Thanksgiving Week: Where Rock Journalism Goes to Die

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Time is serving up the link bait, and like the slowest trout in the fjord I'm going to bob up and take it. The mag's list of the 100 All-TIME Albums is as unsurprising as one of these lists can be.

We researched and listened and agonized until we had a list of the greatest and most influential records ever—and then everyone complained because there was no Pink Floyd on it. And that's exactly how it should be.

Yes, every list should skunk Floyd and include two Radiohead albums. (I say this as someone who has no use for Floyd apart from Piper and Meddle, and no use for Radiohead apart from pounding information out of Iraqi detainees.)

There is a real need for a list out there, one that no magazine seems interested in fulfulling—an Americanized version of the Guardian's "Alternative Top 100" list from the fin de siecle. The Guardian's innovation was to mock up a list of the boring records that clog every album ranking, and ban them. But their list of bans is so late 90s and so British (Suede! The Boo Radleys! Ocean Colour Scene!) as to be useless.

For my part, I'll suggest 10 influential records Time should have swapped out for its dullest picks.

1) replace Rubber Soul with Love's Forever Changes.
2) replace Achtung Baby with Wu Tang Clan's Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).
3) replace Patti Smith's Horses with Genesis's The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.
4) replace Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors with Leonard Cohen's The Songs of Leonard Cohen.
5) replace The Essential Hank Williams (actually, replace all the b.s. greatest hits albums) with King Crimson's Larks' Tongues in Aspic.
6) replace Kid A with Piper at the Gates of Dawn.
7) replace R.E.M.'s Document with Alice Cooper's Love it to Death.
8) replace R.E.M.'s Out of Time with Can's Future Days.
9) replace OK Computer with Pet Shop Boys' Very.
10) replace Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea with any album, ever.

Now you go.

NEXT: Small House, Bad Economy?

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  1. Replace Hole’s Live Through This with Steely Dan’s Aja.

  2. David, while your decisions to replace REM and Radiohead show that your musical opinions are not to be trusted, I totally agree about the inclusion of “Greatest Hits” albums. That is true BS.

  3. What? No Rapeman? Blasphemy!

  4. Greatest Hits? Jeeez. A greatest hits compilation isn’t an album, it’s just a disc with a bunch of singles on it. Bruce McCulloch once said: “Greatest hits albums are for housewives and little girls.”

  5. We already know the greatest and most influential 100 albums of all TIME: Just give us a list of the 100 best-selling albums of all time.

    If a groups’ album doesn’t sell much, then how influential is it? The more people there are who buy an album, the more who are influenced by it, simply because they are more likely to listen to it.

    I know it bugs those high-minded socially-conscious REM fans out there, but I’d wager good money that more Americans know the names of the members of KISS than those of REM.

  6. 1. replace Rubber Soul with Love’s Forever Changes. Get out. There are some good songs on that record but no one ever listened to it and wasn’t half as influential as the worst Beatles record.

    2. Replace Achtung Baby with Wu Tang Clan’s Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Actung Baby is a great record without a weak track on it. Granted Wu Tang is a very respected band, but kick something else off

    3. Replace Patti Smith’s Horses with Genesis’s The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. Considering that Patti Smith might actually be more overrated than Love and Phil Collins has so Genesis that people forget they really were once a great band, this one is probably a good idea.

    4. Replace Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors with Leonard Cohen’s The Songs of Leonard Cohen. I can’t believe Cohen wasn’t on the list. Another good sugestion.

    5. Replace The Essential Hank Williams (actually, replace all the b.s. greatest hits albums) with King Crimson’s Larks’ Tongues in Aspic. The problem is they didn’t do full albums in Hank’s time, so your rule basically screws him and a lot of other really talented people out of being on the list.

    Replace R.E.M.’s Document with Alice Cooper’s Love it to Death. Replace R.E.M.’s Out of Time with Can’s Future Days. YES!! Worst band of the 80s. Every year their music sounds worse and you are more and more embarassed that you ever listened to them. Whatever decent music they did do, and there were a couple of songs, was all done long before Document. I think it is time people take a look at their greatest band/album/song lists and politely ask the guys from Athens to leave.

  7. Phil Collins has so DISGRACED Genisis.

  8. To be fair, a guy like Sam Cooke or Hank Williams only released singles, so finding an album is impossible.

    BB King’s Live at Cook County Jail should be there.

  9. 2. Replace Achtung Baby with Wu Tang Clan’s Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Actung Baby is a great record without a weak track on it. Granted Wu Tang is a very respected band, but kick something else off

    Fine, but how is Achtung Baby influential? It was poprock crap.

  10. On the singles side, there’s always the 97X/WOXY Modern Rock 500.

  11. Thomas Paine’s Goiter,

    Sam Cooke did do one full album, “Nightbeat”, which should be in the top 15 on any credible list of greatest albums ever.

  12. Shit! I forgot about Nightbeat! GREAT call.

  13. Sam Cooke, singer of two of the greatest booty music songs ever.

    EVER.

  14. For those who missed it, Dave Weigel wrote a good article for TIME.com recently:

    http://tinyurl.com/ylzrzj

    TIME.com is gr8 on politics and world affairs, but I find their take on rock and roll to be a bit stodgy. For one of the truly great albums of the new millenium be sure to download my new one at:

    http://www.farceswannamo.com

  15. “Fine, but how is Achtung Baby influential? It was poprock crap.”

    No it not. It was great. There is no accounting for taste so there is no point in trying to convince you to like it. But, look at it this way; even if you hate the song people will be listening to “One” long after they have fogotten who Wu Tang and ODB were. I think enduring popularlarity and meaning to a large number of people ought to count as being influential. Otherwise, you just end up with a list full of Velvet Underground type records; only 100 people bought them but half of those guys started a band.

  16. YES!! Worst band of the 80s. Every year their music sounds worse and you are more and more embarassed that you ever listened to them.

    Gotta disagree. Strongly. R.E.M. didn’t start to really lose it until Monster, and didn’t lose it completely until Up. Automatic For the People was by far their best album, though the more I listen to it Out of Time is overrated (though fun). R.E.M.’s strength lay in pretty (if meaningless) lyrics and catchy pop tunes. Once they got away from the catchy pop and started making self-indulgent crap they started to suck. Kind of like U2, or Radiohead. Seems that the first album bands make that’s experimental is really, really good, but after that they forget that experimental music still has to sound good, and veer off into smelling their own farts. The Beatles seem to have avoided this through sheer strength of songwriting, but I can’t think of many other bands who’ve done so.

  17. Very few of these rock list maestros grabble with the fact that the album era started in the 1960s and is ending any day now, if it didn’t end already. Thus the tendency to weasle great artists into the lists with hit albums. It’s a waste of good list space; those artists get their due on the “best songs” or “best singles” lists.

  18. One other thing about Achtung Baby and U2 in general, I have one word for people who think they didn’t influence anyone; “Coldplay”.

  19. To be fair, a guy like Sam Cooke or Hank Williams only released singles, so finding an album is impossible.

    I suppose you could include Michael Jordan on a list of history’s greatest football players using that logic…

    Actually, I think Greatest Hits discs are very useful if you like a band but are not a hardcore fan (or, if you’ve heard from others that a band is good and want a sampler). But you wouldn’t consider a GH collection to be a singular work like a true album.

  20. grylliade,

    I will give you Automatic for the People. I forgot about that one. That is, in retrospect, a pretty good record that unlike everything else they did, has aged pretty well. Out of Time is just horrible. Unlistenable. To me that record is the Driving Miss Daisey of rock and roll.

  21. No Police (not even the greatest hits!), no Queen, no Pink Floyd, and I’m sorry, I don’t particularly like the album, but no Appetite for Destruction? C’mon. “Welcome to the Jungle” is right up there next to “We Will Rock You” in stadium pump-the-fans-up music.

  22. Great call on the OK Computer. The album’s always bored the hell out of me, and Very is fantastic.

  23. One other thing about Achtung Baby and U2 in general, I have one word for people who think they didn’t influence anyone; “Coldplay”.

    Shouldn’t “influence” be positive?

  24. “No Police (not even the greatest hits!)”

    I can’t beleive anyone who was alive during the 1980s would not agree that Sycronicity wasn’t a very influential record and one of the top ten of the decade.

  25. “One other thing about Achtung Baby and U2 in general, I have one word for people who think they didn’t influence anyone; “Coldplay”.

    Shouldn’t “influence” be positive?”

    Yeah, I saw that one coming a mile away. Regardless, there are a lot of bands out there who sound an awful lot like U2. You may think that is a bad thing, but like Lamar said above, Axel Rose may sound like he is garfing up a hairball most of the time but you have to admit Appitite for Destruction influenced a lot of people.

  26. Well, I love most of the records you want to dump, but let me ask this question: does anyone else think the White Album is the most overrated of the Beatles’ “great” albums? I listen to all the other Rubber Soul-and-later records constantly, but I just can’t get into the White Album (notwithstanding that it’s home to my favorite Beatles song).

  27. Hard to argue with that list, really. They didn’t miss anything super-obvious (at least, according to their criteria). Maybe I might make an argument for Kiss’ Alive!, which pretty much started the career of every 80’s Aamerican rock guitar player.

  28. “does anyone else think the White Album is the most overrated of the Beatles’ “great” albums?”

    What you don’t like “Everybody’s Fine Expect Me and My Monkey” or “Bungalo Bill”. About half of that record should not have been made. The interesting thing about the Beatles is that it would be nearly impossible to come up with any sort of consensus for a 12 song “Best of” anthology among their fans. It would, however, be very easy to come up with a 12 song “Worst of” anthology. They really didn’t miss too often. Unfortuneately, at least half of the misses are on the “White Album.” Yes, I agree that it is overrated, as wierd as that is to say about a record that included Helter Skelter, While my Guitar Gently Weaps, Why Don’t We Do It In the Road and Revolution.

  29. I can make a case for another oversight: Judas Priest’s British Steel.

  30. Kanye West?? WTF??

    Bravo on Lark’s Tongue. No Jethro Tull, though?

  31. What about Abbey Road?

  32. Two Stevie Wonder albums (Talking Book and Songs in the Key of Life) and they skip his best, Innervisions. Living For the City alone makes this a must have LP.

  33. “Two Stevie Wonder albums (Talking Book and Songs in the Key of Life) and they skip his best, Innervisions. Living For the City alone makes this a must have LP.”

    Songs in the Key of Life ought to be kicked off any list for having “Isn’t She Lovely”.

  34. Future Days is the most consistent Can album, but I’d replace it with a compilation consisting of the first three songs from Tago Mago, the last two songs from Ege Bamyasi and the first two from Soundtracks.

  35. Also, largely unkown but deserving Smokin’ OPs – Bob Seger.

  36. In the sense that ‘influential’ might include an album that influences other musicians (who then create derivative works), how could Parliament be left out (Clones of Dr. Funkenstein? Tear the roof off)? There’s not a hip-hop rapper who hasn;t sampled dat.

    By the same criteria, how could Rush’s 2112 be left out? Mars Volta, Primus, hell any Candian musicians…It was good enough for Canadian Audio-Visual Preservation Trust, an organization dedicated to safeguarding Canada’s film, TV, radio and musical legacy, to add it to the archive.

    Maybe Time-Life has to be offering the listed albums in an upcoming 100-CD collection with Greg Brady hosting the infomercial?

  37. 1) replace Rubber Soul with Love’s Forever Changes.

    I think the Zombie’s Odessey and Oracle is the better of the two lost classics of the 60’s. That’s just my opinion though.Forever Changes is a great album, if a bit overrated these days.

    And I also want to weigh in on Hole. WTF?!

  38. Dave-a,
    Just the other night I was scouring youtube for old video of CAN. THere is some great early stuff on there. I’d provide links, but I am at work.

  39. One other big ommission, no Smashing Pumpkins record for the 1990s. Love them or hate them, they were a big deal and half of popular radio in the mid 1990s sounded just like them. I can’t imagine ommitting all of their records on any list of the top ten most influential records of the 1990s.

  40. Five I’d like to see on the list:

    Brian Eno – Here Come the Warm Jets
    Butthole Surfers – A Brown Reason to Live
    Wire – Pink Flag
    James Chance & the Contortions – Buy
    Tom Waits – Blood Money

  41. Why the hating on PJ Harvey?

  42. Also, no Pet Sounds? How can you list Relover and SGT Pepper and then not list Pet Sounds? I don’t think the people who wrote this list paid much attention or put much thought into it.

  43. mk,

    I’ll check Youtube for Can later [also work 🙂 ]

    Um, also just noticed: no Sparks. I guess I’m not surprised, but that’s too bad. I’d like to be surprised even by bad choices. This list is not just unsurprising, but totally predictable (everyone’s already pointed this out, but it’s still pretty annoying).

  44. john,

    I’m pretty sure I saw pet sounds on there.

  45. replace Patti Smith’s Horses with Genesis’s The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

    You’re a fine reporter, Dave, but you’re also insane.

    That out of the way, I would like to replace Sgt. Pepper — the real “most overrated of the Beatles’ ‘great’ albums” — with … Christ, I can think of about a thousand better choices. Sticking to 1967, though, let’s say Something Else by the Kinks.

    And much as I love James Brown, am I the only person who thinks Live at the Apollo is overpraised? Put in one of those damn greatest hits albums instead, or maybe The Payback.

    Oh, and Gaijin — Parliament is on the list, albeit in its Funkadelic guise. See the entry for One Nation Under a Groove.

  46. You are right Dave. I am on dope today.

  47. They picked the wrong Eminem and Talking Heads records. OK, I’m done.

  48. “replace Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea with any album, ever.”

    Oh Snap! How about replacing every rock album, ever, with Mozart’s third violin concerto?

  49. No Pink Floyd, No Rush, No Queen, No Blue Cheer, No Captain Beefheart, No Frank Zappa, No Doors, No Lynrd Skynrd, No Plasmatics, No Pearl Jam, No Stevie Ray Vaugh, No Jeff Beck…. I mean come one, WTF!!!

    …..BUT it does have emenim or whatever that whiny-ass white boy’s name is and somebody named Patti Davis that I never heard of.
    This is lame, totally lame. And what the fuck is Garth Brooks doing on there?
    For the record, OK Computer rocks. Kid A is a bunch of annoying layered keyboards….zzzzzzzzz

  50. Four of the nine records listed for the 2000s are anthologies by artists from other decades. That gives pretty short shrift to the 2000s, either they don’t listen to much music or they ought to admit that you can’t pick the records for a decade that hasn’t ended yet.

  51. Four out of the nine 00’s entries are posthumous compilations. That’s just sad.

  52. “everyone complained because there was no Pink Floyd on it. And that’s exactly how it should be.”

    Yawn. Johhny Lydon, many years ago, was first discovered running down the street with a “I HATE PINK FLOYD” t-shirt. So dissing Pink Floyd out of “hipness” has played out about 30 years now.

    Pink Floyd to rock is like Mozart to classical music. You’re going to have hundreds of haters, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that Pink Floyd is God.

  53. Oh, and Gaijin — Parliament is on the list, albeit in its Funkadelic guise. See the entry for One Nation Under a Groove.

    Doh! I am an ID10t…

  54. I listen to all the other Rubber Soul-and-later records constantly, but I just can’t get into the White Album (notwithstanding that it’s home to my favorite Beatles song).

    I know I’m committing a heresy here, but the Beatles themselves are perhaps the most overrated group of all time, musically-speaking, that is. Their music and songwriting are pretty normal.

    What made the Beatles big was the fact that their music was simple, cheery and easy to sing. That, and every teenage girl in mid-60’s America had an overpowering crush on them. Plus, the Beatles knew how to sell themselves. But musical genuises? Hardly.

    It’s the same with KISS. I like their music as much as anyone else my age, but it’s pretty simple stuff. KISS succeeded because they understood their market and how to exploit and adapt to it. Madonna has made a career doing the same thing.

    So, I’ll agree that the Beatles were one of the most influential bands of all time. But they weren’t Mozarts or Beethovens; they were just good hucksters.

  55. Here’s my top 10, in no particular order…

    1.The Who’s Quadrophenia
    2.Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
    3.Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies
    4.Genesis’s Lamb lies down on Broadway
    5.Deven Townsend’s Ocean Machine
    6.The Cure’s Disintegration
    7.Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds
    8.Black Sabbath’s Vol.4
    9.Dream Theater’s Scenes from a Memory
    10.Mercyful Fate’s Melissa

    I love these kind of lists. Kind of like, whats your favorite songs for a BBQ. It’s mindless. And I love it.

  56. “What made the Beatles big was the fact that their music was simple, cheery and easy to sing.”

    I don’t think that is true. Lennon and McCartney had great voices and try reproducing their harmonies sometime. Granted, the Beach Boys probably sang better harmonies, but the Beatles were not far behind. Further, they have an enormously varied body of work that appeals at least in some part to nearly everyone. That should count for something.

    As far as them not being Beethoven or Mozart, that is really an issue of whether popular music can stand up to classical music. That is an issue beyond just the Beatles.

    That said, they are probably overrated not because they are not a great band but because they are not the end all be all. I can think of any number of Willie Nelson songs that are as well or better crafted and more sophisticated lyrically than anything Lennon and McCartney ever wrote. I can think of any number of Ray Charles compositions that were more complex, subtle and better done than any Beatles song and so fourth. Just because they are not what some of their fans claim, doesn’t mean they were not great.

  57. 2.Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son

    What? No Number of the Beast?

  58. Here’s my list:

    1. Replace any top whatever number list with absolutely anything else. Except the “Top Whatever Most Unmetal Moments” they had on VH1, because Dio videos are funny.

    “Ride the Tiger
    You can see his stripes so you know he’s clean
    Oh don’t you see what I mean.”

    No, actually, I don’t Mr. Dio.

  59. Replace Never Mind the Bollocks… with All Mod Cons – much more influential in the long run. The Sex Pistols were overshadowed in their own day by the Ramones and the Clash in the punk rock world. Paul Weller set the course for British rock to this day.

    I’ve got more, but I’ll have to review this list in detail later. I feel a rant coming on.

  60. I am a pretty sterotypical record collecter/occasional-DJ, general music nerd (akin to the character from High Fidelity), and usually groan my way through these Top Whatever lists…

    But I have to say, the vast majority of it was really pretty good. Not too much to complain about.

    A few things that stood out for me =

    – Very glad they included a Parliament record, but “One nation under a groove” isnt even the shadow of “Mothership Connection”, which is their ‘100% perfect’ record.

    – I also agree – these ‘greatest hits records’ – like Chuck Berry in the 80s, Hank Williams in 2000s, JB: Star Time, Elvis reissues…etc. – dont belong at all. Cite the best original record, then leave it.

    – R.E.M. – I agree… one record of theirs on a list is more than enough. Document was a good one, or Eponymous. They were an 80s band that should have died in the 80s.

    – OK Computer =yes – Kid A = No.

    – Hole…. What? Who the @#()$*@# listened to that crap for more than a week?

    – Surprised they left of Pearl Jam’s “Ten” in the 90s. That album WAS the 90s for a lot of kids.

    – Two Eminem records is kinda bullshit. It’s not like he evolved at all.

    Some things were tellingly hip choices – Stone Roses is a underrecongized must-have, DJ Shadow deserves it for Endtroducing, most of the 70s choices were all really spot on…most of their hiphop/rap citations are right calls but they are missing 1 or 2, like Wu Tang “36 chambers”, & Nas’ “Illmatic” in the 90s.

    But in general, aside from the wrongheaded ‘greatest hits’ entries, I think it’s as close to a good list as one could expect from a non-music-specialist publication.

    Mojo magazine, a british rock mag, does lists like this all the time and they LOVE to be nerdy and counter intuitive. I think one that was near and dear to my heart was a guitar list where they ranked Steve Cropper #2…just after Jimi Hendrix. I was like, “You guys have balls. And taste.” I’d never make that big a claim myself, but I do think Cropper is a demi-god.

  61. how could Rush’s 2112 be left out?

    Har har. THe same reason Steely Dan was left off. Because *most people hate them*. 🙂

  62. John…As much as I love Number of the Beast. I feel the SSOTSS, is their best. Lyrics, the playing, and Bruce’s voice is far more better than Beast. Granted Hallowed Be Thy Name, is my favorite Maiden song. SSOTSS, is over all their best.

    Nice to see another Maiden fan on here.They never, ever get any kind of credit on these lists.

  63. FinFangFoom
    “Ride the Tiger
    You can see his stripes so you know he’s clean
    Oh don’t you see what I mean.”

    No, actually, I don’t Mr. Dio.

    Think Ted Haggard.

  64. “Har har. THe same reason Steely Dan was left off. Because *most people hate them*. :)”

    Who hates Steely Dan? You are right about Ten being the 90s for a lot of people. It should have made the list. In the same way “Aja” was the 70s for a lot of people. It should have made the list to.

  65. Just because they are not what some of their fans claim, doesn’t mean they were not great.

    Good call, John. I like saying that The Beatles being the top rock band and the most overrated rock band are not mutually exclusive just cause so much praise has been lavished on them.

    OTOH, when someone hates my own music, I just figure so what, there are folks who hate The Beatles!! 🙂

  66. Ron,

    It is funny. As a kid growing up I listened to them all the time. Then I grew up and went to college and stopped and started listening to crap like REM. Now that I am older, I look back and realize that the Maiden were really pretty well done and a hell of a lot better than a lot of the crap I liked in college. I can’t say I liten a Maiden that often, but given a choice between being stuck on an Island with one of thei records or a any number of other records I used to like, I am taking the Maiden.

  67. I can’t believe TIME left off ABBA. I mean really.

  68. I want to know how their earliest two choices can be both Frank Sinatra, since Sinatra’s influence on about 99% of the later artists they list was precisely dum-diddly-do-dah.

  69. I can’t believe TIME left off ABBA. I mean really.

    What’s even worse, they left off the Bee Gees.

  70. It’s weird how polarizing REM has become…sometimes I wonder if people don’t like them because of Michael Stipe’s politics moreso than their music.

  71. Uh, I meant dislike them due to Stipe’s politics…

  72. “It’s weird how polarizing REM has become…sometimes I wonder if people don’t like them because of Michael Stipe’s politics moreso than their music.”

    I am definitely on the other end of the political spectrum from Stipe. That said, I started judging music by the politics of the artist making it, I would be stuck listening to Ted Nugent the rest of my life, which would be pretty short since I am almost positive the second play of Wango Tango would produce a successful suicide. I find Bono generaly nausiating but will defend his music to the death.

  73. From Wikipedia:

    During the week of April 4, The Beatles held the top five places on the Billboard Hot 100 – a feat that has never been repeated. They had an additional 7 songs at lower positions: 12% of the chart consisted of Beatles songs.

    Were any of you who think the Beatles are overrated even alive in 1964?

    It’s unlikely the Beatles will ever be rated the “best” group by any standard, but they were damn well influential.

  74. Dan…I’ve always found REM to be to pompous. Not just their politics or anything like that.

    During the late 80s and early to mid 90s, it seemed they had this arua about them that reaked of elitism. And their fans, were the worse.Almost like how the hippie/jam band fans act about Phish or Moe.

    Never got the Elitism thing in music.

  75. GILMORE,

    Cheap shot here, but your opinions are declared null and void because you state in one bullet point that “greatest hits” albums do not belong here and in the very next bullet point suggest REM “Eponymous.” I call you out, sir!

    REM definitely belongs on this list, but I would have gone with Reckoning, Life’s Rich Pageant or Automatic: For the People.

    I was surprised to see Hole on here, but pleasantly so. Strangely, though, I would have gone with Celebrity Skin, which I consider possibly the best Smashing Pumpkins record of all time.

    Having said that, a real Pumpkins record should have made the list as well.

  76. – Very glad they included a Parliament record, but “One nation under a groove” isnt even the shadow of “Mothership Connection”, which is their ‘100% perfect’ record.

    Ah, but that’s Parliament, not Funkadelic, and the two are conceptually quite different, even if consisting of the same folks. Parliament is the watered-down ‘pop’ version, while Funkadelic is the acid-tinged, guitar-driven funk monster. The best Funkadelic album is “Standing On The Verge of Getting It On.” Why? Because it just is.

    The most relevant quote I can think of for this whole thingy is:

    “Rock journalism is people who can’t write interviewing people who can’t talk for people who can’t read.” — Frank Zappa

  77. “I was surprised to see Hole on here, but pleasantly so. Strangely, though, I would have gone with Celebrity Skin, which I consider possibly the best Smashing Pumpkins record of all time.”

    What do you mean Cortney Love didn’t make her own music but instead found geeky, insecure musical geniuses and laid down for them in return for ghost writing her records? I for one am shocked at that allegation.

  78. It’s unlikely the Beatles will ever be rated the “best” group by any standard, but they were damn well influential.

    Oh, absolutely. But then my single criterion for “most influential” is how many albums a group has sold. By that measure, the Beatles are near or at the top.

    But selling albums is too pedestrian a measurement for most snooty music critics, so they think up all sorts of silly reasons why the Beatles were not only the biggest sellers of all time, but the most talented as well. Which is hogwash, and I think most here would agree.

    Everyone has a different standard as to what’s the best music; for example, I like Ted Nugent (Free-for-All was his best album) but I will admit that “Wango Tango” in only enjoyable if you’re falling-down drunk, and I don’t drink. So given the subjective nature of whose music is the best, the only reliable way to determine the winner is by determining which group can induce the most people to buy their records.

  79. “So given the subjective nature of whose music is the best, the only reliable way to determine the winner is by determining which group can induce the most people to buy their records.”

    I think it is more than that. Hell, the Parchridge Family sold a lot of records. I think it is a a combination of sales and enduring popularity that makes music infuential. It is like the old Elvis record “1 Billion Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong” or whatever it is. At some point, if a band is beloved by millions over a long period of time, you have to admit that there is something there even if you yourself can’t see it.

  80. Parliament is the watered-down ‘pop’ version

    Sigh. They’re not watered-down. They’re just doing something different (or they were, before Clinton combined the brand names in the ’80s). And Parliament wasn’t always “pop” either — it could get pretty strange sometimes, even if you don’t count Omnium.

  81. Replace Led Zeppelin IV (a.k.a. Zoso) with Led Zeppelin II.

  82. Oh, absolutely. But then my single criterion for “most influential” is how many albums a group has sold. By that measure, the Beatles are near or at the top.

    By influential, I mean how many other “important” bands said their latest album was their “st pepper”.

  83. Sigh, it’s so…HOARY to have to state the obvious, but you CAN be influential without being immensely popular. The best example is the Velvet Underground, of whom it is famously said that only a dozen people bought their albums, but they all started bands. Early punk bands like The Ramones were influential without selling a lot of records too, just look at all the punk bands playing in local bars. Punk rock influenced the music most musicians are actually making! (Yeah, we’ll leave whether those local bands are any good aside for now….) The Beatles were both popular and influential. Ask Roger McGuinn who bought a twelve string guitar after seeing Harrison play one in Hard Day’s Night and started a genre of music by consciously wedding folk music and a “Beatles beat”. Etc, etc. Yawn….

  84. Fyodor,

    Being influential is more than just influencing musicians. I don’t think there too many musicians out there who after 1980 were trying to sound like the Bee Gees, but it is hard not to agree that they were enormously influential on the culture of the 1970s.

  85. I like R.E.M., but Out of Time shouldn’t have made the list. Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain by Pavement or the Flaming Lips’ Soft Bulletin are both more deserving of that spot. And OK Computer definitely deserved its spot.

  86. booty0, Thanks for my first rapeman reference this decade. Brings me back to my short DJ’ing gig at WSUC-FM, 1988, (the only passing grade I got in an entire semester at good old Cortland State)…Steve Albini production right?

  87. What’s even worse, they left off the Bee Gees.

    Actually, the Bee Gee’s first album was pretty damned good.

  88. The Beatles had more number one hits than any other individual or group. Garth Brooks of all peoples spent his career trying to sell more records than the Beatles.

    They did many things for the firts time . . things that many others did better later on, but not first.

  89. Actually, the Bee Gee’s first album was pretty damned good.

    I was being (sorta, kinda) serious. The Bee Gees were the sound of the late 70’s disco scene; their music from “Saturday Night Fever” is constantly being recycled in movies and TV shows.

    I didn’t particularly like them, but whenever I hear “Staying Alive” I instantly think of high school…

  90. Captain Holly:

    As disco music goes (and disco music SUCKS!), I agree. However, their first album with the psychedelic cover called, oddly enough, “Bee Gee’s 1st” was an interesting album with a number of good – not great, but good – songs.

  91. I’ve always found REM to be to pompous. Not just their politics or anything like that.

    Heh. Don’t know how I got to be defending R.E.M. so much, considering that they’re nowhere near my favorite band. Anyways, I’ll agree on the pomposity. Which ties into my earlier point about experimental music. Seems that a lot of great bands get into that mindset where they think that they can do no wrong, and end up going off the deep end and putting out unlistenable crap. Witness U2 (everything after Achtung Baby), Radiohead (everything after OK Computer), R.E.M. (everything after New Adventures in Hi-Fi, though even that album wasn’t great), the Smashing Pumpkins (everything after Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness) . . . I think that the Beatles avoided this, as I said, but they came damn close at times. Led Zeppelin might have done this, but I don’t know their later albums well enough to judge sufficiently. Pearl Jam has certainly fallen prey to this effect, but I’m not sure when it happened, and I think that their self-indulgent crap is still pretty good.

    But every single one of these artists has at least one thing in common, IMO: they all take themselves waaaaaay too seriously. They think that they’re not just making music, they’re Making Music. I’m terrified that this will happen to Tool, because they certainly have that air of self-importance, but luckily they come out with new albums so rarely that even if they do succumb it won’t be until 2020 or so. But I think that if an artist is lacking that critical sense of humility, they’re going to go off and Make Important Music that no one wants to listen to, and then they’ll blame your audience for being Philistines rather than themselves for making bad music. Occupational hazard, I guess.

  92. Sinatra’s influence on about 99% of the later artists they list was precisely dum-diddly-do-dah.

    Think phrasing. There isn’t a singer alive who wouldn’t kill to have his ability.

  93. Obviously, a list like Time’s will please nobody, but there are some things that left me scratching my head. Like “Stories from the city..” WTF? Rid of me or To bring you my love are MUCH better PJ Harvey records. Also, “Stop making sense” is the most “concert” movie I’ve ever seen, but the best album is “remain in light.” And no 60’s Stones? The work the stones did in the 60’s is criminally underated.
    The only record from the 00’s I can think of that would be deserving wold be Arular by M.I.A. Other records deserving of a spot would be Loveless by My Bloody Valentine and 69 love songs by the magnetic fields

  94. No sign of Blue Lines, The Lexicon Of Love, Young American Primitive, Chill Out, Hounds Of Love, Escape From Noise, Stella…I think these guys died in 1978 and just haven’t realized it yet.

  95. I think that the Beatles avoided this, as I said, but they came damn close at times.

    That’s because they flamed out before they lost their muses.

    And it was obvious from their interviews they never took anything very seriously.

  96. John:
    but it is hard not to agree that they were enormously influential on the culture of the 1970s.

    Isn’t this a bit of chicken-egg? Did the BG’s invent disco or merely capitalize on a funk-induced trend that eventually made it’s way to broader audiences through Saturday Night Fever and the like?

    Another group I don;t see listed is Jethro Tull…Aqualung anyone? Not to mention all the players who passed through the group http://www.collecting-tull.com/TullTree/TullFamilyTree.htm

  97. “And no 60’s Stones? The work the stones did in the 60’s is criminally underated.”

    I would definitly take Let it Bleed or Begger’s Banquit over Stickey Fingers. Hell, even Statanic Majesties is pretty damn good and gets a bad rap.

  98. But every single one of these artists has at least one thing in common, IMO: they all take themselves waaaaaay too seriously. They think that they’re not just making music, they’re Making Music.

    True, but let’s face it – you have to have a pretty high opinion of yourself to record music and offer it up for sale.

    And if people buy it, your opinion of yourself can’t help but get even higher…

  99. THE VIOLENT FEMMES

  100. Interesting that the WOXY list includes three Echo and the Bunnymen songs in their top 500, and all three are from their most boring period. No “Crocodiles”? No “Do It Clean”? No “All That Jazz”? Gimme a break.

  101. Hell, even Statanic Majesties is pretty damn good and gets a bad rap.

    I’m a HUGE stones fan, but Satanic Majesties was even worse than Goats Head Soup.

    I agree with Beggar’s Banquet and Sticky Fingers.

  102. OK, gotta play—I don’t own 30 of the 100 so have no opinion on their greatness or lack of. Except for the Harvey and the Lucinda Williams (both way too dull), i didn’t see anything that struck me as obviously outrageous, that is, clearly not very good or “significant.” (Though GOODBYE YELLOW BRICK ROAD is a predictably wrong choice for an Elton record–while none are great throughout, ROCK OF THE WESTIES comes closest–and I do love me some Elton.) My substitions would be all bits of personal obsession that clearly would not end up on a list such as this, from the Chills’ BRAVE WORDS to Prefab Sprout’s STEVE MCQUEEN to the Vulgar Boatmen’s PLEASE PANIC to Meringue’s MUSIC FROM THE MINT GREEN NEST (an album I put out on my own label in the 1990s) to five more Beach Boys or Dylan records. It did the job it had to do…

  103. Brian,

    There ought to be a rule on these lists, if a band is not on a major lable, has never been played by a mainstream radio station and is unfamiliar to over 90 percent of the music buying public, it can’t be considered influential. A favorit? Yes The best this or that? Yes But not influential.

  104. Being influential is more than just influencing musicians.

    Well I sure never said that that’s ALL of it, but yes I’d say it’s one PART of it.

  105. Um, yeah. The only electronica to make that list was DJ Shadow, who isn’t even that influential, compared to the likes of the Chemical Brothers, Orbital, or Prodigy. Goth and Industrial were completely snubbed- not even a nod to Nine Inch Nails (which I’d argue has ultimately proven to be as important to the 90’s alternative scene as Nirvana, and Reznor is a real musician, unlike the vastly overrated Cobain), Depeche Mode or Bauhaus. Hell, pretty much all the British trip-hop and electropop scene was snubbed- no nods for Massive Attack or The Sneaker Pimps, both of whom produced some groundbreaking work in the 90’s. Instead, we get complete shit like Hole, Oasis, and Eminem on the list. Um, yeah.

    Hell, there isn’t a single album on that list that I own… and I’m an ex-DJ with at least 500 CDs in my collection. That list is worthless.

  106. Ya know, the older I get, the more inclined I am to agree with the kid in American Graffti who said, “Rock ‘n’ Roll has been going downhill since Buddy Holly died…”

  107. I have to say that the hip hop selections are pretty good, although there are glaring omissions. (Where is De La Soul?) Low End Theory is on of the best albums of any genre.

  108. Since no one has addressed the jazz selections, I’ll cross post a few comments I posted at Inactivist. I don’t know much about popular music beyond, say, 1980 and, of course, these things boil down as much as anything to what the writer(s) happen personally to like.

    One thing TIME got right was Miles Davis’ 1959 “Kind Of Blue”. Almost without serious competition, this is the greatest jazz album of all time and would be my clear pick for those “you only get one CD to listen to on a desert island” games. If you neither like nor know jazz (pretty much the same thing, actually) you still should own this CD just in case you ever have need of impressing your musical betters.

    On the other hand, Davis’ 1969 “Bitches Brew” not only shouldn’t be on the list, every extant copy should be melted into a heaping mountain of vinyl and whatever the hell they make CDs out of. “Complex, hypnotic cauldron of sound,” my ass! Sadly, this is pretty much true for everything Davis recorded after “Bitches Brew,” too.

    Similarly, although many Coltrane fans would disagree, I’d have picked an earlier Coltrane album than his 1964 “A Love Supreme”, probably “Giant Steps” or maybe even “My Favorite Thing.” But I suppose I should count my blessings that no Ornette Coleman album made the list.

    I’d trade either of the Stevie Wonder picks for his brilliant “Innervisions” and drop one of Aretha’s two picks, probably “Lady Soul,” and the Dolly Parton, Carole King and Neil Young picks just to prove I’m a sexist. Oh, wait! I’d probably include Janice Joplin’s “Cheap Thrills” as one of the replacements, so maybe I’m not all that sexist after all. Possible other replacements would include the Doors’ “Strange Days,” Cream’s “Disraeli Gears,” and another Dylan or Simon & Garfunkel album, perhaps “Bringing It All Back Home” or “Bookends,” respectively.

    One final observation. Robert Johnson may be the single most important figure in the recorded history of the blues, but the sound quality of his recordings is so bad that no one but a musician trying to learn the licks or a die-hard fan actually listens to them. The inclusion of the 1961 repackaging of his 29 much earlier recorded songs on “King of the Delta Blues Singers” is pure pretension.

  109. I’m guessing “Back from Samoa” by the Angry Samoans isn’t on there.

    If that’s the case, I have no use for this list.

  110. “And no 60’s Stones? The work the stones did in the 60’s is criminally underated.”

    I would definitly take Let it Bleed or Begger’s Banquit over Stickey Fingers. Hell, even Statanic Majesties is pretty damn good and gets a bad rap.

    I’ll agree that the Stone’s stuff from the 60’s is underated. Especially compared to the Beatles. But they really didn’t become an “album” band until (I’d say) Beggar’s Banquet. Exile On Main Street is one of the greatest rock albums of all time.

    The 2000’s selection pretty much sucks. I’ll add two of my favorites from the 2000’s to the discussion; Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and My Morning Jacket’s It Still Moves.

  111. TIME gets no credit for picking Kind of Blue because it’s a gimme. It’s like London Calling, one of the foundations of any collection of 20th century popular music.

    I like Bitches Brew, but I don’t listen to it much. I prefer In A Silent Way.
    I suppose you would not include any Sun Ra on your list.

  112. Cheap shot here, but your opinions are declared null and void because you state in one bullet point that “greatest hits” albums do not belong here and in the very next bullet point suggest REM “Eponymous.” I call you out, sir!

    Hoist in my own petard, verily.

    I mixed it up with, what, Green? I probably thought Eponymous WAS an album. I started getting annoyed with them after a brief phase of paying attention.

    JG

  113. One final observation. Robert Johnson may be the single most important figure in the recorded history of the blues, but the sound quality of his recordings is so bad that no one but a musician trying to learn the licks or a die-hard fan actually listens to them. The inclusion of the 1961 repackaging of his 29 much earlier recorded songs on “King of the Delta Blues Singers” is pure pretension.

    Well I listen to them. There is no way to deny his influence on many of the other artists on this list. From the Stones to Led Zeppelin to Eric Clapton. If the list is about influential albums, King of the Delta Blues Singers belongs on there.

    And speaking of Clapton, no Cream, no Bluesbreakers, no Layla? One would think a musician who inspired graffiti saying he was God would have at least one album on there.

  114. Who hates Steely Dan?

    har. I love steely dan.

    but ask around. they provoke severe distaste for many.

  115. After reading the article, I noticed that they snubbed Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. I’m not sure where hip-hop or electronica would be without those influences.

  116. replace The Essential Hank Williams

    You trod on thin ice, my friend. Not only should we not replace Hank Williams; we should declare it Hanksgiving Week!

  117. One would think a musician who inspired graffiti saying he was God would have at least one album on there.
    Pfft. The best thing Clapton ever influenced was that Mr. Show bit that parodied him and Brian Wilson.

  118. As someone who believes there has been no good music since Buddy Holly died, what can I add to this discussion?

  119. I suppose you would not include any Sun Ra on your list.

    Correct.

    Well I listen to them.

    Then I suspect you’re a die-hard fan or a musician studying them. Okay, so maybe not, but the audio is terrible and I doubt many people listen to Johnson over and over for that reason. I love Charlie Parker but I have the same problem with his early recordings. Yes, Johnson’s influence is enormous, but that doesn’t mean the album deserves to be on a list of top albums that appears also to include jazz as well as blues, etc., but doesn’t include, say, any Armstrong, Parker, Ellington, Holiday or Ella.

  120. there isn’t a single album on that list that I own… and I’m an ex-DJ with at least 500 CDs in my collection

    lol

    well, that explains part of it, right? 🙂

  121. These lists are about as useless as tits on a bull. We could all put together a list like this and come up with about the same stuff, give or take 10-15% of it. That being said, I’m surprised they picket Document instead of Murmur. It wasn’t the most popular REM album, but it was far more influential. Also surprised they threw no bones to the Deadheads (like me) or even a live album like The Allman’s “Live from Fillmore East”. Both the Dead and the Allmans spawned a couple of generations of progeny.

    The other thing that strikes me is that the choices are a little better for the 60’s and 70′ than for later decades. Not surprising in that Rock has morphed into something that’s not as easy to categorize. Do you include Bob Marley or Polyphonic Spree? How about Massive Attack or A Silver Mt. Zion? Bela Fleck or Niyaz? There’s so much cross pollination it’s hard to tell where rock and roll ends and something else begins.

  122. On the singles side, there’s always the 97X/WOXY Modern Rock 500.

    They were doing OK until Bjork’s “Human Behavior” at #49. I like Bjork, but not this high on the list….

  123. How can any albums from the 2000s be considered “influential”? It’s only 2006! Don’t these things take time? That said, Dylan’s Love and Theft is better than Time Out of Mind. On the U2 front, I don’t know about the “influence” of Achtung Baby (and don’t know how you would go about measuring such a thing and don’t care), but it is a great album, U2’s last supergreat effort. (I don’t really know how to listen to an album’s “influence” anyway.) The Joshua Tree has probably been more influential, both for artists and for recording techniques. I am not a particularly avid Pink Floyd fan, but Dark Side of the Moon’s run on the top-500 selling albums should have earned it a spot, I would think.

  124. Have you ever found yourself sitting around, just chillin’, and thinking to yourself:

    “I’d really like to listen to a great Pink Floyd song, but I don’t feel like spending the next 20 minutes on such a prospect.” Or maybe:

    “I wonder what would happen if I took the Ramones or maybe Motorhead and forced them to play some classic rock at their own speed without drawn out guitar solos getting in the way.”

    Well, wonder no more. The Crumsy Pirates have a solution. You can sail on over to our myspace site and check out the last song. It’s two minutes more amusing than reading someone else’s top 100 list.

    http://www.myspace.com/crumsypirates

  125. Screw this 100 best/most influential lit-making.
    Where I sit right now, if I could pick 10 albums to take on a year-long trip:

    1. Maggot Brain – Funkadelic
    2. Double Nickels on the Dime – Minutemen
    3. London Calling – the Clash
    4. The Best of the Staple Singers
    5. Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome
    6. Superfly – Curtis Mayfield
    7. Low End Theory – A Tribe Called Quest
    8. Letter to Hampton – Pat Smillie Band
    9. Buddy Holly from the Original Master Tapes
    10. The Great 28 – Chuck Berry

    Those aren’t my all-time favorites, but if you gave me 20 minutes to pack and I could grab 10 albums, I would be happy.

  126. Here’s a couple online lists that I think are just really great – they’ve directed me to a lotta stuff that I love now and hadn’t even heard of a few years ago:

    http://www.sundayherald.com/bestalbums.shtml

    http://www.blastitude.com/14/pg4.htm

  127. The Blastitude list has Katy Lied at #1. Steely Dan is a ballsy choice! I respect that. It is a perfect album.

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