Two albums to listen to: a group of innovative rock albums

Chris Duncan

Editor’s note: In this recurring column, music writer Chris Duncan suggests two albums to listen to this week. Have a suggestion? Send a tweet to @chr_dunc, and your pick might appear in next week’s Two Albums To Listen To.

Loaded – The Velvet Underground

Although The Velvet Underground’s first three albums found notoriety in art rock scenes, the band experienced very limited success in terms of sales. After signing to industry titan Atlantic Records, label head Ahmet Ertegun supposedly asked frontman Lou Reed to create an album “loaded with hits,” resulting in Loaded.

Loaded became the first and only commercially successful Velvet Underground album, thanks to its rock-oriented and hook-heavy take on pop music. This album’s anthemic sound maintains a focus on The Velvet Underground’s more positive side, forgoing direct discussions of drugs and sex.

This album proved The Velvet Underground could find commercial success while maintaining their artistic integrity. However, Reed left the band shortly after the release of Loaded, eventually leading to the disbanding of the group.

Tracks to listen to: “Sweet Jane,” “Rock And Roll,” “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’”

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The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses

Although The Stone Roses are regarded as one of the most underrated bands of all time, they didn’t take off when they formed in 1983. It took them four years to sign a contract and begin recording their self-titled debut album.

Even after the album’s release, the group experienced almost no exposure to the mainstream. Their first big breakout wasn’t because of the music but was because of a fluke on live television — while performing live on BBC’s “The Late Show,” the studio’s power failed, prompting lead singer Ian Brown to should “Amateurs!” repeatedly. This somehow caught the attention of viewers, and the band’s album sales shot up.

Critics quickly swarmed to compliment the group’s pioneering sound, even though the band’s guitarist John Squire described the sound as “twee” and “fat or not hard enough.” Whatever his concern, The Stone Roses is regarded as one of the best British records ever released, mixing alternative music with acid rock percussion and jangle pop to make a catchy yet biting experience.

Tracks to listen to: “I Wanna Be Adored,” “Made of Stone,” “I Am The Resurrection”

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