Tuesday, February 20, 2018

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today: The Best Albums of 1998

I was all set to share a list found in the recesses of my hard drive of my fave albums of 1998 until I discovered it was online at MTV.com here. So here's a minor tweak and reshuffle because Come On Over was 1997 and the Kim cuts drag down A Thousand Leaves. I make no apologies for the preponderance of anthologies and compilations. The 1990s was the great reissue decade (all hail Rhino's heyday!) and 1998 fell several stories from 1997's sugar high.

1. Queer to the Core!: Queer Rock From the Vaults! (Quick Nuts) - We still have no clue who released this bootleg plucked from the bins of Atomic Records in Milwaukee. But I've never been able to shake how it epitomizes the alternately frustrating and glorious position of the queer historian. More here and still for sale cheap on Discogs.

2. The Music in My Head: Indispensable Classics and Unknown Gems From the Golden Age of African Pop (Stern's Africa) - Still my favorite African pop compilation. I reviewed it and Mark Hudson's delirious novel to which it was the de facto soundtrack for the Chicago Reader.

3. American Pop: An Audio History (West Hill Audio Archives) - And still my favorite box set ever. Gawd, its nine discs continue to educate although my one-disc distillation sieves out the poppiest (and weirdest) (and punkiest) moments.

4. Fat Beats & Bra Straps: Battle Rhymes & Posse Cuts (Rhino) - 90% of the rap I quote comes from this vicious collection of gripes and disses. Bow down to her, bitch, cuz she's the shit: Roxanne Shanté.

5. A Night On South Bitch (Max) - The finest bitch tracks comp extant. I'll see you after the function!

6. Sean "Puffy" Combs: Changing The Sound of Popular Music (Bad Boy Promo) - Cheating. But these Puffy-helmed hits honor the man who helped make 1997 the greatest year for singles since 1981.

7. George Clinton & The P-Funk All-Stars: Dope Dogs (Dogone) -The first "real" album on the list by a man for whom the importance of The Album meant precious little.

8. The Perfect Beats: New York Electro Hip-Hop + Underground Dance Classics 1980-1985 (Rhino) - Four volumes proving not only that disco never died but that 1981 was the greatest year for singles ever.

9. Suckdog: Onward Suckdog Soldiers (Tray Full of Lab Mice) - Here for the 20-second masterprank "I Knelt 2day Where Jesus Knelt."

10. Unkle: Psyence Fiction (Mo' Wax/London) - For years it had been an open question which turntablists would be the first to sample Olivia Record rockers BeBe K'Roche, to paraphrase Eric Weisbard's Jungle Brothers entry in the Spin Alternative Record Guide.

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