder.'Pavement Slanted and EnchantedAs lazily melodious as it is meticulously sprawling, 'Slanted' remains the absolute peak of indie rock: song after song that proves Dylan's paradox that the best way to connect with a disillusioned generation is to stop making sense.Pete Murray FeelerThe dark grit of 'Feeler' makes it an album of ordinary angst told large. The grim, violent relationship tale 'No More', the depressive 'My Time', the futile wisdom 'So Beautiful' and desperate reach out 'Bail Me Out', 'Freedom' and 'Please' are songs that will zero in on the hearts of anyone who has dealt with the problems that Murray has, yet the absolute heartbreaker 'Ten Ft Tall' is an overwhelming tale of love and death that is Pete Murray's greatest song.Pete Murray See the Sun'See The Sun' is a climb out of the dark, gritty depths of 'Feeler' for Pete Murray. The music is prettier, which saw a boost of FM Radio hits, and the tone is happier-such beautiful pieces as 'Fly With You', 'Opportunity' and 'Better Days' show a man living again. Yet there are still dark nods to a troubled past with 'Lost Soul' and 'This Pill'.Pink Floyd Animals'Animals' is quite possibly the most intellectually satisying album in rock history.Pixies DoolittleSurreal yet accessible ('Here Comes Your Man'). Tense yet enjoyable ('Gouge Away'). Original in many parts, perfectly mutated and mutating in others ('Mr Grieves'). Something went very right.Powderfinger InternationalistRadiohead The BendsBefore and after listening to "The Bends", I considered "OK Computer" to be the best Radiohead album. What changed is that "The Bends" is so big hearted, warm, honest and soulful that it makes the hairpin guitar twists and spacey mood of "OK Computer" look clinical, ruthless and inhuman by comparison. Best tracks are 'High and Dry', 'Fake Plastic Trees', 'Just', 'My Iron Lung' and 'Street Spirit [Fade Out]', but there isn't a bad song on the album. An undisputed classic.Radiohead In RainbowsBeautiful, colourful, artistic: In Rainbows is the sound of Japanese spirtual mantras and 21st century hippies from a group whose ability to continually surprise the world makes them the greatest band since Nirvana. However, this is also the classic 'Happy Melody, Horrible Theme' album: unrequited love ('All I Need'), jaded despair ('Nude', which opens with the line "Don't get any big ideas"), (untypically) brawny lust from Yorke ('House of Cards' says 'I don't wanna be your friend-I just wanna be your lover') and the absolute heartbreaker 'Videotape', the best song about the agony of celebrity life since, well, 'How To Disappear Completely'. Sonic Youth Daydream NationThe holes in the apartment are oozing pale freaks who play guitar as luminescent as a neon. The pale freaks take long trips on cheap glue and slash their guitar strings with screwdrivers. The ripped strings bleed open and unchecked electricity floods out of the amps, filling the open city with a light so bright that the 3 am city darkness recedes. The sound is concrete and decay and it is glorious. Yeah. It's not a bad album.The Beatles Abbey RoadIf we will all be honest with ourselves, none of the Beatles albums are the classics they were declared to be upon release. 'Sgt Peppers'? An over-produced, under-realised rainbow mess. 'Rubber Soul'? Little more than the foundations for love songs that were then outwritten by a thousand bands. 'Revolver'? 'Rubber Soul' with psychadelic production. 'The White Album'? Enjoyable, but with far too many forgettable songs to seriously be considered great. 'Abbey Road', whilst having some flaws (there is something not quite smooth about the flow and the medley would've been better off as a single extended song), is their greatest album. Their musicianship is at a sophisticated peak, as is McCartney and Lennon's innovative lyricism.The Beatles The BeatlesDouble albums should embrace a sense of freedom and be a little wild. 'The White Album' is best when it does so, getting all pro-metal on 'Helter Skelter' and menacingly psychedelic for 'Happiness Is A Warm Gun'. But the endless trite of "oh yeah, that was a nice song... and that one... and that one... and that one" makes you realise that this is actually one of the LEAST daring doubles ever. So why the hell can't I stop listening to it?The Jimi Hendrix Experience Axis: Bold as LoveTricky, twitchy, delicate, libidinous and imbued with absolute wizardry. However, for all his rule breaking complexities, Hendrix still has time to show the power of simplicity on his solo of the album closing title track.The Saints Prehistoric Sounds'London Calling' for the Saints, embracing rockabilly, swing, brass and soul.The Smashing Pumpkins Mellon Collie and the Infinite SadnessNothing short of spectacular - like turning a child's picture book into a moving mural. Arguably the most impressive thing about 'Sadness' is the amount of songs that feel so passionately hard-wrought, despite both the recurrent dreamy, twilight atmosphere and the sheer number of tracks. The Stooges Fun House'Fun House' is rock n roll of the most exciting, violent kind. The entire album is run on the sound of smashing glass, primals screams, shaking walls and scorching adrenalin, with fiery lashes of saxophone defining the chaos perfectly. No one who entered the Stooges' Fun House would have made it out alive, but it's hard to pretend that it wouldn't have been a delicious way to go. The Velvet Underground White Light/White HeatTim Buckley Greetings From L.A.Of all the things that doe-eyed Jeff inherited from his father, sensitivity sure wasn't one of them. 'Greetings from L.A' is fifty-cent decadence, lust and sleaze: in short, it's classic American 1970s late-night city music, with pulsing rhythm n blues that could've inspired five or six more song scenes in 'The Blues Brothers'. U2 The Unforgettable Fire'The Unforgettable Fire' is the U2 album that should have more recognition than, say, 'Zooropa.' Beautifully spiritual and artfully produced, songs like the religious faith of 'A Sort Of Homecoming', 'Pride', 'Indian Summer Sky' and the evocative lullaby 'MLK' are vintage U2 while the majestic, chilling 'Bad' may be their greatest song. Even the filler 'Promenade', as relaxed as a Sunday stroll over hills in a shunshower, influences the final product, which is one of U2's greatest albums.Weezer WeezerThe masters of awkward. The jerky transition between strummed acoustic and thudding electric guitars perfectly compliments the way Rivers Coumo conjurs up endearing, honest lyrics that express much in a handful of words. The band was ultimately proven cursed by spending the rest of its career trying to live up to such a good debut.4.0 excellentAC/DC '74 JailbreakThe only EP AC/DC ever did, but a must have for fans anyway: the title track remains a live staple and one of AC/DC's finest singles, and the nasty "You Ain't Got A Hold On Me" is an undiscovered gem. "Baby, Please Don't Go" showcases the velocity and potency of Bon Scott's voice and is a rare love song in the AC/DC catalogue. And what do you think an AC/DC song called "Soul Stripper" is about? Wrong, it's about Adam's first encounters of Eve in the Garden of Eden and his being shaken to the core, questioning everything about himself from his masculinity to his purpose in life, as he falls under her feminine charms, but I like your style. AC/DC PowerageHow does this one duck under the radar of attention? 'Rock n Roll Damnation', 'Down Payment Blues', 'Riff Raff', 'What's Next To The Moon', all top AC/DC songs, with a development of lyric writing better than 'Let There Be Rock' and even 'High Voltage'. The production is better than any preceding AC/DC album, with the sound gritty, downtown and menacing yet clean, colourful and bluesy. So what's missing? Well, unlike previous AC/DC albums, there's no classic song on here, no 'It's A Long Way To The Top' or 'Whole Lotta Rosie.' And, because the band focuses on song writing with the instruments as back up, there are no great solos from Angus, not a 'Let There Be Rock' or 'T.N.T', or even, to be honest, a great riff like a 'She's Got Balls' or a 'Bad Boy Boogie', apart from 'Sin City'. Nonetheless, this album is still a cracker. AC/DC High VoltageA brilliant hard rock, blues album from Australia's greatest band. "It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock 'N Roll)" remains a staple of Aussie FM radio to this day: the lyrics about the pitfalls of life on the road as a band are spot on, and Bon Scott gives a Herculean effort as vocalist/bagpipe player that made him almost pass out onstage on several occasions. Bon's shock-filth humour lyric writing sleazes through on the hilarious half pace rhythm-and-blues pieces "The Jack" and "Little Lover", while the lighter "High Voltage" is a worthy predecessor to Back In Black's "Rock 'N Roll Ain't Noise Pollution." The outlawish "T.N.T", with Angus Young's frenetic, mercury exploding solo, remains an AC/DC classic. One could argue that High Voltage comes very near to beating Highway To Hell.Arcade Fire FuneralWhen all of 'Funeral's ideas - delicate melodies bedded with tinny guitars and emotionally perfect depictions of all the moments of childhood that stand out as we become adults - come together, Arcade Fire can claim to making one of the most powerful albums of the last decades. It just fades late - you can't tell me 'Rebellion' doesn't sounds like 'Come on Barbie Let's Go Party.'Bob Dylan DesireWho needs a double album worth of prog-rock to be sprawling when it's possible in nine songs? Well, when you cast your lyrical and musical influences net as far and wide as Dylan does in 'Desire', that is. His narrative stance swerves wildly from civil rights activist ('Hurricane'), epic poet laureate ('Joey'), silent Western warrior ('Isis') and, uh, tourist ('Mozambique')...but an outlaw, always an outlaw, be it from the fuzz ('Romance In Durango'), from his own society ('One More Cup Of Coffee') or from his own wife ('Sarah').Bob Dylan The Basement TapesFuelled by cheap cigarettes and a lotta moonshine and played in a dingy basement lit by flickering lightbulbs, 'The Basement Tapes' rolls together blues, country, folk, rock and a touch of jazz to create music that is truly 'Americana': the sounds here will take you from the sweltering deep south to waterfronts to cavernous cities to roadhouses on lonely desert roads. The songs are tall tales, travellin' stories, sea shanties, humorous anecdotes and slick soliloquys. Their general consistency is quite impressive, given the shambling bleariness of the recordings, and even the rare average ones have a charming, drunken warmth to them. Bob Dylan Time Out of MindA return to the travelling bluesman persona Dylan embraced earliest in his career. 'Time Out of Mind's great strength is the clarity of focus in the songs.Bob Dylan Modern TimesThroughout his remarkable career, Bob Dylan has seemed so indifferent to the force of time. No man who fears his dwindling days deliberately alienates his audience, and few can make such an excellent album in their late sixties. The songs here are uniformly great: wild West opener 'Thunder on the Mountain', impassioned ballad 'When the Deal Goes Down' and bitter, deathly epic 'Ain't Talkin'' are all among the finest Dylan songs. Dylan's raspy snarl is perfectly complimented by his band; it's a mix of the Western Americana styles of 'The Basement Tapes' with the gentle murmur of 'Blood On the Tracks' and the sharp tone of 'Blonde on Blonde.'Bob Dylan The Bootleg Series Vol. 8: Tell Tale SignsMost consistent of Dylan's bootlegs. Although it doesn't offer many great new songs (''Cross the Green Mountain' and 'Most of the Time') it does show Dylan's tapering and mastering of the blues over his twenty year late career hot streak.Bruce Springsteen Born to Run'Inspiring' is a word that is almost a veiled criticism today, aligned with chick flicks and 14 year old talent show winners. But 'Born to Run' really is one of the most inspiring rock records ever.Bruce Springsteen The RisingA set of stirring anthems about living through the worst and hoping for the best set to compact, dense rock 'n roll. So pretty much the 9/11 concept album you would expect from Bruce Springsteen.Bruce Springsteen NebraskaMuch darker and nastier than anything Springsteen had done prior... self-destruction instead of self-fulfilment, despair instead of hope, painful nostalgia instead of looking forward. "They declared me unfit to live/Said into that great void my soul be hurled/Then they ask why I did what I did/Sir I guess there's just a meanness in the world."Coldplay ParachutesA beautiful, big hearted album full of radiant guitars and soulful piano. Standout tracks are 'Sparks', 'Yellow', 'Trouble', 'High Speed' and 'Everything's Not Lost.'Courtney Barnett sometimes i sit and think, and sometimes i just sit"Sometimes" is Barnett embracing what she does naturally and also deliberately breaking pop convention - choruses appear once and then disappear never to be seen again, rhyme structures change mid-verse and it's not until the hidden track on 'Boxing Day Blues' that her voice is anything you could call pretty. Her wit is finding the humour and identity in playing dumb, being cynical and procrastinating whilst being aware that the joke is always on you. D'Angelo Black MessiahRuns rings around TPAB - all that restraint and precision.David Bowie Aladdin SaneIf Bowie had his time over, he would probably exclude all Ziggy from 'Aladdin Sane'. The joyous gender-bender anthems are few and far between, with the Apocalypse Soon vibe of L.A ('Panic in Detroit', 'Watch That Man', 'Cracked Actor')running alongside a sound closer to the heavy blues of 'The Man Who Sold The World'.David Bowie Station to StationSongs are generally overlong but I rate the way in which he relates his dehumanisation under cocaine addiction: straight up love songs 'Stay', 'Golden Years' and 'Word on the Wing' are performed with his bizarre, glacial soul voice.David Bowie BlackstarWhat SalteyBacon said. Godspeed You! Black Emperor Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to HeavenHow the hell do you rate this album? Get to the end of one song and I can't even remember how the damn thing started.Green Day DookieGreen Day American IdiotINXS KickOne of the greatest Australian rock albums from the 1980s. Absolutely bursting with hits like "Devil Inside", "New Sensation", "Never Tear Us Apart", "Need You Tonight", "Kick" and "Mystify". Jay-Z Reasonable DoubtNo average songs but no great ones either. His rhyming and flow are technically excellent but damn he's dry... too serious to be exciting.Jimi Hendrix Band of GypsysIf nothing else, 'Band of Gypsys' displays Hendrix's voracious appetite to prove himself as a guitarist in all facets. An essential for 'Machine Gun' alone.Jimi Hendrix Live at the Royal Albert HallThere is (unsurprisingly) some amazing guitar work on this album. Vintage Hendrix like 'Little Wing' and the slow burning 'Wild Thing', as well as the extended jam pieces 'Bleeding Heart' and 'Room Full Of Mirrors', sounds wondrous in Royal Albert Hall, so it's irritating that, once again, 'Purple Haze' sounds like it's being played in a tin can. The stunning seven minute instrumental version of 'Sunshine Of Your Love', with lyrical phrasing from Jimi, is magnificent, but the horrible white noise 'Smashing of the Amps' is perhaps the worst piece of 'music' that Hendrix ever put his name to.Johnny Cash American III: Solitary ManCash bridges modern contemporary classics like 'One' with the century old tune 'I See A Darkness' and tips his hat to Nick Cave on 'The Mercy Seat'. Two of the finer cuts in 'Nobody' and 'Before My Time' are his own. And don't tell me his mortal version of 'I Won't Back Down' doesn't just take the cake from the original.k.d. lang IngenueWith a heavy touch of French romanticism and crooning strings, this is Lang's best album even if it doesn't fully show off her voice.Lou Reed TransformerKeeping his chugging Velvet chords, 'Transformer' is Reed's bohemian, theatrical, classy and bitchy interpretation with New York. And he must have had a good old chuckle when 'Perfect Day' and 'Walk on the Wild Side' Trojan Horsed their way into the charts.Midnight Oil 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1'10 to 1' opens with a line both beautiful and chilling: "There's a wind on the Eastern side/Ghost gums dance in the moonlit night/Mopoke warns of racketeers." That song, 'Outside World', reflects an infestation in Australian culture, in both the natural land and suburban towns. Few albums have been as committedly critical of their national culture, yet so popular, as Midnight Oil's third: working class oppression and indulgence is railed against here, as well as Australia's unthinking commitment to foreign war efforts. Pub rock with punk's intensity but an original intelligence, '10 to 1' remains one of the greatest catalysts of Australian rock.Nas IllmaticI like the cinematic appeal of the sparse beats and there's nothing wrong with the album. And... yeah.Neil Young On the BeachLong, gloomy songs that aren't disillusioned: it's the sound of a man who never believed watching everyone else's hopes and dreams come crashing down via the Manson family, Watergate and social greed.Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds The Boatman's CallWritten when Cave's wife had left him and her vacancy had been filled with grief, isolation and heroin, 'The Boatman's Call' is wracked with despair and disillusionment bordering on insanity. It takes a scary level of bitterness, and Gothic wordsmanship, of course, to write something like 'People Ain't No Good' or the tortured and torturous 'Where Do We Go Now But Nowhere?'. On the other hand, it takes a special artist to write the poignant 'Into My Arms', regardless of how bad love is for your health.Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds Let Love InMost artists sing about their personal struggles with the Devil. The Devil sings about his personal struggles with Nick Cave.Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds Tender PreyProbably the most powerful of Cave's Gothic-Hellfire albums. There's something looming horribly in every song, pushing 'Mercy' and 'Deanna' to greatness. When that horror is overstated - on 'Up Jumped the Devil' and at times on the excellent but overlong 'Mercy Seat' - it sounds like Cave parading in his image.Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds Dig, Lazarus, Dig!Lean, mean and slinky, almost like Cave doing Bowie. Mythical and Biblical characters pop up in modern urban settings and Cave has a helluva lotta fun with their utter disorientation.Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds Skeleton TreeThe uncomfortably bleak nature of the first half is expected, even if its arrangement is new. The second half is beautifully sad. Well done Nick.Nirvana Live at ReadingAs Kurt rolled onto the Reading stage in his wheelchair and hospital gown and and 'collapsed', music lovers everywhere were reminded that, beneath the turmoil and pain, Nirvana were still a band with a slickly barbed sense of humour. And this set belies any notion that Kurt was about to crack: opening with a murderous treble of scorching grunge ('Breed', 'Drain You', 'Aneurysm') and closing with the so-not-made-to-close-concerts 'Territorial Pissings', this is Nirvana firing on all cylinders and at the top of their game. The trolling humour continues in 'Sliver' (with Kurt laughing through the opening verse), 'In Bloom' (Kurt's just-got-out-of-bed groan in the verses) and 'Teen Spirit' (Kurt absolutely monstering the solo). Apart from a surprisingly clumsy 'Polly', the boys don't miss a beat in this concert, tearing up Reading Festival and sending the crowd into a frenzy. Special mention to the way Kurt brings out the bounce in the mosh-pit choruses of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit', 'Lithium' and 'Blew'.Pavement Brighten the CornersThe only time Pavement ever made cohesive sense in their lyrics was on ' Crooked Rain' , which (ironically enough) made a mockery out of the petty, self-indulged world of fame. Seemingly, non-sequiturs are the only way to make sense in an inexplicable world, which is why 'Brighten the Corners' opens with the line "Pigs they tend to wiggle when they walk/The infrastructure rots and the owners hate the jocks." Happy, woozy, melodic and totally subjective in its bafflingly mysterious word play. Pearl Jam TenA wonderful album that showcases Pearl Jam's ability to make tough alternative rock without effort. The lyrical content has the dark side of American adolescence with anger ('Once') incest ('Alive'), search for identity ('Why Go') and high school shootings ('Jeremy'). The explosive anger of Vedder's shaky growl and snarl burst through on 'Alive', 'Why Go' and 'Deep', then he brings it back on 'Black', 'Oceans' and 'Release' against Mike McCready's powerful guitar work.Pink Floyd The Piper at the Gates of DawnAt its best - 'Astronomy Dominie', 'Lucifer Sam', 'Matilda Mother' and 'Interstellar Overdrive'- Pink Floyd's debut album comprises of startling gear changes between regal psychadelics, stretched-out lounge jazz, wiry freakouts and childish, oddball lyrics, all taking place somewhere between LSD era London and outer space. At its worst - 'The Gnome' and 'Bike' - it is embarrassing. I'm sure there was a good reason this pair made it on and spoiled what could have been a classic album. I just don't know what it is.Pink Floyd Wish You Were HereDo you people realise what you've done?! You've taken an album with two great songs, two good songs and an average song and turned it into the greatest of all time!Pink Floyd MeddlePink Floyd have delivered a great album ('Animals') and an excellent album ('Wish You Were Here') in five songs. 'Meddle', although it's better than 'Atom Heart Mother' is only quite good. 'Echoes' is genuinely spectacular, a powerhouse masterpiece with its ambitious and cinematic scope, as is the impressive, twisting 'Pillow Of Winds', the jazzy 'San Tropez' and 'Fearless', which is, next to 'Another Brick In The Wall Pt 2', Pink Floyd's most anthemic song (even if that tribal soccer chorus in the outtro is a little self-indulgent). However, with six songs there's no margin for error, and the overrated, underrealised 'One Of These Days' and misplaced yawnfest 'Seamus' really hurt the album as it looks towards its legacy. Pixies Come On PilgrimThe songs of 'Come On Pilgrim' are far stronger than those of 'Surfer Rosa': a better balance between melody and madness means that each track at least arrives at its intended destination, generally laced with the cleverness that has always been the Pixies strongest trait. Portishead DummyThe plush, night crawler club sounds are beautifully haunting and spacey, designed to lure you to sleep, particularly on 'Mysterons', 'Sour Times' and 'Glory Box', but there's something about Beth Gibbon's temptress sigh, "like a jaded Bond girl", as Rolling Stone so brilliantly put it, that makes you think that if you do nod off, she's going to slither through the speakers, move in and take you. A really soulful, engaging album, one that anyone and everyone can enjoy.Radiohead Kid AKid A is Thom Yorke seeing how well he can sing without his mouth. Kid A is Johnny Greenwood playing guitar without plucking a note. Kid A is Phil Selway drumming around the beat, suggesting more than he states. In short, Kid A is Radiohead wondering if brainpower alone can make a great album. The answer? It can come pretty damn close.Ramones Leave HomeSecond album, same as the first. Only, not quite. The production is softer, with a more rounded, less edgy sound to Johnny's jackhammer chords and a topical move from glue sniffing to carbona sniffing, but these are the only changes that are reflected in the 'spread your wings' album title. The cartoonishly exaggerated themes of punk, good times, goofiness, drugs, late summer nights on the town and B-grade horror movies are still here and many of the songs sound like rotated subs from 'Ramones': 'Blitzkrieg Bop', 'Judy Is A Punk', 'I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend', 'Havana Affair', 'I Don't Wanna Go Down To The Basement' and '53rd and 3rd' are switched for 'Pinhead', 'Suzy Is A Headbanger', 'I Remember You', 'Commando', 'You Should Never Have Opened That Door' and 'You're Gonna Kill That Girl'. In short, if you loved 'Ramones', you'll like 'Leave Home,' but the undecided will have to wait for 'Rocket To Russia.' Robert Johnson The Complete RecordingsEven the casual rock listener can hear the Stones, Cream, Zeppelin and Dylan coming out of Johnson as if he's hard wired to a time machine. His guitar playing is excellent - he frequently holds his own rhythm AND lead - but it's advisable to take this in album in small bites, given that many of the structures are quite similar. Nonetheless, this is Rock 'n Roll's Old Testament. Sonic Youth The Eternal'The Eternal' is the Youth's most consistent album in years with luminous sonic interludes and walls of transcendent, spiritual guitar.The Beatles 1The highlight of "1" is the way that it shows the development of the Beatles' sound: from the exuberant white boy blues of their early days ("Love Me Do","She Loves You", "I Want To Hold Your Hand") to more wordly, wiser songs ("Yesterday", "Eleanor Rigby", "All You Need Is Love") and the mature, solemn works of their final days ("Let It Be", "Hey Jude", "Come Together"). Definitely one that will hook the new generation onto the Beatles.The Clash London Calling''London Calling" is, without a doubt, the greatest myth album of all time. It is an album that has come to represent fearless fragmentation, bar-stool poet observations and faith in rock 'n' roll, past and future, to beat back the worst of life. However, whilst this is all true, the vast majority of the music does not stand up. The ska and skiffle are classic, straightforward and textbook: the Clash's usual habit of wearing-in new genres to make them their own is absent. This makes the widespread genre-dabbling endearing rather than great. Certainly, no album can be called great when there are nearly as many terrible songs (''Jimmy Jazz", ''Lover's Rock'' and ''Revolution Rock'') as greats (''London Calling'', "Spanish Bombs", ''Lost in the Supermarket'', ''Guns of Brixton'', ''Death or Glory''). The Clash Give 'Em Enough RopeUnfairly demoted to a ''sell-out'' album, ''Give ''Em Enough Rope'' acts as a commendable bridge between the raw anger of ''The Clash'' and the sprawling fragmentation of ''London Calling''. The UK punk scene is still audible here; indeed, the heavier sound of the production gives several songs a pounding sense of importance and fury, most notably ''English Civil War'', arguably the band's most incendiary song. There are a couple of songs that are seemingly hesitant over whether to be raw or sophisticated, but ''Give ''Em Enough Rope'' is nonetheless a strong album.The Clash Sandinista!'Sandinista!' is the definitive Clash album because it captures why they were such a great band: their fearless and relentless innovation that treated music as a do-or-die mission with no time for a second thought. The Clash The ClashIt's excellent but you're kidding yourself if you think it's better than the US version.The Clash Live at Shea StadiumHow many bands have the balls to play a song about low-income employment before a crowd of 72,000? Or to do so when they are the opening act? In a foreign, powerful country? And then dare to heckle the audience? The answer is The Clash, the band who, probably more than any other in rock history, understood that the dollar was a low priority in comparison to achieving everything that you can and dogfighting for your views and beliefs. 'Shea Stadium' may not be the best document of the Clash live (their diversity is limited and the sound is sometimes a flat wall of bass, guitars and drums) but it is nonetheless incendiary in its raw energy and boasts songs ('Spanish Bombs', 'Clampdown') that can withstand even an average run through.The Flaming Lips Yoshimi Battles the Pink RobotsHappy, radiant guitars with braindead-philosophical moments that stretch across beautiful, picturebook panoramas painted in watercolour backdrops. It's a weed trip that you don't need the weed for.The Jimi Hendrix Experience Electric LadylandThe Rolling Stones Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!The energy is fantastic and that loose rawness makes 'Live With Me' and 'Love In Vain' both better than their studio versions. Jagger's interraction is sleazy and brilliant and there is no better version of 'Street Fighting Man' than the hot-blooded, in-the-moment cut here. But 'Stray Cat Blues' is, as all of their early career blues covers were, too heavily indebted to its original creation, and why oh why is 'Sympathy For The Devil' walked through as a standard rock song?The Saints (I'm) StrandedTaking the frenetic pace of the Ramones, the simple hooks of the Stooges and the frayed energy of the Sex Pistols, the Saints' debut album remains the greatest Australian punk album to date. The full throttle rev of the title track and the epic, extended white noise of 'Nights In Venice' make the album a textbook punk classic, but neither the Ramones, Stooges, Pistols or Clash recorded a ballad as brilliant and ragged as 'Messin' With The Kid.'The Smashing Pumpkins GishAt its best ''Gish'', foreshadows the transcending beauty that the Pumpkins would later master ('Rhinoceros', 'Crush', 'Snail') as well as pummelling, percussive rhythm section that ('Bury Me', 'Siva', 'Tristessa') anchored Corgan's cathartic angst. However, there aren't enough genuinely excellent performances here to elevate ''Gish'' to a debut that etches itself into history of significance. The Smiths Louder Than Bombs'Louder Than Bombs' marks a rite of passage for latter day Smiths fans: you can have the studio albums, but to get swept away in the scene of what it must have been like to hear the Smiths, and, of course, their contrast to big/empty '80s pop, in their heyday, you need 'Bombs.' Unforgettable singles are here, songs that combine misery, humour, acerbic wit and painful self-consciousness...so we can easily forgive the presence of 'Golden Lights.' Maybe. The Smiths The SmithsA remarkably bold, innovative and strong debut. Morrissey's flat out neuroticism comes across with deceptive poeticism, most notably on 'Still Ill' and 'Pretty Girls Make Graves', whilst it would take years for the group to top 'Reel Around The Fountain.' If I had any complaints, it would be that the album is just too soft and slow in parts: I would've liked to have seen 'I Don't Owe You Anything' subbed out for something jauntier and more acerbic like 'This Charming Man', a ravingly narcissistic gem that does the Jam better than the Jam ever, ever did.The Smiths Strangeways, Here We ComeA bittersweet finale in which Morrissey's louche cattiness can't mask his pain and longing as the Smiths splinter around him. Best tracks: 'Death of a Disco Dancer', 'Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me', 'Paint a Vulgar Picture'.The Stooges The StoogesPinching the lick-lipping teenage sexuality of the Stones and rolling it into something new, loud and sparse called 'garage', the Stooges' self-titled debut is pounding, minimalistic yet catchy. The muffly buzzsaw of Dave Asheton's solos on 'Ann' and 'I Wanna Be Your Dog', the hand-clap riffs of '1969' and 'No Fun' and the unsettling black magic of 'We Will Fall' and 'Little Doll' are all amplified, uncomplicated hooks that make the songs.The Strokes Is This ItThe Strokes must hate whoever it was that first compared them to the Velvet Underground, and loathe Rolling Stone (who rated 'Is This It' the eighth greatest debut album ever). When you pump an album up to a dizzyingly high pedastal, it only takes a slight gust of wind to send it crashing down. Nonetheless, 'Is This It' is an excellent album, whose sparseness reveals a maturity and originality that is very cool indeed. The twin guitar line-up is dry and flickering, allowing Julian Casablanca's reflective murmur to take on a life of its own; it's as if he's that one guy who has gotten to the top of the scene and can now look down to see all of its flaws and irrelevancies. He captures single images of cities and the night-lives of their young inhabitants: the title track is the sound of your own agonising realisations as you sit on your bed at 2 am of the worst Saturday night out ever, whilst the carefully framed self-contradictions of 'Hard To Explain' ("I like it right here/But I cannot stay") show a moment when you can't articulate and spit out how you really feel and why. Meanwhile, classic 60s pop songs like 'Last Nite' and 'Someday' are, somehow, not so imitative to be beholden to their creators - instead, their crisp simplicity is just impossible to dislike. Even if you really want to hate the band because they didn't turn out to be the Velvets. So what? The Tragically Hip Road ApplesIt takes a while for 'Road Apples' - or, to be more precise, the way in which its strength is so consistently sustained throughout all twelve songs - to not sound like a perpetual fluke. However, there will be a point, and you'll be delighted to welcome it, where you'll decide that these lads are the best thing to come out of Canadian music since Neil Young. Bad luck, Nickelback.The Velvet Underground The Velvet Underground & NicoThe Velvet Underground The Velvet UndergroundThere are two possible interpretations of the Velvet Underground's self titled third album. The first is that the soft, gospel-folk sounds are the band selling out to a more mainstream audience. The second is that the radical change from 'White Light/White Heat' proves the ability and musical intelligence of the group. Indeed, the change of instrumentals may make this the darkest VU album; as sinful as 'White Light' was, the average Joe can't relate to 17 minute, dissonant avant garde pieces about heroin fuelled orgies, whereas unrequited love, isolation and faith, common themes found here, are far more likely to hit home.The White Stripes White Blood CellsWhat a kickass garage album! The first half nine songs are as exciting and promising as any in the second half of the 90s, with the stunning drama of 'Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground', 'Expecting', and 'The Forever', adorable goofiness with 'Hotel Yorba' and 'We're Gonna Be Friends', the punk nugget 'Fell In Love With A Girl', the tender 'Same Boy You've Always Known' and the downright deadpan hilarity of 'I'm Finding It Harder To Be A Gentleman' ("Then you said "You almost dropped me"/ So then I did/And I got mud on my shoes"). But as high as the highs are, the lows really, really stink. The 50 second 'Little Room' is so pointless it's infuriating, and 'Aluminum' is a scrapy, sludgy waste that sounds like White's attempt to be Cobain. But he isn't; he lacks the great man's way with noise. The submissiveness of the album's final few songs is also disappointing, making us think that the album could've been thinned out a little. But look out for the light-stomp of 'Offend In Every Way' and the Bavarian murder-mystery 'I Think I Smell A Rat', which is as operatic as garage rock can get. Overall, "White Blood Cells" is good, but not good enough to guarantee a critics n fan surrender, merely good enough for us to hungrily await its follow up.The White Stripes Icky Thump'Icky Thump' completely blindsides the listener and makes every other White Stripes album look one-dimensional. The eclecticism and variety here give Jack White a whole new character - one that he should have been flirting with while he was churning out textbook blues. Tom Waits Rain Dogs"After rain all the dogs that got caught in the rain, the water washed away their whole trail and they can't get back home so about 4 in the morning you see all these stranded dogs on the street and they're looking around like, won't you help me get back home, sir, please? Excuse me sir? Can you help me find my way back home? All makes and models, the short ones, the black ones, the tall ones, the expensive ones, the long ones, the disturbed ones, they all want to get home. So that's a Rain Dog. It's like falling asleep somewhere and you thought you knew where you were and when you woke up, they changed the furniture and the walls and windows and the sky turned a different colour and you can never get back. Most of the stories in this record have to do with people in New York who are experiencing a considerable amount of pain and discomfort."U2 All That You Can't Leave BehindU2 return to form with their fifth great album. However, this is not the stadium rock album it is purported to be: 'Beautiful Day' may be made for mod-radio but more common are introspective, unobtrusive songs like 'Wild Honey', 'Grace' and 'In A Little While', which take measured cues from folk and gospel and are more made for late night cafes. 'ATYCLB' is U2's most subtle album. U2 BoyA strong debut filled with the Edge's simple, ethereal melodies and Bono's empowered vocals that marry New Wave and Irish folk, with a set of youthfully exuberant, meticulous songs, the most impressive of which are 'I Will Follow', 'Out of Control' and 'Stories for Boys'. U2 Under A Blood Red SkyCapturing U2 between with all of their youthful exuberance and ambition without the burdens of expectation, 'Blood Red Sky' is transfixing and simply exciting: the humongous, soaring version of 'Gloria' and the hot-blooded 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' are the hallmarks of a band still reaching for the summit, not filling time being there. Admittedly, the rest of the album is just good and you can see why 'Party Girl' remained a B-side.Wolfmother WolfmotherThe Zeppelin and Black Sabbath influences have been well documented, but Wolfmother still do a brilliant job of carrying it off. Borrowing the soaring guitar, mysticism and drug references of Zeppelin (there's a song called "White Unicorn", for God's sake) with the grooving rhythms of Sabbath and AC/DC, "Wolfmother" unleashes such gems as 'Joker and the Thief'(arguably the most popular Aussie modern rock song), the beautiful, shimmering tales of 'Colossal', 'White Unicorn', 'Where Eagles Have Been' and pocket rocket 'Woman'. Watch out for the Highland warcry riff on 'Tales From The Forest Of Gnomes' and the ramble on lift of 'Vagabond.' The only lowlights are the glam rock attempt 'Apple Tree' and 'Witchcraft', in which they take the old rock thing too far, pinch Deep Purple's 'Black Night' riff and then throw in a flute solo. Overall, a cracker of an album. And let's face it-Zeppelin is the greatest rock band ever, so what's so bad about a band who sound like them?Wu-Tang Clan Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)Fun, grimy, tough. I could listen to the 'Method Man' beat all day, if I wasn't spending all day listening to "Do you think, your Wu-Tang sword, can defeat ME?"3.5 greatAC/DC The Razors EdgeAC/DC's strongest album since 'Back In Black', with the humongous, irresistible anthem 'Thunderstruck', the menacing 'The Razors Edge' and 'If You Dare', which are both as beastly as the band has been since the high hell days of Bon Scott, and the buoyant, joyous 'Moneytalks'. Unfortunately, the stupid stuff like 'Mistress For Christmas' reminds you of the fact that they will never be as good as they once were and that Brian Johnson was never as good a vocalist as Bon Scott. Also, in the case of 'Fire Your Guns', 'Are You Ready' and 'Rock Your Heart Out', there's a feeling of recycled material.Arcade Fire The SuburbsArcade Fire reflect on the decaying, soulless world of suburbia through stuck youths growing old on their realisation of the emptiness of their dreams. It's weighed down by the number of tracks that repeatedly hammer said point with diminishing returns, but it's still a good album.Arctic Monkeys HumbugThe Arctic Monkey's debut album was astonishing. Since they released it, subsequent LPs have acted like it never existed: their music has never been as jagged and chaotic, their lyrics have never been as straightforward. 'Humbug', which changes the sound of 'Nightmare' from skeletal to sexy and just gets weirder with its words, is another good album.Arctic Monkeys Suck It and SeeThe Arctic Monkeys have never taken the simple short cuts since their phenomenal debut. 'Suck It And See' is an incursion into creamy pop songs with Alex Turner's lyrics that give the two-fingers to anything even slightly resembling a cliche. As a consequence, the album is harmless and mildly enjoyable, although only 'That's Where You're Wrong' and maybe 'Reckless Serenade' could be considered an addition to the 'classic' canon.Beastie Boys Licensed to IllOnce they had ramped up the manic spirit and hit a rich vein of samples - i.e., wider than Sabbath & Zeppelin - the Beastie Boys became world beaters. Their debut is a base in every sense of the word.Black Sabbath Master of RealityFor all of their supposed Satanic reputation, 'Master of Reality' heavily showcases a religious side of Sabbath. Indeed, if you take out 'Sweet Leaf', the sluggish ballad to weed, 'Master of Reality' could be the soundtrack to the Sunday session of a Gothic Church, with the songs here dealing with either damnation ('Children of the Grave', 'Into the Void') or salvation ('After Forever', 'Solitude' and 'Lord of This World'), with a couple of brief, filler instrumentals to boot for whilst the Priest is announcing a hymn. Bob Dylan John Wesley HardingThe calm after the storm of three wildly electric, eclectic albums, 'John Wesley Harding's understated, mellow nature is just as unsettling as it is surprising. Whilst the songs are largely good and consistent, the album's attempts to achieve greatness are ultimately left to a handful of excellent songs. There's nothing REALLY wrong with it, it just doesn't measure up to Dylan's mercurial standards.Bob Dylan The Bootleg Series Vol. 4: Live 1966After a stupefyingly dull acoustic set, the tension of the electric half is just thrilling - all those incoherent yells, intimidating claps and swelling mutterings amidst Dylan's bumptious rhythms and tight, sharp spirals. This is the definitive album for the Dylan legend because it captures his absolute faith in his temperamental genius.Bob Dylan The Bootleg Series, Vol. 1-3 1961-1991Dylan fans will love listening to the man's songwriting, structuring, ideological and philosophical development and processes. Note that I said Dylan fans.Bruce Springsteen Darkness on the Edge of TownI've never really been convinced by the whole "Baby-let's-blow-this-town-before-it's-too-late-and-here's-my-car" thing.Bruce Springsteen The RiverWhat could have been a great album - 'The River', 'Independence Day', 'Stolen Car' and 'Point Blank' are among The Boss' best - is stymied by a baffling slew of cheap, superficial numbers.Buena Vista Social Club Buena Vista Social ClubThe first two thirds of BVSC are fantastic; groovy, fun, cool and festive, as well as being fantastic demo lessons for aspiring Latin guitarists. It does, however, fade late. Or maybe the lyrics are amazing. Dunno. Cold Chisel Cold ChiselDavid Bowie The Man Who Sold the WorldFor a proto-metal album so full of lyrics referencing Nietzsche and existentialism, 'The Man Who Sold The World' still makes its listeners come to the conclusion that it's one of Bowie's more carefree works. How else do you explain an album that willingly uses the pan flute and a chorus line of "Ohhhh, byyyyy jiiiiiiiinngoooooo?" David Bowie Let's DanceBowie sets the joint on fire with the first 3 tracks and after that is content to just let 5 more roll off the conveyor belt. He mastered pop with "Ziggy Stardust" anyway.Iggy Pop Lust For LifePart garage chug-along, part campy Hammerstein cabaret and part whatever struck Iggy's (and Bowie's) fancy, "Lust for Life" is a mixed bag. Best songs: 'Lust for Life', 'Tonight' and 'Success'.Jeff Buckley Sketches for My Sweetheart the DrunkDisc 1 is an accomplished album - the mosh-pit anthem 'Yard of Blonde Girls', the uncharacteristically light-hearted 'Witches' Rave' and the absolutely terrifying 'You & I' stand out. It does sound far more contemporary than "Grace", which raises the question over whether Buckley had the strength and courage to back himself in following up the greatest debut album ever.Joy Division Substance'Substance' suffers from what you might call an unavoidable weakness: Joy Division's progression from scrappy punk band to artistic alt-Goth band is a crucial part of the band's story. Therefore, you've got to stick in those tinny early recordings that, by burying Curtis' voice, eschew the band's greatest point of difference from every other punk band. They may be a chore to sit through, but they show the divine, sophisticated inspiration of later pieces like the glistening, peaceful 'Atmosphere'. Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted FantasyFirst off, full credit to West's attitude on this album - instead of caving in to public pressure and indignance with some soft, sorry little puppy piano ballads, he met the army of raging critics with an overload of unrepentant arrogance. However, the heart and genuine creative brilliance of 'Late Registration' is neglected in the deliberately divisive songs. This is West's 'me' album and he challenges you to either roll with the jokes or fall into the trap of getting outraged as he complains about flying economy being a manifestation of racism: 'Your girl don't like me, how long has she been gay?' gets flicked for 'Kiss my whole ass/And kiss my asshole' .Led Zeppelin Led ZeppelinLed Zeppelin PresenceThis is where the downhill slide begins. Despite classics like 'Achilles Last Stand' and 'Tea For One', "Presence" can't balance out the number of average songs that can be found on here.Led Zeppelin Houses of the HolyAlthough Houses Of The Holy delivers some exceptional works of music, its message and orientation is at times confused, which detracts from the experience. For example, the spring-water chilled "The Rain Song" fits perfectly into what we expect from the album whereas "The Ocean", which was one of their best live staples and would've sounded better on Physical Graffiti, sounds a half step away. The ghostly Viking funeral pyre "No Quarter", with British 20th century war messages ("They carry news that must get through/To build a dream for me and you") is the highlight, with Jones' dark, cold ripple on keyboard and Page's doomy outbursts. The annoying "D'Yer Mak'er" and "The Crunge" are arguably the only failures at new genre attempts Zeppelin had done to that point, while "The Song Remains The Same" fails because of the title. It sounds almost like a reassurance, which is Zeppelin uncharacteristically unconfident . The Irish folk "Over The Hills And Far Away", with the wonderful acoustic chime outtro, is another highlight that fits the bill and pushes the album up to a 3.5.Mac DeMarco Salad DaysWhat music junkies listen to when they're done listening to musicMac DeMarco Another OneIf "For Emma, Forever Ago" had been recorded in a beach shack instead of a wood cabin it would sound like this.Midnight Oil Place Without A Postcard'Postcard' has most of the pieces that would make later Oils classics: Garrett's controlled yell against driving, post-punk/pub rock and lyrics that punch and bite against myths and delusions of Australian culture.Miles Davis Sketches of Spain'Concierto de Aranjuez' is, of course, just amazing but it's the only thing here that delivers with style.Mudhoney Every Good Boy Deserves FudgeNeil Young HarvestI hate to be one of those guys that values an artist's darker, less mainstream work over their most commercially successful one... but 'Harvest' just feels unfocused at times. Nirvana Bleach'Bleach' is evenly divided: seven songs ('Blew', 'Floyd the Barber', 'About a Girl', 'Love Buzz', 'Paper Cuts' and 'Scoff') show the band's control over noise, sense of pop vocal melody and unique song writing ability. The other six just remind you that they were written literally the night before a $600 recording. Oasis The MasterplanLargely good songs that sound like a band with one eye on the hourglass. Paul Simon GracelandA smooth blend of African and American roots music, with neither too overstated. Although I don't find any of it truly great, Simon never sounds like he's missing the mark. Best tracks 'Homeless', 'Graceland', 'The Boy in the Bubble'.Pavement Wowee ZoweeThe least-focused of the five Pavement albums. Borrowing heavily from breezy stoner rock, 'Wowee Zowee's best songs are generally chilled, lackadaisical and vaguely hypothetical ('Rattled By The Rush', 'Grounded', 'Motion Suggests Itself', 'At & T'), with its worst stirring themselves up to lo-fi, sludge-rock. Powderfinger Golden RulePowderfinger deliver a fittingly strong album for their departure. While there is the odd piece of filler ('Jewel', 'Poison In Your Mind') and uninspired piece ('Stand Yourself'), they are redeemed by joyous, exuberant rockers like 'Burn Your Name' and 'Iberian Dream', the latter being Powderfinger's sexiest song. The touching farewells of 'Awake', 'Think It Over', 'A Fight About Money' and 'Sail The Wildest Stretch' ( a dedication to teen sailor Jessica Watson) and off-into-the-sunset Spanish strings of 'The Golden Rule' are classic Powderfinger, and ensure that one of Australia's greatest artists ever go out in style.Public Enemy It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold UsFirst half: Don't believe the hype.
Second half: Oh you better believe it.Radiohead Hail to the ThiefFollowing 9/11, the Iraq invasion and the fear that had crept over the world, 'Hail To The Thief' was the jagged, paranoid apocalypse of 'Kid A' dragged from its artfully obscure quiet and thrown kicking and screaming into the real world as Thom Yorke's silent 'I TOLD YOU SO.'Radiohead The King of LimbsFINALLY- Radiohead go where even the most devoted electro-nuts are too scared to follow. However, 'The King Of Limbs' is a quintessential listen-closer album: 'Feral' and 'Little By Little' are as beautiful as 'In Rainbows' underneath the flickering drums and murmured lyrics.Talking Heads Stop Making SenseYou've heard the classics on radio but I would definitely recommend diving in for the version of 'Swamp'. As for the rest of the album, there are times when Talking Heads debased reassessments of modern life are truly so 'clever', so 'stop making sense', that they genuinely cannot pose a coherent question.Tame Impala InnerspeakerBetter than the smug, pretentious 'Lonerism' with stronger, simpler, more disciplined songs, but there's still the wishy-washy, bloated prog leanings that turn three minute songs into five without any additional substance. The Band Music from Big PinkIndisputably good musicians, The Band are too homely to find the darkness in 'Tears of Rage' and 'The Long Black Veil'. Whilst this is a good album, it's hard to identify what distinguishes The Band from any other roots act, past or future.The Band The BandI can understand why The Band were important at the time of release... hearing 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down' at a time when America was being hurled headlong into a future that never eventuated must have been a decent reality check. But why they've endured? Well, they can thank Bob Dylan for that.The Black Keys Rubber FactoryThe highs are typically excellent - the heavy sludge of 'When The Lights Go Out', the gorgeous 'The Lengths', 'Stack Shot Billy' and the tight, groovy 'Keep Me.' However, there's a couple of songs that sound like the Keys are ripping themselves off. The Black Keys BrothersBetter song-writing and more diverse, interesting sounds than the previous goose-stepping blues-garage three chord stuff.The Black Keys El Camino'Lonely Boy', 'Dead And Gone' and 'Gold On The Ceiling' are blues-garage gems and 'Little Black Submarines' is their tribute to Zeppelin. No other tracks have the swagger and confidence of these four, despite some admirable riffage on 'Mind Eraser' and 'Sister.' However, 'Stop Stop', the Christmassy 'Nova Baby' and others are fairly uncool.The Cure DisintegrationOh pretty boy, can't you show me nothing but surrender?The Doors The Doors'The End' is a geniune masterpiece, a dark-psychadelic take on the end of the 1960s. 'Break On Through' is a tight, whisky soaked gem and 'Light My Fire' has the type of shadowy vocals and spidery music that The Doors would become renowned for. However, there isn't much else and, despite general perception, it isn't a touching-the-zeitgeist masterpiece.The Rubens The RubensA solid debut album that proves that pop, or least a certain aspect of it, can be good music. The tightly wound 'My Gun' is an absolute killer, and gives the band a solid foundation from which to develop for their next step. There are moments when the lyrics are a little too polite and the music steps a little too cleanly - 'Elvis' is the best example - but I can honestly say that 'The Rubens' is one of the best Australian mainstream albums of 2012.The Smiths Meat Is Murder'The Smiths' delivered self-pity with enough wry humour to have you humming Morrissey's neurotic one-liners all lonely Saturday night long ("Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body? I dunno"). 'Meat Is Murder', however, is unbalanced in its po-faced, Mancurian misery. Opener 'Headmaster Ritual' is more like an OH & S officer's report into child abuse than a song: none of Morrissey's abstract wit is here. But it's nowhere near as bad as the preachy, hammy 'Meat is Murder', which wrings every heavy-handed vegetarian cliche "This beautiful creature must die/And death for no reason is MURDER!'') into six stuffy, solemn minutes. It is so unsubtle and unclever that, with only slight tweaking, it would be magnificent parody. Ultimately, the less promoted songs carry 'Meat is Murder', particularly in its strong middle order: an injection of life into the gloom with 'I Want The One I Can't Have' and 'That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore', with the completely raving 'Nowhere Fast' superbly flipping the bird to Britain's cheerless grey.The Stone Roses The Stone RosesNothing is great, nothing is anything more than mildly creative, but I'll be damned if it doesn't put a smile on my dial.The Stooges Raw PowerDespite the rude quality of 'Search and Destroy', 'Gimme Danger' and 'Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell', the overamplified rock and production is just a little too raw and single minded: 'Death Trip' and 'Penetration' are classic examples.The White Stripes ElephantStep 3 in blues evolution: kicking the travellin' bootsman persona of Robert Johnson with the lean grit of the Stones, Jack White has assumed the mantle of King of the Blues - from his own garage. "Elephant" contains two of his greatest anthems: the gritted-teeth-and-sweat of 'Seven Nation Army' and the massive, precise 'Ball and Biscuit'. But there's more than re-vamped cliches here: the ballad 'I Don't Know What To Do With Myself' comes (gloriously) out of nowhere, as does the barely-restrained punk-nugget 'Black Math.' Thinning out - or, rather, a lack of it - is still White's weakness, as well as an inability to differentiate between novelty and irrelevance ('Little Acorns', 'It's True That We Love One Another'). The Whitlams Eternal NightcapTim Buckley Goodbye and HelloUneven but with an intoxicating atmosphere. Buckley's voice sounds somewhere between a '60s psych-trip and a medieval minstrel.Tim Buckley Tim BuckleyTim Buckley Look at the FoolConsistently good white-boy soul. His voice isn't as good as on previous albums.U2 Rattle and HumAlthough the arrogant and misguided gospel-soul-blues hollow the feeling slightly, there is no doubt that the music on 'Rattle and Hum' has genuine quality. 'Desire,' 'Angel of Harlem,' 'When Love Comes To Town' and 'All I Want Is You' are four of U2's biggest and best songs, and the live versions of 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' and 'Bullet the Blue Sky' are excellent. The covers ('Helter Skelter,' 'All Along The Watchtower') are simple minded yet fair, and if you plumb the depths far enough to find the beautiful 'Van Diemen's Land,' the gritty 'Silver and Gold' and the poetic, touching 'Heartland,' good for you. While the crowd interplay is butt-clenchingly embarrassing at times on 'Helter Skelter' ("This is a song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles-we're stealing it back"), 'All Along The Watchtower' ("All I got is a red guitar, three chords and the truth...the rest is up to you"), 'Silver and Gold' (Am I buggin' you? Don't mean to bug ya") and all of 'God, Pt 2', which hurt the finished piece slightly, you have to remember that, without this slightly misguided field trip there would've been no 'Achtung Baby.'U2 ZooropaAimlessness, for better or worse, defines "Zooropa". Its introspective modernism sees its protagonists walk through life with metaphorical guns to their heads ('Stay', 'Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car', 'Dirty Day') or cast aside all certainty in 'The Wanderer' and the glorious title track, which quite literally declares, "I have no compass/I have no map/I have no reason, no reason to get back." On the other hand, the album's modest origins and rushed finish give us obviously unfinished pieces and over-parodic experiments.U2 Songs of InnocenceU2 revisit their old failings for 'Songs of Innocence': numb electro, unabashed pop worship and overwhelming sincerity. And nail it.Weezer PinkertonThe unexpected success of Weezer's debut album left the band's task of a sophomore follow-up a tricky one. When being your simple, dorky, honest self works so well, where do you go next? Ultimately, 'Pinkerton's best songs are, for better or worse, continuations of the best of 'The Blue Album': 'Across The Sea', 'The Good Life' and 'El Scorcho' use the loud-pop simplicity with painfully personal American teenage short story lyrics. However, the cracks of uncertainty and indecision nonetheless begin here for Rivers Cuomo: the self-focused, grumpy gripes of 'Why Bother?' and 'No Other One' are poor emo-fare that would become all too common in the years to follow.3.0 goodAC/DC Dirty Deeds Done Dirt CheapA solid debut effort from a band that would go onto become one of the greatest hard rock acts ever: 'Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap' shows the full range of height and tone in Bon Scott's voice, 'Ain't No Fun (Waiting Round To Be A Millionaire)' proves, through its street-smart schemin', that these boys weren't just sleazy boneheads and 'Ride On', a slow, woozy tale of regret, but not reform, highlights their ability to play slow and still have real power. The average stuff like 'Rocker', 'Love At First Feel' and 'Squealer' brings it down however. AC/DC Stiff Upper LipWho woulda thunk it? After years of trying too hard with mediocre albums, AC/DC tone everything down to make their best album since 'Back In Black.' Full throttle intensity and macho bluster make way for a more menacing blend of unsettling quiet and sudden roar, with a couple of comparatively lighthearted (!) tracks. No, it's not a great album, but it breathes fresh air into a band suffocating under its own image and will hopefully carry momentum over into a new album.AC/DC High Voltage (Australia)Get the US version instead-the songs that the Australian version doesn't have are the deal breakers.Arctic Monkeys AM'AM' is effectively divided into two contrasting halves: the first five songs, in which sparse, icy guitars and bass edge around the slow, driving drums, are songs for staring into a flat Lager at 1 am in an empty bar as longing for a lost love morphs into something more dangerous. However, just as the darkness of these songs seems ready to become definitive, a wash of easier listening pop comes over: the Elton John-inspired 'No 1. Party Anthem' and the jauntier 'Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?' and 'Knee Socks'. What hurts 'AM' is that the first five songs work well as a whole... the second half does not. Bob Dylan The Times They Are A-Changin'Colder, duller and folkier than 'Freewheelin''. There's just a touch too much 'we're the people, they can't keep down the people', but the title track, 'With God On Our Side' and 'The Ballad Of Hollis Brown', his most chilling song until 'It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)', are among his finest ever.Bob Dylan Shadows in the NightBob Dylan has been many adjectives to many people. But this album is a new one: unambitious.Bruce Springsteen The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street ShuffleBruce said that one of his main goals in making 'Born to Run' was to strip down the dialogue, which was probably a reference to how 'WIESS' does a lot of talking to cover very little ground.David Bowie Hunky DoryClassics aside, 'Hunky Dory' is marred by stupid missteps that Bowie never made again.Dr. Dre The ChronicFall Out Boy Infinity on HighThere's some good stuff, most notably 'Golden', but they don't give you the impression of a longterm, talented band.Flume FlumeGreen Day International SuperhitsAll the crucial singles pre -'American Idiot' are here. Which still leaves a bunch of stragglers, but hey - you'll get what you paid for.Green Day ¡UNO!Yes, it's dumb. Yes, Billie Joe is twice the use by date of a punk rocker. Yes, this album should not have been made because they should have stopped. But there is just enough good stuff on here ('Oh Love' is an absolute gem) to cover up the flat and mediocre and scrape 'UNO!' up to a pass.Guns N' Roses Use Your Illusion IFeaturing the only geniunely great song off the double album ("November Rain"), 'Use Your Illusion I' has the more accomplished musical composition and variety than 'II', such as the shuffling rock of 'Dust 'N Bones', the psychadelic labyrinth of 'The Garden', the swaggering 'Double Talkin' Jive' and the absolutely-stoned-off-its-face 'You Ain't The First'. However, the overblown production, pretentious song length ('Coma' is ten minutes of filler), transparent aggression and uninspired instrumentals of others ('Back Off Bitch', 'Bad Obsession', 'Garden Of Eden') becomes a genuine drag.Jay-Z The Black AlbumTwo thirds of 'The Black Album' is humourless, indulgent self promotion. The late revival of 'Moment of Clarity', '99 Problems' and 'Lucifer' pull together elements that previous tracks didn't even attempt.John Lennon ImagineA little too much "sugar in the urine", I'm afraid.........Kanye West The College DropoutMissing the heart and humour of 'Late Registration' as well as the musical breadth of 'MBDTF', 'The College Dropout' nonetheless boasts some of the songs that would later turn West into Kanye. Its biggest problem is the frequent skits that don't only lessen the album as a whole but arrive at the most inopportune times and prevent it from establishing a decent flow.Kanye West YeezusThe absence of bad and the occasional cameo of good.Kendrick Lamar To Pimp a ButterflyI know you're angry but what do you want, Kendrick? Racial equality? White genocide? Peace? War? Violence? Overthrow of the White House? Forty acres, a mule, a piano, a guitar?Led Zeppelin Celebration DayWith a set list like this, Zepp could have killed it in their sleep. Unfortunately, it sounds like they tried.Lorde Pure HeroineWhen 'Royals' dropped you could hear the collective pop community gasping "God we needed that one!" At a time of over sampled over imitative hip-pop the track was a perfect statement of minimalism: real, talented, purposeful. There's not much else that comes close on "Pure Heroine" except 'Team' and 'Tennis Court'. Move fast Lorde. The world is watching.Metallica Master of PuppetsMetallica MetallicaThe mainstream sell out outlasts the admitted quality of its songs. Midnight Oil Midnight OilHow many bands start off twisted, unsettling and mysterious and become a pub-hard rock band, virtually conventional by the comparisons of their origins? Midnight Oil did. Their debut self-titled takes cues from both Lou Reed and Pink Floyd as they sound frayed, edgy and hyper-energetic. This is arguably their least lyrically focused album - subsequent releases would be a photo negative.Muse The 2nd LawNeil Young After the Gold RushHarmless and unobtrusive, "After the Gold Rush" features all the pieces that would later make "Harvest" floating past each other just out of reach.Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds Murder BalladsThe rich, evocative narratives of 'Henry Lee' and 'Where The Wild Roses Grow' and the cackling psycho freak outs 'The Curse of Millhaven' and 'O'Malley's Bar' are the successful executions of Cave's explorations into the dynamics, moralities and neuroses of murder. Then you've got inaudible mumbling and repetitive storylines over bummed-out backtracks. And then to close it there's 'Death is Not The End', which is the funniest of the lot whether it means to be or not. Seriously, Monty Python couldn't have thought of a better closer than Cave and his guest artists joining hands and singing the Goth equivalent of kumbaya.Pink Floyd Atom Heart MotherThere's just too much bloated prog-pompousness; a 23 minute track stuffed with cinematic effects and a 13 minute 'oh-look-how-much-drugs-we-take' psychadelic whale bookend the album.Radiohead AmnesiacGood music, for the most part, but lacks the cohesion that has been Radiohead's calling card. An unnecessary album, and they could've saved several of the tracks as flavour pieces on 'Hail To The Thief' or 'In Rainbows.' Radiohead A Moon Shaped PoolNondescript, muted, shy... this is a Coldplay album. Sade Diamond LifeIt's smooth enough but what is "Diamond Life" trying to be? No single element stands out from the mix: the music is awaiting an outstanding vocal from Sade and Sade is awaiting some ear-catching music. Neither come.Tame Impala CurrentsThe Beatles RevolverConventional pop songs, more or less. A normal pop song in 'She Said, She Said'? OK, now let's put in some reverb. A normal pop song in 'Here, There and Everywhere'? OK, now play the guitar parts with a sitar. The Beatles were the first pop band of all time, not the most innovative. The Beatles Rubber Soul'Rubber Soul' is simulatenously extremely influential and the most overrated of all the Beatles' 'classic' albums. The mature love songs here have served as a base for bands over the last fifty years, many of whom, such as the Smiths, U2 and, dare I say it, Coldplay, have made their own mature love songs with far better lyrical and musical sophistication.The Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club BandToday, 'Sgt. Pepper's' stands as more a landmark achievement of symphonic production than musicianship. Nonetheless, the opening is the sound of rock's rules being broken, limits being transcended, and 'A Day In The Life' is the sound of minds being blown.The Birthday Party Prayers on FireSick. How sick? Imagine the sound Satan would make in his death-throes.The Black Keys ThickfreaknessWith a heavier, growling, grungy whump to their sound, Auerbach and Carney create a chest-beating, hot-blooded blues album that underlines a developing confidence in their grooves. In keeping with their previous works, the album goes a couple of songs too long with the miserable 'I Cry Alone' and 'Have Love Will Travel', yet another stock-fare-garage-plodder, but when 'Everywhere I Go' - six epic, slow-burning minutes that the pair are unlikely to top - features, they are imminently forgivable. The Black Keys Magic PotionAn almost inevitable frustration for the fans of the two man blues-garage duo. Good riffs become suspiciously repetitious as the nervous hesitance to mix up the Zeppelin-via-Howlin' Wolf blueprint, and are consequentially lost in a muddied blur. Arguably, the most galling aspect of 'Magic Potion' is that the one song that DOES take the risk of stepping outside the comfort zone - the slow building, subtly shaded 'The Flame' - is by far the best.The Clash Combat Rock"Your greatest weakness is an excess of your greatest strength." I don't know who said that, but it pretty much sums up the fall of the Clash. The fearless, fanatical innovation that made 'London Calling' and 'Sandanista!' is here proven to be only successful if good ideas can canvas the sprawl. An Arabian dance number ('Rock the Casbah'), a Kinksy-pop rock piece ('Should I Stay Or Should I Go?') and a haunting Eastern masterpiece ('Straight To Hell') are the sole songs here that keep up with the relentless demand of the Clash's creativity. They are uniformly unsupported.The Flaming Lips The Soft Bulletin'The Soft Bulletin' recovers from a very poor start to be a just-ok album. The first five or six songs are lyrically weak and very poorly produced; whinging keyboards and clumsily loud drums with jarringly mixed vocals abound.The Living End The Ending Is Just The Beginning RepeatingA classic example of a band failing due to a lack of awareness of their limitations. The Living End's strongest music has been through pop-punk gems like 'White Noise' and 'Prisoner of Society'. "Ending" is their attempt to broaden their image through mimicking Muse's anti-establishment paranoia, but the Melbourne trio just aren't Muse. Musically they just aren't innovative enough, but the irrelevancy of this album lies in the credibility, or lack thereof, that we can give them. A band coming from the easiest living city in the easiest living country in the world just can't write convincing anti-establishment, revolutionary songs, and it is for this reason that songs like "In The Morning," "Heatwave", "For Another Day" and "Song For The Lonely" just lack any bite. The album is not without its high moments, however: the chilling title track is the only time that all the pieces come together as the jaded politics really hit home, "Ride The Wave Boy" holds a stark realism to the endless loop of drug addiction that precious few Australian acts have had the guts to do in recent years and "Away From The City" bites with its backhand on the (Un)Holy Grail of fame and notoriety. It's sad that such good songs are lost in the pretentious, stuffy seriousness of the rest of the album.The Raconteurs Broken Boy SoldiersThe Raconteurs Consolers of the LonelyThe Rolling Stones Let It BleedThe Rolling Stones may have been the first 'greatest rock n roll band in the world', to quote their 1969 tour manager, but, listening to 'Let It Bleed', that title may have been a default thanks to a lack of competition. The Stones' greatest albums - 'Exile', 'Sticky Fingers' and 'Ya-Yas' - marry their blues origins to an original, biting rock n roll sound. Here, they are too often heavily indebted to their influences ('Love In Vain', 'You Got The Silver', 'Monkey Man') or else gross imitations of their genres. 'Country Honk', lads? Seriously?The Smashing Pumpkins AdoreNo one could ever claim that the recording sessions of a Smashing Pumpkins album sounded fun. The results - magnificent during their early career- were in many ways a testament to that dysfunction. However, the sessions that made the distracted 'Adore' must have been crushing. Moments of greatness are outweighed by the numbing repetition of an unsure songwriter playing for time. The Strokes AnglesIt's tough to follow a great debut album. Few bands know this like the Strokes, who made not only a great debut album but a sparse debut album. Following it is tricky. 'Angles' has that flickering guitar-and-drums line up, it's just dressed up in a jigsaw of odd sounds: forays of varying quality into disco, electronica and pop. They'll probably never top 'Is This It?', and certainly don't with 'Angles.'The Velvet Underground LoadedWith the exception of "Sweet Jane", "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" and the delightful "Who Loves The Sun", 'Loaded' is a string of average, uninspired songs. The fact that Lou Reed was absent for much of the recording is partly an excuse for its lack of quality, but this also indicates that he perhaps covered up for the cracks in the rest of the band.The Vines Highly EvolvedU2 No Line on the HorizonIt's not as good as 'All That You Can't Leave Behind' because it directly imitiates it, but give me another band full of 60 year olds that can record an album with songs like 'Moment of Surrender' and 'Magnificent'? Impossible.2.5 averageAC/DC BallbreakerWhen people talk about bands who should have broken up a long time ago, AC/DC get a lot of sympathy votes. The law of diminishing returns has meant that the well of hard-lovin', hard-livin', hard-rockin' blues ran dry albums ago. Moreover, they accomplished their mission of becoming the best hard rock band in the world, without a note of compromise and with the death of their iconic original lead singer, with 'Back In Black.' That was in 1980. Call it a day, boys. We can all agree you've done everything you can. AC/DC Rock or BustBob Dylan Fallen Angels"It's been done" - George Harrison Elvis Presley The Sun SessionsHistorical interest, musical disinterest. Eminem The Marshall Mathers LPIf Eminem releases an album and you are not highly offended by it ... did Eminem release an album?Guns N' Roses Use Your Illusion IIMuch less interesting and much more lightweight than 'I'. The excellence of 'Knockin' On Heaven's Door', '14 Years' and the furious 'You Could Be Mine' are drowned by the dismissable 'Shotgun Blues', 'Pretty Tied Up', 'Locomotive' and 'So Fine' and utter crap like 'Get In The Ring' and 'My World.' 'Estranged', an attempt to make 'November Rain 2', is just long-winded and pretentious at 9:24. The album's most fascinating moment is 'Civil War': a band that was a walking civil war trying to write an anti-war ballad? Well, they give it absolutely everything: a 7:45 running time, humungous sound, changing dynamics and agonised lyrics ensure that they pull it off, but it isn't enough to save the album.Kendrick Lamar Section.80Yes he's talking, but is he saying anything? Not really, no.Led Zeppelin In Through the Out DoorBy 1979, Led Zeppelin had destroyed Led Zeppelin. The hedonistic, chaotic lifestyles the band had led for years had caused Page and Bonham to sink into a sea of cocaine, heroin and psychological issues, while Plant was mourning the death of his son and the disillusionment of his life. 'In Through The Out Door' is therefore a Jones album. Brainy though he was, Jones couldn't cover up the audible decay of his bandmembers: his strings and keys were forced to carry much of the orchestration of the album. Consequentially, arrogant and godly is out and sappy is in ('I'm Gonna Crawl', 'All My Love'). Page's solos are fitful, simply a handful of notes spat out schizophrenically; his absence and fall is noticed most painfully on the schmaltzy 'Fool In The Rain' and the embarrassing Kentucky hoe-down 'Hot Dog'. 'In The Evening' may give us the last great Zeppelin track, but it's sad to think that the tepid, tame 'I'm Gonna Crawl' is the final hurrah of rock's greatest group. Liz Phair Exile In GuyvilleLupe Fiasco Food & Liquor'Food and Liquor' is often underwhelming, not helped by Fiasco's frequent self-contradictions.Oasis Dig Out Your SoulUnfortunately, there is a grim appropriateness to the album's title.Pink Floyd MoreHere is the reason that Pink Floyd's status as a great band sometimes comes under fire-the era between Barrett's dismissal and 'The Dark Side of the Moon' is bloated with awful, cinematic soundtrack pieces. 'More' is the worst. Pixies Surfer RosaGoing into 'Surfer Rosa', the Pixies were seemingly opposed to any idea of making anything that resembled 1988 pop. Tick, bold start. Sadly, it all ends there. The album feels half-finished. Several songs make good starts, but, by the time you get to the album's end, you realise they were just the same piece dressed up in different clothes. Tellingly, the album's best songs - 'Bone Machine', 'Break My Body', 'Gigantic', 'River Euphrates', 'Where Is My Mind?' and 'Cactus' - all fuse the band's raw sound and weird lyrics to pop sensibility and melody. Ramones Subterranean JungleTommy was gone, Dee Dee was singing lead...not sure if Ramones album or shitty tribute band.Sinead O'Connor She Who Dwells In The Secret Place...I love O'Connor's attitude to her music, the passion and the eclectic style. But nothing really comes together well.Tame Impala LonerismSeems Syd Barrett has been a little more successful upon resurrection...The Stooges Metallic K.O.The best, worst, ugliest, punkiest, meanest live album ever. Van Halen Van Halen III2.0 poorColdplay Ghost StoriesColdplay, as they proved with 'Rush of Blood' and then again with 'Viva la Vida', are at their best with muscular, confident arena rock. So why are they intent on making ambient mediation music? Quaffing from the same numbed electro well that Muse drowned in on 'The 2nd Law', 'Ghost Stories' is their shyest, dullest album.Forest Of Harambe Under The Sign Of HarambeStop. STOP, HE'S ALREADY DEAD!!!! Jack Johnson To the SeaUtterly unremarkable and sadly unambitious in structure, sound and lyrics. Just far too safe.Jeff Beck Live in JapanKid Rock First KissThe Clash Cut the CrapIf only they had! 'Cut The Crap' has some of the worst production I have ever heard. 'This Is England', the Clash's last great song, is a tragically perfect fit that reflects upon the failures of British society....and possibly the band's realisation that they could never change the cultural decay.1.5 very poorKurt Cobain Montage of Heck: The Home RecordingsA look into Cobain's mind
If by 'look' you mean 'he-invited-us-into-the-mental-equivalent-of-his-downstairs-toilet-locked-the-door-before-we-realised-what-was-going-on-and-then-ran-away-laughing-bitterly'will.i.am #Willpower1.0 awfulDeath Grips The Money StoreI am utterly, utterly stumped at how anyone could like this band, unless, of course, you are so committed to the idea of rebellion that you want to rail against the smug well-being of your ears.Justin Bieber My World 2.0Justin Bieber represents everything wrong with 21st century Western mainstream music: appearance is more important than talent and kids get free rides to the top.Lou Reed Metal Machine MusicWow, you guys really weren't exaggerating.............Nicki Minaj Pink FridayFor as long as Minaj is on this planet, I don't want to be.Nicki Minaj The PinkprintWow, this porno soundtrack is really quite terrible.
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