Hole – Live Through This.
JR asked on the comment to part one of this list if Hole's Celebrity Skin was going to make an appearance. It almost did, as I think it is a underrated record, and I probably listen to the title track more than any other Hole song. However, if we turn back the clock further. Kurt's dead, Courtney's alive. She's annoying, she can't really sing very well, and despite all this, she produces LTT, which remains is a superb rock record.
Download: Miss World, Doll Parts
Pat Benatar – Precious Time
For a good many years female pop/rock essentially meant Pat. There are several albums you could pick, but Precious Time is one I bought on a trip to Birmingham with my mom when I was about 12. I loved it then, and still love it now. All the elements that made Benatar great are on this album – the pop fun of 'Take It Any Way You Want It', Slow building rocker, 'Promises in the Dark', and overloooked surprise - 'Evil Genius'. Also, I must say a word for Benatar's husband, and guitarist, Neil Giraldo. He always looked a bit of a cock in her early videos and live shows but I have always thought him a hugely underrated guitarist. He is a guitarist who never does more than the song needs and is very adept and adding in little flourishes in the background of songs that help lift the music.
Download: Precious Time , Evil Genius,
Suzanne Vega – Suzanne Vega
Apparently - whilst admitting that it remains a firm favourite amongst her fans – Vega herself is not really a fan of this album. I still think it contains some of her best work.
Download: The Queen and the Soldier , Small Blue Thing
Giant Dragg – Hearts and Unicorns
Can't recall I how came across this band, but I know I was worried it was just another 'White Stripes'. Nothing against the WS, but the pure indie sound created by singer/guitarist Annie Hardy and drummer/keyboard planner Micah, had me buying copies of the album for birthday presents for people. The fact the album's opening track, 'Kevin is Gay' reminded me of My Bloody Valentine probably helped too. Then their live gig at the Borderline was awesome. The world looked bright. Stars were born. Sadly since then various problems with illness, break ups, being dropped by record company and the like have meant that a follow up album has yet to materialise – although currently asking fans to help finance the new album via their website, and Micah is back in the fold once more.
Download: This Isn't It, Kevin is Gay
Jennifer Warnes – Famous Blue Raincoat
Sadly most people in the UK only know Jennifer Warnes for singing 'Up where we belong' with Joe Cocker and "(I've Had) The Time of My Life", with Bill Medley from 'An Officer and a Gentleman' and 'Dirty Dancing' respectively. When not doing this, she has recorded a handful of wonderful albums (even managing to cover Todd along the way). But as good as many of these were it is this album of Leonard Cohen covers which is the one you should own. Cohen is having a bit of a revival, esp in the UK at the moment, so now's a good time to grab a copy. One of my fav albums.
Download: First We Take Manhattan (also features Stevie Ray Vaughan on guitar), Famous Blue Raincoat
Jill Sobule – Things Here are Different
Whilst I am sure I would have eventually discovered Jill, it was the fact that Todd has produced this that made me seek it on release. A pleasant surprise it turned out to be too. Restrained production from Todd, and some wonderfully crafted songs, form an artist who continues to make good music.
Download: Tell me your Dreams
The Pretenders – The Pretenders.
One of the great debut albums. A seminal british band in fact. People often forget that Hynde was the only non-brit in the original 4 piece. What made them good was that Chrissie Hynde came across as a tough woman who could more than hold her own with any man, no matter the challenge, and coupled with a great song writing ability that seemed to take punk and distil it into a smoother form of rock. This album contains the excellent Brass in Pocket, Stop Your Sobbing (written by Ray Davies – who would later have a relationship and child with Hynde), Kid, and Private Life.
Download: Brass in Pocket, Private Life
Cowboy Junkies – Trinity Sessions
If you haven't ever heard the version of the Velvet Underground's 'Sweet Jane' of this album, then prepare to be amazed. Lou Reed thinks it's the way the song should sound. There is a great atmosphere about the rest of the album too.
Download: Sweet Jane
Garbage – Garbage
I think Steve Lamaq and Jo Whiley were responsible for my first hearing Garbage, back in the day when they used to do an evening stint on Radio one. The song they played was Vow, and I instantly feel in love with it. They played it again a few days later and I managed to record most of it. I then wore the tape out. I'm not sure what it was but that mix of that polished industrial rock with production wizardry (from Butch Vig fresh from Nivana duties) and Shirley Manson's voice just worked for me. It still does, and Vow remains my favourite track by the band. But the album had more. It had the pop-tastic 'Only Happy When It Rains', the dark 'Queer' and the gentle, sleepy 'Milk'.
Belly - Star
Tanya Donnelly had already been in the Throwing Muses and The Breeders by the time she got around to Belly. Eseentially if you were a Breeders fan then Belly were more of the same. This was not a bad thing
Download: Feed the Tree, Gepetto