June 20, 2012
I realize this is kind of silly, and was something I was fairly certain I wasn’t going to do when I was contemplating the ramifications of the major list revision that hit my project a few weeks ago. But I’ve now leapfrogged my way through the new additions back out of the 400s, and upon further consideration, I realize I really would like to have the statistics right. It would be good to have the ability to do some kind of eventual comparison between the ratios of good to bad albums, or familiar and new to me ones, between the five buckets of 100 albums. If it all sounds very scientific (which it probably doesn’t), it isn’t. As I explained in the original recap, there’s all kinds of gray areas, and the count I arrive at one day may well differ from what I come up with on another. When you add in the massive changes to the list, and the backward sort of way I’ve had to play catch up with those changes, the reliability of the numbers becomes highly suspect indeed. Still, I wanted to have some version of them for posterity (or something).
Briefly, a lot of the big best/worst designations haven’t really been affected by the list revision. Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! is still my favorite album of the 400s. Suicide is still my least favorite. Of the favorites I had never heard before, the two Eno records still hold. The Blueprint got moved up to the 200s, so I guess that’s out. Possible replacements would include MGMT’s Oracular Spectacular and the eponymous Stone Roses album.
There weren’t any major additions to the most disappointing list–maybe The White Stripes’ White Blood Cells, but that was really part of a larger uneasiness about my relationship to Jack White’s music. In terms of nicest surprises, nothing could quite trump the delight I experienced by not hating The Minutemen, but the fresh blood pumped into the list gave me many other pleasant surprises, the aforementioned MGMT and Stone Roses, Boz Scaggs, and Bruce Springsteen’s The Rising among them. I should also note that the swapping out of a single old Merle Haggard record for a much more comprehensive box set elicited a bit of an upward conversion experience in my regard for Haggard’s greatness.
As for the stats, they haven’t really budged as much as I might have thought. For all the swap outs, the number of albums I never heard before went up by only one to 75. The number of artists I had never even heard of before the project began went up to an even 10. The more or less 50/50 love/hate ratio also held fairly steady, but, in convenient accordance with my general sense that the revisions made to this list have been largely for the best, the positive number went up to 54, leaving 46 I would never care to hear again.
Anyway, there you have it. Some revised statistics. And on we go…
June 1, 2012
In a move that is in no conceivable way ironic, Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill was removed from the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time List that was officially updated in a world wide way yesterday. I was glad to see this, of course, as I was to see that they finally made the mature decision that one Def Leppard album on the list was quite enough. In general, I think I’m pretty happy about the way the new list is looking. Adjusting to accommodate the changes mid-project is a bit of a challenge, but ultimately, I’m all for it.
Most of the cuts make a certain amount of sense to me–some artists, while good, were a bit over represented on the original list (Roxy Music, anyone?). In some cases, an album for album swap by the same artist was made, and these too seem generally sensible. Happily, most of the albums that were cut were ones I was glad to have had the chance to hear, but am overly not sorry to see go. It’s a win-win, really. Most of the albums that stayed just moved up or down a few positions. There are some sweet pockets where the two lists briefly cohere exactly before splitting off again. Occasionally albums switched places, or one album jumped up just a few notches. There are a few that moved up significantly, like Radiohead’s Kid A, Jay-Z’s The Blueprint, and The Strokes’ Is This It. The only move I vehemently object to is that Linda Ronstadt clawed her way up several hundred slots. Otherwise–yeah–a lot of it seems to make good sense. I believe it is a better list over all than the original.
On a clerical note, I’ve gone through every post I’ve written so far and made the necessary adjustments in numbering. Those that were removed outright have been relegated to an area called The Dustbin of History. As far as I can tell, the links between entries didn’t get messed up in the process. Ones I already listened to that got bumped up past where I’ve gotten to in the list will be skipped over when their new time comes. I did listen to three albums before the change took place, so I’m going to go ahead and post those before I go back to 500 and start combing through the additions. By my count, there are 28 records–eight right at the outset–to get through before I am caught up with myself. Happily, many are ones I look forward to hearing. Onward!
May 31, 2012
Well, perhaps the worst possible fate that could befall my project has come to pass: they changed the goddamn list on me. I’ve known for a while that this was a possibility–I bought the updated newsstand version several weeks ago. But I figured as long as Rolling Stone’s website was sticking with the original version, I would follow suit. But I just discovered that they’ve made the switch.
Having had a few weeks to consider this possibility, I’m kind of okay with it. Theoretically, it will be a stronger list, or at least one with more recent material. Many more Radiohead albums, that’s for sure. The basic core of the list is the same: they just folded in some new ones from the Best of the 2000s list, as well as a few conspicuously absent older ones. It’s allegedly still mathematically sound, although I don’t know how they went about picking which albums to eliminate. They closed up the loophole on duplicative compilations, but they also made some other cuts that strike me as purely editorial decisions. Poor No Doubt, who had two albums on the original list, is now nowhere to be found. And I was just days away from getting to their second one too.
Obviously, there will be some logistical rejiggering to do. I actually love that kind of project–it’s like organizing one’s music library. I think the plan is this: I’ll go back through the list and renumber everything I’ve already written. Most just move a few positions, although a few took conspicuously larger leaps up. I think Kid A fared best, having bumped all the way up to #67 on the new list, as opposed to somewhere in the high 400s on the original one. A few I already wrote about were among the removed, so those I’ll just move to some other far flung region of the blog. I’ll then start back at #500, and cover all the ones recently added until I catch back up with myself in the low 300s. I think it’s going to be alright. I hope you, dear reader, feel the same. I may not be able to stick to the one year plan anymore, though. We’ll see. At least the ten disc Complete Hank Williams got removed. I love Hank Williams, but that one was scary lookin’. The 40 Greatest Hits should suffice nicely. And that is the bright side, ultimately: the promise of a tighter, more action packed list of groovy music. I hope you’ll hang with me.
Illustration is by the great B. Kliban.