1. The Pogues--Rum, Sodomy & the Lash
The Pogues in their full ragged majesty, life-sized and nasty and just so human. Sometimes the best album a band makes is their first, for better or worse.
2. Nick Cave--No More Shall We Part
Dark, funny, and lush. I feel like Nick Cave reached a new level with his music on this one. A lot of people might disagree, but this is my damn island.
3. Steely Dan--Can't Buy a Thrill
Another first album... The production is thankfully a bit less glossy than their later stuff, but the twisted, funny, and strangely upbeat songs of Becker and Fagen are in full force here. They create a bizarro-L.A.-via-NYC subgenre all their own.
4. Astor Piazzolla--Tango: Zero Hour
This Argentian composer mixes tango, classical and Ellington-like jazz to make truly scary and beautiful music. It's dangerous, wise, and sad. It's the kind of thing you'd want to play during a knife-fight scene in a Buenos Aires bar.
5. Stevie Wonder--Songs in the Key of Life
Not only does this pretty much cover the gamut of human emotion with one of the best singers, composers and instrumentalists around, but it's a double album to boot! Stevie has to take up the slack for the unrelenting darkness of the other four discs I'm bringing.