Gang Starr, "Take It Personal"
DJ Premier is one of the best to ever do it, and Daily Operation captures him near the top of his form. His beats are spare but bracing, with everything having a purpose, which is to hit hard. Guru is similarly direct, without a lot of embellishment, leading to a record that sounds almost businesslike. That's not a complaint or anything, it's nice to hear something that takes itself seriously and has the chops to back it up.
A Forest of Stars, "A Prophet for a Pound of Flesh"
What if we mash black metal up with Jethro Tull?
Rocket From The Crypt, "Thumbmaster"
On their debut record, Paint As a Fragrance, Rocket From The Crypt wasn't yet fully formed. For one, Apollo 9 wasn't yet part of the band to lend his sax to the proceedings. The production on the record didn't help either, it all sounds more flat than the dynamic records that would follow. There are some of the hallmarks of their sound popping up here, but things weren't yet in full roar. As a result, it winds up being their weakest record, a data point against the whole "punk bands release their best record first" theory.
Bomb The Music Industry!, "493 Ruth"
A delightful track off my favorite BTMI! record, Get Warmer. This band is great because they combine powerful exuberance with undeniable tunes in a way that many bands attempt but few achieve.
The Wedding Present, "No"
Some of the frustrated jangle drained out of the band on the second album, but only the jangle part. Plenty of frustration was still present, it was what powered the Wedding Present through their early years. Instead, things soar and groan where they might have shined previously. It makes for an album that's as good, but of a different character. Another step down this road of toughening up their sound and a session with Steve Albini would result in their masterpiece on their next record, but again, that's not to slight Bizarro, which I dearly love.