• How Crazy Horse Saved Neil Young's Career

    April 23, 2013 11:00 AM ET
     |  Andy Greene

    Neil Young's future was very much in doubt when he began recording Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere in January of 1969. His former Buffalo Springfield bandmates were forming successful new groups like Poco and Crosby, Stills and Nash, but Young was determined to make it on his own – even though his self-titled 1968 debut was pretty much dead on arrival and Young was playing tiny clubs in Michigan, Ontario and New York to pay the bills. Young had cut his debut with studio pros like d...  | More »

  • How James Taylor Made 'Sweet Baby James'

    April 16, 2013 11:50 AM ET
     |  David Browne

    In 1970, a country still reeling from Vietnam, the Kennedy and King assassinations and the Manson murders was ready for something calm and introspective. Into that void appeared James Taylor's second album, Sweet Baby James, one of the landmarks of the burgeoning singer-songwriter movement. Released in March of that year, it included one of Taylor's signature songs, "Fire and Rain," and both that song and the album were Top Five hits by year's end; in early 1971, Taylor even la...  | More »

  • How 'Led Zeppelin II' Was Born

    April 9, 2013 10:00 AM ET
     |  Patrick Doyle

    On the second LP, you can really hear the group identity coming together," Jimmy Page recalled years after its release. While Zeppelin recorded their first album in three weeks after a single, two-week Scandinavian tour, Led Zeppelin II was cut over six months on tour in London, New York, Vancouver and Los Angeles, with the band carrying the master tapes along the way in a steamer trunk. "It was quite insane, really," Page said. "We had no time, and we had to write numbers in hotel rooms. By...  | More »

  • How Bob Dylan Took Flight

    April 2, 2013 6:30 PM ET
     |  Andy Greene

    Even if you were among the handful of people who bought Bob Dylan's 1962 self-titled debut, you couldn't have predicted The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, the 1963 folkie touchstone where Dylan transformed American songwriting and blew the minds of everyone from his coffeehouse compatriots to the Beatles. The debut album was mainly folk covers, with two rather unmemorable originals; Dylan and producer John Hammond had cut the whole thing in just two days. The label brass at Columbia R...  | More »

  • How Public Enemy Made 'It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back'

    March 26, 2013 5:37 PM ET
     |  Rolling Stone

    "I hated that record," said Public Enemy's Chuck D. Believe it or not, he's referring to "Bring the Noise," the frenetic first track of It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, the group's 1988 agit-rap masterpiece and breakthrough album. Public Enemy had recorded the song in October 1987 for the soundtrack of the forgettable Less Than Zero. When Chuck (a.k.a. Carlton Ridenhour) first heard the final version, he said, "I practically threw it out the window." He changed h...  | More »

  • How M.I.A. Made 'Kala'

    March 19, 2013 12:39 PM ET
     |  Jody Rosen

    M.I.A.'s second album was a landmark: an agitprop dance record that restyled hip-hop as one big international block party, mixing up beatbox riddims, playground rhymes, left-field samples and gunshots. It was also, against all odds, a hit, which spawned a huge single and transformed M.I.A. from a cult heroine to an A-lister. Hits were the furthest thing from Maya Arulpragasam's mind, though, when she began work on Kala. "I don't know what people expected of me on my secon...  | More »

  • How the Beastie Boys Made Their Masterpiece

    March 12, 2013 10:00 AM ET
     |  Rolling Stone

    Beastie Boys' 1986 debut, Licensed to Ill, made them famous. But their second album was their masterpiece. Paul's Boutique has often been called the Sgt. Pepper of hip-hop – a record that was mind-expanding in both text and texture. With help from L.A. production team the Dust Brothers, the Beasties sampled everyone from the Ramones to Mountain to the Funky 4+1 and stitched together song fragments in a way rarely seen before or since. In fact, the album may go down as the most...  | More »

  • How Nirvana Made 'Nevermind'

    March 5, 2013 10:00 AM ET
     |  Rolling Stone

    Nirvana's second album shot up from the Northwest underground – the nascent grunge scene in Seattle – to blow hair metal off the map, kick Michael Jackson off the top of the Billboard album chart and turn the band into overnight stars. Though Nevermind's success would take a toll on Nirvana's tortured leader, Kurt Cobain, no album in recent history had such an overpowering impact on a generation – a nation of teens suddenly turned punk. Cobain's slashing ...  | More »

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