Refused - The Shape of Punk to Come
Described in the album's subtitle as "a chimerical bombination in 12 bursts," it most certainly stands the test of time for kinetic, bombastic punk/metal of the most intelligent and destructive variety. "New Noise" still sounds brutal and beautiful, even after 10+ years.
The Cure - Disintegration
Goth's godfathers brought a new creepy vibe on this endlessly gloomy record. The bassline on "Fascination Street" alone is worth the cost of admission, but you'll stay for the languid takes on "Pictures of You" and "Love Song."
Rolling Stones - Exile on Main St.
There's not much more need be said about the Stones' finest moment, save for the reissue including "Plunder My Soul" a cut that didn't make the record, but probably should have.
Iggy & the Stooges - Raw Power
Living up to its name even now, the Stooges really defined what was possible in a burgeoning punk scene. Loud, riotous, unpredictable and sometimes heartfelt (see "I Need Somebody") it was never short on brutal guitar work from James Williamson, some of which was smoothed over the original David Bowie mix, but re-worked when Iggy remixed the album in 97. This year's reissue included the smoother, groovier Bowie mix and a live CD.
David Bowie - Station To Station
Bowie's always been associated with Iggy for me, since Pop's best work came from his time working with Bowie. But Bowie's always been kind of hit or-miss. Sometimes it'll be a stark raving masterwork of sound manipulation like "Low" or it'll be a brittle attempt at making dancehall pop tunes like "Let's Dance." "Station to Station" is the former. Melding Kraftwerk's stomp and beep with members of Springsteen's E Street Band gets you tunes like "Word on a Wing" which make professional music writers weep for a lack of descriptive adjectives.
Weezer - Pinkerton
Call it their "Cut the Crap." Yes, this album is to blame for the emergence of emo culture, whiny singer-songwriters with girl problems and Weezer's fair-to-middling current career status. But you know what? So what. This album is raw, confessional pop-rock and it's not afraid to show it. River's best lyrics can sometimes be really goofy (remember "El Scorcho"?) but the emotions really come through on beleaguered stompers like "Why Bother?" Portnoy's Complaint-referencing "Tired of Sex" lez-bee-yawn dramafest "Pink Triangle" and somber album closer "Butterfly." The reiusse adds bonus tracks that were previously unavailable like "I Just Threw Out The Love Of My Dreams," "You Gave Your Love to Me Softly" and a few "radio remixes" of key album tracks.
Nine Inch Nails - Pretty Hate Machine
A squiggly synth-pop vision of darker things to come. New Romantic Trent Reznor gets beaten in life and love until he can't take it any more, lashing out at the world in a new gloriously destructive wave. "Something I Can Never Have" is possibly the prettiest and most depressing song Reznor's ever written, while later on the album he announces, without irony, that the "devil wants to f**k me in the back of his car." It's not that this album couldn't be written today - likely some bedroom laptop beatmaker is making this same album right now - it's that was written at precisely the right time. Trent will later embrace guitar noise on with "Broken" and create a mainstream name for himself with "The Downward Spiral" but on "Pretty Hate Machine" he shines with potential. This reissue includes one bonus - a cover of Queen's "Get Down Make Love", previously available on the single for the album's non-hit "Sin."
Morrissey - Bona Drag
For an ex-Smith, he sure sounded good. His solo career was going quite well at the time and this singles-and-b-sides compilation proved it. The included cut tracks just make this one really long, but it's worth it to hear the Moz remastered for better sound. You can tell with subtle tweaks to the production on "November Spawned A Monster."
Miles Davis - Bitches Brew
Expanding the boundaries of what jazz could do, Davis digs deep into his bag of tricks on his most eclectic album, and oddly enough, his most deserving of repeated listening.