05 January 2015

One Album Wonders (of the 20th Century)

In the last half of the 20th Century, when a kid went off to college, it was customary for him (or her) to drag some kind of stereo system with them.  In the dorms there were music wars going on and the guy with the best sound system ruled the ether.  Along with a stereo, it was necessary to drag along a couple shoe boxes full of cassette tapes and a milk crate or two full of vinyl.  I entered Western Illinois University as a freshman in the autumn of 1986 with a collection of music that was larger than most kids on my dorm floor, but I had brought my "back-up" stereo with me.  It was a cheap, plastic combination dual cassette/radio/record player that cost less than $100.  My real system, which I had pilfered from my step-dad, would stay at my parents house until I got my first apartment my sophomore year.  In the mean time, mingling with a mix of college kids from the inner city and the suburbs of Chicago and St Louis was expanding my own small town taste in music and half way through my sophomore year I decided to take on a shift as a DJ at the campus radio station - it was the 3am show on Thursday mornings.  The good thing about that shift was that no one was listening and I could play absolutely anything I wanted.  Three weeks into my DJ career, I just started playing entire albums.  Around this time I began to develop an interest in what I called "One Album Wonders" - great albums that were created by bands that (sometimes inexplicably) never came close to reaching that level of artistry ever again.  I began compiling a list of these albums and collecting them over time, until many years later, after graduating college, heading off to the real world, finding work, meeting a girl, getting married, having kids, etc I felt I was an expert on One Album Wonders.  The following is a random smattering of reviews for some of the One Album Wonders I have collected: