Sure, prior to 1992 there had been combinations of rap and rock. But they were mostly of the novelty variety – a way to offer a safe crossover of different genres and audiences. When Rage Against the Machine unloaded their debut album in 1992, they kicked the crap out of the novelty and drew a line in the sand that told the world that playtime was over. This wasn’t “Walk this Way” or “I’m the Man.” Tom Morello, Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford laid down some of the heaviest, grooviest music around — which was perfect for Zack de la Rocha’s growls, screams and diatribes against oppression, racism, authority — and anything else on his mind. “Bombtrack,” “Killing in the Name,” “Take the Power Back”  and the rest take the spirit of 1960s protest songs with the added element of a world where everyone can see that the revolution was televised. Rage provided the uncensored and unfettered soundtrack.


You can listen to the self-titled album by Rage Against The Machine on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, YouTube, and Amazon, although it’s probably best on vinyl.


Perhaps no band benefited from the beauty of the mix tape better than the Violent Femmes. However, you could argue that no other band led to the proliferation of the art form of creating a mix tape more than the Femmes. The simpleness of song structure (and production) and the adolescent lyrical content (one reviewer calling it “uber-elementary sing-alongs”) were absolutely {chef’s kiss} to represent frustrated, angsty teenagers of the 1980s and ’90s. It makes sense — chief songwriter Gordon Gano began writing much of these tunes when he was 15, after all. Their debut 1983 album includes classics like “Blister in the Sun,” “Gone Daddy Gone,” “Kiss Off,” “Add It Up” and more — all songs that hit the nerve of what it means to be a young person. It’s no surprise that the Violent Femmes can still be heard on “mix tapes” (aka playlists) even today. 


You can listen to the self-titled album by Violent Femmes on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, YouTube, and Amazon, although it’s probably best on vinyl.


Few artists have enjoyed a resurgence in appreciation over the past decade like Dolly Parton. But in the 1970s, she fought against the perception that she was just a sidekick to Porter Wagoner … or just a pretty face. It also goes without saying that a lot of people think of other things first when thinking about Dolly, instead of thinking about her talents as a songwriter, singer and musician. But Dolly has remained true to her roots and to herself, and in recent years, she has begun to enjoy an elevated level of respect as an icon, a musician and an unbelievable person. But she’s been crushing it for a LONG time. No better example than 1974’s album “Jolene,” which includes the title track and “I Will Always Love You.” Perhaps you’ve heard of them? While the rest of the songs may not reach the level of those two, other tunes are elevated by Dolly’s lilting, east Tennessee voice, her ability to bring emotion to a story, and her songwriting prowess.


You can listen to Jolene by Dolly Parton on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, YouTube, and Amazon, although it’s probably best on vinyl.


With his 1971 album, “What’s Going On,” Motown staple Marvin Gaye turned the R&B world — and the pop music world for that matter — upside down, smashing conventional ideas about pop songs, album topics and even song themes. It’s an album — and one you really should listen to from start to finish — about a Vietnam vet returning from war to find an America weighted down by racism, drugs, hatred and injustice. Not surprising, Gaye had to fight hard to have his vision come to life. It was deemed to be a concept album without any radio hits. It was too dark — especially coming from the voice of such hits as “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You),” “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” and so many more. But in the end, Gaye got his way — and our world is better for it. He even had the last laugh as the title track went to No. 2 on the Billboard Soul charts, and “Mercy Mercy Me” and “Inner-City Blues” both charted in the top 10. Oh, and in 2020, Rolling Stone listed it No. 1 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. “Right On.”


You can listen to What’s Going On on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, YouTube, and Amazon, although it’s probably best on vinyl.


“And I said baby … it’s 3 a.m., I must be lonely.” If you were anywhere within earshot of a radio or MTV in the mid-to-late 1990s, that little slice of earworm was no doubt getting stuck in your head. The culprits? Rob Thomas and his band mates in Matchbox Twenty, whose debut album, “Yourself or Someone Like You,” took pop radio by storm. Hits like the aforementioned “3AM,” “Push,” “Real World” and more pushed the sales of this album upwards of MILLIONS of copies. (It sold just over 600 copies in its first week; today, it has sold more than 15 million.) And while the songs (and the band) may get dissed nowadays for being too vanilla, you can’t deny the pop sensibilities  of  Thomas, who not only as a golden voice, but also a golden ear for hit-making music. (As we would, unfortunately, find out when he gets introduced to one Carlos Santana.) Is “Yourself” a classic album? Depends on your definition of “classic.” But you can’t deny that many of these songs are just so damn catchy. And isn’t that sometimes good enough?


You can listen to Yourself Or Someone Like You by Matchbox Twenty on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, YouTube, and Amazon. 


First, let’s get something out of the way. This is an album podcast. It always will be, first and foremost. Therein lies some limitations around how to talk about some of the early pioneers of rock and roll and pop music. Many of them “released” albums that were nothing more than a collection of disparate singles. Or they loosely put together a collection of songs, threw a cover on it and called in an “album.” Elvis Presley was no different. However, with “From Elvis in Memphis,” The King had an opportunity to present a new version of himself — one buoyed by his recent comeback TV success. And instead of crooning for screaming fans, Elvis instead sang for himself, eschewing soundtracks and going back, in many ways, to his roots. This “Memphis sound” Elvis is full of soul, country, gospel and blues — all the things that made him HIM. The results are a gutsy album of perhaps Elvis at his best. And the last song on the original release was a heartfelt ode to the disenfranchised that was – and still is – perhaps his greatest song: “In the Ghetto.” 


You can listen to From Elvis in Memphis on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, YouTube, and Amazon. 


“Hooray for Hollywood / That screwy ballyhooey Hollywood …”
Just in time for this year’s Academy Awards, Finest Worksongs is offering up our first-ever Oscars Edition where we feature a movie soundtrack. And what a doozy. The &#%!@ album we chose is so &#%!@ good, so innovative and clever, that we just had to &#%!@ talk about it. “Pulp Fiction” was such a game-changer of a film; however, you can’t talk about the movie without talking about how methodical the song choices were for the soundtrack. Quentin Tarantino’s choice of surf music, funk, country, love songs and more – not to mention the decision to include dialogue from the movie itself on the soundtrack album — not only extended the lasting power of the movie, but also ingrained so many of the lines, scenes and characters into our psyche some three decades later. It is, as is said in the movie, some serious gourmet &#%!@.


You can listen to Pulp Fiction: Music From the Motion Picture on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, YouTube, and Amazon. 


No one knows you quite like a sibling. That can result in a familiarity and a closeness that results in beautiful things. It can also result in sibling rivalries and infighting — as in the case of the Gallagher brothers in Oasis. Noel and Liam, the creative centers of the British band, aren’t exactly the closest of brothers these days. But back in their peak, they created some music magic that still resonates to this day — even if their relationship doesn’t. On “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?,” Oasis took over the pop world with an album full of sonic, bombastic, pop-laden hits like “Wonderwall,” “Champagne Supernova” and “Don’t Look Back in Anger.” And in the process, they introduced a whole new generation to British power pop — and laid an uppercut to anyone who stood in their way — including each other.

You can listen to Oasis on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, YouTube, and Amazon. 


Smack dab in the middle of the decline of hard rock and the rise of grunge (and in the rising tide of hip hop), Tracy Chapman threw a folk music haymaker on mainstream music beginning in 1988. And boy did she land the punch. Chapman burst on the scene with her huge hit single, “Fast Car,” which painted a picture of desperation, of longing for more from a world of loss, darkness and despair. (Spoiler alert: We never really find out if the protagonist gets to experience anything more in life.) With really just a guitar and a voice that spoke for millions, Chapman’s debut album, “Tracy Chapman,” enjoys the ethos of 1960s folks rock with the burdens of 1980s America factored in. But this isn’t just “Blowin’ in the Wind”; Chapman pulls no punches, which is impressive for a relative newcomer — particularly a female African-American folks singer in the mid-80s. Think about “Talkin’ About A Revolution,” the title track from the album: “Poor people gonna rise up / And get their share \ Poor people gonna rise up \ And take what’s theirs.” She then warms those in power: “You better run.”

You can listen to Tracy Chapman on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, YouTube, and Amazon. 


Once again, we close out our season with the “Listener’s Choice” epipod. And once again, Finest Workfan Kyle Hipp comes out on top with this year’s submission of Dave Matthews Band’s “Busted Stuff.” This album rose from the ashes of the now legendary “Lillywhite Sessions,” of which the band was not happy. So Dave and his band regrouped and re-recorded the tunes (and added a couple others), resulting in “Busted Stuff,” the stripped-down 2002 album that spawned the hit “Where Are You Going?” and a number of other fan faves like “Bartender,” “Grey Street” and “Grace Is Gone.” Despite being something of a “throwaway” offering, “Busted Stuff” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts, speaking to the power of the DMB. But what do Matt & Matt think about this album? Listen to our “Listener’s Choice” epipod to find out.

You can listen to Busted Stuff by the Dave Matthews Band on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, YouTube, and Amazon. 


It’s our fourth annual Christmas epipod! And we’re getting mellow this year with two beautiful albums. The syrupy soft rock of The Caepenters’ “Christmas Portrait” has become holiday radio staples thanks to Karen Carpenter’s voice and brother Richard’s orchestral arrangements. Equally poignant is Hiss Golden Messenger’s 2021 “O Come All Ye Faithful,” which is almost like a non-traditional prayer for the lost and seeking. The album is a mix of standards, traditional songs and even holiday-esque covers … including CCR. All in all, these are two albums that could tug at the holiday heartstrings.

You can listen to Hiss Golden Messenger as well as The Carpenters on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, YouTube, and Amazon. 


With his band Frightened Rabbit, Scottish songwriter Scott Hutchison created anthems for the lonely and the cynical — yet they were songs of hope. Hutchison took his own life in May 2018, yet his legacy — and impact — lives on. The band’s 2013 album, “Pedestrian Verse,” captures the essence of what made the group so spectacular. (It was also the first offering by the band to include songwriting efforts by all of its members.) Songs like “Backyard Skulls” and “Late March, Death March” continue to tackle darker themes — but with Hutchison’s knack for cheekiness and cleverness, while “Nitrous Oxide” and “State Hospital” (among others) speak to the pervasive darkness and escapism that seemed to envelope him. “How can I talk of life and warmth?” Hutchinson sings on the final track, “The Oil Slick.” He adds: “I’ve got a voice like a gutter in a toxic storm.” That’s a tad harsh, but that’s how self-deprecating he was. Hutchison’s voice gave hope — and community — to many.

You can listen to Pedestrian Verse by Frightened Rabbit on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, YouTube, and Amazon. 


It’s exceedingly rare to enjoy the 1-2-punch of creating an album that is instantaneously both a critical and commercial success, but in 1997 Radiohead accomplished such a feat with OK Computer. To create something so different, so …. “odd” yet so beautiful — especially in the midst of such chart-topping offerings as the Spice Girls, LeAnn Rimes and Mariah Carey — speaks to what a pivot OK Computer truly was. The album has remained a critical favorite — and even one that seemed to predict a future of humans beholden to technology while drifting away from one another. The songs are weird; the videos were weirder, but it all worked — and still does today. Wrote one reviewer after having a couple decades of reflection: “Each decade has its own ‘Sgt. Pepper’; a record that comes along and breaks with tradition to change the trajectory of music entirely and OK Computer was it for the 90s.”

You can listen to OK Computer by Radiohead on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, YouTube, and Amazon. 


For decades people have debated over the best crossover of all time. While Allen Iverson’s NBA crossover may have been lethal, it was nothing compared to Tina Turner’s iconic crossover into the pop mainstream. After years in partnership with an abusive and overbearing Ike Turner, Tina set out on her own to find her voice. And boy, did she ever. Ike could only sit back and watch Tina step right over him as she created some of the most monstrous hits of the 1980’s. And like Tyronn Lue, Ike never saw it coming.

You can listen to Private Dancer by Tina Turner on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, YouTube, and Amazon. 


Boasting arguably the most famous midriff of the 1990s, Shania Twain rose out of Canada (and poverty) and reinvented country music and even the notion of what constitutes a female superstar. And she did it on her (and her producer-husband’s) terms. Her 1997 album, “Come On Over,” was a country and crossover tour de force, boasting eight singles including “Still the One,” “From This Moment On,” “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” and “That Don’t Impress Me Much.” In doing so, Twain dominated a male-dominated industry, empowered a new generation of female country stars, and became the biggest-selling female solo artist of all time. Not bad for a girl from rural Ontario.

You can listen to Come On Over by Shania Twain on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, YouTube, and Amazon. 


Dave Grohl is like the Forrest Gump of the rock’n’roll world. From Scream to Nirvana to Foo Fighters, he’s traversed not only the country but the globe, making friends and funny videos along the way. The winner of our sixth Listener’s Choice contest, Echoes, Silence, Patience, & Grace had us rocking the suburbs this summer (literally, it took us all summer to finally record this one, not to mention the slow edit!). This album was full of surprises – the story of trapped Australian miners for Matt, and the mere existence of the song “The Pretender” for Also Matt. It was a fun way to close out the season, and congratulations to Joy for winning the contest! Thanks for giving us a great album to dive into!

You can listen to Echoes, Silence, Patience, & Grace by Foo Fighters on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, YouTube, and Amazon. 


There’s more than a 50/50 chance you actually own this album — or did at some point in your life. (Especially if you’re a kid of the 80s/90s and the CD/cassette clubs like BMG or Columbia House.) There’s a very good reason why Bob Marley and the Wailers’ “Legend” was in so many disc changers back in the day — and continues to be in regular rotation for many. As far as greatest hits compilations go, this one may be the greatest of them all. It contains 10 of Marley’s UK top 40 hits including and features classics like “No Woman, No Cry,” “I Shot the Sheriff,” “Redemption Song” and more. But this isn’t just a feelgood summer album (although it is that, too). Never before or since has a Caribbean artist conquered the known world like Marley did. He wrote protest songs that would make Pete Seeger smile, he gave hope to his fellow Jamaicans, and he opened up the minds of people all over the world to the types of lives that were available to those in the poorer sections of paradise. He just happened to do it all to a danceable, reggae sound.

You can listen to Legend by Bob Marley on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, YouTube, and Amazon. 


David Bowie, according to U2’s Bono, was “like a creature falling from the sky.” America may have put a man on the moon, but “we had our own British guy from space.” Bono is referring to when, in 1972, Bowie performed “Starman” on “Top of the Pops,” a seminal moment for young, inspired musicians everywhere. “Starman” was a single on Bowie’s sci-fi/apocalyptic/androgynous concept album, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” and the album propelled Bowie into the stratosphere as one of the clear giants of music. (Even if the album didn’t set the record sales world by storm.) “Ziggy Stardust” was groundbreaking, gender-bending, genre-shaking, and simply unworldly for its time. The guitar riff from the title track is as well-known a riff as you will ever hear, “Suffragette City” is a rocker worthy of Bowie best-of collections, and the other tracks help inch along a captivating narrative of kaleidoscopic proportions. But it was “Starman” that changed everything. As Bowie sings, “There’s a starman waiting in the sky / He’d like to come and meet us / But he thinks he’d blow our minds.” Bowie was the Starman, and he did, indeed, blow our minds.

You can listen to The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars by David Bowie on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, YouTube, and Amazon. 


The title of TLC’s 1994 album “CrazySexyCool” was appropriate as it defined the three members of the group individually and collectively. The group – made up of Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas – lays claim as arguably (still) the most successful girl group of all time. And this album is one major reason why. It’s a fierce collection of strong, confident and even risky songs that, quite frankly, female artists weren’t doing at the time. “Creep” and “Waterfalls” are still radio standards to this day; the latter of which addressed dark themes such as drug/gang warfare and the AIDS crisis. With more than 12 million albums sold, “CrazySexyCool” in many ways set the standard for female group success.

You can listen to CrazySexyCool by TLC on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, Tidal, and Amazon.