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Top Twenty Albums issue 2
mike

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.
Enjoy.

15. Outkast - Aquemini

1998
Produced by Outkast and Organized Noize
Engineered by Blake Eiseman, Bernasky Wall, Neal H. Pogue, Jean B. Smit, John Frye, Ryan Willams, Kevin Parker, Ralph Cacciurri
Assistant Engineers: Alberto Perez, Ricco Lumpkins, Jason Rome, Kenny Stalworth, Jason Stokes, Katy Teasdale
Mixed by Josh Butler, Neal H. Pogue, Jonnie Most Davis, David Mr. DJ Sheats, John Horesco, Claudine Pontier, Shawn Grove
Mastered by Brian Gardner

Outkast is the greatest hip-hop act since Public Enemy, and maybe the one who matters most. Their album Aquemini showed everyone what Southern hip-hop is, and it predated the explosion of the dirty South by at least 4 years. The production aesthetic of Aquemini is slick, with big, crisp drums and deep bass. But it's also very laid back. The grooves make you nod your head just after the beat even when it feels like Big Boi and Andre Benjamin rhyme just ahead of the beat. Their delivery and lyrics are in a different league than most anything that has come along since. Part of what makes this album so good is the musicians who created the music tracks. This album is not made from samples: these are musicians laying down some heavy funk. The sampled drums make their presence known without a doubt, but it is the creativity of the musicians who give this album it's feel and it's timelessness.

14. Aphex Twin - I Care Because You Do

1995
Sire Records, Warp Records
Produced Richard D. James

Probably my favorite song on earth is on this album: the lead track: Acrid Avid Jam Shred. The song is funky, creepy, totally original, and ultimately just beautiful. I Care Because You Do influenced all of electronic music and even hip-hop after it was released, whether or not anyone actually knows it. Aphex Twin ((Richard D. James)) seems to have come out of nowhere and seems to have been influenced by no one really. I don't know of anyone making music like this prior to him. Possibly there are hints of Brian Eno and Steve Reich. Certainly there was electronic music being produced for years prior, but nothing with this level of detail and sophistication. And nothing with this level of insanity.

13. Plug - Drum 'N' Bass for Papa

1997
Nothing/Interscope
Produced by Plug ((Luke Vibert))

The best experimental drum n' bass album ever. Actually, the best drum n' bass album ever, period. Drum 'N' Bass for Papa is not one of those albums that uses the same tired samples. Luke Vibert's production, and the mood created by it are completely original. Good drum n' bass is not easy to produce. This is an album of great drum n' bass. Very moody, yet playful and constantly interesting, with the sound and feel of a conceptual album.

12. Pat Metheny - Still Life ((talking))

1987
Geffen Records
Produced by Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays, with Steve Rodby, Paul Wertico, Steven Cantor, David Oakes
Engineered by Rob Eaton
Assistant Engineer: Alexander Haas
Mastered by Bob Ludwig
Best album to drive to, ever. Especially on long stretches of road. This album has played for countless hours on many cross-country trips I've taken. There is a mood captured on Still Life ((talking)) that I don't think I've heard anywhere else. The vocals are haunting yet so uplifting and catchy that you'll be trying to sing along. Beware, you won't be able to. Vocalists David Blamires, Mark Ledford, and Armando Marcal have vocal ranges beyond that of mere mortals. The arrangements of Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays are incredibly complicated, yet so accessible that they verge on pop. There is a fusion of musical styles here that's hard to grasp, because it's absolutely effortless on the part of the composers and musicians. Maybe more than any other recording, this one makes me feel good.

11. Converge - You Fail Me

2004
Epitaph
Produced by Converge
Recorded by Kurt Ballou
Assistant Engineers: Chris Moylan and Shawn Mosely
Mixed by Matthew Ellard and Kurt Ballou
Mastered by Alan Douches

This is the perfect hardcore metal album. From start to finish it is blistering and brutal. It's also very well conceived and executed in arrangement, production, and album sequencing. I probably would have put this in my top three, but I wanted to be a little more objective than that. You can read a more in-depth review on my site here. You Fail Me is the first album review I did.