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Beck – Odelay (1996)
AM 3000 rank : 54
Appeared on 29 ballots / 68
Fans: schwah # 3, Jonah # 6, Toni #11, John #11
Odelay is moving down in comparison with the 2008 poll (#31) and is now more or less at the same level as its critical acclaim (according to AM)
Beck's one of those people who seems like a true musician. He doesn't want to coast on his laurels, like he could. He wants to keep exploring the musical soundscape and do something different.
Junk culture, stream of consciousness lyrics combined with a wildly imaginative and eclectic mix of musical styles. Beck took a little bit of everything and strained it through his own unique vision to create this masterpiece.
I only had Sea Change in my list, but Odelay certainly is an achievement.
One of my major regrets of schedule clashes ever, is the time I had to leave half-way through a Beck show to catch Nick Cave the other end of the Roskilde Festival area.
It was the year after nine people got killed during a Pearl Jam show, and that was very present in everybody's mind. Beck entered the stage carrying a massive candelabra, greeting the audience and mumbling: "The flame of life. I had to do something special for this special occasion". It was windy, and it looked like the candles were all being blown out, but when he stepped back to put the thing down on an amp, he got out of the wind and the candles all lit up again. Hairs standing on end in the audience!
His music does the same to you sometimes.
Joy Division – Closer (1980)
AM 3000 rank : 40
Appeared on 22 ballots / 68
Fans: Michel # 2, Mitchell Stirling # 10, Bruno #12, Jacek #13, SR # 16
An album rising in the AM 3000 lists (+ 3 in the new update, +3 in the one before), Closer is on a few ballots (22) but 9 people gave it more than 100 points, which is so far a record. On the other hand, it is top 10 for only 2 voters.
Comments: none , waiting for yours !
Did anybody realize that "A Means To An End" has a pure disco beat ? (listen to the intro)
Stevie Wonder – Songs In The Key of Life (1976)
AM 3000 rank : 44
Appeared on 29 ballots / 68
Fans: nicolas # 4, Marc # 5, Jonmarck #21, Henry #21, pmickey #22
Our # 55 couldn't be more different than our # 56, and that's the charm of this show. Stevie is behind his Am rank with this album, but is improving in voters polls : 84 in 2008, not even ranked in 2005 !
nicolas: Stevie had no problem filling a double LP in the mid '70s, and he went in all directions from jazz rock to latin, from moving ballads to fantastic dance tunes like the brilliant "Another Star", from love songs like "Isn't She lovely ?" to social commentaries like "Village Ghetto Land". The masterpiece of a genius. To me more valuable than the excellent and very hype Innervisions (which is at #67 in my list). That's one of the records I grew up with and never ceased to love, with its moments of brilliance and its flaws. Since records are like people to us music freaks, Songs is definitely part of my family.
130 people worked on Wonder’s career-peaking double LP which saw the Motown perfectionist make good on the 37 million dollar deal he signed one year prior. Elongated track lengths afford “Isn’t She Lovely”, “Black Man” and “As” their song-defining codas while “Sir Duke” and “I Wish” plow through as tight funk hits. It almost wasn’t to be. Before the record deal Wonder was considering giving up his superstar music career to work with handicapped children in Ghana.
A huge favorite of mine, Joy Division reached heights on this one that no one has reached since. Lyrically, it might be the best album of all time. Musically, just woah. Barney's guitar strummings have influenced countless alt-rock guitar players. Morris's drumming stark and crisp. Hook's bass playing is just unreal; sometimes I feel like it doesn't make any sense within the context of the songs. Keeping it together is Ian Curtis, who's voice makes Jim Morrison seem high. Joy Division is the work of an emotionally desolate person who sees himself as having nothing to live for; it's the work of a dying man, and can not be duplicated.
Public Enemy – It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back - 1988
AM 3000 rank : 18
Appeared on 26 ballots / 68
Fans: otisredding # 6, Jackson # 7, VanillaFire1000 #11, Peewee #12, pmickey #22
Forum looking for more hip hop fans ! PE are well behind their critical acclaim (AM # 18 and rising), but they're getting better : in 2008 they were 77 and in 2005, they were absent.
There is a point at the lifetime of any great band in which they seemingly can do no wrong, like a sports team on a lengthy winning streak. Public Enemy's moment came in 1988, when they put out a truly unstoppable, undeniable LP that could please rap fans, rock fans, and just general music fans. It Takes a Nation... is the ideal rap record to me, a burst of creativity and attitude that contains many of the genre's best songs. The sampling is always entertaining (especially the use of the "Angel of Death" riff on "She Watch Channel Zero?!") yet well-integrated, highlighting the album without dominating it (like it does sometimes on Fear of a Black Planet). But the real stars of the show are Chuck D and Flavor Flav, two forces of personality that provide a mix between serious politics and pure fun. There was no nation of millions ready to hold them back from releasing this milestone.
This is the album that took rap to another level more than any other. The dense Bomb Squad production, Chuck D’s booming, political rhymes and Flavor Flav’s comedic sidekick antics still stand up to any hip-hop album today.
This record was a boost for me. After many years of consuming music, I needed something really new, hard, exciting. And all that Public Enemy gave it to me.
Yes, "true" innovation would, I suppose, be something worth admiring, but my point was that there isn't very much "true" innovation. After hundreds of years of classical music, a hundred years of jazz, decades of avant-garde and experimental music, and 50 years of pop, I think most of what is thought of as "new" in music has actually been done before. What a lot of people regard as innovative in pop music has been done rhythmically, tonically, sonically or melodically in other forms of music already.
This subject arose because of a comment that Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was innovative. One can love that album and think it is a masterpiece (I don't myself, but others do) without thinking it is innovative. The fact that something does not sound like 98% of mainstream music on the radio doesn't mean it is innovative. It just means that it is not mainstream.
Also, just because something is influential doesn't mean it is innovative. Something can be influential just because it does what it does extremely well and inspires people to try to do the same thing. Lots of very mainstream music can be hugely influential -- in a good or a bad way. Or non-mainstream music can be influential because people who were not formerly exposed to anything non-mainstream have their eyes opened. But the mere fact that something has a large influence says nothing at all about its level of innovation. Indeed, one could argue that, since the taste of most artists and most members of the public in most art forms is usually very conventional, the fact that something is influential is actually an indication that it was NOT actually innovative.
I don't find it dispiriting or depressing at all to have this attitude towards innovation in music. I still enjoy music, the greatest artistic passion in my life, every bit as much as I always have. What I find now is that instead of falling into the trap of thinking that innovation is somehow the litmus test for true musical greatness, I can enjoy the completely uninnovative pleasures of great songwriting, singing, personal expression, and so on. Car Wheels on a Gravel Road or If You're Feeling Sinister aren't innovative -- they simply function brilliantly and movingly within completely familiar musical and sonic categories.
Hope no one takes any of the above personally. Just fun to discuss this hoary old topic, like the old "is there, or is there not, objectively good art" question?
Prince – Sign 'O' The Times - 1987
AM 3000 rank : 26
Appeared on 27 ballots / 68
Fans: Romain # 2, Toni # 5, Moonbeam #5, Harold Wexler # 16, Rocky Racoon #18
Another album in this great funk/rap series, it is like the two others a little behind its AM rank, confirming a trend concerning Afro American music in this forum : it is still relatively underrated (nothing political here of course, it is just stats speaking, facts and not opinions), but things are getting better with every poll.
A great album, not an album of great singles like Prince's other big albums, that suffers only from being a little too long.
Moreso than any other album, Sign o' the Times showcases the mind-boggling breadth of Prince's artistic palette. Its greatest achievement, however, is that in spite of its dizzying diversity and sprawling length, the album is still cohesive.
A succulent banquet of contemporary music, displaying a varied and wide amount of delicacies cooked with inventiveness, craft and inspiration. A celebration of music while having its feet on the ground, dealing with drugs, AIDS and social issues. There was at the time accusations of betraying his black roots. Unfairly. It was black music, it was white music, it was multi-coloured music.
Most of the records I like are not renowned for being innovative. But Public Enemy was somewhat devastating. Democratized hip hop. It was special.
I can at all compare with Wilco, R.E.M. or The Smiths. All I really like but did not lead to a new avenue for me.
Public Enemy I opened another scenario that I am enjoying it. They were the key.
It doesn't matter much to me (to be honest: not at all) whether something is innovative, as long as I enjoy it, so I'm not getting all excited by this subject.
But about the definition of "innovative": isn't it truly innovative (if the term is to make any sense in an artistic context) to put those well-worn building blocks together in a way noone's done before (Doors' "Break on through" was mentioned as an example earlier on)?
I think it's time for THE ROLLING STONES......
Bring'em on! (Or should I say, "Roll'em in" ... ?)
U2 – Achtung Baby - 1991
AM 3000 rank : 87
Appeared on 27 ballots / 68
Fans: Penguin # 5, Marc # 11, Midaso # 14, Chevi # 17, Jonmarck # 20
A favourite of this forum, Achtung Baby is going downhill after finishing the two previous polls in the thirties.
In "The Fly" Bono sings "Every artist is a cannibal/Every poet is a thief". Though the Irish quartet were safe from charges of plagiarism this thought best described their approach to the decade to come. With cheerful irreverence Bono et. al. dissect the public's fascination with celebrity. Though equally interesting, the other albums of this period (Zooropa, Pop) would lack Achtung, Baby's confident enthusiasm. Lead single "The Fly" combines Edge's falsetto with Bono's spoken word for a soaring chorus, "Until the End of the World" tackles Bible stories from a romping guitar riff and "One" proved to be the group's "Hey Jude".
Sorry for causing a surprising uproar on that last page with my YHF comment and then not being around to claim the comment was mine. I stand by what I said: I like the album for its excellent songwriting and melodies, not because I think it was innovative. I really love the album and voted it in my top 30, but I don't think it was extremely influential/innovative, especially considering many of the albums around it at this point in the list. That isn't to diminish its achievement, because there is more than one way to make a classic album. Some are creative, some are unique, some are a band finding the right sound, and others happen to be good because they contain a series of really good songs. I find that Yankee Hotel Foxtrot fits in more with the latter.
The Kinks – The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society- 1968
AM 3000 rank : 188
Appeared on 28 ballots / 68
Fans: Jackson # 3, Miguel # 6, Midaso # 6, Paul # 10, Georgie # 12
This album is the typical relatively unacclaimed record (I mean one you don't find on ALL the best-of lists) that gets a lot of praise here. I remember we discussed its merits after the last poll's results, and this time it got even higher. And the sixties are back in the show (last time was the Doors at # 71)
Though it doesn't deserve to be relegated to cult status like it is, The Village Green Preservation Society is an album that never could have been popular. Nothing really stands out as a single, the album's title and concept are unusual, and the musical style is ridiculously out-of-step with anything else going on in its era. However, despite what you might think at first listen, this is a work of massive intellectual depth and true pop genius. It is too complex to simply label this as a celebration of traditional British village life, as Ray Davies explores a variety of lyrical themes that grow in appeal the more you hear them. It absolutely radiates nostalgia for the past, with the songs' upbeat tempos often hiding deeper feelings and meanings. You won't find a more clever lyric than on the title track, which I consider a sly criticism of labeling people through group membership. Other highlights include the jaunty "Picture Book" and the incredibly powerful "Big Sky." The Village Green Preservation Society proved that The Kinks were just as inventive as any other 60s band, able to produce a masterpiece with themes and style that no other group would even touch.
The Evolution in AM Forums
51 - 65 - 76 - The Kinks - The Kinks Are Village Green Preservation Society
52 - 37 - 31 - U2 - Achtung, Baby
53 - 68 - 106 - Prince - Sign 'O' the Times
54 - 77 - xx - Public Enemy - It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
55 - 84 - 47 - Stevie Wonder - Songs in the Key of Life
56 - 58 - 12 - Joy Division - Closer
57 - 31 - 96 - Beck - Odelay
58 - 51 - 97 - Pixies - Surfer Rosa
59 - 47 - 104 - Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation
60 - 59 - 24 - Portishead - Dummy
Yep, "Closer" has run out, I'm sticking "Village Green" in the CD player
"CD Player"? What's that?
Bring On the Top 50!
I was wrong about Songs In The Key Of Life
Contrary to what I wrote in my general comment, it scored in 2005, and even high.
Now it's time to open a new thread because the top 50 is coming.
Well, it's this funny old gizmo I found in Grampa's attic ... you stick pieces of plastic in it, and it knows which tunes to play. Bit like those huge metal boxes you see in bars in black-and-white movies ...
Nice. Two of my top ten--It Takes a Nation and Village Green--have moved up each year. I was really hoping the Kinks would take top 50 after I realized the album hadn't placed yet. I guess there's still tons of awesome albums left, including my number 1...
Absolutely incredible streak of albums. My only complaint is that Achtung Baby beat out Closer, Surfer Rosa, and Daydream Nation.
It's great to see It Takes a Nation and Sign O' the Times so high. Also note both R.E.M albums will be in the T50.
Beck is a talented guy but there's no way he deserves to have two albums in the top 100 albums of all time. That's the freakish consequence of how these cumulative lists work.
Peewee, don't take this list for more than it is : the result of a poll and not a well-crafted and balanced work of art.
And after all, it happens that in the 100 albums we love the most as a community, there are 2 Becks.
I guess I shouldn't be that surprised that I was the biggest fan of "Achtung, Baby." U2 always garners some hatred (much less from this forum), but I feel that we're really just judging them on their music. "Achtung" was their was masterpiece, and while it doesn't really have the highs of "The Joshua Tree," it is more consistent and more exciting than its more subdued older brother.