Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The All-Time 100

Time Magazine has thrown out the discussion gauntlet with their All-Time (hah! I get it!) 100. The 100 is their list of the “greatest and most influential records ever”. There is, of course, no way that any pop music fan will look at their choices and not feel that classic albums have been left off the list (and, at the same time, also feel that unworthy picks made the cut.)

The list runs from the 50’s to the 00’s. The 1970’s were, going by this list anyway, the most influential period as 29 of the 100 records where released during that decade. There are 4 from the 50’s, 22 from the 60’s, 18 from the 80’s, 18 from the 90’s, and 9 from 2000-2005 (no 2006 releases made the final cut.)

The list is skewed by the inclusion of boxed sets and greatest hits collections (including the monumental Phil Spector box set Back to Mono 1958-1969, Bob Marley & the Wailers’ Legend, and Chuck Berry’s The Great Twenty-Eight.) 4 of the 9 choices from the 2000’s fall into one of those categories (and those albums…Elvis: 30 #1 Hits, Sam Cooke’s Portrait of a Legend 1951-1964, Muddy Waters’ The Anthology 1947-1972, and The Essential Hank Williams Collection: Turn Back the Years…all showcase music that is decades old.)

The Beatles are, not surprisingly I suppose, most heavily represented on the list with 5 albums (Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper, “The White Album”, and Abbey Road.) John Lennon is the only Beatle to place a solo album on the list (Plastic Ono Band…no love for Paul’s Band on the Run or George’s All Things Must Pass….)

Others with multiple entries include: Frank Sinatra (In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning, Songs for Swingin’ Lovers), James Brown (Live at the Apollo, the Star Time box set), Miles Davis (Kind of Blue, Bitches’ Brew), Bob Dylan (Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde, Time Out of Mind…but not Blood on the Tracks!?), Aretha Franklin (I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, Lady Soul), Van Morrison (Astral Weeks, Moondance), the Rolling Stones (Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street), David Bowie (Hunky Dory, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust), Stevie Wonder (Talking Book, Songs in the Key of Life), Paul Simon (Bridge Over Troubled Water with Art Garfunkel and Graceland), Prince (Purple Rain, Sign o’ the Times), U2 (The Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby), REM (Document, Out of Time), Elvis Presley (Sunrise, 30 #1 Hits...both of which were released a couple of decades after he died), and Radiohead (OK Computer, Kid A).

A lot of the other “usual suspects” are rounded up for the list: The Velvet Underground and Nico, Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, Joni Mitchell’s Blue, The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, The Clash’s London Calling,

Led Zeppelin IV, Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Nirvana’s Nevermind, etc.

Hip Hop is well represented…Public Enemy, Eric B. & Rakim, the Beastie Boys, Dr. Dre, Eminem, Run-DMC, NWA, OutKast (though with Stankonia rather than Speakerboxxx/The Love Below), A Tribe Called Quest, the Notorious B.I.G., Kanye West)…as is rock…Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Black Sabbath, the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, Patti Smith, AC/DC, Metallica, Pavement, PJ Harvey, Hole.

There are nods to country (Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Garth Brooks), jazz (John Coltrane's wondrous A Love Supreme), and the blues (Robert Johnson).

This wouldn’t be my list (though I do own a fairly large percentage of Time’s choices)…nor yours I expect…but it is an interesting conversation starter. The entire list, broken down by decades, is here.