1. Elton John/’Tumbleweed Connection’/1970
Of course, we all know and love the man. For those, like most of us, we’ve only scratched the surface with Elton John’s songs…singing the classics at the top of our lungs on car rides to the beach or in private in the shower. I’m here to bring you one of his most definitive records that solidified his talents as a singer, pianist, and songwriter along with lyricist Bernie Taupin.
Recorded prior to his most epic “Goodbye Yellowbrick Road” album, EJ and friends were on a roll in the studio experimenting with different songs, versions, melodies, and even genres. Opening track, “Ballad of a Well Known Gun,” starts with a country twang that goes funk pretty quickly. Making your second track a ballad is a ballsy move as harp laced acoustic track, “Come Down In Time,” melts your inner soul until you can’t bear it no more.
“Where To Now St. Peter” is one of the more experimental tracks that most likely spawned later productions like “Madman Across The Water.” “Amoreena” is the highlight of the album,solidifying Elton’s signature vocals, piano playing and composing. It also encompasses the sound of who he and the band were and also where they would be headed. This was Elton at his finest, confident, unknown, and most underrated.
2. Eve 6/Self-titled/1998
This has been on repeat in the car for the last week or so. Though it spawned one super hit with “Inside Out,” the band went on to have a much longer career with a few other singles hitting the charts (“Here’s To The Night” highschool graduation anthem anyone?). I still meet people on the street who know the words front to back on this entire album. How about “Leech” where he talks about having a messy relationship with his teacher? Or, maybe, “Open Road Song,” where he talks about going for a joyride in the throw of angst. Then there was the ever underrated and sarcastically epic “Superhero Girl.” Straight, to the point teenage daydream rock…childhood punk memories. Watching their “Inside Out” video today is just as iconic as the album it came from.
3. Will Smith/’Big Wille Style’/1997
Riding on the tails of not only ‘Fresh Prince,’ but of his biggest acting gig at the time, “Independence Day,” the self proclaimed “Fresh Prince” indeed came in as fresh and confident just like on his debut…..that’s right, I said debut.
Will Smith was in almost every part of the spotlight from 1996-1998. He had went from a Prince to a King. And yet, on this album, he seemed the most real he’s ever been. Will Smith had become our best friend.
Almost every grade school and high school dance had “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It”” and “Miami” playing on repeat (and sometimes back to back). I hate to remind myself of that. This only further reminds us…we need more Will back in our lives.
Then there was the most epic of tracks, “Just the Two of Us.” Only to be parodied by Austin Powers a year later, the song was the anthem for families everywhere, and the one that got my Dad to buy the album in the first place.
Sure Mr. Smith has made other attempts but “Big Willie Style” still trumps all. Marking almost 14 million units sold, it has become one of the best selling rap albums of all time.
It could be in the telephone rings of “Possibly Maybe,” the brushes of “Hyperballad,” the FM bass in “Army Of Me” or all of the above that make ‘Post’ such a great record and Bjork’s most accessible set to date. It would be the last that showcased her as the quirky girl from Iceland before she transformed into true artist (as seen on other albums, ‘Homogenic’ and even more so on ‘Vespertine’). This album had something for everyone. While it sounds a bit stuck in 1995, that’s not a bad thing. The sounds were primitive to what would become of the dance and indie scene in 2000 and beyond. And sandwiched inbetween the trip hop track,”Modern Things,” and the 80s dark house “Enjoy,” sits a song outdated even for 1995…the thematic over the top musical number “Oh So Quiet.” This was the one song that showed Bjork wasn’t just a moment artist. She made herself known amid the screams and the horns, just in time before Brit Pop would hit. And to go along with this record…shiny over the top videos.
5. Scissor Sisters/’Magic Hour’/2012
This album is only three years old…the freshest of the bunch and yet…when was the last time you even listened to it?! This is arguably the band’s best album to date and catchy as all hell. “Inevitable” could’ve been a Zero7 a-side. “Only The Horses” did get some recognition but only in Holister’s across the country. “St. Luis Obispo” will warm you up and get you ready for the beach. And then there was THIS EPIC TRACK…..