Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The 100 Most Influential Albums: A Response

Do I Have any thoughts on being the curator of this list?

It is an impossible task. Let's face it. Some of the choices are just pure fact. If you poll a thousand pundits, over 70 of the ones that made the cut would also be on this list for a large variety of reasons much to long winded and counterproductive to the aim of this little blog. You can do the research on your own. I did, and that's why Loveless and Daydream Nation made the list. They are both in my opinion ponderous and highly unlistenable, but there would be no shoegaze, noise rock or even post punk without them.

 I was on my fifth draft of the list and didn't even note  the years that these albums were released, and probably could have explained the process a little better, but I'm medicated most of the time, so sorry about that... I will address the comments I received from the list as best as I can. First of all Derek...thanks for submitting your list, I can always count on you for input. And thanks to Andre, Erik, Sean, Anthony and anybody else I forgot.

Here's the deal. The era of influence I focused on is all of them from the birth of rock and roll as a popular form of music. Jazz and blues gave birth to rock and roll in the early 50s,however some rock is pop and some pop is rock. Big band music and Jazz was the "pop" music in the 20s, 30s and 40s, so pop(short for popular)as a genre has always been vague, overlapping and intertwined with a combination of sounds coming from one or more genres. I thought Jazz had to be included, so did everyone else...You can't have rock or pop without jazz and blues....so there BEGINS the influence I talk about on this list. I could have omitted the Everly Brothers and put Miles Davis- Kind of Blue in, I could have put Dave Brubeck in, but we chose Coltrane-A Love Supreme, and Bitches Brew. I could have put Bill Haley in but instead Robert Johnson makes the cut. So...making the cut in some cases can and will be based entirely on opinion, but for this list I really went with a law of averages from the lists submitted for at least 89-95% of the choices.

  That being said, 50 some odd years is a lot to cover...or is it? It is really just a blip in time and compared to other genres of music, rock/pop is a youngster. So the fact that this list may lean heavy on what some may deem "Classic Rock" may just seem that way because SO MANY classic rock albums were almost instantaneously , massively influential because of the very age of the music.  More legitimate, historically significant genres and sub genres were being created during 1967-1980 than any other time covered on this list. Power pop, punk,heavy metal,rockabilly, country rock, prog ,reggae, disco and even hip- hop...all emerged within this bracket of time. These are like the main branches of a very big tree.

I believe that it's been much more difficult for anything after say, 1998 to have as much of an influence as the first massive branches stretching out from the stump of pop/rock. There are twice as many( 3x, 4x?) branches of genres,sub genres that have popped up since 1998 sure...new wave, trip hop, dub step, rap rock, trance, Swedish Death metal, murdercore, indie?.  But as time goes on, it may come down to one factor that I believe presents an argument as to why in the realm of INFLUENCE as I defined it in the post, the bulk of anything after '98 will fall short of making this list. Time....will have to tell.

It's the Internet, stupid.

Technology- Sure the advent of the internet changed the face of music forever, but it also splintered it into an almost infinite cauldron of possibilities, rendering it good for, bad for or impartial to INFLUENCE. For the average consumer all the way up to the professional performers and the music fanatics, everything has fucking changed, and the morph continues with a pace and structure that is in constant construct/deconstruct mode.

 It's simple math, really. For the masses(yes, I truly believe this) music of TODAY isn't even tangible, it's disposable or temporary, simply because of the ease of access to songs, band web pages with embedded media, online stores and you tube videos. Et cetera, et fucking cetera. We're up to several generations now( if you agree with me that a generation since the advent of the internet, is around five years)that have been bombarded with "faster, smaller, thinner, more storage, bigger screens, clouds", advertised in the very pages of magazines and on commercial TV, though on the cusp of making the "old way" of getting the word out using these vehicles...obsolete. By the time they get used to something,in the realm of technological ease and speed, the general public gets threatened by being left high and dry with the endless digital tsunami of new technology rolling out on a monthly basis.

Because of this technological vortex, the modern day attention span is nowhere near what it was even five years ago. How does this pertain to music and influence? It has forced many a brain to try and keep up, we live in an era of you snooze you lose, really, I mean, my 1st grade son mentioned Mozilla Firefox the other day. He has a new favorite song every other day because he CAN. It's out there if he wants it,at the swipe of a screen, with nothing to hold on to, nothing to look at, no pictures of rock stars to emulate unless you have a high speed internet connection or a parent who didn't digitize their entire collection and sell their CDs and cassettes at a yard sale for 25 cents each...The era of perusing your parents or big brother's record collection is over.You've got to head for the bins and hope your overprotective Mom or Dad lets you ride your bike there after school...More choices can lead to the simple lack of time spent on one song, one group, one genre. There's another screen over there that has every season of VH1's Behind The Music  on it, and in the time you decide to click on it or swipe it, the tablet or phone you used to complete that task is already too slow and doesn't have the sleeker faster features that the cool kids have.

I sound like an old fogey, but I pay very close attention. I'm in my 40s. I'm a performer and a music nerd. I read 20 blogs a day, go to 30+ shows a year,  still buy cds, while sampling and buying singles online, am immersed in social media and I STILL can't keep up with everything going on. There's a part of me that doesn't want to. Because even as a music junkie who partakes in Pandora, Spotify, Last FM, Facebook, Soundhound, Soundcloud, Twitter. I know that's already too much. I know they'll all be obsolete in five years or sooner. And the top tier geeks will say even those are passe. I'm the very last one in my 20-30 year group of friends who even has time for being influenced by anything musical from the last ten years and wanting to combine preservation of "the way it used to be" and "the way it is now" when it comes to being exposed to, being either appalled, inspired, fascinated, or INFLUENCED by music. I'm too busy collecting and arranging it to stop and listen to it.

For people of all ages, technology  caused a gap in how a borderline Luddite, who's musical heyday or self -proclaimed "generation" (god forbid) was 20 years ago, even FINDS music, let alone enjoys it. Record stores are for dinosaurs and/ or vinyl junkies new and old...this lack of tangibility and the loss of the very emotion of that manic journey to the mall or the record shop to buy the new album on the day it comes out...ALL of that...has been replaced with a click.

How is anyone younger than a fucking thirty something going to even relate to that? That emotion is lost. Its a critical piece of how influence is spread.  Most teenagers buy singles on iTunes now. They don't know what a record store is. But what about that large(yes still large) part of the population in the small towns, the fly-over states or those families who can't afford the internet? What do they do when they want to listen to music, if there's no record store? If there's no screen to look at? If there's no newspaper advertising the new album by Shania Twain or Linkin Park.  The commerce behind music marketing and absorption  has drastically shifted because of technology, to the point where it has trickled down to an immense lack of exposure to those less fortunate. Believe it.

These are just some of my thoughts on how much harder it is for anything to do with music to be "influential" to the masses. I'm talking genre exploding, band building, total immersing  INFLUENCE. Its gone for now.

So back to the list. Derek, If we put J-Dilla or Yo La Tengo on there, what do we take off? There can only be 100. I can't see either of those in the top 100, even 300 for that matter.  Hugs and kisses to you though.

TAD- Van Halen I merely caused around 20 million teenage boys to pick up a guitar(more than MR. Hendrix)..and countless other already budding axemen to emulate EVH. It changed electric guitar forever, just like Are You Experienced did. Its on every list...everywhere.

The Eagles' 71-'75 is the best selling album of all time. Around 30 million copies. That's a fuck of a lot of influence. That transcends album sales.

As for the Grateful Dead, American Beauty is a vastly influential album. But it sounds very different than anything else they ever did. It could be (along with Eagles-On the Border and Flying Burritos) one of the first country rock albums of all time. For most deadheads, though it was about the jams...the live shows. They(along with the Allmans to some extent) were the first jam band. They created a genre, which is evidenced quite clearly on Europe 72.

Thats all I got today peoples. Let me have it, if you've got it.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

The 100 Most Influential Albums

There was a peculiar "quiz" that surfaced on Facebook about a month back called 100 Influential Albums http://www.influentialalbums.com/ which reeked of being written by a 20 something with a fondness for Brit pop. I asked my friends and self proclaimed rock/pop pundits to help me come up with a true list of our own...your own everyone's own. This was compiled with no particular intent other than to school that young lad across the pond but really just to amuse ourselves, and possibly throw stones at each other like bullyish rock snobs.

I really hope you do two things with this list. Steal all of the music on here and play it for someone who really has no clue, and is mired down in the sugary sweet excesses of processed pop, or  argue with me.

Either way, the list wins.

To be clear. INFLUENCE has zero to do with album sales....sure, there will be plenty of platinum on this list, but these albums for the most part ignited a genre that previously didn't exist, or inspired a very large percentage of musicians/writers/artists within the generation of the release of an album on the list, or future generations in garage and basements galore until the end of time.

To be clear part Two. INFLUENCE and "favorite" some of the time do not go hand in hand. There will be entries, you don't own, you've forgotten about or were appalled with in the first place. Respectfully, I've tried to cover as many genres as I could with the help of my brethren in the know. So here goes in no particular order

1) Chuck Berry- After School Sessions

2) Elvis Presley-Self titled

3) Buddy Holly-Self Titled

4) Aretha Franklin-Lady Soul

5) The Beatles-Revolver

6) Bob Dylan –Highway 61 Revisited

7) John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers Featuring Eric Clapton

8) Beach Boys-Pet Sounds

9) James Brown-Live at the Apollo

10) The Everly Brothers.-Self titled

11) Van Morrison-Astral Weeks
12) Byrds-Sweetheart of the Rodeo
13) Big Brother-Cheap Thrills
14) The Beatles-Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
15) The Doors-Debut album
16) Love-Forever Changes
17) Rolling Stones-Let it Bleed
18) Bob Dylan-Blood on the Tracks
19) Jimi Hendrix Experience-Are You Experienced
20) Led Zeppelin- IV

21) The Stooges-Debut Album
22) New York Dolls Debut
23) Joni Mitchell-Blue
24) Stones-Exile on Main Street
25) The Who-Who’s Next
26) Led Zeppelin- I
27) CSNY- Déjà Vu
28) Sex Pistols-Never Mind The Bollocks

29) Miles Davis-Bitches Brew
30) Pink Floyd-Dark Side of the Moon
31) Neil Young-Harvest
32) Bob Marley and the Wailers-Natty Dread
33) Iggy and the Stooges-Raw Power
34) Black Sabbath-Debut
35) John Coletrane- A Love Supreme
36) Deep Purple-Machine Head
37) The Eagles- Greatest Hits 1971-1975
38) Yes-Fragile

39) Simon and Garfunkel-Bridge Over Troubled Water
40) Sly and the Family Stone-Theres a Riot Goin' On
41) Marvin Gaye-What’s Going On
42) Cream-Disraeli Gears
43) David Bowie- The Rise of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars
44) Big Star-#1 Record
45) Roxy Music-Debut
46) CCR-Cosmos Factory
47) Ramones-Debut album
48) Fleetwood Mac-Rumours
49) Brian Eno-Another Green World
50 The Clash-London Calling
51) Wire-Pink Flag
52) Elvis Costello-My Aim Is True
53) The Cars-Debut album
54) Frank Zappa-Apostrophe
55) Funkadelic-Maggot Brain
56) Velvet Underground and Nico
57) Television-Marquee Moon
58) Lou Reed-Transformer
59) REM- Murmur
60) U2-War
61) Guns and Roses-Appetite For Destruction
62) Prince-1999
63) Beastie Boys-Paul's Boutique
64) Sonic Youth-Daydream Nation
65) AC/DC-Let There Be Rock
66) Slayer-Reign in Blood
67) Lynyrd Skynyrd-Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd
68) The Allman Brothers Band- Live at the Fillmore East
69) Bruce Springsteen-Born to Run
70) My Bloody Valentine-Loveless
71) Nirvana-Nevermind
72) Radiohead-OK Computer
73) Metallica-Master of Puppets
74) Kyuss-Blues For the Red Sun

75) Public Enemy-Fear of a Black Planet
76) Grandmaster Flash-The Message

77) Johnny Cash-At Folsom Prison

78) Van Halen-Debut

79) White Stripes-White Blood Cells

80) Pixies-Doolittle

81) Queen-A Night at The Opera

82) Weezer-Blue Album

83) Wilco-Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

84) The Replacements-Let It Be

85) Joy Division-Closer

86) Michael Jackson-Thriller

87) Talking Heads-Remain in Light

88) Saturday Night Fever- Soundtrack

89) Kraftwerk-Trans Europe Express

90) T Rex-Electric Warrior

91) Grateful Dead-Europe ‘72

92) Bad Brains-I Against I

93) Minor Threat-Self titled EP

94) Willie Nelson- Red Headed Stranger
95) Robert Johnson-King of the Delta Blues Singers
96) The Police-Outlandos d' Amour
97) The Smiths-Meat is Murder
98) The Band-Music From Big Pink
99) Nine Inch Nails-Pretty Hate Machine
100) King Crimson-In the Court of the Crimson King

Missed the Cut but would Probably be in the next 50

The Cure-Disintegration
The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society
Elton John-Tumbleweed Connection
Daft Punk-Daft Punk
Iron Maiden-Number of The Beast
Jane's Addiction -Nothing's Shocking
Boston-Debut Album
The Beatles-Rubber Soul
Husker Du-Zen Arcade
Pretenders-Debut Album
Patti Smith-Horses
Curtis Mayfield-Superfly
Rush -2112
Madonna-Like a Virgin
Genesis-The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
Pearl Jam-Ten
Stevie Ray Vaughan-Texas Flood
The Flying Burrito Brothers-Guilded Palace of Sin
U2-The Joshua Tree
Frank Zappa-We're Only In It For the Money
The Feelies-Crazy Rhythms
Jeff Buckley-Grace
Jimi Hendrix-Electric Ladyland
Pink Floyd-The Wall
Tom Waits-Rain Dogs
Joy Division- Unknown Pleasures
The Buzzcocks-Singles Going Steady
The Faces-A Nod is as Good As A Wink.....
The Minutemen-Double Nickels on the Dime
Devo-Are We Not Men

The ratio of those I missed on your list to those you missed on my list should cancel each other out, no? 

Personally I can't get through 5 minutes of  #s 70, 80,95, 97 and 99 without wanting to launch myself out a window and impale myself on the nearest fencepost...while using a nail gun to my forehead on the way down.

But let's argue the omissions anyway.

In the meantime, I'll be kidnapping Beliebers, scratch that....I'll be rounding up random tweens in my neighborhood for brainwashing..err, listening session in my living room....with their parents permission of course. For reals,  most of the parents should be forced to attend as well...