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The Perfect Album


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There's something incredibly special about a truly perfect artist album. There are incredibly few albums that I can personally listen through to & LOVE from the first note to last & not wanting to skip a single beat.


Obviously this is a hugely personally thing, but I was wondering what some of your perfect albums were & why?


To kick it off here's one of mine, more to follow...






This album came off the back of Kanye's infamous, "imma let you finish" Taylor Swift interruption & had him seemly trying to make amends. Ahead of the albums drop he kicked off his GOOD Friday music give aways. Teasing forthcoming album material like "Devil In A New Dress", "Monster", & "So Appalled", i seem to also remember work in progress versions of "Lost In The World". Then there was the 35min Runaway film teasing more album tracks & his 2010 VMA performance, toasting the assholes & douchebags a year after the Taylor incident. So already the set up for the LP was incredible interesting & exciting to me. 


Then the actual album dropped. Firstly i love the artwork from George Condo & intrigued by the fact it was pixelated for the majority of the release, but the music!! God damn. Power, All The Lights & Monster are straight anthems. Nicki Minaj dropped, to me still, career best verse on Monster. To me Kanye has always been a next level producer by some of the beats on this are just mind blowing, but sounding totally unique to him. So Appalled kills me everytime, the aphex twin sample in Blame Game, the end half of runaway, Bon Iver's vocals & the all star backing vocalists on Lost In The World & then into the Gil-Scott Heron sample. Nothing has come close to the production on this album since personally.


Ultimately it feels like the most mature & total Kanye West album to date. I love the experimentation of his subsequent work but they aren't total albums in the sense of how this one works. A start to finish listen for me.





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A few spring to mind, in particular:




The album that really got me (and I'm sure a lot of others) into hip-hop. Completely flawless in my opinion, and from a golden age where layer after layer of samples were built up to create a sonic masterpiece, rather than just wholesale copying of a complete riff and chucking a lame rap over it.


Chuck D at his best, with additional vocals from Flavor Flav. On paper Flav's comic relief could possibly get annoying, but it doesn't.

It really stands out from recent hip hop albums by having few interludes and being skit and guest vocalist free.


Second choice is a bit different but again shows my age:


Electronic perfection - Masterful songwriting by Martin Gore, immaculate production by Flood and Alan Wilder. The album that really made people take DM seriously.

Videos by Anton Corbijn were the icing on the cake, along with some of DM's best remixes on the single releases. A flawless time for the band, not just a perfect album.


Yet another one to listen to from start to finish, with the closer (Clean, track 9) being one of if not my favourite song of all time.


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I think it would be pointless to post a load of mine, as they would go on and on and be too exhausting. I think a lot of what I think is "flawless" is actually a bad joke. Its more about your musical DNA, how you grew up with music, and you didn't initially get all anal about it, just liked it without being too critical.


Being a kid growing up, I bought a lot of singles. Being into albums was more of what my Dad did, and as such you grow under that shadow. Albums I grew up with, buying them myself with my own money and playing them literally to death, those are the records with I just cannot be critical about, they are part of my DNA. Even though I know deep down, some of the tracks on the albums are total crap.  


For example, 

Japan "Gentlemen Take Polaroids" / "Quiet Life" / "Assemblage / Tin Drum" 

Human League "Travelogue" and "Dare"

Associates "Forth Drawer Down" 

Prince "1999" / "Purple Rain" / "Around the World in a Day" / "Parade" / "Sign of the times" 

Beastie Boys "Paul's Boutique" (I'm not attempting to be a tragic hipster here, I genuinely bought the album on the day of release, I loved the cover and was intrigued what was on the record inside.)

Janes Addiction "Ritual de lo Habitual" 


I could go on, a massive list...


Recent works, well I mostly listen to female singers and female fronted bands these last 10 years. The male band template is boring and has been for decades. Artists like St Vincent, Warpaint and Grimes blaze the way


Also a lot of electronic music, from my youth again (The Human League) from Boards of Canada and beyond. My most recent revelation, album wise, was Flying Lotus' "Cosmogramma". Its a tough and at time punishing first listen, but there is so much in it, kitchen sink and all. The editing of the work is also dazzling, the album is over in 40 minutes and it goes through a lot of twists and turns, a hell of a journey. Everything you want an album to be really, where you hear something different, from the first play to the hundredth 



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I don't understand how this album's 38 minutes all coalesce and hang together, but they do. Wish I'd found this in my youth as opposed to the po-faced & boring Daydream Nation.


Greater than the sum of its parts, which are already pretty great.




Big fan of his solo work, this album hangs together as my favourite summer album, it sounds off the cuff but the playing is wonderful and it has such a consistent mood of sun interjected with melancholy, reminds me of driving to the sea and ends with his best song lyrically after a pretty piano interlude. 



Perhaps my favourite album suite actually, it's a glorious (again summery) suite of songs ranging from plaintive folk to the Sly Stone workout of Mint Julep. Big tip! Was a big hit at time in France and he made a crap sequel to it years later.



This is just glorious southern gothic that I always listen to in full.




More of a singles artist traditionally, this is another album I feel flows perfectly with tracks that inform each other including some instrumental passages.




His albums can be very dense but I think this relatively early one of his nailed the balance between americana and spirituality perfectly, it's one of the few albums I can put on that helps me relax when having borderline anxiety attacks.


A few others but don't want to completely spam the thread!

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This is obviously all a matter of personal taste, not to mention age, but as far as I'm concerned there have only been two perfect albums. Made a decade apart by giants of the British music scene, and in both cases the last album the band made "as a band" before messily and acrimoniously falling apart.






There have been plenty of brilliant albums since, of course, but nothing quite reaches those magical heights.

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That In Rainbows art is still incredible. Like the album but never liked Reckoner that much, I'd still just about rate Kid A as their only perfect album to me. Having another 3 or 4 that are close is hard to fathom!

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Most of mine stem from the 70s; back when you really committed to playing a whole side of vinyl.

First record I think I appreciated as a whole was Bowie, and 'Ziggy Stardust' - I considered Hunky Dory, but this hangs together better for me. Suprisingly, as a couple of tracks were apparently worked in from other projects. So much so that I hate the CD version I have, with extra tracks, because it crashes into 'John, I'm only Dancing' just after the last notes of Rock'n'Roll Suicide fade out. Ugh.

Next up - some Floyd; probably Wish You Were Here or Dark Side of the Moon; hard to choose between just one of these two. Earlier Floyd albums were piecemeal - either individual pieces of whimsy from Syd, or 1-side concept pieces with disparate tracks on the other. Enjoyable, but not cohesive.

Then, I think, PiL - Metal Box. I bought this on a whim, and hated it on first play. Then I played it again. And then some more. And now, I realise, it's perfect.

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I'm not a huge fan of black metal (although I like it) but Wolves in the Throne Room's 2 Hunters is a genuine masterpiece (again a concise 46 mins). Amazing use of atmospherics and female vocals, with a slow intro before only really pummelling you towards the end. It's probably the best paced album I can think of. Production the best of a metal album I can think of too. Glorious.



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Tom Tom Club by Tom Tom Club is perfect.




I'm a bit obsessed by this album. Considering that Tina and Chris basically started it off while taking a five minute breather from Talking Heads, it's incredible. A gem that somehow manages to squash eighties psycho-futurism, the spirit of France and Africa, go-go, folk music and some very expensive drum synths indeed into a light as a feather pop soufflé. Every track is a delight.


I came across this little doc that explains the genesis of Wordy Rappinghood too, worth five minutes of anyone's time.



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Don't listen to this that much anymore but it's perfect at what it does. Alt-Country OK Computer. Well, that's not fair and a lazy journo trope. It's a wonderful album with incredible song-writing  and despite the band's (half-hearted imo) attempt to deconstruct it, they are so indebted to basic melody and warmth that they never got near the motorik they sought and all the better for it.



Doc on it's difficult gestation.




It's actually less about writer's block and more label woes and fact Jeff Tweedy is a bit of an arse.



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This is very timely, as I recently re-acquired quite a lot of my music on vinyl - but only those albums which I love so much that I'll play them all the way through without wanting to skip a single track. There are actually more than in this list - mainly Eno and Bowie - but I've whittled it down to one per artist. Also, the Yello one is a cheat as it's a compilation, but SO WHAT. Here are my top 50 brilliant, no-filler albums.



ABC - The Lexicon Of Love

Amorphous Androgynous - Tales Of Ephidrina

Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works 85-92

B12 - Electro-Soma

Boards Of Canada - Music Has The Right To Children

Brian Eno - Before And After Science

Burial - Untrue

Chungking - We Travel Fast

Cocteau Twins - Heaven Or Las Vegas

David Bowie - Station To Station

David Sylvian - Gone To Earth

Depeche Mode - Violator

Duran Duran - Rio

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong - Porgy & Bess

Engineers - Engineers

Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand

Future Sound Of London - Lifeforms

Goldfrapp - Felt Mountain

Iron Maiden - The Number of the Beast

Japan - Gentlemen Take Polaroids

Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye

Kate Bush - Hounds Of Love

KLF - Chill Out

Kraftwerk - Die Mensch-Maschine

Kuedo - Severant

Leftfield - Leftism

LFO - Advance

Manic Street Preachers - The Holy Bible

Massive Attack - Mezzanine

Metallica - The Black Album

Metronomy - The English Riviera

Mica Levi - Under The Skin OST

Miles Davis - Tutu

Mogwai - Les Revenants

Monolake - Silence

Ohm Square - Scion

Orb - Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld

Pet Shop Boys - Behaviour

Peter Gabriel - III (Melt)

Polygon Window - Surfing On Sine Waves

Portishead - Dummy

Prince - Purple Rain

Propaganda - A Secret Wish

Roxy Music - For Your Pleasure

Saint Etienne - Tiger Bay

Simple Minds - New Gold Dream

Telepopmusik - Angel Milk

The The - Soul Mining

Underworld - Dubnobasswithmyheadman

Yello - 1980-1985 The New Mix In One Go

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The only completely flawless album to me is Radiohead's OK Computer. Usually when the first notes of Airbag start to play I don't stop listening until the microwave ping at the end of The Tourist. It's such an impeccably constructed whole, both songwise and thematically. Every single element is in the exact right place. Each song logically flows into the subsequent one and the immaculate way the songs are arranged somehow enhances them individually, with the soothing No Surprises after the frightening Climbing Up the Walls etc. There's a couple of other Radiohead albums that I also really love but OKC has a unique, masterful overall atmosphere. There's a great feeling of melancholy and warmth that elevates it above just about everything else.

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