It seemed like a good idea in the meeting ...
He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper / Jive, 1988
Almost 15 years ago DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince dropped an album backed by the cutting-edge turntablism of Jeff Townes and comic storytelling from the man we now call Will Smith. Slapping West Philadelphia on the hip-hop map with tracks like "Brand New Funk," "Nightmare on My Street" and "Parents Just Don't Understand," the duo reigned supreme as a multiplatinum tag-team. Marking the marriage of hip-hop and pop music, this album makes so many of us long for the good old-fashioned innocence of a sardine-packed house party.
24. Philly Joe Jones
Showcase / Riverside/OJC, 1959
This famed Philadelphia jazz drummer played with every bop superstar, including Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie (see No. 6) and Lionel Hampton, and went on to become a key member of Miles Davis' quintet--a group that also included our No. 1 pick, John Coltrane. His career took him to Paris and New York, but he always came back to his hometown. Showcase is a hard bop set piece with tremendous range, including a rendition of Gershwin's "Gone" that was first half-conceived in the weird Miles Davis/Bill Evans version of the composer's Porgy and Bess. Other highlights include "Gwen," on which Jones plays piano, and "I'll Never Be the Same."
25. DJ Jazzy Jeff
The Magnificent / BBE, 2002
Summer '02 marked the return of one of hip-hop's greatest pioneers as DJ Jazzy Jeff released The Magnificent. Featuring the immense local talent of Pauly Yamz, Baby Blak, Chef Word, Crushall, the Last Emperor, Shawn Stockman and Jill Scott, his A Touch of Jazz studio production squadron melds underground hip-hop and soul without birthing "R&B--rap and bullshit." Jeff also cherry-picked soulmen Raheem, V and Eric Roberson to show what the future of funk is all about. With the exception of the J-Live and Oddisee cuts, The Magnificent can be played from scratch to finish.
Nazz / Rhino, 1968
Before Todd Rundgren boldly stepped forward with his double-album solo masterpiece (see No. 15), he and three bandmates tried to fuse British-invasion influence and psychedelia in their group named after a Yardbirds song. Rundgren, Robert "Stewkey" Antoni, Carson Van Osten and Thom Mooney were all influenced by the Who, Cream and the Association. In an advertisement for the album, music critic Jon Landau wrote, "The ability of these four young men to create truly original and imaginative ballads, and adorn them with the most melodic and imaginative harmonies since the heyday of the Mamas and the Papas will come as a surprise to anyone who thinks that a band can only play in one way or another."
27. The Intruders
Cowboys to Girls / Gamble, 1968
Though some consider the Intruders one of the lesser known brand names to work its way through the Gamble and Huff hit-making machine, consider these song titles as evidence of their import: "Together," "(We'll Be) United," "(Love Is Like a) Baseball Game" and the coup de grace--"I'll Always Love My Mama." Though the Intruders too often offered up novelty ditties (one song on this album is actually titled "Me Tarzan, You Jane"), they redeemed themselves repeatedly with true Philly heart-bursters like "Sad Girl" and "Love That's Real."
28. Jill Scott
PW's 2015 Gift Guide
Calendar: Nov. 25-Dec. 2
Artie Lange knows the score
Calendar: November 18-25