8. Paul Simon - Graceland
Though the makings of Paul Simon’s 1986 album - recorded in apartheid-era South Africa - remain controversial to this day, the world music and pop hybrid saw the singer songwriter on inspired form for much of the hit album.
The first side boasts a cavalcade of riches, from the accordion and booming drums of “The Boy In The Bubble” through to the driving rock of the title track and the trilogy of “I Know What I Know”, “Gumboots”, and “Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes”, which sees the best of Simon’s collaboration with African artists, particularly vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
It’s a run of tunes that few second sides could match, and Graceland’s certainly doesn’t. Indeed the record ends with what are easily its three worst songs, the dated "Crazy Love, Vol. II", "That Was Your Mother" (the only outright dud, a piece of cultural appropriation too far) and the pleasant if unmemorable closer "All Around the World or the Myth of Fingerprints".
Within that second side is megahit “You Can Call Me Al” and “Under African Skies” - probably the record’s best song - but the quality dip between the two halves is a stark one.