Best Albums By Great Bands: The Who, Weezer, The Smiths, and Talking Heads!

Talking Heads - Fear Of Music (1979)

You can always tell how much of a poseur a person is by which Talking Heads album they consider to be the band's best.  In other words, be extremely wary of anyone who does not immediately shout "Fear of Music" because a) they're either hearing impaired and should be assisted at the next crosswalk, or b) they haven't actually heard the album.

If they had, they'd know that this, the band's third album - and second with producer Brian Eno at the helm - features everything great about the band; Byrne's idiosyncratic vocals now aided by the fact that he can actually sing now.  Musically, a year of solid touring in support of More Songs About Buildings And Food has tightened the band immeasurably.  Their performance throughout the record is urgent, jittery at times, and wiry in a way that recalls early Gang of Four.
Musical highlights include "I Zimbra", "Life During Wartime"and the hallucinatory gem "Memories Can't Wait", but the album itself is solidly consistent from start to finish.

The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead (1985)

Due to the sheer mass of posthumous Smiths collections over the years, it's hard to blame someone for no longer remembering which songs were on which studio album, but for those who still care about such things, the Smiths finest hour will always be 1985's The Queen Is Dead, for it introduces itself with an air of confidence not found on previous efforts.

Granted, some might argue in favor of Meat Is Murder because it contained "How Soon is Now?", but, in truth, the song was not actually a part of the album and only appeared on the US version due to the singles popularity on college radio.

But The Queen Is Dead has the album-opening title cut, which is an all-out showcase of Johnny Marr's atmospheric guitar work.  From that point on, the album is a sterling showcase for Morrissey's vocals and lyrical wit, with "Never Had No One Ever", "Bigmouth Strikes Again", "The Boy With The Thorn In His Side", "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" and "Cemetary Gates" creating a seamless treasure trove of sly Smithian songcraft.

Weezer - Blue Album

The hipsters will argue til their blue in the face that Pinkerton is the band's best, but on a song-for-song basis, the group's 1994 debut is still their finest moment.  After all, it was this album's unbridled energy and out-of-the-box originality that picked up where Nirvana left off when they made the intentionally unconventional In Utero.

Seriously, take a look at this track listing: Jonas, No One Else, The World Has Turned, Buddy Holly, Undone, Surf Wax, Say It Ain't So, In The Garage, Only In Dreams.  For any other band, this would be a "greatest hits" record, but this was just Weezer coming out of the gate and leaving the rest of the field in the dust.

The Who - Sell Out

When most folks think of The Who, let's face it, they think of the stadium band that played all those monster hits like "My Generation, "Won't Get Fooled Again", "Pinball Wizard", and so on.  But the band's best album remains completely buried, trumpeted by the few who went looking for something off the beaten path and found it.

The Who Sell Out is a concept album exploring the relatively new idea of commercialism in rock and roll, and vice versa.  For a third album, it was a monolithic artistic accomplishment, on par with Sgt. Pepper's and Pet Sounds.  It has been suggested that those who think otherwise haven't actually heard the album.
Album-opener "Armenia In The Sky", written for the band by Speedy Keen from the band Thunderclap Newman, is usually enough to convince most folks, but they're all goners by the time "Odorono" takes its own commercial break mid-song.

"I Can See For Miles" was the album's hit, a concise encapsulation of the band's live power, but, in a way, the song itself seems a concession of sorts to get songs like "Tattoo" and "Hall of The Mountain King" into millions of kids' bedrooms.

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