Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Today, Rockin' Roger Green posted the list of Entertainment Weekly's top 100 albums of the last 25 years, which ones he had, and some opinions on same and I thought it's been a while since I posted something music-related here- besides Beatle birthdays of course- so whaddaya say; let's all pretend we care what I think about them, too, and I'll bold the ones I own:

1. Purple Rain - Prince and the Revolution (1984): Not even what I consider Prince's best. Sure, the film was memorable, and this isn't a bad record (even though I find it unfocused and sloppy, and smells like songs taken from the vault and slapped together), but better than 1999? Sign 'o' the Times? I think not. Hell, I like Dirty Mind, Come, and Gold Experience better.

2. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill - Lauryn Hill (1998): A friend of mine had this, and I remember hearing several songs from it that were OK but not anything I cared to own. It seemed earth-shaking at the time, though, and it's odd that you never hear anything from Hill or the other Fugees anymore. Not that I'm complaining, mind you.

3. Achtung Baby - U2 (1991): I think I prefer Zooropa, actually, but this is a very good record. Joshua Tree, in my opinion, is probably their best but that may fall outside the 25-year limit (I forget when it came out! 1986-87?). Anyways, this was the first album where they stopped taking themselves so...seriously... and let a little cynicism (and Eno/Lanios-induced willingness to experiment sonically) seep in and all the better for it says I. These days, they're back to being pompous, and they don't even have the saving grace of memorable tunes to balance it out.

4. The College Dropout - Kanye West (2004) Nope, I am not a convert.

5. Madonna - Madonna (1983): People forget it wasn't until Like a Virgin that she made a real impact, and MTV airplay of "Lucky Star" and "Borderline made this so-so debut seem more important and more full of import than it actually was. It's a decent enough album, though. Her best? Not hardly.

6. American Idiot - Green Day (2004): Never saw what other people see in this group. Probably never will.

7. The Blueprint- Jay-Z: (2001): Did this have "Girls Girls Girls" on it? If so, I really liked that track. Don't want to push my luck, though.

8. Graceland - Paul Simon (1986): I never liked this one as much as I did its immediate predecessor Hearts and Bones, and like it even less after reading this. "You Can Call Me Al" was a cutesy, catchy song, like "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover", which I hated.

9. Back to Black - Amy Winehouse (2007): I liked "Rehab", still do. There are one or two other tracks that are OK. I never listen to this anymore, got bored with it real fast. She's a real piece of work, isn't she?

10. In Rainbows - Radiohead (2007): My son made me a copy of this, and I could swear I've listened to it at least twice through but I'll be damned if I could tell you a single thing on it. This group is intermittently interesting, and I appreciate where Yorke's coming from, but other than "High and Dry" from The Bends I just don't get into the rest of their catalog.

11. MTV Unplugged in New York - Nirvana (1994): I remember when this aired, but other than a couple of tracks I never really bought into Nirvana (or the deification of Kurt Cobain, for that matter) either. The version of Bowie's "Man Who Sold the World" isn't bad.

12. Stankonia - OutKast (2000): Kinda wish I had this; I love "Mrs. Jackson" and dig much of Speakerboxx/The Love Below muchly. Someday.

13. You Are Free - Cat Power (2003): Another band which a lot of people really like, but I have yet to investigate. Maybe someday.

14. Disintegration - The Cure (1989): I went through my Cure stage at about the time this record came out, at age 28 a bit too old for the target demographic but isn't that always the way for me. This one's not as good as Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, the first one I ever got, nor is it as good as The Head on the Door.

15. The Marshall Mathers LP - Eminem (2000): Actually, I don't mind this guy too much. Don't own anything, either, although my son did and I heard a lot of it then.

16. Rain Dogs - Tom Waits (1985): One of the (I insist) only two indispensable Waits albums, but I prefer Swordfishtrombones.

17. Odelay - Beck (1996): Another example of my son having something first and then me coming along, hearing it, liking it, and buying it myself. This one's his best to date- he's done everything in his power to avoid sounding like it since which is artistically valid but frustrating from the listener's viewpoint. I like Sea Change, his soporific-but-tuneful 2002 release as well.

18. People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm - A Tribe Called Quest (1990): Nah.

19. Dangerously in Love - Beyoncé (2003): Nope, although she's certainly likable in films.

20. Tidal - Fiona Apple (1996): I had this because I liked "Criminal" but got bored with it and sold it. Don't miss it much, either. I did get Extraordinary Machine, but I never listen to it either.

21. The Emancipation of Mimi - Mariah Carey (2005): Please.

22. 3 Feet High and Rising - De La Soul (1989): I got this because I liked "Me Myself and I" with its Parliament samples and such. Still have it, but never dig it out. Maybe I should.

23. The Soft Bulletin - The Flaming Lips (1999): If I was making this list, this album would be #1. It's rare when I know I'm going to love a record from the opening notes, but that's what happened when I put this in the CD player. It's an imaginative, heartfelt set of ruminations on life and death and cosmic wonder, and it's one of the best albums I've ever heard in my life. Not to put too fine a point on it.

24. Come On Over - Shania Twain (1997): Twain's an appealing performer, to say the least, but I'm not a fan of her style of music, that overproduced, slick antiseptic pseudo-pop/country.

25. Turn On the Bright Lights - Interpol (2002): Don't know much about this group; I may have seen the name in print or heard a track.

26. Time Out of Mind - Bob Dylan (1997: Critics gushed over this, but I didn't really see what all the fuss was about. It has its moments, and probably is the best Dylan album of the last 25 years, given the competition...actually, I'm fond of Under the Red Sky, which most Dylanites despise. Figures.

27. Funeral - Arcade Fire (2004): Another group whose appeal eludes me. Granted, I'm more familar with Neon Bible than this one but I'm not crazy about it either.

28. Illmatic - Nas (1994): Not a fan.

29. Breakaway - Kelly Clarkson (2004): I don't own this (although I think my daughter does). Kelly and I have a history, as you may recall (I wish Imageshack hadn't "lost" the Jamaican vacation picture I had), and I don't mind her music too much, like some of it even- but I've never been moved to buy.

30. Appetite for Destruction - Guns N' Roses (1987): I never really warmed to these guys, although "Welcome to the Jungle" is a serviceable late-80's hair metal cut and I kinda like "November Rain" as well.

31. FutureSex/LoveSounds - Justin Timberlake (2006): I give Timberlake all the credit in the world- he's a good performer, onstage and especially in film, and doesn't embarrass himself in the recorded area either. But that doesn't mean I'm gonna buy or download his music.

32. Life's Rich Pageant - R.E.M. (1985): For a long time, this was my favorite R.E.M. album, and it was also the one which converted me to R.E.M. fandom. "Fall on Me" just might be my favorite of their songs. It's not a perfect LP, though; there are two or three cuts that haven't really stayed all that fresh. I might put Document, Automatic For the People, and even New Adventures in Hi-Fi ahead of it now.

33. As I Am - Alicia Keys (2007): Keys is a talented performer and a heck of a good actress, plus she's just stone cold beautiful...but I have no desire to own any of her sterile soul music.

34. Is This It - The Strokes (2001): I've heard this, and I thought it was OK, but I never bought it.

35. Jagged Little Pill - Alanis Morissette (1995): This was tuneful, but lyrically awful. Still, the dumbass "irony" song was catchy, and I liked that one about the "hand in (her) pocket" as well as yes, "You Oughtta Know". I also liked "Thank You" from the followup, but that's been it for me from Alanis. Oh, and I liked her cameo in Dogma. Does this belong on this list? I doubt it. Maybe in its influence on other female 90's artists, don't know.

36. CrazySexyCool - TLC (1994): I guess this was influential as well, so sure. You know what I liked by these ladies? "What About Your Friends". That had a killer hook and melody, and was free of the hip-hop diva posturing of later videos and songs.

37. The Moon & Antarctica - Modest Mouse (2000): I liked "Float On". That wasn't on this, was it.

38. Raising Hell - Run DMC (1986): I think I almost prefer King of Rock, but hey- you can't deny "Walk This Way" and I liked "It's Tricky", especially the video with Penn and Teller. "No! No Run DMC! NO!" "Yo. That's Tricky."

39. Sheryl Crow - Sheryl Crow (1996): I've been thoroughly unimpressed with everything she's done before and since, although I liked a couple of cuts on her debut. This one's so-so as well, but I'm nuts about "If It Makes You Happy", the best Rolling Stones song of the 1990's.

40. Ready to Die - The Notorious B.I.G. (1994): Not a fan.

41. Legend - Bob Marley and the Wailers (1984): Ditto.

42. Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)- Wu-Tang Clan (1993) Likewise.

43. Paul's Boutique - Beastie Boys (1989): Now this one's a hell of a lot of fun, super audacious and super influential with some of the best sampling ever, back when musicians could sample with impunity and not pay a price. It really should be higher on this list. I'm not the biggest rap fan in the world, but this one kicks my ass every time.

44. Car Wheels on a Gravel Road - Lucinda Williams (1998): I wish I liked Williams more than I do; she's definitely a major talent. This one's probably her best, out of those I've heard anyway. Fave cut: "Drunken Angel".

45. If You're Feeling Sinister - Belle and Sebastian (1996): I tried to like these guys, really I did, but just couldn't develop a taste. My loss, I'm sure.

46. Homogenic - Björk (1997): This is in no way, shape, fashion or form better than Debut OR Post. This was the first album in which electronic noises became more important than song structure, and her constant warbling around in search of a melody became real grating after a while.

47. Exile in Guyville - Liz Phair (1993): I don't revere this like some do; there are too damn many melody-free cuts on this for me to embrace it fully. But "Never Said" and "Fuck and Run" are the shit.

48. American IV: The Man Comes Around - Johnny Cash (2002): Even though I like Cash and Rick Rubin, I don't own any of his latter releases. No, wait- I think I have the first couple in mp3s on my old iMac, but never got around to burning them on a CD. When Rubin gets hold of people like Cash, Donovan or Neil Diamond, he tends to want to cast them in spare, stripped-down settings, with minimal accompaniment- and while that's valid and I'm in the minority, for sure, this approach bores the living shit out of me. Maybe that's why I don't have any of these.

49. A Rush of Blood to the Head - Coldplay (2002): For the life of me, I don't understand all the Coldplay hate. Sure, they sound like U2 and Radiohead, and so what? There's nothing on the last three U2 releases that's half as good as "Yellow", "Trouble", "Sparks" or "Politik". Sure, their frontguy is self-effacing and bland to a fault. But I found much to like on their first two albums, and this is my favorite of the two, for "The Scientist" if nothing else.

50. Sounds of Silver - LCD Soundsystem (2007): I have a couple of mp3s, that Ken Lowery, I believe, sent me. They were OK, but I wasn't moved to investigate further.

51. The Score - Fugees (1996): See Lauren Hill above.

52. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga - Spoon (2007): Nothing.

53. King of America - Elvis Costello (1986): This is a solid, if unexceptional, effort from Elvis- hell, I would have put Blood and Chocolate, Imperial Bedroom, or even Mighty Like a Rose ahead of it. For me, the most memorable thing about this one is the cover.

54. Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 - Janet Jackson (1989): I still love "Miss You Much", and one or two other cuts still entertain, but like all her albums it's too damn long and not strong enough. Still, I guess it can be included for its impact if nothing else.

55. It Takes a Nation of Millions... - Public Enemy (1988): Not a fan.

56. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - Wilco (2002): I prefer Summerteeth, a damn-near perfect example of experimental pop, but this one's excellent as well- perhaps the peak of Tweedy's experimentation, coming at the expense of the melody unlike its predecessor. I heart "I'm the Man Who Loves You", which sounds like a great lost Nilsson/Brian Wilson/Neil Young collaboration. Ghost is Born went too far in the other direction, and Sky Blue Sky is pleasant enough, but unremarkable.

57. Harvest Moon - Neil Young (1992): Many bought the hype and hailed this as a return to his halcyon Harvest days, but don't you believe it- despite the charming title track, this is strictly bland, overproduced, antiseptic late 90's-Aughts Neil all the way.

58. Surfer Rosa - The Pixies (1988): I prefer Doolittle, but "Cactus" is a good song.

59. Ray of Light - Madonna (1998): This is OK for the most part, but I prefer Bedtime Stories by a wide margin. Hell, I like Erotica better, too.

60. Crooked Rain Crooked Rain - Pavement (1994): Don't know much.

61. Paid in Full - Eric B. & Rakim (1987): Not a fan.

62. OK Computer - Radiohead (1997): See #10.

63. The Joshua Tree - U2 (1987): Oh yeah, this is when it came out. After all is said and done, I think this is their best and should be higher on the list if this is supposed to be hierarchic. Pretentious as all get out, but they back it up with their musical chops.

64. Mama's Gun - Erykah Badu (2000): I don't own anything by this striking lady, but I should. Maybe someday. I liked "Tyrone"; don't know if it's on this album or not.

65. Elephant - The White Stripes (2003): It's too damned long by about five songs, but you can't beat "Seven Nation Army", "Hardest Button to Button" and "Ball and Biscuit".

66. The Chronic - Dr. Dre (1992): No.

67. Metallica - Metallica (1991): I had a brief infatuation with these guys and a lot of other bands of this ilk in the early 90's; didn't last long. I have this, I think, although I haven't seen it in years...

68. Wrecking Ball - Emmylou Harris (1995): For some reason, I stopped buying Emmylou albums after 1984 or so. I liked most of them before that, loved a couple, but after a while her sound became homogeneous and bland and I lost interest. Getting Daniel Lanois to provide his trademark studio-gloss synthesizer "atmospherics" didn't help get me back. I'd give this a listen if I had the opportunity, but I have no reason to believe I'd be interested in taking it home.

69. Give Up - The Postal Service (2003): No clue.

70. My Life - Mary J. Blige (1994): No, although she did a song about five years ago that I liked OK. Don't remember what it was. It wasn't off this one, that's for sure.

71. Rock Steady - No Doubt (2001): Never acquired a taste for No Doubt, except perhaps the song "Bathwater". I kinda liked some of Gwenny-Gwen Gwen's solo album.

72. 1984 - Van Halen (1984): Not my favorite by these guys, but it's OK. It was certainly influential for a while there.

73. The Queen is Dead - Smiths (1986): never understood the appeal of the Smiths or Morrissey. Guess that's my loss.

74. Play - Moby (1999): I liked a couple of tracks on this, but was never moved to buy.

75. Born in the U.S.A. - Bruce Springsteen (1984): It's a classic of its kind, but except perhaps for "Bobby Jean" and "Darlington County" thanks to FM radio and MTV I have no desire to ever listen to it again. Yeah, it belongs...but I prefer Tunnel of Love.

76. Heartbreaker - Ryan Adams (2000): I liked Whiskeytown, and I own this album's followup Gold, but I overlooked this one. Don't really feel like I'm missing out. Only hipper-than-thou critics would put this on a list like this.

77. Dummy - Portishead (1994): The appeal of this group has always eluded me as well. I'm such a philistine.

78. Vs. - Pearl Jam (1991): Sure, OK, but Vitalogy is a better record.

79. Let It Be - The Replacements (1984): Sure, OK, but Tim is a better record. Note to Roger: if you're expecting something like Don't Tell a Soul with this one, well, let's just say that you'll be surprised. Pleasantly, I hope.

80. Back to Basics - Christina Aguilera (2006): Until I heard her version of Lennon's "Mother", I would have snorted in derision at this. But now, I'll just shrug my shoulders and give the benefit of the doubt.

81. The Downward Spiral - Nine Inch Nails (1994): NIN was my son's favorite band when he was a teen, so I heard a LOT of Reznor's music. I deplored the spiteful, self-pitying tone, but musically it was usually always interesting and "Closer" is a masterpiece.

82. Grace - Jeff Buckley (1994): I'm sorry- this one isn't as good as Sefronia even. Stll, "Last Goodbye" and the ruined-by-TV and Films "Hallelujah" are remarkable, and he was shaping up as a talent worth watching, if he could ever buckle down and do anything. He didn't inherit his dad's work ethic, that's for sure.

83. Learning to Crawl - The Pretenders (1984): Had to go look- I forgot I had this. I got real tired of the hits "Back on the Chain Gang" and "Middle of the Road" thanks to overexposure on TV and radio, and frankly, I don't remember anything else on the album. I never was a big admirer of this group anyway. "Brass in Pocket" and "Don't Get Me Wrong" were the only other cuts that yanked my crank.

84. Low-Life - New Order (1985): Nada.

85. Home - Dixie Chicks (2002): My daughter has this one; she's a longtime fan. Although Natalie Maines' overwrought loudmouth Daisy Mae Yokum act gets old real quick, they're all very talented, more often as not their songs are very strong musically, and I love the hell out of "Wide Open Spaces". So there ya go.

86. Loveless - My Bloody Valentine (1991): Another band I have never cared about.

87. All Eyez on Me - 2Pac (1996): No.

88. So - Peter Gabriel (1986): I suppose this is his best album of the past 25 years; his best IMO, III, came out in 1981. I bought this, enjoyed "Sledgehammer" on both TV and my speakers, as well as the Kate Bush duet and "Big Time", which was funny and catchy. I never dig this out and listen to it, though, haven't in at least (I'd bet) 15 years.

89. Bachelor No. 2 - Aimee Mann (2000): I want to like Mann so much, really I do, but outside of "You Stupid Thing" everything else she's done since has sounded whiny and tuneless. Sigh. I like this one's cover.

90. Toxicity - System of a Down (2001). Not interested.

91. Siamese Dream - Smashing Pumpkins (1993): My son has this, so I've heard it but the only Pumpkins album that ever grabbed me enough to want to own it was Melon Collie.

92. The Writing's on the Wall - Destiny’s Child (1999): No.

93. Either/Or - Elliott Smith (1997): Again, my son. I've heard it, but don't remember it. I do own X/O, like some of it, never play it.

94. Synchronicity - The Police (1983): I think this was their peak, creatively. SO naturally, they broke up after and were never the same again for good or ill.

95. Trap Muzik T.I. (2003): Whothewhatthuh-?

96. Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea - PJ Harvey (2000): I have Rid of Me, To Bring You My Love, and White Chalk. For some reason I don't have this. I LOVE Love, and if this is better than that one then I should immediately run out and get it, I think. Guess it's inevitable that one with limited resources such as I will miss out on some from time to time.

97. Britney - Britney Spears (2001): I guess when you look at the big picture, this probably belongs...but guys. C'mon.

98. Transatlanticism - Death Cab for Cutie (2003): One of my son's former girlfriends is a big fan of these guys, and I've kinda liked what I've heard from them, but as of this writing I own nothing. Gotta love a group that names themselves after the song that the Bonzo Doo Dah Dog Band sang in Magical Mystery Tour...

99. Live Through This - Hole (1994): I'm sure Britt had this too, and chances are I heard it. I certainly heard "Doll Parts", and it was OK. I've liked a couple of other Hole tracks in the past, Courtney Love solo as well, but again, not enough to buy.

100. Faith - George Michael (1987): If you want to get technical, my wife is the owner of this one, I promise. But there have been Michael tracks I've liked- "I Want Your Sex", "Freedom 90", "Fastlove"- just not very many of 'em.

Whee! Done! By my count, I own 38 out of the 100. Thought I had more. Hmph.

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