Tax Day: 10 Vinyl Records To Listen To While Filing Your Taxes
Oh, the dreaded mid-April realization of "I feel like there's something I need to do today." Tax Day is upon us, having crept up like it always does, the time of year when we must sit at our computers and figure out what we may or may not owe the federal government. So, as a consolation, we decided to select 10 of our favorite vinyl records to soften the blow of realizing you can't deduct what you thought you could deduct, or finding out you can't claim your cat as a dependent. Drop the needle and enjoy.
First up, a record to perfectly capture the spirit of how we all feel around this time. Rage is the ultimate protest album, with Zack de la Rocha's bombastic vocals serving as the perfect fusion of rap and metal. Tom Morello's innovative, effects-laden guitar work are like nothing that came before, able to create entire guitar solos out of rhythmically plucking one string. The group's signature line comes on "Killing in the Name", as it's easy to picture yourself muttering "I won't do you what you tell me" as you click "file."
With The Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd catapulted the genre of progressive rock forward, bringing it fully into the mainstream. The record is one of the best selling albums of all time, with themes exploring the human condition. Life, death, and the very concept of time, among others are all examined, as Pink Floyd's introspective lyrics and expert musicianship carry each track. The album's second side opens with "Money", a critique of greed and consumerism, with the opening sound of cash registers remaining iconic.
The Beatles' prior release, Rubber Soul, marked a shift for the band from bubbly pop standards to a more mature, folk rock sound as the members began to find their voices as songwriters. Revolver marked another shift, both in the Beatles career, and popular music at-large. Revolver saw the Beatles fully embrace the psychedelic sound that would define the second half of their decade and incorporated new, innovative studio techniques that helped make them the icons of Swinging London. The group wastes no time, with George Harrison's "Taxman" leading the record, satirizing the British government's perceived overreach on taxes, with lines such as "that's one for you, 19 for me."
She's So Unusual is the album that vaulted Cyndi Lauper from the New York club scene to the forefront of new wave superstardom. The album's cover is iconic, with Lauper wearing vintage formal-wear, trudging up a Coney Island street, perfect iconography for early '80s New York. The album contains hit after hit, but leads with a cover of "Money Changes Everything", an adage most of us can only hope to be saying in the aftermath of tax season.
Wu-Tang Clan's debut album is still heralded as one of the greatest hip-hop records of all time. Enter the Wu-Tang set the standard for what would become the East Coast hip-hop scene of the '90s. Wu-Tang Clan had a style all their own, injecting humor and irony, along with storytelling prowess. "C.R.E.A.M" or "Cash Rules Everything Around Me" is one of the group's enduring songs, with Method Man's chorus acting as a lament that money is society's prime mover, and that cash will forever be king.
You may not know it, but this is probably the album that plays in your head when you think of the term "classic rock." Fly Like an Eagle contains multiple staples of the genre, checking essentially every box you can check. Smooth vocals? Check. Lyrics about "flyin' free?" Check. "Take the Money and Run" leads the second side of the record, Bonnie and Clyde-esque tale of two young robbers. The song's refrain "go on, take the money and run" is perhaps not the best advice, however, if you misplace a zero or two when filing your taxes.
Madonna's sophomore album was mired in controversy as soon as it was released. Madonna was known as one of the best provocateurs of the 1980s, freely sexualizing conventionally prudish subject matter like marriage and religion. Madonna tore down the idea of the virtuous bride, reclining on satin sheets adorned in a wedding dress, seeking to evoke the deadly sin of lust. In doing so, Madonna claims ownership of her sexuality rather than simply being an object of desire. The album's opening track "Material Girl", skewers the commercialism of the 1980s while acknowledging that if this is the world we're living in, then "I am a material girl."
ABBA is probably one of the more difficult artists to distill into a greatest hits collection, with nearly every track they put out during their '70s heyday worthy of inclusion. Still, this compilation is, well, gold. One of the best selling greatest hits albums of all time, it contains most of the group's best songs. "Money Money Money", a song that first appeared on 1976's Arrival acknowledges that we're just living "in a rich man's world."
Biggie's final album, released just two weeks after his untimely death, is a hip-hop masterpiece. Biggie was the standard bearer for East Coast hip-hop, something he addresses in "Going Back to Cali", making light of the East/West Coast hip-hop feud. "Mo Money Mo Problems" is probably the most enduring track, a collaboration with Puff Daddy, Mase and Kelly Price. The title is often accompanied with a laugh, but its lyrical content is much deeper. Biggie raps about the unforeseen problems that come with sudden affluence. Many are surprised to learn Biggie was killed at just 24 years old, before he was able to really come into his own, and before he was able to truly enjoy his fame.
On their debut album, Pet Shop Boys laid the groundwork for the synth-pop style that would become their trademark sound on later releases. A number of the tracks showcase the group's signature humor, most notably the reason they're appearing on this list, "Opportunites (Let's Make Lots of Money)." The song tells the story of, in Neil Tennant's words, "two losers" who devise plans to make money based on nothing more than lies and their inflated egos. It's an excellent sendup of hustle-and-grind culture, particularly relevant in the current era of online get rich quick schemes.