If the 27 club were true, these 25 classic albums wouldn't exist

by Tyler Munro

December 4, 2013






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Robert Johnson, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse. These are just a few of the names that belong to the 27 club, easily music’s eeriest conspiracy. By the time of their death, each had made an indelible mark on the industry, whether by all-but inventing a genre or with innovative techniques or sound. Most died through inconspicuous circumstances; drugs, alcohol and suicide are the common thread, but by going at such a young age each also left behind one of art’s most frustrating questions: what if?

That got us thinking. We’ve seen through Photoshops what some of these musicians would look like if they were still alive, but what albums would we have missed out on if other icons followed suit? Here’s a quick list exploring the options.

John Coltrane – A Love Supreme

This John Coltrane classic was released in 1965, when the iconic saxophonist was 39.

Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks

By Blood on the Tracks, Bob Dylan was 34, electric and palpably miserable.

David Bowie – Low

David Bowie turned 30 the year Low came out, and given his health throughout the Ziggy Stardust years, it’s surprising he made it that far. Now 66, he released his latest album, The Next Day, earlier this year.

Death – Symbolic

Chuck Schuldiner’s death is well documented and especially tragic. In 2001, his previously diagnosed cancer returned, but unable to afford the necessary surgery, the death metal innovator succumbed to his illness in December of that year. He was 28 when Symbolic came out and only 34 at the time of his passing.

Mercyful Fate – Don’t Break the Oath

Mercyful Fate’s second album is a landmark in metal, but King Diamond was just 28 when it was released. Without it, neither thrash nor black metal would be anything like we know it today.

Electric Wizard – Dopethrone

A landmark in metal, Dopethrone was written entirely by Jus Osborn, who turned 29 the year of its release.

Rolling Stones – Exile on Main St. 

Times sure were different when Exile on Main St. was released in 1972. By that time, Mick Jagger was 29; the year prior, at 28, the Rolling Stones released Sticky Fingers. Try to imagine rock and roll history without either. YOU CAN’T.

Ghostface Killah – Supreme Clientele

Ghostface Killah stormed into his post-Wu career with Ironman in 1996, but its Supreme Clientele that solidified him as a boni fide solo star. He was 30 when it came out, and at 36 continued to impress with Fishscale.

Kanye West – anything after The College Dropout

Kanye West turned 27 just four months after The College Dropout. Had that been it, we’d have no Late RegistrationGraduation808s and Heartbreaks, My Dark Twisted Fantasy or Yeezus. Basically, hip-hop would be in a very, very different place.

GZA/Genius – Liquid Swords

Like Ghostface, GZA/Genius was keen on proving himself post-Wu-Tang with Liquid Swords. He did it—the album has gone onto be a staple of the genre, going down these days as one of hip-hop’s all time greats. It came out when GZA was 29.

Michael Jackson – Bad

Michael Jackson’s follow-up to Thriller came out as the 29-year-old was further solidifying himself as a global superstar. Take a look at some of the classics we’d be without had Bad never come out: “Bad,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,” “Man in the Mirror,” “Dirty Diana” and “Smooth Criminal.” Thriller gets all the acclaim, but Bad might be the better album.

Rush – Moving Pictures

Prog-rock’s prodigal son Geddy Lee was 28 when Moving Pictures came out. Sure, we had 2112, but Rush without “Tom Sawyer” or “YYZ” leaves a very different legacy.

my bloody valentine – Loveless

Kevin Shields was 28 when loveless came out. Without, shoegaze might never have taken off.

Radiohead – OK Computer

Before the weird Atoms for Peace albums and bizarre dance moves, Thom Yorke was just your average 29-year-old music savant. OK Computer helped reshape an increasingly sterile alternative rock scene and went onto give Radiohead the means to continue on their revolutionary path with Kid A three years later.

Our Lady Peace – Happiness… Is Not a Fish That You Can Catch

A critical and commercial darling, Clumsy was an unprecedented success. Happiness…came out two years later and proved it wasn’t a fluke.

Talking Heads – Remain in Light

A world without “Once in a Lifetime” isn’t one we’re comfortable with. And Brian Eno aside (he was 32 when Remain in Light came out), we’d hate not to have heard Love This Giant.

Sloan – One Chord to Another

One Chord to Another gave us “The Good in Everyone,” one of the strongest album openers of the 1990s Cancon glory days. So. Good.

Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation

Daydream Nation was an unfamiliar experience when it dropped in 1988. Who’d a thunk, then, that it was written and released by two venerable dinosaurs: Thurston Moore was 30 when it hit, Kim Gordon 35.

I’m joking about the dinosaurs thing, by the way. Please don’t yell at me.

Outkast – Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

Both André 3000 and Big Boi were born in 1975, making them 28 when this massive hip-hop double album hit, and quickly started flying off of, the shelves.

The Beatles – Abbey Road

The importance of Abbey Road can’t be overstated, and while Paul McCartney misses the cut—he was 27 in 1969—a 29-year-old John Lennon was pretty important to its creation, we’d say.

Neurosis – Through Silver in Blood

One of the most punishing and powerful sludge metal albums of all time. It went onto influence an entire scene that exploded in the mid-noughts and remains perhaps the pinnacle in a discography filled with them.

Tom Waits – Swordfishtrombones, Rain Dogs…

Take your pick with Tom Waits. He was 34 when Swordfishtrombones came out, 36 for Rain Dogs and so on and so forth. Hell, he was 62 (!!) when the brilliant Bad As Me came out in 2011.

The Tragically Hip – Day for Night

This is the album that landed The Hip an appearance on Saturday Night Live, something we had to double-check to make sure actually happened. And if this isn’t your favourite, consider this: Gord Downie was 30 when it came out, and the “Bobcaygeon”-propelled Phantom Power came out four years later.

Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On

Marvin Gaye was tragically gunned down by his dad at 44. Ten years earlier, he released What’s Going On, his eleventh and best album.

Dio – Holy Diver

Dio was often called the grandfather of heavy metal, and with good reason. He was 41 when Holy Diver came out, and even if you roll back to Black Sabbath’s brilliant Heaven and Hell you’re looking at a man in his late 30s. Man, Dio was the best.

Tags: Music, Lists, News, Andre 3000, beatles, Big Boi, Black Sabbath, bob dylan, Brian Eno, chris murphy, David Bowie, David Byrne, Electric Wizard, Ghostface Killah, GZA, GZA/Genius, john coltrane, John Lennon, Kanye West, King Diamond, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Nirvana, Our Lady Peace, Outkast, Radiohead, Rolling Stones, Ronnie James Dio, Rush, Sloan, Sonic Youth, talking heads, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Tom Waits, Tragically Hip






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