Top Twenty Albums issue 3
|This here is a list of what are obviously the greatest recordings the world has ever heard.
Okay, so it's just albums that I think are the best of the best. I placed them on this list because of their originality first and foremost, but also the production quality, their influence in/on musical history, and the outright brilliance of musicianship.
10. Steely Dan - Aja
Produced by Gary Katz
Engineered by Roger Nichols, Elliot Scheiner, Bill Schnee, Al Schmitt
Assistant Engineers: Lenise Brent, Ken Klinger, Linda Tyler, Ed Rack, Joe Bellamy, Ron Pangaliman
Mastered by Bernie Grundman
Quite simply one of the best albums ever. Maybe I should have put this even higher on my list. Aja is basically the benchmark for sonic clarity and fidelity by which all recordings can be measured. Whether or not you go in for extremely pristine recordings, the fact that a recording of this quality was achieved in the 70's deserves recognition. But beyond the sonic character of the recording, the songs themselves are simply amazing. The surface simplicity of Aja is achieved through pop-style structure, which almost masks the complex jazz arrangements that make up the bulk of the album. Some of the best musicians in the world played on this album, and they tear it up.
9. Fantomas - The Director's Cut
Arranged and Produced by Mike Patton
Engineered by S. Husky Hoskulds
Mixed by S. Husky Hoskulds
Mastered by George Horn
The darkest album I've ever heard. The production on The Director's Cut is difficult to describe, as there's really nothing else out there that sounds like it. It is both huge and intimate. It is soaked in dark, dense reverb. Every note of the album is evil. Mike Patton's arrangements of the 16 film theme songs that comprise The Director's Cut are many times more sinister and haunting than the originals. The musicianship of Fantomas is second to none, playing hard, loud, and fast one moment, then softly, slowly, and chillingly the next.
8. Faith No More - Angel Dust
Produced by Matt Wallace and Faith No More
Engineered by Matt Wallace
Mixed by Matt Wallace and David Bryson
Assistant Engineers: Adam Munoz, Lindsay Valentine, Gibbs Chapman, Craig Doubet, Nikki Tafrallin
Mastered by John Golden
One of the most influential rock/metal/alternative albums of the 90's. The influence of Angel Dust can be heard in most of the metal that came after its release, and much of the rock too. Mike Patton found his real metal voice during this recording, and Jim Martin wrote his greatest and most twisted song, Jizzlobber. This album is experimental at heart. Angel Dust contains some truly bizarre songs, but the band and producer/engineer/mixer Matt Wallace were able to keep the mood and momentum consistent throughout. Angel Dust is a fairly dark album ((as are all of FNM's releases)) but has an exciting energy, and many catchy hooks and sing-along moments. Angel Dust is the most powerful statement from what is probably the greatest alt/metal band of all time.
7. The Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour
Parlaphone, Capitol, EMI
Produced by George Martin
Engineered by Geoff Emerick
In my opinion, Magical Mystery Tour kicks the shi* out of Sgt. Peppers. I find it to be a more creative album, employing instrumentation and effects that pushed toward a new style of psychedelia. A somewhat darker, trippier style. Mystery Tour is their weirdest album - and it does get weird. At the same time, The Beatles maintain a strong pop sense throughout the album. The sounds achieved on this album rival any in history. Engineer Geoff Emerick played a key role, as usual, in allowing The Beatles to move their sound and their songs forward. This album has always been given short shrift due to the public's fascination with Sgt. Peppers ((which, if it had been released after MMT, would have been overlooked in the same way)). Sgt. Peppers has always struck me as just a stepping-stone for The Beatles, who were on their way toward Magical Mystery Tour.
6. Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon
Harvest, Capitol Records
Produced by Pink Floyd
Engineered by Alan Parsons
Assistant Engineer: Peter James
Mixed by Chris Thomas
It's Dark Side of the Moon people! What needs to be said?! I'll just say that The Floyd really pushed the studio's technological limits with this one. They picked up where The Beatles left off and then beat them at their own game with the studio trickery of Dark Side. This says nothing of the musical compositions and lyrics, which stand on their own apart from the brilliant concept of the album.