68. Adult Net, The Honey Tangle
Considering the legendary contentiousness of The Fall frontman Mark E. Smith, it’s wonder the college radio top forth isn’t fully stocked with splinter groups from his acclaimed art-punk outfit. But then it’s quality not quantity that counts, and the debut album from The Adult Net is good enough to carry the torch for any number of Fall alumni. Maybe it helps that Brix Smith got an especially potent dose of the tumult, spending five years married to Mark E. Smith as well as serving as a key contributor to the band. Not that the album The Honey Tangle is some dour affair packed with recriminations. Instead, it’s a glistening pop record with alluring originals and bright covers. At times, it’s about as different from the jaggedness of The Fall as music can get, with the clearest connection to Brix Smith’s music alma mater being the name The Adult Net, which is lifted from the lyrics to The Fall tune “Stephen Song.”
67. Joe Jackson, Blaze of Glory
Maybe working in the realm of cinema awakened Joe Jackson’s instincts as a long-form storyteller. After contributing significantly to the soundtrack for 1984’s Mike’s Murder, Jackson took on full-scale score composition duties for Francis Ford Coppola’s 1988 effort Tucker: The Man and His Dream. On his first album following that endeavor, Blaze of Glory, Jackson went for something a little more ambitious than a new batch of sharp pop songs. He wanted the songs to add up to something without necessarily embracing the full-on pomposity of a true concept album. Interlaced through the tracks is the portrait of a young songwriter with ambitions that perhaps outstrip the reality of his abilities. Jackson feels strongly enough about the cohesiveness he’s created that concerts of the tour to support the album opened with a start-to-finish performance of the work. It’s still trademark Joe Jackson in some respects, notably the burning intelligence of the lyrics and the exemplary songcraft throughout.