Alright, so I finally got around to starting this. It should be fun writing about my favorite albums. I have a few summaries already written and I have my whole list already done. They will go in order from least favorite of my favorites to my very favorite album of all time. The only rule I have is that there can only be ONE album from any band or musician. (If I didn't do this, the list would be filled with Pumpkins, Who, Beatles, and Radiohead and that would be no fun)
Well enjoy reading it guys and be sure to tell me your thoughts on the albums/bands or my summaries! :)
System Of A Down - Toxicity (2001)
Wow, what a great album. SOAD was an up and coming metal band in the late 90s when they released their debut album. Although it got fairly popular it was Toxicity and their hit single "Chop Suey!" that pushed them to the next level. This is their best work right here and is rightly heralded as so. Not only is it one of the best metal albums, but it's one of the best albums ever in my opinion.
SOAD's pop sensibility came together in perfect unison with their songwriting talents to create a real masterpiece here. Although it may seem like just chaos on the first few listens, the underlying melodies sink in fairly quickly and you'll find yourself humming these songs to yourself. This is definitely an album where every song plays off of each other. A real "album" album if you know what I mean. You gotta listen to this one straight through.
Strong songs like "Prison Song", "Chop Suey", "Toxicity", and "Forest" form the backbone of this album and support any weakness the other songs may show. (which isn't much) SOAD write about a lot of different things on this one, whether it be drugs, groupies, prison, suicide, or the government. Despite this wide subject matter, they carry it all out with a grace and precision that leads to one of my favorite albums ever.
Although I feel grouping them with bands like Linkin Park and Disturbed is wrong, they will forever be stuck with the "nu metal" tag. SOAD is much different from those guys though. Serj is an interesting singer/songwriter and every single damn member in this band is talented at what they do and give it their all. The best nu metal band and the best nu metal album, right here folks.
KJ's Track Picks
Slayer - Reign In Blood (1986)
Now I love me some metal, and I have a particular love of the thrash variety. To me this is easily one of the best thrash metal albums ever recorded. It must be the most aggressive half hour album I've ever listened to.
The opener, "Angel of Death" shows you what this album is all about. Pummeling drums, blistering riffs, heavy bass lines and classic Araya vocals, all at breakneck speed of course. Some people will say many of the songs sound the same and I would agree, but this isn't an album based around strong songs but rather a feeling. (Even if that feeling is all about getting your teeth punched in)
The lyrics are typical (graphic) Slayer fare, but like I said, this is an album experience based on feeling. The closing song, "Raining Blood" is a metal classic from the opening guitar lines to the last drop of blood sounding. "Raining Blood" really puts the icing on the cake. Now that I think about it, I believe that upon release, this was techinically the FASTEST album EVER put to record.
A hugely influential release, it deserves to be in any self-respecting metal fan's collection. SLAAAAAYERR!!!!
KJ's Track Picks
Angel Of Death
AC/DC - If You Want Blood, You've Got It (1978)
AC/DC has alot of haters, but I don't see why. Not when they've made albums like this one anyway. The Bon Scott era stuff is much stronger than the Johnson era stuff, I admit, but AC/DC overall are a great rock band when you're in the mood for them.
This album showcases why Bon was such a great frontman. He sings what he knows about and he's believable. You could believe that the stuff he sings about has actually happened to him. He delivers every song with power and force. The album is pretty heavy on "Let There Be Rock" songs, which is odd considering this was recorded during the Powerage tour. Many of these early AC/DC songs also showcase the Young brothers' talent for writing catchy riffs.
My favorite AC/DC song, "Whole Lotta Rosie", is performed incredibly well on this release. That has got to be the catchiest guitar riff Angus has ever conjured up, not to mention, the song itself is hilarious. When Bon Scott comments on how hot it is, you can almost feel the temperature yourself; that's how intense this performance is.
If you love great rock n roll music, this is an essential album and also the best AC/DC album money can buy.
KJ's Track Picks
Whole Lotta Rosie
Let There Be Rock
Primal Scream - Screamadelica (1991)
This is a hard one to explain, but it is one of my favorite albums of all time. The mood and emotions this album expresses in it's many different styles is amazing. The cover paints a better picture of this music than I ever could with words. You really can feel the love that was put into this album by the many different people involved in it.
This album was released in 1991 and was Primal Screams first commercial success. The song, "Movin On Up" is what really popularized them in America, and for good reason. It's a great song and is reminiscent of The Rolling Stones golden era. Other strong songs include "Loaded" and "Come Together."
There is much sampling in this album which helps keep it fresh, along with different styles of music going on, whether it be electronic, house or rock. I once heard it said this album captured past, present, and future in one fell swoop and I would be inclined to agree. It was critically acclaimed when it was released and it is still very highly regarded today. If you don't have this one, I definitely recommend you pick it up and check it out.
KJ's Track Picks
Movin' On Up
The Offspring - Smash (1994)
I couldn't go without including this one. Released in 1994, this was the Offspring's first commercial success and what a commercial success it was! Such a success in fact, that it became the best selling album ever released on an indie label. Before this album, "Gish" held the record, but "Smash" took the title with ease.
After listening to this album, it's hard not to love it. Nearly every song is fun and catchy. This album and the Offspring were one of my first gateways into music, and this was the album of theirs I listened to the most and the only one I still come back to. You can still put this album on today and the energy and power of the album still radiate.
This album, along with "Dookie" and "Let's Go" helped bring Punk back into the mainstream eye after the whole "grunge" phenomenon. "Smash" was the most rock and metal tinged of these releases. While nothing on this album is overly impressive on a musical level, it accomplishes everything it tries to. The opening bass line of "Bad Habit" is classic along with other songs that got played to death like "Come Out And Play," "Self Esteem," and "Gotta Get Away." Many of these songs have the signature "woah" choruses The Offspring are famous for.
The problem with The Offspring is that they are a one trick pony. All of their stuff sounds similar, but they never made a stronger album than this one. Catchy songs with unique themes and strong collective energy make this a great album. A pop punk classic that deserves to be in any essential collection. A favorite from my younger years and still a favorite now.
KJ's Track Picks
Come Out And Play
B.B. King - Live At The Regal (1965)
When you're talking great live albums, you have to give this one a mention. Now, I'm not the biggest B.B. King fan, but I know a great live album when I hear it. This album could be a guideline for any band or musician wanting to know how to play a great live show. You've got great crowd interaction, you've got a singer and guitarist who's at the top of his game, and you've got a backing band that you couldn't ask any more from.
Released in 1965, this has become the essential B.B. King album to many. Now, I do think there are a few others that could be in competition for that title, but I would agree with that. King plays many of his hits here along with some great covers. The strongest performances here include "Every Day I Have The Blues," "How Blue Can You Get?," and "Help The Poor."
I have an endless amount of respect for King. The guy is still touring today and he's what, in his late 70s or early 80s? This guy is in it for the music. They don't call B.B. the King of the Blues for nothin'. If you're not big into Blues, skip to the best, and the best is right here.
KJ's Track Picks
Every Day I Have The Blues
How Blue Can You Get?
Help The Poor
Guns N' Roses - Appetite For Destruction (1987)
Overrated and overplayed? Yes. Still kickass 24 years later? Definitely! Not only one of the most seminal rock albums of all time but also one of the most seminal debut albums of all time, Appetite For Destruction was released to high critical acclaim in 1987. GNR fused a glam look with a kickass hard rock, don't give a fuck aesthetic. This was held together by great musicianship and lyrics that were silly but yet not so stupid that you couldn't sing along.
Everyone in the world probably knows every song on this album by now. This album is like "Back In Black" and nearly every Led Zeppelin album where every song has been played to death on classic rock radio. The song that probably hit biggest was "Sweet Child O' Mine" a touching (sorta) ballad (sorta). This album also introduced the world to one of the greatest guitarists in Slash. These riffs are not only metallic, but also catchy as hell. Like I said, every song is pretty damn good, but my favorites are "It's So Easy", "Out Ta Get Me" and "Rocket Queen."
This album is miles ahead of "Back In Black" though because not only is every song good, but every song is also distinct and unique. (I don't have to wait until the chorus to know what song it is, in other words) I admit, compared to alot of stuff today, this album does sound a bit dated, but it's still one of the best damn hard rock albums ever produced. I had all I could do not to put "Use Your Illusion" here instead, but in my eyes "Appetite For Destruction" is just a stronger album. You don't have a rock collection at all if this album is not in there somewhere. Pick it up immediately if you somehow don't have this one.
KJ's Track Picks
It's So Easy
Out Ta Get Me
Alice In Chains - Alice In Chains (1995)
One of the bleakest yet most beautiful albums I've ever heard, Alice In Chains' third, self-titled album was insanely overlooked. It is still overlooked to this day. In fact, I don't think that the band themselves realize how great of an album they made. Why do I say this you ask? Well I think this album is an accidental masterpiece.
I think Alice In Chains unintentionally wrote a concept album revolving around Staley's descent into drugs and his eventual death. Contrasting the first two Alice albums, the majority of this album is written by Staley instead of Cantrell, but most of Cantrell's songs seem like they're also about Layne's drug use, but from the perspective of a close friend.
It seems odd (but yet perfectly fitting) to me that the album starts off with a song ("Grind") about the rumor that Staley had overdosed and ends with two songs seemingly about Staley's unfortunate demise. (from two different perspectives) I think Cantrell and Staley both knew it was over the band and poor Layne, and felt they should create something out of it, and boy did they!
I'll get this out of the way first off. On a technical level, there are a few errors on this album, but this is from an objective level. What I mean is, for example, some of the riffs can feel a bit monotonous, a song or two drags, and the vocals sometimes feel a bit too muddy. (this is due to Staley buying and using a cheap mic from a thrift store) These are all minor nitpicks because contextually, everything fits together phenomenally.
This album's songs work together like a well oiled machine. A very sludgy machine that is. This is a dirty sludgy sounding album. Many of the riffs are like toxic sludge being poured over grinding gears. The whole album is veiled by a dark aura that doesn't keep some songs (Heaven Beside You, Shame In You, Frogs, Over Now) from showing a quiet dark beauty that complements the much heavier tracks well. (Grind, Again, Sludge Factory, Head Creeps) There are a few oddball tracks that still fit the album very well though. (Nothin' Song, So Close)
This was my first AIC album and one of my first grunge albums. It was very close between this and Dirt. Actually, from an objective standpoint, I think Dirt is probably the better album. The songs are better constructed overall and there are fewer flaws, but it just doesn't have that special "something" that this album has. Just look at the sad cover art. Think of that dog as a reflection of this band. His missing leg? That's Layne. The dog is the band and the missing leg is Layne. (hypothetically of course) How can a band, or a dog, walk and live life when one of it's legs is gone?
There is only one more grunge album on my list higher than this, so that would make this album one of the best grunge albums of all time in my opinion. (It is one of the best albums of all time in my opinion as well) If you haven't heard this one, definitely check it out.
KJ's Track Picks
Shame In You