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.



  1. This was awesome, just posted on Facebook as well. I think, as I wrote there, in the right hands music lists aren't about creating a definite tome of what is absolute, but help provide a spark for a greater conversation about the subject in general. It's not about the answer, it's in the question that lies the true knowledge. I'll bullet point some of my thoughts below, but again, thanks for taking the time and effort to make the list, it's excellent to see the thought process some, it's almost like we're hanging in a shop or basement duking out opinions, which is great.

    - I feel the need to fight for "my" generation's music. I have that in quotes because good music transcends age, but production technique, style, etc can't be overlooked. Back to the point though, I feel like most my age (33) don't care about music anymore either, and did even less so than the generation before me. I also feel lucky to be the age I am. I was born in-between two worlds, I'm not GenX, and am certainly not a f^cking millennial. I'm as comfortable with a joystick as I am with a turntable, and try to be a bridge between the two.

    - Who'd I take off? I love desert rock as much as anyone, but no way any Kyuss album influenced as many of today's artists as did Yo La Tengo or GBV - those two basically defined what a lot of "indie rock" is. As for JDilla, I'd say Saturday Night Fever. That was a product of influences, that yes, became a huge influence, but it wasn't the spark. JDilla made the blueprint on how to produce modern hip-hop, and if he didn't die so young, would still be pushing that game. HE was an influencer, not influenced. All my opinion though, the list really doesn't have too many holes, and the more I look, the more compete it seems. People who love music take it so personal because it IS, so when people don't see their favorite album they grab a pitchfork and scream.

    - Technology. I originally went to college as a music industry major. Music's always been my #1 passion, but this was also the time of Napster, and I saw that the industry was built w/dinosaur legs and wouldn't be able to walk into the future. I've tried to have music stay a part of my life personally and professionally since though, I can't help it. My skills as a musician pale like an albino bat compared to my love for it - and that's why I research and engulf myself in it so much, seems like air to me. That said, I too feel in a state of being behind - but love that! If I only listened to music that was released before 1979 I'd never finish, and that's great. Music isn't a video game - there's no way to "beat" it. It's ok for it to change, we just need to continue to champion and fight the good fight to influence as much as we can. The age of the LP's gone, we're back to the single like in the 60's it'll come back again. I think bands doing things w/tech is cool, Dan Deacon created an app people could download and then interact live with his set at live shows, that's pretty immersive and rad. But I'm also a vinyl-head, and there's other young people getting hip to this as well, it's a medium that's defeated all challengers, and don't see it dying because true musicians and fans want their shit pressed on it.

    Because of technology the whole world's being segmented, which is good and bad. It'll allow certain things to flourish - but the lack of things like this, active discussions suck - the internet's not good at that, and that's where i miss the record store vibe, and why I wrote this: www.theunexcused.com/dr-oldies_southern_new_england_rock_n_roll_collectors_convention/

    Good God, I'm starting to not make sense, in long, just thanks - it's nice to nerd out on this stuff, I may be a buffalo myself.

    Huzzah, I've got it! :)

  2. Thank You so Much Derek.I guess I'd take off Deep Purple-Machine Head, because Blues For the Red Sun is a Genre Starter..so that leaves room for one more......

  3. Hey man, glad to throw my humble 2 cents your way while you were compiling the list. Between 1963 and 1971 a lot of exceptional things happened as rock went through tumultuous puberty and grew to become an insane teenager. Since then, there has really only been a consolidation of what came before. The imagination that fueled the best of music from that period has been replaced by button pushing. Sure, there have been a lot of tributaries from the mainstream (some being pretty interesting diversions, too) but there is little in modern music that brings the element of surprise to the table. It's all pretty predictable. Even the so-called shock bands/artists are snore-worthy, cartoonish and only appeal to kids who haven't been exposed to enough music yet. Imagine tapping your foot to Perry Como's latest release and then having Little Richard dropped in your ear. It would be incredibly jarring if your only experience with music up to that point was safe, polished and bland pop or country. I think that we have just reached a saturation point with the sheer availability of music. Lists can digress into subjective territory, but I think that this one is solid in terms of how influential these records were.

  4. I agree with Sean Coleman. Great analysis!