Portishead - Roseland NYC Live
Portishead - Roseland NYC Live

Portishead - Roseland NYC Live

Documenting Portishead’s July 24, 1997 concert at New York City’s Roseland Ballroom (which sadly closed in 2014), Roseland, Live NYC was released on both CD and DVD back in late 1998. And not only is Portishead’s one and only official live release one of the best sounding concert records of all time, but it also may very well be the band’s defining statement.

James Weiskittel
Snoop Doggy Dogg - Doggystyle
Snoop Doggy Dogg - Doggystyle

Snoop Doggy Dogg - Doggystyle

After NWA splintered and each of its members tried their hands at solo projects, Dr. Dre didn’t miss a beat. In 1992, he released The Chronic, an instant rap classic, and with it, he was able to show off his hip, young protege, Snoop Doggy Dogg, fostering a monumental hunger for more rhymes after his contributions to such adored tracks as "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang" and "Fuck wit Dre Day (And Everybody's Celebratin')".

Brian Thompson

Orange Juice - Rip It Up

I love Orange Juice’s Postcard recordings. They’re scrappy, quirky and bursting with energy. The sound of young lads in Glasgow, bouncing around town getting into hijinks. Falling in and out of love as hormones permit. But that dynamic changed somewhat when Orange Juice signed to Polydor. After some key departures, in James Kirk and Steven Daly, the band reformed with frontman Edwin Collins’ in control.

Kevin Orton
Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea

Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea

Quite possibly the bravest and smartest move in showbiz is to create a masterpiece and then walk away from it all. That’s exactly what Jeff Mangum did after, In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. Any Indie Music snob will tell you how brilliant it is. And what’s even more maddening, they’re right. This is a one of a kind album, whose influence can be heard in the likes of Arcade Fire and The Decemberists.

Kevin Orton
Pharoah Sanders - Karma
Pharoah Sanders - Karma

Pharoah Sanders - Karma

Ljubinko Zivkovic
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magik

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magik

For better or worse, Blood Sugar Sex Magik changed everything.

Not only did the record provide the Red Hot Chili Peppers their immutable mark of permanence on the pop-culture landscape (satellite radio is still eating up “Under The Bridge” to this day), but the Rick Rubin produced album also helped Anthony Kiedis and the boys finally transition from their status as a ‘sock-on-a-dick’ sideshow to an arena-headlining act. The band had finally grown up.

James Weiskittel
LCD Soundsystem - LCD Soundsystem
LCD Soundsystem - LCD Soundsystem

LCD Soundsystem - LCD Soundsystem

James Murphy, the man behind LCD Soundsystem is one of the most qualified musical librarians. Ever. But then, that’s not all. He was, and luckily, still is a man on a mission - he’s out to confirm that you can create music that makes you dance and think at the same time. Might be hard for some, but Murphy, as some before him did, proves that it is doable.

Ljubinko Zivkovic
Dusty Springfield - Dusty in Memphis
Dusty Springfield - Dusty in Memphis

Dusty Springfield - Dusty in Memphis

Brian Thompson
Kanye West - 808s & Heartbreak
Kanye West - 808s & Heartbreak

Kanye West - 808s & Heartbreak

To the uninitiated, Kanye West is just a fool. A blubbering, egotistical instrument of the music industry whose sole purpose is to aggravate the masses at least two to three times a year. His lavish lifestyle, anti-Bush commentary, Taylor Swift-interrupting behavior, and socialite status has caused so much vitriol across the board that the public finds him insufferable.

Tim Sentz
Bob Dylan - Nashville Skyline
Bob Dylan - Nashville Skyline

Bob Dylan - Nashville Skyline

Nashville Skyline is one of the most misunderstood albums in the Dylan canon. After his caustic, ‘Electric’ period, it playfully bucked any expectations with unassuming grace.  If John Wesley Harding wasn’t a sign that Dylan was leaving the Thin Wild Mercury sound of Blonde On Blonde behind, 1969’s Nashville Skyline left no doubt. Instead of the angry young man armed with car horn blasts of harmonica, it is a congenial, smiling Dylan tipping his hat.

Kevin Orton
Santana - Abraxas
Santana - Abraxas

Santana - Abraxas

With the second official album into his career, Carlos Santana brings everything to the table, all his musical background, knowledge and love. Sure, the great band he had behind him played its part, best exemplified in one of the stellar performances at the Woodstock festival a year before, but it was Santana’s vision after all.

Ljubinko Zivkovic
Pulp - This Is Hardcore
Pulp - This Is Hardcore

Pulp - This Is Hardcore

1995’s Different Class was Pulp’s breakthrough but a tough act to follow. After a three-year wait Pulp finally delivered, This Is Hardcore. Mercifully, frontman, Jarvis Cocker didn’t resort to the cliché of bitching about his newfound fame and celebrity. Instead, we got something far darker and deeper. While some may see Hardcore as a decline from the dizzying heights of Class, to these ears it bookmarks the end of their classic period which began with 1994’s His ‘n’ Hers.

Kevin Orton