74. Todd Rundgren, Nearly Human
One of the old inside jokes about Todd Rundgren in the music industry states that his contract is supposedly drafted to mandate that he deliver one normal album for every weird one he creates. Since his previous record, 1985’s A Capella, was comprised of songs constructed exclusively from the sounds of Rungren’s own voice, often electronically manipulated, it was apparently time for a normal one. In fact, for many of Rundgren’s fans, a new record probably felt overdue given that the four year wait between A Capella and Nearly Human was longer than any previous gap on his discography. He did excellent work as a producer during that span, notably presiding over XTC’s extraordinary album Skylarking, but it was still a long time coming to get a new effort bearing his name. Happily, Nearly Human was a lush pop wonder that most critics considered his finest album since the 1972 classic Something/Anything?.
73. The Hooters, Zig Zag
When you’ve got a name like The Hooters, and a reputation as a fun, featherlight pop band, it can be tough to grow up artistically. But that’s exactly what the band went for on their fourth album. Entitled Zig Zag, the record is more clearly political than anything the Philadelphia group created previously, beginning with the lead single “500 Miles,” an old Civil War folk song adapted to include up-to-the-minute observations on the Tiananmen Square protests. They address other weighty topics across the record, including o that are deeply personal, such as the death of a friend. And if you still have trouble getting past that name, just remember that it derives from the nickname for the melodicas that figured prominently in the band’s early sound, regardless of whatever dirty, dirty theory about its genealogy that might first leap to mind.