Finishing off the first 50…

Clash was born in 2004. To celebrate our 10th anniversary, and imminent 100th issue, we’re counting down the top 100 albums that pretty much everything we do is based on. These are our favourites since we’ve been in the game – and they’re all celebrated players.

Previous entries:

100-91
90-81
80-71
70-61

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60
Clipse – ‘Hell Hath No Fury’
(2006, Re-Up)

The third re-up of audio dope from Clipse and The Neptunes (the first remains unreleased) saw the Virginia brothers and the elusive production team reach their finest. With The Neptunes providing perhaps their best collection of shiny futuristic instrumentals, Pusha and (No) Malice rose to the challenge with flawless rhyming. No matter when you return to press play on ‘Hell Hath No Fury’, it’s going to sound like it just came out. Grant Brydon

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59
Nas – ‘Life Is Good’
(2012, Def Jam)

Nas’s 11th solo album, written following his divorce from Kelis, was arguably the strongest since his classic debut. ‘Life Is Good’ offers the perfect balance of the 40-year-old who recorded it and the 20-year-old who released ‘Illmatic’. The latter comes through in the production and sample choices, with the former shining through the maturity of the lyrics and subject matter. The album plays through like a reflection of the Queensbridge legend’s career ranging from tracks like the subway-rattling ‘Loco-Motive’ and street tales of ‘Accident Murderers’ to the smooth soul of ‘Stay’ and ‘Cherry Wine’. Grant Brydon

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58
Interpol – ‘Antics’
(2004, Matador)

It’s the little things. ‘Antics’ may be the album which propelled Interpol somewhat awkwardly towards the mainstream – selling almost half a million copies in the States alone – but it’s the fine details which allow us to satisfactorily return after a decade: the triumph of ‘Slow Hands’; the exquisite threat of ‘Evil’; the sheer lust of ‘C’Mere’. With its Morse Code theme detailed upon the packaging, ‘Antics’ is a document that, even now, refuses to give up its secrets lightly. Robin Murray

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57
Rustie – ‘Glass Swords’
(2011, Warp)

After a decade of minimalist thought – minimal techno, micro-house – Rustie’s maximal thud felt like an earthquake. Low-slung hip-hop beats amplified by the stunning physical forces of bass culture – dubstep was always a prime influence – ‘Glass Swords’ was an album that couldn’t possibly be ignored. From the inter-galactic crunk of ‘Surph’ to the metallic screech of ‘After Light’, Rustie’s music felt like dance culture extrapolated into outer space. The scary thing? He’s still travelling. Robin Murray

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56
The Flaming Lips – ‘At War With The Mystics’
(2006, Warner Bros.)

For a while, it felt like The Flaming Lips were the biggest, most essential force in modern rock music, an act capable of conjuring forth the weirdest, most wonderful echoes of the past and positioning them in a very contemporary mix of surrealist lyricism and ambitious instrumentation. And beside this, they had that essential pop knowhow – a trait brought on from 1999’s accolades-drenched ‘The Soft Bulletin’, through 2002’s ‘Yoshimi…’ and peaking with this 2006 set. After ‘…Mystics’, Wayne Coyne and company seemed to lose the focus that’d served them so well, commercially, for a trilogy of LPs – nothing since has really connected in the same way. They’re still out there, sure, but ‘…Mystics’ serves as a reminder that the Lips could still move an audience while remaining just a little grounded. Mike Diver

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55
Andy Stott – ‘Luxury Problems’
(2012, Modern Love)

Manchester techno wiz Stott rather came of age with ‘Luxury Problems’, an album that proved – and the occasional glimpse of further evidence is always helpful, here – that dance music’s solo track tendencies can quite effortlessly translate to long-play situations, in the right hands. A deep-trenched, exquisitely detailed affair, this is an album to lose oneself in – and today, it’s still a challenge to navigate its entirety without becoming acutely aware that the outside world has started to blur, rather. Embracing dub in its traditional guise and “step”-suffixed modern mutation, ‘Luxury Problems’ draws colour from darkness, life from the deadest corners of dance’s expansive terrain – it is enveloping, otherworldly, and fearlessly original. Mike Diver

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54
The Roots – ‘How I Got Over’
(2010, Def Jam)

While we’ve seen rappers successfully (and less successfully) maturing into middle age, we’d not witnessed a hip-hop band do so until The Roots approached ‘How I Got Over’. Utilising their position as house band on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the group found relevance beyond the walls of hip-hop –working alongside the show’s diverse musical guests – and created an album that reflects that. Its centrepiece is ‘Dear God 2.0’, a collaboration with Monsters Of Folk, which questions modern society. Grant Brydon

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53
Four Tet – ‘There Is Love In You’
(2010, Domino)

Brilliant as they were, Kieran Hebden’s early Four Tet albums had proven annoyingly popular with dinner party-hosting coffee table types. This is the sound of the now DJing-regularly Hebden dancing on that table, smashing the bastard, then piecing together the scattered fragments to fashion something breathtakingly better. ‘There Is Love In You’ is as headphone-friendly as previous joints, but newly emboldened by decades of club culture. Deliriously, danceably good stuff. Si Hawkins

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52
The Black Keys – ‘Brothers’
(2010, Nonesuch)

From contenders to heavyweights, in a single bound – well, in 15 tracks, co-produced by Danger Mouse and spawning the much-sync’ed ‘Howlin’ For You’. ‘Brothers’ went top three stateside, and shifted enough copies to be certified gold in the UK – making this the moment where sold-out shows at huge spaces like Alexandra Palace and Madison Square Garden became a realistic ambition to aim for. Adding Grammy awards to the commercial hit sweetened the deal, and since ‘Brothers’ the blues-scorched garage rattle of The Black Keys has consistently ranked amongst rock’s biggest draws, both live and on LP. Mike Diver

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51
Boards Of Canada – ‘Tomorrow’s Harvest’
(2013, Warp)

Conceptual, erudite and quietly groundbreaking, Boards Of Canada’s sudden, unexpected return yielded far greater rewards than anyone could have hoped for. ‘Tomorrow’s Harvest’ is steeped in science fiction lore, a clinical pessimism that explores technology and the human instinct to ruin its own environment. A lengthy, enthralling piece, it found Boards Of Canada foregoing the shoegaze tropes of 2005’s ‘The Campfire Headphase’ for a more classic sound. Sublime retro-futurism, this ranks among their very best. Robin Murray

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Previous entries:

100-91
90-81
80-71
70-61

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