55. Stew, Guest Host (The Telegraph Company, 2000) 

I first heard of this album when Entertainment Weekly's Tom Sinclair deemed it his favorite of the year (over the usual Radiohead, OutKast, etc;).  What really clinched it for me, however, was the track "Re-Hab".  Indicative of the album's acoustic-slanted, singer/songwriterly muse, it tells a cautionary tale of an L.A. artist perpetually falling on and off the wagon, with children chiming in on the "very, very, very, optimisitic" chorus.  It's sick, twisted, wickedly funny and cruel but honest, too.  Also included: a sweet ode to consensual heterosexual sodomy (with manly Stew on the receiving end), an aural equivalent of a Guy Maddin film, a lovingly Bacharachian opener, and lots of crisp power pop with just a hint of the cabaret that would suffuse his next (and best) album.

56. Dusty Springfield, Dusty In Memphis (Atlantic, 1969)

Try listening to this record on a gloomy, rainy Tuesday morning at work, when the week seems neverending.  Perhaps the only British white woman ever fetishized by both the Pet Shop Boys and Quentin Tarantino, she was the bomb, a voice that could make you do absolutely anything it wanted you to.  This album's synergy is the result of an outtasite vocalist working with musicians her equal, even though they arguably came from vastly different worlds.  The production's like heaven: the succinct, sexy brass on "Son of a Preacher Man", the whirling, cinematic strings on "Windmills of Your Mind", the plush, velveteen pillow that is "Breakfast In Bed".  But it's Dusty you remember, and while she did other sublime things, nothing else ever touched this set.