Parliament “Osmium” (1970)

A trashy, kitschy, collage-like soul album in which Clinton begins to lay the ground of the P-funk sound. Those expecting the heavy psyched-out guitar rock of early Funkadelic will find this a little “poppy.” Those expecting the streamlined dancefloor grooves of Parliament will find this a little “rocky.” But this is no middle-ground record: they gospelize Pachelbel, dick around with country twang, and feature some bagpipes and harps in an ethereal soul workout about getting to the other side. It’s unlike anything else you’ve ever heard, though doubtless you’ve heard just about all of it: in the sampling of some rappist or another. –Will

UFO “Phenomenon” (1974)

A good example of a band that didn’t achieve the success that matched the quality of their talent, would be, without a doubt, UFO. All of the ingredients were present, a guitar hero (Michael Schenker), a unique vocalist (Phil Mogg), a solid rhythm section, the power pop sensibilities of Cheap Trick and monster Sabbath riffs. Really, what more could a mid-seventies rock band need to be arena rock monsters. Their failure to appeal to the masses is a bit of a head-scratchier? Then again, as a teenager, I myself, considered them to be a B-level act. At the time, I wasn’t interested in subtleties, I was interested in rocking…hard. For some reason, diversity was alright for Led Zeppelin, but not for many others. It had to be loud, aggressive or progressive to cut through the hormonal fueled muck that was my sixteen year old brain. Still, somewhere in my self conscious, Phenomenon made an impression which led me to rediscover a hidden gem of an album and in turn, helped me rediscover UFO, All those years ago, my primitive mind could only wrap itself around “Rock Bottom” and “Doctor Doctor”. At the time, I considered these two, they only songs worth listening to on the entire album. The former built on a turbo charged upbeat intro riff, a half-time tempo shift and a classic seventies extended solo break in which Schenker pulls out all stops. The later was highlighted by tasteful fills and a bouncing shuffle beat, but what made these tracks stand out, was that they were the heaviest songs on this record. And HEAVY mattered more then anything. Now, older and wiser, I realize the album didn’t come close to ending there. “Too Young To Know” and “Oh My” are straight ahead root rockers, with earthy grooves and blues hooks the Stones made a somewhat nice living on. “Time on My Hands”, “Space Child” and “Crystal Light” are folkie ballads with stick-in-your-head melodies and unexpected twists. “Space Child” in particular, stands out with its’ loose structure and gripping solo. Less successful are “Built for Comfort”, which is a poor mans “Lemon Song”, and “Queen of the Deep”, which somewhat boldly meshes the folkie-UFO with the big riff-UFO, but misfires a bit in the attempt and fades just when it starts building momentum. The only real clunker is “Lipstick Traces”, which is basically just clichéd seventies filler. Believe me, these are small complaints. All in all, Phenomenon is not a Zeppelin album, but it would fit nicely in the same disc changer. –Rat Salad

Rod Stewart “Every Picture Tells a Story” (1971)

Rod Stewart was Rod Stewart before he became Rod Stewart. When he was Rod Stewart, he recorded a handful of extraordinary albums, both as a solo artist and as a member of the mighty Faces. This one’s arguably the best LP of the lot. Here are just a few reasons: The title track; “(I Know) I’m Losing You,” which might be the best cover tune in history; the drumming throughout the record, but especially on the aforementioned title track; the wonderful, organic sound, with acoustic guitars that are heavy, warm, and propulsive, and the electric guitar of Ron Wood, who might’ve been the best of his generation, or at least the coolest; the emotional range of the record, which is full of humour and pathos and the kind of spontaneous rawkousness that you just don’t hear anymore. Did I mention the title track? –Will

Weezer “Weezer” (1994)

The great tunes here deal with sex (as great songs usually do), such as “Undone (The Sweater Song)” and “Only in Dreams.” The epic “Say it Ain’t So” is one of the best songs of the decade, period. The band doesn’t waste time noodling around and every track sounds punchy and vital. Another positive are the smart lyrics. Not smart because they try to be clever – quite the opposite, actually. Every word rings true, which is quite a feat considering they aren’t masked by slick wordplay or attempts at poetic garbage. Cuomo writes pop songs as perfect as Oasis thinks theirs are. Somehow, the band filters them through the type of sun-drenched garage sensibility that is usually reserved for SoCal bands only. Finally, Weezer never overreaches or missteps, making this a thoroughly enjoyable experience from start to finish. –Lucus

Armageddon “Armageddon” (1975)

Shaggy proto-metal stretched and contorted into long winded, progressive forms, second tier supergroup Armageddon recall the similarly assembled Captain Beyond in both form and execution, both bands in fact sharing a member in drummer Bobby Caldwell. Ex-Yardbirds and Renaissance vocalist Keith Relf fronts the group, while Steamhammer’s Martin Pugh lays down piercing, wah-washed guitar on the circling “Buzzard,” slashes and burns through the frantic “Paths and Planes and Future Gains,” and works a heavy funk riff ala Zeppelin and Budgie on “Last Stand Before.” Elsewhere there’s the glassy tones of the ethereal “Silver Tightrope,” and the album concludes with a rambiling, multi-part suite in “Basking in the White of the Midnight Sun.” An impressive, semi-obscure heavy gem that any fan of bludgeoning bell-bottom rock should enjoy surrendering to. –Ben

Little Feat “Sailing Shoes” (1972)

This wonderfully bizarre album cover hides the secret love child of ZZ Top’s “Tres Hombres” and The Stone’s “Exile on Main Street.” “Sailing Shoes” is an eclectic mix of rock, country, blues and gospel that avoids the Southern and country-rock cliches and is experimental enough to reward repeated listening. In the past, when I’ve thrown on The Allman Brothers or Dr. John, I’ve been disappointed because THIS was the album I wanted to hear all along! It’s a rare album that transcends genres and consistently surpasses expectations but Little Feat has done it here. If you love seventies rock slip on “Sailing Shoes,” walk over to Jive Time and thank me! (And then pick up the equally impressive “Dixie Chicken.”) –David

XTC “Black Sea” (1980)

By 1980’s “Black Sea” XTC were fully into their stride, the previous years exceptional “Drums And Wires” remains an early high water mark yet “Black Sea” sees them expanding their sound further, moving away from the angular, sparky new wave of that album and towards a tougher, rockier sound, as such it’s arguably their most accessible of all their early albums. A 60’s feel is beginning to rear it’s head in a lot of their work, take for instance “Respectable Street” and “Towers Of London,” the former has strong echoes of mid 60’s Kinks whilst the latter is pure “Rubber Soul” era Beatles, both given a punkish twist, “No Language In Our Lungs” also has a strong Beatles influence but still manages to sound typically XTC. Where “Drums And Wires” was rough around the edges “Black Sea” is a lot more focused and less artsy sounding, still this is XTC so fans of their artsy leanings can always revel in “Travels In Nihilon’s” apocalyptic soundscape or “Living Through Another Cuba’s” dub infused paranoia but overall Black Sea is a lot more polished and poppy than anything the band had recorded since their spiky, charming debut. “Generals And Majors,” “Love At First Sight,” “Rocket From A Bottle,” “Paper And Iron” and “Burning With Optimism’s Flames” would all have made great singles, strange then that they chose to release arguably the album’s weakest track, the XTC by numbers of “Sgt Rock,” still it’s one misstep on an otherwise blemish free album, I prefer the jittery, nervous “Drums And Wires” ever so slightly but that does not diminish “Black Sea’s” tough majesty. Yet another classic from England’s most underrated band. –Derek

The Rolling Stones “Some Girls” (1978)

When I was in school the rules were clear: Rock ruled. Disco and punk sucked. The end. As a devoted rocker I carried my KISW “Disco Sucks” club card in my wallet and expressed disgust whenever Donna Summer or the Sex Pistols were mentioned (having never actually heard either). Then something miraculous happened: The Rolling Stones released “Some Girls.” The Stones’ ability to blend rock, blues and country with the seemingly polarizing disco and punk made me realize for the first time that it was all related and that it was all rock and roll! Pre-internet, this album was also my portal to a world outside of the suburbs of Seattle. I’ll never forget the first time I heard the sleazy “Shattered,” and prowling “Miss You” on the radio, flooding me with images of a gritty, decadent New York. The sexually charged lyrics, androgynous imagery and Jagger’s swagger (along with the infamous SNL appearance promoting the album) suggested a sexual world infinitely more complex and exciting than the black and white one previously painted for me by the likes of Kiss and Aerosmith. Even the Warhol-esque, die-cut cover’s tabloid kitsch influenced the way I thought about art and design. Best of all, “Some Girls” sounds as fresh to me today as it did in ’78 and continues to hold a coveted top spot in my record collection. Some Girls. Some album! –David

Billy Nichols “Would You Believe” (1968)

“Would You Believe” is stunning late ’60’s pop crafted with knowing nods of love to Brian Wilson’s Pet Sounds, that thankfully NEVER forgets the importance of the… (cough) London Social Degree. However, if drug references are Billy’s point, they’re overwhelmed soniclly as “Would You…” is packed full of LUSH, dense arrangements awash with a “sound” that serves to unify the LP as a whole… it’s absolutely gorgeous. In fact… I own two copies (I wish!). Anyways, turns out, thirty years ago, this LP was shelved without any believable reason, the Loog, the fella responsible for the shelving, oughta be ashamed. –Nipper

Fripp & Eno “Evening Star” (1975)

The second collaboration between the two highbrow British art/prog rockers, Evening Star pairs Fripp’s “Frippertronic” guitar, layered and sustained indefinitely through use of analog tape loops, with synthesizer and various treatments from Eno, for an ambient match made in heaven. The serene first side is highlighted by the beautiful title track, which borders on melodic, while still maintaining the minimalist style of Eno’s ambient works. Conversely, the second side, titled “An Index of Metals,” quietly builds layers of ever more dissonant guitar, developing an unnerving atmosphere. This is an album that effortlessly creates a distinctly reflective mood, and is an essential item for fans of either artist. –Ben

The Records “The Records” (1979)

Sure, their flawless, jet-setting single “Starry Eyes” is reason enough to pick up The Records’ debut, but the album as a whole is stuffed with more sugary goodness than your average box of Frosted Flakes. The first side is jam-packed with the restless “All Messed Up and Ready to Go,” adolescent buzz of “Teenarama,” minor key mood piece “Girls That Don’t Exist,” and choice deep cut in the lingering ballad “Up All Night,” while the remainder is highlighted by the punchy rock of “Girl,” nervous “Insomnia,” and jukebox hero tale, “Another Star.” With the requisite vocal harmonies and ringing guitars filled out with the occasional organ or synthesizer, The Records is steadfast in it’s delivery of classic power pop confection. –Ben

Black Sabbath “Master of Reality” (1971)

The beautiful thing thing about the first few Black Sabbath records is that, although they’re the heaviest, darkest, and most extreme representations of electric guitar driven music at that time, it’s the kind of thing a five year old could get down to at first listen. Their undeniably satisfying grooves, hooks, and drive leave them sounding as easily digestible as Creedence Clearwater Revival, only dipped in wax and plugged through a marshall stack in the dark. Master Of Reality, Sabbath’s third testament, is probably their darkest. From the black haze of a cover and heaviest album title of all time, to guitar tone that sounds like the amps took bong rips, the record has enough vibe to spook a horse. The songs are laid back and seem to exercise groove endurance, giving the effect of psychedelia through hypnotism. Juxtaposing the fuzz are two short mellow instrumentals and the angelic “solitude,” which sounds like a candle glowing under the ocean. Art of the highest order and accessible to all walks. if you haven’t yet gotten down, I suggest getting down immediately. -Alex