Qobuz’s experts gather all the essentials of each genre. These albums have marked music history and become major landmarks.

With the Ideal Discography you (re)discover legendary recordings, all whilst building on your musical knowledge.

Albums

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 3, 2014 | Talitres

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When the first album from Micah P. Hinson came out in 2004, the Americana crowd was shocked by the almost unnerving maturity from the pen of this young Memphis songwriter. An early spell in jail probably imparted a lot of precocious wisdom to this new bard with an odd baritone voice which is always lingering at the edges of tunefulness. Wrapped up in a fairly minimalist instrumentation punctuated with an echo to lift it up, this melancholy writing is rooted in his wild years. Not a thousand miles from Bright Eyes, Smog, Sparklehorse, Silver Jews, Lambchop or Willy Mason, Hinson consistently finds a killer melodic move, a little heady motif that adorns these stories of broken hearts: to stunning effect. He's a sharp melodist first and foremost, who sparingly injects drops of piano, cello, flute, melodica or organ into the hearts of these miniatures. Years after its release, Micah P. Hinson & The Gospel Of Progress remains an elegiac summit of timeless country-folk, just as sombre as it should be. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 26, 2004 | 4AD

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Rock - Released January 1, 1985 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
With its jarring rhythms and unusual instrumentation -- marimba, accordion, various percussion -- as well as its frequently surreal lyrics, Rain Dogs is very much a follow-up to Swordfishtrombones, which is to say that it sounds for the most part like The Threepenny Opera being sung by Howlin' Wolf. The chief musical difference is the introduction of guitarist Marc Ribot, who adds his noisy leads to the general cacophony. But Rain Dogs is sprawling where its predecessor had been focused: Tom Waits' lyrics here sometimes are imaginative to the point of obscurity, seemingly chosen to fit the rhythms rather than for sense. In the course of 19 tracks and 54 minutes, Waits sometimes goes back to the more conventional music of his earlier records, which seems like a retreat, though such tracks as the catchy "Hang Down Your Head," "Time," and especially "Downtown Train" (frequently covered and finally turned into a Top Ten hit by Rod Stewart five years later) provide some relief as well as variety. Rain Dogs can't surprise as Swordfishtrombones had, and in his attempt to continue in the direction suggested by that album, Waits occasionally borders on the chaotic (which may only be to say that, like most of his records, this one is uneven). But much of the music matches the earlier album, and there is so much of it that that is enough to qualify Rain Dogs as one of Waits' better albums. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Rock - Released May 28, 2007 | SIX SARL

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Pop - Released January 1, 2001 | Universal Music Division Polydor

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Rock - Released May 24, 1993 | Parlophone UK

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Compare Spirit of Eden with any other previous release in the Talk Talk catalog, and it's almost impossible to believe it's the work of the same band -- exchanging electronics for live, organic sounds and rejecting structure in favor of mood and atmosphere, the album is an unprecedented breakthrough, a musical and emotional catharsis of immense power. Mark Hollis' songs exist far outside of the pop idiom, drawing instead on ambient textures, jazz-like arrangements, and avant-garde accents; for all of their intricacy and delicate beauty, compositions like "Inheritance" and "I Believe in You" also possess an elemental strength -- Hollis' oblique lyrics speak to themes of loss and redemption with understated grace, and his hauntingly poignant vocals evoke wrenching spiritual turmoil tempered with unflagging hope. A singular musical experience. ~ Jason Ankeny
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Pop/Rock - Released December 20, 2005 | Ici d'ailleurs

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Matt Elliott's second solo CD, even more than his first, finds him moving further away from the feedback-and-beats trademarks of the Third Eye Foundation, though to be sure his path was already marked out by the concluding years of that incarnation. Living up to not only the title but the striking cover image -- a drawing of Elliott as a louche 19th century barfly, cigarette in hand -- Drinking Songs is not far removed from the kind of musical and psychic landscapes of early the Black Heart Procession or the Tindersticks at its most restrained. Guitars are either acoustic or, if anything, barely electric; instead piano and keyboards, for the most part, take the melodic fore, while drums as such aren't audible at all. But like Elliott's work in general the emphasis is not on lyrics for the most part -- what songs have them, like "The Guilty Party," feature them as distanced, very softly sung chorales, the type of drinking singalong when all at the bar are at their most reflective and melancholic. "What's Wrong" features slightly louder singing at points, but again compared to most they're barely there. If nothing else Elliott's gift for unusual but memorable song titles remains strong -- there's the closing "The Maid We Messed," a nod back to his first solo album (in a possibly related note, it's also the only song that sounds entirely like his previous work), but even better is "What the Fuck Am I Doing on This Battlefield?" Yet perhaps the most striking, heartbreaking song is "The Kursk," named after the Russian submarine that suffered a tragic accident, killing all onboard. The musique concrete rush of claustrophobic sound which starts the song -- grinding mechanisms, dank metallic noises -- serves as backdrop for guitar and strings, plus, as the song continues, an increasingly chilling, wordless mass chorus, portraits of souls going to an early grave. ~ Ned Raggett
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 1, 2005 | Mantra

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 29, 1996 | Divine Comedy Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Turning back to a slightly more straightforward rock/pop format turned out to be advantageous for Neil Hannon; Casanova turned into a smash hit in the U.K., while the singles "Something for the Weekend" (at once soaring, cheeky, leering, and truly weird, with lyrics detailing a guy led astray by his lover and attacked by her secret thug companions) and "Becoming More Like Alfie" (a sly '60s acoustic pop number with solid percussion, sampling the Michael Caine movie in question and reflecting on how all the wrong people in life seem to get the girls) became Top Ten charters. Recruiting the equivalent of a full orchestra didn't hurt either, fleshing out the classical/art rock/pop Divine Comedy fusion to even more expansive ranges than before, while drummer Darren Allison and Hannon continued overseeing and co-producing everything, again demonstrating their careful collective ear for the proceedings. Hannon's lyrical music fires on all cylinders as well, from the cockeyed vision of romance in "The Frog Princess" (with more than one low-key French reference in both lyrics and sweeping music) to the wickedly funny and elegant "Songs of Love," detailing how boys and girls seem to be in heat everywhere while all the songwriters are stuck alone writing the title objects in question. In the meantime, there are great one-off moments scattered throughout Casanova. For instance, Hannon's impersonation of a modern dandy as fortune teller at the start of "Middle-Class Heroes" is to die for. He also does one of the best Barry White takeoffs yet recorded in the mid-song break of "Charge," packed with Tennyson references and army commands amid swirling strings and an increasingly loud beat. After topping that off with "Theme from Casanova," a slightly tongue-in-cheek number detailing all the basic credits and inspiration for the album, the result is a massive project that hits the jackpot with smiles all around. ~ Ned Raggett
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Rock - Released January 1, 1993 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Sélection du Mercury Prize
Dry was shockingly frank in its subject and sound, as PJ Harvey delivered post-feminist manifestos with a punkish force. PJ Harvey's second album, Rid of Me, finds the trio, and Harvey in particular, pushing themselves to extremes. This is partially due to producer Steve Albini, who gives the album a bloodless, abrasive edge with his exacting production; each dynamic is pushed to the limit, leaving absolutely no subtleties in the music. Harvey's songs, in decided contrast to Albini's approach, are filled with gray areas and uncertainties, and are considerably more personal than those on Dry. Furthermore, they are lyrically and melodically superior to the songs on the debut, but their merits are obscured by Albini's black-and-white production, which is polarizing. It may be the aural embodiment of the tortured lyrics, and therefore a supremely effective piece of performance art, but it also makes Rid of Me a difficult record to meet halfway. But anyone willing to accept its sonic extremities will find Rid of Me to be a record of unusual power and purpose, one with few peers in its unsettling emotional honesty. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released January 1, 1978 | 143 - Warner Bros.

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - The Qobuz Standard
Recording live at Los Angeles' Roxy club -- then a showcase for many of the hottest acts in pop -- was just the tonic that George Benson and his Breezin' band needed on this often jumping album. With unusually lively crowds (for a record-industry watering hole) shouting encouragement, the band gets deep into the four-on-the-floor funk and Benson digs in hard, his rhythmic instincts on guitar sharp as ever. The balance between vocals and instrumentals is about even -- George's voice sounds more throaty and soul-oriented than before -- and amid the new material, there is a revisit to a favored CTI-era instrumental, the lovely "Ode to a Kudu." This album also introduced "On Broadway," an extended stomping version of the Drifters' hit that would become Benson's climactic showstopper for years. The only superfluous element is the after-the-fact addition of Nick DeCaro's string synthesizer backdrop; the real Claus Ogerman-arranged thing would have been preferable if strings are a must. ~ Richard S. Ginell
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Rock - Released January 1, 1992 | Island Mercury

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Ugly Kid Joe's first full-length album reprises the hit "Everything About You" from their debut EP As Ugly as They Wanna Be and delivers a set of similar rockers and a handful of power ballads, including a revamped version of Harry Chapin's "Cats in the Cradle." Listeners who are too far removed from their adolescence to remember the joys of spitballs and Saturday schools won't find America's Least Wanted engaging in the least, but it wasn't designed for them. Ugly Kid Joe rocks for the average high school kid, the one that doesn't think about anything except girls, partying, and metal. On the whole, the band's mixture of fizzy, fuzzy riffs, sing-song melodies, and calculated obnoxiousness isn't that offensive, but it will certainly try the patience of anyone who doesn't find their cutesy vulgarity fun. For fans of the band, America's Least Wanted delivers the thrills. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released November 7, 1988 | Parlophone UK

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Rattus Norvegicus, the Stranglers' first album (and first of two in 1977), was hardly a punk rock classic, but it outsold every other punk album and remains a pretty good chunk of art-punk. On the other hand, No More Heroes, recorded three months later and released in September 1977, is faster, nastier, and better. At this point the Stranglers were on top of their game, and the ferocity and anger that suffuses this record would never be repeated. Hugh Cornwell's testosterone level is very high, but it's still an enjoyable bit of noise that holds up better than anyone would have guessed at the time. ~ John Dougan
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Rock - Released January 1, 2004 | EMI Marketing

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Eno's solo debut, Here Come the Warm Jets, is a spirited, experimental collection of unabashed pop songs on which Eno mostly reprises his Roxy Music role as "sound manipulator," taking the lead vocals but leaving much of the instrumental work to various studio cohorts (including ex-Roxy mates Phil Manzanera and Andy Mackay, plus Robert Fripp and others). Eno's compositions are quirky, whimsical, and catchy, his lyrics bizarre and often free-associative, with a decidedly dark bent in their humor ("Baby's on Fire," "Dead Finks Don't Talk"). Yet the album wouldn't sound nearly as manic as it does without Eno's wildly unpredictable sound processing; he coaxes otherworldly noises and textures from the treated guitars and keyboards, layering them in complex arrangements or bouncing them off one another in a weird cacophony. Avant-garde yet very accessible, Here Come the Warm Jets still sounds exciting, forward-looking, and densely detailed, revealing more intricacies with every play. ~ Steve Huey
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Pop - Released August 6, 1990 | Parlophone UK

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Progressive Rock - Released August 14, 1985 | Atlantic Records

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Pop - Released June 28, 2005 | Elektra Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Its reputation may rest on only one hit single -- but what a hit. "Groove Is in the Heart" defined the summer of 1990 on radio and MTV with its delicious combination of funk, modern dance sheen, and Lady Miss Kier's smart, sharp diva ways. Add in guest vocals and bass from Bootsy Collins (a pity his hilarious video cameo wasn't represented here), brass from the original Horny Horns duo of Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker, and a smooth mid-song rap from A Tribe Called Quest's Q-Tip, and the results sounded good then and now. The rest of World Clique offers variations on the song's theme, with Kier's sweet, light vocals and DJs Dimitri and Towa Tei making it work in various ways. It's still a bit surprising that Kier didn't go on to greater fame on her own, because she definitely has not merely the pipes but the personality to carry something on her own -- compared to the dog-whistle vocal calisthenics of someone like Mariah Carey, there's no contest. Check out her work on songs like "Good Beat" and the amusing sass of such numbers as "Try Me on, I'm Very You." The two musicians come up with a seamless, adept flow throughout, merrily raiding whatever they so choose in the past for their own purposes. Disco is the heart of it all, with everything from hip-hop breaks to bubble-salsa piano -- even early Depeche Mode! -- taking a bow; hints of the future genre-mashing Towa Tei would make his own trademark are already plentiful. Bootsy and the Horny Horns crop up at other points as well, adding just enough classic funk to blend with the crisper electronic pulses and arrangements. ~ Ned Raggett
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Pop - Released July 9, 2014 | Columbia - Legacy

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Rock - Released June 18, 1996 | Arista - Legacy

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Rock - Released October 11, 1991 | RCA Records Label

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