Stealing Beauty Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1996)
One of my all-time favorite sexin’ albums. The first four tracks (from Hooverphonic, Portishead, Axiom Funk and John Lee Hooker — which of these things is not like the others?) all feature sultry grooves which slink right into your spine and move on down to wrap themselves around your sacral chakra and give it a good squeeze. Skip the out-of-place Liz Phair song at five and slide right on into Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” at six to give your junk a little extra funk.
Dixie Chicks, Taking the Long Way (2006)
The first three songs which open Taking the Long Way — “The Long Way Around,” “Easy Silence,” and the goosebump-inducing “Not Ready to Make Nice” — are all marked as five-star songs in my iPod. No other album I have on my computer right now can boast that distinction. Sadly, as much as I like the album overall, it sort of shoots its wad early: a few of the songs on the album come close to that level of greatness those first three songs achieve, but none quite get there.
Green Day, American Idiot (2004)
The opener, “American Idiot,” starts setting the tone, but once you get past that song and into the opening bang of “Jesus of Suburbia,” you’ve got a solid twenty minutes of polished ass-kicking punk-pop coming your way: the operatic nine minutes of “Suburbia” bleeds right into the three-chord kick to the face of “Holiday” and into the arena-rock chants of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” Billie Joe and the boys must have been popping some serious songwriting steroids when they were working on this album: these songs are muscular.
The Afghan Whigs, Gentlemen (1993)
Except for the dirge-like track five (“When We Two Parted”), the opening half of Gentlemen comes on like a spirited (read: drunk), soulful punch to the privates. I’m not sure what woman done lead Whig Greg Dulli wrong, but done him wrong she did, and Dulli wants to tell you all about it. This man’s got some serious rage and angst going on, the pain in his voice always threatening to — but never quite managing to — overpower the sharp songwriting. “Gentlemen,” “Debonair” and “Fountain and Fairfax” in particular get to me — enough so that I’m willing to overlook the relatively weak back half of the album.
My out-of-order leaked copy of Dave Matthews Band, Everyday (2001)
I somehow *ahem* managed to find myself with all of the tracks for Everyday, the album DMB made after initially dumping the now-infamous Lillywhite Sessions tracks (later reworked as the Busted Stuff album), several weeks before its actual release date. The tracks had a particular order prescribed, but I discovered that wasn’t the order the songs were in when I finally bought the album. And that’s unfortunate, because the track order for my leaked copies would have made for a stronger album. The album as I was listening to it before release started with the lone electric guitar riff (plus a little horn) of “So Right,” which was an appropriate to start an album which marked the first time the DMB used electric guitars in their music. (Supposedly, the first time producer Glen Ballard handed an electric to Matthews, that was the first time he’d ever played one.) The album as released starts with the funky “I Did It,” which still announced the new, more electric sound — but nowhere near as eloquently or clearly as that single guitar that opens “So Right.”