1. Wire, Send (Pink Flag)
An awesome return from one of the most eclectic, eccentric and powerful bands of the past quarter century. Experimentation and weirdness never kicked ass this hard.
2. Outkast, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (La Face)
The most excessive, over-the-top sprawl of too-much-of-a-good thing by popular artists since Guns n’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion, only with much, much higher quality control, and the single of the year in “Hey Ya!”
3. Steely Dan, Everything Must Go (Reprise)
Loose and tight at the same time, as the world’s most anal studio geeks let their hair hang out just a bit, producing their best record since Aja in the process.
4. Kraftwerk, Tour De France Soundtracks (Astralwerks)
Twenty years after the single “Tour De France,” the world’s second most anal studio geeks round it out with a tour de force of old school electronics and ultra-modern post-electronica.
5. Electric Six, Fire (XL)
The biggest, stupidest rock record of the year, built around a lyrical construct that somehow manages to blend sex and combat into a cohesive whole, good for dancing or making war.
6. Turbonegro, Scandinavian Leather (Burning Heart)
The second biggest, second stupidest rock record of the year, built around a lyrical construct that somehow manages to blend sex and denim into a cohesive whole, good for dancing or pillaging.
7. Warren Zevon, The Wind (Artemis)
Jeez, how can you not include this one, a sweet and sour goodbye to (and from) Mister Bad Example himself, just as the Grim Reaper was finally about to run him down in his Clownmobile.
8. Ween, Quebec (Sanctuary)
The “brownest” record Ween’s issued in quite some time, preserving the solid production techniques of White Pepper, but mating them with the weirdness of Pod; a welcome return by producer Andrew Weiss.
9. Jethro Tull, The Jethro Tull Christmas Album (Fuel 2000)
The best record they’ve issued since Songs from the Wood is actually a like-minded affair: pastoral, heavily acoustic, introspective and wise. The best Holiday Record of Year, bar none.
10. Fleetwood Mac, Say You Will (Warner Bros.)
This would have been my Record of the Year if they’d cut it in half, eliminating most of Stevie Nicks’ material and preserving Lindsay Buckingham’s work. Still, that’s what the “skip” button is for, and his half of the album still beats most everything else out there.