Saturday, March 10, 2007

Friday music mix: The so-called "Definitive 200"

Via Salon's Audiofile, I see that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the National Association of Recording Merchandisers has released a list of the definitive 200 albums.

Naturally, "definitive n", where n is arbitrary, is purely a matter of taste (or lack thereof), so I'll offer my comments on where their list overlaps my personal CD collection and some of the CDs I own that I think should have been on their list.

1. The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

2. Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon (1973)

It's hard to argue with these two choices. Personally, I would have put Dark Side of the Moon in the number 1 slot, but I can understand the argument for Sgt. Pepper.

12. The Beatles, Abbey Road (1969)

22. The Who, Who's Next (1971)

25. Pink Floyd, The Wall (1979)

Again, no complaints here. All of these deserve their top 25 ratings.

35. The Eagles, Hotel California (1976)

Their best known. It should definitely be somewhere on the list, although not necessarily that high.

70. Billy Joel, The Stranger (1977)

We're getting into guilty pleasures territory here, but most of the songs on this one hold up well.

74. Phil Collins, No Jacket Required (1985)

This one is definitely in the guilty pleasures category. "Take Me Home" holds up pretty well, but the rest of this album is just so 1985.

83. Paul Simon, Graceland (1986)

One of the groundbreaking albums in terms of incorporating world folk music into Western popular music. Should be much higher on the list.

89. Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms (1985)

Also should be much higher on the list.

112. Simon and Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)

Although this one deserves a place on the list, Bridge Over Troubled Water is only the fourth best of Simon and Garfunkel's five studio albums. Their best is Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme (1966), while Bookends (1968) and Sounds of Silence (1966) are also better choices.

119. The Police, Synchronicity (1983)

There are several good songs on this album along with a couple of real clunkers. A case can be made for including it, but it should be lower on the list.

126. Journey, Escape (1981)

This one is extraordinarily uneven. Half of the songs would make a great album side; the other half are mediocre to atrocious. Frontiers (1983) would have been a better choice.

132. Enya, A Day Without Rain (2000)

It's hard to argue with putting this one somewhere on the list, but Watermark (1988) should be included also.

Now for some of the conspicuously absent albums, in addition to the few I mentioned above:

  • Wendy Carlos, Switched-On Bach (1968)

    An exploration of the possibilities of the then-new Moog synthesizer. If you've never heard Bach before, this is a good place to start.

  • Soundtrack from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)

    The first installment of the Star Wars saga was truly groundbreaking in its use of original classical music as a soundtrack. This one should have been in the top 50.

  • Suzanne Vega, Suzanne Vega (1985) and Solitude Standing (1987)

    Suzanne Vega was the first of the 1980s urban folk singers to hit it big. At least one of these albums should have been on the list.

  • Peter Gabriel, Security (1982) and Us (1992)

    Peter Gabriel knows how to create soundscapes. At least one of these should have made the list.

I mean, this list includes Christina Aguilera at number 127, the Footloose soundtrack at number 134, and Avril Lavigne at number 162. Surely they could have done better.

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