Saturday, July 26, 2008

Yearly Music Audit

Courtesy of Mr. Furious, I've been tagged with one of the latest blog memes to circle these here intertubes.

You're supposed to use the album lists on Wikipedia to come up with a year-by-year breakdown of your favorites, from the year of your birth until now. The rules are pretty loose. I'm selecting in terms of what I like now, as opposed to what I actually listened to then. (Apologies to the outstanding cast of Free to Be You and Me! for the snub.)

Some years were brutal because there was nothing good -- apparently the election of Ronald Reagan depressed the hell out of the music world, because 1981 was a fucking desert -- and others were brutal because there were tons of terrific albums released. But here's what I settled on, in a wholly arbitrary fashion.

1972: Curtis Mayfield, Superfly
1973: Sly and the Family Stone, Fresh
1974: Velvet Underground, 1969: The Velvet Underground Live
1975: Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti
1976: Stevie Wonder, Songs in the Key of Life
1977: Iggy Pop, Lust for Life
1978: Police, Outlandos d'Amour
1979: Funkadelic, Uncle Jam Wants You!
1980: AC/DC, Back in Black
1981: Rolling Stones, Tattoo You (wow, what a shit year for music)
1982: The Clash, Combat Rock

Violent Femmes, Violent Femmes: 1983
R.E.M., Reckoning: 1984
The Cure, The Head on the Door: 1985
The Smiths, The Queen is Dead: 1986
The Replacements, Pleased to Meet Me: 1987
The Pixies, Surfer Rosa: 1988
De La Soul, 3 Feet High and Rising: 1989
Public Enemy, Fear of a Black Planet: 1990
My Bloody Valentine, Loveless: 1991
Pavement, Slanted and Enchanted: 1992
Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville: 1993

1994: Weezer, Weezer (Blue Album)
1995: Björk, Post
1996: R.E.M., New Adventures in Hi-Fi
1997: Radiohead, OK Computer
1998: Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
1999: The Roots, Things Fall Apart
2000: Outkast, Stankonia
2001: Gorillaz, Gorillaz
2002: Blackalicious, Blazing Arrow
2003: Death Cab for Cutie, Transatlanticism
2004: Arcade Fire, Funeral

Wolf Parade, Apologies to the Queen Mary: 2005
Gnarls Barkley, St. Elsewhere: 2006
Radiohead, In Rainbows: 2007
Flight of the Conchords, Flight of the Conchords: 2008
Again, some of these were easy decisions, but for most years -- either because of bumper crops or deadly dry spells -- there were probably a half dozen ones that would have been tied.

Feel free to add your objections, substitutions, and full-blown lists of your own in the comments. And I'd really love to hear your answers for 1981: The Year The Music Died.


Mr Furious said...

Well, check YOU out with yer fancy flush right/left stylings...

I grew up a pretty straight AOR guy. Didn't discover anything "alternative" from the 80s until afterwards. Even then I never could get into the Pixies, Pavement or Replacements. The Cure and Smiths only had a song or two I can even stomach—though "How Soon is Now" is one of my favorite songs.

Mr Furious said...

Oh, AOR = Album Oriented Rock.

Otto Man said...

It's funny you mention the flush, because I just figured out how to do it. (Switch over from html and it's easy.)

I've heard the term AOR, but I've never understood why it applied to Top 40 style radio, given that the focus was always on hit singles rather than full albums. Eh.

Pavement is certainly an acquired taste; the Pixies somewhat the same, though some killer songs. The Replacements simply require you to be drunk enough. (Though given your Jack White mancrush, I think you'd dig the album Tim, with or without the boozing.)

Mike said...

Solid list, OM. Just what I'd expect from you - a nice mix of edgy white boy rock & classic bad-asssssss soul.

(Although the choice for 1979 surprises me a bit).

Anyhow, here's mine, if you give a crap.

Otto Man said...

Solid list, Mike.

1979 was a dry year for me. I actually considered Michael Jackson's Off the Wall, but that Funkadelic album is pretty damn good. Go listen to "Not Just Knee Deep" if you can find it on iTunes.

InanimateCarbonRod said...

You crazy; there's gold in 1981.

Rush - Moving Pictures (the clear winner)

Zappa - Shut Up
Billy Squier - Don't Say No
Jaco - Word of Mouth
Police - Ghost In Machine

and if nothing else, it's when the Replacements were born.

Otto Man said...

I knew one of you would trot out Rush for 1981.

But Billy Squier? You couldn't find anyone gayer? Zappa ... eh. I have no idea who Jaco is. And it was hard enough for me to honor a single Police album, I'm not going to give them the nod twice.

I almost went with The Dead Kennedys In God We Trust, and then almost caved in to the allure of hot chicks in towels and picked the Go-Gos.

Otto Man said...

And yes, the Mats were born there, but Sorry Ma isn't that great an album.

There. I said it.

Wes said...

See, I'm a synth-pop head. (I still pray quietly at night that my wife buys me a keytar for Christmas one year.)

I would have gone with Thomas Dolby's The Golden Age of Wireless for 1981. But that's just me.


Upon further review, I see that the album was recorded in 1981 but not actually released until 1982. Never mind (/Latella).


Mrs_Thrillhous said...

Geez, I'm glad I don't have to account for as much of the 70's. What a stanky decade.

And I'd really love to hear your answers for 1981: The Year The Music Died.

Well, I didn't really start listening to music until She's So Unusual, so in retrospect...I'll have to go with Queen's Greatest Hits.

1984: Footloose
1988: Hysteria

peb said...

But Billy Squier? You couldn't find anyone gayer?

So what if the man has questionable dance moves. Billy Squier knows how to rock quite well, thank you. I mean, he's not any gayer than T. Rex was, and T. Rex was awesome.

And yes, the Mats were born there, but Sorry Ma isn't that great an album.

Are you seriously trying to piss me off? Sorry Ma is a great album. There's no doubt about it. It's absolutely the smartest, hookiest and possibly the best album that ever came out of the American hardcore scene. You're lucky you picked The Replacements in 1987 or else I would have to come up north and beat some sense into you.

Otto Man said...

I knew that would get a rise out of Pedro.

I stand by my claim. Even though Sorry Ma contains the song they wrote in my honor, Hootenanny is where they got interesting for me.

And best hardcore album? Squirrel, please.

peb said...

I stand by my claim.

We are now enemies for all eternity.

Otto Man said...

I'd already burned the bridge when I said I'd never been a fan of Guided by Voices, so this doesn't really change much.

That said, I'm sure I will rue this day.

One Hit Wonder said...

ok sure - you are too cool to admit it in front of your virtual friends but I've seen you when Tainted Love, anything from the '81 Men at Work album or from the Beauty and the Beat album come on - a dancing machine lost in the 80s.

Otto Man said...

In all honesty, the Go-Gos were slotted in for the 1981 spot originally.

But that was when I was using "how the band looks in bath towels" as a metric.

some guy said...

For 1981, my choice would be Trust by Elvis Costello or Heaven Up Here by Echo & The Bunnymen.

Honorable mention to Signals, Calls and Marches by Mission of Burma, Wild Gift by X and Hardcore '81 by DOA.

Ginger Man said...

I like me some Funkadelic, to be sure, but the Clash owned 1979 with London Calling. You gave them the nod for the mostly crap Combat Rock, whcih is unforgivable, even though that was a lean yer.

Ginger Man said...

1981 a desert? A year that produced Hawkwind's Sonic Attack, Krokus's Hardware, Juice Newton's Juice, and Quarterflash's eponymous debut?

It was indeed pretty grim. By then, The Jam were phoning it in with the uninspired sound Affects, and Neil Young sunk further into the deep end with Re-ac-tor.

But there were bright spots, and they certianly outshone Tattoo You -- at that point the Stones simply stopped being remotely innovative.

Rickie Lee Jones's Pirates -- a tremendous album that dropped out of the blue, a female answer to Tom Waits.

1981 also was the year that Minor Threat released their debut on their Dischord label, which certainly was a landmark event (see, e.g., "Straight Edge" and the movement it spawned). (Ian MacKaye, the brains behind Minor Threat, later founded Fugazi.)

Another debut was New Order's Movement, admittedly not their best, but again a landmark event.