1. Prince – Sign O’ The Times
I think Sign O’ The Times is a completely genius body of work, it’s dystopian with a bit of hope at the end. It best exemplifies Prince in his genre defying capacity. He just did not subscribe to any genre, the only thing he subscribed to was Prince music. And that album is probably the best example of that, and the writing is unreal.
2. Stevie Wonder – Songs in The Key of Life
Songs in The Key of Life is well regarded as a masterpiece, another double album. The subject matter that he deals with, the social justice kind of has in writing of the peak of his powers and some of the most memorable songs of his career have come from just that one album. It’s a firm favourite for me, always will be.
3. Carole King – Tapestry
This is an interesting album because the lyrics are just so plaintive, they’re so every-day and the style in how she sings these is quite every-day and that’s exactly why it works so beautifully. It is the voice of any woman and every woman, anywhere.
4. Aretha Franklin – I Never Loved a Man The Way I Love You
Never Loved a Man is just the definition of soul singing, she is a one off, there will never be another woman like Aretha and she was, sadly for her, at her best when she was going through probably the toughest times of her life with rubbish managers and rubbish men. But My God, the gift she gave us!
5. Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Miseducation is a modern masterpiece. It’s the only one on my list which is based on lots of samples but the songs in and of themselves completely stand up as being the work of someone quite extraordinary. It just shows how sampling can give you something which is absolutely incredible.