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As you may have noticed, it never happens that we give 5 stars to an album. It is simply that we cannot establish at its release that an album is perfect and will become a historical album. A decline of a few years is required. We therefore present here albums dating back of at least 5 years, which probably deserved 4 stars or 4 stars and a half at the time, but which clearly deserve 5 stars. These are real historical albums!

 

 

AC/DC - Back In Black

AC/DC - Back In Black (1980)

After the band's best album to date in Highway To Hell and the death of their lead singer, Bon Scott, it could have very well be the end of AC/DC in 1980. However, the group worked hard, hired the "screamer" singer Brian Johnson and quickly released the album that was going to rank among the legends of rock, Back In Black. The band had already begun in recent years to distance over its blues influences and the style of AC/DC was really going to be immortalized on the album. They would constantly try later to copy themselves by repeating a new Back In Black, but with not much success. The bell that announces "Hells Bells", the first song of the album, also announced the end of an era and the beginning of a new one for AC/DC. Then, try to find weaknesses on this album and you'll have a hard time. With tracks like "Shoot To Thrill", "Givin the Dog a Bone", the mega-hit "You Shook Me All Night Long" and the title track, moments of respite will be rare. If you do not know AC/DC, you only need to start with 2 albums: Back In Black and the 2-CD version of Live that will demonstrate their energy in concert. Please note that Back In Black was digitally remastered and re-issued in 2003, which will give you a refreshed version of this classic. As with all the other re-issues of AC/DCís albums, the CD gives you access to new content on the band's website. It includes an interview with Brian Johnson, three music videos and more... (November 2005)

David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)

In 1972, David Bowie decided to create an androgynous character he called Ziggy Stardust. He introduced the concept album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, a masterpiece out of its time that would revolutionize the genre and definitely put Bowie on the map. The character would again appear one year later on Aladdin Sane before he made him disappear on stage at the end of the next tour. The album commonly called Ziggy Stardust forms an inseparable whole of 11 tracks. Each song has indeed its importance and its role to play on the record, from "Five Years" to "Rock 'N' Roll Suicide" through "Moonage Dream", "Starman", "Lady Stardust", the rock Ďní roll "Suffragette City" and the hit title-track. We can say that David Bowie has explored many genres during his career, often before they become fashionable, but the glam rock of the Ziggy Stardust era was likely to be his most creative and most prominent period (although some fans prefer the Berlin trilogy in the late 70s in collaboration with Brian Eno). In my opinion, Ziggy Stardust remains the ultimate Bowie, the one that started it all, but also the one which has put the expectations higher on him for the rest of his career, often making him unpopular among the critics despite his overflowing creativity and forward thinking. For more information about David Bowie, you can visit his musicography: www.musicomania.ca/davidbowie. (April 2008)

Faith No More - The Real Thing

Faith No More - The Real Thing (1989)

In 1989, at a time when the hair of the musicians seemed more important than the quality of their compositions, a band has surprised everyone with a different album, Faith No More. Despite an excellent record released two years earlier (Introduce Yourself), they had not managed to get out of the underground. But with The Real Thing, the band moved to the other side with a huge success and many awards. They were originally one of the first bands to mix rock and rap on the hit "Epic". They also presented a creative sound on catchy tracks as "From Out of Nowhere", the excellent "Falling To Pieces" the heavy "Surprise! You're Dead!" and the varied "Zombie Eaters". They have dared to cover a Black Sabbath classic, "War Pigs", they have been able to appropriate cleverly, so much so that some young people at the time believed that it was a Faith No More song, not having known the original released almost 20 years before. In this group people were discovering, you could hear a promising young singer named Mike Patton. He became known in later years for his eclecticism in bands like Mr. Bungle, FantŰmas and Tomahawk to name a few. With The Real Thing, Faith No More showed us a 55-minute album without weaknesses, creative and varied, which allowed us to forget that American rock bands who reigned as kings at the time were Bon Jovi and Poison and that all the artists from the 70s (with rare exceptions) were unable to issue an interesting album at that time. Faith No More was a pioneer of the alternative movement that would develop in the 90s led by the grunge from Seattle. They would themselves contribute to the movement in 1992 with the excellent album Angel Dust some people even prefer to The Real Thing. (June 2005)

Green Day - Dookie

Green Day - Dookie (1994)

In 1994, punk music was back in vogue thanks mainly to two bands: The Offspring, but mostly Green Day. The latter, which had only issued independent records previously, offered us a first album widely distributed and would conquer the whole world in the following months. With 14 tracks, all effective, including the hits "Basket Case", "Welcome To Paradise" and "When I Come Around", Dookie is one of the most enjoyable albums to listen to in full and repeatedly. This album would inspire a whole new generation of pop/punk musicians and Green Day would become one of the most cited groups as inspiration by new artists. Even if the band has released other high quality albums later, none would be able to match the genius of Dookie, an incomparable must-have album in your collection. (July 2005)

Guns N' Roses - Appetite For Destruction

Guns N' Roses - Appetite For Destruction (1987)

In 1987, when rock music was immersed in a sea of hard rock, a band of bad boys has emerged with a sound that was different from the mass. They threw us: "Welcome to the jungle!", to use the first title of Appetite For Destruction. The first radio hit with an unforgettable guitar riff, "Sweet Child O' Mine", which was presented to radios in a shortened version compared to the original album, allowed the band to reach a wide audience. Yet the attitude of the guys had nothing really enviable and it was a pretty bad example for youth, since drugs and alcohol were freely used within the band. This is also one of the reasons why the band, led by singer Axl Rose and guitarist Slash, released only two real albums after that and disbanded (most members are now part of Velvet Revolver without Axl). But back to Appetite For Destruction which is a perfect hard rock album containing 12 tracks totaling 54 minutes. The songs are linked together beautifully and each one seems better than the previous one. Rock Ďní roll is king and few albums since that time have managed to present a rock sound both as raw and perfect. The style has lost vigor in the 90s with the advent of grunge that has transformed the way of playing for several musicians. But Appetite For Destruction remains the great hard rock album that is the benchmark in the genre. A must! (September 2005)

Michael Jackson - Thriller

Michael Jackson - Thriller (1982)

After having produced a successful album with Off the Wall in 1979, Michael Jackson was determined to reach the top three years later with Thriller. He has fully achieved his goal by selling over 45 million copies of this album. Thriller thus became the biggest selling album in history and would be recognized by the Guinness Book of records that would encrypt these sales to 65 million. It is nothing less than 7 of the 9 songs of the album that were released as singles to become successful. The three most important of them inspired revolutionary music videos, real short movies that have changed the way to produce a music video for future generations. This is "Beat It", "Billie Jean" and the title track. Among the other hits, we must also consider the exceptional collaboration of Paul McCartney (the former Beatle) for "The Girl Is Mine", which would lead to a participation of Jackson to the next album of McCartney. Thriller has no weak moment while the tracks are linked together beautifully alternating light pop and a bit more pop rock. Jackson was certainly at the top of his creativity at that time and this album was going to crown him as the King of Pop. In February 2008, to mark the 25th anniversary of the release of the album, a new edition was issued, Thriller 25 with 2 choices of front covers, classic and zombie. This new version of the album includes, in addition to the remastered version of the original 9 tracks of the record, 5 songs re-recorded with artists of the 2000s: will.i.am (2), Akon, Fergie and Kanye West. They are all particularly good, the least effective being "Billie Jean" with Kanye West which is frankly boring. There is also as a bonus a never-released song from the album recording sessions, "For All Time". A DVD is also included which contains the complete music videos of "Billie Jean", "Beat It" and "Thriller", as well as his performance of "Billie Jean" at the Motown 25th anniversary concert, the label on which Michael recorded his first albums with his brothers. Thriller 25 is doing full justice to this classic album in the history of music. It is particularly interesting as the original edition of the album is no longer available. A must! Visit the musicography about Michael Jackson here: http://www.musicomania.ca/michaeljackson. (May 2008)

 Led Zeppelin Ė Led Zeppelin IV (1971) (2014 Remastered Version)

Led Zeppelin Ė Led Zeppelin IV (1971) (2014 Remastered Version)

Two years after their debut in 1969, the English quartet already issued their fourth album simply titled Led Zeppelin IV. Slightly less blues than the previous ones, it would set the hard rock sound of the 1970s, with of course the famous "Rock and Roll", but also "Black Dog" and "When the Levee Breaks". The album contained another monumental piece in the repertoire of Led Zeppelin, the epic "Stairway To Heaven". The masterpiece of 8 minutes is not only the most famous song of the band, but also one of the most played because of its remarkable guitar riffs and solos. The album contains 8 classic tracks, making it one of the greatest records of all time. It is now reissued in a version remastered and produced by Jimmy Page, as it is also the case for Houses of the Holy originally released in 1973. Other versions are also available for Led Zeppelin IV and Houses of the Holy. (December 2014)

Atlantic / Warner

Nirvana - Nevermind

Nirvana - Nevermind (1991)

In 1991, when rock music was becoming increasingly boring and predictable, a music video appeared that would create a stir and catch the attention of a wide audience, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by a band from Seattle called Nirvana. This band with punk influences would lead a new musical wave, grunge, with bands like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains. Nevermind, produced by Butch Vig, is considered by many to be the album that allowed the rock to survive when it needed it. Almost all of the 12 tracks included on this record became successful at one time or another, either in their original form or in a live version (electric or acoustic). In addition to "Smells Like Teen Spirit", one cannot ignore the brilliance of Kurt Cobain, Kris Novoselic and Dave Grohl on classics like "In Bloom", "Come As You Are", "Breed", "Lithium", "Polly", "Drain You", "On A Plain" and "Something In The Way". Forget weaknesses on this album that proves that perfection can indeed exist. This is an album you can listen to repeatedly tirelessly, an album that the band itself was not able to match later in their short career brutally interrupted by the death of Cobain in 1994. The symbol of excellence in the 90s, Nevermind remains today a legendary album in rock music, an album that will pass through history as having been among the bests. To learn more about Nirvana, you can visit the musicography about the band at the following address: www.musicomania.ca/nirvana. (April 2005)

Pearl Jam - Ten

Pearl Jam - Ten (1991)

When Pearl Jam appeared on the music scene in 1991, they were immediately compared to Nirvana, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains and qualified as a grunge band, since all these groups came from the same town of Seattle. Yet they were all quite different. Pearl Jam would get inspiration into the hard rock of the 70s, offering us a sound both hard and introspective. With the unique voice of Eddie Vedder and a very characteristic guitar sound, the band was able to pave the way for an extraordinary number of bands of the 90s and 2000s. Ten is the best example of a perfect album since it contains no weakness, can be listened to completely with pleasure and contains many of the best songs of the bandís career ("Even Flow", "Alive", "Black", "Jeremy", and so on), still the most popular on stage. The second portion of the CD, a little more introspective, brings us literally in a parallel universe where only Radiohead may have had the secret afterwards. Despite some good albums after this one, Pearl Jam were never able to match the quality and success of Ten which remains the quintessential album of the group. (May 2005)

Queen - A Night At The Opera

Queen - A Night At The Opera (1975)

During their career, Queen gave us good and less good albums. But, one is largely out of the lot: A Night At The Opera. Released in 1975, the album reuses the hard rock elements, or even metal, of Sheer Heart Attack, but bringing it in a real rock opera. The band uses many instruments and specific arrangements to offer us an extraordinary music richness. Queen remains metal on "Death On Two Legs" and "Sweet Lady", but they also offer the simple pop music hit "You're My Best Friend", perhaps their most beautiful love song, composed by John Deacon. Brian May is much more mystique on the almost country "'39" and the progressive with psychedelic accents "The Prophet's Song". The ballad by Freddie Mercury "Love of My Life" remained for many years a favorite on stage. Finally, the group presents music hall with "Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon" and "Seaside Rendezvous". All this blend of creativity finally gathers in the final piece, "Bohemian Rhapsody", the most popular song of all the band's career. In 2005, a new edition of the album with a DVD was issued. The DVD contains a stunning 5.1 surround sound, which further improves the quality of the album. In fact, it is totally unnecessary to listen to the stereo version with such a version in hand. Visual accompanies each song, whether the original video, live footage or any other footage. It is also possible to hear comments by the band members. This version is perfect to obtain a great music experience. To learn more about Queen, visit the musicography: www.musicomania.ca/queen. (December 2007)

Radiohead - OK Computer

Radiohead - OK Computer (1997)

After two outstanding early albums, Pablo Honey and The Bends, Radiohead offered us in 1997 an album that would revolutionize rock music, put the record straight. Following the grunge movement of the early decade when guitars with distortion ruled, the band came to us with an album containing some more subtleties and textures. We can still find good guitars, as they had offered before, except that they are now better placed and alternating with an acoustic and a little softer sound complemented by the beautiful voice of Thom Yorke. To add to the richness, the band can now count on the discreet use of electronic and keyboards. The 12 compositions from this album form an indivisible whole and without weakness, while we appreciate more and more with each subsequent listen by discovering new subtleties. You'll find the hit "Karma Police", "Paranoid Android", "Subterranean Homesick Alien" and "No Surprises" you probably already know by heart. But do not worry about the ones you donít know, because everything is impressive. The already undertaken work with The Bends now reached new heights never equaled since, either by themselves or anyone else. Radiohead has set a new standard for 2000 with OK Computer, a huge challenge for the new generations of musicians. This is certainly a record that will cross the times and be cited as an example for generations. (March 2005)

Sex Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols

Sex Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks, Hereís The Sex Pistols (1977)

Although the punk movement started in the United States, it is the appearance of the Sex Pistols in London that really triggered the whole wave now known as "1977 punk". The Sex Pistols are considered by many as one of the few real punk bands in history, not only because of their music, but also by their attitude. What is special with the legendary band, itís that they offered us only one studio album, but what an album! Never Mind The Bollocks Here's The Sex Pistols is the perfect example for any band wanting to record a punk rock album. Raging rhythms, provocative lyrics and terribly effective 3-minute songs make this one album an incredible collection of hits. Whether the opening song, "Holidays In The Sun", or "Problems", "God Save The Queen", "Anarchy In The UK" and "Pretty Vacant", they were all covered, copied and banned dozens of times in the past 30 years. The album gives us no break and offers us the most intense 38 minutes of our lives. The Sex Pistols therefore presented a key album in the rock world. To learn more about the band, visit our musicography: www.musicomania.ca/sexpistols. (2005)

System Of A Down - Toxicity

System Of A Down - Toxicity (2001)

After a first self-titled album in 1998 that was acclaimed by the critics, but didnít move a lot of things outside of the underground (despite the fact it went gold), System Of A Down issued Toxicity 3 years later. Right at the beginning of "Prison Song", we had a doubt it was not a metal band similar to the others. The woozy beat changes were bringing us to all the range of emotions in one song only, something we never heard before! System Of A Down was formed in 1995 in southern California by Serj Tankian (voice and keyboards), Daron Malakian (guitars, voice), Shavo Odadjian (bass) and John Dolmayan (drums). Their music is influenced by the underground metal of the 80ís, hardcore punk and the alternative rock of the 90ís (in the real meaning of it). We also hear some elements of neo-gothic and elements from the middle-east, certainly inspired by their Iranian roots. Mix everything with many variations in all the compositions and youíll have a good idea of the SOAD style. At the first listening of Toxicity, at its release, I remember having been impressed because it was so different from the metal that I knew (and I heard a lot!). This is an album on which the tracks fit perfectly together, without weaknesses, and with classics like "Chop Suey", the title-song and "Aerials" closing beautifully the album of 44 minutes. After having heard the 2 albums of 2005, Mezmerize and Hypnotize, which are in fact the end of the trilogy, I almost had the feeling they were better than Toxicity. But, by listening to the album again, I realize Toxicity is certainly the best album of their entire career, an album without any mistake. They did the right thing by taking a break after this album, because it would have been impossible for them to release another album quickly without causing disappointment. If SOAD became the metal band of the 2000ís, itís because of Toxicity which started it all. This is definitely a fundamental album! (April 2006)

U2 - The Joshua Tree (Deluxe Edition)

U2 - The Joshua Tree (1987) (2007 Re-issue)

The Joshua Tree is the album that came to achieve U2's fame worldwide with favorites such as "I Still Havenít Found What I'm Looking For" and "With or Without You". My favorite one still remains "Where the Streets Have No Name" that we have rediscovered during ceremonies to help the victims of the attacks of September 11, 2001. In addition to these mega hits, one cannot ignore songs like "Bullet the Blue Sky" and "In God's Country". In fact, the whole of The Joshua Tree contains no weaknesses and lesser known tracks are equally effective. It was only natural that it is the first album to be reissued, and especially, the 20th anniversary of its original release provided an excellent reason. We thus find two remastered versions of this album. The first one includes a bonus CD with nothing less than 14 rarities recorded at the time of The Joshua Tree. There are 7 B-sides of the 3 singles released including "Sweetest Thing" which became successful years later in a re-recorded version for the greatest hits collection The Best of 1980-1990. There are also single versions of "Where the Streets Have No Name" and "Silver and Gold (Sun City)" in the version from the album Sun City - Artists United Against Apartheid and performed by Bono with Keith Richards, Ron Wood and Steve Jordan. The 5 remaining tracks were recorded during the sessions for The Joshua Tree, but have not been selected for the album, even though most of them are of premium quality. Some recordings are incomplete and are closer to a demo version, but this is what makes their charm. The 2nd version offered to us contains a more detailed book with biographical notes by Bill Flanagan and unpublished photos by Anton Corbijn. Is also added to the 2 CDs a DVD containing an 18-song concert recorded in Paris in July 1987, a documentary about their American tour, an alternative version of "With or Without You" and an original music video for "Red Hill Mining Town". This version with DVD is much more expensive, but will satisfy the most loyal fans of the band. These new editions of this classic U2 album are perfectly honoring the original one. (March 2008)

The White Stripes - Elephant

The White Stripes - Elephant (2003)

I loved the last album from The White Stripes titled "White Blood Cells" issued at the end of 2001 and "Elephant" was eagerly awaited. This album was worth the wait because it's better than the previous one. Once again, with only the voice, piano and guitar by Jack White, and the voice and drums by Meg White, they built a beautiful mix of rock, blues and folk songs, all great. From the immediate hit of Seven Nation Army to the simple Well It's True That We Love One Another, with the excellent Black Math, the cover from Burt Bacharach I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself, the beautiful In The Cold Cold Night (sang with greatness by Meg), the bluesy Ball And Biscuit, The Hardest Button To Button (in the Rolling Stones style) and the next radio hit Hypnotize, the Detroit duo carries us in its unique universe that nobody can ignore. Their sound, with a big influence from blues, takes also its inspiration from The Rolling Stones, The Smashing Pumpkins and from the New York punk wave of the 70's. Compared with the garage sound of the last years, the band now takes the lead ahead of The Strokes and The Hives. I didn't hear the first two records by the band released in 1999 and 2000, but now I don't have any other choice to buy those very soon. "Elephant" is the best album of the year so far and it will close 2003 in the top 5 for sure. A necessary album for any fan of original rock! (June 2003 featured review)

 

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