#169 – What’s The Story Morning Glory? – Oasis
With grunge puttering out after the suicide of Nirvana lead man Kurt Cobain, Metal long since past it’s glory days & punk still not having gotten it’s second wind Oasis introduced the second British invasion. With the constant storyline of the ever-bickering Gallagher brothers it would seem music would suffer (it eventually did), but it was just the opposite. What’s the Story Morning Glory? was one of the best selling albums of the 90s with 20 million records sold. The influence of the Beatles is hard to deny with “Imagine” being intertwined with the opening notes of “Don’t Look Back in Anger” & “Wonderwall” being the first Beatles solo album, a movie George Harrison provided the soundtrack for. In all reality, as previously alluded to, this was the beginning of the end for Oasis. After this, their third album was just not the same critically or profit wise as people grew tired of the bickering Gallagher’s & their antics.
Don’t Look Back in Anger – Oasis
Wonderwall – Oasis
#168 – Paul’s Boutique – The Beastie Boys
Take three Jewish kids from Brooklyn who can rap & like magic you have the Beastie Boys. Three of the biggest legends of rap. Together with the Dust Brothers, who had previously worked on Tone Loc’s album “Loc’d After Dark” they created Paul’s Boutique. An album that initially did not sell well, but was hailed by critics with Rolling Stone calling it, “the Pet Sounds/Dark Side of the Moon of Hip-Hop.” Samples of Curtis Mayfield’s, “Superfly” turned up on, “The Eggman” which also included samples of “Pump it Up” by Elvis Costello, the “Jaws Theme” by John Williams & “Dance to the Music” by Sly & the Family Stone. Today this is considered one of the greatest albums in Hip-Hop history for the breakthrough Dust Brothers/Beastie Boys sound. “Eggman” & “Hey Ladies” were posted here previously so here are two others from the album.
The Sounds of Science – Beastie Boys
Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun – Beastie Boys
#167 – One of These Nights – The Eagles
One of These Nights is one of the last albums where the Eagles stay true to form of their original ideal of becoming the 70’s version of the Byrd’s. Flashes of the pop-rock band they were to become show in songs like the title track, but their country roots shine in others like “Lyin’ Eyes” & “Take it to the Limit”. Because of the seemingly new direction they were headed in, Bernie Leadon chose to leave the band after this album came out & was quickly replaced by Joe Walsh. It was after this that Don Henley & Glenn Frey began to exert more control & change the direction to more of a stylized/slick rock sound.
Lyin’ Eyes – The Eagles
Take it to the Limit – The Eagles
#166 – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill – Lauryn Hill
Hearkening back to a soul sound that hadn’t been heard since the 60’s, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was an album that rivaled anything Mary J. Blige has ever put out. A crowning achievement in the soul music genre & in the career of ex-Fugees singer, Lauryn Hill, the album discussed many themes. Those themes primarily revolved around the struggles of African-Americans including relations with one another as on the track, “Doo Wop (That Thing)” that speaks to African-American men & women caught in “the struggle”. Both the women who “try to be a hard rock when they really are a gem” & the men who are “more concerned with rims & Tims, than his women” are admonished by Hill who warns them not to allow “That thing” whatever it is to tuin their lives.
Doo Wop (That Thing) – Lauryn Hill
I Used to Love Him – Lauryn Hill
#165 – The Marshall Mathers LP – Eminem
Violent, angry, brooding, misogynistic & comical is how one could describe Eminem’s third album, The Marshall Mathers LP. With tracks like “Kill You” which speaks of his hatred for his mother in some of the most despicable, graphic ways imaginable, but one can’t help but be engaged while listening to songs like “Stan”.
“Stan” is a story of a fan who is obsessed with Eminem and writes to him but doesn’t receive a reply. Stan drives his car off a bridge with his pregnant girlfriend in the trunk. The first three verses are delivered by Stan, the first two in letter form and the third being spoken as he is about to drive off a bridge and is recording a cassette with the intent (but, he realizes too late, not the means) to send it to Eminem. The song makes heavy use of sound effects, with rain and thunder heard in the background, as well as pencil scratchings during the first two verses, and then as Stan drives off the bridge, listeners hear tires screeching and a crashing sound, followed by a splash of water, in a style similar to the 1964 songs “Dead Man’s Curve” and “Leader of the Pack”. The fourth verse is Eminem responding to Stan, only realizing at the last second that he has heard about Stan’s death on the news as he was writing to him.
The song can also be interpreted as a reply at Eminem’s critics, who accuse him of promoting drugs and violence, because it creates a scenario that clearly shows that his rap lyrics are not meant to be taken seriously, “what’s this shit you said about you like to cut your wrists too? I say that shit just clownin’ dogg, c’mon – how fucked up is you?”
The song was produced by The 45 King and samples the first couple of lines of “Thank You” by Dido as the chorus. Say what you will about the content what can’t be underestimated is that Eminem did for white rappers what Vanilla Ice never could. This album made Eminem hated by so many interest group yet he persevered selling 1.6 million albums in the first week. Whther you think that is good or bad the album is filled with rhymes & beats that defined rap for the better part of this decade.
Stan – Eminem
Kill You – Eminem
#164 – The Specials – The Specials
Picking up where the great Jamaican ska/two-tone bands of the 60’s left off The Specials self-titled debut album was summarily an homage to those two-tone/ska bands/artists that left an indelible impact on the genre. Artists such as: Lee “Scratch” Perry, Prince Buster, Toots & the Maytals & of course Dandy Livingstone who’s 1967 single “A Message to You, Rudy” became of the Specials most popular songs. Trombonist, Rico Rodriguez, who performed on many of the 50’s/60’s Jamaican recordings, before moving to London in 1962, played on The Specials version as he had on the original recording 15 years earlier. As a former member of the legendary band The Skatalites, a band that helped define the sound of ska & reggae, Rico’s appearance on the album considerably added to the Specials credentials.
Too Hot – The Specials
Message to You, Rudy – The Specials
#163 – Paranoid – Black Sabbath
Paranoid is the album that Tony Iommi made his name on. One of the most influential heavy metal albums of all-time, Paranoid, put Black Sabbath on the map with “Iron Man” & the delusional tale “paranoid”. With Tony Iommi wailing on the guitar & Ozzy Osbourne’s most inspired vocals as his range is evident even in the heavy rock anthems. While the album is considered a heavy metal masterpiece there are nonetheless mellow songs such as “Planet Caravan” with Ozzy using the Leslie Speaker to create the dream-like vocals. “Iron Man’ which won a best metal performance Grammy in 2000, 30 years after it was released is one of the best songs on the album as is the unassuming anti-war song “War Pigs” which questions the logic of sending others to die for selfish causes you won’t fight for yourself.
Planet Caravan – Black Sabbath
Paranoid – Black Sabbath
#162 – Magical Mystery Tour – The Beatles
Perhaps the most underrated of all the Beatles albums, Magical Mystery Tour is a psychedelic tour de force as it weaves in and out of brilliant compositions. The revolutionary use of looping techniques was an inspiration to many up and coming bands as was the movie that this soundtrack was made for. Magical Mystery Tour was the first Beatles film project following the death of manager Brian Epstein in August 1967, and there has been much speculation that the absence of Epstein’s judgment contributed to its undisciplined production, as seen, for instance, in the absence of a screenplay and professional direction. The film originally appeared twice on BBC-TV over the 1967 Christmas holidays (first in black and white, then in colour on BBC2), but was savaged by critics on its release; it was, however, noted by Steven Spielberg in film school (according to McCartney in one of the interviews for The Beatles Anthology: “I’ve read that people like him have sort of said, ‘When I was in school that was a film we really took notice of…’ like an art film, you know, rather than a proper film).
Strawberry Fields Forever – The Beatles
All You Need is Love – The Beatles
#161 – Superfly – Curtis Mayfield
Widely considered a classic of 1970s soul/funk, Superfly was a nearly immediate hit. Its sales were bolstered by two million-selling singles, “Freddie’s Dead” (#2 R&B, #4 Pop) and the title track (#5 R&B, #8 Pop). “Superfly” is one of the few soundtracks to out-gross the film it accompanied.
Superfly, along with Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, was one of the pioneering soul concept albums, with its then-unique socially aware lyrics about poverty and drug abuse making the album stand out. The film and the soundtrack may be perceived as dissonant, since the Super Fly film holds rather ambiguous—some will say sympathetic—views on drug dealers, whereas Curtis Mayfield’s position is far more critical.
Like What’s Going On, the album was a surprise hit that record executives felt had little chance at significant sales. Due to its success, Mayfield was tapped for several film soundtracks over the course of the decade.
Superfly – Curtis Mayfield
Pusherman – Curtis Mayfield
#160 – Lady Soul – Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin’s greatest song, regardless of what you think about “Respect”, is “Natural Woman”. Her vocal range is never better that in this soft ballad about recognizing the one you’re with accepts you for who & what you are. Written by Gerry Goffin & Carole King it got up to #8 on the Billboard Charts. Not only did Aretha have the most powerful voice in the business, the best songwriters at her disposal, she also had one of the best backing bands around. A band that included none other than Sam Cooke’s former guitarist Bobby Womack, who himself would go on to cover “Natural Woman’, changing it to “Natural Man” & also his classic “Across 100th Street”. All these elements aligned to make Lady Soul a brilliant near operatic masterpiece for Aretha Franklin and female soul musicians in general.
Chain of Fools – Aretha Franklin
Natural Woman – Aretha Franklin