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The Sophomore Albums!!!

Abba – “Waterloo” was the Eurovision Song Contest winner  and also the title track of their second album, and “Honey Honey” proved it wasn’t a fluke- B

Arcade Fire – Song for song Neon Bible is not the best moment of their career, still it had “Keep The Car Running” (their best political moment) and “No Cars Go” -a touch of the slump but the fans loved it and it cemented AF’s place in the pop firmament – B

Beyonce – B-Day (get it) Her second post-Destiny’s Child release is the one where she and Hova were dangerously in love, and the album, which sold over 500K copies the first week of release, was a world class banger heading straight to the top with “Irreplaceable” (Knowles plus a half dozen Swedish producer). Now, it feels like a place setting, a shoring up of gifts which would explode two albums later transforming Will Bey to Queen Bey- B+

Blondie – Ignore Lester Bang’s preposterous slam, the first side of Plastic Letters is the best thing they ever put their name to, and if side two isn’t as good between  the two  it is New York 1977 and in my ears, bells are ringing – A+

Drake – With Drake, the question of what came first or second is a little murky due to the question of mixtapes, but lets go with the rules and dub Take Care the sophomore effort and say that it starts so high with “Over My Head’ that it doesn’t really recover – B

Elvis Costello – Song for song This Year’s Model isn’t as tightly wound as his first, but it has a better backing band and a wider range – A

John Lennon – Primal Scream over and done with, Lennon solo (aka this doesn’t include the Unfinished Music stuff), Imagine doesn’t simply include one of the great peace anthems ever, it also includes some pop moves of resolute power and commitment… the MCacrtney did is badass – A

Kanye West – Late Registration was an improvement on the debut, with “Hey Mama” the sort of song nobody was releasing, and “Golddigger” and “Diamonds From Sierra Leone”

Lana Del Rey – With Lana, her EPs tended to morph into albums at the beginning, the eponymous sophomore album has the EPs plus – B+

Madonna – Like A Virgin didn’t simply make Madonna a superstar, it also made MTV starmakers as she rolled about the stage in her wedding dress on the VMAs – B+

Pink Floyd – A Saucerful Of Secrets is the only album in which Syd and Gilmore appears together, the band were transitioning at the time but this is still pretty out there. The best song is Barrett’s only song here – B

Public Enemy – If “The Message” turned rap into a serious form of music, and “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems” turned rap into pop, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us back, turned rap into rock and roll: it used the language and building blocks of rock revolution to push Chuck D. to the very front of the angry white man who was black, while Flava Flav called us silly rabbits like a spin full of sugar – A

Ringo Starr – He still hadn’t settled into his Royal Starrdom, that would be the third, this is a middling set of Act Naturallys c&w and a misfire but a brave one- C+

Stevie Wonder – Stevie was 11 years old and more or less up to the incredibly difficult task of Ray Charles covers on Tribute To Uncle Ray -the shock is that Berry green stamped something his staple of artists didn’t write  – B

Talking Heads – In retrospect, More Songs About Building And Food was less about “The Boys Want To Be With the Girlsy” but the first signpost to New Wave and the future as we now know it, the cover of “Take Me To The River”. Even today, the song is a surprise: less new art school and more disco soul inferno, it lit a path that everybody treads today – A

The Beatles – With the Beatles,  I mean the UK version of course, already there was more and just as strong original material and all the covers, especially Lennon’s vocal on “Please, Mr. Postman” –along with a Lennon Motown on this album, “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me,” two of the greatest rock and roll covers of all time – A+

The Notorious B.I.G. – I realize it is tinged by tragedy but this birth of hip hop double, Life After Death, isn’t Biggie’s and not Puff Daddy’s because of sentimentality but because Biggie raps circles around everybody who ever existed, one last time – A+

The Ramones – Leave Home, more of the same – A+

The Temptations – You can’t blame Berry for recycling Smokey Robinson songs whenever even vaguely possible, and while for Sings Smokey iplays out like a holding action, who cares when you get Eddie Kendrick singing “What’s So Good About Goodbye”

Tom Jones – No “It’s So Unusual” on A-Tom-Ic Jones, his voice was still a powerful rumble but the material didn’t happeen – B-


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