Digging Through the Cut-Out Bins: My 50 Favorite Albums Forgotten by Time

A long-time friend of mine suggested a topic to me a few weeks ago. He suggested that I should do an entry about my favorite albums from a cut-out bin. I thought that was a great idea. That is, until I wanted to write about it. I have literally spent the past two days digging through my albums and CDs, scroll through my mp3s and looked all over the internet for the titles of these great pieces of work that have been lost over time.

Some of these are the albums containing a single hit song, while others are albums that were hailed back in the day of their release, only to be push aside as the years past by. Some were given hugely successful, others were given big reviews in Rolling Stone or Creem back in the day. Some were those unfortunate albums released in the aftermath of big selling albums. Some were considered to be disappointments. But, what they all share was they ended up in a cut-out bin in some record store.

Still, they all ended up in my collection, and I love ’em all! So, here’s My 50 Favorite Forgotten Albums. My list is in alphabetic album.

  1. 5th Dimension – The Magic Garden (1967). The Carpenters are getting kudos these days. Now, it’s time for the 5th Dimension to get their due for their smooth R&B.
  2. Bananarama – Deep Sea Skiving (1983). Madonna gets all the credit for making girl power/Motown-influenced pop all the rage in the ’80s. But, this trio deserves more credit for their contributions.
  3. Bangles – Different Light (1986). The Go-Go’s or Bangles? As much as I loved The Go-Go’s, Bangles are the talented lot.
  4. Bill Withers – Still Bill (1972). I’ve seen Withers described as a black Paul Simon. I thought that was a good description, until I remembered that there was a time when I thought Simon was black and Withers was white.
  5. Billy Joel – Songs from the Attic (1981). Take a bunch of songs from Joel’s early albums and record them live, the way they should be played.
  6. Bruce Springsteen – We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (2006). Every time I start missing The Band, someone puts out an album that reminds me of them. This time The Boss gave me an album that sounded just like Robbie Robertson, et. al.
  7. Cee-Lo Green – …Is the Soul Machine (2004) – This is the album that should have made Cee-Lo the star. Unfortunately, the album did not have the single like “Forget You”.
  8. Dire Straits – Love over Gold (1982). Does anyone remember Dire Straits? C’mon! They were one of the finest guitar bands of the era. And, this album sounded like a soundtrack to some unreleased movie.
  9. Doobie Brothers – What We’re Once Vices Are Now Habits (1974). Here, the Doobies began a small reign in the rock world.
  10. Electric Light Orchestra – Zoom (2001). ELO made a comeback with a terrific album that recalled the glory days, only to be unleashed on an uncaring public.
  11. Faith No More – Epic (1989). Yes, this one sold. A bundle. But, then the buyers found out the band was way more than a heavy metal band. And, that was way too much for the public that only wanted metal.
  12. Fleetwood Mac – Tusk (1979). At the time, the Mac was coming off one of the greatest albums of all time. And, they decided to retain their artistic sanity. So, this was what they released. And everyone seemed disappointed. But, if you listened to it a few more times, you would find a brilliant album that pushed the boundaries.
  13. Gladys Knight & the Pips – Imagination (1973). When an album has a hit like “Midnight Train to Georgia”, it doesn’t need much else. But, this is full of songs that made Knight and the Pips great soul singers.
  14. Haircut One Hundred – Pelican West (1982). Haircut One Hundred was a brilliant pop band that only held together long enough to give us this wonderful pop album. Check out singer Nick Heywood’s solo career for more timeless pop music.
  15. Holly & the Italians – The Right to Be Italian (1981). This is another one-hit wonder of new wave/power pop classics.
  16. Jeff Beck Group – Beck-Ola (1969). Everything that Led Zeppelin did, they stole it from the Jeff Beck Group’s debut album. This is Rod Stewart at his best.
  17. Jesse Johnson – Shockadelica (1986). The former guitarist for The Time, Prince’s proteges, actually came up with the name of his album BEFORE Prince wrote his brilliant song of the same name. When I heard this album during the heady days of his former boss’s purple reign, I thought Johnson would break free to make good on this album’s promise of a Sly Stone for the ’80s. Unfortunately, I was wrong.
  18. John Hiatt – Bring the Family (1987). This is the cult hero, and native Hoosier, released this collection of stripped down songs that he recorded with the crack line up of Ry Cooder on guitar, Nick Lowe on bass and Jim Keltner on drums. This is basic rock and roll at his post-fifties best.
  19. Journey – Departure (1980). Few remember much about Journey before their big hit Escape in 1981. But, Departure was the last album done with original keyboardist Greg Rolie and the band never sounded better. Everything else in the band’s catalog pales in comparison.
  20. Keith Whitley – I Wonder Do You Think of Me  (1989). Whitley was poised to become the next big country artist just as this whiskey-soaked album was about to be released. Unfortunately, he passed away around the release date and the album never got the push it needed to find its audience.
  21. Los Lobos – By the Light of the Moon (1987). Right before Los Lobos did their remake of Richie Valens’ hit “La Bamba”, they released this excellent album that fully showcased their whole talent and influences, from Tex Mex to rock & roll.
  22. Love – Forever Changes (1967). During the summer of love, L.A.’s original interracial rock madmen released this journey into one’s psyche. For some reason, it never found an audience, though fans of The Doors settled for a lesser version of Love’s vision.
  23. Malcolm McLaren – Duck Rock (1983). When the Sex Pistols’ former manager announced the release of his debut album, people snickered. When he said it was the sound of a punk being influenced by New York City’s hip hop sound, people were horrified. Until they heard the singles, the title song and “Buffalo Gals”, then they knew it was an early hip hop classic.
  24. MGMT – Congratulations (2010). MGMT proved on their sophomore album that they were so much more than new wave wannabes. They were new wave originals.
  25. Outkast – Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik (1994). On this album, Outkast proved they were the heirs to the Parliafunkadelicment Thang sound.
  26. Paul McCartney – Flowers in the Dirt (1989). McCartney teamed with Elvis Costello to write the best McCartney album in over a decade. And, if you couple it with Costello’s Spike, we would have gotten one of the greatest albums of the ’80s, if not all time.
  27. Rainy Day – Rainy Day (1984). This one-off of a Paisley Underground supergroup (members of the Three O’Clock and Bangles and some hangers-on) created THE sound of the scene.
  28. Rickie Lee Jones – Rickie Lee Jones (1979). When Jones arrived on the scene in 1979 with this debut album, she was hailed as the female version of Tom Waits. And why not? She wrote songs that were similar to his in sound and point-of-view. But, they lacked the self-destructive bent Waits included.
  29. Rush – Signals (1982). Rush went all in with synthesizers on this release. And they kept their unique sound intact. Now, subsequent electronica experiments failed because they lost the humanity in their lyrics and vocals. But, here, it all works.
  30. Simply Red – A New Flame (1989). Released at the peak of the whole hair metal crap, this ode to Philly soul and the Motown sound quietly reminded those who cared about what was good about music.
  31. Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes – I Don’t Want to Go Home (1976). This is the Springsteen sound set to a horn section. At the time, Johnny & the Jukes were the only band that could match the E Street Band’s ferocity in concert.
  32. Stone Temple Pilots – Tiny Music…Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop (1996). STP were always being pigeonholed as a band without its own sound. That is, until they released this non-grunge, Beatlesque album to a tepid reception. This might be the band’s masterpiece.
  33. Ta Mara & the Seen – Ta Mara & the Seen (1985). One of the lesser known artists from Minneapolis, they rocked as well as any of them, including his Royal Purple Highness. Then, they disappeared. We barely knew ya!
  34. Television – Marquee Moon (1977). Upon the release of this album, Television was being hailed as THE band from the CBGBs scene. Unfortunately, the band’s chemistry was volatile and the blew up. But, we are left asking what could have been.
  35. The Afghan Whigs – Gentlemen (1993). The first non-Seattle band on Sub Pop, Cincinnati’s Whigs were just the perfect band to follow in Nirvana’s footsteps with a hard rocking sound steeped in pop structures. Unfortunately, they never got their place in the sun where the whole grunge thing imploded upon Cobain’s suicide.
  36. The Cars – Panorama (1980). On this album, the Cars played up their Velvet Underground vibe while downplaying their bubblegum side. Most did not like it. I loved it!
  37. The Jacksons – Triumph (1980). Go put this album on now and tell me this does not sound like a run-through for Michael’s solo career.
  38. The Kinks – Low Budget (1979). The Kinks realized they were the godfathers of punk and acted like it on this album.
  39. The Police – Regatta de Blanc (1979). The Police went dark for a whole album and gave us this beautiful slice of new wave.
  40. The Replacements – Don’t Tell a Soul (1989). This is the sound of what the Replacements can do if they are sober AND focused. This a simply a fun album.
  41. The Rolling Stones – It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (1974). The title says it all! If the Stones could just stick to that mantra.
  42. The Staple Singers – Let’s Do It Again (1975). Curtis Mayfield produced this social statement of inner city blues at the height of his powers. And he used the brilliant Staple Singers to paint that picture with their unparalleled vocals.
  43. The Undisputed Truth – The Undisputed Truth (1971). Motown went psychedelic on this release.
  44. The Vaughan Brothers – Family Style (1990). What better way to put brothers Stevie Ray and Jimmie’s careers in perspective than this one-off duo. This showed their soulful side.
  45. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Southern Accents (1985). Yes, this is not a perfect Petty album. He has Damn the Torpedoes for that. But, the trip they take us on Southern Accents is much more rewarding.
  46. U2 – Zooropa (1993). In the past, U2 would follow a classic with a clunker. So, when they released this album after the sublime Achtung Baby, I was expecting the worst. Instead, they gave us more dadaist alternative rock music that pushed the whole world forward.
  47. Various Artists – Concerts for the People of Kampuchea (1981). This is what George Harrison meant to do for Bangladesh a decade earlier. On this collection, you can hear The Clash, The Who, McCartney, Costello and others whipping the crowd in a frenzy to raise money for Kampuchea. This concert set the stage for Live Aid.
  48. Various Artists – The Great White Hype Soundtrack (1996). If this album only had Wu-Tang Clan OR Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, but both? This is an overlooked hip hop classic.
  49. Various Artists – Times Square Soundtrack (1980). Yes, the movie sucked. But, there is no denying that Robert Stigwood has once again produced a wonderfully stacked offering of new wave gods. This was his best soundtrack, not Saturday Night Fever, Grease OR Sgt. Pepper. This has cuts from Talking Heads, XTC, Joe Jackson, Gary Numan and Squeeze a good year before they all started having US hits.
  50. Weezer – Weezer (“The Green Album”) (2001). This comeback album was brushed off as being crap. But after a group releases classics like The Blue Album or Pinkerton, it is difficult to live up to that, but Weezer did.

Let me know how many you are familiar with. Here are some of the albums that did not make the final list: Foreigner – Head Games; Bobby Womack – Understanding; Grace Jones – Nightclubbing; Jackson Browne – Hold Out; The Hudson Brothers – Hollywood Situation; Styx – Crystal Ball; Rod Stewart – A Night on the Town; Kanye West – 808s & Heartbreak; Game Theory – The Big Shot Chronicles; Phil Collins – Hello, I Must Be Going!

Anyone else have suggestions? Leave in the comment section. See you tomorrow! Peace out!

Author: ifmyalbumscouldtalk

I am just a long-time music fan who used to be a high school science teacher and a varsity coach of several high school athletic teams. Before that, I worked as a medical technologist at three hospitals in their labs, mainly as a microbiologist. I am retired/disabled (Failed Back Surgery Syndrome), and this is my attempt to remain a human. Additionally, I am a serious vinyl aficionado, with a CD addiction and a love of reading about rock history. Finally, I am a fan of Prince, Cheap Trick, Tom Petty, R.E.M., Hall & Oates, Springsteen, Paul Weller & his bands and Power Pop music.

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