1. Guns n’ Roses – Breakdown (Use Your Illusion II, 1991)
Lyrically, GNR had obviously grown up on this album, moving away from the juvenile drugs anthems that dominated their previous work. But also musically, the band was in fact at its peak on this album, containing some very strong rock songs. This one qualifies for mediocrity, but also manages to surprise with a country intro followed by a proggy piano. LA chemists that reinjected mainstream rock music with the demonic and shabby rock ‘n roll from the Stones, and like many predecessors, collapsed by withdrawing to the studio.
2. Kate Bush – L’Amour Looks Something Like You (The Kick Inside, 1978)
Although it was already announced many, many times during the preceding years by the record labels, it was only during the late seventies that the sales of records started to stagnate. That must have been the reason for EMI to completely squeeze this album, for example by including some sexy posters of the then only 19 years old Kate Bush. A little bit paradoxical of course, as Bush should have represented the emancipation of women in rock music by becoming the first woman to reach number 1 in the singles charts with ‘Wuthering Heights’ as well as the first woman at the top of the album charts with The Kick Inside. No surprise Bush started her own label after the forced follow-up album to stay in control over her own work.
3. Jefferson Airplane – Triad (Crown of Creation, 1968)
The previous song could at least be called slightly sexually fueled, this one simply describes the story of a threeway relationship written by David Crosby himself. Although The Byrds could hardly been called conservative, they rejected the song for being too daring after which Grace Slick gratefully accepted the gift. Jefferson Airplane, just like The Byrds, did not have any hitsingle success anymore for some time at that point, due to numerous radio station bans because of supposed drugs references. However, just like The Byrds, it continued to deliver some good albums, like this one. The song reminds of the original folk roots of the band and is in that way representative for the album, on which psychedelic rock slowly starts to peel into the country rock that would be dominant on the last real album of the original band: Volunteers. That album also had to face numerous radio bans in the liberal US, this time not because of drugs references but for, let’s say, ‘political’ reasons.
4. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Gloomy (Creedence Clearwater Revival, 1968)
Maybe one of those bands from the same area that was somehow responsible for the change in course of the group mentioned above. At their own turn, they still propagate some psychedelic elements on their debut album, well illustrated by some long instrumental jams like this one and break-through single ‘Susie Q’, that got CCR some fame in the Bay Area. Not to forget the album sleeve that makes clear that CCR was willing to ride the psychedelic wave a little.
5. Blind Faith – Do What You Like (Blind Faith, 1969)
One year later, at the other side of the ocean: blues rock is still king, but there’s also a wind blowing from another direction: prog rock. Just like in California, the own sound, in this case the muscled bass-percussion combo, is mingled with the new rising sound, witnessing the elaborate, Genesis-echoes from the near future by Steve Winwood on keyboards. Just like their prog colleagues, Blind Faith principally grabbed ships full of cash in the US by becoming a gigantic stadium act. Disbanded afterwards.
6. Islands –Volcanoes (Return to the Sea, 2006)
Recording in the drummer’s bedroom, intro containing a telephone conversation, all pretty indie for sure. Unfortunately it can’t really compete with peers and countrymen like Sunset Rubdown, Apostle of Hustle and Arcade Fire. A little snooty.
7. Radiohead – Morning Mr. Magpie (The King of Limbs, 2011)
If I ever wanna hear about a ‘Third Way’ again, its Radiohead’s one. Clearly echoes Thom Yorke’s soloalbum, but more exuberantly dressed thanks to the electric guitar riff and lots of other reworked ornaments. Courtesy of Johnny Greenwood.
8. Lambchop – Breath Deep (I Hope You’re Sitting Down/Jack’s Tulips, 1994)
Kurt Wagner addressing you on a (apparently) way underrated debut albm. Many folk and country out there, well illustrated by the acoustic intro of this song. Lambchop’s line-up has been altered many, many times, but Wagner obviously forms the heart of this band, with one of the best senses of understatement ever heard.
9. The Rolling Stones – Brown Sugar (Sticky Fingers, 1971)
Opening track and lead single of what is considered by some music professors as one of the best albums of all-time; sleeve designed by Andy Warhol (the Stones were artistically freed after breaking up with Decca Records) and riff ripped by Dandy Warhols. Whether the song was about Marsha Hunt or Claudia Lennear, old pictures of both are worthy of some research.
10. Jethro Tull – For a Thousand Mothers (Stand Up, 1969)
Perhaps the crown juwel on this album, that definitely pushed Tull in the middle of the earlier mentioned prog wave. Just like elsewhere on the album, captain Anderson refers to his relationship with his parents, while his flute sounds more aggressive than ever. The album reached number one in the UK in September 1969, to be removed from that position by… Blind Faith.