1) Marvin Gaye, “Mercy Mercy Me” from What’s Goin’ On.
Definitely one of my favorite albums of all time. It’s a concept album that works well as a unit–yet every single song can stand alone. He’s one of the few artists who can combine a socially progressive message with sounds that you want to dance to.
2) Kíla, “Double Knuckle Shuffle” and “Tóg é go bog é” from their 1997 album of the same name.
Kíla are an Irish folk band–but they don’t sound “Irish folk” in the way that you may immediately think of when you hear those words. ”Tóg é go bog é” in particular reminds me of a Dispatch jam, but the beat is provided by a bodhrán, and it’s sung in Gaeilge (Irish Gaelic). I happen to love Irish music of most kinds, but even if you didn’t grow up fiddling and step dancing like I did, it’s worth a listen (and particularly good for listening to while at the gym–the beat is perfect for running). Also, in the first video, the lead singer is sick with the tipper on the bodhrán. The second video has goofy graphics, so just ignore those and listen, there’s more amazing drumming.
3) Cat Power, “Breathless” from Jukebox.
4) Barbara Westphal and Ursula Oppens playing the Brahms Viola Sonatas.
Once again I can’t find good videos of classical music. But this album is well worth looking up. The pieces are two of my favorite in the repertoire and the musicians render them beautifully.