(Read disc 1, disc 2, disc 3 disc 4, disc 5, disc 6, disc 7, disc 8, disc 9)
Michael Jackson – Thriller
Not only is this the best selling albums of all time it is one of the most important albums of the last 30 years. I know music isn’t important in the grand scheme of things but as far as the music business goes, this was a game changer. Thriller broke new ground with each single and video. Thriller helped break down colour barriers, no longer was Micheal Jackson a ‘black’ artist…he was an artist, period. After the end of disco, audiences were looking for a new sound to dance to, Thriller provided new, more urban but accessible R&B. Artists today still sample snippets from Thriller’s singles.
Coming at the dawn of the music video, Michael Jackson became synonymous with ground breaking videos. You cannot think of the songs, Beat It, Billy Jean or Thriller without picturing the accompanying videos. This was one of the first records to completely combine images with sound and in doing so propelled Michael Jackson into the stratosphere of stardom. A place he would not be able to recover from, sadly.
(Read disc 1, disc 2, disc 3 disc 4, disc 5, disc 6, disc 7, disc 8)
The Eagles – Their Greatest Hits
Again, I know this is a compilation but it’s too good of one to not be included. So good that it’s one of the best selling records ever, tied with Micheal Jackson’s Thriller.
Like Madonna’s Immaculate Collection (mentioned in disc 7) this is a greatest hit package of the songs that defined The Eagles. Witchy Woman, Desperado, Tequila Sunrise, Take It To The Limit, One Of These Nights are all amazing songs. Each one is definitively an Eagles song, although many have covered them, there is no denying the sound when you hear it, it can’t be performed any other way (or at least shouldn’t be).
These songs set the standard for country/rock.
(Read disc 1, disc 2, disc 3 disc 4, disc 5, disc 6, disc 7)
ABBA – Super Trouper
I know, I’m revealing my inner ‘pop-tart’ with these last few discs but these are important for memories as much as quality.
This album came out in 1980 just as music started to ‘matter’ to someone my age (figure it out for yourself) we luckily had a teacher who allowed us a record player in the classroom. With a little censorship for our ‘young ears’ we were allowed to play records during recess and lunch. I also recall, Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 soundtrack and John Lennon/Yoko Ono being played occasionally as well but ABBA seemed to meet the most consensus amongst the young audience.
Fueled by hit singles; The Winner Takes It All, Super Trouper, Lay All You Love On Me plus On and On and On this record got a lot of play in class as well as out of class on radio. It just always seemed to be ‘there’.
For that matter, ABBA songs, always seem to be there, even after all these years, you still hear them. As cheesy as they might be have that great ‘something’ that makes them perfect pop songs; they’re simple, you can easily sing along to them, they’re catchy without being too annoying.
I bet you’re humming right now!
(Read disc 1, disc 2, disc 3 disc 4, disc 5, disc 6)
Madonna – The Immaculate Collection
I know this breaks my rule of no compilations but this one is so iconic that I needed to. For those of the younger generation, who think Madonna is over, Lady Gaga would not exist in the form she has taken if not for Madonna paving the way a generation before her.
This is Madonna’s first greatest hits collection and contains the singles from the first 8 years of her career. Released in 1990 these were the ‘80’s classics, the songs that defined the rebellious artist as she broke into the mainstream and became the superstar we know today. Hit singles; Holiday, Like a Virgin, Material Girl, Papa Don’t Preach, Express Yourself and Vogue were joined by the new and controversial Justify My Love. Banned by MTV for its video’s risque sexual content Justify My Love seems tame by today’s standards, this is a great example of the groundbreaking singles and music videos that became a staple of her catalogue.
Besides the great visuals from the videos, each of the singles on this album brings back a distinct memory of a moment in a club or someone special. These are what make a great collection, not just great songs but lasting memories.
(Read disc 1, disc 2, disc 3 disc 4, disc 5)
Stereophonics – Just Enough Education to Perform
This was a difficult decision. The Stereophonics are one of my favourite bands, so choosing just one of their albums really made me think about them in depth. This 2001 release was their third studio album and to me the one that perfected the ‘phonics sound.
Their first album, Word Gets Around, opened the door and gave the public a peak, the second, Performance and Cocktails, announced their arrival and made the public take notice. On Just Enough Education to Perform or J.E.E.P as it was known, the band produced an album that feels relaxed and has a mature, natural sound. They didn’t have to try to create the ‘phonics sound, it just was who they were and it came organically.
It’s also a more diverse sounding album while at the same time holding onto who they are; lead single Mr Writer doesn’t sound like second single Have A Nice Day while a cover of 60’s Handbags and Gladrags is made to sound like it belongs on a Stereophonics album.
Having had the privilege to see them live many times and meet the band a couple of times they really are the nicest guys. One example stands out, it had started snowing during their set and started getting heavier as we hung out backstage, as we were saying goodbyes, each one of them said “get home safe” to us and you really felt like they meant it.
This album sounds most like them, a truly nice collection of songs (or guys) that make up a whole perfect package (or band).
Here we are halfway through my Top Ten! (Find disc 1, disc 2, disc 3 disc 4)
Saturday Night Fever – Original Soundtrack
Laugh as you might, this is actually a great album. Not only is it a classic that truly defined an era but it has some damn fine songs that stand up in any era. For 25 years (until the release of The Bodyguard) this was the best selling soundtrack of all time. This compilation is probably the best thing about the motion picture that it represents.
This recording was the zenith of the disco era, everyone associated with it has been defined by it. You can’t mention the “Bee Gees” without thinking of some of the song that have become their standards; Night Fever, Staying Alive, Jive Talking, How Deep Is Your Love to name just four. You can’t say the name of the movie without picturing John Travolta, one arm up-stretched in his white polyester suit. I’m sure this was a blessing and a curse to some, the Bee Gees were able to shed the “disco” label as the fashions changed but others, were not able to come out the other side.
The album was a number 1 record, won the Grammy for Album of the Year, generated five top 5 hits and sold millions. Perhaps it was the mainstream success generated by this hit soundtrack that led to the decline in Disco’s popularity. Unfortunately, with the demise of disco the backlash against this album meant many people haven’t had the chance to listen to it objectively. Hi-NRG dance, disco, ballads, pop, rock are all featured and make this a very well-rounded and entertaining soundtrack. If you give it a listen I’m sure there will be at least one track that will bring a smile to your face
The ongoing journey through my TopTen must have discs continues:
(Find disc 1, disc 2, disc 3)
Scissor Sisters – Scissor Sisters
This is probably one of the more recent additions on my list but I think will stand the test of time and still be worth a listen years from now too.
In 2004 the Scissor Sisters burst onto the scene like the 70’s lovechild of Elton John and Cher. They were a refreshing departure from the other chart topping (middle of the road) artists topping the charts at the time.
A blend of disco and glam rock (heavy on the glam) one can’t help but be sucked into the rhythms and beats. Their breakthrough single a disco infused cover of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” is the best selling Pink Floyd cover in spite of being thought a sacrilege by diehard Floyd fans. Like other albums on my Top Ten this one also has a variety of sounds, although all the tracks have a 70’s tinge and disco hooks they range from thoughtful slow tracks like “Return to Oz” to twangy mid-tempo on “Take Your Mama” to full on floor-fillers like “Filthy/Gorgeous”. One thing is certain this album is never boring, there is always something fun and new coming up on the next track.