Tomorrow I will start a countdown of my favorite albums of the decade. If this were 20 years ago — 1999 instead of 2019 — that list would include Lauryn Hill’s ’97 classic The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill somewhere near the top.
This blend of hip hop, soul and R&B sounds as bold and vital today as it did when it made such a splash 22 years ago. It is even more special for remaining the only solo studio recording Hill ever released (her one follow-up record was a live recording of an MTV Unplugged appearance).
Today’s radom track come from R.E.M.’s 1987 collection of B-sides and rare tracks titled Dead Letter Office.
Often, albums like this can be a bit of a drag — a simple cash grab or an easy way to satisfy a contract. That may well have been the purpose of this one, too, but it’s a great collection of songs nonetheless, providing a glimpse into the band’s burgeoning creativity as well as their playful side.
Today’s track is from Mary Chapin Carpenter’s 1990 album Shooting Straight in the Dark, the country artist’s third album and first to go platinum.
She followed this album with 1992’s Come On Come On, by far her most popular album, then the double platinum Stones in the Road in 1994.
When the Random iTunes Fairy first served up ‘Shaky Town,’ from Jackson Browne’s 1977 classic Running On Empty, I had no idea what it was. I figured it was a track on that album that I’d somehow always skipped, because the title seemed completely new to me.
Once the first verse started, though, I knew it very well. Guess I just never looked at the tracklist.
This is the penultimate song on Elliott Smith’s great 1998 album, XO, and stylistically it’s a nice microcosm of the album.
XO was the album where Smith started broadening his musical palette from his lo-fi beginnings. Similarly, ‘Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands’ starts in a quiet, acoustic style before blowing up at its midpoint into a fully orchestrated coda.
Here’s a Random Weekend selection from the “Whatever Happened To…” file.
The Welsh singer-songwriter Duffy released her celebrated debut album, Rockferry, in 2008, with her throwback style prompting comparisons to Amy Winehouse and Dusty Springfield. The album won a Grammy for Best Pop Album and sold more copies than any other record in the UK that year (it was fourth worldwide).
Here’s a track from Wilco’s sophomore album, 1996’s Being There. This two-disc album was the alt-country band’s first foray into the more experimental sounds for which they would receive widespread acclaim in later years.
A double album loosely based on the relationship between musicians and their fans, Being There features some straightforward bops alongside fascinating sonic detours.