Mar 10

The Friday Fun Canon Discussion And Monster Poll

FT///234 comments • 14,965 views

People in the Popular comments boxes are talking about “the canon”. I’m always quite curious as to which bits of the canon have ‘taken’ with a broadly pop-positive audience such as we have here. So here’s a poll, very easy to fill in, just say which of the Top 50 albums OF ALL TIME EVER you love. You can interpret how strong an attachment you want “love” to be, of course.

The list of albums is from Acclaimed Music, a kind of ‘metacanon’ which lists the top 3000 albums.

To make it more interesting, answer these questions in the comments box:

1. What’s the WORST record on this list?
2. Which of the records you ticked did you love first?
3. Which of them did you start to love most recently?

Poll below the cut.

Which Of These 'Canonical' Albums Do You Love?

View Results

Poll closes: No Expiry

Loading ... Loading ...


1 6 7 8 All
  1. 211
    Patrick on 22 Mar 2010 #

    I own and, to a degree, enjoy every last one of those except for Kind of Blue (nothing against it, just not my thing). I voted for 27 of them.

    First one I remember owning and loving was Never Mind The Bollocks, but I had heard and loved large chunks of Thriller, Purple Rain and Abbey Road by then.

    The one I started loving most recently is Remain in Light. I’ve had the album forever and probably haven’t listened to it from beginning to end in over a decade, but “Born Under Punches” completely knocked me out when I heard on a mix CD recently, in a way that it never had before, and it’s made my memories of everything else on the album sound a whole lot better. I need to go back and listen to the whole thing pronto.

  2. 212
    pink champale on 22 Mar 2010 #

    limping in belatedly, now the interesting stuff has died down…

    i ticked about ten, though it would that would have at least doubled if it had been ‘like a lot’.
    1) i hesitate slightly to call it the worst, but i’ve never managed to like a single second of ‘marquee moon’, so worst it is;
    2) ziggy stardust was my first love – i spent my early teens bog eyed with excitement about it
    3) ‘blood on the tracks’ is the one i’ve grown to love most recently. i’ve had it for about fifteen years, pretty much as long as i’ve liked dylan but, inexplicably, until a couple of years ago i somehow managed not to notice that it is absolutely f-cking wonderful. possibly this was because it’s one of the few dylan records that works as pretty, unobtrusive background music and so that’s how i used to listen to it. more likely, i’m just an idiot.

  3. 213
    Stephen Connolly on 12 Apr 2010 #

    1. OK Computer.
    2. Rubber Soul.
    3. Kind Of Blue

  4. 214
    koganbot on 18 Aug 2010 #

    Reviving this just ’cause someone upthread claimed not to be bailing out permanently but just for a couple of days, and then was never heard from again on this thread.

  5. 215
    thefatgit on 23 Aug 2011 #

    UMG’s Canon cash-in continues after last year’s Exile On Main St, comes the imminent re-release of Nevermind with a plethora of bonus material.

    That’ll be £100 to you Guv’nor!

  6. 216
    Tom on 7 Oct 2011 #

    A bit more canon exploration in the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2011/oct/06/nirvana-nevermind-20-missing-out

  7. 217
    punctum on 7 Oct 2011 #

    Hard to say much about this without turning into AJP Taylor; I wrote hundreds and hundreds of words in response to both this thread and Tom’s piece but realised I was simply EXPLAINING too much; the anti-simple answer is if you’re prepared to trust the world, run the risk and leave your door open, everything good will find you, sooner or later and when you need it. “Now” is great and more than useful but as a writer I’ve never been one for Getting Things Going and as the years progress I’m getting much more like Lord Sinker in that I prefer to listen to things in years other than they were made or released (even if it’s one year; really getting into 2010 music at the moment). Presumably not to be confused with the dead cul-de-sacness of R*tr*m*n*a (shorthand: easy way out for lazy critics, easier way out for passing punters whereas you have to try and HOOK the punter). There’s fun in letting things come to you in your own good time; it’s never going to be the same as When It’s Happening but no reason why both can’t intermingle; the sensing of old connections to the new, the re-VIEWING of the old (including any and all “canon” fodder) to get it to matter and breathe in the now.

    How well does anyone know these Classic Albums anyway? Everyone’s heard individual tracks off most of them, but heard together in sequence? What does it mean for a sixteen-year-old kid to listen to Nevermind for the first time; for such a supposedly “canonical” record it hardly ever gets played on the radio – the radio being torn, through fear, between anguishly glueing itself to NOW, NOW, NOW and cremating itself in a comforting broth of 200 “oldies” that will get computer-played again and again because it stops mothers from crashing their cars or burning the lunch, or it’s nice music to which to paint the shed/ceiling, and anyway all of it is based on fear; with the consequence that out of all of these records listed above, virtually none is handed to a contemporary audience on a plate. The Smiths, such a sausage band (please note: I habitually use the word “sausage” as a substitute for “ic*n*c”) – when was the last time you heard them on Radio 2?

    So all of this is spoken about and humbly nodded towards but, as I said, I suspect hardly any of them are played (except for individual tracks) or listened to; why should you? They’re there, on your shelves, in your hard drive – why ought you make the effort and listen to them? Except that “make the effort” makes listening to music sound like PE class.

    Maybe it’s because they might all sound…different. You do “miss out” on things as they’re happening – everybody does, via prejudice or overload or indifference – but come back to them like a swimmer might stumble upon an old ship, or raft; who were these people, what were they saying, why were they so revered, and…above all…what does it say about how and where and why “I” stand in the world?

    But more often than not the albums we DO know, have memorised by heart, are the ones which hit us when we didn’t have Lots Of Records, when we were still young and learning, when records caught you and embraced you for weeks, maybe months, on end. The ones you have time to get into when “now” happens to be your time.

    In response to the three questions at the top my answer to all of them would have to be Dark Side Of The Moon – it spoiled me, it opened I don’t know how many doors for me, it then caused stupid denial, and then you come back to it and realise that just because everybody says it’s the greatest album ever made doesn’t necessarily not make it so (this is NOT what I’m saying since that’s going back into what needs to be gotten away from NONETHELESS join some dots).

    Nevermind and my thoughts on same will have to wait until I get to writing about it, sideways, on the album blog.*

    *I don’t think as a writer I do “now” very well, anyway; it’s always my “now” and sometimes it refracts and proves me totally wrong but even when it reflects I still think “well I’m missing something, still learning…” Oddly enough, getting into the past helps me see “now” a lot more clearly.

    And still it ended up as hundreds and hundreds of words. I can’t explain.

  8. 218
    Erithian on 7 Oct 2011 #

    Interesting thoughts on the serendipity of things finding you when you need them, Marcello – reminds me of something that happened just the other night. For some reason I fancied looking up the Osmonds’ “Crazy Horses” on YouTube; then spotted in the sidebar a link to eccentric punk-era singer John Otway’s version of the song. I clicked the link and saw Otway, now pushing 60, playing theremin in a folk club in Boston, Lincs and doing a hugely entertaining cover. I stayed online much longer than I’d intended, watching Otway clips with and without Wild Willy Barrett (crying with laughter at his “House of the Rising Sun”) – then, blow me down, discovered that he’s playing the Borderline tonight! Not part of anyone’s idea of “the canon”, but a lot of fun – and playing a gig in France with Neil Innes next month which should be something to witness too.

  9. 219
    lonepilgrim on 13 Oct 2011 #

    Reynolds responds to Tom’s Guardian piec:


  10. 220
    thefatgit on 13 Oct 2011 #

    Funny how after Reynolds sets himself up against Tom and Chuck, we’re no closer in understanding his own take on Nevermind (unless his opposition to “Behaviour” offers a clue), or the Canon itself. Plus his white script on black background is headache inducing.

    Having said that, I’m intrigued by the “Rock-Critical legend” he teases us with. May be a former Creem contributor, perhaps?

  11. 221
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 14 Oct 2011 #

    It’s not actually a response to Tom at all, it’s a response to the weird stupid strawman Simon always wheels out when discussing Tom.

    (I deleted a much longer, much crosser post… I really hate it when Simon gets into this dickish and obnoxiously inaccurate mode, but I’m frazzled and on-deadline, and have no will at all to refight ancient bald-men-over-comb wars. I just wish he’d cut it out, and actually for a change try and do what critics are meant to do, which is understand stuff OUTSIDE their own parochial class-and-culture-bound theories. But SR and I seem doomed to spend eternity at either end of a very long tunnel on this one… )

    ^^This is Mark Sinker, it seems boringly necessary to have to state, and Simon’s and my disagreements are as long-standing as our friendship, unfortunately.

  12. 222
    Tom on 14 Oct 2011 #

    From my Tumblr:

    “I think the article’s conclusion was a bit rough, unfortunately. The thing I’m wondering about is really the idea of importance – if a record is actually “important”, and if the people who say it is are doing their jobs, then its impact on pop should be such that you can construct an accurate image of it without ever really hearing it.”

    So the fault is partly mine – I was finishing a column in something of a hurry.

  13. 223
    Ed on 6 Aug 2012 #

    There was an interesting piece in this week’s Observer about canon formation in film, looking at the new BFI / Sight & Sound poll: http://bit.ly/OQMBoB.

    Judging by that list, the 1920s were for film what the 1960s were for rock: the intense burst of foundational creativity, which burned brighter than anything that came after. The film canon seems every bit as ossified as the rock canon, too: no film has been worthy of the top ten for more than 40 years. Or, to put it another way, the critical consensus has fractured in a way that means no film has built broad enough support to get the votes to put it into the top ten.

    That makes ’2001′ the ‘OK Computer’ of film: the last work that “everybody” can agree on. (Where “everybody” = “the critics who vote in this type of poll”, obv.)

  14. 224
    Ed on 6 Aug 2012 #

    The NME also had a piece this week that flirted with the idea of irreverence, getting two of their writers to debate ‘The Velvet Underground & Nico’, but – spoilers alert – they ended up agreeing it was great.

  15. 225
    Mark M on 6 Aug 2012 #

    Re 223: no critical canon ever fully ossifies – the S&S poll is heavily tilted towards the past, but what is valued about that past continues to evolve. Clearly on the out are social realism and high moral purpose: Bicycle Thieves has dropped from No1 in 1952 to 33 now and Greed from 4 in 1962 to 84; Pather Panchali was equal 6 in 1992 and 42 equal now.
    It’s been sell Bergman, buy Ozu for a couple of decades.
    What surprises me is the continuing appeal of John Ford. Any explanations?
    The electorate is very large (847), though, which makes it impossible for anyone to conspire with their mates to get something different in (which happens a lot in smaller polls). And there does seem to be a real solemnness that overcomes most people invited to vote (eg,Richard Ayoade, who makes a living falling over on Channel 4, chooses Persona/Le Mepris/Raging Bull/Ordet/Barry Lyndon/Crimes And Misdemeanors/The Apartment/Tokyo Story/Make Way For Tomorrow/Badlands). Michael Mann probably deserves some credit for being vulgar enough to vote for Avatar. Slavoj Zizek,with predictable wackiness, picked The Fountainhead, Dune and The Sound Of Music.

  16. 226
    swanstep on 7 Aug 2012 #

    @MarkM. The Searchers coming in top-10 remains a bit of a mystery. Mentally, I think a lot of people just edit out all of the comedy interludes, and think of the film just as being its lyrical passages including the beginning and end (which are great!). That’s the only Ford in the top 100 though right? So there’s hardly a Ford lanslide, unlike say three dreyers and four Godards in the top 50 (Has anyone seen Godard’s ’90s documentary Histoire(s) which gets in at #48? It’s almost inconceievable to me that it should rank ahead of, I dunno, Third Man, Aguirre, Casablanca, etc.. But maybe I really need to see it.)

    Overall, I agree with your point about solemnness. I think of another made-up word too: museum-y-ness. I was intially irked when I’d only seen the top 50 that there were 4 Godards and no Bunuels (Vardas, Powell and Pressburgers, Altmans, etc.). But when I saw 51-100, well, Un Chien Andalou finally gets Bunuel in down around #95. That’s so *museum-y* and dutiful. Yes, Bunuel’s 16 minute fragment is important and should be seen by everyone at some point, but no way is it better than everything Bunuel spent the next 50 years making, mastering the whole medium, becoming a real competitor for Hitchcock, and so on.

    24 Hour Psycho for top-10 by 2032!

  17. 227
    Mark M on 7 Aug 2012 #

    Funny you should say that, because I’m in the middle of writing something about the top 10, and one of the points I’m making about Man With A Movie Camera is that is much more often shown in art galleries than cinemas.

    Ford is sixth in the critics’ top 25 directors, and only about half those votes (if I understand the way it has been done) were for The Searchers. He’s behind Hitch, Godard, Welles, Ozu and Renoir and thus ahead of Dreyer, Kubrick, Bresson, Bergman (12), Buñuel (16) etc etc. Howard Hawks, who made much better John Wayne movies let alone his screwball masterpieces and the Bogart stuff, doesn’t make the 25.

  18. 228
    Ed on 7 Aug 2012 #

    The Searchers seems better if you don’t watch it, I think. That is not (entirely) intended as a diss. As you say, it is very uneven, and having heard about its great reputation I was amazed by how much weak material is in there. Still, that was 20 years ago now, and it is the powerful scenes that linger in the memory and make me think of it as a great film. I suspect the same is true for most of S&S’s electorate. How many actually sat down and watched the movies again before they voted for them?

    There must be albums that are better if you don’t listen to them, too. Never Mind the Bollocks?

    The one that shocked me was Apocalypse Now, ranking as the fourth-best film made in colour.

    And you have to love Zizek, don’t you? I just read this John Gray piece (http://bit.ly/MKH3av), which quite convincingly made the case that he is a very silly man, but his list sounds like comedy gold. What else is on it, I wonder. Hot Tub Time Machine? The Great St Trinian’s Train Robbery? Space Jam?

    @225 That’s a bit unfair about Richard Ayoade, who has directed a movie, Submarine. I’ve not seen it, but heard good things about it. Also, he’s falling over in Hollywood now, too, in The Watch.

  19. 229
    swanstep on 8 Aug 2012 #

    @Ed, 228. Yep, I think that (‘not watching it recently’) is how it works in a lot of cases. Sunrise (1927) is another example of that I’d cite from the top-10 I believe. Its high points – ultimately almost 50% of the film – are *so* amazing (deeply influential and never bettered) that in retrospect you edit out the stuff in it that almost stops it cold when you try to watch it straight through (the whole murder plot really, a lot of the male lead’s performance). Anyhow, my fave image from The Searchers in all its VistaVisiony glory.

  20. 230
    lonepilgrim on 1 Apr 2013 #

    another day, another canon.

  21. 231
    donea1 on 3 Jul 2018 #

    Revitalized network invent:

  22. 232
    Tommy Mack on 2 Aug 2018 #

    Poptimist factoid from a rockist book (Charles Granata’s I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times: Brian Wilson And The Making Of Pet Sounds) – The version of Rubber Soul that inspired Wilson, that he believed was the most artistically cohesive and consistent pop LP of the day was the US version with the scrambled track listing including two songs held over from Help! Obvious really but it never occurred to me before!

  23. 233
    morganws2 on 20 Aug 2018 #

    My brand-new work:

1 6 7 8 All

Add your comment

(Register to guarantee your comments don't get marked as spam.)


Required (Your email address will not be published)

Top of page