Mar 10

The Friday Fun Canon Discussion And Monster Poll

FT///234 comments • 14,987 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. 1
    Kat but logged out innit on 12 Mar 2010 #

    Blimey I only ticked THREE of the above, and haven’t listened to any of them in at least six years, which probably means I don’t ‘love’ them at all :(

  2. 2
    Rory on 12 Mar 2010 #

    I ticked fifteen, even though I haven’t listened to several in years. Lack of familiarity prevented me from ticking more, and my Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan blind spots.

    1. There were several I’ve heard but didn’t tick, but would be reluctant to call the worst… they just didn’t click for me. London Calling, maybe.

    2. First one might be Purple Rain, but it’s possible I’d discovered the White Album by mid-1984. Or even Never Mind the Bollocks, now that I think of it.

    3. It would have to be OK Computer, because it was released after I’d heard all the others. Most recent attempt to get into one which I haven’t cracked yet was What’s Going On a few years ago.

  3. 3
    Lex on 12 Mar 2010 #

    Ticked six, and there were 3-4 that I’ve never heard but am fairly sure I’d at least like. Vast majority either a) have heard and hate, b) have heard enough from to hate, c) do not interest me in the slightest.

    1. Sgt Pepper UGH
    2. Blue Lines or Blue, both of which I first heard circa 1995-96
    3. Innervisions, which I first heard about two years ago

  4. 4
    lonepilgrim on 12 Mar 2010 #

    I ticked 11 although if the question had been ‘like a lot’ rather than love than ‘love’ the number would have been higher.
    1. The Joshua Tree – I just can’t bear Bono’s overblown, sententious persona. Or the music.
    2. From ALL the records on the list – the one that I loved first would be Sgt Pepper – bought by my parents when it came out and I was 7. Of the records on the list that I STILL love the first would be Highway 61 which I first encountered in 1976.
    3. The album on the list that I started to love most recently would be There’s a riot goin’ on – probably my favourite of all these because the sum experience of the whole album is greater than the individual parts (which are themselves pretty darn good).

  5. 5
    Tom on 12 Mar 2010 #

    I ticked 20 or so, there’s a bunch more I like, and I’m sure some of the unticked ones are simply a matter of ignorance.

    1. Astral Weeks, as I said on the other thread.
    2. I played Sgt P’s a lot when I was 8 or 9 but I didn’t love it – it was just the only record my parents owned I liked at all. So the first one would the The Queen Is Dead, I guess.
    3. Led Zeppelin IV! I’m as astonished as anyone.

  6. 6
    Tom on 12 Mar 2010 #

    I am setting the barrier for “love” low I think. I am an album ho.

  7. 7
    swanstep on 12 Mar 2010 #

    I’m way easier than everyone else I guess: I ticked 37!
    1. WORST. Blood on the Tracks (Dylan after 1970 is dead to me)
    2. FIRST. Sgt Pepper
    3. LATEST. Songs in the Key of Life. (I didn’t start really listening to Stevie Wonder until I heard so much of him played at various weddings over the last 10 years. This is a great album, although I dare say that it does feel more like a critics album than one people choose to listen to a lot. I love it, but not in the same way as Innervisions and esp. Talking Book, which I play regularly.)

  8. 8
    Tracer Hand on 12 Mar 2010 #

    1. Not sure about the worst – OK Computer, possibly?
    2. Earliest – Purple Rain
    3. Most recently – Exile on Main Street

    There are a few other categories here. For instance, as Kat alludes, albums you used to love but haven’t actually played in about 10 years. Do you really still love them? I guess so. Why not? But then there are albums you USED to love but now you don’t. You might even actively despise it, drawing a line in the sand between your former self and your current one. I see a few on this list that fit that description.

    And then the Lex’s bonkers category of albums you’ve never heard, yet which you love. ??

  9. 9
    Birdseed on 12 Mar 2010 #

    1. Ok Computer, There’s A Riot Going On and The White Album are white-knuckle anger-inducing hate objects for me.

    2. I went through a “believe what the critics suggest you believe” phase before I knew better, about a decade ago. I bought and loved “The Velvet Underground and Nico”, “Pet Sounds”, “What’s Going On”, “Innervisions” and “Marquee Moon” pretty much simultaneously.

    3. One album from that period I didn’t like at all which I’ve recently re-evaluated is “Astral Weeks”, after having my roommate harp on about it and play it over and over. It’s actually a fairly good record!

  10. 10
    Jonathan Bogart on 12 Mar 2010 #

    I ticked all but ten, and those ten I haven’t heard all the way through. (I too am an album ho. Also I started with classic rock and still love it.)

    Worst: I don’t know about worst, but the one whose appeal to me is most opaque is Blue Lines. It’s so far off my radar I had to look it up and go “oh, right, them” when I saw the cover. I honestly don’t think there’s a bad record on here.

    First: The Joshua Tree. U2 was my baptism into secular music as a teenager. Haven’t listened to it in years, but the memories are fond.

    Most Recent: Purple Rain. I’m not sure why it took so long for me to get into Prince, but there are only so many listening hours available to one pair of ears and someone has to bat cleanup.

  11. 11
    Andrew Farrell on 12 Mar 2010 #

    I understood the Lex to be saying that there’s albums that he’s never heard but which enough bloggers (or artists!) that he likes have recommended that he reckons the chances of him hating them are pretty low.


    1) The Doors, The Doors, this has to be The Doors.
    2) The three Dylan albums, as part of a real actual canon-on-three-C90s at college, along with Bringing It All Back Home and Oh Mercy.
    3) Probably Remain In Light – it took me ages to move on from More Songs… to the rest of Talking Heads.

  12. 12
    Lex on 12 Mar 2010 #

    And then the Lex’s bonkers category of albums you’ve never heard, yet which you love. ??

    Well I didn’t actually count those ones, it was more noting that even though I’ve never heard eg a Marvin Gaye album, I am fairly sure I’ll like it given what I’ve already heard by him, how much I love a lot of artists influenced by him – how is this bonkers?!

  13. 13
    swanstep on 12 Mar 2010 #

    I’m surprised that OK Computer has so many detractors. Is this in part a reaction against it having been over-praised (‘best album *ever*’) in various quarters ever since its release?

    @Tom, 5. What’s astonishing about you & Led Zep IV? That you like it as much as you do? Or that, as it were, you’ve only very recently come around on it?

    @jonathan bogart, 10. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t listened to Joshua Tree in years because the sound’s never gone away! Certainly for the last ten years or so, at any given time, a couple of warmed over Joshua Tree tracks have been in the charts.

  14. 14
    LondonLee on 12 Mar 2010 #

    I ticked 7 but I set the bar for “love” pretty high – I like a lot of them – though if I was being really strict I might have only ticked two.

    Some strange choices on that list which kept my score lower too: ‘Closer’ but not ‘Unknown Pleasures’, ‘Remain In Light’ but not ‘Fear of Music’ and ‘London Calling’ but not ‘The Clash’ – there’s at least 2 I would have picked right there.

    Worst? Oh, ‘Dark Side of The Moon’ by a length. I could say Beefheart but he exists on some planet I don’t understand which is a different thing.
    First? I’d say ‘Born To Run’ but I didn’t tick that one and ‘A New World Record’ wasn’t on the list.
    Most recent? Jesus, I have no idea. I’m old me. ‘Sticky Fingers’ maybe but it were a while ago.

  15. 15
    The Illiterate on 12 Mar 2010 #

    I ticked 26. I’m easy. And old.
    Worst: The Doors. Easily. Hands Down. No Doubt about it. Yup.
    First love: Revolver. Now prefer Rubber Soul and Sgt. Pepper.
    Most recent: It Takes A Nation of Millions. Of course, that’s the most recent of all the ones I ticked, too.

  16. 16
    Garry on 12 Mar 2010 #

    I ticked 6. Blue Lines would be my favourite of all of them. I’ve heard a lot on the list, but most I’m more familiar with the singles standalone, and only heard the albums once or twice.

    Worst is Nevermind. Nirvana missed out bit of the country as we only had top 40 radio. I only heard them mch later the fuss, and decided I had heard better rock.

    First must be Dark Side. I love it. Their most focussed album, and one of the most focussed albums on the prog era.

    Most Recent is Remain in Light. I’d heard a lot of Talking Head singles, but it took me ages to stumble across an album. I once heard David Bowie called the best backing vocalist in the world. I’d liike to nominate Eno as the most unexpectedly successful backing vocalist in the world.

    Tom – maybe you could run the same list again in a fortnight and see how many of the albums people have actually listened to?

  17. 17
    koganbot on 12 Mar 2010 #

    I only ticked two (Highway 61 Revisited and Never Mind The Bollocks), though there are many of these that I have loved but now we’re just good friends. I felt my standards needed to be high here, so only albums that’d make my Top 100 were eligible to be loved.

    Albums on the list I’ve never heard in full: Pet Sounds, The Queen Is Dead, Innervisions, The Dark Side Of The Moon, Blue Lines, OK Computer, Blue, What’s Going On, The Joshua Tree. (My guess is that I would quite like Blue if I ever heard it in full, even if I prefer Nazareth’s version of “This Flight Tonight” to Joni’s. I’d probably at least kinda like most of these.)

    Album I had to look up on Wikip to confirm that it was by the Smiths: The Queen Is Dead.

    Album I had to look up on Wikip to find out whom it was by: Blue Lines.

    Actual first love: Sgt. Pepper’s (still holds up well I think, for an early adolescent crush). My actual actual actual first love is The Kingston Trio At Large, but apparently it’s not canon.

    1. Worst: Not counting the ones I haven’t heard in full, I’d have to pick, um, well, I want very much to go with the White Album, as the Beatles disintegrated and I gently wept, or yawned (do quite like “Dear Prudence,” however), but I have to be honest here and vote Forever Changes.

    2. Of the records I ticked, the one I loved first was Highway 61 Revisited.

    3. By process of elimination, the one I’ve loved most recently was Never Mind The Bollocks (though I suppose it’d have been possible for me to rekindle and inflame my love for Highway 61 Revisited, hence for it to win both categories).

    Actual favorite Beatles album: The Beatles Second Album [a U.S. only release that was actually their third album]

    Actual favorite Stones album: Big Hits (High Tide And Green Grass) [American version]

    Actual favorite Velvets album: White Light White Heat

    Actual volume of Live At The Apollo I prefer to this one: Volume Two

  18. 18
    tonya on 12 Mar 2010 #

    While I’m not sure I want to be a member of any poll that doesn’t have Paul’s Boutique as canon, I voted 8. Loved London Calling first, hate Pink Floyd most, PE is the most recent one on the list so it must be the most recent one I’ve loved.

  19. 19
    koganbot on 12 Mar 2010 #

    Oh, it kind of goes without saying, but maybe it needs to be said once for the record (and I say this as someone who thinks the best decade for Anglo-American recorded music was probably the ’60s), but this list of records is one that I will politely call parochial. I also think it’s pretty accurate as to what a chunk of Anglo-American critics might be willing to more-or-less agree is an album canon, but that’s just because there aren’t particularly any alternative canons that have enough concentrated support to displace this one, or enough collected-together chunks of critics who don’t particularly go with this one but can agree on something else. But I also wonder if this canon has a hell of a lot of support. I think it’s fading out, or running on habit rather than enthusiasm or interest, but there are no counter-canons waiting in the wings.

    Also, I wish Tom would run his poll for album of the ’00s, which would get my juices flowing much more than this. Montgomery Gentry! Britney!

    Led Zep IV (or ZOSO, or whatever) was a near miss for me, but it dies on Side Two, even though it does revive at the end when the levees break.

  20. 20
    Tracer Hand on 12 Mar 2010 #

    Lex I used to think the same thing about Stevie Wonder albums until I actually listened to them. All those interminable ballads!

  21. 21
    Lex on 12 Mar 2010 #

    I am really really surprised Blue is doing so badly! In my experience that’s a real-world classic, not just a canon-list classic – not the best way of putting it but I’m not caffeinated enough yet, I mean that it’s an album that a) most people I know love it (which isn’t the case for some of the hoarier rock choices here), b) people who love it seem to actively love it, ie they listen to it regularly, it plays an active role in their lives &c.

    I mean, if you haven’t heard it, you reeeeeeeeeeaally need to do so, like, now.

  22. 22
    JonnyB on 12 Mar 2010 #

    Worst… worst… that’s a bit strong for me. But I always worry a bit because – other than individual tracks – I just don’t get the appeal of Pet Sounds or Blonde on Blonde as anything other than ‘all right’.

    First: Dark Side of the Moon, which is still my favourite on here, and astonished me when I first heard it.

    Last: Blood on the Tracks, which I bought only a couple of years back without a great deal of hope. Now it’s one I go back to again and again, skipping the interminable one about the Jack of Hearts.

  23. 23
    Lex on 12 Mar 2010 #

    @20 that is why I didn’t actually say I loved them yet! just that they are “on my to-listen list” (where some have resided for nigh on a decade).

    Also, re: Joni, Blue isn’t even my favourite album by her – Hejira or The Hissing Of Summer Lawns – which just goes to show HOW FUCKING GREAT SHE IS.

  24. 24
    Billy Smart on 12 Mar 2010 #

    I ticked 33! I suppose that I can see the point of most things that are supposed to be good as a not very partisan middle-aged muso…

    1) The Doors. Posturing quasi-mystic self-loving idiocy.

    2) Sgt Pepper, suitably enough. My father heard ‘When I’m 64’ used on television in the late 1970s and got my sister to get him a copy as a Christmas present.

    3) I’m embarrassed to discover that my classic rock tastes have ossified since my mid-twenties. The last one of these that I had a big sea-change over was Led Zeppelin IV, and that was 14 years ago. I just investigated all of this stuff via Record & Tape Exchange when I was in my early twenties. Now I’m older, I get sudden mad crazes for some old pop music that I hadn’t investigated before; Frank Ifield, Lyndsey De Paul or what have you…

  25. 25

    I ticked 36 I think but recounting that should have been 30: I certainly don’t love “What’s Going On” and I’m not sure I’ve ever heard “Sticky Fingers” as an LP. Bollocks isn’t an album at all. The other ones were likes that I probably don’t love: Purple Rain, Abbey Road, Gold Rush.

    Least like: Joshua Tree probably
    Loved first: Sergeant Pepper — a gift from my dad to my mum round the week of my seventh birthday; we were holiday in wales, in an old house that had an old gramophone, and my sister (4) and i cut out the pop art mustaches and glasses and danced around in the garden to the music
    Loved latest: I got Dylan late, largely courtesy Koganbot, so probaby Blonde on Blonde (I’d owned it for years ftb a girlfriend long ago idolised BD and said I reminded her of him) (at the time I thought both opinions were nuts)

  26. 26

    I ticked Blue then unticked it but it was very borderline. I’m actually quite surprised VU&N is winning: it’s our Astral Weeks! (Except not boring.)

  27. 27
    Rory on 12 Mar 2010 #

    Only three votes for The Joshua Tree? Far out. #616 is going to be grimmer than I thought. Not my favourite U2 album (that’s Achtung Baby), but still…

    And only four votes for Who’s Next? It’s fantastic! There’s no way that ranks alongside the crummy old Doors. I can only assume that many of you haven’t heard it, or else there is no justice.

    Coincidentally enough, I finally picked up our number one favourite on CD last week (to replace an old tape) in a charity shop for a quid. Someone out there disagrees with the Freaky canon.

    Tom, you didn’t ask us what our BEST was. The Velvets being in the lead is clearly the Citizen Kane effect, i.e. it crops up on the most lists when people are asked to nominate a number of loved/best films/albums/etc. My best out of this lot, in the sense that I’m always in the mood for it, would have to be Revolver.

    Pet Sounds is another personal blind spot. I’ll have to address that.

  28. 28
    Tom on 12 Mar 2010 #

    I didn’t ask about best cos I thought it would arise naturally from the comments.

    I didn’t tick VU&N – not heard it in years.

    I suspect the Live At The Apollo listing may be a fuck up on Acclaimed Music’s part.

    AM is basically an aggregate of a load of old and recent lists, which is why I said “metacanon” – I don’t think it’s definitive (obviously) and individual publications would probably work to include more recent records, but those recent records haven’t “settled” yet. I’m pretty sure the Acclaimed list was put together before the recent “00s round up” features here there and everywhere, though.

    Swanstep – “astonished” because I was a vocal Led Zep hata for AGES, in a really annoying knee-jerk way. I particularly love IV though because it has all their best D&D stuff on it.

  29. 29
    Tom on 12 Mar 2010 #

    I’ve decided to listen to one of these a day – when I’m near a PC/can be bothered – so I’ll let you know if I have any great revelations.

  30. 30

    Just to repost this, for comparison purposes: the rock critic’s top hundred that p.gambaccini compiled in 1978

    Excellently off-canon entries on same:
    Boz Scaggs by Boz Scaggs!
    Ommadawn by Mike Oldfield!!
    Romance is on the Rise by Genevieve Waite, ah yes, wait, WHO?

  31. 31
    Andrew Hickey on 12 Mar 2010 #

    Ticked 15, and meant to tick another three but somehow missed due to exhaustion (the three I meant to but didn’t were Blood On The Tracks, Ziggy and Remain In Light).

    1 – Joshua Tree is just appalingly bad, terrible, not-good and unpleasant.
    2 – First one I loved would be either Goldrush or Revolver, both of which I’ve known since I was tiny.
    3 – Most recent one I’ve loved is probably Remain In Light, but even that was a good ten years ago…

  32. 32

    actual real name Geneviève Waïte, this gets better and better!!! (I am now always going to spell the “oh wait” joak with an ÜMLÄÜT öbv)

    (The LP was produced by John Philips of the Mamas and Papas, whose wife she was.)

  33. 33
    Rory on 12 Mar 2010 #

    @30 Ommadawn deserves every exclamation mark it can get – equal best with the criminally underheard (but beloved by M.O. fans) Amarok. As with Tom’s comment on Ziggy, Tubular Bells is only about my 7th or 8th favourite Oldfield album.

    Why After the Goldrush on this list and not Harvest, I wonder. Guess I’d better revisit Goldrush too.

  34. 34
    Rick on 12 Mar 2010 #

    Ah bvgger, I ticked the ones I *own* not the ones I love. I am an idiot. Anyway, the only one of those I really genuinely LOVE is Purple Rain, with Nation of Millions, Closer, Forever Changes, Remain In Light and Marquee Moon making it in on a good day.

  35. 35

    Ommadawn is sorta kinda the P.Glass-esque precursor of how the post-house ravewave will violently split from rock-crit canonism, isn’t it?

  36. 36
    swanstep on 12 Mar 2010 #

    @lex. Blue and Joni Mitchell more generally has just never worked for me on any level. I don’t like the instrumentation on her records, i don’t like her chord changes, I don’t like her voice (all the little jazzy slides into notes absolutely kill any feeling in her songs as far as I’m concerned), and I don’t like her lyrics.

    I’m gathering from remarks above that the Doors are a similarly comprehensive strike-out for many people. And I’ve certainly heard people say similar things about, e.g., Bjork, Jeff Buckley, Morrissey. I guess very distinctive/idiosynchratic singers & song-writers just do tend to polarize.

    @koganbot,19: Any new top 50 canon would surely include one or two of Autobahn/TEE/Man-machine/Computer World. Maybe there wouldn’t be support for a true alternative canon to this one, but one that was a little broader overall and that cut back the 4 or 5 slots each that the beatles/stones/dylan have here to allow that would be doable I reckon.

  37. 37
    will on 12 Mar 2010 #

    I only ticked eight – White Album, Pepper, Rubber Soul, Pet Sounds, Blue Lines, What’s Going On, Purple Rain and Bollocks.

    1. OK Computer. Mewling whining self-important crap.

    2. Probably Pepper edges it. I got it for my 14th birthday, I bought the White Album (which I love more) about six months later.

    3. I got into Pet Sounds surprisingly late. Still 10 years ago, mind.

    There are a few on that list that almost made it (Nations Of Millions), some that over time I’ve grown off (Queen Is Dead), loads that I’ve just never got around to listening to (Closer, Sly Stone) and a few that I still wouldn’t out of principle – The Doors and Dylan for example.

    Surprised to see VU & Nico at the top. Some nice songs, but personally I’ve always found it hard to get passed its awful recorded-in-a-shed production.

  38. 38
    Rory on 12 Mar 2010 #

    @35 Sorta kinda; he had more Glass-esque moments (e.g. Incantations). Oldfield worked with Steve Hillage off and on at the time, who went on to play a part in post-house ravewave indie wotsit (producing one of the better Charlatans albums, for example). Unfortunately M.O. slid into a bland chillout frame of mind in the ’90s from which he has only occasionally roused himself, as if he used up the last of his Ommadawn juice on 1990’s Amarok.

  39. 39
    marna on 12 Mar 2010 #

    I am slightly surprised at how FEW of these I tickyboxed, given that I <3 albums and have rockist old-skool tastes.

    WORST: I think the Joshua Tree, but growing up in Ireland gave me a bit of an aversion to U2 and all their works, so I might be unfair to it.

    FIRST LOVE: Sgt Pepper – that was also the first one of these I encountered. It was about when I was tiiiiiiiny. I think I loved the Best of the Seekers even more, though. (I still kinda like the Seekers.)

    RECENTLY: Probably It Takes A Nation Of Millions, but the ones of these I love, it's the only one I didn't encounter when tiny or teenager. Everything else was in parents/relatives collections (Beatles, Pet Sounds), or tape-from-the-library-able (Dylan!) or in the teenage tape-swapping pool (Joy Division, Smiths).

    BONUS! Which do I love best now? Blonde on Blonde, I think. I love the Dylan best from that list, and I love that best of all the Dylan.

  40. 40
    marna on 12 Mar 2010 #

    And I rly want to listen to some of these now but I brought my headphones home last night (last day in current job!). Bah.

  41. 41
    thefatgit on 12 Mar 2010 #

    Well I ticked 19…quite surprised by that, but there’s a hell of a lot of stuff I haven’t heard in ages on that list, including albums I have ticked, but tbh need a reappraisal.


    1. Nevermind. Gotta say I prefer Bleach for it’s rawness.
    2. Sgt Pepper’s was the first canonical album I bought with my own money. Dark Side Of The Moon, Pet Sounds and Who’s Next have always been part of my life for as long as I can remember.
    3. Kind Of Blue. My first canonical download. Yes I made a conscious decision to buy it as soon as I bought an iPod.

  42. 42
    swanstep on 12 Mar 2010 #

    @tom, 28. Thanks for the info. But doesn’t Led Zep 2’s ‘Ramble On’ have the best/silliest tolkien-y stuff (‘gollum and the evil one’ etc.)?

  43. 43
    Rory on 12 Mar 2010 #

    So where should I start on the Stones? And on Dylan, come to that? The multiple slots they get on these polls always leave me paralyzed with indecision, until the moment of curiosity passes. That, and the fact that an annoying cousin was a big Stones fan and an old school friend once bored me to death (in an entertaining way) with a Bob LP singalong. I enjoy some individual tracks by each, but what album should I be listening to? Sticky Fingers? Highway 61? Should check punctum’s blog, I guess (are you up to Sticky Fingers yet? Was it a number one LP?). [Edit: went and had a look. Now there’s a Bob Dylan album I know better than to start with. But I haven’t read your review yet to see if you can change my mind on even that…]

  44. 44
    Ben on 12 Mar 2010 #

    WORST: Probably ‘The Joshua Tree’
    FIRST: Definitely ‘Nevermind’ – I’d just turned 10 when it was released, but didn’t really begin my music obsession until I was 12. ‘Slippery When Wet’ was the first album I ever bought*, and from there, it was a short hop to Nirvana and Metallica.
    MOST RECENT: Led Zep IV. I’d never listened to a Zep individual album until about a year ago, just compilations.

    * OK, first album I ever bought that wasn’t by Right Said Fred.

  45. 45

    My attitude to Public Enemy is not unlike my attitude to King Crimson (who’re on the Gambaccini list): I totally understand why PE’S intervention has to be respected; how original they were in actual content; how exciting in lineage and linkage; how inevitable and important they immediately came to seem — but I really don’t actually like what they do. I would elevate literally dozens of less “political” hiphop LPs above theirs. Obviously the above is a ROCK not a rap canon — not sure that there can even BE a “general” canon — and rap expanded into a vast rich territory quite some time after rock was starting to get interested in organising its own valorisation, so the overlap is inevitably small and a bit pro forma.

  46. 46

    Rory, read Koganbot’s book for good ways to start listening to Dylan and the Stones. Places is probably the 64-68 stuff in both cases…

  47. 47
    Lex on 12 Mar 2010 #

    @43: Ways to start listening to Dylan and the Stones: don’t even bother.
    @29: OMG don’t put yourself through it Tom!

    Could literally make a better list of 100 albums from the last two years alone.

  48. 48
    swanstep on 12 Mar 2010 #

    @rory. Let it Bleed and Beggar’s Banquet are the two Stones records that really hooked me, and Freewheeling was my Dylan start (followed by Highway 61 and Blonde on Blonde). All of these records are truly exceptional.

  49. 49

    @47: Haha well late 80s when i wz yr age lex I felt pretty much exactly the same, only I was using undiluted punk dogma to justify my year-zero stubbornness. (I actually did like some of the poppier, prettier stones, but not the stones Kogan reps for…; I didn’t get Dylan at all, and loudly declared myself uninterested in bothering… what FK taught me see was that they made music about the contradictions in my own attitude; that what I disliked about them was a mirror not a difference

  50. 50
    Tom on 12 Mar 2010 #

    I resisted Dylan fiercely all through school, where he was very popular, and then suddenly crumbled the summer I left: I was given a box of tapes which my Uncle had owned. He died in a car crash about a month or two after I was born and nobody else in the family had really been into music so they had languished. I guess he was an early home-taping adopter, they were all copies – the most recent thing on them was Exile on Main St, which I didn’t get AT ALL (and only came to very recently). The Dylan stuff he had – Greatest Hits Vol.2 of all things – suddenly made sense and I started buying his ‘classic albums’ as quickly as I could afford them.

    The Stones I got into from doing Popular – I assumed I didn’t enjoy them and then I heard them and discovered they were terrific.

  51. 51
    thefatgit on 12 Mar 2010 #

    Hmm…Dylan. The thing is I can appreciate Dylan for his music and the decision he made to go electric, so as not to be stifled in a museum of his own creation, but I still can’t “love” his music. Even a mature me finds it all a bit…samey. Maybe that’s the point. Concentrate on the poetry of his lyrics. Let the music wash over you. I just don’t feel it. Maybe I should be a prime target for some Kogan too.

  52. 52

    Both of them are of course writing songs — and making music — that’s all about the allure of the seriously resistable: hence perhaps being able to flip their FOES so sharply

  53. 53
    Tom on 12 Mar 2010 #

    Gaga would be the modern equivalent :)

  54. 54
    Rory on 12 Mar 2010 #

    @46, @48, many thanks. I nabbed a cheap copy of Kogan on Amazon just now, and will read it with interest. Right, definitely going to make this a project now! (@47 notwithstanding ;)

    Hey, I loved me some Bob when he was in the Wilburys, after all.

  55. 55
    rosie on 12 Mar 2010 #

    The Doors at the bottom? Shame on you!

    I can’t say which is the worst because there are some, even up there in the top ten, that I have never heard of.

    I’m always surprised to see Exile on Main Street riding high in these things because it came out when the Stones were well past their sell-by date (they may be still going but they’ve been pretty rank for decades now)

    And where, might I ask, is Tapestry? Still the biggest -selling album by a female performer I believe. And nothing from Leonard Cohen? Songs of Love and Hate at least, sure ly?

  56. 56
    mike on 12 Mar 2010 #

    Worst: The Doors
    Loved first: Sgt. Pepper’s
    Loved most recently: Abbey Road

  57. 57
    Martin Skidmore on 12 Mar 2010 #

    I ticked 30, possibly being a bit generous on a handful, but not too many. I am very disappointed to see James Brown doing so badly.

    WORST: A hard call between the Beatles, the Doors and Radiohead.

    EARLIEST LOVE: Ziggy Stardust, when it came out. Yes I am old.

    MOST RECENT LOVE: Probably the oldest album on there, Kind of Blue. I’ve owned it for years, but I think I’ve played it more regularly in the last five years than I used to, and probably more still in the last year or so.

  58. 58
    rosie on 12 Mar 2010 #

    Anyway, to answer the questions from what I know:

    The worst in the list tat I know would have to be Never Mind The Bollocks: as I’ve said before it is the beginning of the deification of the thick and untalented.

    The one I learned to love earliest would be Rubber Soul of course.

    The one I came to most recently, oddly enough, would be Astral Weeks. Which I’ve only investigated in the last couple of years.

    I’m now going to play the entire Doors canon in order so blot out the idea that I keep company with people so lacking in appreciation that they hate them!

  59. 59
    inakamono on 12 Mar 2010 #

    Ticked quite lot in a lazy ‘Oh yeah, I used to love that’ sort of way, and then went back and eliminated half on the basis of ‘Seriously, do I still love it now?’

    Worst — sorry, I have never been able to take to Beatles albums; growing up, I hated all the snobbery about them and have never had the tolerance to try.

    Earliest would have been Ziggy when it came out, but it didn’t make the ‘still love it now’ cut. Which leaves Horses probably.

    Most recent — so many here I haven’t heard; I find my cut-off is late 80s, so that would probably be Prince.

    I’m shocked to see the distain for the Doors; that’s one of the few ‘love-at-first-listen’ albums that still makes the cut. It is what I did, and all I did, when I was at university.

  60. 60
    Tom on 12 Mar 2010 #

    Not really shocked at dislike for The Doors – Morrison is a tough dude to like and liking him seems to come with plenty of cultural baggage. More surprised at the low Hendrix votes – maybe people don’t return to the actual albums very much, while admiring the man?

  61. 61

    I like the Doors a lot but really not the first LP: Strange Days, Waiting for the Sun and LA Woman are all way better… (Name three other canonic rockbands w/o a bass player)


  62. 62

    Also also: “In 2009, Manzarek collaborated with “Weird Al” Yankovic, playing keyboards on the single “Craigslist” which is a style parody of the Doors”

  63. 63
    Rick on 12 Mar 2010 #

    Yeah, my dislike for the Doors is almost entirely because of Morrison’s collosal d1ckishness. I have no problems with the music, even liking a fair bit of stuff that obv. draws quite heaviliy on their sound, but his persona is so, so annoying.

  64. 64
    LondonLee on 12 Mar 2010 #

    I’m surprised at how low Hendrix is polling too. I didn’t vote for them myself but, you know, they are bloody good (though, again, I’d have gone with ‘Axis: Bold As Love’ instead)

  65. 65
    Billy Smart on 12 Mar 2010 #

    Isn’t Off The Wall considered more ‘classic’ than Thriller, by the way?

    I’m guessing that ‘Live At The Apollo’ is the least-listened to of the 50, rather than unloved by those who know it.

  66. 66
    The Clapton Pond Regeneration Project on 12 Mar 2010 #

    Glossing over the fact that I missed The Queen is Dead off because I haven’t got my glasses on – I think I ticked about 21, presuming it was acceptable to use a little poetic licence around “love”. I mean “really like, would recommend, enjoy playing”. The secret truth about a lot of famously good albums is that they’re really good.

    I’m finding it quite hard to say which one I loved most recently because it just seems like they all just…happened at the same time, when I was about 13-15. I remember very few of them coming out, and I’m 28 – which tells you a lot about a) how regularly the canon is updated and b) how this stuff functions quite nicely as a Tricolore course in rock that gets the fundamentals out of the way so you can dig a little deeper later. (Or if you’re my dad c) how no one has made any good music since 1978). Anyway, I think I was in my 20s when I found how good Born to Run was, so that was probably last over the finish line.

    I’m quite interested in the anti-canon. By which I don’t mean the good stuff which we know isn’t quite canon but we’re quite used to hearing people defend, reading dissertations about how it is equally worthy &c &c (this frequently means pop, hip hop and dance, doesn’t it?). So, not the Bee Gees, Abba, Fleetwood Mac, Hall & Oates, Girls Aloud, Pet Shop Boys – these things are probably quite well represented in the secret second canon, you know the one what secret Illuminati tastemakers in that London like. Rather, I mean things that it’s just *not okay to like*. I mean the true underclass, the unrescuably unhip. Alanis Morissette. Tori Amos. I don’t like this stuff either, but I hate the fact that I wince when people say they do. Hardly the behaviour of an enlightened equal opportunities pop kid. But I do wince. I wonder if it would be possible to make a list of the “anti-canon”. Or even just think of a better name for it.

    I love “Graceland” though.

    Swings and roundabouts.

  67. 67
    vinylscot on 12 Mar 2010 #

    Worst – “Josh Tree” – Bono was a twat by then
    “Forever Changes” – as discussed in previous post.

    Earliest – “Abbey Road” – still my favourite Beatles LP
    “Marquee Moon” – probably still my favourite from the list

    Most Recent – “Horses” – only really listened to it after I heard “Twelve” and before her recent tour.

    As with most of us, I could happily add another fifty better albums, amny of which I would consider “canon”, but I appreciate the list needs to be finite.

  68. 68
    The Clapton Pond Regeneration Project on 12 Mar 2010 #

    65 – it only got 2/5 on Allmusic.com:


  69. 69
    marna on 12 Mar 2010 #

    @51 One of the things I love best about Dylan is sorta the sameiness. He has long, long epic songs that start up, and feel like they have been going *forever*, and will keep going forever, and when the world ends Dylan will still be singing it, and it still won’t quite make sense, and this is a good thing. I think Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands is my favourite example of this manner of song, and its placement at the end of Blonde on Blonde is one of the biggest reasons I love that album so much.

  70. 70
    Rory on 12 Mar 2010 #

    @68 – Zing!

    @58 Rosie – never mind, some of us will be doing the same with U2 and Radiohead.

    I was going to save this for #616 or #668, but I keep wanting to thrust a copy of this into the hands of every U2 hater here. The “pompous”, “arrogant” Bono really isn’t the true Paul Hewson, and Flanagan shows why – and I say that as someone who used to believe it, even though I liked much of their music. Flanagan accompanied them around the world during their Achtung Baby/Zoorapa phase, and the result is like a backstage pass and travelogue combined; I would even venture that you don’t have to be a U2 fan to enjoy it. I’ve never made it through Eamon Dunphy’s 1980s band bio, but U2 at the End of the World was a real page-turner.

  71. 71
    Tom on 12 Mar 2010 #

    #70 – Radiohead? Not on Popular’s turf.

    I’m actually not a total U2 hater – the singles off the Joshua Tree and Unforgettable Fire albums do a particular thing really well.

  72. 72
    Ewan on 12 Mar 2010 #

    I ticked about 25, and I like a fair few more.

    WORST for me (of those I’ve heard) is probably The Joshua Tree — then again, I don’t hate it, just don’t really think it deserves to be there.

    The Talking Heads (Remain in Light) is probably the one I loved first, due to my stepfather playing their stuff all the time. Bob Dylan is the one I’ve got into most recently, or actually Born to Run, probably, as these are the kinds of canonical touchstones that people often mention and which I have spent most of my life not really paying attention to.

    I am also surprised @66 suggesting that Tori Amos might be anti-canon. I’ve never even for a moment considered that liking her music is “wrong” by anyone’s standards (though I concede she has a fair few loopy fans)! Boys for Pele is one of my favourite albums.

  73. 73
    Alan on 12 Mar 2010 #

    i’ve heard less than half of these and found most of them “B- wouldn’t listen again unless pressed” at best. only a couple i need, and a couple i’d rather never hear

  74. 74
    Rory on 12 Mar 2010 #

    @71 Not Popular, no, but in terms of this canon poll, Radiohead fans reprazent. (Although The Bends > OK Computer < Kid A, with In Rainbows fighting it out in there too.)

    I'm conflicted about most U2 albums; all their '80s albums are half great (or less than half in a couple of cases) and half just okay for me, which means that none rank as mighty landmarks (although in this context I figured expressing love for The Joshua Tree was fair). Achtung Baby was 11/12ths great for me, and the remaining 1/12th was great in its single remix, so it wins big time; Zooropa was a close second; and every album since is back to their earlier strike rate.

  75. 75
    thefatgit on 12 Mar 2010 #

    The “anti-canon” could be just as contentious as the Canon. For here, we are moving away from broad(ish) consensus into the murky waters of subjectivity. Even considering the criteria for anti-canon could raise some fierce debate. Do we base it on sales over negative critical response? What to exclude? If the Canon is rock-centric, do we take pop, hip-hop and dance and exclude C&W, metal and other less fashionable genre from where the anti-canon may supply more examples? (Ah, yes but if the album is good/bad (?) enough and meets the anti-canon criteria, then it won’t matter will it?)

    Or if there is a metacanon of 3000 albums from which you can benchmark say, 100 as regularly the best, there must be 100×3000 anti-metacanon. Who would have the patience to sift through that lot?

  76. 76
    jeff w on 12 Mar 2010 #

    Have heard: about 35 of these.

    I’m setting the bar very high on ‘love’ – only about 5 would qualify.

    1. Worst? Hmmm. Abbey Road? There’s something about that record, a sort of smugness (cf. also most of Lennon’s solo career) that irritates. I’m not big on hating individual records though, and even the albums on the list that overall leave me cold (e.g. Blonde on Blonde, What’s Going On, Forever Changes) have their moments. I’ll save my hate for the canon itself. It gets more ridiculous with every year that passes. As does the idea that The Album is a thing for which a canon is even needed.

    2. First love? Remain in Light or Closer, which appeared around the same time.

    3. Latest? Live at the Apollo, possibly – though I haven’t played it enough to know whether I truly love it or just like it.

  77. 77
    jeff w on 12 Mar 2010 #

    @ #30 – that Gambo list was much longer IIRC. Went up to at least 200 and possibly 500. Was published in a fancy book which libraries often stocked. The album in the lower reaches of the list I’ve also wanted to hear – but at same time am frightened to now, as it’s bound to disappoint – is Playback by The Appletree Theatre.

  78. 78
    lex on 12 Mar 2010 #

    @66 I guess I get what you mean when you say Amos and Morissette are anti-canon, in that they’re not reliable mainstays of lists like these, but I’ve seen both – esp Little Earthquakes – on enough “greatest ever” lists to really call them anti-canon; that phrase brings to mind genres that are inherently resistant to rock-crit canonisation, singles-driven or club-based or female-coded music: freestyle, r+b, dancehall, house.

    I only have time for a couple of Morissette songs (though “You Oughta Know” is a stunningly well-crafted song) but Amos is a sorely underrated artist – superior to all but a handful of those on this list and the equal of the very best – who never seems to get the props she deserves for her songcraft, scale of ambition, singularity of vision and sense of experimentation. From The Choirgirl Hotel and Boys For Pele are probably my favourite albums of the 90s. It’s a pity that many seem resistant to her; Tom would be far better off investigating her work over this tedious list!

  79. 79
    Tom on 12 Mar 2010 #

    Highest Alanis on the Acclaimed Music list – Jagged Little Pill (#326)
    Highest Tori – Little Earthquakes (#441)

    Out of THREE THOUSAND so plenty of room for more stuff by them I’d guess. No.3000 is Black & White by The Stranglers so the bar is not being set high!

  80. 80
    AndyPandy on 12 Mar 2010 #

    I voted before I really thought about it and therefore my threshold was far too low.

    In retrospect the only ones I’d say I really “love” are “Thriller”, “Dark Side of The Moon” and “Closer” and probably at least one out of “The White Album”, “Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Abbey Road” (but the Beatles ubiquitousness almost makes it hard to really know what I think!).

    Worst: “Nevermind” to think “people” (all right a large proportion were 14 year olds who hated their parents)were listening to this whining dinosaur bollocks in the rave era beggars belief. About as cutting edge (outside America)in the early 90s as Engelbert Humperdinck…

    Earliest: “Dark Side of the Moon” had it as a 14 year old at the beginning of my couple of years of being earnest about rock music.

    Last: “Thriller” just because it’s the most recent of my choices.

  81. 81
    Tom Lawrence on 12 Mar 2010 #

    This list terrifies me, as I don;t think I’ve heard any of these albums all the way through. I’d be hard pressed to identify the artist on probably half the list, maybe more.

    I’m 23, this is perhaps the reason, I am also in no way an albums guy, But still, the extent of my ignorance is disconcerting.

  82. 82
    AndyPandy on 12 Mar 2010 #

    I should have added “The Doors” (I can ignore the pretentious aspects in favour of the overall atmosphere/perfect music) to my list of really loved although I prefer “LA Woman”.

    What no “Electric Warrior”, “Off The Wall”, Nick Drake, Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, anything from the post-1988 parting of the ways (even if WAS a singles medium)? – this list is USA-centric to say the least

  83. 83
    koganbot on 12 Mar 2010 #

    Lex, without Dylan you don’t get Joni and Tori and Alanis and Ashlee and Lindsay and Taylor.

    Here’s a very short thing (625 words) I wrote about Dylan just a few years ago. The intent was to make classic Dylan a living problematic force.

    Think of the wind from Dylan’s 1965 mind rustling up dust and litter and emotion in the culture, still blowing today, delivering us whole heaps of jetsam and brilliance, Taylor Swift’s feminine me-first storytelling and Ke$ha’s celebration of vomit.

    To make the ’60s classics potent rather than pedestaled it helps to rejigger our minds. Imagine a couple of kids on the bus singing “She loves you yeah yeah yeah” and they won’t shut up, just that refrain over and over, for twenty or thirty minutes until the bus driver threatens to kick them off.

    Think of Jim Morrison singing “All the children are insane” and he’s talking about everyone you know. Neil Young singing “This much madness is too much sorrow.” Ditto.

    I should have been a little more generous with my love ticks. The Doors and Are You Experienced?* still sound exciting to me. Electric guitar once meant electric adventure. I’d rate them higher than anything in our current top ten (Pet Sounds through Purple Rain) except Highway 61 Revisited and *maybe* The Velvet Underground & Nico.

    Probably canons are the only way that art from the past plays in the present. But there ought to be ways that it (1) actually does play in the present, intermingles and takes its lumps, (2) is open to the air of the world, so it contains more than one notion of greatness and one style of listening and using, and (3) contains something of what it was like when the artwork was young and struggling, before we knew what was what with it, when it was surrounded by contrary sounds. An alternative canon might have K-Tel disco anthologies that somehow include Kiss and Bachman-Turner-Overdrive tracks because K-Tel couldn’t license enough actual disco songs for the comp. It would include Swedish pop reggae. It would include Boney M. It would include difficult music. It would include Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. It would include U. Roy. It would still risk being rendered lame in the context of our appreciation, so we’d have to attend to points 1 through 3.

    (I think stuff like Popular is a good way of making music continue to play in the present. I hope I can make time to attend to Marcello‘s and Jonathan‘s similar efforts.)

    *American version with “Hey Joe” and without “Red House.”

  84. 84
    Rory on 12 Mar 2010 #

    And of course koganbot = above-mentioned Frank Kogan, penny drops, clink clatter clunk. Looking forward to reading your book.

  85. 85
    koganbot on 13 Mar 2010 #

    I regret that I only recently started paying Lord Sükråt to do my publicity.

    Recently had a convo where I explained that the reason I rarely credit the people whose ideas I lift is word limits. Just realized that my Dylan piece is a perfect example, in that I only had 625 words so didn’t mention that I took the “He didn’t know his place” argument (the “uppity” half, that is) straight from Greil Marcus’s review of Albert Goldman’s Elvis book in the Village Voice. Anyway, obv. I do have the space here.

    As for a countercanon: this list has no country, no makeout music, no swing, little jazz, little funk, very little that has anything to do with dub, dancehall, disco, hip-hop, freestyle, house, rave, Italodisco, bosh, post-soul r&b, metal – so very little of the amazing changes that have gripped my musical world for the last forty years, and only one album prior to the last forty-five. But a lot of that music has resisted consensus and canonization.

  86. 86
    swanstep on 13 Mar 2010 #

    @rory 27. #616 may indeed be scorned when it comes up, but it did have that rather that nifty Hollywood remix (+ its associated great vid.). Indeed I don’t remember hearing the album mix (or seeeing its vid. – I never saw the movie either) at the time: the remix+hip.vid. was *that* dominant. My experience was that lots of people who were otherwise completely allergic to U2, liked that remix a lot, danced merrily to it, etc..

    @Koganbot. Thanks for your Dylan piece. I have to say that watching Mad Men the last year or two has given me a much sharper sense of the cultural and personal energies that were around in the early ’60s that Dylan and the Beatles really burst out of.

  87. 87
    Conrad on 13 Mar 2010 #

    I only truly love 5 of the albums on that list, with Exile on Main St and After The Goldrush at the top.

    The worst record on there – take a bow Bono.

    The one I loved first was probably Highway 61, although I wouldn’t vote for it now, as I can barely listen to Bob Dylan anymore.

    That list of ‘canonical’ albums invokes feelings mainly of – yeah used to like that, Oh God I remember really thinking I should like that. etc etc. Very few of those records are fun to listen to. Several are truly terrible.

    The Beatles I find hard to love because I don’t feel I am experiencing listening to them first hand. But I do really like side 2 of Abbey Road and (this will sound very pompous) my own edit of The White Album.

    Revolver I find quite a depressing listen and have never understood its popularity.

    Public Enemy, Sly Stone and Astral Weeks all just missed the cut – all good albums that I like and at times have loved. But I don’t really listen to them much nowadays.

    And it’s a shame we’ve had to endure Radiohead and U2 for so long.

  88. 88
    Conrad on 13 Mar 2010 #

    Would have voted 6 had Rumours made the list….that’s one of the few ‘canon’ albums that I have never fallen out of love with

  89. 89

    When the 1978 canon was mooted — no one has jumnped in to say there were earlier attempts, so I’m going to stick with my claim that this was foundational — it was an attempt to summarise c.20 years of a particular strand of music: of importance to the summarisers. This canon list, by contrast, summarises c.55 years of several strands of music. So — to use a phrase I consider hugely silly — it’s apples and oranges. Twenty years is a meaningful slice of one generation’s experience: a collective lookback is not only achievable, but reasonable (leaving aside whether Gambaccini’s methodology was acceptable). A 55-year-slice has to drop across the experiences of several generations (even if we accept that where and how we draw the boundaries is contentious): as a summary, it can’t be a snapshot of shared experience — because that “shared” experience contains what an old friend-foe of mine unhelpfully terms “cleavage”. I’d argue (so would he) that the generations were also divided against themselves; but I think a correct use of canon can probably elucidate that. This aggregate canon smooshes together division within generation and division between generation; I don;t see how to “use it correctly” to resurrest this distinction. The sense of its being stifling is surely that you literally can’t imagine half of its components ever vanishing from the list — because the methodology is skewed to ensure the won’t.

    (One of the things that was so exciting at the time about punk’s break with its immediate past was that it acknowledged “cleavage” as a fact: but this actually only retains meaning if you continue to valorise noth sides of the split; which is why — tho I love the Pistols, and regard the impact of Lydon’s squiggly intellect on my own as one of the shaping experiences of my life — I think Rosie is basically correct to say that the routinisation of punk as a value has ultimately turned things more stupid. I dare say were Andypandy’s rival aesthetic to be established without opposition, and all the rockchat it opposes swept into oblivion, this too would enforce stupidity rather than crackling intelligence…)

    (Frank K’s book is also about this process of routinisation: “renedered lame in the context of our appreciation” — I am excited that I am to be PAID for saying such things! The invoice is in the mail!)

  90. 90

    lots of typos there: i blame the “impact of Lydon’s squiggly intellect on my own”

  91. 91
    rosie on 13 Mar 2010 #

    These things are, ipso facto representative of those who devise them. So the classic canons of whatever year represent the views of those who write about these thigs in the specialist media. And the poll whe have before us reflects the views of the sort of people who are following Popular. More specifically, those who are following Popular at a point in its trajectory where it’s covering the pop music of the mid-to-late 80s. Having said that, I’m gratified to see that the top five albums in the poll at the time I am writing are very much the albums of my era.

    I wonder if the result would be different if the poll had been taken when Popular was covering the T-Rex/Slade era.

    I keep thinking of more and more albums that I would put in a personal canon, to the point where it seems pointless – all such lists are subjective after all. And in the end there are only albums that I love; I wouldn’t care to try to rank them.

  92. 92

    (But this list is not at all derived from Popular input: as Tom says, it’s borrowed wholesale from Acclaimed Music — all we’ve done here is vote on their list… )

    (Popular’s own canon list would be strange and interesting i suspect…)

  93. 93
    Billy Smart on 13 Mar 2010 #

    I trump sukrat by claiming that the 1974 NME critics’ poll is the very first attempt to set the canon;

    1. Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles
    2. Blonde On Blonde – Bob Dylan
    3. Pet Sounds – The Beach Boys
    4. Revolver – The Beatles
    5. Highway 61 Revisited – Bob Dylan
    6. Electric Ladyland – Jimi Hendrix
    7. Are You Experienced? – Jimi Hendeix
    8. Abbey Road – The Beatles
    9. Sticky Fingers – The Rolling Stones
    10. Music From Big Pink – The Band
    11. Let It Bleed – The Rolling Stones
    12. Layla – Derek & The Dominoes
    13. The Velvet Underground & Nico – The Velvet Underground
    14. Golden Decade Vol 1 – Chuck Berry
    15. Rubber Soul – The Beatles
    16. Tommy – The Who
    17. Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon & Garfunkel
    18. Hunky Dory – David Bowie
    19. Beggar’s Banquet – The Rolling Stones
    20. Disraeli Gears – Cream
    21. Piper At The Gates Of Dawn – Pink Floyd
    22. My Generation – The Who
    23. Crosby, Stills & Nash – Crosby, Stills & Nash
    24. The Rolling Stones – The Rolling Stones
    25. Imagine – John Lennon
    26. Tapestry – Carole King
    27. Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie
    28. Freewheelin’ – Bob Dylan
    29. Back In The USA – MC5
    30. Deja Vu – Crosby, Stills & Nash
    31. The Band – The Band
    32. Gasoline Alley – Rod Stewart
    33. A Hard Day’s Night – The Beatles
    34. Every Picture Tells A Story – Rod Stewart
    35. Led Zeppelin 4 – Led Zeppelin
    36. The Doors – The Doors
    37. In The Court Of The Crimson King – King Crimson
    38. Exile On Main Street – The Rolling Stones
    39. The Beatles – The Beatles
    40. The Soft Machine – Soft Machine
    41. Hot Rats – Frank Zappa
    42. Traffic – Traffic
    43. Trout Mask Replica – Captain Beefheart
    44. Music From A Dolls House – Family
    45. Talking Book – Stevie Wonder
    46. Anthology – Smoky Robinson & The Miracles
    47. Strange Days – The Doors
    48. Led Zeppelin II – Led Zeppelin
    49. Otis Blue – Otis Redding
    50. Stand Up – Jethro Tull
    51. Big 16 – The Impressions
    52. Forever Changes – Love
    53. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere – Neil Young
    54. Sweet Baby James – James Taylor
    55. Fifth Dimension – The Byrds
    56. Band On The Run – Wings
    57. The Man Who Sold The World – David Bowie
    58. We’re Only In It For The Money – Frank Zappa
    59. Get Your Ya-Yas Out – The Rolling Stones
    60. Beck-Ola – Jeff Beck
    61. Raw Power – The Stooges
    62. Smiley Smile – The Beach Boys
    63. Astral Weeks – Van Morrison
    64. Loaded – The Velvet Underground
    65. Greatest Hits – Aretha Franklin
    66. With The Beatles – The Beatles
    67. Blue – Joni Mitchell
    68. Freak Out – Frank Zappa
    69. After The Gold Rush – Neil Young
    70. Stephen Stills – Stephen Stills
    71. Johnny Winter – Johnny Winter
    72. With A Little Help From My Friends – Joe Cocker
    73. The Yes Album – Yes
    74. Moondance – Van Morrison
    75. A Wizard, A True Star – Todd Rundgren
    76. Plastic Ono Band – John Lennon
    77. Crown Of Creation – Jefferson Airplane
    78. LA Woman – The Doors
    79. There’s A Riot Going On – Sly & The Family Stone
    80. Who’s Next – The Who
    81. Electric Music For The Mind & Body – Country Joe & The Fish
    82. King Of The Delta Blues Singers – Robert Johnson
    83. Best Of The Beach Boys Volume 1 – The Beach Boys
    84. Songs For A Seagull – Joni Mitchell
    85. Bluesbreakers – John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers
    86. Mr Fantasy – Traffic
    87. Bringing It All Back Home – Bob Dylan
    88. Greatest Hits Volume 2 – Elvis Presley
    89. White Light/White Heat – The Velvet Underground
    90. Moby Grape – Moby Grape
    91. Cheap Thrills – Big Brother & The Holding Company
    92. Dark Side Of The Moon – Pink Floyd
    93. Gris-Gris – Doctor John
    94. Music Of The Mind – Stevie Wonder
    95. Stranded – Roxy Music
    96. Surf’s Up – The Beach Boys
    97. 12 Songs – Randy Newman
    98. The 12 Dreams Of Dr Sardonicus – Spirit
    99. Sailor – The Steve Miller Band
    100. Goat’s Head Soup – The Rolling Stones

  94. 94

    Who voted in that, though, Billy? NME writers only, or a broader swathe? Magazines run their OWN polls all the time: magazine polls perform an important function — as it was not at that time termed — establishing the brand and policing the niche within its own readership.

    I think the Gambaccini poll was doing something slightly different (not least because it was published as a book; which means a one-off readership that doesn’t have to be nurtured and maintained). It polled old and young, hippies and punks, US and UK commentators, writers and radio DJs: was (I am arguing) making a broader bid for generation overview.

    (Interestingly Gambaccini didn’t poll musicians themselves, I don’t think — indeed I’m not sure i’ve ever SEEN such a poll in rockworld… jazzworld much more likely to poll musicians and set them off against writers. Did old-school MM ever poll musicians only? It was far more musician-centric in the 70s than its rivals — this is actually one of the reasons I’ve always been somewhat sour about the late 80s ascendency at MM, beyond mere sibling rivalry: I think something valuable was unthinkingly destroyed at MM during the 80s.) [/Old man rambling grumpily on…]

  95. 95
    Billy Smart on 13 Mar 2010 #

    It was just the writers, its true, but I think that it was the first time that anyone had tried the exercise – about the same time, NME published the equally canon-setting Book of Rock. The missing no. 100 was voted for by the readers, amongst whom one lucky winner won all 100 LPs – a serious prize in an age of musical scarcity!

  96. 96

    Lillian Roxon’s Encyclopedia of rock was the very first of thaqt kind of book — I’ve never seen a copy, and would very much like to. I have two very VERY tattered editions of the NME Book of Rock, which was pretty formative for me — not the very first edition though, sadly. (Sadly for me.) (In all possible senses of sad obv…)

    Had Rolling Stone and/or Creem really not done similar polls previously? Very interesting if yr right about that

  97. 97
    rosie on 13 Mar 2010 #

    Mark @ 92 – you misunderstand, or maybe I didn’t make myself clear. The list, I agree, is derived from elsewhere. The way this group votes on it is determined by its self-selecting nature.

  98. 98

    Yes, I agree with that Rosie — it was meant as a general corrective to various people saying “but where is KRAFTWERK”? I guess the distinction I’m trying to make is that a given community’s own canon-formation is indeed part of the natural self-grooming maintenance of that community’s purpose and integrity: where I think Gambaccini’s proposed canon differs from say the NME’s, is that in the second case, the community is the readership, which may want tweaking but is basically pre-established; whereas in the first, the community is in some sense out there to be discovered (who will buy this book and adopt this canon?)

    And the distinction between a canonic list popular drew up and voted on, and our responses to this parachuted-in Acclaimed Music canon, is that we don’t have any real sense of where or what the relevant community is — pre-established or to-be-established? pan-generational? — that we’re responding to. How do we know if we feel at home in it or want to leave it? Or wish to send fraternal greetings from afar, or explosive brickbats?

  99. 99

    what even is a brickbat?

  100. 100
    Billy Smart on 13 Mar 2010 #

    “A piece of brick used as a missile” – I’d never thought to look that up!

    Does ‘The Sun Sessions’ never appear on these lists anymore? It always used to when I took such things seriously in the 1980s. That’s possibly my favourite album in the absolute officially accepted history of rock canon.

  101. 101
    The Lurker on 13 Mar 2010 #

    Worst: I’ve always thought Nirvana were lumbering and formulaic, so probably Nevermind. I’m none too fond of the Smiths but not sure if I’ve heard TQID all the way through. Astal Weeks is mainly wailing and tuneless but there are a couple if songs I like on it.

    First: either the Doors, Joshua Tree, Led Zep 4 or Ziggy Stardust.

    Last: probably Remain in Light

    I ticked over 30: I went through a conscious stage of buying much of the canon, guided partly by a 100 best albums feature in Mojo about 15 years ago. I think virtually everything on the list above I’ve heard at least in part, and mostly the whole (although there a few I think are overrated apart from the ones mentioned above).

    In the pre-Internet days I found the various expressions of the canon very useful – a few on the list above (eg Marquee Moon) I bought pretty much without hearing a note.

  102. 102
    swanstep on 13 Mar 2010 #

    @lord sukrat,94. Your observation about how infrequent musicians’ as opposed to critics’ (or joint critics+musicians’) polls are in rock as opposed to jazz (or film – BFI/sight and sound has had separate critics’ and directors’ polls since 1992, e.g., here) has got me thinking that rock/pop might be a very special case. It’s principally a young or relatively unformed/untrained person’s music. The average rock critic/writer almost certainly can lord his or her understanding of things over the latest greatest sensations in rock/pop in ways that are barely imaginable in other fields (e.g. film, where the no-joshing-around, hottest directors can be pushing 60 (Bigelow) or beyond (Haneke)). Perhaps musicians polls in rock are rare because we don’t at bottom respect what rock musicians say (no one does film actors’ polls for somewhat similar reasons perhaps).

  103. 103
    Conrad on 13 Mar 2010 #

    if rock musicians voted for favourite artist, led zeppelin would finish a long way ahead of the field.

  104. 104
    Tom on 13 Mar 2010 #

    Mojo did a couple of musicians-voted polls, in the singles one I believe “Good Vibrations” won with “Waterloo Sunset” 2nd (it might have been songwriters polled about songs, come to think of it)

  105. 105
    lonepilgrim on 14 Mar 2010 #

    Those of us of a certain age will be able to parse the 1974 list and link certain choices to certain writers (i.e. MC5 – Mick Farren) I’m surprised at the relatively low place for the White Album. The relatively high place for Pink Floyd’s PATGOD may reflect the influence of Nick Kent’s reappraisal of Syd from around this time. You can already begin to detect fault lines between different camps at the NME that would lead to Farren’s ‘Titanic’ article/call to arms bemoaning the state of rock n’ roll the following year.

    Making a tenuous link back to Popular’s current focus on 1987 here’s the NME readers top album poll from 1988 which illustrates the perils and pleasures of such lists – but who knows, perhaps Psychocandy will be restored to it’s rightful place one day.

    1. The Queen Is Dead – The Smiths
    2. Psychocandy – Jesus And Mary Chain
    3. Unknown Pleasures – Joy Division
    4. A Hatful Of Hollow – The Smiths
    5. Velvet Underground And Nico – The Velvet Underground
    6. Astral Weeks – Van Morrison
    7. Revolver – The Beatles
    8. Closer – Joy Division
    9. Never Mind The Bollocks – Sex Pistols
    10. Blonde On Blonde – Bob Dylan
    11. The Clash – The Clash
    12. What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
    13. The Smiths – The Smiths
    14. Imperial Bedroom – Elvis Costello
    15. Hlghway 61 Revisited – Bob Dylan
    16. Blood On Thetracks – Bob Dylan
    17. Marquee Moon – Television
    18. Forever Changes – Love
    19. Document – REM
    20. The Joshua Tree – U2
    21. Swordfishtrombones – Tom Waits
    22. King Of America – Elvis Costello
    23. The Doors – The Doors
    24. Steve Mcqueen – Prefab Sprout
    25. Get Happy – Elvis Costello
    26. Rattlesnakes – Lloyd Cole And The Commotions
    27. The White Album – The Beatles
    28. London Calling – The Clash
    29. Born To Run – Bruce Springsteen
    30. Pet Sounds – Beach Boys
    31. Strangeways, Here We Come – The Smiths
    32. Rum Sodomy And The Lash – The Pogues
    33. Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie
    34. Infected – The The
    35. Horses – Patti Smith
    36. Darkness On The Edge Of Town – Bruce Springsteen
    37. Meat Is Murder – The Smiths
    38. Trout Mask Replica – Captain Beefheart And The Magic Band
    39. Life’s Rich Pageant – REM
    40. Rain Dogs – Tom Waits
    41. Soul Mining – The The
    42. Sgt Pepper – The Beatles
    43. All Mod Cons – The Jam
    44. Treasure – Cocteau Twins
    45. Searching For The Young Soul Rebels – Dexys Midnight Runners
    46. Parade – Prince
    47. Hunky Dory – David Bowie
    48. The Sun Collection – Eivis Presley
    49. John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band – John Lennon
    50. Exile On Main Street – The Rolling Stones
    51. L.A, Woman – The Doors
    52. Reckoning – REM
    53. This Year’s Model – Elvis Costello
    54. Kind Of Blue – Miles Davis
    55. Otis Blue – Otis Redding
    56. Dark Side Of The Moon – Pink Floyd
    57. Bringing It All Back Home – Bob Dylan
    58. Singles Golng Steady – Buzzcocks
    59. Setting Sons – The Jam
    60. Low Life – New Order
    61. Murmer – REM
    62. Animals – Pink Floyd
    63. Abbey Road – The Beatles
    64. More Songs About Buildings And Food – Talking Heads
    65. Rubber Soul – The Beatles
    66. Moondance – Van Morrison
    67. Sign ‘O’ TheTtimes – Prince
    68. Fear Of Music – Talking Heads
    69. Substance – New Order
    70. Born In The USA – Bruce Springsteen
    71. Low – David Bowie
    72. For Your Pleasure – Roxy Music
    73. Lexicon Of Love – ABC
    74. Bend Sinister – The Fall
    75. Clear Spot – Captain Beefheart And The Magic Band
    76. New Gold Dream – Simple Minds
    77. High Land Hard Rain – Aztec Camera
    78. Darklands – Jesus And Mary Chain
    79. Grotesque – The Fall
    80. Station To Station – David Bowie
    81. Power Corruption And Lies – New Order
    82. The World Won’t Listen – The Smiths
    83. Beggars Banquet – The Roiling Stones
    84. Berlin – Lou Reed
    85. Hounds Of Love – Kate Bush
    86. George Best – The Wedding Present
    87. The Scream – Siouxsie And The Banshees
    88. London 0 Hull 4 – The Housemartins
    89. Blood And Chocolate – Elvis Costello
    90. Sister – Sonic Youth
    91. This Nation’s Saving Grace – The Fall
    92. Safe As Milk – Captain Beefheart And The Magic Band
    93. The Wall – Pink Floyd
    94. Young Americans – David Bowie
    95. Let’s Get It On – Marvin Gaye
    96. Electric Ladyland – Jimi Hendrix
    97. Crocodiles – Echo And The Bunnymen
    98. Boy – U2 (Island, 1980)
    99. Nightfly – Donald Fagen
    100. Live 1969 – Velvet Underground

    In the interests of full disclosure I should say that I copied this from http://www.rocklist.net/ – possibly worth adding to Populars Useful Links

  106. 106
    thefatgit on 14 Mar 2010 #

    And I remember the letters page was awash with “Wot no Public Enemy?” missives.

  107. 107
    koganbot on 14 Mar 2010 #

    Mark, as I recall the Gambaccini methodology, it was basically Pazz & Jop types combined with the British equivalents (strangely, the only participant I remember for sure was Charlie Gillett, and I doubt many of his choices made it near the top); it also had a real small sample size, and though I don’t think Gambaccini said how he weighted his scores, it was obviously the ridiculous 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 or something like it, which meant that if one single critic placed the New York Dolls in fourth place or thereabouts (and someone did, hurrah!) it made the top 200, whereas if s/he had voted it eighth it wouldn’t have. Iirc, the people left out of the voting were the same ones Pazz & Jop has never been able to really entice, those at the dailies and the trade publications etc. I.e., the only critics in the world who might actually have been offended by punk. So, whatever critical squabbles over punk existed among the type of people likely to vote in a critics poll, this wasn’t an intergenerational struggle. Punk was named and conceptualized by members of the first generation of rock critics, and they plumped for the music, and for them ’76 through ’79 was the return of the good old days. Of course there were plenty of critics who weren’t with punk, but the difference wasn’t generational.

    But coming from the critics who generally liked punk was also a critique of the canon, but such polls don’t capture the critique: the punkiest people who’d vote for the Ramones and the Sex Pistols and Clash might also vote for this or that K-Tel/Ronco anthology, and some would vote the Ronettes and others would vote Tommy James, and maybe an odd disco or Sabbath record would get a nod, and a U. Roy and Big Youth collection, and some Otis and Marley (surprised that Legend‘s not on the list up top, but maybe compilations were ineligible), but this wouldn’t show up anywhere near the top of a list, in ’78 or now. Whereas the Ramones and Clash and Sex Pistols would get votes from the classic rock people who weren’t fucking around with the Troggs and the K-Tel anthologies.

    The big problem is that the list Tom posted up top might as well have been created in ’78, since the records that postdate ’78 – all eleven of them! – hardly challenge the aesthetic (except maybe Thriller and Blue Lines, one of which I haven’t heard). Disco doesn’t exist in this universe, nor does the rethinking of the ’60s that we’ve gotten subsequently. And what this says to me isn’t that “we” (whoever we are, the people whose ideas get compiled in these polls) all agree that what’s up there is the canon, but rather that we don’t really have any kind of consensus on what the story of popular music is, so the stuff that ends up in the “canon” is there by default.

  108. 108
    koganbot on 14 Mar 2010 #

    The canon in 1979, as voted by employees of the Strand bookstore, NYC and compiled for Stranded magazine, a zine some of us put out, except we also allowed certain ex-employees and friends to vote in order to help get the results I wanted. The methodology is that I compiled people’s top ten lists and then added up the results. I didn’t weight the votes, so a tenth-place vote was the same as a first (and a lot of the lists weren’t ordered, as I recall). There were 62 voters. Here were the top nine albums (the ones that got four votes or more):

    1. Blonde On Blonde Bob Dylan 8 votes
    2. Horses Patti Smith 7 votes
    3. Beggars Banquet The Rolling Stones 6 votes
    3. The Clash The Clash 6 votes
    3. The White Album The Beatles 6 votes
    6. Electric Ladyland The Jimi Hendrix Experience 5 votes
    6. Highway 61 Revisited Bob Dylan 5 votes
    8. Let It Bleed The Rolling Stones 4 votes
    8. The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust David Bowie 4 votes

    So look, all but one of these appear on that canon list up-top. And this is from punk rock/avant garde central, NYC 1979. (I should note that Patti Smith had worked at the Strand some years earlier.)

    But also note that the top vote-getter only got on 8 ballots out of 62. And if you start looking at the individual ballots themselves, you see that someone who listed Beggars Banquet also voted for the first Village People album and for Bionic Boogie and the Trammps and Stevie Wonder, that someone who voted for The Clash also voted for Little Eva and Nina Simone and Glenn Gould, someone who voted for Blonde On Blonde also voted for Don Williams (country love balladeer) and Ray Charles and Les Paul, another Clash voter voted for Wayne Shorter and Terje Rypdal and Elvis Costello, another Blonde On Blonde voter listed Thomas Tallis and Bela Bartok and Goro Yamaguchi, someone who voted for Let It Bleed also voted for Pharoah Sanders and Charles Mingus and the Buffalo Springfield, an Electric Ladyland voter also voted for Bach and Schonberg and Verdi, another Electric Ladyland voter voted for Eddie Palmieri and the Art Ensemble Of Chicago, another Clash voter voted for Al Green… You get the point. I took a group of people with wide-ranging tastes and open ears and the poll results made them look narrow and parochial.

    I also compiled the results by performer, with the Rolling Stones winning overwhelmingly, getting 33 votes on 22 ballots, in comparison to the Beatles getting 19 votes on 14 ballots and Bob Dylan getting 19 votes on 13 ballots. But if you go to the artists who got on two ballots, the first ten alphabetically are the Allman Brothers, the original cast of Anything Goes, John Barry, Bela Bartok, Count Basie, Hector Berlioz, Big Youth, Blind Faith, Clifford Brown, the Buffalo Springfield. And John Cage was next, the first C.

    “Canon” might be the wrong word. Common ground. Common reference points. Common knowledge.

  109. 109
    koganbot on 14 Mar 2010 #

    From Lillian Roxon’s Rock Encyclopedia (1969); turning to a page at random (I swear), I see:

    Eden’s children is a Boston-based trio which inevitably, and unfortunately for them, invites comparison with 1968’s most famous rock trios, the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream.

    [Lists band members, albums with track listings, and a single.]

    Eire Apparent is a rock group that came out of Ireland and in 1968 toured the U.S. with Jimi Hendrix and other acts also under the management of ex-Animals Mike Jeffries and Chas Chandler.

    [Lists band members, an album with track listing, and a single.]

    [Next listing is for the Electric Flag; the write-up goes for a full page.]

  110. 110

    kbot@107: “whatever critical squabbles over punk existed… this wasn’t an intergenerational struggle” — nor did i really mean to imply this, as i too was arguing that the gambaccini project was largely an intra-generational snapshot — but (and this may not be related to the gambaccini poll, with its small sample-size, but it was a thing in the air of the times in the UK), i think the intergenerational divide over punk was much more extreme in the uk, possibly because the rock press didn’t establish itself till a lot later… Melody Maker in particular was ALREADY considered the paper that covered “pop” in a serrous and adult way, but it was the weekly journal of record for jazz in the UK, and (from I would judge c.1970?) it had hugely favoured prog rock and “musicianly” rock more generally: its elders were on the whole quite hostile to punk, and quite scornful of the rad-hippie generation of writers also (who had arrived on the NME in the early 70s from the uk underground press, Oz, Frendz, IT, and were — as lonepilgrim hints above — in many ways protopunkers anyway: charles shaar murray, nick kent, mick farren… prior to their arrival NME was not very far from an entertainment-industry trade paper; certainly it wasn’t a rock paper)

    the other wild-card element is john peel — as i say, i’m fairly sure i recall him saying he’d been asked to contribute and had declined (in this period he had a weekly column in sounds as well as his nightly show): when he began to feature punk and post-punk (and reggae) on his show, he divided his listernership; was regarded by the disappointed half as a traitor to rock ideals; but the engaged half would — i suspect — already have been chafing against this statement of the canon, as his refusal to participate suggests

    of course he too was a product of the first generation of “critics” (Radio DJ as performative critic): so this too is an example of intra-generational dissent — but i think the two halves of his DJ career also mark the arrival of the intergenerational divide, even if he himself does not

    it’s not very clear, but i wasn’t using hippe-punk as a temporal distribution, but an associational or spatial one!

    (I gather from Roxon’s Wikipedia entry that her book was a vivid look at NOW rather than a statement for the ages: of course she herself died distressingly young)

  111. 111

    “Canon” might be the wrong word. Common ground. Common reference points. Common knowledge: as i say somewhere above, I think you can’t have a Canon of Everything, because it’s about determining the limits of a usage or a form (or — if this is different — a community).

    Very rough (UK-centric) rule of thumb: 80s musicwriting became a juggling of rival subcultural canons (some cleaving to one alone; others being deliberately pluralist; 90s musicwriting was purgative — pluralism was eschewed and became a kind of thoughtcrime, subcultures grew apart and communicated less and less; 00s musicwriting, well the net favours elective affinities and hence gulf crisis?

  112. 112

    What I guess i’m getting at is that — based on my own response to this Gambaccini book as i looked at it in bookshops in 1978, the year I went college — the DIVIDE was already changing within ME (as a rockpaper reader of perhaps two years standing; for a year with vivid intensity) from a diachronic divide, this part of my sensiblity (gong fan) over HERE, this part (siouxsie fan) over HERE, into a synchronic divide (this — PROG — is my foolish past; this — PUNK — is my brilliant future). And the fact that I didn’t buy the book is a sign that, synchronically, I was rejecting its perspective.

    Now at the time I was just one confused ill-informed teenage n00b, in a small rural agricultural town in an era of informtion scarcity, so this is anecdata only: but my sense is that the synchronic divide in US pop culture did indeed hit somewhat later than its equivalent in the US, perhaps just because the UK is smaller and other things were going on…

  113. 113
    Tom on 14 Mar 2010 #

    The relative suddenness of Peel’s audience changeover (and canon shakeout) illustrated in the Festive Fifty polls, as discussed by me here)

  114. 114
    koganbot on 14 Mar 2010 #

    I think you can’t have a Canon of Everything

    Oh yeah? How about this?

    1. Dinosaurs
    2. The wheel
    3. The way she looked that summer
    4. E. coli
    5. A. Conan Doyle
    6. Napoleon
    7. Superwords
    8. WTF?
    9. China
    10. Protein

    But anyway, “Western Art” and “Western Literature” do have canons despite being too big for them and lots of people now screaming bloody murder, and those canons tell a useful story, even if it will be overthrown and replaced by other ones. “Western Music” does not have a canon that I or anyone like me would remotely buy into anymore, probably because the Official Good Stuff (i.e., classical) was so removed from so much of the popular, wasn’t just seen as different in quality but different in kind, that it found itself vulnerable to overthrow and marginalization.

    Farren’s only a year younger than Christgau, and three years older than Cohn, which doesn’t necessarily mean that he can’t be a later generation. I’m the same age as Tiven and only a year or two younger than Metal Mike, and as close in age to Bangs as to Eddy, but people would rightly put me in the Eddy generation and Tiven and Metal Mike in the Bangs generation, not that it makes any difference now. But Farren is still pretty early, right?, getting criticism printed in the early ’70s according to Wikip.

    “Punk” itself was perceived as more temporal in Britain than in the U.S. Tosches tagged the Heartbeats and Dylan as punks in “The Punk Muse,”* and of course for Marsh and Bangs it was underway with the Troggs and ? and the Mysterians, so it was music they were weaned on, and ongoing, never not contemporary. Whereas in Britain there was The Punk Rock Movement that challenged what had preceded it.

    *”Muse” was as important as “punk” in that essay; his idea was that the punk on the street had visions of the great mystery of life and getting into Betty’s pants, the two more or less equated.

  115. 115
    koganbot on 14 Mar 2010 #

    Unfortunately, the Roxon is more interesting as an artifact than as criticism, and what I mostly use it for is the list of Billboard and Cashbox albums and singles at the end, which of course one can find online too.

  116. 116
    swanstep on 14 Mar 2010 #

    @Tom, 113. Peel’s festive 50s are new to me. They are almost hilariously unbalanced and narrowcast (and I say that speaking as someone who absolutely loves the music they champion). The 1982 all-time list tells the tale of an extinction-level-event/year zero that kills off almost all pre-punk. Looking at the next (only subsequent?) all-time list from 2000, 5 of the top 10 from 1982’s list (#1-3,8,10) survive into 2000’s top-10, only with enhanced status: they now occupy #1-5. The rest of 2000’s top 10 are 1983-1985 releases (mainly smiths and new order) with only Smells like teen spirit from the post-1985 world.

    It’s a remarkable picture: a new regime takes power in a bloodbath and then spends the next 20 years further entrenching itself. I’m so ronery. Or maybe a biological model of population bottlenecks is helpful – either way, I can see why Peel might not have liked looking in this particular mirror!

  117. 117
    thefatgit on 15 Mar 2010 #

    So are we saying Peel killed the canon? Maybe it’s the case for the indie-centric pop kid, but if it’s through the likes of Peel’s Festive Fifty that the focus changes, and some may cite punk as the catalyst, then he may well have indirectly been rsponsible for the shift in focus away from the traditional pre-punk canon. If the Allmusic list is anything to go by, then perhaps the canon wobbled a bit and then re-asserted itself with maybe a few visible scars to show for the punk mauling it got.

  118. 118
    Tom on 15 Mar 2010 #

    I think the Peel lists are more like ambiguous tree ring evidence for SOMETHING happening – they might help explain why the canon started to feel a little oppressive/irrelevant/silly/odd, and they’re a good reflection of a particular kind of counter-canon, which then itself stagnated, much QUICKER than the “official” one I’d say.

  119. 119
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 15 Mar 2010 #

    Yes, I doubt Peel had much of a general effect — indeed Tom makes the point in that piece that he didn’t even have that much of a local effect; and however beloved he was to a certain agegroup, he was always treated as sanctioned outlier and pet eccentric (a very British kind of tolerance). But he’s a symptom and an early marker of a disaffection that manifested in the UK as more generational than it probably actually was: and also a bit of an awful warning against the pretensions of year-zero thinking. Howsoever radical you believe yourself, you only think you escape the past — whatever it is made you, even if it made you negatively, is always with you.

  120. 120
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 15 Mar 2010 #

    I was mainly making the argument (not very clearly) that while canon-formation was a joint US-UK affair, I think its timing and the inner dymanics were very different on either side of the Atlantic, for a variety of reasons to do with the respective media settlements. There isn’t an equivalent of Peel in the US — or indeed of the BBC — and the US rockpress sprang up more or less fully formed, whereas the UK rockpress had to colonise extant pre-existing publications, with the battles with a (pre-rock) old gaurd that this entails.

    In the past I’ve argued that John Lennon’s massive multi-part interview with Jann Wenner at Rolling Stone in 1970 had a canon-forming effect: in that he took the various musics the Beatles had sanctified, and made judgement what was good and what was not. (However I have not reread this interview for many years, and am not sure how well this idea — my idea — stands up.)

  121. 121
    thefatgit on 15 Mar 2010 #

    Would it be fair to say that when William Rees Mogg wrote the “Butterfly on a Wheel” editorial in The Times in ’67, the fact that a broadsheet acknowledging rock (albeit about Mick and Keefs Redland trial), forced a change within the music press establishment of the day, thus including more rock within the pre-existing canon? Perhaps in a similar way to how punk entered the canon later. Mainstream acknowledgement is always helpful to a new movement irrespective of whether that acknowledgment is positive or negative.

  122. 122
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 15 Mar 2010 #

    No, the Times’s music critic William Mann had already written glowingly about the Beatles, and his review of Sergeant Pepper was carried as an editorial — this wasn’t unimportant in the sense you’re proposing (it’s what drew SP: to my parents’ attention, so is arguably the making of me as a pop writer!); and possibly also set the seed of SP’s subsequent overthrow. It used the phrase “pandiatonic clusters”! (Correctly!)

    (Also I think Butterly on a Wheel is 1968…)

    I’m not sure there WAS a pre-existing canon in the UK, in pop anyway: I certainly don’t know where it would have been explored or agreed on (MM would maybe have had a jazz one; NME was kind of a trade paper really, lots of charts every week but nothing to establish a shared retrospect). Pop and jazz didn’t even arrive on Brit radio-dials until 1967, except via Luxemberg.

  123. 123
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 15 Mar 2010 #

    And Caroline.

  124. 124
    Matt DC on 15 Mar 2010 #

    Worst – The Queen Is Dead
    Earliest love – Thriller
    Most recent love – Born To Run
    Favourite, even though no one asked for it – Forever Changes

    Amazed it’s After The Gold Rush that makes this list and not Harvest.

  125. 125
    Alan not logged in on 15 Mar 2010 #

    “Amazed it’s After The Gold Rush that makes this list and not Harvest”

    “Worst – The Queen Is Dead”
    but not this

  126. 126
    Gavin Wright on 15 Mar 2010 #

    Voted for 41 of these, going on gut reaction really – there’s nothing on this list I actively dislike to be honest

    1. Let It Bleed – I’ve tried and tried with this one but despite some great moments (Monkey Man, Gimme Shelter) it just feels lacking compared to the Stones albums released either side of it. It’s frustrating because I can’t quite put my finger on why.

    2. Nevermind – I’ve mentioned it before but this was a big record for me, about a year after it came out. Sgt. Pepper would be the next one.

    3. Live At The Apollo – this lay largely unlistened to for a long time but I had a breakthrough with it sometime last year.

    My answers even five years ago would have been very different I think – I had an aversion to overtly bluesy british rock ’til my mid-’20s.

  127. 127
    koganbot on 15 Mar 2010 #

    I read the Lennon interview at the time (1970-’71?) but think it came way too late to make a difference in regard to Beatles canon. Also I don’t remember what Lennon said about his own music except that he was thinking of “I’m A Loser” and “Nowhere Man” being the beginning of where he started to think deeper (unless it was somewhere else he said that). But what I mean by “way too late” is that the idea that the late ’60s improved on the early ’60s was embedded in the culture even before the late ’60s – i.e., the late ’60s embodied pre-existing ideas of Meaningfulness and Quality (as Meltzer subsequently labeled/derided the ideas).

    But also I’d say that the semi-opposition to Meaning and Quality was in rock criticism from its early and mid ’60s get-go. I say “semi-opposition” in that I doubt that anyone who wasn’t simply reactionary (and no rock critics were) wasn’t excited by the prospect of rock ‘n’ roll blowing beyond its appointed cultural place as entertainment. And Meltzer of course wasn’t against things being meaningful or the making of value judgments. A part of the problem was that Meaning and Quality became niches that rock was boxing itself into. (Not that this is necessarily right, but it’s still a good though too simple way of trying to organize in my mind what was going wrong in the late ’60s and subsequently.)

    Overall I’m distrustful of any narrative that shows one side of an ongoing tension or conflict superseding in time another side of the ongoing tension/conflict, even if that story does seem like the truth as it’s occurring. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t tell a good story, just that the story has to acknowledge that all notions of Meaning and Quality are running simultaneously and contain each other. Which is to say that, while showbiz notions of Meaning and Quality may dominate the British mags in the early ’60s (I don’t know, not having seen them), showbiz notions contain art and romanticized folk notions of Meaning and Quality as well, even if those notions seem to challenge the showbiz. But that doesn’t mean that, e.g., it’s not useful to point out that in ’60s Britain the emerging rock critics would have been overthrowing showbiz notions while plumping for the art and romanticized folk notions, whereas in North America the emerging rockcrits were both plumping for and at odds with art and romanticized folk notions, and were more willing to see some value in the showbiz, since they had to deal with the showbiz less. But my guess is that the Brits are closer to the Americans than that story suggests, that they (e.g., Cohn, for instance) are wrestling plenty with the art and folkie notions but they also have to wrestle with entrenched showbiz notions in the mags more than the U.S. critics do, who are coming up in Sing Out! and Esquire and the Voice and the Saturday Review and the New Yorker and the New York Times Arts And Leisure section and, later, Rolling Stone and Fusion and Creem – places where art and folk are more likely than showbiz to be exalted (though Fusion and Creem are also challenging the exalting) – but not particularly in Billboard or Variety.

    But I think that the most interesting story is the disjunction between critic and fan. It’s the ’60s fan by and large who’s going for art and folkie Meaning and Quality and trying to impose it on the critic who’s somewhat challenging M&Q. Punk starts with critics at odds with their readers and musicians spitting on their audience and only slowly do the readers/fans take this as a model for spitting back.

  128. 128
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 15 Mar 2010 #

    I actually meant that Lennon’s judgements helped establish what got counted as its acceptable precursors and what got ignored — so the effect was less on what Beatles music mattered, but on what got to be sketched as the dawn of rock’n’roll, and what didn’t.

    And yes, this would have been an effect on Rolling Stone readers rather than writers. (Beatles LPs already supply a critical assessment of their precursors, via the range of cover versions and the styles they synthesised, but the sources aren’t self-evident — they need someone authoritative name them…)

    (But this is me remembering my own long-ago claim much more clearly than what was going on the interview I was making claims about…)

  129. 129
    koganbot on 15 Mar 2010 #

    (Hmmm. Not so sure about that last sentence of mine in regard to early Stones shows, where the riots inspired by the band had the possibility of turning on the band, at least that’s the story I’ve heard and that one or two bits of YouTube evidence might confirm.)

  130. 130
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 15 Mar 2010 #

    The thing I’d add to “Quality and Meaning” as elements to be suspicious of, is Craft: as in musicianly technique, what it should be and could be and mustn’t be — because the other two don’t quite cover it, and I think this was something at issue from the early 60s, with writers as semi-bystanders in the contest.

  131. 131
    koganbot on 15 Mar 2010 #

    Craft – to be suspicious of and to not denigrate too much. I get the feeling that the Modern Lovers and the Dolls and the Ramones and the Sex Pistols are a critical vortex here, in that they seemed to be trashing standard notions of competence while also being quite admiring of early ’60s craftsmen (Greenwich-Barry-Spector and the lot) whom rock overthrew. And this tension has not gone away, old craft, anti-craft, countercraft.

    American Idol/X Factor are plenty interesting here in that they place a huge emphasis on craft, are rethinking the past in interesting ways (Neil Diamond is potentially canon, Sir Andrew is potentially canon, Heart is potentially canon, Mariah is a goddess), but they’re also seeped in the romanticism of the rock era, are praising performers for knowing who they are on the one hand while urging them to take risks on the other. Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood both assured their supremacy in their respective years by walking way out of their expected range and nailing it, Kelly doing Betty Hutton and Carrie doing Heart. Stoner Jason Castro made it into the final four while resolutely (or irresolutely or whatever) delivering something but not totally getting it together, and I think he was admired for this. And there’s Kara DioGuardi on the judges panel embodying all these tensions, Ms. Businesswoman and Ms. Wild Romantic.

    The fans just voted off the competent jazz singer Lily Scott and the raw but potentially very good Alex Lambert, both votes making me unhappy.

  132. 132
    koganbot on 15 Mar 2010 #

    Album that pleased me by being unexpectedly on the list up-top: Marquee Moon.

    Albums that I am surprised aren’t on it: Daydream Nation; This Year’s Model.

  133. 133
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 15 Mar 2010 #

    the craft aspect actually popped into my head when i remembered that the young mr jagger had written a provocative letter to some jazz publication in 1963 arguing for R&B against jazz, and complaining about how jazz writers and clubs looked down on R&B

    (the term “progressive” in prog rock was as far as i know first used by jazz critics to write about a particular trend in jazz: “progressive jazz” meant stan kenton, pretty much…: but in the early days of UK psychedelia, some of the club blues bands who were mixing in other stuff called themselves “progressive blues”) (“progressive” kind of meant, “has to chops also to play classical runs” — or if you were a bluesman, jazz runs)

  134. 134
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 15 Mar 2010 #

    No one actually likes Daydream Nation, they just think they do.

  135. 135
    Tom on 15 Mar 2010 #

    My canon odyssey is progressing nicely. I’m a little surprised by quite how much ambiguous memory-charge the Joshua Tree has for me, since I don’t think I listened to it more than once or twice at the time: I guess it was so current at school that I just absorbed it.

  136. 136
    AndyPandy on 15 Mar 2010 #

    Pilgrim @ 105: Re “Piper at the Gates of Dawn” scoring so highly in 1974 – 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.

    And no “Hounds of Love” (or any other Kate Bush), Steely Dan (even the 1988 NME list had Donald Fagen’s “The Nightfly”!).
    Also no Frank Sinatra (yes I know he’s not rock but nor is Miles Davis, or Public Enemy for that matter)as he definitely made albums as they came to be known.And if token jazz or rap why no token pre-rock/non-rock?

    Finally the regular inclusion of certain non-album artists compilations in these lists (usually 50s rock n roll or 60s soul)always smacked of a desperate and extremely misguided attempt to include everything when such lists were most definitely not all-inclusive).In fact these inclusions could be seen as fatally undermining the whole concept from the word go.

  137. 137
    lonepilgrim on 15 Mar 2010 #

    re137 Thanks Andy, I wasn’t aware of that. As a young Floyd fan hooked by DSOTM i was completely unaware of Syd’s place in the band’s history ( and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone) so Nick Kent’s article was a revelation to me. I remember buying A Nice Pair – a cut-price package of the two Floyd albums and being initially quite perplexed by the quirkier Syd tracks.

    I don’t know if Frank or Mark can shed any light on the impact of Nuggets – a project compiled by Lenny Kaye – (later) of the Patti Smith Group – as both the act of a fan and as a challenge to the canon.

  138. 138

    i remember a very funny and evil nme review by julie burchill of — presumably — easter, in which she said PS had a wardrobe full of the skins of famous dead rockstars, and that she liked nothing better put them on and preen around in them

  139. 139
    AndyPandy on 15 Mar 2010 #

    Pilgrim at 137: I should have added that it was called “Terrapin” (after one of his solo tracks) and for a time thee were extracts from old editions on the net – I remember reading them once a few years ago – unfortunately I don’t know if they’re still there.

  140. 140
    Lex on 15 Mar 2010 #

    Something I just posted on Frank’s lj apropos of a few things, including this mammoth conversation – I hate the way the canon monopolises the conversation and the critical space even when there’s a healthy dose of scepticism. I don’t just think most of these albums are bad, I think the list as a whole is very, very boring, and find myself resenting it even more for making Tom plough through it when there are SO MANY better, more worthwhile, more interesting albums he could be ploughing through! The best way to overthrow the canon, once the initial argument against it has been made, is surely to IGNORE it and talk about the stuff that gets overlooked because of its squatting, overbearing presence…

    Every sentence written about the Doors or Bob sodding Dylan or U2 (why anything ever needs to be said about U2 apart from the occasional demand for Bono to cunt off I have no idea) is one less sentence devoted to the acres of music which haven’t had half the sentences they deserve yet…

  141. 141
    Tom on 15 Mar 2010 #

    The U2 was worthwhile! It gave me a big unexpected memory-rush and it gave me a good angle on them when they come up on Popular. Otherwise all I’ve listened to so far are records I listen to quite regularly anyway, and the Velvet Underground and Nico, which was worth returning to.

  142. 142
    Tom on 15 Mar 2010 #

    I mean, the reason I’m doing it is that most of these supposedly overbearing squatting inescapable things have BEEN SUCCESSFULLY ESCAPED by me for years.

  143. 143
    Rory on 15 Mar 2010 #

    In a similar vein, I spent a happy hour or so with The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and Highway 61 Revisited on Saturday night while doing the shopping; that wasn’t time I would have otherwise spent listening to new music, just a podcast or some such. And to me this was new music. Thanks, swanstep – Freewheelin’ was an excellent entry point. I felt that half the stuff I’ve listened to over the past decade had prepared me for it, and that I finally got what all the fuss was about. Highway 61, on the other hand, reminded me of that long-ago evening of Bob overdose that put me off for so long; the band sounded too raucous, and his voice had changed – I couldn’t help half-thinking “Judas!”. But I’m prepared to give it time, and to try the other ’60s albums and beyond, in a way that I never thought I would be.

  144. 144
    thefatgit on 15 Mar 2010 #

    Indeed I think I mentioned in my post @41 that I needed to reappraise my choices, as much of what I ticked I hadn’t heard in ages.

    I think Lex, you made a choice to disregard the canon. That is of course your choice, but in order to reinforce your own system of what is “value” and what isn’t, then you would need some kind of personal canon. The artists/albums/singles/gigs you have gained the most pleasure from, make for a framework for how you appreciate what new discovery comes your way.

    At the beginning of this (on the Starship thread), I mistrusted the canon for maybe similar reasons to you, but for perhaps the wrong reasons as Tom and Marcello pointed out to me (strange how Marcello is absent from this thread, but he may have his own reasons for not contributing I guess).

    What I’ve read since has been somewhat of an education, and busted a few myths along the way.

  145. 145
    Gavin Wright on 16 Mar 2010 #

    Re: #140, I certainly have similar reservations about the canon represented here even if my relationship with it is different to yours – I love many of these albums, yet they make up only a fraction of what I like or want from pop music. I suppose in that respect I’d like to see the canon expanded to the point where it becomes meaningless, i.e. Ziggy Stardust has a place but it should be among a list of 2,000 great albums, not one of 50. I expect I’m not alone in this respect and most Popular commenters could name plenty of lesser-known favourites they love as much as the records they’ve ticked here.

    In the meantime, though, I grudgingly accept that the canon is here (for now, not necessarily to stay – I’ve witnessed the stock of various ‘classic’ bands rise and fall over the years and the conversation re: Jefferson Airplane on the ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now’ thread underlines this) but I dislike the way it’s approached. My problem with the endless Uncut/Q articles on Dylan or The Beatles is that they almost never add anything to the conversation – after all there’s no real reason why people shouldn’t have fresh perspectives on these records and I’ve enjoyed Marcello’s albums blog precisely for this reason; it’s to his eternal credit that he’s able to write interestingly about something as ubiquitous and frequently discussed as Sgt. Pepper.

    However I’m optimistic that things might change (they have to!), that a broader spectrum of tastes and viewpoints could end up being represented in these lists/debates/discussions and the field become wider as a result – Popular is quite heartening in this respect, to be honest!

  146. 146
    enitharmon on 16 Mar 2010 #

    Perhaps the best way of looking at the canon is as a collection of works which broke new ground, which in one way or another are outstanding milestones in the field.

    Consider for a moment the world of film, which has a firm canon going somewhat further back in time than the canon of recorded popular music. I would have no doubt that films like Birth of a Nation or Triumph des Willens have an important part in such a canon. They are undoubtedly works of genius and they undoubtedly went to places nobody had gone before, but they are not pleasant to watch. (Actually I might substitute Intolerance for BOAN but even that’s heavy going). And then the canon inevitably sets up targets to be shot at; not least Citizen Kane which I’ve often heard called cold and soulless although it’s a film I never tire of, if only for one line that gets me every time (“Sure we’re speaking Jedediah: you’re fired”). Conversely there are lots of films I love that don’t really have a place in the canon.

    So, on this basis Trout Mask Replica is certainly worthy of a canonical place. I’m happy I have it in my collection and I even like it and appreciate its wit, but I don’t think I’ve listened to it all the way through more than a handful of times and it’s very hard for me to love.

  147. 147
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 16 Mar 2010 #

    I think the idea of a group of breakthrough works that define a subsequently stable field of interest is entirely coherent and sustainable, and also makes more sense of the sense of time-lockedness — but what it also presumably entails is a “countercanon” of works ostensibly within said field, which actually break OUT of it, and go on to help define a rival field (or more likely fields). It also explains the sense of frustration and irritation, when people working in the rival (later) fields find they’re being hemmed in by the prerequisites of the wrong canon; judged in the wrong field. This is what Jagger was angrily arguing in the early 60s; what Andypandy is arguing re the late 80s; what the Lex is arguing now.

    The notion that the cardinality of such a group of breakthrough works will always be divisible by ten — or indeed five — is highly unsustainable.

  148. 148
    Lex on 16 Mar 2010 #

    @144 yeah of course I have a personal canon – everyone does! and the existence of those should render these tired, meaningless rock-crit canons completely redundant. I’m not saying that the individual albums here should be verboten from discussion but the list as a whole should be – it’s incredibly frustrating to see THIS get ~150 responses when there’s so much music out there that’s worthy of this level of discussion that hasn’t begun to be talked about as much. Like, people seem all too willing to talk about the canon and the countercanon and the metacanon from every possible direction even when they don’t profess any particular affection for either the concept or the albums within it, but when you try to talk about actual specific stuff outside it the only response is ~tumbleweeds~.

  149. 149
    Tom on 16 Mar 2010 #

    Come on Lex, metaconversation almost always beats out subject-oriented conversation in terms of wordage! It’s not a good thing necessarily but it’s a thing.

  150. 150
    Kat but logged out innit on 16 Mar 2010 #

    It’s always been the case though – most people tend to only read reviews of artists or songs they’ve already heard, so getting those people to go the extra step and *talk* about music can be a frustrating task unless they know it inside-out.

  151. 151
    Tom on 16 Mar 2010 #

    This is why I like the Pop World Cup as a format – 10-15 comments on new (to people) stuff, the sports metaphors liberate people in a way. (They probably put other commenters off).

  152. 152

    I think the idea of a purely personal canon is as meaningless as that of a universal canon: what you’re doing when you’re getting people talking about a new record is webbing them into a territory of shared and communicable values, and one very effective way to do that is the identification of shared icons or indicators of values, ie the creation of a canon (but this canon has to be something that’s common to a group of people, and that in effect defines that group).

    Since I’m interested in the history of rockwriting, I’m interested in the history of the rock canon. But then I’m very old, and the salad of all my salad days is relevant to my interests: obviously it’s my job to make it interesting to anyone else — assuming something’s interesting just because I shout about it a lot would be a bit self-defeating.

  153. 153
    Lex on 16 Mar 2010 #

    The sports metaphors just confuse me! I hardly ever know whether something is a compliment or not.

    I’d just really rather be talking about the new Sade album or Erykah Badu singles or the polarising styles of Gucci Mane and Nicki Minaj – first two are widely available and both have huge back catalogues anyway, second two have been increasingly everywhere for a year now – discussing this tedious old-white-man framework from whatever perspective yet again. I mean, what has the last DECADE of canon-talk been about except burying it, over and over again? We shouldn’t need to either heap more soil on to it or to exhume it. As far as I’m concerned it’s a critically bankrupt concept and there’s nothing left to say about it as a whole, but there’s PLENTY to say about other stuff.

  154. 154
    Kat but logged out innit on 16 Mar 2010 #

    You should start using tennis metaphors to doubly-confuse everyone!

  155. 155
    Lex on 16 Mar 2010 #

    I have thought about doing that but I just end up doubly-confusing MYSELF in trying to corral tennis metaphors into a football-scoring framework.

  156. 156

    If you’d rather be talking about something then you have to give people who haven’t heard it reasons to talk about it. If lots of people who’ve heard don’t want to talk about it, then you have to consider if
    (a) you’re attracted to music that people find it HARD to talk* about (and if so what are you going to do about this?)
    (b) you’re attracted to music liked by people who DISLIKE talking about it (and if so what are you going to do about this?)

    People mostly prefer to talk about things they find it easy to talk about. What are you doing to make things easier? In a sense this was the main problem I was addressing when I was at The Wire: where a lot of the music that’s written about is generally written about really badly, in ways that actively put off people who would really like it — or anyway this was true back when I was there of jazz and the avant-garde. (The latter is still badly written about, on the whole; the former is no longer an issue.) Rock is a music whose history and whose is intimately linked into its being written about and read about, by people who like to read about music; arguably more than any other music, actually. This isn’t something that can just be magicked away, because you can’t magic into existence a large enough new pool of confident writer-readers with different tastes (or tabula rasa tastes).

    *By “talk” we mean written-down conversations

  157. 157
    Tom on 16 Mar 2010 #

    I’d just really rather be talking about the new Sade album or Erykah Badu singles or the polarising styles of Gucci Mane and Nicki Minaj

    Go on then. Do it in a piece. Or if you can’t get a buyer do it in your blog. Or do it on ILM – lots of conversation there, it’s pretty good for that. I’m sick of people – not just you Lex – saying “Why aren’t people talking about X”. TALK ABOUT IT. Do it in a way that draws other people in too, not intimidates them or pisses them off or makes them feel stupid for not being on the train two stops earlier. I mean, unless you want to do those things – it’s a strategy.

    As I keep saying, starting conversations online that don’t fizzle out is REALLY HARD. Starting non-fatuous conversations is really REALLY hard. Sometimes you have to start a conversation about stuff that looks like it’s going to be fatuous and trust people to get somewhere interesting. Doesn’t always work. And even if you get “somewhere interesting” mostly nothing comes of it. Why do we WANT to talk about stuff anyway? Is the “talking about stuff” related to the stuff or an activity that’s fun in itself?

  158. 158
    Tom on 16 Mar 2010 #

    xpost with Mark who is saying the same thing rather less stridently!

    Just came up in my twitter feed: “it’s more about sharing than discourse. That’s what people really care about.” – said by Chris Weingarten apparently. This is true I think – we’re in a minority.

  159. 159

    “Rock is a music whose history and whose is intimately…”
    “Rock is a music whose history and whose MEANING is intimately…”

  160. 160
    Lex on 16 Mar 2010 #

    I have written a ton about all of those artists, in print and online, except Sade! I mean, every day of my life I talk about the music I’m enthusiastic about, and in many cases even provide direct links for people to hear it! And so do many other people – I mean, if the efforts of the So Many Shrimp dudes for the past year can’t get people to talk about Gucci Mane literally nothing can. And there’s no onus on anyone to talk about any of it obviously but then you see ~150 responses about the bloody fucking stupid worthless canon again and it’s like, what is the bloody point, let’s all be ostriches and talk about the Beatles forever rather than the cream of actual living music. And specifically I want to talk about it with YOU LOT because I enjoy seeing your perspectives on songs and artists, otherwise I would just go to ILM or the Jukebox; I find that I only get to talk about artists like these with “insiders”, so to speak, and as valuable as I find that I also want to read the point of view of intelligent outsiders, because that’s one that – as a fan of these artists – doesn’t come naturally to me.

    “Talking about stuff” is fun AND related to the stuff.

  161. 161
    Lex on 16 Mar 2010 #

    Rock is a music whose history and whose is intimately linked into its being written about and read about, by people who like to read about music; arguably more than any other music, actually. This isn’t something that can just be magicked away

    But I think everyone in this thread is smart and self-aware enough to make a bit of an effort to move beyond this highly unsatisfactory state of affairs!

  162. 162
    Tom on 16 Mar 2010 #

    #160 right, so it’s a case of finding the right mechanism for doing it – whether here or via some other project. To be honest I think Will and the Jukebox have taken a lot of the

    As the thread title suggests this thread was basically meant as a “kick back, relax, see if anything interesting comes of it” one-off – we’ve had a bunch of new readers of Popular recently and a more level-playing-field thread seemed worthwhile.

  163. 163
    thefatgit on 16 Mar 2010 #

    There’s nothing to stop a personal set of preferences being made communicable, indeed it can be viewed as a kind of Mandelbrot fractal picture, where lots of little canons focused outwards form a much larger, but strangely familiar picture to the one we started out with. You can allow for tonal and angular variations, so that the journey from point x to point y is not going to be a dull repetition of what has been viewed already. Fractals are tools that cleave order from a chaotic overview, and statisticians use them to macro a selective group’s responses to fit a wider field of study. And of course it’s not infallible or 100% accurate, but it’s measurable, and for the purposes of gauging the canon, it’s quite possible to apply a similar kind of logic.

  164. 164
    Steve Mannion on 16 Mar 2010 #

    “Bad” lists can as fun and interesting to discuss as “good” lists – at least the potential is always there and with any list you can decide how much attention to pay to either content or context when doing so. If Tom had done this as a “let’s talk about how awesome many of these albums are!” I doubt it would attract as many comments. Obv people like to moan and again can do so either about the content (several great albums here, many i’ve not heard…none i can really say i have real problems with beyond just the boredom with their canonical position which includes the LPs i like), context (definitely more of a sticking point and ties in to the issue of whether ‘more votes = more predictability and pedestrianism of results’) or both.

    Certain subjects get more posts. On Comment Is Free, articles about race, gender, climate change and anything mentioning the Nazis get far more replies than anything else. People will have the same arguments over and over again on these matters. Same goes for the canon/list-related subject in music criticism.

  165. 165

    Yes, Lex, “literally” the problem here is that nothing you have ever done is or can possibly be wrong or ever be done better, and that I on the other hand am unintelligent and lack self-awareness. Way to swing my vote, d00d.

    As I say, often the issue that is things that are potentially interesting is that they’re written about in ways that are misleading or offputting to people who aren’t yet attuned to them. You can indeed, as you routinely and impatiently do, take the line that anyone with interests and knowledge not identical to yours, those as yet unattuned, is clearly beneath contempt and not worth a second of your time or patience — it’s a very old and a very normalised avant-gardist’s stance — but you can’t then be all astonished when they don’t eagerly follow you where you want to take them. (Or rather, you can: but people will point at you and laugh!)

    Not only is your stubbornly underdeveloped skillset NOT actually homework that I’m supposed to be dropping all my own projects to substitute for*, the fact that I’m a historian and a critic, where you’re a journalist and reviewer, sets my ethos against yours, strictly speaking: I *don’t* live only in the present, noting and judging each new development as it descends. Indeed, professionally speaking, it’s of interest to me where your rhetoric, tactics and strategy begin to work against themselves, because it helps me understand where and how similar debacles happened in the past; it’s NOT really in my (professional) interests to shore this stuff up on your behalf — what I actually (very likely) want to be doing, or anyway should be doing, is seeing where the weaknesses take you and your project, and also seeing whether they’re intrinsic to the project and the aesthetic…

    *Exceot insofar as I’m a professional editor, and do indeed often have to put simnilar wheels back on similarly stranded vehicles

  166. 166
    ace inhibitor on 16 Mar 2010 #

    Szell: Is it canon?
    Babe: You’re talking to me?
    Szell: Is it canon?
    Babe: Is what canon?
    Szell: Is it canon?
    Babe: I don’t know what you mean. I can’t tell you something’s canon or not, unless I know specifically what you’re talking about.
    Szell: Is it canon?
    Babe: Tell me what the “it” refers to.
    Szell: Is it canon?
    Babe: Yes, it’s canon, it’s very canon, it’s so canon you wouldn’t believe it.
    Szell: Is it canon?
    Babe: No. It’s not canon, it’s… very anti-canon, be careful.

  167. 167
    Tom on 16 Mar 2010 #

    This latest tussle with the Lex has moved this thread into the only canon that really matters, the Top 10 Most Commented On Freaky Trigger Posts.

  168. 168
    rosie on 16 Mar 2010 #

    In the exalted company of JJ Barrie then, Tom!

  169. 169

    Just to amplify a bit less irascibly — i was tired and cross yesterday about the apparent vanishing of all my radio free narnia archives, which may or may not turn out to be rescuable — the ” stubbornly underdeveloped skillset” is of course a two-way thing: i am a terrible journalist, for all kids of reasons, and never made an effort to get better at it; even when it was my primary living i could never get worked upo about what’s NOW and what’s NEXT and what’s UPCOMING and WHY YOU SHOUDL CARE!! Which means of course that I entitrely rely on the skills of others to do this for me (and Lex is one, as he has an excellent ear and a cogent sensibility); I’m also quite a poor reviewer, in the sense that it’s easy to read reviews of mine and come away with all kids of info but no idea whether the thing is any good or not (again: not something I’m terribly interested in — I have my opinion whether I like it or not, but my tastes are intensely intrumentalised, so that “good” for me pretty much entirely means “can I write something entertaining or useful or provocative sparked by this)

    And to stress also, I’m not pulling rank re historian-critic vs journalist-reviewer, though I suspect it reads a bit like it: both are vital, and both need each other. What I mean is that the basic sensibilities, the “professional deformations” of these roles are quite at odds: so that my needs, to do my bit well, don’t necessarily overlap with Lex’s (for example, I basically don’t read newspapers at all, because they are an aggravating distraction; and ditto these days ILX, less because it’s aggravating than because it’s a massive enjoyable timesink where I’d get nothing of consequence done).

    So, anyway: don’t post when grumpy (note to self) and apologies if I nettled you. When you say “what more can I possibly do?” — one thing you can do is provide links to your various discussions (and enticing summaries!); I post here — in threads like this — precisely because the balance of digression and non-distraction with interesting enflaming of (my) ideas is about right. Because I’m trying to think about larger historical patterns: and getting too excitedly caught up in this week’s shiny excellence derails me.

  170. 170

    (for kids read kinds throughout: it is the anniversary of the arrival of my adoptive niece and i seem to be getting broody!)

  171. 171
    Matt DC on 17 Mar 2010 #

    The pile-on here is a bit unfair I think given that Lex isn’t saying anything that a lot of FT/ILM wasn’t saying around the turn of the decade. But “the canon – classic or dud?” isn’t a very interesting argument to be having at this stage and Tom’s initial “which bits of the canon do pop-minded listeners most relate to?” premise is a lot more promising.

    It’s actually a false binary that Lex is drawing here anyway – how many of these records actually dominated the critical or popular landscape when they were released? I’d argue that at least two thirds of them have grown into their position there. This is exactly what’s happening to Jay-Z’s earlier albums at this point in time, although they’re not up there yet, if indeed they’ll get there at all. If the great records of today aren’t being written about today, they might be tomorrow, and the writing tomorrow might be better.

    Actually if I had to pick one album here that really shows up quite how much canons leave out, it would be Blue Lines.

  172. 172
    Lex on 17 Mar 2010 #

    Yeah both Blue Lines and Blue make me think: “…and the rest? the other things like this?” It’s not even tip-of-iceberg, those are both small pebbles picked up from MOUNTAINS OF MUSIC LOOMING ABOVE YOU. Other sensibilities seem to have the entire mountain represented, of course. Room for multiple Beatles, Dylan albums but just ONE female singer-songwriter? Buuuuuuuullllshit.

    It’s funny, there was an ILX thread along the lines of “if you had to choose would you choose to listen to only music made in the future or the past?” and my strongest analogy for choosing the future was “would you choose to only read history books or newspapers (or – RIP print media – your news source of choice)?” This is in no way meant to denigrate the worth or entertainment value of history but if I was cut off from current affairs I would feel terrified in a way that not reading history books wouldn’t compare to. I’d feel unmoored and untethered and unable to be part of society.

    I only ever link to my stuff on twitter/fb/lj, it feels like doing it in blog comments or message boards would be breaking some internet etiquette rule of over-self-promotion.

  173. 173
    Matt DC on 17 Mar 2010 #

    But the old music vs new music isn’t like history vs current affairs because the point of recorded music (and for that matter art) is that it always exists in the present. I actually think this has become even more the case over the last 10 years as things like nu-Balearic, Optimo, etc, recontextualise the old in the space of cutting edge dancefloor music.

  174. 174
    Lex on 17 Mar 2010 #

    Lex isn’t saying anything that a lot of FT/ILM wasn’t saying around the turn of the decade

    this is exactly why I am finding it so frustrating and being so bullish about it – it feels as though we won that argument, we were right (by which I again mean YOU, because I didn’t get on ILX til 2004 and it was YOU LOT who were so crucial to my own development as a journalist) and yet here we are again?

  175. 175
    Matt DC on 17 Mar 2010 #

    This would only be the case if most of the people on this thread were focussed entirely on the canon at the expense of all modern music which is visibly and obviously completely untrue.

  176. 176

    Matt, there’s a distinction to be drawn between “this canon^^^: classic or dud” (which is well chewed over) and “canons: classic or dud,

    arguably at least, one of the problems the “why aren’ty more people reading us?” brigade are having is (arguably) that they eschew the deployment of canons — ie they disdain the establishment everywhere of THEIR canon, as a tool of education, persuasion, enticement and (bottom line) proffered comfort. Hence can only gather vanguard admirers, not the generalised mainstream attention they insist is their right.

    Obviously this is all something chewed over ten million years ago in a tiny way at The Wire — and right about now (1987-88) is the time I was deserting NME with its single canon for The Wire with its pagan pantheon of rival canons; I was totally THEN of the opinion that polycanonicity was the future and the that future would consist of the various canons bellowing mournfully or heatedly or affectionately at one another across sloughs of despond, establishing the metaconversation of the utopia to come. This utopia has not materialised: as the rival worlds took themselves off into their own media patches, the rock canon was able comfortably (and smugly) to consolidate, not as the preferred list of those who fought of it at the time,. but as the inherited list of those who didn’t know they were born (*waves arms about, snorts about national service and bring back the psychedelic birch*)

  177. 177

    Did I point out that this opinion was arguable?

  178. 178
    Matt DC on 17 Mar 2010 #

    Yes but then the Lex isn’t eschewing the deployment of canons really – he has very little problem with the (real and obvious) canons that exist in rnb, rap and dance music, for example. His particular problem seems to be this particular canon which is full of music he doesn’t like – that it’s the biggest and most prominent canon only exacerbates this.

    I’d argue that of the four canons up there the hip-hop canon is the one that most consistently reinforces itself through its new music, mostly through lyrical references.

  179. 179

    the (real and obvious) canons that exist in rnb, rap and dance music

    I am unconvinced. Where are these established and graven? Obvious to insiders or to outsiders? What’s struck me here, chewing over this thread, is that you can reach to a handy processed and hand-me-down version of the “rock canon” 30 years later, not even worrying about provenance, and it has remained surprisingly unshaken since Gambaccini (or whoever) established it; little varied at all stages, in fact, excepot the (quite brief) punk-rock interregnum, Obviously rap and dance aren’t so old, so the comparison doesn’t quite work — but I think what you’d get if you just googled “rap canon” is lots of rival claims. (Nothing wrong with this either: this may in itself be part of what’s valued — that the internal values are still being argued out…). And even if hiphop does have its own basically agreed-on Cultural Centre, it doesn’t function as the centre-of-centres, the canonic canon. It’s still — in effect — a rival or an alternative, even in its own estimation.

    (OK I’m bullshittting a bit towards the end; speculating to provoke, if you like — but canons require institutions to nurture them, and I don’t see that there aren’t as many of these in media as there are “(real and obvious) canons”…)

  180. 180
    Tom on 17 Mar 2010 #

    One interesting thing this thread has teased out is that the canon above is made up of a lot of 60s (and some later) artefacts but is itself a 1970s artefact, born out of the same kind of crisis of rock self-consciousness that produced punk, which was related to a wider crisis I guess. Maybe once we move on from ‘the 70s’ we’ll move on from the canon?

    A canon is a mechanism for regulating a music’s relationship to its past. Or rather, it’s rock’s mechanism: other musics have different ones. “Retro”, as lots of people have pointed out, works in rather different ways in dance music where nothing seems really to vanish. Hip-hop and pop have quite similar ways of relating to the past: can it be sampled? can it be covered? (One way to look at reality TV pop shows is as a battle for ‘canon formation’). Jazz, it seems to me, has a pantheon more than a canon – individuals rather than works. And so on.

  181. 181
    Gavin Wright on 17 Mar 2010 #

    “One way to look at reality TV pop shows is as a battle for ‘canon formation’”

    Absolutely – one of the most revealing (and often dispiriting) things about X Factor is that you get The History of Pop as seen through the eyes of Simon Cowell.

    The hip-hop canon may be less visible but it definitely exists – MattDC is correct to point to lyrical references, think of all those ‘Juicy’-type songs where a rapper lists their formative influences. Dance and r’n’b canons would be trickier to pin down I think.

  182. 182
    Matt DC on 17 Mar 2010 #

    I would totally accept the existence of a pantheon over a canon in hip-hop as well, but to answer Mark’s point about a centre for canon establishment, or a media space, or whatever, I’d say it’s the one music I can think of where the exercise/debate/battle is acted out within the verses of the music itself. In other words a much wider audience than any rock music writing.

  183. 183
    Tim on 17 Mar 2010 #

    Country music did (and does) that too, Matt.

  184. 184
    Mark M on 17 Mar 2010 #

    Re 174: So essentially what we have here is a case of mistaken identification – instead of this being about a amiable bunch of folks sitting around in various boozers making a gentle, reasoned and often funny stand for their right to listen to Britney without being look down upon, Lex thought the whole Freaky Trigger/Poptimism thing was the opening salvo of the pop revolution. Whereas, while I’m always happy to spend some time drinking with Tom and Pete and Sinker and co, I’m not sure I’d follow them onto the barricades…

  185. 185
    Tom on 17 Mar 2010 #

    Let the record show that on the one demonstration I have attended with fellow FT writers, our participation ended after the marching route made a foolishly close pass to a Sam Smiths pub.

  186. 186

    I have been on many marches and was not draw into the pub with ^^^this political lightweight on this one!

    (I was drawn into a coffeeshop with Dr V!ck’s family.)

  187. 187
    Tom on 17 Mar 2010 #

    Time to listen to a Doors album.

  188. 188
    Mark M on 17 Mar 2010 #

    My very belated responses to the original questions:

    1) Dark Side of the Moon, although in some ways What’s Going On annoys me more, because Gaye could be terrific on his day.

    2) Remain In Light – an obsession when I was 13.

    3) Highway 61 Revisited, as an actual album, I guess.

    My main reaction to the list was surprise at how much of this stuff I really like – I would never describe myself as some who likes Classic Rock (admittedly Last.fm does tell me that I do). My argument would be along the lines of guitar pop being at its consistent best in the 1960s, from when the bulk of the stuff I like on the list dates. I have little (Nevermind) or no (Joshua Tree, OK Computer) time for the post 1980 rock albums.

  189. 189
    Pete on 17 Mar 2010 #

    I have been on plenty of marches, almost being whisked down river by a banner from Waterloo Bridge, and resent being lumped in the same category as those political flibberty-gibbets Sinker and Ewing. Though I will not be manning the barricades for a pop revolution any time soon, I am happy to protest till I am blue in the face for the abolition of 3D films (or at least until they manage to invent a 3D world).

  190. 190
    Lex on 17 Mar 2010 #

    I have never been on a march, though I might consider attending one if people volunteer to carry me on a litter and feed me grapes. And champagne.

  191. 191
    Steve Mannion on 17 Mar 2010 #

    “I am happy to protest till I am blue in the face for the abolition of 3D films”

    *golf clap*

  192. 192
    rosie on 17 Mar 2010 #

    The last march I was on was the 15 Feb 2003 Iraq demo. I bailed out at Piccadilly Circus with an urgent need to find a loo, which I eventually found inside Hamleys (the loos in the Merciless McDonwalds being heavily oversubscribed)

    I will happily march against 3D films but as London is now a long way for me to come can I march up and down Walney beach instead?

  193. 193
    lord darlington on 18 Mar 2010 #

    I’m wondering what people make of the three Big Star albums. If we’re talking about ‘personal canons’ Sister Lovers figures very prominently in mine. RIP.

  194. 194
    Tom on 18 Mar 2010 #

    My one-liner summary of them was that #1 Record is the great party, Radio City is the boozy 4am intense conversation and Third is the hangover and the tender feeling of recovery after it. This is obviously glib but it pretty much reflects the mood(s) I’d listen to each in. Just paid my respects to Alex Chilton on my Tumblr in fact. RIP.

  195. 195
    wichita lineman on 18 Mar 2010 #

    Going back to the list written by the forgotten US journalist in Tom Hibbert’s The Perfect Collection (on the Starship thread? I’ve lost track) he included Five Leaves Left, Pet Sounds, Forever Changes, Astral Weeks and 3rd/Sister Lovers (very much a favourite of mine). His one-line summary was that the list included “an awful lot of nervous breakdown albums”. I think this element of the clearly personal being communicated in a unique, unfaked* way is frequently what creates canonical work. Thus, Blackout was bound to end up as the critics’ Britney choice (it’s mine too). Doesn’t explain U2 or Doors, obv.

    As for 3rd/Sister Lovers, it’s the only record I can think of that documents a breakdown, with the earliest songs recorded for it aiming commercially high (Thank You Friends, Jesus Christ) before gloom descends and a few weeks later you end up with the devastating and very beautiful Kangaroo, Big Black Car and Holocaust. There’s nothing like it. I’m very sad. RIP Alex.

    *I’m no authenticity freak by any stretch, but I’m baffled when people can’t see a line between Sister Lovers and, say, Tom Waits or Nick Cave. Is it the method acting? But again I’m happy with the art school types. I can’t work out why it seems so black and white to me. Look at Shane Magowan – the vast majority of alcoholics attempt to hide their problem rather than flaunt their ‘problem’ by slurring all vocals and swearing as often as possible in every interview.

  196. 196
    Gavin Wright on 18 Mar 2010 #

    Re: #193, I like all three original Big Star albums but Radio City has a special place in my heart – it’d make my own Top Ten, no problem. I’m a fan of power pop anyway but there’s a fragility to that record which really works for me. RIP Alex.

  197. 197

    The Nick Cave method-acting arc has been a bit like the Michael Caine or Jack fkn Nicholson arc, though, hasn’t it — a once-startling bit of observation and originality trotted out ten billion times too often. (Waits I have more time for, since he introduced at least one significant swerve into his game…)

  198. 198
    wichita lineman on 18 Mar 2010 #

    Re 197: Yes, I’ve got so used to his schtick that I’d almost forgotten how much I used to play Release The Bats in 1981. Haven’t heard it in ages but I imagine it would still bring me to the verge of tears (something in the odd chords, can’t explain, feel all the better for not being able to explain).

  199. 199
    koganbot on 18 Mar 2010 #

    Mark – Lex is primarily a critic, not a journalist, even if his bread comes from the journalism. The journalist tries to sell you on the importance of what he’s covering; Lex wants to grab you ’cause it’s fascinating or awesome. Sometimes Lex will play the importance card – “why aren’t you discussing/voting for a towering figure and crucial influence like Mariah rather than this indie shit/old shit?” or some such – but that’s really because he has something to say about Mariah qua Mariah, not simply her importance, and he wants us to get it and be part of the conversation. (Obv journalism and criticism don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but they often are. And obv the critic should think about what makes things important, i.e., what makes them matter to people, but this isn’t the selling point it is in journalism, which, regarding cultural items, usually botches the mattering in favor “it’s important because it has an impact on important people, or important people are talking about it,” etc., the important people usually being someone other than the reader or writer.) I don’t see how you can possibly read what Lex has to say about Paris and Nicki and Trina and Electrik Red and think that he any less than you or I is digging into the why and the what of what we’re loving. I’d argue that he’d do it better if he delved more into the sort of history and sociology that you and I delve into, but then again I didn’t publish anything beyond the fanzine level until I was something like six years older than Lex is now, so he has time. (Nonetheless I’m offended that he’s never been drawn in by anything I’ve written about Dylan or the Stones. When Lex praised Paris for her shamelessness on one of Dave’s Paris threads, I immediately thought of Jagger singing “No excuses offered anyway” in “Let’s Spend The Night Together.”)

  200. 200
    koganbot on 18 Mar 2010 #

    As a writer I rise and flourish when I can get involved in a conversation, which often requires me to get people involved in my conversation. I need attention and I need prodding to help generate ideas and to find the words for the ideas I already think I have. But a brutal fact I have trouble adapting to is that sooner or later I’m always the only one in the room still talking, while to my mind the subject has been barely started. And, to mix my metaphors, alone in the room I’m left facing a desert, and I have to cross the desert alone if I’m to get anywhere; and then if the conversation is ever to resume, and not have to go back and reinvent its own wheels, it’ll be because people like me did solitary work. It’s not in my nature, but it’s necessary.

    So what I’m seeing in Lex is someone who is a genuine thinker and a genuine original who’s having trouble facing the fact that inevitably this throws him into isolation, from time to time.

  201. 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.

  202. 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.

  203. 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)

  204. 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!

  205. 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.

  206. 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.

  207. 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 :(

  208. 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.

  209. 209
    Rory on 19 Mar 2010 #

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

    Nice point @205, swanstep.

  210. 210

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

  211. 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.

  212. 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.

  213. 213
    Stephen Connolly on 12 Apr 2010 #

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

  214. 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.

  215. 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!

  216. 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

  217. 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.

  218. 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.

  219. 219
    lonepilgrim on 13 Oct 2011 #

    Reynolds responds to Tom’s Guardian piec:


  220. 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?

  221. 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.

  222. 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.

  223. 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.)

  224. 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.

  225. 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.

  226. 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!

  227. 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.

  228. 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.

  229. 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.

  230. 230
    lonepilgrim on 1 Apr 2013 #

    another day, another canon.

  231. 231
    donea1 on 3 Jul 2018 #

    Revitalized network invent:

  232. 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!

  233. 233
    morganws2 on 20 Aug 2018 #

    My brand-new work:

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