Ranking 10 Greatest Albums Made Out Of Contractual Obligation

Arms were twisted, musicians were coerced, and magic was made.

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Heads lowered, a group of musicians shuffle their feet along the dingy carpeting of the recording studio. This will not be a particularly jovial process, because this isn't a process any of them want to participate in. But if they don't, they'll have to trod through a highly-public litigation that will drain them of more time, energy, and money than they'd prefer to give.

Such is the often-miserable experience of making a contractually-obligated album against your will.

There are a multitude of reasons why an artist has to make these types of albums, but the common denominator usually involves a sour relationship with the record company and a burning desire to break free of their contract. And so, in exchange for their musical freedom, they hunker down in the studio and bang out a collection of songs that are just good enough to get the job done.

But sometimes that original "good enough" mentality doesn't produce a "good enough" album. It yields something far, far better than anyone involved in the situation could have hoped for. Not all contractually-obligated albums are terrible. Some, it turns out, are downright wonderful.

10. Buffalo Springfield - Last Time Around

Often disregarded because it wasn't "a complete group effort" due to the band's dissolution during its recording, Last Time Around stands as a semi-triumph in folk-rock primarily because it was made using a patchwork recording process.

Released after the group had officially called it quits -- to finish out their contract with Atco Records -- the album feels like three separate solo albums crammed into one. That always reads like a bad thing, but listening to Last Time Around sparks plenty of curiosity and hope for the future of members Neil Young, Stephen Stills, and Richie Furay, who constantly trade off songwriting and vocal duties.

Rolling Stone reviewer Barry Gifford called the album "a final testament to their multi-talent", which is the more warmhearted way of describing how Buffalo Springfield had started to sound like a band without direction. That rudderless style is exciting, though, and produced a few of the band's finest songs ("Four Days Gone", "Pretty Girl Why", "On the Way Home").

It may not be as cohesive as some purists would prefer, but Last Time Around is a nice farewell collection that may never have seen the light of day were it not for their indebtedness to the record company.

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Jacob is a part-time contributor for WhatCulture, specializing in music, movies, and really, really dumb humor.