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Top Twenty Albums issue 4
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.

5. Public Enemy - Fear of a Black Planet

1990
Def Jam/Columbia
Produced by The Bomb Squad ((Carl Ryder, Hank Shocklee, Keith Shocklee, Eric Sadler))
Engineered by Mike Bona, Kirk Yano, Nick Sansano, Steve Loeb, Rod Hui, Paul Eulin, Dan Wood, Christopher Shaw
Assistant Engineers: Tom Champion, Tom Conway, Dave Patillo
Mixed by Paul Eulin, Rod Hui, Nick Sansano, Christopher Shaw, Mike Bona, Dan Wood
Mastered by Howie Weinberg

This album took the revolutionary sound of Public Enemy into an almost otherworldly place. The production aesthetic on this album is like nothing I've heard on any album before or since. The Bomb Squad produced amazingly unique sounds by mangling and distorting samples, pushing Chuck D's powerful delivery to the forefront, and slathering a layer of grit over the whole thing. The energy of the album ranks alongside any punk or metal album. The rhymes are beyond intelligent, and the emotion is palpable.

4. TOOL - Lateralus

2001
Zoo Entertainment
Produced by David Bottrill and Tool
Engineered by David Bottrill and Vince DeFranco
Mixed by David Bottrill
Mastered at Gateway Mastering Studios

A friend of mine once remarked "Lateralus is our generations Dark Side of the Moon". He's pretty much spot-on. It's an aggressive, metal Dark Side. It is a concept album no doubt, and it is where TOOL made their most ambitious statement. TOOL have always been masterful at getting what they need out of the studio, and on Lateralus they put their refined studio skills to use on complex songs and intriguing lyrical/thematic concepts. TOOL has inherited the throne once held by Rush, King Crimson, and Yes.

3. Rush - Hemispheres

1978
Produced by Rush and Terry Brown
Engineered by Pat Moran and Declan ODoherty
Mastered by Ray Staff

Hemispheres is the pinnacle in the career of a band who pushed the boundaries of progressive rock further than any band without the use of orchestral arrangements and with limited use of synthesizers. This trio is made up of musicians whose proficiency on their instruments is matched by their imaginative use of those instruments. On Hemispheres they do not just play fast and hard, in odd time signatures, pulling off a dizzying array of fills and solos, but they do so with taste and creativity.

2. The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds

1966
Capitol Records
Produced by Brian Wilson
Engineered by Chuck Britz, Bruce Botnick, Larry Levine, Ralph Balantin, H. David Bowen

The album that spawned Sgt. Peppers and everything that followed. Brian Wilson, at 23 years old, re-defined pop music and re-defined the use of the recording studio. The instrumentation, orchestral arrangements, song structures, and cohesiveness are mind-boggling. Perhaps more than any other album, there is a level of nuance and sophistication here that takes many listens to fully appreciate.

1. Mr. Bungle - California

1999
Warner Bros. Records
Produced by Mr. Bungle
Engineered by Billy Anderson, Trey Spruance, Justin Phelps, Adam Munoz, Josh Heller
Mixed by Adam Munoz, Rob Worthington, Gibbs Chapman
Mastered by George Horn

The ultimate album. Virtuoso musicianship combined with unbelievably complex arrangements. Studio wizardry in cahoots with refined song crafting. Each song is absolutely brilliant, and yet the whole still manages to be greater than the sum of its parts.