There are few triggers for nostalgia more powerful than music. A certain song can transport a listener back to any number of points in life: A childhood road trip with a parent, a first date, a wedding, even a funeral. But it’s not just listeners that reminisce when faced with certain songs. Artists, too, occasionally like to reflect, and the anniversary of a major work has become a common time for singers, songwriters and performers to dig a chestnut out of the back catalog, dust it off and present it to modern audiences.
So it is this summer, as Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys takes “Pet Sounds,” which might be the band’s most consequential work, out on the road to celebrate the album’s 50th anniversary. He kicks off the longest leg of the tour in McCarren Park on June 12, as a part of the Northside Festival, planning on taking the show everywhere from Brooklyn to tiny Stateline, Nevada, over a packed four-month itinerary.
But “Pet Sounds,” as revolutionary as it was, is not the only album celebrating a big anniversary in 2016. Here are five other works, ranging from 1966 to 1996, that are worth celebrating this year — and the ways in which they might most easily be celebrated.
“Revolver,” The Beatles (1966)
The Album: Considered one of the greatest albums in pop music history, it gave the world “Eleanor Rigby,” “Yellow Submarine” and “Good Day Sunshine.”
The Celebration: “Rigby” and “Sunshine” were both penned by Paul McCartney, and “Submarine” was a Starr creation. Would it be too much to see the duo on stage together during one of the former’s solo shows this year?
“Songs in the Key of Life,” Stevie Wonder (1976)
The Album: The double album, widely considered to be one of Wonder’s best (and, therefore, one of the best albums of all time), had a bonus, four-song EP. Those four songs, including “Saturn” and “All Day Sucker,” would make a full career for almost anyone else. And they weren’t good enough for the regular album.
The Celebration: Stevie doesn’t play by your anniversary rules: He spent 2014 and 2015 playing the entire album, start-to-finish, in cities around the country. Instead, track down a streaming version of the CBS tribute special dedicated to the album that aired last year.
“Hotel California,” The Eagles (1976)
The Album: The title track is one of the best known in American rock history, of course, but “Life in the Fast Lane” also came from the nine-song (with one reprise) album.
The Celebration: After Glenn Frey’s death earlier this year, the band confirmed that the Eagles will likely never play together again, meaning the closest one can get to an acknowledgement is by annoying everyone at karaoke with the title track.
“Master of Puppets,” Metallica (1986)
The Album: The thrash metal classic was Metallica’s major label debut, and the title track is one of the best known and most respected songs of the genre.
The Celebration: There’s only one more Metallica show on the books currently for 2016, in Minneapolis, but the album’s songs still get regular play at the band’s concerts; the track “Master of Puppets” has been played live more than 1,500 times, according to Setlist.fm.
“The Score,” The Fugees (1996)
The Album: No one saw it coming. The trio from New Jersey had released one previous album, “Blunted on Reality,” which had gone nowhere, with only insanely-catchy remixes of “Nappy Heads” and “Vocab” gaining traction. Then, Ms. Lauryn Hill’s voice on “Killing Me Softly” hit airwaves. By late 1997, “The Score” had gone platinum six times over.
The Celebration: It’s hard to keep up with who can stand who in the Fugees camp, but with Ms. Hill back performing regularly, the possibility — as remote as it may be — still exists for a reunion of some sort.