The Edge Effect

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

All-TIME 100

The most recent issue of TIME Magazine includes their official list of "the greatest and most influential records ever."

It's a pretty good list with most of the albums you'd expect. I was particularly glad to see Nirvana's Nevermind in the group. For reasons that probably have as much to do with me as they do with the album itself, I was hugely moved by it. It really seemed revolutionary to me at the time and it was at least a harbinger of changing winds in popular music if not a driving influence.

I am happy to report that I have at least heard of most of the albums on the list (although there are a few mysteries for me), but I'm surprised by how few I actually own or know well. I'll have to start checking cds out of the library to see if there are things that I should add to my collection.

There are a few albums and artists that I am familiar with on a very general level and wouldn't have expected to show up here. PJ Harvey is one. I remember her having a single or two in the mid 90s, and I always thought she was kind of fun, but I really thought she was a flash in the grunge pan. Maybe I missed something in the haze of my late teen years, I'll have to check that one out again for sure.

My biggest disappointment is that the list only goes back to the 1950s and two out of the four albums in the 1950s are by Sinatra. Yes those are important, but if you want to talk about truly influential music I think there is a lot missing here. Just restricting ourselves to music that actually exists on records, there is a whole corpus of Depression-era (and earlier) folk music, the blues and gospel that bred Rock, Dance Hall, Two-Tone, and Reggae certainly had an impact, and what about the great showmen of the 1940s big bands? Some of this shows up on the list in later incarnations and they certainly picked important albums - I won't dispute the import of Bob Marley's Legend - but the list is skewed away from some real giants. e.g. Outkast and Oasis but no Billie Holiday or Jaco Pastorius (1970s I know, but as influential as any other).

Oh yeah, and there is no Pink Floyd. Music critics seem to fall into two camps: 'Pink Floyd is the only real music, all others are derivative' and 'Pink Floyd is derivative garbage and Stairway to Heaven is the worst song ever written.' I'm not sure I have a dog in that particular fight. I like Floyd well enough, but Stairway is a bit overhyped.