The Beatles – Help! (US), Help! (UK)
My dad picked these out of the stacks, wondering about the difference. He grew up with the US versions of all the old Beatles records, so he's always surprised by the CD reissues. "I've Just Seen a Face", for instance, which is on the UK Help!, is one of his favourite songs on Rubber Soul.
He pointed out that he used to have a copy of the US Help!. I pointed out that my copy is, in fact, his old one. It still has his name written on the cover.
Paul McCartney – Ram
It's interesting to see how a shift in contemporary critical zeitgeist can prompt reëvaluation of a long-held consensus. For instance, as critical appreciation shifted over the past ten years from the grand statement of the rock album to the compact joys of the pop single, Revolver seems to have accordingly surpassed Sgt. Pepper's as the de facto Greatest Album Of All Time, or at least the best Beatles album.
This shift in tastes naturally benefits the talents of Paul McCartney who, after decades spent listening to critics praise the bold experimental spirit of John Lennon's work, now at last is just beginning to experience true appreciation of his own perfectionist craftsmanship. And the most obvious effect of this shift is the way in which Ram, its dashed-off pop nuggets neatly presaging the indie 4-track boom of the 90s, seems to have surpassed both the triple-album ambition of All Things Must Pass and the soul-bearing honesty of Plastic Ono Band as many listeners' choice for best Beatle solo album. Perhaps in another 20 years Ringo will have his turn in the spotlight.
Black Moth Super Rainbow – Eating Us
Delta 72 – The R&B of Membership
Unjustly forgotten. Surfaced in the wake of Jon Spencer's faux blues minstrelsy in the mid-90s, but with a more traditional line-up and without the in-your-face personality up front. Seek it out.
Devo – Freedom of Choice
Hard to tell at such an early age, but my infant daughters seem to really like this one. Kind of makes sense, if you think about it.
Dinosaur Jr. – Beyond
Best reunion album ever? Not a particularly crowded field of nominees, I'll grant you, but an accomplishment nonetheless. Really, picks up where Bug left off and sounds like what the first major label album should've sounded like had Barlow not left/been kicked out/whatever.
Brian Eno – Another Green World
Girls – Album
Carole King – Tapestry
One of my dad's all-time favourites.
Mercury Rev – Deserter's Songs
There are a lot of great breakup albums. There aren't a lot of great pre-breakup albums, the ones you listen to by yourself when you know and dread what's coming sooner or later.
Monster Movie – Everyone Is a Ghost
Bought this on a whim because Graveface offered it at a discount in a package deal with the new Black Moth Super Rainbow, so I figured what the hell, the more the merrier. Pleasantly surprised. Similar to BMSR but poppier and more accessible. I've listened to it a bunch the past couple of weeks and it's really strong.
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
It seriously took me, no exaggeration, about 20 years to fully appreciate how awesome the full scope of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" really is. For a long time I just thought it was too long and formless. Now I finally get it. I think hearing the Flaming Lips cover of it on Nick Harcourt's show on KCRW helped me come around by showing me the song stripped down to its basic essence.
By the way, interesting comment at the end of the Trouser Press review of New Order's discography: How come they've never made their Wish You Were Here? Funny to chuckle over at first, but actually a good question. Unless you count "Perfect Kiss".
Psychic Ills – Dins
Radiohead – In Rainbows
Saint Vitus – Mournful Cries
Odd that I'd never heard this until recently, as I was really taken with whole stoner rock fad in the late 90s. Just picked it up recently, listened to it a couple times, not so into it just yet. A few more listens, maybe.
Sly and the Family Stone – Fresh
Just grabbed this one to play my wife that version of "Que Sera, Sera" when it came up in conversation. It's the version that plays over the closing credits of "Heathers".
Swell Maps in "Jane From Occupied Europe"
Talking Heads – Remain In Light
Just got a new Eno bio, about to start it next week, gearing up for a full-on Eno kick. I was never a huge Heads fan, but I picked this up just in the past year and was blown away by it. Definitely better than anything else I'd ever heard by them.
The Velvet Underground – Loaded
I was listening to Del the Funkee Homosapien the other day when I heard a sample that just killed me for like an hour. Finally realised it was a guitar lick from the intro to "Train Comin' Round the Bend", sped up and repeated. Awesome.
Yo La Tengo – I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One
As great as this album is, the inner sleeves might even be the best part, and I say that in no way intending to put down the music. They're just the funniest album art I've ever seen.
Yes, it's spelled that way. A collection of underground acts from the past few years slavishly imitating the early-80s synth-pop sound. Remarkably high hit-to-miss ratio for a triple LP, with a few true gems scattered throughout.