Sound Check; 5 Bare-Knuckle Albums to Mark 5 Decades of Music

Paulie | Friday FunFriday Fun
Musical selections to transcend passage of time. Photo: courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

First off, valued Reader, I agree with you. The small collection of music gathered here is by no means definitive. There are plenty of groundbreaking albums released by seminal artists just before these, a blip after, or even at the same bloody moment.

Like their peers, the followings recordings proved to be masterworks, milestones on a timeless journey of personal-social-cultural growth. That alone is no small feat and (to continue the metaphor) artistic signage not meant to be missed.

So press play.

the 70’s:

(L-R) Roger Waters, Nick Mason, David Gilmour, Richard Wright; Pink Floyd. Photo: courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Closing the decade with a primal cry of human emotion, English musical group Pink Floyd released double-album, ‘the Wall.’ Typically counted as an all time great rock albums, ‘the Wall’ is Floyd’s 11th studio work and ranks among the group’s more iconic recordings as well as a defining moment in musical history.

Its sonic journey is biographical in nature, produced three singles, spawned a film adaptation and is commonly played over theatrical trickery–namely laser light shows.

It’s a looking glass-of-an-album from a group as famously embattled as they are unforgettable.

the 80’s:

1986 Def Jam release, License to Ill. Photo: courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Ten years that did NOT treat all artists with equal kindness and, of course, is overshadowed musically by Micheal Jackson’s ‘Thriller,’ yet holding their own in that tightroll-pants-and-hairspray battle royale, is a scrappy hip hop group with a progressive debut album. ‘License to Ill’ from the Beastie Boys is the first of its genre to top the Billboard album chart and still punches listeners in face 34 year later.

To put it mining terms: its a Platinum status album release which would later be certified Diamond. Artist Eminem said the album “changed hip hop,” and it is published widely among ‘must hear before dying’ records lists.

This audio grit gets under the skin and won’t wash away.

the 90’s:

1991 Epic Records release, Ten. Photo: courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Since this piece is Op.Ed. in nature, I’m gonna go ahead and describe this decade as a ‘cool kid’ table in the musical lunchroom and, as such, it was packed with heavy hitters, including Pearl Jam. Surly, screaming, and ultimately surviving, Pearl Jam rose steadily from a debut release entitled ‘Ten;’ an album which preceded ‘Nevermind’ and steered the course of burgeoning genre in music.

‘Ten’ throbs from the speakers as a spectrum of angst and defiance. Its hit singles, ‘Alive,’ ‘Even Flow,’ and ‘Jeremy’ led a charge that won the album a place among the greatest album recordings of all time. And unlike many of their 90’s artist peers, Pearl Jam did not destruct along the way.

Put on a flannel, play this end-to-end, and then go kick some <$@! 

the Millennium:

Fat Freddy’s Drop performing at Byron Bay. Photo: courtesy Wikimedia Commons

A quirky vibrant sound has been growing at the bottom of the world, and it bloomed to audio color via the studio album ‘Based on a True Story’ by soulful kiwi compendium, Fat Freddy’s Drop. Representing the real-life musical journey of the group, the tracks forming ‘Based on a True Story’ are a list of musical numbers formerly performed live before finally receiving polish the studio.

As a complete work, this album plays a key role in the foundation of an entire musical culture. ‘Hope,’ ‘This Room,’ and ‘Wandering Eye’ are its leading singles.

Internationally, ‘Based on a True Story’ received praise on BBC programming as the best album of 2005, but more importantly the release is a unique, honest expression of sound with joy audibly evident at its heart.

That is at times unheard-of probably adds to this albums appeal. 

’10 to Now:

Album release 2014 by Partisan Records. Photo: courtesy of Wikipedia

What better years than the recent decade to welcome a bouncy duo with intentions on making an inside joke of pop culture?

An electro-project formed in 2013, Sylvan Esso turns heads to slap faces. Vocalist, Amelia Meath and producer, Nick Sanborn released an eponymous debut which is championed by tracks, ‘Hey Mami’ and ‘Coffee’ but carries with tempered, intelligent strength from start to finish.

Meath’s vocal weight beside Sanborn’s hopscotch-quick mixing, delivers a sound heavy with conviction and a clever-coy musical message that is undeniably winning. And if the duo’s portraiture is any indication, the aim here is to draw out cultural/industrial norms to peck ’em on the cheek before kissing them off.

It’s a brave new world, and this album very well prove a torchbearer of its times.

In fact all of the above, regardless of their era, stewards the flame of human condition. The genres are diverse but each tells a story to span more than years.

The only thing left to do is press play.

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