December…A Very Underrated Music Release Month
As we all start to decorate our personal lives with holiday cheer, you wouldn’t think of all the quality music that’s been released over the years in December. As our bells and jingles get unboxed, we’ve had countless artists leave their best for last, as this beautiful blue rock rounds another trip around the sun.
Here’s where we bring you the December Advent Calendar giving you the best albums released each day of December from 1965 – to the present day!
Jimi Hendrix Experience – Axis: Bold as Love (1967)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience burst on the scene with crowned greatest guitarist of all time Jimi Hendrix only a year prior, but there was already a grandiose reputation brewing in the UK of this Seattle native frontman. With virtuoso guitar playing, loud punishing drums and even pyrotechnics, the band was THE ticket in town at every stop. Along with their live playing prowess, their 2nd full length LP proved to have the same juicy licks and songwriting showcase but added in even more psychedelic sounds and themes than their debut album. The payoff only solidifies that Jimi Hendrix Experience was here and ready to melt your mind.
Top Song(s): Little Wing; Spanish Castle Magic; Castles Made of Sand; Bold as Love; If 6 Was 9
James Brown – The Payback (1973)
Crowned the Godfather of Soul having released 36 albums. Yes, you read that right, a man born in 1933 and at only 40 years old released his 37th studio album. Album number 37 proved to be a high point in James Brown’s career showcasing his usual funk and soul calling with the band through extended jams, flawless grooves and a signature vocal exuberance. The Godfather lives on!
Top Song(s): The Payback; Stone to the Bone; Doing the Best I Can.
Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love (2016)
Hard to imagine an album released in 2016 sounds so 1972-funk it hurts. Only Childish Gambino, real name Donald Glover, can pull something like this off. It truly shows the dynamic talent of his multidisciplinary talents acting as a composer, writer, rapper, singer and multi-instrumentalist that truly crafted his unique artistry. Whether it be fuzzy funk guitars, wide sparse drum beats or the high pitched screeches of early Funkadelic-George Clinton days, this album resonates in 2016, 2020 or 1972. Just listen to the track Redbone and the rest of the album makes sense.
Top Song(s): Me and Your Mama; Redbone; Riot.
The Beatles – Rubber Soul (1965)
The biggest band in the world determined somewhere in 1965 that they would end touring and focus on studio records. Their first offering when being barricaded in the studio, churned out Rubber Soul. Catchy hooks, groundbreaking melodies and harmonies kept the Beatles on the pedestal of being the best band in the world. Now with the stripped dimension of having to play live adding to their creativity, this album started to mainlined revolutionizing popular music forever.
Top Song(s): Drive My Car; Michelle; In My Life.
The Who – My Generation (1965)
Imagine your debut album being released on the same day as the biggest band in the world. How do you stand out? Well you get four of the best musicians of their generations that want to play the loudest rock’n roll and lock them in a room together. You get The Who’s my generation , this proved that the UK was the stomping ground for rock’n roll.
Top Song(s): My Generation ; The Kids Are Alright.
Elvis Presley – Elvis (TV Special) (1968)
The king was back. Nothing else, nothing more.
Top Song(s): Just press play.
OutKast – Big Boi and Dre Present… OutKast (2001)
Before Outkast transcended all genres of music, they started off in 1994 as an instant go to sound for Atlanta, Georgia; in 2001 they already had enough material to release a greatest hits record. And hits were what they gave us listeners with a select few new singles. You can hear the progression and evolution from a prototypical hip hop ground to folklore status we know as Outkast in 2020. Pushing the limit of what hip-hop was all about. Big Boi and Andre 3000 remain true pioneers of the musical landscape and are still revered to this day. Every song slaps and has a life as it’s own as OutKast was top of their class in storytelling abilities. You feel where they’re from without leaving your front door.
Top Song(s): Every. Song. Slaps! Incredible compilation record.
The Rolling Stones – Let it Bleed (1969)
At the height of the Vietnam war; it took one of the biggest bands out of the UK to provide young humans of the world a seminal anti-war song in Gimme Shelter; playing on countless streets in North America and the world to join in on the rigging chorus’ of rifle blasts that the world should not be at WAR! At this point the Rolling Stones were already one of the best bands in the world and this album released in 1969 followed their recent success in the mid 60’s and was right in the middle of one of the greatest four album spans in music history. More emotional with every howl from Mick, more groove than ever from Keith, the boys were back and ready to show out and strut their stuff with a highly personal and retrospective album for the band.
Top Song(s): Gimme Shelter; Midnight Rambler; You Can’t Always Get What You Want.
The Stones Roses – Second Coming (1994)
It has been 5 years since their debut album and it felt like the British music scene was passing by. With the dominance of brit-pop coming into play with bands like Oasis and Blur, The Stones Roses needed to make their second album challenging. Not only to the listener but for themselves. They swapped out early brit-pop tingling guitar sounds with fuzzed out overdrive and Led Zeppelin style licks to create their second album that brought them back to the front and centre of the brit- pop scene ,ultimately starting their demise as a band. Curious to hear what Led Zeppelin would have sounded like in the 1990’s? This is the album for you.
Top Song(s): Love Spreads; Driving South; Ten Storey Love Song.
Paul McCartney & Wings – Band on the Run (1973)
Still living in the shadows of the Beatles, Paul McCartney couldn’t shake the overcast. Although the Wings Released a couple albums which were critically acclaimed they still could not win over the fans entirely. This album changed that as Paul McCartney decided to write and record some of the catchiest songs of the decade and also his career. Out from the shadows, , Paul McCartney collaborated with wife Linda McCartney, becoming a dynamic force in the 70s. Wings finally found themselves some space to fly.
Top Song(s): Band On The Run; Jet; Bluebird; Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five.
The Rolling Stones – Beggars Banquet (1968)
Remember when I wrote Let it Bleed (05 December 1969) was a Stones record in the middle of one of the greatest 4 album spans of all time? This is the one that kicked it all off. The Rolling Stones ditched their previous psychedelic offering in their one off Satanic Majesties Request (1967) and came back to basics. They came back to their natural realms of being …rock and roll stars. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards decided to strip away from the mod-top UK uniformity and started to become who they are now synonymous as being the bad boys of rock and roll. Crunchy guitars from Keef and Brian Jones, and the howlin’ and movin’ of Mick Jagger complimented by a fantastic rhythm section by Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts was the perfect marriage to kick off a legendary run of hit after hit, after hit. Even decades after, these men are still looked up to as rock and roll in 2020.
Top Song(s): Sympathy For The Devil; No Expectations; Street Fighting Man.
The Notorious B.I.G – Born Again (1999)
When he was tragically murdered in 1997 the world mourned another hip-hop mega star’s short lived life. He was and still is one of the greatest hip hop artists of all time. Upon B.I.G’s passing, a boatload of unused finished recordings were discovered that were planned to be produced for his third album. This was cultivated in the posthumous release of Born Again in 1999.. Native of Brooklyn New York, true to his name, BIG was larger than life and blessed us with a compilation of poetic street symphonies.
Top Songs: Notorious B.I.G; Dead Wrong; Biggie; Who Shot Ya?
Eagles – Hotel California (1976)
How did California sound in the mid 70’s? The quintessential band of the mid 70’s released their biggest album with their biggest song and you could hear the the toll of living a life fueled with sex, drugs and rock & roll that painted the walls of hotel they spoke of. Multilayered guitars, vocal harmonies and iconic grooves felt like the perfect backdrop to sun soaked California. They rekindled some early acoustic country feel from their first couple albums but also shared with us hard truths of living in the Fastlane. This hotel they spoke of is the famous Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard, where you could check in, but could never leave.
Top Song(s): Hotel California; New Kid in Town; Life in the Fastlane
Cream – Fresh Cream (1966)
Eric Clapton, now considered one of the greatest guitar players of all time, was just another piece of the cream filled puzzle in 1966. This pre- White Room band still had some ways to go to get to the “Sunshine of Your Love” Cream but of course every band needs a launching point. The world was introduced to this delicious psychedelic-blues debut album that showed signs of where Eric Clapton would take his Slow Hand sounds for the next 50 + decades.
Top Song(s): Sweet Wine; Spoonful.
J.Cole – 2014 Forest Hill Drive (2014)
The best album from one of the most underrated hip hop artists of the past 20 years. Forest Hill Drive is a transportation through the eyes of rapper J.Cole growing up in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Top notch delivery, word play and imagery along with fantastic soulful production shows that commercial hip hop could have a conscious message. Only 5 years prior Cole was on twitter hoping Jay-Z would sign him, now he’d be collecting numerous awards and accolades even being nominated for Best Rap Album at the The Grammys. Some artists hide behind their music to show the listener how high one can get off of fame, while Cole decided to show us the journey to get to the top.
Top Song(s): January 28th; No Role Modelz; Apparently
Common – Electric Circus (2002)
The early-naughts had Common in a very precarious situation between the decision ; to stay in the lane he built his foundation and release another classic hip hop album relevant to the 90s, or push his artistry and potentially lose his fanbase. Common decided to take the red pill by pushing his music into an electric-psychedelic-neo-soul trip of the mind. His usual instrumentals became barely existent and were replaced with electric guitars, synthesizers and tribal drums. Common weaves his way in between bars and beats flawlessly like a veteran shadow boxer. Change he wanted, change he conquered. PS – the fans stayed.
Top Song(s): Electric Wire Hustle; Come Close; Star *69 (PS with Love)
Childish Gambino – Because the Internet (2013)
Being a true multidisciplinary talent, Gambino effortlessly wrote, produced and recorded an album in between writing and acting in the top rated sitcoms in 30 Rock and Community. This let Gambino become the hottest talent to look towards at 30, All that has percolated in Childish Gambino’s life had culminated to this moment where you could stay in your respective lane, or break down the walls and let the listener in on your capabilities. This album has so many sounds, so much flair, so many melodies, it’s impossible to fathom this wasn’t from an artist who was 5-6 albums deep. Gambino’s 2nd full length record solidified the international superstar you see in Donald Glover in the present day.
Top Song(s): The Worst Guys; Telegraph Ave; Sweatpants; 3005
Paul McCartney & Wings – Wings Over America (Live Album) (1976)
A two-disc live record providing Paul McCartney was still alive and well, churning out incredible melodies and able to hit every and all high notes from his past life in The Beatles. It’s nearly a flawless delivery of Paul’s solo hits and Wings hits from the early 70’s that catapults the pop rock work into a frenzy of danceability.
Top Song(s): The whole thing! Listen to this record like you would a concert.
John Lennon & Yoko Ono – Plastic Ono Band (1970)
It’s interesting that folks blamed Yoko Ono for The Beatles break up in 1970. The Beatles break up was simply a group of 4 individuals growing in different directions and it shows on this offering as John Lennon’s (un)official solo release with partner Yoko Ono. In Lennon you’ll hear a tortured man finally able to be free to express the tortured nature which he felt the world was in. You had all the makings of a great pop record with incredible songwriting, piano lines and melodic hooks but this record allowed Lennon to show isolation affects us all in all different shapes and forms. The pandemic isolation record we all needed….. 50 years early.
Top Song(s): Mother; Hold On; Working Class Hero; Isolation;