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1963-Various Artists – A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector
December 21, 2009, 2:46 pm
Filed under: Holiday, Music, Pop/Rock | Tags: , , , , ,

A Christmas Gift for You From Phil Spector stands as inarguably the greatest Christmas record of all time. Spector believed he could produce a record for the holidays that would capture not only the essence of the Christmas spirit, but also be a pop masterpiece that would stand against any work these artists had already done. He succeeded on every level, with all four groups/singers recording some of their most memorable performances. This is the Christmas album by which all later holiday releases had to be judged, and it has inspired a host of imitators.” (Source: Allmusic.com)

AMG rating: 5 Stars

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1978-Van Halen – Van Halen
December 21, 2009, 2:56 am
Filed under: Hard Rock, Heavy metal, Music, Pop/Rock | Tags: , ,

“Sheer visceral force is one thing, but originality is another, and the still-amazing thing about Van Halen is how it sounds like it has no fathers. Plenty other bands followed this template in the ’80s, but like all great originals Van Halen doesn’t seem to belong to the past and it still sounds like little else, despite generations of copycats. Listen to how “Runnin’ with the Devil” opens the record with its mammoth, confident riff and realize that there was no other band that sounded this way” (Source: Allmusic.com)

AMG rating: 5 Stars

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1980-Iron Maiden – Iron Maiden
December 20, 2009, 7:59 pm
Filed under: Heavy metal, Music | Tags: , , , ,

“There may be no better place to hear how both punk and prog rock informed the New Wave of British Heavy Metal than Iron Maiden’s self-titled debut. Often overlooked and overshadowed by the glorious Bruce Dickinson years, it’s easy to forget that Iron Maiden was itself a game-changer when it appeared on the scene in 1980. That year also saw important albums from Motörhead, Saxon, and Angel Witch, but Iron Maiden vaulted its creators to the head of the NWOBHM pack, reaching the U.K. Top Five and establishing them as an outfit with the talent to build on Judas Priest’s late-’70s innovations.” (Source: Allmusic.com)

AMG rating: 4.5 Stars

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1983-Def Leppard – Pyromania
December 20, 2009, 5:57 pm
Filed under: Hard Rock, Heavy metal, Pop/Rock | Tags: , , ,

“More than ever before, the band’s songs on Pyromania are driven by catchy, shiny melodic hooks instead of heavy guitar riffs. Robert John “Mutt” Lange’s buffed-to-a-sheen production — polished drum and guitar sounds, multi-tracked layers of vocal harmonies, a general sanding of any and all musical rough edges, and a perfectionistic attention to detail — set the style for much of the melodic hard rock that followed. Leppard’s quest for huge, transcendent hard rock perfection on Pyromania was surprisingly successful; their reach never exceeded their grasp, which makes the album an enduring (and massively influential) classic.” (Source: Allmusic.com)

AMG rating: 5 Stars

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1981-Billy Squier – Don’t Say No
December 20, 2009, 5:35 pm
Filed under: Hard Rock, Pop/Rock | Tags: , , ,

“After turning some heads with his debut, Billy Squier truly arrived with 1981’s Don’t Say No, which kicks off in spectacular fashion with the triple opening salvo of “In the Dark,” “The Stroke,” and “My Kinda Lover” — all of which become staples at rock radio. The album is a near-perfect example of early-’80s melodic hard rock, and even less enduring (but hardly inferior rockers) such as “You Know What I Like” and “Lonely Is the Night” keep up the intensity.” (Source: Allmusic.com)

AMG rating: 4.5 Stars

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1984-Roger Hodgson – In the Eye of the Storm
December 20, 2009, 5:07 pm
Filed under: Music, Pop/Rock, Progressive | Tags: , ,

“1984’s In the Eye of the Storm, is a remarkable work of explosive creativity. Hodgson wrote, sang, arranged, and produced In the Eye of the Storm, but the real kicker is the fact that he played every instrument himself, with a few exceptions such as drums and fretless bass guitar on a few cuts. As a result, In the Eye of the Storm is easily the best synthesis of pop and progressive rock since, well, prime Supertramp.” (Source: Allmusic.com)

AMG rating: 4.5 Stars

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1983-ZZ Top – Eliminator
December 20, 2009, 4:33 pm
Filed under: Hard Rock, Music, Pop/Rock | Tags: , , , ,

“With “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” “Sharp Dressed Man,” and “Legs,” they had their greatest set of singles since the heady days of Tres Hombres, and the songs that surrounded them weren’t bad either. The songs alone would have made Eliminator one of ZZ Top’s three greatest albums, but their embrace of synths and sequencers made it a blockbuster hit, since it was the sound of the times. Yet it sounds like a mechanized ZZ Top thanks to the unflaggingly accurate grooves. Then again, that’s part of the album’s charm — this is new wave blues-rock, glossed up for the video, looking as good as the omnipresent convertible on the cover and sounding as irresistible as Reaganomics” (Source: AllMusic.com)

AMG rating: 4.5 Stars

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