#5. The Who – Who’s Next
I’ve always held the middle ground when it came to either attacking or defending the whole Lifehouse project. On one hand, however ambitious and over-the-top the plot may have been (oh boy, and it definitely was), the music Pete was writing at the time was still top-notch, and in the end, that’s what matters the most, doesn’t it? But on the other hand, how could I really complain, when ‘Who’s Next’ – the “shortened” version of ‘Lifehouse’ that got released instead – is in itself a nearly perfect record? And a rather smartly sequenced one, as well.
#4. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV
Besides having the obvious over-played, radio-friendly hits, I can certainly see why some consider this to be Zeppelin’s best record ever. First of all, it takes a bit from every previous album, therefore incorporating the blues-rooted despondency of the first, the riff-generated heaviness that shook up the second and the heavenly folk acoustic melodies that gave the third its flavour. Then, it adds a new element here and there to keep the listener alert and aware that they are still trying new things. If someone would ask me to recommend a Zeppelin album for them to begin with, I’d pick this one with no hesitation. Not because it’s necessarily their best (though it comes darn close to being so), but because it’s their absolute most representative.
#3. Paul McCartney – Ram
Yeah, the lyrics are mostly nonsense. So what? Who cares about that, when this here guy gives us a set of 12 tuneful, diverse, catchy, atmospheric, Beatles-quality songs? McCartney assumes in turns the roles of the rocker, the clown, the incurable romantic, the sing-along-inviting folkie or the screaming lunatic, with some stunning results. Truly one of his most ambitious and fulfilled projects, without losing one single bit of that “homemade” charm.
#2. The Kinks – Muswell Hillbillies
While many may see ‘Muswell Hillbillies’ as a first slip into the music oblivion, a territory in which Kinks spent a good deal of time, I consider this to be the exact opposite: an unexpected rise in quality and originality that the band won’t ever get to achieve again. A new style is impeccably incorporated along the way and Ray’s sense of melody, lyrical charm and wit are as good as ever. What a fantastic run did the Kinks have – too bad it would end in no more than a year.
#1. The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers
This is it for me. Right here, right now, Stones at their absolute ballsiest, most aggressive, most inventive and therefore, best. ‘Sticky Fingers’ puts together both the music and attitude that the band were chasing ever since they started out in ’64. The riffs are jaw-dropping, the ballads tear-inducing and the members all seem to have come in their prime, including Mick Taylor, whose role in the band seems to have become essential. Were I a religious person, I’d say this is what God put the Stones on Earth to do.