The Ideal Qobuz Collection comprises original, uncompiled albums that have made a considerable mark on music history or which qualify as essential recordings within each musical genre. By downloading these albums, or streaming them with your subscription, you begin a journey that will shine a light on some of the finest moments in recorded music.

Albums

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Rap - Released September 25, 2014 | RCA Records Label

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One of the cornerstones of the New York hardcore movement, The Infamous is Mobb Deep's masterpiece, a relentlessly bleak song cycle that's been hailed by hardcore rap fans as one of the most realistic gangsta albums ever recorded. Given Mobb Deep's youthful age and art-school background, it's highly unlikely that The Infamous is drawn strictly from real-life experience, yet it's utterly convincing, because it has all the foreboding atmosphere and thematic sweep of an epic crime drama. That's partly because of the cinematic vision behind the duo's detailed narratives, but it's also a tribute to how well the raw, grimy production evokes the world that Mobb Deep is depicting. The group produced the vast majority of the album itself, with help on a few tracks from the Abstract (better known as Q-Tip), and establishes a spare, throbbing, no-frills style indebted to the Wu-Tang Clan. This is hard, underground hip-hop that demands to be met on its own terms, with few melodic hooks to draw the listener in. Similarly, there's little pleasure or relief offered in the picture of the streets Mobb Deep paints here: They inhabit a war zone where crime and paranoia hang constantly in the air. Gangs are bound together by a code of fierce loyalty, relying wholly on one another for survival in a hopeless environment. Hostile forces -- cops, rivals, neighborhood snitches -- are potentially everywhere, and one slip around the wrong person can mean prison or death. There's hardly any mention of women, and the violence is grim, serious business, never hedonistic. Pretty much everything on the album contributes to this picture, but standouts among the consistency include "Survival of the Fittest," "Eye for a Eye," "Temperature's Rising," "Cradle to the Grave," and the classic "Shook Ones, Pt. 2." The product of an uncommon artistic vision, The Infamous stands as an all-time gangsta/hardcore classic. ~ Steve Huey
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Rock - Released September 6, 2013 | RCA Records Label

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Transformer and "Walk on the Wild Side" were both major hits in 1972, to the surprise of both Lou Reed and the music industry, and with Reed suddenly a hot commodity, he used his newly won clout to make the most ambitious album of his career, Berlin. Berlin was the musical equivalent of a drug-addled kid set loose in a candy store; the album's songs, which form a loose story line about a doomed romance between two chemically fueled bohemians, were fleshed out with a huge, boomy production (Bob Ezrin at his most grandiose) and arrangements overloaded with guitars, keyboards, horns, strings, and any other kitchen sink that was handy (the session band included Jack Bruce, Steve Winwood, Aynsley Dunbar, and Tony Levin). And while Reed had often been accused of focusing on the dark side of life, he and Ezrin approached Berlin as their opportunity to make The Most Depressing Album of All Time, and they hardly missed a trick. This all seemed a bit much for an artist who made such superb use of the two-guitars/bass/drums lineup with the Velvet Underground, especially since Reed doesn't even play electric guitar on the album; the sheer size of Berlin ultimately overpowers both Reed and his material. But if Berlin is largely a failure of ambition, that sets it apart from the vast majority of Reed's lesser works; Lou's vocals are both precise and impassioned, and though a few of the songs are little more than sketches, the best -- "How Do You Think It Feels," "Oh, Jim," "The Kids," and "Sad Song" -- are powerful, bitter stuff. It's hard not to be impressed by Berlin, given the sheer scope of the project, but while it earns an A for effort, the actual execution merits more of a B-. ~ Mark Deming
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Bossa Nova & Brazil - Released July 14, 2008 | RCA Records Label

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Angenor de Oliveira, known as Cartola, is a linchpin of Brazilian music. Co-founder in Rio, in 1928, of the prestigious Estação Primeira de Mangueira samba school, for which he wrote many classics, he spent most of his life working anonymously. Even if he wrote, during the 1930s, hits for the international star Carmen Miranda and for the crooner Francisco Alves, Cartola spent more time working as a mason or a window cleaner than under the spotlights. He had disappeared from the music scene when in 1950 a journalist recognized him in the streets and put him back on the tracks of the music life. The composer bounces back and finds love. The Nós Dois song, present on this disc, has been composed for his wedding with singer Dona Zica. With her, Cartola opens a samba establishment, the Zicartola, which becomes, at the start of the 1960s, one of the favorite havens of the young bossa nova composers. Cartola’s discography did not begin to develop until 1974, when the samba player was 65. Verde Que Te Quero Rosa is his third album, between nostalgic romance and dashes of pure rhythm, it harbors a collection of tender songs, sweet and irresistibly rousing sambas. His title pays homage to the colours he chose to represent the Mangueira, the green and pink which still coat the famous school. He was often told that these tones didn’t match, but his answer was irrefutable: green symbolizes hope, and pink love. Two values that have always undeniably brought him luck. © BM/Qobuz
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Rap - Released December 21, 2007 | RCA Records Label

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French Music - Released September 17, 2007 | RCA Records Label

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Pop/Rock - Released November 14, 2005 | RCA Records Label

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Eurythmics' breakthrough album is a deft mix of electronic thrills, new wave chills, and sultry R&B, the latter supplied by Annie Lennox's warm tenor. Pretty much relying on themselves, Lennox and Dave Stewart slip past the music's usual coldness and into a territory all their own. It can be smug (the new wave here is served with a side of irony) and a tad dull (the long, operatic pieces serve little purpose), but the payoffs -- "Love Is a Stranger" and, especially, the magnificent title tune -- are among the finest the genre has to offer. ~ Michael Gallucci
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Rap - Released July 25, 2005 | RCA Records Label

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Along with Dr. Dre's The Chronic, the Wu-Tang Clan's debut, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), was one of the most influential rap albums of the '90s. Its spare yet atmospheric production -- courtesy of RZA -- mapped out the sonic blueprint that countless other hardcore rappers would follow for years to come. It laid the groundwork for the rebirth of New York hip-hop in the hardcore age, paving the way for everybody from Biggie and Jay-Z to Nas and Mobb Deep. Moreover, it introduced a colorful cast of hugely talented MCs, some of whom ranked among the best and most unique individual rappers of the decade. Some were outsized, theatrical personalities, others were cerebral storytellers and lyrical technicians, but each had his own distinctive style, which made for an album of tremendous variety and consistency. Every track on Enter the Wu-Tang is packed with fresh, inventive rhymes, which are filled with martial arts metaphors, pop culture references (everything from Voltron to Lucky Charms cereal commercials to Barbra Streisand's "The Way We Were"), bizarre threats of violence, and a truly twisted sense of humor. Their off-kilter menace is really brought to life, however, by the eerie, lo-fi production, which helped bring the raw sound of the underground into mainstream hip-hop. Starting with a foundation of hard, gritty beats and dialogue samples from kung fu movies, RZA kept things minimalistic, but added just enough minor-key piano, strings, or muted horns to create a background ambience that works like the soundtrack to a surreal nightmare. There was nothing like it in the hip-hop world at the time, and even after years of imitation, Enter the Wu-Tang still sounds fresh and original. Subsequent group and solo projects would refine and deepen this template, but collectively, the Wu have never been quite this tight again. ~ Steve Huey
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Bossa Nova & Brazil - Released June 17, 2003 | RCA Records Label

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This very evocative 1965 recording session was a cause for celebration not only among critics but among the bossa nova-crazed audiences of Brazil and the U.S, and it sold quite well. Donato is a jazz pianist first, and his allegiances in harmony and melody come from there first and foremost. But rhythmically and in his phrasing, he comes from the generation of Brazilian musicians who developed the bossa nova as an art form. His touch is light, his settings are lush and laid-back, and his playing is as much or more from his left hand as his right. Solos on these records are wonderfully improvised, but they reflect the sweet, gorgeous melodies on the front line of these tunes. As such, Donato comes across as an elegant pianist and ensemble player, establishing his individual touch as a leader in that left hand rhythmic bent where he loves those shaded keys. His finest compositions here are his own: the sensual "Amazon," the slightly sassy and savvy "It Didn't End," and his reading of Luiz Bonfá's "Samba de Orfeu," which rivals the original for its ambience and texture with a gorgeous string arrangement courtesy of conductor Claus Ogerman. This is one of Brazil's more moving and beautiful bossa albums, and should not be overlooked by recent fans of the genre or by jazz fans interested in the exotic side of the music. ~ Thom Jurek
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Film Soundtracks - Released September 6, 1999 | RCA Records Label

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Rock - Released February 8, 1999 | RCA Records Label

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Elvis Presley's legendary recordings for Sun Records had been reissued many times before Sunrise appeared in early 1999, most notably in the 1987 collection The Complete Sun Recordings. Despite its title, The Complete Sun Recordings was missing a few odds and ends, plus its sequencing on CD was a little didactic, resulting in a repetitive listen. Those flaws are corrected on the exceptional Sunrise, a generous 38-song double-disc set that contains all of Elvis' Sun recordings, including alternate takes and several previously unreleased live performances. The compilers wisely decided to devote the first disc to the original takes, dedicating the second to alternate takes: six live cuts from 1955 and four private demos from 1953 and 1954. This sequencing emphasizes the brilliance of this music. Not only is listening to all 19 masters in a row quite breathtaking, but the second disc winds up as a revelatory experience, since it offers a kind of alternate history by following Elvis' pre-professional recordings from his Sun sessions to early live performances. As such, Sunrise is essential for the curious and the collector alike. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Children - Released November 27, 1995 | RCA Records Label

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French Music - Released October 10, 1993 | RCA Records Label

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Rock - Released October 11, 1991 | RCA Records Label

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Pop/Rock - Released May 17, 1991 | RCA Records Label

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Blues/Country/Folk - Released January 1, 1990 | RCA Records Label

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Who says you can't make a great record in one day -- or night, as the case may be? The Trinity Session was recorded in one night using one microphone, a DAT recorder, and the wonderful acoustics of the Holy Trinity in Toronto. Interestingly, it's the album that broke the Cowboy Junkies in the United States for their version of "Sweet Jane," which included the lost verse. It's far from the best cut here, though. There are other covers, such as Margo Timmins' a cappella read of the traditional "Mining for Gold," a heroin-slow version of Hank Williams' classic "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," "Dreaming My Dreams With You" (canonized by Waylon Jennings), and a radical take of the Patsy Cline classic "Walkin' After Midnight" that closes the disc. Those few who had heard the band's previous album, Whites Off Earth Now!!, were aware that, along with Low, the Cowboy Junkies were the only band at the time capable of playing slower than Neil Young and Crazy Horse -- and without the ear-threatening volume. The Timmins family -- Margo, guitarist and songwriter Michael, drummer Peter, and backing vocalist and guitarist John -- along with bassist Alan Anton and a few pals playing pedal steel, accordion, and harmonica, paced everything to crawl. That said, it works in that every song has its own texture, slowly and deliberately unfolding from blues and country and drones. An example is the Michael and Margo song "I Don't Get It," ushered in with a few drawling guitar lines, a spooky harmonica, and brushed drums. Margo Timmins doesn't have a large range and doesn't need it as she scratches each song's surface like an itch until it bleeds its truth. This is also true on "Misguided Angel," another original where the verses become nearly a round alternating between her voice and Michael's snaky spare guitar lines to fill an almost unimaginable space. The Williams tune becomes a dirge in the Cowboys' hands. It's a funeral song, or an elegy for one who has dragged herself so far into the oblivion of isolation that there is no place left to go but home. Michael's guitar moves around the changes as bassist Anton plays them; he colors the space allowing for Margo to fill the melodic space spot-on, yet stretching each syllable out to the breaking point. For most, this was the Cowboy Junkies' debut -- Whites Off Earth Now!! was re-released in the States a few years later -- and it established them firmly in the forefront of the "alternative" scene with radio and MTV. As an album, it's still remarkable at how timeless it sounds, and its beauty is -- in stark contrast to its presentation -- voluminous and rich, perhaps even eternal. ~ Thom Jurek