The Student Playlist

Showcasing the Best New Music, Curating the Classics

Category Classic Albums

CLASSIC ’70s: Pink Floyd – ‘Wish You Were Here’

by Ed Biggs With their ninth album, Pink Floyd faced the conundrum that all truly massive artists have to confront when they’ve ridden the initial wave of their success – how to follow it up. To repeat oneself will usually attract critical fire and garners only a fraction of the sales; to do something radically different is to let down one’s fans or commit commercial suicide; in short, both critics and

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CLASSIC ’60s: Bob Dylan – ‘Highway 61 Revisited’

by Ed Biggs With important albums turning 50 years old in the next 12 months, it’s perfectly arguable that Bob Dylan is the greatest artist of the 1960s, whose willingness to experiment with what pop music could sound like, and what topics it could address, predates even that of The Beatles. Fans often cite the three albums he made in 1965 and 1966 as his golden age, which saw him make

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CLASSIC ’70s: Bruce Springsteen – ‘Born To Run’

by Ed Biggs It seems difficult to believe it forty glorious years later, but in 1975 Bruce Springsteen’s career hung in the balance. His first two albums – Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. and The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle, both from 1973 – had earned him critical respect but had not made him a star, falling far below Columbia’s expectations in the charts. So, under record label

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CLASSIC ’90s: Garbage – ‘Garbage’

by Ed Biggs Always one of the most underrated and overlooked groups of the ‘90s, Garbage were prime movers of the alternative rock trend that exploded in America that decade, at around the same time that Britpop was doing likewise across the Atlantic. Formed of three American producers and musicians – including Nirvana producer Butch Vig – plus their fiery Edinburgh-born Shirley Manson with her shock of red hair and streak

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CULT ’90s: Pixies – ‘Bossanova’

by Ed Biggs Bossanova enjoys an unfairly deserved reputation in Pixies’ back catalogue as the point where it started to go wrong for them. Surfer Rosa and Doolittle were hugely well received by the American and European indie underground, and did so much to help form the musical template that would become known as ‘alternative rock’ in the ‘90s by influencing, among others, Nirvana. But one tends to hear much less

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CLASSIC ’60s: The Beatles – ‘Help!’

by Ed Biggs As both we and many others studying them have said before, The Beatles are a deceptively simple band to analyse, since so much of their fame and so many of their achievements look inevitable or preordained with the benefit of hindsight. However, their epoch-defining success was not as smooth as a cursory glance makes it appear. Mid-1965 presented the first of (arguably) two existential crises they faced in

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CULT ’00s: Sufjan Stevens – ‘Illinois’

by Ed Biggs Ten years ago, a few people must really have believed that Sufjan Stevens was serious about his ambition to record a concept album about all 50 American states. His splendid 2003 album Michigan had set the ball rolling, and while he interrupted the sequence with 2004’s Seven Swans, it was followed with 2005’s Illinois, the album many consider to be his magnum opus. In fact, Stevens was so

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CULT ’90s: The Chemical Brothers – ‘Exit Planet Dust’

by Ed Biggs About to release their eighth studio album Born In The Echoes next month, The Chemical Brothers’ stellar career has begun its third decade: funny to think it all began because the Beastie Boys’ production team wanted their name back. Known at the very beginning of their career as The Dust Brothers, Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons were DJs who began to make their own music using basic samplers

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CULT ’90s: The Verve – ‘A Northern Soul’

by Ed Biggs While The Verve may be more famous for their hugely successful third album Urban Hymns (1997), its 1995 predecessor A Northern Soul deserves to be mentioned in the same breath. The sound that would bring them mainstream success two years later, a powerful brand of alternative rock with strong elements of prog and distortion – think Oasis and Spiritualized in equal parts – really began to take shape

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CULT ’90s: Björk – ‘Post’

by Ed Biggs When we talk about classic albums and great artists on this site, we often talk about their ‘imperial phase’: that period during their career where everything they touch turns to gold, the critics and fans are united in adoration, and the material remembered and revered years down the line. Often, that period only seems golden with the benefit of hindsight, when the artist in question isn’t producing work

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