Led Zeppelin Studio Finale
While not Led Zeppelin's best album compared to their iconic early work, 1979's In Through the Out Door still delivers some great tunes with a distinctly different and lighter sound than their trademark heavy metal bluesy mega hits of old. I remember like yesterday picking it out of the stacks with its distinctive plain paper bag wrapping at Buch Spieler in Montpelier, Vermont when I was Governor Snelling's Executive Page. It was also notable to be able to buy new material from a legendary band from another era who we weren't sure we'd ever hear from again. The airwave headliners on this one are "Fool in the Rain" and "All My Love" (Robert Plant's plaintive ode to his young son who died in 1977), but the piano rocking "South Bound Saurez," the rockabilly "Hot Dog" and the lengthy "Carouselambra" are all great stuff for their final studio album. (Fun fact: Led Zeppelin recorded this album at ABBA's studio in Stockholm, Sweden).
Goldfinger: Shaken, Not Stirred
With the sad news of Honor Blackman's passing, 1964's Goldfinger is on the turntable to honor Sean Connery's finest Bond entry starring Blackman as the formidable Bond girl Pussy Galore (cue the Connery classic response: "I must be dreaming"). Blackman delivers one of the more interesting Bond leads as a key part of Goldfinger's gold contamination scheme with her flying squadron and who can go toe-to-toe with Bond with her real-life judo abilities in a literal roll-in-the-hay wrestling scene. The soundtrack features Shirley Bassey's goosebumps-inducing vocals on the title song and of course includes the signature Bond theme you can cue up while shaking that vodka martini. (Fun fact: Shirley Bassey is the only artist to sing more than one Bond title song with three: Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker).
Van Halen's Last Stand
Van Halen's 1984 was actually the only one of their albums I ever bought which I guess means I'm drawn to synth-pop (and angelic infants lighting up) since this one marks the first time Eddie Van Halen prevailed with his quest to use a synthesizer, which prominently drives the school dance staple "Jump." Other great ones are "I'll Wait," the MTV-friendly "Hot For Teacher," and "Panama" which for some bizarre reason got ear-worm stuck in my head for pretty much the entire three months of Marine Corps boot camp on Parris Island in the summer of '85. This would be the last album to feature the original foursome Eddie & Alex Van Halen, Michael Anthony and David Lee Roth.