Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Rolling Stone's Top 500 Albums of All Time, Picked Apart (101-150)

by Michael Drinan

We carry on with our bashing of Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time by tackling entries 101-150 (Part 2 is HERE).

101. Frank Sinatra - In The Wee Small Hours
102. Cream - Fresh Cream
103. John Coltrane - Giant Steps
104. James Taylor - Sweet Baby James
105. Ray Charles - Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music
106. The Ramones - Rocket To Russia
107. Sam Cooke - Portrait of a Legend
108. David Bowie - Hunky Dory
109. The Rolling Stones - Aftermath
110. The Velvet Underground - Loaded

This is where I’m beginning to feel Rolling Stone’s bias to the older generations of artists while slagging off more recent works by current artists, essentially force-feeding the legacy of these older bands by naming their weaker works before more current releases. The first example is Cream’s Fresh Cream. Look, we all love Cream, (at least, most of us do) but is this album better than all of the albums released in the 50 years that followed? Nope. Also, I consider myself a list guy and I’ve never seen this album included in any “Greatest Albums of (whatever)” list...ever.

The same goes for The Ramones’ Rocket to Russia and The Rolling Stones’ Aftermath. I’m not suggesting these are bad albums but I think they’re ranked WAY too high.

In my last installment, I bitched about the Ray Charles compilation The Birth of Soul: The Complete Atlantic Recordings being listed at #54 instead of Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. Being at #105 is way too low for me considering how important and influential that album was, not just for Ray Charles as an artist but for the entire country music genre.

Sam Cooke at #107 with a compilation feels like an exception to me considering how cut short his career and life was. He was beginning to embrace a more activist tone before he was killed. Would’ve loved to see the direction his career would’ve gone if he had lived.

111. Radiohead - The Bends
112. The Mamas and The Papas - If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears
113. Joni Mitchell - Court and Spark
114. Cream - Disraeli Gears
115. The Who - The Who Sell Out
116. The Rolling Stones - Out of Our Heads
117. Derek and the Dominos - Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs
118. Kanye West - Late Registration
119. Etta James - At Last!
120. The Byrds - Sweetheart of the Rodeo

I’m not sure how I feel about the Mamas and the Papas at #112. I love listening to the harmonies of their songs, but when it came to their albums I’ve always felt simply satisfied but never blown away. Seeing that two of their biggest hits “Monday, Monday” and “California Dreamin’” are on this album makes it pretty obvious why it’s ranked where it is. I just don’t agree with it when there are more impactful albums below it.

Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark, still her most commercially successful album is a fucking dream of a project. I love Joni.

Cream’s debut album being listed at #102 is an insult to Disraeli Gears at #114. I don’t nitpick too much on placement but the latter is a superior album BY FAR.

So, I’m not the biggest Kanye West fan out there. In fact, I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of his at all. As a producer he’s great, legendary, incomparable, but as a rap artist? I’ve never really bought into the praise. However, with that said, to suggest that Late Registration is his best album I feel is horribly wrong. It includes one of his most popular songs (“Gold Digger”) but it’s nowhere near his best work. In my opinion; My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy should be ranked before any of his other albums. I may not like Kanye West, but that album was great. A classic in every sense of the word.

130. Sly and the Family Stone - Stand
131. The Original Soundtrack The Harder They Come
132. Run D.M.C. - Raising Hell
133. Moby Grape - Moby Grape
134. Janis Joplin - Pearl
135. Bob Marley and The Wailers - Catch A Fire
136. The Byrds - Younger Than Yesterday
137. Iggy and The Stooges - Raw Power
138. Talking Heads - Remain In Light
139. Television - Marquee Moon
140. Black Sabbath - Paranoid

I don’t like the idea of soundtracks being listed but The Harder They Come soundtrack is an exception considering how it broadened reggae’s fan base, bringing it to a much wider audience. Jimmy Cliff is one of the best reggae artists I’ve ever heard and I still rank him as the greatest. His song “Many Rivers to Cross” is just golden. The other artists included on the soundtrack showed the richness and range of the genre. I’m okay with it’s inclusion.

Moby Grape - never fucking heard of ‘em.

Janis Joplin’s Pearl seems a little low to me considering how that album is just downright incredible. Blues that punches you in the gut and the utter pain in that sweet, raspy voice of hers just brings forth every feeling I could possibly fathom. Should be higher.

Television’s Marquee Moon at #139 seems like a fitting place to me. It illustrates how tragically overlooked and underrated this album is and how underappreciated punk is in the eyes of music critics and journalists who put together these sorry ass lists. Anyway, punk rock never sounded so perfect and precise as it did on this album.

141. The Original Soundtrack Saturday Night Fever
142. Bruce Springsteen - The Wild, The Innocent & the E Street Shuffle
143. The Notorious B.I.G. - Ready to Die
144. Pavement - Slanted and Enchanted
145. Elton John - Greatest Hits
146. The Replacements - Tim
147. Dr. Dre - The Chronic
148. The Meters - Rejuvenation
149. Blondie - Parallel Lines
150. B.B. King - Live at the Regal

#141 - Yeah, we get it.

Biggie’s debut album at #143 seems a little low. Great hip hop album. One of the best hip hop debuts (Nas’ Illmatic is still my personal choice). Gritty and powerful. I never get tired of listening to it.

Elton John’s Greatest Hits just seems like filler here. A way to get his name on this list one more time (I’m assuming he’ll pop up more as the list goes on).

The Replacements at #146 seems fair. Could’ve either been Tim or Let It Be, both had roughly the same sound and feel. I think Tim is the better album so it was a nice surprise to see it listed.

One of the most important hip hop albums  is listed at #147. Dre definitely redefined the West Coast hip hop sound and gave melody to hip hop. This album is one of best produced albums of all time.

There you have it! A nice mix of genres and generations were included in this portion of the list. Not as many greatest hits albums as in the Top 100. Stay tuned for Part 4!

No comments:

Post a Comment