100 Most Influential Albums.



Over the last weekend a list of what is supposedly 100 of the most influential albums of all time spread over Facebook like a hard to shift unwanted virus. The problem with such things is that although you enter into them fully aware that they are usually a pretentious pile of crap they are still irresistible because we are conditioned into believing that owning the right music may somehow bestow a sense of hitherto missing cool upon us. This however can only work if those who compile such lists are cool themselves and cool is actually quite a nebulous-probably non-existent if we are honest- entity. Therefore it virtually renders such lists redundant before they have even begun. On the plus side sometimes such lists do alert you to music you have previously been unaware of and which just might influence you into seeking out similar works. This list however was most definitely not one of those!

Another problem with such lists is exactly who the albums listed are supposed to have influenced: Other musicians? Popular culture? Generational divides? Or just list compilers who have nothing better to do with their time? The main problem however with this particular list is that nearly everyone who did it seemed to be angry with what was missing rather than any major concern with what was actually there. Many major influential works seemed to have been swept aside in favour of MOR blandness or some sense of cool which does not exist apart from on Planet Naff.

index                   ROXY MUSIC ALBUM

There were some shocking omissions and any list of influential albums which omits The Velvet Underground and Nico, The New York Dolls and their eponymous debut, either of –possibly both- of Roxy Music’s first two albums, Hounds of Love by Kate Bush, Suicide, Nick Cave, The Cramps, The Gun Club, Chic or anything by Prince and The Specials surely doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously.Even whole genres were overlooked-or ignored- as both dance and drum and bass-probably the only truly exclusive and original British form of music- were inexplicably missing despite creating and dominating their very own scenes throughout the nineties.

Likewise Blondie may have been a chart act but a lot of their music was avant garde pop and Parallel Lines is an album which,at the time, bravely strode the great divide between disco and new wave setting an agenda for the coming decade whilst Debbie Harry objectified and comtrolled her own sexuality in a way which women hadn’t previously done in music thus inspiring a certain Miss Ciccone who has dominated the music business for several decades now.  Each of the aforementioned acts has had an influence-some  in many different spheres and in the case of the Velvets and the Dolls long after they had split up- that I can’t imagine Gerry Rafferty or prog rockers Yes has had.

The latter two inexplicably made it onto the list so either it was compiled by some middle aged men who were in their rocking chairs and comfy slippers-probably even in their teenage years- or else some prankster executive from HMV who feels the need to shift loads of unwanted stock by fooling a few wannabe hipsters into believing that their cool will be in tact if only they purchase these albums tout de suite before the retail music chain closes down in the very near future.

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I would personally prefer to choose to believe the latter theory rather than think anyone out there thinks that more than half these records are remotely essential to any record collection. I scored 46 out of a possible 100 and far from believing that this score makes me- almost- halfway cool I was more concerned that amongst these records there were some I actually have not listened to for years and have no intention of listening to ever again. Especially now they have made it onto that list. There were a good many others which I would never have ever considered giving house room to let alone credit with any influence over my and hopefully anyone else’s life.

Other gripes include how come only one Beatles, –Revolver– Dylan, Blonde on Blonde– and Bowie-Hunky Dory- apiece. I understand all three artists have huge oeuvres and their influence spreads large and overcrowding their well stacked legacy with further accolades was unnecessary. Admittedly the Beatles and Dylan selections were probably wise choices if a single selection were to be made but choosing Hunky Dory as Bowie’s most influential album was lazy and misinformed. It is actually an album all about its own influences- Warhol, Velvet Underground, Dylan and even Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ are all name-checked- rather than creating any of its own. It’s immediate follow up ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars’ had huge cultural impact on several generations and musically Station to Station and Low hinted at the future and both directionally presaged music for the next ten to fifteen years.

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A major problem with such lists is that it all really comes down to personal taste and self appointed arbiters of taste really should actually have some merit. As the compilers of this particular travesty remain anonymous I assume this is just another attempt at effortless cool or perhaps even they are embarrassed at their own choices.

Finishing on a positive note however at least Horses by Patti Smith, Electric Warrior by T.Rex, Magazine, Eno and Mazzy Starr were in there with the latter especially coming as a welcome and very pleasant surprise. So obviously at some point someone , somewhere compiling the list had a momentary flash of what influential actually meant.

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