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

€14.49

R&B - Released March 3, 2017 | Sony Music UK

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Soul - Released November 18, 2016 | Stax

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Funk - Released January 1, 2003 | Casablanca Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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R&B - Released January 1, 1991 | Island Def Jam

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Playfully satirical, witty, and incredibly imaginative, A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing introduced one of the freshest talents in early-'90s rap, a self-produced duo who caught the tail end of the Native Tongues family. Though Dres and Mista Lawnge didn't match the brilliant wordplay of A Tribe Called Quest or De La Soul, their topics were well-chosen, they were presented in a hilarious context, and every song was backed up by strong productions and great rapping. A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing wasn't a comedy record, but it was difficult to tell when the duo were half-serious or half-joking, especially since they were often the objects of their jokes. They poked fun at many aspects of black music and culture of the early '90s, everything from the persuasive gangster mentality ("U Mean I'm Not"), obsessions over the Afrocentric viewpoint ("Are You Mad?"), and lewd sex raps ("La Menage"), as well as an amusingly incorrect response to feminism ("L.A.S.M."). They also dropped a few of the best hip-hop club tracks of the era, the insanely catchy items "The Choice Is Yours (Revisited)," "Try Counting Sheep," and "Flavor of the Month." (Another smooth dance tune, "Strobelite Honey," was dreadfully honest about girls who look better under the lights than upon closer inspection.) Polar opposites to the ranks of somber political rappers, and deftly counteracting the indulgence and self-seriousness of many alternative groups, Black Sheep hit a height with their debut that few hip-hop acts would ever reach. ~ John Bush
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R&B - Released January 1, 1965 | Motown

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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R&B - Released November 13, 2015 | Concord Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Soul/Funk/R&B - Released August 21, 2015 | Epic - Legacy

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
In a way, the Isley Brothers have been taken for granted. Part of that is the group's unwitting doing because they were exceptionally steady. From 1966 through 1983, the Isleys placed at least one single on the Billboard R&B chart each year. They were always present, frequently at or near the top. For an extended period, they were among the most progressive groups, whether they were mixing gospel, soul, and rock, incorporating synthesizers without sacrificing the funk, covering pop hits and often surpassing them, or epitomizing quiet storm. When they retreated from the fore, they adapted with ease. Another factor in their undervalued status is that their vast discography has been reissued in chunks by various sources across the decades. The RCA Victor & T-Neck Album Masters: 1959-1983, released by the Sony catalog's Legacy division, is a corrective measure in the form of a compact 23-disc box set. It doesn't cover the Isleys' brief '60s stints with Wand, United Artists, and Tamla, but it is remarkably generous with dozens of bonus tracks -- mono versions, single edits, instrumentals, and so forth -- and LP-replica sleeves for each album. As an extra enticement for those who dutifully rounded up those late-'90s Legacy and early-2010s BBR reissues, there's Wild in Woodstock, a previously unreleased recording of the Go All the Way-era band performing at Bearsville Studios. Intended for release with overdubbed crowd noise that was thankfully never applied, the set alternates between blistering and gliding and deserves a separate physical issue outside the box. ~ Andy Kellman
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3+3

Funk - Released August 21, 2015 | Epic - Legacy

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Soul - Released October 27, 2006 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Soul - Released June 1, 2015 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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R&B - Released January 1, 1977 | UNI - MOTOWN

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Funk - Released June 2, 2014 | Rhino Atlantic

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Funk - Released March 23, 2010 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
On their third album, Graham Central Station created an album full of trademark infectious pop-soul grooves, but one that lacked the consistently strong work that defines a true classic. However, that doesn't mean that Ain't No 'Bout-A-Doubt It is less than listenable: in fact, it contains some of the group's finest songs. The album's all-time funk classic is the opening track "The Jam," a "Dance to the Music"-styled funk workout that intersperses a dazzling group groove with individual solos for each player. "Water" is another strong funk tune, an insistently rhythmic song that blends thump-popping basslines with backwards tape loops to create an intriguing blend of funk and psychedelia. Ain't No 'Bout-A-Doubt It also produced a number one R&B smash in "Your Love," which marries the group's talent for funky grooves to an old-fashioned love song with a melody that harkens back to doo wop. However, not everything on Ain't No 'Bout-A-Doubt It is as strong as these highlights: "It Ain't Nothing but a Warner Bros. Party" is a lightweight jam with throwaway lyrics, and the group's rote version of the Ann Peebles classic "I Can't Stand the Rain" fails to add anything memorable to the song. All in all, Ain't No 'Bout-A-Doubt It lacks the strong material to make it memorable, but its high points make it a worthwhile listen for funk enthusiasts. ~ Donald A. Guarisco
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Funk - Released March 30, 2010 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
After a tentative but promising 1973 debut album, Graham Central Station returned the next year with a head-spinning blend of R&B styles that realized their promise in a truly impressive fashion. Release Yourself touches on everything from gospel music to psychedelia, as the band puts forth an impressive set of songs that strike an effective balance between accessibility and complexity. This time, keyboards carry a new level of importance: songs like "G.C.S." and "I Believe in You" flow forth on elaborate keyboard riffs layered with plenty of spacey synthesizer leads. The album's most impressive achievements are the title track, a pulse-pounding tribute to the joys of self expression that combines churchy organ riffs and stately horns over a furiously-paced bass/clavinet rhythm, and "Tis Your Kind of Music," a psychedelic-funk masterpiece that has Patryce "Chocolate" Banks and Graham trading sultry lead vocals over an otherworldly blend of keyboard and Mellotron riffs with a fluid bassline. Another stunner is "Today," a funk-rock workout that starts with a slowly-woven tapestry of keyboard riffs before launching into a cosmic vocal section that underscores the group's choral harmonies with some fiery guitar leads. Although it lacks an overtly pop-flavored classic like "Can You Handle It?" or "Your Love," nothing on this album is less than interesting thanks to stellar arrangements and the group's obvious love for what they do -- the sunny energy that propels songs like the title track and "Got to Get Through It" is positively infectious. The result is a true gem that is a treat for funk fanatics and a required listen for anyone with a serious interest in Graham Central Station. ~ Donald A. Guarisco
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R&B - Released January 1, 1995 | Geffen* Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Perhaps the single finest moment in Sean "Puffy" Combs' musical career has been the production on this, Mary J. Blige's second proper album. The production is not exactly original, and there is evidence here of him borrowing wholesale from other songs. The melodic sources this time around, though, are so expertly incorporated into the music that they never seem to be intrusions, instead playing like inspired dialogues with soulsters from the past, connecting past legacies with a new one. This certainly isn't your parents' (or grandparents') soul. But it is some of the finest modern soul of the '90s, backing away to a certain extent from the hip-hop/soul consolidation that Blige introduced on her debut album. The hip-hop part of the combination takes a few steps into the background, allowing Blige's tortured soul to carry the album completely, and it does so with heartwrenching authority. My Life is, from beginning to end, a brilliant, wistful individual plea of desire. Blige took a huge leap in artistry by penning almost everything herself (the major exception being Norman Whitfield's "I'm Going Down") in collaboration with co-producers Combs and multi-instrumentalist Chucky Thompson, and everything seems to leap directly from her gut. Blige's strain is sleekly modern and urban, and the grit in it comes from being streetwise and thoroughly realistic about the travails of life. My Life, nevertheless, emanates from some deep, dark place where both sadness and happiness cohabitate and turn into one single, beautiful sorrow. ~ Stanton Swihart
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R&B - Released January 1, 1997 | Universal Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Two years after D'Angelo brought the organic sound and emotional passion of R&B to the hip-hop world with 1995's Brown Sugar, Erykah Badu's debut performed a similar feat. While D'Angelo looked back to the peak of smooth '70s soul, though, Badu sang with a grit and bluesiness reminiscent of her heroes, Nina Simone and Billie Holiday. "On & On" and "Appletree," the first two songs on Baduizm, illustrated her talent at singing soul with the qualities of jazz. With a nimble, melodic voice owing little to R&B from the past 30 years, she phrased at odds with the beat and often took chances with her notes. Like many in the contemporary rap world, though, she also had considerable talents at taking on different personas; "Otherside of the Game" is a poetic lament from a soon-to-be single mother who just can't forget the father of her child. Erykah Badu's revolution in sound -- heavier hip-hop beats over organic, conscientious soul music -- was responsible for her breakout, but many of the songs on Baduizm don't hold up to increased examination. For every intriguing track like "Next Lifetime," there's at least one rote R&B jam like "4 Leaf Clover." Jazz fans certainly weren't confusing her with Cassandra Wilson -- Badu had a bewitching voice, and she treasured her notes like the best jazz vocalists, but she often made the same choices, the hallmark of a singer rooted in soul, not jazz. Though many fans would dislike (and probably misinterpret) the comparison, she's closer to Diana Ross playing Billie Holiday -- as she did in the 1972 film Lady Sings the Blues -- than Holiday herself. ~ John Bush
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Soul - Released June 20, 1995 | Rhino Atlantic

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
While the inclusion of "Respect" -- one of the truly seminal singles in pop history -- is in and of itself sufficient to earn I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You classic status, Aretha Franklin's Atlantic label debut is an indisputable masterpiece from start to finish. Much of the credit is due to producer Jerry Wexler, who finally unleashed the soulful intensity so long kept under wraps during her Columbia tenure; assembling a crack Muscle Shoals backing band along with an abundance of impeccable material, Wexler creates the ideal setting to allow Aretha to ascend to the throne of Queen of Soul, and she responds with the strongest performances of her career. While the brilliant title track remains the album's other best-known song, each cut on I Never Loved a Man is touched by greatness; covers of Ray Charles' "Drown in My Own Tears" and Sam Cooke's "Good Times" and "A Change Is Gonna Come" are on par with the original recordings, while Aretha's own contributions -- "Don't Let Me Lose This Dream," "Baby, Baby, Baby," "Save Me," and "Dr. Feelgood (Love Is a Serious Business)" -- are perfectly at home in such lofty company. A soul landmark. ~ Jason Ankeny
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R&B - Released January 1, 1981 | Motown

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Disappointed because Garden of Love wasn't as well received as it should have been, Rick James made a triumphant return to defiant, in-your-face funk with the triple-platinum Street Songs. This was not only his best-selling album ever, it was also his best period, and certainly the most exciting album released in 1981. The gloves came all the way off this time, and James is as loud and proud as ever on such arresting hits as "Super Freak," "Give It to Me Baby," and "Ghetto Life." Ballads aren't a high priority, but those he does offer (including his stunning duet with Teena Marie, "Fire and Desire") are first-rate. One song that's questionable (to say the least) is the inflammatory "Mr. Policeman," a commentary on police misconduct that condemns law enforcement in general instead of simply indicting those who abuse their authority. But then, the thing that makes this hot-headed diatribe extreme is what makes the album on the whole so arresting -- honest, gut-level emotion. James simply follows what's in his gut and lets it rip. Even the world's most casual funksters shouldn't be without this pearl of an album. ~ Alex Henderson
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Soul - Released January 1, 2014 | Motown (Capitol)

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
€13.99

R&B - Released January 1, 2002 | Motown (Capitol)

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Disappointed because Garden of Love wasn't as well received as it should have been, Rick James made a triumphant return to defiant, in-your-face funk with the triple-platinum Street Songs. This was not only his best-selling album ever, it was also his best period, and certainly the most exciting album released in 1981. The gloves came all the way off this time, and James is as loud and proud as ever on such arresting hits as "Super Freak," "Give It to Me Baby," and "Ghetto Life." Ballads aren't a high priority, but those he does offer (including his stunning duet with Teena Marie, "Fire and Desire") are first-rate. One song that's questionable (to say the least) is the inflammatory "Mr. Policeman," a commentary on police misconduct that condemns law enforcement in general instead of simply indicting those who abuse their authority. But then, the thing that makes this hot-headed diatribe extreme is what makes the album on the whole so arresting -- honest, gut-level emotion. James simply follows what's in his gut and lets it rip. Even the world's most casual funksters shouldn't be without this pearl of an album. ~ Alex Henderson