RS 500 Greatest Albums

Just what the name says.
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Rspaight
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Postby Rspaight » Sun Nov 23, 2003 3:56 pm

Heh, heh, another Nirvana hater from Stevehoffman.tv? Not a big fan of the Doors, they were before my time, but believe me, Nirvana's stature was extraordinary even before Cobain's psychological instability was exposed, much less before his suicide.


I don't hate 'em at all (I own both the DGC studio albums, as a matter of fact), but I think their "greatness" is wildly overblown. Yeah, they were a big big deal when Curt (Kurt? Kurdt?) was still alive (though I do remember reading the lukewarm 3-star review of Nevermind by Ira Robbins in Rolling Stone before "Teen Spirit" mania hit), but even then it was more about C/Kur(d)t's angst and the fact that critics were cheering them on to slay hair metal than anything really amazing about their music. Their music was good and occasionally great, but like the Doors, they're largely riding on pure mystique now.

They did pick the famous live album by Muddy Waters. His best work was singles, so an Anthology is very appropriate.


Not to be a stick-in-the-mud, but if an artist didn't make any good LPs (whether its because LPs weren't a factor when they were recording, or because they were a singles-oriented act), then he/she/they shouldn't be on a list of best LPs. I guess it depends on if you view an LP as a unit, or simply as a collection of songs. Since a lot of what ended up on the list obviously got there because of historical import/total album "statement" rather than the quality of each individual track (Pepper and Pet Sounds, to name two), you end up with a mess of conflicting criteria.

After all, if comps are eligible, then Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy and CCR's Chronicle got robbed. But do we really want to go there?

I know I'm taking this way too seriously, but as you say, RS obviously *didn't* take it seriously.

Ryan

PS - No Roy Orbison?
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MK
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Postby MK » Sun Nov 23, 2003 4:56 pm

Of their four albums, the first had maybe three decent tracks. One was a cover of Love Buzz, and the best was easily "About A Girl," but like Butch Vig says, not an impressive album. I wouldn't rank Nevermind as high as some lists do (I've seen it pop up as high as #2), but I wouldn't definitely put it in the top 25, maybe 15. I guess if you're familiar with it, I can't really convince you that it's that good, but I totally loved this album in high school. It's a cliche, but this album did, in some ways, show me a whole part of rock I never learned to appreciate until Nevermind. I refuse to listen to music radio, so I've never had the problem of hearing it overplayed on the radio. Everytime I pull that album out, I just love everything about it.

To me, In Utero is half great and half eeeeh. Some people prefer it, partially for the rawer sound (some hold the 'polished' production against Nevermind, but I think it's excellent) but some tracks, particularly towards the end, I just can't get into, it sounds like thrash-noodling, just filler.

Then there's the two live albums: Unplugged is easily the best of the MTV Unplugged albums, and I love it, and the other is a good document of what they usually sound like.

Then there's the strays, and I Hate Myself..., Sappy, and the new track are all excellent. The first two should've been used on In Utero instead of the filler I mentioned.

Pretty small body of work, so I can see how they can be seen as overblown. It did have an enormous impact, though, and based on sheer quality, they made at least one and a half or maybe two Lp's worth of great studio recordings.

I agree about the comps, it does open the floodgates, doesn't it?

I certainly would've picked Meaty, Beaty, Big, and Bouncy, and possibly Chronicle, though I'd already pick three CCR albums.

Whenever I think of a best album list, I automatically follow the rule of no compilations, only real albums, but I have to admit, there is something nice about seeing someone like Muddy Waters, Ray Charles, and other 45-era artists and works get recognized on these lists. You see a lot more best album lists than best singles lists or best artists lists, so some of these guys don't get mentioned as much.

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Postby lukpac » Sun Nov 23, 2003 5:27 pm

MK wrote:Badfinger is a favorite among classic rock radio listeners, but their music hasn't had the best reputation over the years.


I'm not sure I'd call 4 songs (Come & Get It, No Matter What, Baby Blue and Day After Day) "a favorite", and Straight Up is a great album beyond those two songs (even better if you include the CD bonus cuts). As far as "reputation" goes, how are they any worse off than, oh, Whitney Houston or TLC, for example?

Traffic is well-received, but it has a spotty reputation, too, though its recent induction in the HOF is a surprise and would suggest otherwise.


Again, other than their last few albums, I fail to see the "spotty reputation".

Believe me, PLENTY of people listen to Robert Johnson to a great extent. Fans, critics, scholars, historians, and simply folk lovers will listen to a single song for hours at a time.


Perhaps I'm in the minority, but I find him *interesting* in a historical sense. He's just not someone who I listen to for pure musical enjoyment. Perhaps the nature of the recordings plays a part in that.

They did pick the famous live album by Muddy Waters. His best work was singles, so an Anthology is very appropriate. Most of his output came before Lp's surpassed singles, so it shouldn't be a big surprise. Ray Charles did record some good Lp's, but very few I'd call great, cohesive albums. His best work came on singles, so a box set collecting his most rewarding, groundbreaking period is appropriate. The Star Time box is little different because it covers a career, not just a brief period with a label. But, it's possibly the best, most perfect box set out there, and people should own it, so I won't complain.


As Ryan pointed out, though, this was a list of classic *albums*, not mere collections of songs or rankings of artists. I don't see any particular interest to "The Anthology" as anything other than a collection of Muddy Waters songs. On the other hand, I might argue for Hot Rocks to be in the upper half of a list like this.
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Postby thomh » Sun Nov 23, 2003 6:17 pm

Rspaight wrote:
I know I'm taking this way too seriously, but as you say, RS obviously *didn't* take it seriously.


AFAIK, the list was chosen by 273 musicians, critics, fans and historians. I have not actually picked up the ragazine and verified this myself, but if that is the case, then *that* list would have been interesting to peruse.
Thom

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Postby Rspaight » Sun Nov 23, 2003 6:41 pm

I guess if you're familiar with it, I can't really convince you that it's that good, but I totally loved this album in high school. It's a cliche, but this album did, in some ways, show me a whole part of rock I never learned to appreciate until Nevermind.


A lot of people had that experience with Nevermind, which certainly accounts for its high esteem. I was already out of college when it came out, so I was a bit outside the window.

(The album in high school that did that for me was Who's Next, so the fact that Nevermind ranked higher probably accounts for my bitterness. :))

For argument's sake, if I had to pick an all-time #1, it'd be Blood on the Tracks. Pepper is a great psychedelic pop album, but Blood walks all over it as a total emotional experience.

Ryan
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Postby Patrick M » Sun Nov 23, 2003 7:01 pm

Rspaight wrote:For argument's sake, if I had to pick an all-time #1, it'd be Blood on the Tracks. Pepper is a great psychedelic pop album, but Blood walks all over it as a total emotional experience.

Which begs the question: what did you think of the NY Sessions boot?

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Postby Rspaight » Sun Nov 23, 2003 7:10 pm

It's fascinating stuff -- much looser, much more "mellow" for want of a better word ("Idiot Wind" is much less venomous on the NY take, for instance). I have no idea which I'd prefer if starting from scratch, but the released album is so completely imprinted on my brain I can't help but go for that version. (And besides, I can't deal with "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts" being that slow...)

Definitely something I'm glad to have, though.

Ryan
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Postby Patrick M » Sun Nov 23, 2003 7:25 pm

Unlike Ryan, I was smack dab in the middle of college when Nirvana-mania hit.

And I have disliked them since day 1.

Back in the day, a friend of mine really dug them and made the snide comment "Maybe Kurt should have tapped in the solo" (a reference to my love of EVH). Of course, Kurt *did* tap in the solo. But I digress.

There were lots of reasons I didn't like Nirvana. One was that I just didn't think they were that good. I also didn't buy into the "look how miserably unhappy we are" attitude. Kurt may have been living on the streets when Nevermind came out, but he was rich...quick. And that Rolling Stone cover with "Corporate rock still sucks"? Real cute.

And that whole "Kurt as Messiah" thing made me want to wretch. I remember going into Bear's Wax after he blew himself up (or Courtney shot him, whatever) and this college age female in there talking about the guy like he was her personal prophet. C'mon! I've heard the guy mentioned in the same breath as John Lennon since his demise. Get real.

Another reason to dislike them is simply resentment over the success they had while other bands of that era either never made it, or floundered. King's X emerged in 1988 and, in my estimation, is about 500x better than Nirvana ever thought about being. They enjoyed their greatest success around 1991. Since then, it's been downhill.

Another superb band from that era that was never huge is Jellyfish. Again, at least 500x better than Nirvana, to me. I can't even begin to compare "Spilt Milk" to "Nevermind." They're not in the same stratosphere.

I also resent Nirvana for their impact. As Ryan said, people were desperate to kill "hair metal." I was fine with that, but they definitely threw out the baby with the bath water here. A band like Tesla (one of the best live acts I've ever seen) was dubbed "hair metal" despite being esentially a T shirt and jeans, blue collar hard rock band. After the early 90s, they couldn't make enough money to eat. Poison, Kix, Winger, Danger Danger, Britny Fox, Ratt, Pretty Boy Floyd...I was fine with those bands going away ASAP.

The Nirvana impact even made it tough for the aforementioned Jellyfish, a band that was writing elaborate, thoughtful, well-produced power pop to stay afloat. And King's X was never "hair metal," but I'm sure were adversely affected by the "grunge" thing. And King's X was doing dropped D *years* before the "Seattle scene" thought about it. Ask Jeff Ament about it.

True metal bands like Metallica and Megadeth continued in the 'poppier' tradition, post-Nirvana. Real thrash bands like Death Angel and Testament pretty much died. Slayer and Pantera are about the only bands that stayed true to their roots post-Nirvana.

I also hated the fact that it became completely uncool to be musically proficient after Nirvana. "Shred" and "virtuoso" became dirty words. So guys like Vito Bratta probably went off and started making pizzas after 1992. (I don't really know what became of him, and White Lion was by and large lame, but he was an excellent guitarist.)

Another good reason to dislike Kurt? He refered to Leo Fender as "that dead guy."

I guess that's enough for now. 8)

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Postby MK » Sun Nov 23, 2003 7:48 pm

I said Badfinger was a favorite among classic rock radio listeners, i.e. people who favor music that falls under the category of classic rock as radio recognizes it. Yeah, classic rock radio mainly plays four songs, but I was talking about the kind of people who listen to classic rock radio, not the radio programmers.

Good point about Whitney Houston, that's a travesty, but there are countless artists better than her.

As for Traffic's reputation, well, yes, if you're a big fan, you're not going to say they have a spotty reputation, but plenty of ink has been written trashing the band. When I say spotty reputation, think Cream, how they've been accused of over-indulgence and excess, how Clapton thought they fell short of their potential, how in the words of one critic, it was "three guys trying to impress each other." I like Cream, I like some of the things Traffic has done, but again, they have their share of detractors as well.

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Postby lukpac » Sun Nov 23, 2003 9:07 pm

MK wrote:I said Badfinger was a favorite among classic rock radio listeners, i.e. people who favor music that falls under the category of classic rock as radio recognizes it. Yeah, classic rock radio mainly plays four songs, but I was talking about the kind of people who listen to classic rock radio, not the radio programmers.


Sure, that's true, but wouldn't you say it's also true of a pretty large chunk of the albums on that list?

As for Traffic's reputation, well, yes, if you're a big fan, you're not going to say they have a spotty reputation, but plenty of ink has been written trashing the band. When I say spotty reputation, think Cream, how they've been accused of over-indulgence and excess, how Clapton thought they fell short of their potential, how in the words of one critic, it was "three guys trying to impress each other." I like Cream, I like some of the things Traffic has done, but again, they have their share of detractors as well.


Funny you mention Cream, since their 3 main albums are all on the list :wink:
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Postby MK » Sun Nov 23, 2003 10:30 pm

Hell, yeah, there's plenty of albums that don't belong on that list. I'm just saying why I wouldn't expect to see Badfinger. I'd much rather see them than Whitney Houston or Jay-Z, and it is REALLY amazing those two made it on there.

Oh, and YES, I noticed all three Cream albums on there, but they seemed like a good example to use in underlining my point.

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Postby Rspaight » Mon Nov 24, 2003 9:34 am

This really goes without saying, but I'll still observe that amid all this talk about the LP as a unit as opposed to individual songs, that the art/prog crowd got the shaft yet again. There's a bunch of Pink Floyd on the list, but after that there's a big goose egg. No Genesis, Yes, Rush or Moody Blues. (Though Gabriel's poppiest solo album made it on.) And *definitely* none of the less-visible acts like Golden Earring, Gentle Giant, Porcupine Tree or (wait for it) Marillion. There's a Kraftwerk album, but that's probably more for the techno influence than anything else. And Queen made it on with Night At The Opera, which I guess is close enough.

I find it quite ironic that the #1 album could legitimately be seen as the first art/prog album, but that whole genre is nearly absent from the rest of the list.

Ryan

PS - No Faces/Small Faces, either.
Last edited by Rspaight on Mon Nov 24, 2003 12:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Badfinger

Postby J_Partyka » Mon Nov 24, 2003 10:59 am

I'm a huge Badfinger fan myself, and am surprised to see them unrepresented. I personally would rank Wish You Were Here above Straight Up ... but just barely. Both are great records that would easily make my Top 500, or even Top 20.

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Postby Christer » Wed Nov 26, 2003 6:23 pm

Where is "Get Yer Ya-Ya´s Out" ?

Or "Big Hits (HighTide...)" ?

Or "Hot Rocks" ?

Or "40 Licks" ?

by the Rolling Stones

I miss them, but who really cares??


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Postby Patrick M » Sat Nov 29, 2003 3:06 pm

The magazine comes with a free 9 track SACD sampler. Nice deal for $5. You also get RFK Jr's big article about the environment.