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Posts Tagged ‘U2’

In this era of digital downloads, the concept of a record album is somewhat lost.  Also referred to as an LP (long-playing), an album normally contained 10-12 songs, split into two sides.  Generally, you needed to like at least 3 songs on an album to justify paying the extra money as opposed to simply buying the single.  If you found a record with 5 or 6 good songs, it was a real treat. Since they were played on record players, having to switch between tracks was not at all convenient, so finding a record that had a side that could be played all the way through was a rare and beautiful thing.  Ultimately, the most exceptional experience was the album that didn’t have 1 song you wanted to skip (i.e. two sides that could be played all the way through).  The 10 records listed below fall in that category.  

  1. Tapestry – Carole King:  Includes classics, It’s Too Late, I Feel the Earth Move, So Far Away, You’ve Got a Friend, Will You Love Me Tomorrow?, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, and great album tracks like Smackwater Jack and Beautiful.
  2. Boston – Boston:  Includes classics, More than a Feeling, Piece of Mind, Foreplay/Long Time, Rock & Roll Band, and great album cuts like Hitch a Ride and Smokin’.  Their second album, Don’t Look Back was similarly complete.
  3. Dreamboat Annie – Heart:  Includes classics, Magic Man, Crazy On You, Dreamboat Annie, and great album cuts like How Deep it Goes and Soul of the Sea.
  4. Crosby, Stills & Nash – Crosby, Stills & Nash:  Includes classics, Suite Judy Blue Eyes, Wooden Ships, Marrakesh Express, Helplessly Hoping, Long Time Gone, and great album cuts like Guinevere, and Lady of the Island.
  5. Joshua Tree – U2:  Includes classics, With or Without You, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Where the Streets Have No Name, Bullet the Blue Sky, and great album cuts like, Red Hill Mining Town and Running to Stand Still.  Their albums, War and Under a Blood Red Sky were similarly complete.
  6. Hotel California – The Eagles:  Includes the classics, Hotel California, New Kid in Town, Life in the Fast Lane and great album cuts like Victim of Love and Wasted Time.
  7. Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd:  Includes classics, Money, Us and Them, Time, and great albums cuts like, Breathe and Brain Damage.  Their albums, Wish You Were Here and The Wall were similarly complete.
  8. Led Zeppelin IV – Led Zeppelin:  Includes classics, Rock and Roll, Black Dog, Stairway to Heaven, and great album cuts like, When the Levee Breaks and Going to California.  Their albums, Led Zep I, II, III and Houses of the Holy were all similarly complete.
  9. Escape – Journey:  Includes classics, Don’t Stop Believin’, Who’s Crying Now, Open Arms, Still They Ride, and great album cuts like, Stone in Love and Mother, Father,  Their follow up album, Frontiers was similarly complete.
  10. Rumours – Fleetwood Mac:  Includes classics, Don’t Stop, You Make Loving Fun, Go Your Own Way, Dreams, Gold Dust Woman, The Chain and great album cuts like Songbird and Second Hand News.  Their eponymous album from 1975 was similarly complete.

Honorable Mentions:  The Police (Synchronicity), Van Halen (Debut & 1984), Bruce Springsteen (Born to Run), The Beatles (Abbey Road, Sgt. Peppers), Metallica (Black Album), Steely Dan (Aja), Styx (Grand Illusion, Pieces of Eight), AC/DC (Back in Black), Rush (Moving Pictures), Peter Gabriel (So), Elton John (Goodbye Yellow Brick Road), Def Leppard (Pyromania, Hysteria)

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1. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin: Originally hired as a bassist for the popular English band, “The Yardbirds”, Jimmy Page eventually came to share guitar duties with the legendary Jeff Beck. But as the group began to unravel, Page attempted to put together a new lineup, and tour as, “The New Yardbirds”. Allegedly, John Entwistle of “The Who” joked that this new band was going to go down like a lead balloon, so when the original band members forbade Page to use the Yardbirds name, “Led Zeppelin” was born. Despite the bumpy transition, Led Zeppelin’s debut album was an immediate success, and went on to become a rock classic.
2. Achtung Baby – U2: From the band’s debut album, “Boy” (released in 1980) until their classic 1987 release, “The Joshua Tree”, U2 had experienced a steady rise in both artistic and commercial success. It wasn’t until the release of their 1988 documentary, “Rattle and Hum”, that the band received its first notable criticism, with some describing it as, “bombastic” and “overly pretentious”. Disillusioned by the music industry in general, and bored with what had become their signature sound, the group’s 1991 album, “Achtung Baby” was a radical departure in almost every way.
3. Off the Wall – Michael Jackson: The Jackson Five’s departure from Motown records in 1975 seemed to mark the end of an era. Though the group continued to tour and release records, their popularity steadily dwindled. Because Michael was the main songwriter, and focal point of the band, there was no reason to believe that a new solo record would do much to change that trend. But the 1979 release of the album, “Off the Wall” set off a new era of stardom for the singer that eventually eclipsed everything that had come before it. An artistic leap forward, it laid the foundation for the phenomenal “Thriller” album, which was released just a few years later, and went on to become the biggest selling album of all time.
4. 1984 – Van Halen: The years that followed the band’s spectacular 1978 debut release, “Van Halen”, found the group steadily touring and recording. And though it would be difficult to argue their ongoing success, it was hard not to notice the progressively declining quality of their albums. Despite its commercial success, longtime fans couldn’t help but be dismayed by the remake filled album, “Diver Down” from 1982. Given those factors, there was no reason to expect the stunning return to form that “1984” represented. On many levels it was the band’s most successful album.
5. A Momentary Lapse of Reason – Pink Floyd: For long time fans, it didn’t seem possible to make a legitimate Pink Floyd record without founding member Roger Waters. But guitarist David Gilmour and company did just that with this 1987 release. Though not necessarily ranked with their best work, this album was highly successful, and proved to be a credible addition to the bands enduring legacy.
6. Fleetwood Mac (1975) – Fleetwood Mac: By the time that Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks arrived, “Fleetwood Mac” had already been a band for almost a decade, and had released nine albums. But the addition of these two distinctive artists radically changed the chemistry within the group, and propelled them to a whole new level of popularity. This album not only topped the chart, it sold over 5 million copies, and produced three big radio hits (i.e. Rhiannon, Over My Head, and Say You Love Me). More importantly, it set the stage for the group’s next album, “Rumours”, which went on to be one of the biggest selling albums of all time.
7. Infinity – Journey: Originally formed in 1973, the band was made up of veteran players from the San Francisco bay area; including Santana alum Gregg Rolie and Neal Schon. But after the groups first three albums failed to consistently connect with a sizeable audience, their record company recommended a change in direction, including the incorporation of another vocalist. This shift from a jazz/rock to pop/rock style, and the addition of Steve Perry’s striking vocals, proved to be a winning combination, as their 1978 release, “Infinity” went on to achieve platinum status, and set off a string of highly successful albums.
8. Back in Black – AC/DC: The death of lead singer, Bon Scott, seemed to signal the end for Australian rock outfit AC/DC. His charisma, and distinctive growl, were at the heart of the band’s sound, and looked to be irreplaceable. At that time, few could have anticipated the emergence of new singer Brian Johnson, and the release of what is arguably the bands most complete album.
9. Third Stage – Boston: Though not considered to be on a par with the band’s first two albums (i.e. 1976’s “Boston” and 1978’s “Don’t Look Back”), this album is notable for the eight year span that preceded it’s 1986 release. Multiple law suits, and techno-wiz/guitarist/producer Tom Scholz’s constant tinkering, led to the delay. Despite the gap, this album did manage to continue the bands string of multi-platinum success.
10. Heaven and Hell – Black Sabbath: Considering that Ozzy Osbourne was the face, the voice, and ultimately the stage persona of the band, it seemed unlikely that the group could be successful without him. But when his rampant drug & alcohol abuse caused the band to “fire” him in 1979, they decided to regroup with former Rainbow vocalist Ronnie James Dio. Surprisingly, this new lineup reinvigorated the band’s music, and was well-received by die hard Sabbath fans. It’s interesting to note that it was the daughter of the band’s manager, Don Arden who recommended Dio as Ozzy’s replacement, and that years later she (Sharon Arden) became Mrs. Ozzy Osbourne.

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