30 Years of Music – A Look Back

MP&F started as a one-man consultancy in 1987. Thirty years later, we are the largest independently owned, full-service PR firm in the state, have more than 70 employees, and are the winners of numerous local and national awards.

Basically, it’s worked out.

Many things have changed since 1987. For instance, I “hyperlink” certain words below that, when clicked on, take you to another “page” of the “internet.”

Many things haven’t changed since then, though, like our core values, our commitment to our clients and our excellent work.

Outside of work, I’m an avid music collector and still DJ when I can. So as a salute to 30 years of MP&F, I’ve created a list of my favorite albums in each of the last 30 years (with a probably-too-long accompanying playlist* to definitely not distract you at work).

The key words here are “my favorite.” Taste is subjective.

So debate, ridicule, disagree with, but enjoy. Cheers to 30 years.

*Not all artists/albums listed here are available on Spotify and therefore don’t all make the playlist. It goes in chronological order, but feel free to shuffle if you want. It’s your life.

1987 – Prince, “Sign o’ the Times”

OK, so there was no way we were getting through this without a Prince album. Luckily, MP&F started in 1987, the same year Prince released his most epic album. On the Prince scale, that’s pretty, um, epic.

1988 – New Kids on the Block, “Hangin’ Tough”

Yeah, I went there. I love this album. The introduction of the modern boy band and our first Wahlberg, in the form of Donnie. Brother Mark would soon follow. The Wahlburgers franchise would come much later.

1989 – Tom Petty, “Full Moon Fever”

Took Petty from a rock star to a pop superstar. Placed the harmonica holder back in the public consciousness.

1990 – Garth Brooks, “Friends in Low Places”

To date, this album has sold 738 million copies worldwide. I can’t back that stat up, but it feels right.

1991 – THREE-WAY TIE: A Tribe Called Quest, “The Low End Theory”; Pearl Jam, “Ten”;       Nirvana, “Nevermind”

Is a three-way tie a cop-out? Probably.

1992 – Dr. Dre, “The Chronic”

This album changed the way rap sounded AND moved its capital from New York to Los Angeles AND launched the career of Snoop Dogg. Not a bad trifecta.

1993 – Counting Crows, “August and Everything After”

The first song I learned on guitar was “Sullivan Street.” I think it’s just two chords the whole time. Also, I just did a Google search and it seems Adam Duritz is still rockin’ dreads. Respect.

1994 – Nas, “Illmatic”

Really rap in general wins ’94 with so many classic albums. I’ll go with “Illmatic” for its sheer force, plus Nas was 18 when he recorded this. When I was 18, I was cutting the grass at my mom’s high school.

1995 – Mariah Carey, “Daydream”

I still play this at parties. It still works. Every time.

1996 – Wilco, “Being There”

This is a really, really good album. That’s all.

1997 – Shania Twain, “Come On Over”

OK, this is here only because my sister played it so much in the car that I think the CD player in my mom’s Windstar blew up. These songs are seared into my brain.

1998 – Lauryn Hill, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill”

I’ll be honest, I didn’t “get” this album when it first came out. But I was also wearing Umbro shorts to school at the time, so I guess it’s excused. Now, I listen to it at least once a week.

1999 – The Roots, “Things Fall Apart”

“Things Fall Apart” was the ultimate breath of fresh air. In general, I think we take The Roots for granted.

2000 – D’Angelo, “Voodoo”

D’Angelo has gone for quality over quantity in his career. Case in point, his next album wouldn’t come out for more than a decade. Spoiler alert: It also makes this list.

2001 – The Strokes, “Is This It”

After “Velvet Underground & Nico,” this album is probably responsible for launching the most bands. Cool story: My friend once got kicked out of a party by Julian Casablancas.

2002 – Johnny Cash, “American IV: The Man Comes Around”

Feel like crying at work? Listen to Cash’s cover of “Hurt” right now.

2003 – Outkast, “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below”

The principal for some reason let us play “Hey Ya” at a pep rally in high school. Afterward, he just let everyone go home. We were too hype.

2004 – Kanye West, “The College Dropout”

Like most people, I have a love-hate relationship with Kanye. I love him here. He would never be as fun or self-deprecating again.

2005 – Beck, “Guero”

Beck is just too good.

2006 – TIE: J Dilla, “Donuts”; Amy Winehouse, “Back to Black”

“Donuts” is my favorite album of all time. “Back to Black” isn’t far behind.

2007 – M.I.A, “Kala”

“Paper Planes” was a moment in time and the first single to be certified quintuple-diamond. I can’t back this stat up either, but it feels right.

2008 – My Morning Jacket, “Evil Urges”

My girlfriend in college pretty much exclusively listened to MMJ, so I bought her this album for Christmas. I think we broke up like three weeks later. She kept the album.

2009 – Mayer Hawthorne, “A Strange Arrangement”

I was absolutely blown away when I first heard this album. It sounded dusty but timeless yet fresh. OK, that last sentence kind of sucked, but I think you get what I’m trying to say.

2010 – Dam-Funk, “Toeachizown”

Do you like to dance? What about nodding your head while you drive? What about scaring other drivers on the road because you’re nodding your head so violently while you drive? If yes to any of these, this is the album for you.

2011 – Bon Iver, “Bon Iver”

I probably wouldn’t play this one at a party – still good though.

2012 – Kendrick Lamar, “good kid, m.A.A.d city”

Kendrick is the best rapper out right now. This was his first masterpiece.

2013 – Blood Orange, “Cupid Deluxe”

This album sounds like how fresh-squeezed orange juice tastes. That sounds weird until you listen to it.

2014 – D’Angelo, “Black Messiah”

Told you he would show up again. To go 14 years without releasing anything and then drop this? Only D’Angelo. He channels everyone from Prince to Keb’ Mo’ to Sly to Bootsy to OK I’m done, you get the point.

2015 – Kendrick Lamar, “To Pimp a Butterfly”

Kendrick is the best rapper out right now. This was his second masterpiece.

2016 – Anderson .Paak, “Malibu”

2016 was a phenomenal year for music, and it never got better than “Malibu” for me.

2017 – Gabriel Garzón-Montano, “Jardín”

Obviously, very early in the year, but this is the best I’ve heard so far. Will be in strong contention for a No. 1 spot at the end.

Comments

  1. Roger Shirley says

    Good list, Thomas. Especially pleased that you have Wilco’s Being There on there.
    On another note, it is hard to believe, but true, that the Stones haven’t put out an album worthy of consideration for any best-of lists over the past 30 years. As our president would say, #sad

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