We asked for your opinion on what should be the 50th music and sonic icon in our Anniversary-marking celebration, and you came up trumps. Lots of classic albums, some a little more left-field than others. So here are ten of our favourite tracks from the 10 most popular albums in your selection.
The People’s Choice winnning album – Michael Jackson’s Thriller
This album is obviously chock-full of classic tracks, with no fewer than seven singles taken from the nine that made the final cut. However, if forced to pick just the one, then you can’t really go wrong with the incredible title track. Not only is it a moment of pop magic, it is also accompanied by a ground-breaking video (a video your writer remembers being allowed to sit up late to watch when it was played on British TV for the for the first time.)
Aja – Aja
This is a truly remarkable album, not least because it was from a band (or duo really) that had been together for a decade by the time it was released. It is a wonderfully sophisticated jazz album recorded at a time when Punk and Disco ruled the musical waves. The title track exemplifies the sound and feel of the entire record – a thing of smooth beauty that still sounds incredible after almost 40 years.
Brothers in Arms – Money For Nothing
For better or worse, this is the album that truly introduced the Compact Disc to the world. The third best-selling album in the UK ever and an undisputed Hi-Fi classic, Brother’s In Arms is incredibly well produced and has layer upon layer of sound to enjoy. This single was ubiquitous for several years after it was released, both on the radio and on a newly launched MTV – back in the days when MTV actually played music videos!
The Wall – In the Flesh?
The only act to appear in both this list and the main 49, Pink Floyd’s The Wall would have easily made our list if it weren’t for Dark Side of the Moon. It’s oddly fitting then that versions of this track appear twice on the album itself. This live version is taken from Roger Waters’ excellent film from 2015, and shows the enduring appeal of the album, filling out stadiums almost four decades after its original release!
Nevermind – Breed
Just how much noise can a three-piece band make? A hell of a lot when it’s Nirvana. This Butch Vig produced masterpiece put the Seattle grunge pioneers on the map with its inescapable mix of great drums, wailing guitars and Cobain’s plaintive vocals. Breed sums up the album in one three-minute burst of unfiltered aggression!
Random Access Memories – Get Lucky
This multi-Grammy winning album saw the French electronic duo break into the big time. It moved away from Daft Punk’s completely electronic-heavy albums into the use of session musicians, real instruments and some amazing collaborators – including on this track Pharrell Williams and Nile Rogers of Chic, whose late 70s early 80s output was a big inspiration on this record.
Wish You Were Here – Shine On You Crazy Diamond
You obviously really like Pink Floyd. Not only was Dark Side of the Moon in our top 49 and The Wall right up there in your favourite choices for the 50th album but then this absolute classic makes the cut as well. A beautifully recorded work, it takes on the music industry and, famously in this track, the troubled life of founder member Syd Barrett.
Hotel California – New Kid In Town
The kings of laid back Country Rock, this album has become The Eagles’ signature album, but they were already incredibly successful at the time of its launch. Featuring the first appearance in the band of Joe Walsh, the album is slightly rockier than their previous outings. This track though is still very much in the country spirit, and features amazing vocal harmonies by Frey and Hendry.
Tubular Bells – Tubular Bells
From its instantly recognisable opening – which went on to be used as the theme for The Exorcist – to the Sailor’s Hornpipe at the end this is an incredibly complex, wonderful piece of music. Split in two halves because of the requirements of an LP, Oldfield has never come close to replicating the impact of his debut album, but as a stand-alone piece of music it is quite some legacy.
IV – Stairway to Heaven
Rounding off this incredible top 10 is possibly the ultimate rock album. There really is nothing in the way of filler on this masterpiece. The amazing Black Dog kicks things off and sounds amazing either on LP or the latest CD remasters, where the drums take your breath away with their power. But Stairway to Heaven is the most instantly recognisable track – on this album or by Led Zeppelin.
Discover our Top 50 classic albums here.