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#XPN5050: 1970

For fifty weeks this year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, David Dye is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1970.

Some might say that 1970 really started in 1969. In August of 69 at Woodstock, the youth and pop culture celebrated with three days of peace and music at Woodstock, marking an historical moment. Santana, who performed at Woodstock would release their debut in August 1969, but in 1970 they released Abraxas. The Beatles would release their final album together, Let It Be in 1970. That same year, however, Paul would release his solo debut. Beatle George would release the now classic triple album, All Things Must Pass, and Ringo Starr would play drums on John Lennon’s solo debut album.

Singer-songwriters in 1970? No shortage here. Simon & Garfunkel released Bridge Over Troubled Water, Neil Young released After The Gold Rush, Van Morrison dropped Moondance and His Band And The Street Choir, and Cat Stevens released Tea For The Tillerman, and Mona Bone Jakon. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young were still very much on our minds with Deja Vu, Stephen Stills went solo, and Joni Mitchell released Ladies Of The Canyon. Continue reading →

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#XPN5050: 1990

For fifty weeks this year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, Robert Drake is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1990.

For those of you who are into the math, 1990 was 29 years ago. 1990 was a year marked by influential songs from all genres on the musical spectrum. Sinéad O’Connor released I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got and her #1 single “Nothing Compares 2 U” topped the charts around the world. Sonic Youth released Goo with an appearance by Chuck D of Public Enemy, the hip-hop group who released their own album in 1990, the ground breaking Fear Of A Black Planet. Continue reading →

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#XPN5050: 2011

For fifty weeks over the next year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, Julian Booker is putting the musical spotlight on the year 2011.

It was only eight years ago, but the songs of 2011 still have a lasting impact today. Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep.” Bon Iver’s “Holocene.” The Black Keys’ “Gold on the Ceiling.” Florence and the Machine’s “Shake It Out.” Dawes’ “Time Spent In Los Angeles.”

The War on Drugs released Slave Ambient, James Blake debuted with his self-titled album, and TV On the Radio released their fourth LP, Nine Types of Light.

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#XPN5050: 1978

For fifty weeks over the next year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, Dan Reed is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1978.

Bruce Springsteen, Blondie, and Big Star were just a few of the artists who made music in the year 1978. Theatrical singer-songwriter Kate Bush debuted with The Kick Inside featuring the classic “Wuthering Heights,” experimental punk band DEVO released Q. Are We Not Men? A. We Are Devo., Kraftwerk’s seventh album The Man-Machine made a huge impact, The Clash revved up fans with Give ‘Em Enough Rope, Patti Smith broke new ground with Easter, and so much more. Continue reading →

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#XPN5050: 2002

For fifty weeks over the next year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, John Vettese is putting the musical spotlight on the year 2002.

The year 2002 was filled not just with amazing songs (and big hits), but albums that were jam-packed with them. The Flaming Lips‘ Yoshimi Battles The Pink RobotsRilo Kiley‘s The Execution of All Things, The Roots’ PhrenologyDamien Rice‘s O and Wilco‘s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot were just some of the standout releases of the year. (To say nothing of equally stacked records from Sleater-KinneyInterpol, and Common, the debut releases from Ben Kweller, Neko Case, and The Polyphonic Spree, acclaimed records from legacy artists Elvis CostelloTom Petty, and Patty Griffin). Continue reading →

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#XPN5050: 1973

For fifty weeks over the next year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, Bruce Warren is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1973.

Seriously. Look at how many incredible albums came out in 1973. We’re talking about some of the most classic of the classic rock albums of all time like Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, Houses of the Holy by Led Zeppelin, Quadrophenia by The Who, Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Band On The Run by Paul McCartney and Wings, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s debut, Bruce Springsteen’s first and second albums, Steely Dan’s Countdown to Ecstasy and incredible albums by The Eagles, The Allman Brothers, Yes, Alice Cooper, Roxy Music, The Rolling Stones, Little Feat, and ZZ Top.

In 1973, R&B was on fire. Stevie Wonder released the ground breaking Innervisions, Marvin Gaye dropped Let’s Get it On, and Oakland’s Tower of Power gave us their seminal self-titled album. In other sounds, Herbie Hancock released the jazz funk classic Head Hunters, The Wailers released Catch A Fire, Tom Waits released his debut, Closing Time, and Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention blessed us with Over-Nite Sensation. Jazz fusion was in full effect: Mahavishnu Orchestra released Birds of Fire, and Mahavishnu drummer Billy Cobham debuted Stratus, a record that would serve as the musical blueprint for trip-hop when Massive Attack sampled it in 1991 on their song, “Safe From Harm.” Continue reading →

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#XPN5050: 1995

For fifty weeks over the next year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, David Dye is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1995.

Between Blur, Oasis, Pulp, and Elastical, the year 1995 saw the rise of Britpop in the alternative rock world, but that’s not all that was going on. Singer songwriters broke through in a big way, like Alanis Morissette and Joan Osborne on Jagged Little Pill and Relish. Heritage artists like Randy Newman, Paul Weller, and Annie Lennox made compelling new work, while hip-hop like Coolio and Shaggy ruled the charts.  Continue reading →

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#XPN5050: 2010

For fifty weeks over the next year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, John Vettese is putting the musical spotlight on the year 2010.

The year 2010 was a year of high-highs, a year of records that swung for the fences and hit it more often than not. In the pop realm, it was a year of albums that found artists at the top of their game — Kanye West’s masterpiece, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, as well as Gorillaz’s Plastic Beach — and in some cases, just beginning their game with a bang (Janelle Monae’s funky fun ArchAndroid LP). It was also the year of bands previously known as “indie” — Arcade Fire, The Black Keys, The National — making that big leap into the manstream pool. And for some artists, they managed to do both things at once, as LCD Soundsystem did with their party rager This is Happening LP.
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#XPN5050: 1986

For fifty weeks over the next year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, Bruce Warren is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1986.

For a turbulent year of alarming news stories — from the Challenger to Chernobyl to Mad Cow Disease and the Iran-Contra Affair — the music of 1986 was equally turbulent, and not easily contained in a box.

You had Paul Simon collaborate with Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the Boyoyo Boys to record Graceland, the album that defined the second era of the veteran singer-songwriter’s career, and an eternal best-rock/pop-album-of-all-time contender.

You saw New Order release its fourth LP, Brotherhood, topping charts in its native United Kingdom and getting a warm reception stateside as well, solidifying the Manchester band’s transition from post-punk to electronic dance, particularly on the hit single “Bizarre Love Triangle.”

Run D.M.C. and Beastie Boys brought hip-hop to the mainstream with Raising Hell and Licensed to Ill, respectively, while Janet Jackson re-invented herself as a pop goddess on Control and They Might Be Giants debuted with their self-titled collection cerebral indie rock.

Other albums with hits galore on the mainstream and college rock scenes were Prince’s Parade, Madonna’s True Blue, and R.E.M.’s Life’s Rich Pageant. 

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#XPN5050: 1999

For fifty weeks over the next year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, Eric Schuman is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1999.

It was a musically bizarre landscape during final year of the 1990s (and, depending on who you ask, the final year of the 20th century): the alternative zeitgeist had long since died away, pop music was developing a new sheen for the new millennium, nümetal was in its unfortunate ascendence.

But there were stone cold classics released that year as well: The Magnetic Fields’ magnum opus 69 Love Songs captured the imagination of the indie rock underground, The Roots’ Things Fall Apart launched them from the Philadelphia map to the global map, R&B trio TLC crafted another chart-topper to perfection with “No Scrubs” from Fanmail, and Moby’s Play was not only a critical hit, but it redefined commercial success when it managed to license every single one of its 18 tracks to various commercials.

Veteran artists like Blondie, Blur, and Luscious Jackson tried to re-invent themselves with new releases in 1999; the year also saw the quiet debut of bands who would go on to huge acclaim, like The White Stripes and My Morning Jacket.  Continue reading →