10 must-have albums for iTunes library

By Jesse Gaunce
November 10, 2010

As the year 2010 comes to a close, music continues to become more digitized. Illegal downloading and iTunes have never been more popular.  Whatever happened to full albums?  Does anyone know that they still exist?  Well, they do. We’re going to break away from what is popular today in the music world.

Here is the list of some of the top albums of 2010 that most people have not heard of:

1. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers- “Mojo:”  “Mojo” is Petty’s umpteenth album and technically the first he’s done with the Heartbreakers since 2002’s sly “The Last DJ.”

This time out he’s tackling the blues, trying to graft the Heartbreakers’ signature 1960s garage sound into the Chicago blues sound of Chess Records in the 1950s.

Key Tracks: “Jefferson Jericho Blues,” “I Should Have Known It,” “Good Enough.”

2. Elton John/Leon Russell-“The Union:”  After praising Leon Russell for his work, he and the legendary Elton John have teamed up to bring a full-fledged duet album of rock-and-roll magic.

“The Union” gives a 1970s style to it.  One could call it a comeback album just because Russell has been hiding in the shadows of small US clubs for years and John has not sounded as soulful on this record as he has in years past.

Key Tracks: “If It Wasn’t For Bad,” “Hey Ahab,” “Monkey Suit.”

3. Magnetic Fields- “Realism:”

When you listen to the first few seconds of the opening track “You Must Be Out of Your Mind,” you might think the bank has lost their musical edge.  Don’t be so quick to judge.

The remaining 12 songs on this album pack a punch, one stronger than the next.

What is even better is that the titles of each song are so self-explanatory.

Magnetic Fields have not tapped in their Folk Rock style this much since their 1990 release “Distant Plastic Tress.”

Key Tracks: “You Must Be Out of Your Mind,” “I Don’t Know What to Say,” “The Dolls’ Tea Party.”

4. Soundgarden “Telephantum:”  After years of rumors about a reunion, Soundgarden has finally returned in a big way.  This is somewhat of a greatest hits album with a few live tracks, studio rarities and even reincarnations of some of the band’s biggest hits.

However, there are six new tracks on this album, with the song “Black Rain” being the most popular single.

The two-disc set also contains a DVD of all of Soundgarden’s music videos.

Key Tracks: “Black Rain,” “Pretty Noose,” “Blow Up The Outside World,” “Black Hole Sun,” “Spoonman.”

5.  The Best of Apple Records -“Come and Get It:” You can’t ever go wrong with a plethora of tracks by the Beatles.  This is exactly what “Come and Get It” is.  Every song on this album was inspired by at least on of the members of the enormously legendary group.

Key Tracks: “Carolina In My Mind”  (James Taylor), “Maybe Tomorrow” (The Iveys/Badfinger), “Sour Milk Sea” (Jackie Lomax), “That’s The Way God Planned It” (Billy Preston), “Come and Get It” (Badfinger), “Day After Day” (Badfinger).

6. Stone Temple Pilots-“Stone Temple Pilots:” The Stone Temple Pilots self-titled album marks their return as a group.

It isn’t hard to figure out that lead singer Scott Weiland fought hard to get where he is now with the line “Even when we used to take drugs” from the opening song “Between The Lines.”

After being away from each other for nine years, STP has not missed a beat.

They have retained their hard-edged sound with the help of produced every one of their albums before this one.

Key Tracks: “Between The Lines,” “Huckelberry Crumble.”

7.  Elvis Costello-“National Ransom:” Building upon a foundation instead of beginning another journey suggests that Costello knows he has a fruitful collaboration with producer T-Bone Burnett and a good band with the Sugarcanes, who are now melded with the Imposters to give this Americana equal parts roots-rock, country and pre-war balladry some serious kick.

His former albums Secret, Profane and National Ransom share some superficial sonic characteristics but the former played as a clearinghouse of odds and ends, while National Ransom is a purposeful album with its themes elegantly meshing together and carrying considerable momentum.

Key Tracks: “National Ransom,” “A Slow Drag With Josephine,” “Stations of Cross.”

8. Bryan Ferry-“Olympia:” “Ferry’s 13th solo album is the first of original material since his 1994 release “Mamouna.”  Only the song “Song to the Siren” is from another author.  The original members of Roxy Music add their contrigutions to make this album somewhat of a return to Toxy’s chilly art style.

Key Tracks: “You Can Dance,” “Heartache By Numbers,” “Song to The Siren.”

9. Rufus Wainwright-“All Days Are Nights (Songs for Lulu): ” We find Rufus stripping back the operatic flourishes of his 2007 album “Release the stars,” to deliver a stark and deeply personal collection of songs.

Where “Stars” often featured large backing ensemble arrangements, here Wainwright simply accompanies himself on piano, allowing the lyrics of these poetic, introspective songs and his voice to take the spotlight.

Key Tracks: “Where Are You New York?” “Give Me What I Want and Give It to Me Now,” “True Loves.”

10. Sufjan Stevens- The Age of Adz:” A follow-up to his critically acclaimed 2005 album “Illinoise” puts to rest what has dominated his work for so many years.

“The Age of Adz” is what you would call a schizophrenic album; basically saying a collection of pop songs that feel like more of an exorcism than anything else.  Stevens work has transformed itself into what he calls an “external crisis,” that follows the success of “Illinoise.”

Key Tracks: “Too Much,” “All for Myself,” “I Want to be Well.”

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Jesse Gaunce

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