Mar 10

The Friday Fun Canon Discussion And Monster Poll

FT///231 comments • 14,084 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

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1 7 8 9 All
  1. 201
    koganbot on 18 Mar 2010 #

    it should be remembered that Syd Barrett/(very) early Pink Floyd had a big enough following even in 1974 to have kept a Barrett fanzine/appreciation society going since the start of the 1970s.

    I think it was Craig Bell who started the Society (in Cleveland he was in Mirrors and Rocket From The Tombs, then moved to New Haven and was in the Saucers iirc). I met him in 1981 when he was visiting some friends of mine in NY. One reason that Cleveland punks in the early to mid ’70s were more interesting than subsequent punks is that the Cleveland punks didn’t hate Pink Floyd.

  2. 202
    koganbot on 18 Mar 2010 #

    Crystal Bowersox and Didi Benami on Stones night on American Idol, and for the second week in a row I thought that, although Bowersox’ vocals were stonger and richer and more self-assured, it was flighty quirk-and-curlicue girl Benami who managed to burrow deeper into the music, even while flubbing and flying around it too. It helps Didi that I way prefer “Play With Fire” to “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” On the latter, Crystal didn’t really communicate much beyond “good voice” and “jazz-soul command,” nothing about wanting and getting; she has and will do a lot better, whereas Didi is unsure and unformed but she’s already done three gripping performances, this and “Rhiannon” last week (which you’d think would have been a suicide choice) and “Terrified” during Hollywood week.

    The thing about the Stones’ best material, which sold big because it meant a lot of different things to different people, is that, paradoxically, for me the material isn’t open to a lot of interpretations, and I rarely like to hear it covered. If you can’t do Jagger’s tensions – e.g., “Heart Of Stone,” which is the Stones’ real can’t-always-get-what-you-want song – can’t totally deliver strength and menace while writing lyrics that expose the strength and menace as a fraud, with the singing and playing forcefully counteracting the lyrics and being as convincing as the supposed unmasking… if you can’t prance along that balance beam, then what’s the point?

    Since this time it’s Didi’s voice, you get the sense that, though as the singer she’s the narrator, she as much as the person she’s singing about can be menaced and played with, but nonetheless she’ll display bits of vocal strength that make the “don’t mess with me” credible; and because the song’s lyrics own the weakness a lot less than “Heart Of Stone”‘s do, Didi’s actually brought something to the song, walks along her own borderline between not getting what you say you can, and getting what you say you can’t, and not knowing what you need.

  3. 203
    ace inhibitor on 18 Mar 2010 #

    mulling over the historian/critic v. reviewer/fan distinction for the last couple of days – obviously for some of you these are jobs/roles/positions to defend, but I wonder whether for the rest of us they capture something of the ambiguity of our musical consumption, that we listen both wanting to contextualise and to experience-as-fresh, that we want to hear something like we’ve never heard before and have it take our breath away AND immediately identify the lineage, place it somewhere in our/the tradition (if not the canon)…

    And we take stuff we’ve known for 30/40 years and bury it somewhere on an mp3 player amongst 2000 songs on shuffle so when it comes up it will startle us and sound anew

    (the ‘we’ in all this = me obv)

    And i’m also thinking about Popular and the ways people in the comments box seem to USE Popular (one of its fascinations) – the way some people are clearly using it to live through the experience of hearing these songs for the first time again, and by extension and often quite explicitly the experience of living through that moment of their lives for the first time again – critics/historians reaching back to their reviewer/fanselves, or holding the two in tension…

    Me, I work as a counsellor. I think a lot of my work is about people holding those two things in creative tension, trying to re-engage with their pasts as they felt then as well as how they look now, and trying to re-imagine their presents from a historian’s distance. You’d be surprised how often music crops up in people’s attempts to do this. (actually you lot probably wouldn’t)

  4. 204
    thefatgit on 18 Mar 2010 #

    Wow! I’m getting so much pleasure from this thread as the dialogue moves on from “what is canon?” to historian/critic vs reviewer/fan onto the borders of the metaphysical and how music surprises and astounds, evokes and pricks our subconscious and what it means to have a real passion about something. What I’d like to add at this point is why for years without even realising it, I have had this continued dialogue with popular music. Reading Popular, you occasionally come across someone who admits they “got off the bus” at a particular juncture in the Popular story, for reasons of losing touch or being disillusioned with the direction the music was going, or simply immersing oneself within one genre or period in time and investigating it more, at the expense of engaging in the pop dialogue of the time. There are times when I felt I might have gotten off the bus, only to find myself getting back on board somewhere further down the line.

    However, the “getting off the bus” process is immensely harder to do when so much music is out there still waiting to be discovered. Pop isn’t necessarily a linear story, beginning at one point. One thing you can guarantee is there will be something that will take you down an interesting path. You might even find other avenues of interest that lead into labryinthine spaces where you’d think you could linger for an eternity, only to find a doorway back into some space that is familiar or even stranger than the previous space. That’s the beauty of pop. I don’t think I could get off the bus, even if I wanted to. I’m proper hooked!

  5. 205
    swanstep on 18 Mar 2010 #

    @ thefatgit204. I like your idea about ‘getting on the bus again’ – it affords a different and interesting way of thinking about sensational figures and cultural forces from Madonna through to Gaga. You’ve *really* done it, *really* gone nuclear when you’re so compelling that you make large numbers of those with fairly jaded palates get back on the pop bus.

  6. 206
    Lex on 19 Mar 2010 #

    I’d never really thought of historian-critic vs journalist-reviewer as a particular divide, though it makes sense. As a freelancer my modus operandi is generally “I will write about anything from whatever angle is needed if there’s £££ involved” – I actually really enjoy going out of my comfort zone to write about eg travel, politics etc; the more strings to one’s bow the better.

  7. 207

    Absolutely to the last, Lex — and it’s invaluable when you can bring strong knowledge and wisdom from elsewhere back into music-writing, however highspeed and bills-related that writing necessarily is a lot of the time: getting distinct disciplinary realms to speak to each other is some of what the best journalism can start to do…

    And plus just to note that I agree with Frank’s “genuine original” also – though I want to argue a bit about some of the other stuff he says, I think — or anyway open it up for argument.

    But not right this second, as I have work and admin demands eating into my own dalliance here :(

  8. 208
    Rory on 19 Mar 2010 #

    Great to see life in this thread still – I can only echo thefatgit’s #204 comments about what a treat it’s been. A few days ago I was mulling over possible responses to Lex’s position, while completely acknowledging his point that there’s so much more to music than the particular canon this thread started off being about; but things have moved on a fair bit in the interim. The ‘what are canons for’ angle really struck a chord with me, though, because I spent half of my twenties (as a postgraduate student of political science) thinking about what tradition is for, and there’s a close relationship between the concepts. The formation of the above canon was essentially an Invention of Tradition moment for rock music (it would be hard to claim that it was about pop music, despite a few token inclusions), when the swirl of formative ideas and narratives solidified into an edifice that successive generations have had to deal with one way or another. That doesn’t mean that successive generations are bound by it – traditions change all the time, are tinkered with, supplemented, and sometimes abandoned and reinvented entirely. But purely because of demographics and where/when we are, the moment of wholesale overthrow of that canon hasn’t quite arrived. Too many older music fans – and perhaps more relevant, too many music buyers – are still too invested in the 1960s and 1970s, because that was their time, their music, and to overwrite it with a bunch of 1990s and 2000s releases would be to sideline them. But they’ll be sidelined eventually, just as we don’t see any Sinatra or Glenn Miller on the list above.

    (On the music buyer angle: the stores selling physical music are naturally still going to push every repackaging of Beatles and Stones albums they can, because the CD buyers walking through the door are 40+, 50+, and are disproportionately interested in them. That’s just business. And perhaps that shapes our perception of the music business still being dominated by the old guard. Anyone can get a sense at a glance of what’s selling in physical format just by wandering around HMV; we can’t do that as easily online, where the teens and 20-somethings are buying – or not buying.)

    In the meantime, though, younger music fans have had to deal with and respond to the rock canon much as the baby boomers had to respond to the legacy of the second world war. I grew up having to think and talk about the Vietnam War and its legacy (not least in music) even though I was four when Australia’s troops were pulled out of it. The Thatcher years no doubt cast a similar shadow over today’s UK 20-somethings. We can’t escape what’s gone before us, and we shouldn’t expect to, because it’s how a culture perpetuates itself: by handing on what it values the most, and hoping that later generations will want to preserve it, or some of it. That doesn’t mean that later generations are bound by a tradition or a canon, because we get to pick and choose, to modify, supplement and discard. But that process is a contested one, because you have different generations all taking part, arguing about what’s worth keeping. That argument inevitably involves the exposure of fresh young minds to old ideas (and artifacts), because they have to know what it is they’re rejecting or accepting. I can’t say anything about whether some entries on the list above are still worth exalting, because I haven’t heard them.

    So in that light, a thread like this is still valuable, even if it’s an old debate. Or is it so old? In Internet years, in pop years, sure; but in generational terms, historical terms? Not that old, really. And we can’t know whether we’re still halfway through it or actually close to the end of it. These may be the last days of the 1970s rock canon, for all we know, and our discussions and polls could be part of the formation of a new one. Look at the bottom ten of that list and we see some once highly venerated albums (Who’s Next, Kind of Blue, Are You Experienced) that are lowly ranked by this audience, either because they haven’t been heard or they’ve been heard and rejected – either way, they’re less likely to form part of the next canon, if this audience has any say in it.

    How much of a say we’ll have in shaping the next rock music canon is debatable, though, because many of us come to it as tourists. Tom framed the thread in just that way: “which bits of the canon have ‘taken’ with a broadly pop-positive audience such as we have here”. For some of you, rock music was never your thing, so it’s no surprise that you don’t express particular love for Hendrix or the Who or whoever. Personally, I don’t think of myself as a tourist when it comes to rock, because rock was where my head was at from ages 16 to about 24, and alternative rock from 24 to 30, and it’s only since then that I’ve woven other musical threads more strongly into my musical tastes, to the point where I no longer think of myself as mainly a rock/alternative-rock guy. That’s why I found this canon poll and discussion so valuable: it gave me a nudge to re-think, re-explore and even explore for the first time some of these “classic” albums, because I value the tangential, rock-outsider take on it all of many Popular readers and know that I’m not getting the same old boring “classic rock is unquestionably good” line that I know all too well from years of reading Rolling Stone. I read far too many words about the genius of Dylan, the Stones and Brian Wilson in RS in my 20s, and none of them spurred me to actually sit down and listen to them the way this thread did, and to determine for myself that: I actually enjoy early Bob Dylan; listening to Beggars Banquet suggests that I might also enjoy 1968-1972 Stones; and Pet Sounds hasn’t made a convert of me at all. I used to stand outside the whole process of cultural transmission of those examples, either for or against; now I can and will be a part of it, thanks to this thread.

    But I digress. What I really wanted to say was that Popular itself is in the canon-formation business. Here it is, a popular music (not rock music) canon as seen through the lens of UK number one singles. It’s just unfinished business, that’s all; we’re only up to 1987. In ten years’ time, that page will cover everything up to the then-present day, and will continue to evolve as new members sign up and add their votes. I would bet, though, that it will ossify just as the 1970s rock music canon has, because once the initial list is complete only the occasional outstanding later entry will crack the top 20. Even now, while I don’t expect a-ha to hang onto their number 17 position for long, I’d be surprised if any of the top five were knocked out of the eventual top ten; and it would take a truly stunning track to displace the current number one. A track that the entire body of Popular readers to date has ranked so highly has to be a pretty good bet: if new readers don’t know it they’ll be inclined to check it out just because it’s number one, and there’s a strong chance they’ll fall under its sway too, because it’s already demonstrated its ability to transcend the years and convince a newer generation. Unless, that is, the next generation is looking for something else entirely in music, and rejects everything that Popular readers of the 2000s value. That’s always a possibility. (It would be valuable to take a snapshot of that list every now and then, to be able to follow how the rankings change over time.)

    Which brings me back to this 1970s-dominated rock music canon, and Popular’s rejection of it. Out of 100 voters exactly (as of today), only three of these albums are loved by the majority. How many of the fifty will Popular’s readers by enthusiastically promoting in our various spheres of influence in years to come? Just as traditions die when people stop learning about and practising them, albums are forgotten when people stop being told about them and listening to them. Albums drop out of canons when they lose their champions.

    Taking the long view, Lex, you have nothing to worry about.

  9. 209
    Rory on 19 Mar 2010 #

    Trust me to post that mammoth screed just after Mark bails out!

    Nice point @205, swanstep.

  10. 210

    i’m not bailing out forever, just the next couple of days!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 213
    Stephen Connolly on 12 Apr 2010 #

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 219
    lonepilgrim on 13 Oct 2011 #

    Reynolds responds to Tom’s Guardian piec:


  20. 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?

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.)

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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!

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 230
    lonepilgrim on 1 Apr 2013 #

    another day, another canon.

  31. 231
    walteruk2 on 13 Apr 2018 #

    Revitalized network project:

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