Favorite older album discoveries of 2016

Treasure by Cocteau Twins (1984)
Dream Pop. What a voice and love the ethereal production. I enjoyed listening to their entire discography during 2016. Victorialand (1986), Blue Bell Knoll (1988), and Heaven or Las Vegas (1990) are very good too, as are some of the EPs.
Treasure I consider their masterpiece. Robert Smith described Treasure as “the most romantic sound he had ever heard” and claims to have played the album before his wedding,
Some will argue the lyrics are nonsensical, which is a valid argument, but that’s part of the attraction. Like Radiohead, music to feel rather than understand.

Closing Time by Tom Waits (1973)
Singer/Songwriter, Tom Waits’ piano-heavy debut is beautiful and timeless. There isn’t a lot of variation from track to track, so the music sort of all blends together.  A record you can have quietly on in the background, in essence a lounge singer performing for you at home. His vocal is not as harsh and rough at this early stage in his career. Sets the template for Waits’ melancholy style, and you can already tell he is a talented lyricist with lines such as “I don’t have to take no trip to outer space. All I have to do is look at your face”. Waits also demonstrates he’s a competent pianist and the melodies fit well with the mood. Highlights for me are Martha, Ol’ ’55 and Midnight Lullaby.

Abbey Road by The Beatles (1969)
Pop Rock/Psychedelic Pop. Abby Road is considered among the best Beatles albums and the much debated sleeve is iconic. Come Together is easily my favorite, which has a great melody. Something and Here Comes the Sun are obviously Beatles classics as well. Of the lesser known songs, Because is a highlight. I already know their hits, but intend to explore their other classic albums soon.


Take It Off by Chic (1981)
Funk. I listened to their early discography 1977-1981 and surprisingly the lesser-known Take It Off is my favorite Chic album. The band’s 1970s releases have big hits yet too many filler tracks. There are no massive hits on Take It Off, but it’s consistently good and I enjoyed the album from start to finish.

Horses by Patti Smith (1975) 
Proto-Punk/Singer-Songwriter. Her vocal certainly has presence, even if I find her delivery not as beautiful as other female singers of the era.  The iconic album sleeve is powerful and empowering, just like the music. The musicianship on the track Land is breathtaking. Highlights: Gloria, Free Money, Kimberly, Land.

Old No. 1 by Guy Clark (1975)
Country. If anything positive can come out of the deaths in the entertainment industry it’s that we can discover artists from the past. Clark’s debut is considered his best work. Highlights include L.A. Freeway, Desperados Waiting for the Train, That Old Time Feeling, and Let Him Roll Train.

Seven Waves by Suzanne Ciani  (1982)
New Age. The melodies are impressive, although the tinny C64 sounds initially bothered me, particularly on the first and second wave, so I almost gave up. I’m happy I stuck with the album. The fifth and seventh wave are the most pleasing, and the third, fourth and sixth waves are quite beautiful too. You might have to lower the volume for the album to truly resonate.

Crocodiles by Echo and The Bunnymen  (1980)
Post-punk. Strong debut with few weaknesses. Ian McCulloch has a unique vocal. Highlights include: Stars Are Stars, Rescue, Pictures On My Wall.
1980 was a significant year for debut albums: Iron Maiden, OMD, The Pretenders, Visage, Angel Witch, Def Leppard, Diamond Head, Psychedelic Furs, The Feelies, Huey Lewis and the News, New Musik, and U2.

Not reviewed, but loved:

4.5/5 or 5/5 rating:
Are You Experienced? by Jimi Hendrix Experience (1967)
Electric Ladyland by The Jimi Hendrix Experience (1968)
Desire by Bob Dylan (1976)
Moving Pictures by Rush (1981)
Signals by Rush (1982)
Ride the Lightning by Metallica (1984)
Master of Puppets by Metallica (1986)
Music for the Masses by Depeche Mode (1987)
Songs of Faith and Devotion by Depeche Mode (1993)
Frank by Amy Winehouse (2003)

4 out of 5 rating:
Sticky Fingers by The Rolling Stones (1971)
Foreigner by Foreigner (1977)
Wave by Patti Smith Group (1979)
Pretenders by Pretenders (1980)
Permanent Waves by Rush (1980)
It’s My Life by Talk Talk (1984)
Van Halen by Van Halen (1978)
1984 by Van Halen (1984)
5150 by Van Halen (1986)
Violent Femmes by Violent Femmes (1983)
Porcupine by Echo & The Bunnymen (1983)
Victorialand by Cocteau Twins (1986)
Blue Bell Knoll by Cocteau Twins(1988)
Heaven or Las Vegas by Cocteau Twins (1990)
Lullabies to Violaine (compilation of EPs) by Cocteau Twins (2005)
Violator by Depeche Mode (1990)
The Essential Miles Davis (2001)
Greatest Hits by Foo Fighters (2009)
Channel Orange by Frank Ocean (2012)

Danish:
I Danmark er jeg født by Natasja (2007)
Kim Larsen’s Greatest – Guld Og Grønne Skove (1995)

I’m only including releases prior to 2015 and leaving off re-listens. What do you think? Have you listened to any of these albums?

8 thoughts on “Favorite older album discoveries of 2016

  1. Horses, Treasure, and Abbey Road are classics. You can't go wrong with those albums from start to finish. I'm not entirely familiar w/ Patti Smith and the Cocteau Twins but they are always great to have in the collection. Abbey Road is my third favorite Beatles album. Revolver is my favorite.

    I noticed you have Talk Talk's second album in the list. I think everything they did after that album is their best work though I do like the 2nd album.

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  2. Good stuff! I've been on a huge Beatles kick lately, listening to all of their albums all the way through. I also started digging into their solo material, and I've been especially obsessed with George Harrison's “All Things Must Pass” album. Just got the Scorsese documentary about him from the library — can't wait to watch that soon.

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  3. @thevoid99: Revolver is on my list. Haven’t decided yet if I’ll go chronological or just listen to the most important Beatles albums. See how it goes.
    Wave album by Patti Smith I can recommend, strong tracks on that. Dancing Barefoot is classic.

    I went through Talk Talk discography last year. The 2nd album is my favorite. I know the 1988 and 1991 albums are influential and original and I really tried to enjoy them. “I Believe in You” and “Wealth” have a tranquil beauty, but I prefer their earlier stuff which to me is more accessible.

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  4. @Eric at TWS: Thanks. G Harrison’s talent shouldn’t be underestimated. All Things Must Past is great, it doesn’t get old and is equally as good as some of the Beatles material. Definitely would feature if I did a top 100 albums list. I’ve recently been critical of Phil Spector and the overproduced 1977 album he did with Leonard Cohen. But in the case of ATMP, Spector’s in my good books.

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  5. Closing Time is so good! Ol' 55 is definitely one of the highlights, and Martha is great too. I Hope That I Don't Fall in Love with You is another favorite. It's not the most inventive Waits album, but I do have a soft spot for it.

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  6. @Dan Heaton: Thanks for the heads-up on I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You, I'm re-listening as I type. A likeable debut album, I agree it’s not his most inventive/flashy.

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