Ten LPs that front-loaded the best stuff…
The Doors, _The Doors _(ELEKTRA, 1967)
Side one of The Doors’ 1967 debut album was, and remains, a total headrush. From chilling opener Break On Through (To The Other Side), via the sleazy 20th Century Fox, to massively memorable closer Light My Fire, every facet of the band’s diverse and volatile talent is laid bare for your delectation.
Van Morrison, _Moondance _(WARNERS, 1970)
After the deep mysticism of his 1968 masterpiece Astral Weeks, Moondance essentially marked the beginning of Van the crowd-pleaser, hurling R&B, jazz and rock-soul into the sky.It all kicks off with And It Stoned Me, a gorgeous evocation of youth, later covered by everyone from Bob Dylan to Jerry Garcia to Gov’t Mule, before moving on to the title track, a sprightly jazz composition with walking bass.
Stooges, Fun House (ELEKTRA, 1970)
Following the relative conservatism of Fun House’s concise introductory punk exemplar (Down On The Street), the three selections that complete side one of the Stooges’ second studio album (Loose, TV Eye, Dirt) converge in a darkly psychedelic subterranean suite as visceral and spontaneous as any to be found in contemporary jazz. A trio of extemporaneous analogue cuts to perfectly accentuate Iggy’s livid 70s-presaging psychodrama.
Bachman Turner Overdrive, _Not Fragile _(MERCURY, 1974)
Side one: five tracks including two hits (You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet and Roll On Down The Highway), a fistful of commercial riffs and anthemic choruses, and enough surplus face-fur to have lined the lion’s enclosure at London Zoo. Top-notch trucker rock.
Supertramp, _Crime Of The Century _(A&M, 1974)
In our shuffle-play times, the sequence is a dying art. On their career-saving third LP, Supertramp assemble the perfect order. Not only for how the themes of loneliness and lunacy build on each previous tune, but in all musical considerations – key, tempo, form. It’s just right. Bloody well right.
Genesis, _Wind And Wuthering _(CHARISMA, 1976)
Genesis’ second Phil Collins-fronted set delivered two wonderfully elaborate epic pieces – Eleventh Earl Of Mar and One For The Vine – juxtaposed by the endearing winsome efficiency of Your Own Special Way and Wot Gorilla?’s eccentricity.
The Police, Outlandos D’Amour (A&M, 1978)
If the first seven minutes of this album didn’t make you fall in love with The Police, resistance would’ve been futile after the next three, courtesy of Roxanne. Outlandos’ side one nails the main agenda of any debut: establish what’s unique about the band; get listeners to flip to side two.
Asia, Asia (GEFFEN, 1982)
It seems strange saying it now, but in 1982 Asia could have staked a claim to being the biggest rock band in the world. At its peak, Asia sold 80,000 copies a day, having trimmed back their prog-rock excesses for Heat Of The Moment, Sole Survivor and Only Time Will Tell.
Magnum, On A Storyteller’s Night (FM RECORDS, 1985)
With Rodney Matthews’ image of creatures imbibing in a hearth-lit tavern and Just Like An Arrow, the single that greased the wheels of the group’s return, OASN is Magnum’s back-from-the-dead masterwork. From the rousing How Far Jerusalem to the evocative Les Morts Dansant, side one is virtually flawless.
U2, The Joshua Tree (ISLAND, 1987)
From the anthemic chorus of Where The Streets Have No Name, through the seismic climax of With Or Without You, to the eye-moistening hush of Running To Stand Still, side A left listeners with a dilemma: flip the LP over, or pull the needle back for one more spin…