The first fifth of my countdown concludes with a quartet of albums and singles that include the first — but far from last — Kanye West appearance.
From my ’04 year-end piece:
This is just the kind of high-concept reclamation project (see all those Johnny Cash/Rick Rubin records or Solomon Burke's Don't Give Up On Me) so consistently and predictably overrated that I found myself underrating it until a late-year round of re-listening reminded me how grand it really is. Lynn's all-new songs are shockingly, uniformly excellent (tell me "Family Tree" isn't the equal of "Fist City" or "You're Not Woman Enough To Take My Man"), but Jack White deserves equal billing for his genius production. With Lynn a better singer than Meg White or Holly Golightly and a better songwriter than Jack himself, Van Lear Rose might be a better lovestruck mash-note follow-up to the White Stripes' White Blood Cells than Elephant was.
Song Sample: "Family Tree"
Except for two songs — one of which rips anyway — this is where frontman Rhett Miller and company finally trade in alt-country for Art. With tarted-up vocals, rampaging pop guitars, and some of the year's slyest, sexiest lyrics ("Do you wanna mess around?/I mean deep down in your bones?/In a hotel swimming pool?/On public telephones?" Miller asks one lust object on the love-among-the-ruins stunner "Buick City Complex"), Satellite Rides is a ready-made, straightforward rock-and-roll touchstone on a par with Marshall Crenshaw, the Replacements' Tim, and Elvis Costello's My Aim Is True — and it's even on a major label!
Song Sample: "Buick City Complex"
Single: "Jesus Walks" — Kanye West
Liberation theology in da club. Official video: