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?

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