It’s the classic “full creative control” story. Artist earns the respect (and the right) to do things as he wants. He goes against the grain to bring his vision to light. But upon hearing the final product, the record executives can’t believe it’s actually final. Sorry, bub. Creative control means creative control. And in this case, Willie Nelson’s 1975 album, “Red-Headed Stranger,” not only proved to be one of the most successful country albums of all time, but also one of the most successful — and celebrated — ALBUMS of all time. It’s a sparsely-produced, under-budget, concept album about a preacher that essentially goes on a killing spree. And it changed country music forever.

References in this Epipod:

You can buy or stream Red-Headed Stranger by Willie Nelson online at iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon. 

 

When one thinks of the top rock albums of 1991, undoubtedly some classics come to mind. Nirvana’s “Nevermind.” Pearl Jam’s “Ten.” “Achtung Baby” by U2. Metallica’s so-called “Black Album.” Guns’n’Roses even released “Use Your Illusion I & II” that year. But when Spin magazine unveiled its best album of the year, that honor went to Scotland’s Teenage Fanclub for their “Bandwagonesque.” And for good reason. Combining early-90s crunch and distortion with odes to the pop goodness of the likes of Big Star, “Bandwagonesque” is as complete and inspiring as anything else that came out that year. We dare you to listen to it and not be drawn in by the melodic hooks, syrupy harmonies, or the relatable lyrics. Teenage Fanclub may be the most underrated-yet-influential band of the last 30 years. And this album shows why.

References in this Epipod:

You can buy or stream Bandwagonesque by Teenage Fanclub  online at iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon. 

 

In many ways, Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers” – which turns 25 years old this month – was the un-“Full Moon Fever.” When it was released, “Wildflowers” seemed sparse and stripped down, especially compared to his previous offering. But it not only featured Petty’s hit-making skills – the album produced bona fide Petty radio and MTV hits like “You Wreck Me” and “ You Don’t Know How it Feels” – but it gave the world a chance to for Petty to pour out his soul in a way that still haunts today. With Rick Rubin’s get-out-of-the-way production, “Wildflowers” is (sadly) Petty’s autobiographical epitaph — one that he just happened to write two decades before his death.

References in this Epipod:

You can buy or stream Wildflowers by Tom Petty online at iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon. 

 

When The Beatles returned to Abbey Road to record their sixth album, they were exhausted from constant touring and releasing at a pace of two albums a year. They also had virtually no songs prepared. But when it was completed, their sixth album was Rubber Soul, arguably the first actual album, not just a collection of songs. This was the turning point; it’s the album that bridges the British Invasion Beatles to Revolver and Sgt. Pepper. It’s the album that turned the music world on its rear, forcing the band’s rivals and contemporaries like the Beach Boys and Rolling Stones to step up their games.  In essence, with Rubber Soul, the Beatles were just getting started.

References in this Epipod:

You can buy or stream Rubber Soul by the Beatles online at iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon. 

 

It’s the quintessential breakup album, full of heartache and remorse, remembrance and longing. “Blood on the Tracks” is quintessential Bob Dylan at his most poetic — and beautiful.

References in this Epipod:

You can buy or stream Blood on the Tracks by Bob Dylan online at iTunes,  Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon.