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Old 07.16.2006, 10:38 AM   #1
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The 50

Sunday July 16, 2006
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/revie...821230,00.html


text-only version:
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/print...102280,00.html

the top ten

1 The Velvet Underground and Nico
The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967)

Though it sold poorly on its initial release, this has since become arguably the most influential rock album of all time. The first art-rock album, it merges dreamy, druggy balladry ('Sunday Morning') with raw and uncompromising sonic experimentation ('Venus in Furs'), and is famously clothed in that Andy Warhol-designed 'banana' sleeve. Lou Reed's lyrics depicted a Warholian New York demi-monde where hard drugs and sexual experimentation held sway. Shocking then, and still utterly transfixing.
Without this, there'd be no ... Bowie, Roxy Music, Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Jesus and Mary Chain, among many others.
SOH
2 The Beatles
Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
There are those who rate Revolver (1966) or 'the White Album' (1968) higher. But Sgt Pepper's made the watertight case for pop music as an art form in itself; until then, it was thought the silly, transient stuff of teenagers. At a time when all pop music was stringently manufactured, these Paul McCartney-driven melodies and George Martin-produced whorls of sound proved that untried ground was not only the most fertile stuff, but also the most viable commercially. It defined the Sixties and - for good and ill - gave white rock all its airs and graces.
Without this ... pop would be a very different beast.
KE
3 Kraftwerk
Trans-Europe Express (1977)
Released at the height of punk, this sleek, urbane, synthesised, intellectual work shared little ground with its contemporaries. Not that it wanted to. Kraftwerk operated from within a bubble of equipment and ideas which owed more to science and philosophy than mere entertainment. Still, this paean to the beauty of mechanised movement and European civilisation was a moving and exquisite album in itself. And, through a sample on Afrika Bambaataa's seminal 'Planet Rock', the German eggheads joined the dots with black American electro, giving rise to entire new genres.
Without this... no techno, no house, no Pet Shop Boys. The list is endless.
KE
4 NWA
Straight Outta Compton (1989)
Like a darker, more vengeful Public Enemy, NWA (Niggaz With Attitude) exposed the vicious realities of the West Coast gang culture on their lurid, fluent debut. Part aural reportage (sirens, gunshots, police radio), part thuggish swagger, Compton laid the blueprint for the most successful musical genre of the last 20 years, gangsta rap. It gave the world a new production mogul in Dr Dre, and gave voice to the frustrations that flared up into the LA riots in 1992. As befits an album boasting a song called 'Fuck tha Police', attention from the FBI, the Parents' Music Resource Centre and our own Metropolitan Police's Obscene Publications Squad sealed its notoriety.
Without this ... no Eminem, no 50 Cent, no Dizzee Rascal.
KE
5 Robert Johnson
King of the Delta Blues Singers (1961)
Described by Eric Clapton as 'the most important blues singer that ever lived', Johnson was an intensely private man, whose short life and mysterious death created an enduring mythology. He was said to have sold his soul to the devil at a crossroads in Mississippi in exchange for his finger-picking prowess. Johnson recorded a mere 29 songs, chief among them 'Hellhound on My Trail', but when it was finally issued, King of the Delta Blues Singers became one of the touchstones of the British blues scene.
Without this ... no Rolling Stones, Cream, Led Zeppelin.
SOH
6 Marvin Gaye
What's Going On (1971)
Gaye's career as tuxedo-clad heart-throb gave no hint he would cut a concept album dealing with civil rights, the Vietnam war and ghetto life. Equally startling was the music, softening and double-tracking Gaye's falsetto against a wash of bubbling percussion, swaying strings and chattering guitars. Motown boss Berry Gordy hated it but its disillusioned nobility caught the public mood. Led by the oft-covered 'Inner City Blues', it ushered in an era of socially aware soul.
Without this ... no Innervisions (Stevie Wonder) or Superfly (Curtis Mayfield).
NS
7 Patti Smith
Horses (1975)
Who would have thought punk rock was, in part, kickstarted by a girl? Poet, misfit and New York ligger, Patti channelled the spirits of Keith Richards, Bob Dylan and Rimbaud into female form, and onto an album whose febrile energy and Dionysian spirit helped light the touchpaper for New York punk. The Robert Mapplethorpe-shot cover, in which a hungry, mannish Patti stares down the viewer, defiantly broke with the music industry's treatment of women artists (sexy or girl-next-door) and still startles today.
Without this ... no REM, PJ Harvey, Razorlight. And no powerful female pop icons like Madonna.
KE
8 Bob Dylan
Bringing it All Back Home (1965)
The first folk-rock album? Maybe. Certainly the first augury of what was to come with the momentous 'Like a Rolling Stone'. Released in one of pop's pivotal years, Bringing it All Back Home fused hallucinatory lyricism and, on half of its tracks, a raw, ragged rock'n'roll thrust. On the opening song, 'Subterranean Homesick Blues', Dylan manages to pay homage to the Beats and Chuck Berry, while anticipating the surreal wordplay of rap.
Without this ... put simply, on this album and the follow-up, Highway 61 Revisited, Dylan invented modern rock music.
SOH
9 Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley (1956)
The King's first album was also the first example of how to cash in on a teenage craze. With Presleymania at full tilt, RCA simultaneously released a single, a four-track EP and an album, all with the same cover of Elvis in full, demented cry. They got their first million dollar album, the fans got a mix of rock-outs like 'Blue Suede Shoes', lascivious R&B and syrupy ballads.
Without this ... no King, no rock and roll madness, no Beatles first album, no pop sex symbols.
NS
10 The Beach Boys
Pet Sounds (1966)
Of late, Pet Sounds has replaced Sgt Pepper's as the critics' choice of Greatest Album of All Time. Composed by the increasingly reclusive Brian Wilson while the rest of the group were touring, it might well have been a solo album. The beauty resides not just in its compositional genius and instrumental invention, but in the elaborate vocal harmonies that imbue these sad songs with an almost heartbreaking grandeur. Without this ... where to start? The Beatles acknowledged its influence; Dylan said of Brian Wilson, 'That ear! I mean, Jesus, he's got to will that to the Smithsonian.'
SOH
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Old 07.16.2006, 10:51 AM   #2
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they are pretty much right on, which actually sort of pisses me off because when i read a list like this, at this point i might as well just expect it to have nirvana's nevermind somewhere in the top ten, which is absurd.
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Old 07.16.2006, 10:54 AM   #3
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glad to see trans europe express on there
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Old 07.16.2006, 11:00 AM   #4
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I think a list like this will always be less controversial than a straight forward "best albums ever" type list. There are just some records that changed music, for good or bad.
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Old 07.16.2006, 12:43 PM   #5
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most of the time you see the same albums on every list.
you always see pet sounds, and sgt. pepper. both of these are a tad over-rated if you ask me.
not that i dont like those albums
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Old 07.16.2006, 12:57 PM   #6
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Somehow this list has managed to capture the essence of greatness of these albums, that is, why they are considered great. Good list, The Observer, very observant of you...
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Old 07.16.2006, 12:59 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pookie
I think a list like this will always be less controversial than a straight forward "best albums ever" type list. There are just some records that changed music, for good or bad.
Exactly. I hate Pet Sounds (and the Beach Boys in general), but that doesn't mean that it didn't change music.
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Old 07.16.2006, 01:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cantankerous
they are pretty much right on, which actually sort of pisses me off because when i read a list like this, at this point i might as well just expect it to have nirvana's nevermind somewhere in the top ten, which is absurd.
Nevermind is at number 47.
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Old 07.16.2006, 01:24 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alyasa
Nevermind is at number 47.
I should have known. It did change music. That doesn't make me hate it any less.
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Old 07.16.2006, 01:42 PM   #10
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Sure but where is "DayDream Nation", so many of the early ninties alt rock must give props to Sonic Youth, how many bands have been influced by "DN" alone? Just like "Sgt. Pepper's" or The Velvet Undergroud before them.
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Old 07.16.2006, 01:47 PM   #11
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Does anyone else think Daydream Nation is a very much American phenomenon? Outside of the States, DDN is very much underappreciated, though Sonic Youth itself has always been an indie music staple, a perpetual icon of cool. But, otherwise, DDN has been sorely overlooked outside of American circles. Is this intentional? Maybe that's the reason for its conspicuous absence...
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Old 07.16.2006, 02:58 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by finding nobody
most of the time you see the same albums on every list.
you always see pet sounds, and sgt. pepper. both of these are a tad over-rated if you ask me.
not that i dont like those albums

I completely agree. I love me some Sgt. Pepper and Pet Sounds was a great album too, but they are overrated. Everyone acts like Sgt. Pppers was the Beatles greatest album when in reality it was one of the lesser of the best Beatles records. Still a wonderful record, just not as good as the White Album or Revolver or Abbey Road.

I am glad that Velvet Underground & Nico topped the list, though. That's easily one of my all-time favorite records. It's too damn good to be left out of top-ten lists.
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Old 07.16.2006, 03:32 PM   #13
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This isn't a list of good CDs, though. It's a list of revolutionary CDs. Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper were revolutionary because they came first, not because they were the best. I love the White Album, and hate Sgt. Pepper - but Sgt. was a revolution. White Album was just a continuation of the same revolution.

I think the general list is good, but not the order. How is Run DMC so low? And Radiohead should be higher, too, though I'm not much of a fan.
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Old 07.16.2006, 03:36 PM   #14
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I can't fucking beleive they put the SPice Girls and Mary J Blige before Jimi Hendrix. Fucking disgusting. It's rock and roll sacrilage is what it is!!!!!
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Old 07.16.2006, 04:13 PM   #15
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Were they joking when they put"there would be no Coldplay...or Keane" on the Bends. Thta just seems a bit stupid to me, as none of those artists are great
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Old 07.16.2006, 04:40 PM   #16
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yeah. what a bullshit list.

where's oval - 94 diskont.
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Old 07.16.2006, 05:21 PM   #17
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Pretty good list.
Glad VU got the acknowledgment they needed.
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Old 07.16.2006, 07:10 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingcoffee
I can't fucking beleive they put the SPice Girls and Mary J Blige before Jimi Hendrix. Fucking disgusting. It's rock and roll sacrilage is what it is!!!!!
Thats what I was thinking at first. But then I remembered they arent necessarily saying they all changed rock for the better. With the spice girls they talked about how they marketed on a large scale to much younger females then any group had really done before, which I guess is pretty true.
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Old 07.16.2006, 07:22 PM   #19
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I still think it is a rather dreadful list.

The Smiths at 42? The Smiths should be far before Stone Roses that's for sure.
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Old 07.16.2006, 07:33 PM   #20
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i like the stone roses, but jesus, they're always treated like gods among men.

it's an ok list. they're spot-on with number one.
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