42. Sam Phillips, Martinis and Bikinis (Virgin, 1994)

The closest this backslider came to ever attracting more than a cultish audience was with this tart, sly album-length Beatles homage. “I Need Love” melts through all political and dogmatic pretension to get to the core of why Sam stopped performing Contemporary Christian music six years before. If she’s not as direct as you’d like, she sure as hell sounds it—enough for the song to live on a decade later in film trailers and cosmetic ads. From “When I Fall” to “Baby I Can’t Please You” she never recorded music this accessible or comfortably retro again. Thus, the album’s various left turns, like the clanging, tribal “Black Sky” or the submerged, ominous cover of Lennon’s “Gimme Some Truth” that she goes out on seem all the more startling.