Queen II-Queen: Their most unknown and underrated album is IMHO their best and flawless. The entire black side is one of my favorite musical experiences and I'd rather listen to March of the Black Queen over Bohemian Rhapsody most days.
Sgt. Pepper-Beatles: I think the only song I don't like is Within You Without You but it's still important to that era of the Beatles.
Red Headed Stranger-Willie Nelson: One of the best concept albums, the entire album tells a simple and cohesive story without much filler.
Document-REM: No song here I dislike, King of Birds is probably the standout track aside from It's the End of the World As We Know It
Prince- Purple Rain
Fever Ray- Fever Ray
Nine Inch Nails- The Downward Spiral
Queens of the Stoneage- Era Vulgaris
Lizzo- Truth Hurts
Daft Punk- Discovery
Joy Division- Unknown Pleasures
Dead or Alive- Rip it Up
Depeche Mode- Black Celebration
Let me preface this by saying that I am not especially fond of XTC. I've tried to sit through their albums, and while there is much to admire, there is little to love. Nothing wrong with them, but they always sounded a little more angular and arch than I usually prefer. I also was not a big fan of mainstream 80's music, and suffered through the synthpop years, taking what little hope I could find from what indie rock I could find.
That said, this album is something special. It runs about neck and neck with Fables of the Reconstruction by R.E.M. as most perfect album of the 80's for me.
Reviewers weren't sure what to make of it at the time, but they tripped over themselves handing out superlatives. They kept using the word "psychedelic" in their reviews, so I bought it thinking it might sound something like the Paisley Underground neo-psychedelic bands of the early 80's, which I listened to alone; nobody else I knew listened to that stuff. I was dead wrong.
Psychedelic is the wrong word for this album, and a misleading one. However, it is psychedelic in some ways. But it is a weird, alternate road-not-taken, electronically informed psychedelic pop which XTC briefly specialized in and nobody else did.
The album is lushly produced; you can float away in a haze of opium smoke just focusing on the production, 1980's values and all. At first listen, one notices the myriad unlikely hooks crammed into songs that sound a little off, a little cracked, but not in an overt way (as Julian Cope would have done it) A few listens in and you catch the overarching concept; a fairly dark but subtle song cycle from a neopaganist viewpoint, with Jungian overtones. There's even a song about a sacrificial bonfire that is benign but sounds sinister anyway. That may sound corny, but it is never fully overt, and the lyrics are deft enough to apply to almost anything. The concept though gives it its ominous atmosphere. The more familiar the songs become, the more substance they seem to have, both lyrically and musically. The darkness of the lyrics is balanced by a hedonistic glee, delivered in choruses that stick in your head for weeks. This is one of those rare albums that keep on revealing its charms after dozens of listens, and each time you hear it, it sounds even better.
The closest it gets to conventional rock is "Earn Enough for Us", which sounds like how Revolver might have sounded if it had been written and recorded in the 80's. There is electronic music that sounds beamed in from the moons of Saturn, as in "Another Satellite". There is the crackpot baroque pop of "That's Really Super, Supergirl". There is the woozy and warm "Grass" which hangs its hat on the unlikeliest of riffs while lyrically hinting at where the listener's head ought to be. There is the disturbing, stark bluntness of the darkly childlike "Dying". There is the noirish "The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul" The lyrics seem wiser than one would expect from the band, wise enough that 33 years later, nothing makes me wince. There isn't a duff song here; they all have something that shines about them, and layers of it...
The contemporaneous single, "Dear God" (the most intelligent song about atheism I ever heard) was left off original pressings of the album in the U.S., and the album really doesn't need it. However, the CD includes it, and thematically it fits in just fine, providing a wake-up-to-real-world-shit coda that suits what came before.
I dunno, but this album has never diminished in my esteem since the day I bought it new.
Deep Purple - Made In Japan
Black Sabbath - Paranoid and Master of Reality albums
Iron Maiden - Powerslave
David Bowie - Low
Budgie - Budgie
Aerosmith - Rocks
Soundgarden - Superunknown
Megadeth - Rust In Peace