The writer's strike has left me in a bit of a lurch, as all of my original material has been outsourced to underpaid unionized labor for months now. The networks may be able to throw together reality programming like "The Amazing Race: Dancing with the Singing Biggest Loser Survivor Edition...hosted by Howie Mandel" but I've got nothing on my mind grapes and only to the end of this Dora episode to think of something.
How about music?
I could talk about all the great music I've
stolen acquired this year, but after my primary source was shut down last month (by freakin' Interpol, no less...totally James Bond!) I'm staying under the radar. I could post my favorite music videos, but Chag had that idea a year ago, and I respect the man too much to steal that idea.
Time for some revisionist history. Time to revisit the Top 100.
Ever since compiling the list last year, I've listened and relistened to nearly everything on it dozens of times. Maybe I've changed, or maybe I've just had seconds thoughts, but some things just aren't sitting right with it. If this is my one historical document that survives into posterity, I want to leave some record of my concerns so some day my children's children can assemble the director's cut.
Item #1 - The Top 10
I was so sure Some Girls was my second favorite Stones album, but now I'm not so sure. I still love it, and it's on the list somewhere, but top 10? No, that's too high. Same with Irresistable Bliss; I love me my Soul Coughing/Mike Doughty, but it's too eccentric to hang with the big boys like Dylan, the Clash, and Bowie. Both these albums must drop a few notches, leaving room for two worthy competitors, Making Movies and Rumours, to move up.
Item #2 - The Problem with Nostalgia
I surprised myself when I put Thriller at #78. I never listen to that album! I admire it and all, but a few random plays on iPod shuffle gave it a temporary boost which it hasn't maintained since. I think the problem is with familiarity...just because you know every song doesn't mean it's really as important to you--or as great--as you remember. So I need to pull that off the list completely. In retrospect, the same can be said for Hysteria (#51), Is This It? (#41) and Hotel California (#73). All these must drop...a lot. I'll go out on a limb and say that Def Leppard and the Strokes stay on the list (barely) but the Eagles and Michael need to retire.
Two new open spots on the list...will there be more?
Item #3 - Alt-Country just ain't what it used to be
I used to comfortably rate alt-country music--particularly anything done by the progeny of Uncle Tupelo or Whiskeytown--as among the best music on the planet. Whiskeytown's Stranger's Almanac and Ryan Adams' Heartbreaker very nearly made the list the first time. But lately I've found it sorta....boring. Maybe I'm just tired of it. I can't summarily drop all the alt-country on the list; Tomorrow the Green Grass and Being There are ranked high for a reason. But a re-examination is necessary, and I think #92 Summerteeth (which on further consideration really isn't better than Yankee Hotel Foxtrot after all) and #81 Trace probably need to drop.
And so two more spots open up...
Item #4 - What was once "fresh" now kinda bugs me
Three of the newer albums that made the list by New Pornographers (#68), Franz Ferdinand (#87) & the Donnas (#80) were all pretty solid choices at the time. But like so many things that are new and shiny when you first buy them, they become dull and scratched over time. I was worried about putting new stuff on the list for that very reason, but assumed these would stand the test of time for me. Not so much. I still like 'em...they just aren't top 100 material. The most likely to stick to the list was Franz Ferdinand, but as I think about it I still consider them Strokes 2.0, and if the Strokes are falling...well let's just make it a clean sweep. Three more down!
Item # 5 - I'm fucking sick of Bono
Enough already. Go away, you smug bastard! As punishment, War (#56) takes a dive. Maybe someday I'll reconsider it, but until I get the endless repetition of "Vertigo" out of my head I don't think I can stomach it.
That leaves eight open spots! Now, in a unique application of participatory democracy, I'm going to give everyone a chance to vote on what should be added to the list. I've created a list of candidates and included links to download the albums ('cause I'm just that generous). Some are familiar...some maybe not so much. Most nearly missed the cut last time, but all are great for different reasons. So have a listen and let the voting begin!
A companion piece to Hunky Dory (comfortably nestled in my top 10) and considered by many Bowie's best album.
The new LCD Soundsystem is a strong contender for album of the year. Much dance club goodness, and perhaps the best opening three notes of any album ever.
A bizarre masterpiece, part theatrical eccentricities and part pre-disco pop. And what a great album cover!
A delightful mishmash of beats, song excerpts, and pop-culture references, all set around a "day in the life" theme. See if you can guess where the samples come from.
ELO. The soundtrack of my childhood. It probably had something to do with the logo, which looked like a cross between a flying saucer and Simon. Still, such great tunes...
Tight, menacing rock and roll, with the greatest, most-frightening mascot in the history of music. The title song is on permanent rotation on my iPod during workouts.
With apologies to Imagine and All Things Must Pass, this is the best album by any former Beatle. Most of his other solo stuff is trash (including everything Wings-related) but this is a shockingly good disk. Check it out.
I'm sure this will get some votes from the Boston crowd, with whom I shared a night in July at Fenway.
Another band with an album out that's contending for album of the year. In the span of a year I've gone from having barely heard of them to owning all their albums and listening to them all the time (currently tied for #6 on my Last.FM profile). The hard part was picking one album to nominate for this, but I give this one a slight edge over Gimme Fiction. Very, very slight.
A more lightweight selection than any of the other candidates, but I keep coming back to this albums effortless grooves.
Another album that very nearly made last year's list. Still a raw, excellent listen, especially "The Divorce Song," which is the most heartbreaking song about the end of a relationship outside of Blood on the Tracks.
As I mentioned earlier, a worthier nominee than Summerteeth in retrospect. Having recently watched I Am Trying to Break Your Heart I have a new appreciation for it. Less twangy than some of their other music, but powerfully atmospheric and thoughtful.
A lost masterpiece by the late Beach Boy. A de facto choice on lazy summer afternoons, with beautiful harmonies which make you question whether his brother Brian was really the most talented member of the group.
The (almost) final nominee, and the finest recording of R.E.M. made after they crossed over from college radio to MTV. I think this is some of the most beautiful music ever put to vinyl (or in this case converted to 1's and 0's and stored in my hard drive)
A late addition! I almost left this gem off! What was I thinking? For those of you who only know Bob Geldof as the dude who shaved his eyebrows off in Pink Floyd's The Wall you're missing out on some of the best new wave punk ever recorded.
OK, those are the options. I'll tally your votes and let you know the winners soon. In the meantime, I'll go back and see if there's any other ideas I can recycle. Top TV characters, anyone?