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

$199.49
$169.49

R&B/Soul - 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
$14.99
$12.99

Soul - Released October 27, 2006 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
$14.99
$12.99

Soul - Released January 1, 1973 | Motown

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
$17.49
$11.99

R&B/Soul - Released April 29, 2014 | Epic

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Wearing skintight pants, black leather and brandishing a Bowie knife on the LP cover, Nona Hendryx announces her intentions loudly and clearly on her debut record. At the time, this record was unpromotable (hell, it would be today), mainly because the record company and radio stations didn't know what to do with a huge-voiced African-American woman who was comfortable and capable of singing hard rock as well as soul music. So, as usual, they turned their backs on the record and it disappeared almost as quickly as it was released. Which is a shame, because it's a nasty, relentless chunk of hard-edged rock'n'soul that was just a bit ahead of its time. Long out of print, but worth searching for. ~ John Dougan
$16.49
$14.49

Disco - Released September 30, 2013 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
Released in 1978, just as disco began to peak, C'est Chic and its pair of dancefloor anthems, "Le Freak" and "I Want Your Love," put Chic at the top of that dizzying peak. The right album at the right time, C'est Chic is essentially a rehash of Chic, the group's so-so self-titled debut from a year earlier. That first album also boasted a pair of floor-filling anthems, "Dance Dance Dance" and "Everybody Dance," and, like C'est Chic, it filled itself out with a mix of disco and ballads. So, essentially, C'est Chic does everything its predecessor did, except it does so masterfully: each side similarly gets its timeless floor-filler ("Le Freak," "I Want Your Love"), quiet storm come-down ("Savoir Faire," "At Last I Am Free"), feel-good album track ("Happy Man," "Sometimes You Win"), and moody album capper ("Chic Cheer," [RoviLink="MC"]"[Funny] Bone"[/RoviLink]). Producers Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers were quite a savvy pair and knew that disco was as much a formula as anything. As evidenced here, they definitely had their fingers on the pulse of the moment, and used their perceptive touch to craft one of the few truly great disco albums. In fact, you could even argue that C'est Chic very well may be the definitive disco album. After all, countless artists scored dancefloor hits, but few could deliver an album this solid, and nearly as few could deliver one this epochal as well. C'est Chic embodies everything wonderful and excessive about disco at its pixilated peak. It's anything but subtle with its at-the-disco dancefloor mania and after-the-disco bedroom balladry, and Edwards and Rodgers are anything but whimsical with their disco-ballad-disco album sequencing and pseudo-jet-set Euro poshness. Chic would follow C'est Chic with "Good Times," the group's crowning achievement, but never again would Edwards and Rodgers assemble an album as perfectly calculated as C'est Chic. ~ Jason Birchmeier
$17.49
$12.99

R&B - Released March 14, 2014 | Arista - Legacy

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
$14.99
$12.99

R&B - Released January 1, 1981 | Motown

Hi-Res 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. Even the world's most casual funksters shouldn't be without this pearl of an album. ~ Alex Henderson
$16.49
$14.49

Soul - Released November 19, 1996 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
$24.49
$19.49

R&B/Soul - Released September 14, 2012 | Epic - Legacy

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
$17.49
$12.99

R&B/Soul - Released September 14, 2012 | Epic - Legacy

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
The downside to a success like Thriller is that it's nearly impossible to follow, but Michael Jackson approached Bad much the same way he approached Thriller -- take the basic formula of the predecessor, expand it slightly, and move it outward. This meant that he moved deeper into hard rock, deeper into schmaltzy adult contemporary, deeper into hard dance -- essentially taking each portion of Thriller to an extreme, while increasing the quotient of immaculate studiocraft. He wound up with a sleeker, slicker Thriller, which isn't a bad thing, but it's not a rousing success, either. For one thing, the material just isn't as good. Look at the singles: only three can stand alongside album tracks from its predecessor ("Bad," "The Way You Make Me Feel," "I Just Can't Stop Loving You"), another is simply OK ("Smooth Criminal"), with the other two showcasing Jackson at his worst (the saccharine "Man in the Mirror," the misogynistic "Dirty Diana"). Then, there are the album tracks themselves, something that virtually didn't exist on Thriller but bog down Bad not just because they're bad, but because they reveal that Jackson's state of the art is not hip. And they constitute a near-fatal dead spot on the record -- songs three through six, from "Speed Demon" to "Another Part of Me," a sequence that's utterly faceless, lacking memorable hooks and melodies, even when Stevie Wonder steps in for "Just Good Friends," relying on nothing but studiocraft. Part of the joy of Off the Wall and Thriller was that craft was enhanced with tremendous songs, performances, and fresh, vivacious beats. For this dreadful stretch, everything is mechanical, and while the album rebounds with songs that prove mechanical can be tolerable if delivered with hooks and panache, it still makes Bad feel like an artifact of its time instead a piece of music that transcends it. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
$16.49
$14.49

Soul - Released February 2, 2006 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
$16.49
$14.49

Soul - Released February 8, 2011 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
$14.99
$12.99

Soul - Released December 5, 1995 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
$16.49
$14.49

Soul - Released December 21, 1993 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
$16.49
$14.49

Soul - Released October 1, 2002 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
$14.99
$12.99

R&B - Released March 25, 1986 | Warner Bros.

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
$17.49
$12.99

Soul - Released September 12, 2005 | RCA - Legacy

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Saddled with soaring strings and vocal choruses for maximum crossover potential, Sam Cooke's solo material often masked the most important part of his genius -- his glorious voice -- so the odd small-group date earns a special recommendation in his discography. Thankfully, Cooke's voice took center stage on this admirably low-key session from February 1963, recorded in Los Angeles with a quartet of studio veterans. Unlike so many session crews and producers of the time, these musicians gave him plenty of space and often simply framed Cooke's breathtaking vocals. (On one of the best tracks here, "Lost and Lookin'," he's barely accompanied at all; only bass and cymbals can be heard far in the background.) The results are wonderful -- except for his early Soul Stirrers sides, Night Beat is the best place to marvel at one of the two or three best voices of the century. The songs are intimate blues, most taken at the pace of a late-night stroll, but despite the dark shading and heart-rending tempos, Cooke's voice is so transcendent it's difficult to become depressed while listening. Cooke also wrote three of the songs, including the excellent "Mean Old World," and rendered the traditional "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen" practically unfamiliar with his own re-arrangement. Cooke also stretches out on a pair of jump blues classics, "Little Red Rooster" and "Shake, Rattle and Roll," summoning some honest grit for the former and putting the uptown swing into the latter. He also allows some solo space, from Barney Kessel's simple, unadorned solo on "Get Yourself Another Fool" to Billy Preston's playful organ vocalizing on "Little Red Rooster." If Sam Cooke had lived longer, there would've been several more sessions like this, but Night Beat is an even richer treasure for its rarity. ~ John Bush
$10.99
$7.99

R&B - Released February 3, 2004 | Epic - Legacy

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
The debut solo album from Luther Vandross featured one outstanding song after another. Vandross concocts a bouncy, vibrant flow on his up-tempo numbers and an intimate, emotional connection on his moderate grooves and his lone ballad. The title track stormed up the Billboard R&B charts to number one where it remained for two weeks. The mellow groove of "Don't You Know That," which checked in at number ten, was the second single. "Sugar and Spice" had less of an impact on the charts due to its short stay of six weeks. However, this feverish number gets all the juices flowing as does the unreleased "I've Been Working." Also featured on this set is the sentimental number "You Stopped Loving Me." The song was written by Vandross but initially released by Roberta Flack; both versions stand tall. "A House Is Not a Home" is the only ballad, and an elegant one it is, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David and originally sung by Dionne Warwick nearly 20 years prior. Vandross orchestrates a contemporary masterpiece with this vintage number. Though it was never an official release by the label, it's a quiet storm jewel. In addition to his many music credits, Vandross was a featured guest vocalist with the progressive band Change. The same vocal savvy and smooth styling that the New York City native exhibited on songs like "Searching" and "Glow of Love" resurface here. This is one of the better R&B albums of the early '80s. ~ Craig Lytle
$12.99

R&B/Soul - Released April 29, 1985 | Arista

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
$17.49
$12.99

R&B/Soul - Released July 4, 1983 | Epic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Michael Jackson had recorded solo prior to the release of Off the Wall in 1979, but this was his breakthrough, the album that established him as an artist of astonishing talent and a bright star in his own right. This was a visionary album, a record that found a way to break disco wide open into a new world where the beat was undeniable, but not the primary focus -- it was part of a colorful tapestry of lush ballads and strings, smooth soul and pop, soft rock, and alluring funk. Its roots hearken back to the Jacksons' huge mid-'70s hit "Dancing Machine," but this is an enormously fresh record, one that remains vibrant and giddily exciting years after its release. This is certainly due to Jackson's emergence as a blindingly gifted vocalist, equally skilled with overwrought ballads as "She's Out of My Life" as driving dancefloor shakers as "Working Day and Night" and "Get on the Floor," where his asides are as gripping as his delivery on the verses. It's also due to the brilliant songwriting, an intoxicating blend of strong melodies, rhythmic hooks, and indelible construction. Most of all, its success is due to the sound constructed by Jackson and producer Quincy Jones, a dazzling array of disco beats, funk guitars, clean mainstream pop, and unashamed (and therefore affecting) schmaltz that is utterly thrilling in its utter joy. This is highly professional, highly crafted music, and its details are evident, but the overall effect is nothing but pure pleasure. Jackson and Jones expanded this approach on the blockbuster Thriller, often with equally stunning results, but they never bettered it. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine