Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Spin doctoring

Spin is releasing its Top 100 in chunks of 15, which is mathematically difficult. Of course, we already know the Top 10.

I'll play ball and comment on each 15. That means I can think about my response to naming OK Computer No. 1 for a little while.

Quick comments on Nos. 86-100: Basically, this is the dumping ground for a few critics' favorites that can't reasonably be ranked higher. I haven't heard enough of Slint, Neutral Milk Hotel (who?) and a few others here to get worked up about them. They can't be ranked higher because no one else heard them, either. It's nice to see a bit of respect for the Pogues, the witty and energetic Elastica debut would stand up even better today if they hadn't faded into oblivion at a pace that even Behind the Music couldn't chart, and I'll forgive them the nod to Sonic Youth as long as that intriguing but overrated band isn't represented elsewhere on the chart. I can't quite forgive them the Stereolab inclusion, and I say that as someone who owns a Stereolab CD and even saw them live once (at a festival, so it might not count). Quirky minimalism only goes so far.

Here's the problem that leaps off the page -- what is Pearl Jam's Ten doing at No. 93? Along with Nirvana's Nevermind, which is in the top 10, this is one of the most-imitated albums of the past 20 years. And I'd say it stands up a little better than Nevermind. Listen to In Bloom today, and it sounds like a relic. But Alive and Jeremy are every bit as powerful as they were back in the day.

If you're ranking the top 100 albums of the past 20 years, Ten should be no lower than its title.


Neel Mehta said...

I own OK Computer. That first year I would use it for waking up (slowly), but since then I never feel like listening to it. Maybe I never gave it much of a chance.

I like the fact that the Spin staff were daring enough to list 2 albums in the past 20 years that might possibly be better than Nevermind. I hate the free ride that album has received since the Cobainicide.

I prefer Ten as well, but I would imagine that people think of Eddie Vedder negatively because of Creed and other music he hath (indirectly) wrought. But then, my fave Pearl Jam album is Vitalogy, so what do I know?

bdure said...

That's the funny thing about being "influential" -- can you be blamed for the bands that follow in your wake?

R.E.M. had, for a brief time, a fair number of imitators. But they were inoffensive, and they faded quickly.

The rush of bands who figured "if Pearl Jam could do it, so can we" are directly responsible for choking alternative rock to death. I reached a point around 1999 at which I simply didn't care how meaningless these mofos' suburban lives had become. If you're feeling so empty inside, dude, maybe you could fill that void by putting some actual effort into your music.

My current leader for best overall album of the past 20 years is Fishbone's The Reality of My Surroundings, but I'll have to put some more thought into it. I think all the critics who liked that album have since retired, and it influenced nobody. After the brief heyday of Fishbone and Living Colour, record companies went back to thinking African American rock didn't exist.