Saturday, June 18, 2005

The Top 26 Albums Of The 1990s (Part 7)

Urban Hang Suite

Who: Maxwell
What: Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite
When: May 5, 1996
Why: The true heir to Marvin Gaye. Soulful songs of love and adoration. Many, many great tunes (“Welcome,” “Sumthin’ Sumthin’,” “Dancewitme,” “’Til The Cops Come Knockin'” at the top of the list), but “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder)” takes its place as perhaps the best soul song since Marvin and the Reverend Al were at the top of their games in the early ‘70s. Pushed by a languid bass line, the minimalist instrumentation gives way to Maxwell’s soaring falsetto call of devotion. Pure bliss.


Who: Beck
What: Odelay
When: June 18, 1996
Why: Little prepared one for the explosion of Odelay in the summer of 1996. Beck had become known a couple of years earlier for the slacker anthem “Loser.” A couple of half-baked follow-ups and reissues stamped him as a SoCal hippie one-hit wonder. Odelay blew that perception completely out of the water. A combustible mix of hip hop beats, laid-back raps and country twang, all with a Dust Brothers production veneer, Beck took everything – everything! – threw it in a blender and danced to the results. Holding down the album’s center is the scratch masterpiece “Where It’s At,” ubiquitous in the summer heat of that year. The epitome of what the album was all about, it combined a languid mellotron, country guitar pickin’, turntable scratchin’, soulful horns, found sound drops and Beck’s guero rapping. As the outro explained – “It’s all good.”

Perfect From Now On

Who: Built To Spill
What: Perfect From Now On
When: January 28, 1997
Why: Neil Young had long ago set the template for the long-ass guitar jam, with the twin pillars of “Down By The River” and “Cowgirl In The Sand.” Doug Martsch rode out of Idaho to pick up the standard almost two decades later with Built To Spill. Although the band had been around, with various lineups, for a few years before this album – the confluence of Martsch, Scott Plouf (late of The Spinanes) and Brett Nelson provided the right stuff to make the languid grooves come together right. The result is an octet of songs – each clocking in at 5 minutes plus – without a weak link.

The Top 26 Albums Of The 1990s (Part 6)
The Top 26 Albums Of The 1990s (Part 5)
The Top 26 Albums Of The 1990s (Part 4)
The Top 26 Albums Of The 1990s (Part 3)
The Top 26 Albums Of The 1990s (Part 2)
The Top 26 Albums Of The 1990s (Part 1)
The Top 19 Albums Of The 1980s
The Top 16 Albums Of The 1970s


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