Thursday, June 5, 2008

Top 5 Years in Music

I felt like doing something huge for our 75th list. A quick note - This list employs album release dates as the main metric of quality. Some musical events are also noted. This is by far the most I've written for a Top 5 in quite some time. The only uncertainty I have is considering switching #4 and #5.

Dan’s Top 5:

1. 1994 - A tough call to go with this or '67, but I feel that '94 was more of a unversal happening, while the events of '67 were based too much in California. In 1994, Kurt Cobain commits suicide, which is kind of a downer, but eventually ensures that Nirvana will never die. More importantly, it marks the end of Grunge, and the music industry scrambles for anything to fill the void. Weezer's eponymous debut, universally known as The Blue Album, is released and is probably one of the best achievements of the 90's. Oasis debuts with Definitely Maybe. Beck debuts with Mellow Gold. Hootie and the Blowfish debut with Cracked Rear View. Also released are Green Day's Dookie and Soundgarden's Superunknown. The year proves to the world that good music has survived the end of the 80's and the beginning of the 90's. It's just now known as "alternative."

2. 1967 - The Summer of Love. The organization of the Monterey Pop Festival in California was probably the best thing to happen to rock music. Oh, and albums released included Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (The Beatles), Piper at the Gates of Dawn (Pink Floyd's Debut), Are You Experienced? (The Jimi Hendix Experience's debut), and Disraeli Gears (Cream). Pretty decisive, but just not near and dear to my heart enough to call it #1.

3. 1982 - The 80's begins to take off, along with all its excess. Michael Jackson's Thriller is released, only to become the best selling album of all time. Iron Maiden's Number of The Beast, in my opinion the greatest metal album of all time, is also released. Singles included "Ebony and Ivory" (Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder), "Come On Eileen" (Dexys Midnight Runners), "I Love Rock and Roll" (Joan Jett), "Jack and Diane" (John Cougar Mellencamp), "I Ran" (A Flock of Seagulls), and "Africa" (Toto). It was the year that set the precedent for mega-hits that would define the 80's.

4. 1977 - Punk explodes in probably the briefest, yet most powerful musical movement ever. Meanwhile, progressive rock enjoys its final mainstream success. Low and "Heroes" are released by David Bowie, Peter Gabriel begins his solo career, and a number of notable albums are released, including Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols (The Sex Pistols), Talking Heads: 77 (Talking Heads), The Clash (The Clash), Point of Know Return (Kansas), and The Grand Illusion (Styx).

5. 1973 - A landmark year for a transition period in rock, with many beginning to claim that Rock and Roll is dead. Bowie releases Aladdin Sane and retires his Ziggy Stardust stage persona in July at the Hammersmith Odeon. The Dark Side of the Moon (my favorite album of all time) is released by Pink Floyd and would spend a total of 741 weeks (or 14 years) on the Billboard 200 charts. Band on the Run, arguably his best solo work, is released by Paul McCartney. CBGB's (Country, Bluegrass and Blues) opens in Manhattan. Also, Quadrophenia is released by The Who.

Honorable Mentions (chronological order):
1971 - Led Zeppelin IV, Madman Across the Water, and Who's Next are released. That's almost enough to warrant inclusion alone.
1985 - "We Are The World" is released and Live Aid proves to be the world's greatest concert and features Queen's greatest performance.
2005 - Good music refuses to die as bands such as The Killers and Franz Ferdinand enjoy amazing worldwide success. Pink Floyd are reunited for Bob Geldof's Live 8.

Ryan's Top Five

1. 1967 - Dan said it pretty well. I consistently change my favorite Beatles album, but Sgt. Pepper has probably spent the most time in the spot. I'll throw in some other random stuff that happened in '67: Jimi Hendrix set fire to his guitar for the first time onstage; The Beatles famously played "All You Need Is Love" live internationally (the first time this was ever done); The Doors performed "Light My Fire" on Ed Sullivan and refused to censor the (already pretty tame) lyrics; the first issue of Rolling Stone magazine was published; The Velvet Underground and Nico and John Wesley Harding were released; etc.

2. 1977 - Never mind the bollocks, this year fucking ruled.

3. 1964 - The beginning of the British invasion with The Beatles' appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, which would ultimately lead to an Anglophilia in America and, decades later, Ryan Fox; The Rolling Stones debut album; "A Hard Day's Night," both album and movie; The Kinks' "The Kinks"; The Beatles at one time owning all top 5 singles on the Billboard Chart; all in all, a good time to listen to tunes.

4. 1994 - I won't try to improve on Dan's interpretation of this year. Personally, I'll add that this was the year I finally got a CD player, and Weezer's "Blue Album," and Real Music began for Ryan.

5. 1969 - I wanted to include a year from the '80s because I do love New Wave, but honestly I can't pinpoint a single year from the decade; I like to pick and choose what good occurred in said decade (for example, "True" by Spandau Ballet). Anyway, Woodstock and the other best Beatles' album, Abbey Road, marked the end of an era.

Tim's Top 5:
1. 1966 – Yeah, sure, everyone loves 1967, but the foundation of 1967 was all in 1966, which had great contributions from all the essential artists of the 1960s -- The Beatles, Dylan, The Stones, as well as the greatest rock 'n' roll song of all time -- Spencer Davis Group's "Gimme Some Lovin'". The Beatles – Revolver; The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds; The Who – A Quick One; Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde; The Rolling Stones - Aftermath; Simon & Garfunkel - Sounds of Silence; Buffalo Springfield – Buffalo Springfield; “Gimme Some Lovin’” by The Spencer Davis Group; “Hold on! I’m comin!” by Sam and Dave; “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” by The Temptations; “Red Rubber Ball” by The Cyrkle; “A Well-Respected Man” by The Kinks

2. 1972 – The birth of Big Star forces me to mention it, but the arrival of Springsteen, Ziggy Stardust, and Exile on Main Street make it easy to rationalize anyway. Big Star - #1 Record – Big Star; Bruce Springsteen - Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J; David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars; The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main St.; Stevie Wonder – Talking Book; The Allman Brothers Band – Eat a Peach; The Eagles – The Eagles; Jimmy Cliff - The Harder They Come; Hot August Night – Neil Diamond; Al Green – Let’s Stay Together; Paul Simon – Paul Simon; Nick Drake – Pink Moon; “American Pie” by Don McLean; “Amie” by Pure Prairie League; “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper

3. 1965 – Not only did I not put 1967 first, it falls behind a year that's blessed with two Beatles albums. The Who and The Zombies release their first albums, the Stones release "Satisfaction"...and The Beatles abandon other people's work forever on Rubber Soul. Rock was reinvented like never before...and Highway 61 and "Like a Rolling Stone" enter the canon. The Beatles – Help!; The Beatles – Rubber Soul; Bob Dylan – Bringing It All Back Home; Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited; The Byrds – Mr. Tambourine Man; The Who – The Who Sings My Generation; The Zombies – The Zombies; “Hang On Sloopy” by the McCoys; The Righteous Brothers – “Unchained Melody”; The Rolling Stones – “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”; “California Dreamin’” – The Mamas and the Papas; “In the Midnight Hour” – Wilson Pickett; The Beatles - “We Can Work It Out”

4. 1997 – My favorite Guided by Voices album, The Old 97's first foray into a more rock-oriented sound, and some solid contributions from some artists that I'd figured were dead and gone make 1997 a solid choice here, though it's close with 1998. Elliott Smith – Either/Or; The Old 97’s – Too Far To Care; Cornershop – When I Was Born For the 7th Time; Bob Dylan – Time Out Of Mind; Ben Folds Five – Whatever and Ever Amen; Guided by Voices – Mag Earwhig!; Oasis – Be Here Now; Matthew Sweet – Blue Sky on Mars; Paul McCartney – Flaming Pie; Dandy Warhols - …Dandy Warhols Come Down; Jay-Z – Vol. 1 – In My Lifetime

5. 1975 – Born to Run and Blood on the Tracks are all that matter here, everything else is just gravy. Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run; Big Star – Third; Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks, Queen – A Night at the Opera; Paul Simon – Still Crazy After All These Years; Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here; David Bowie – Young Americans; Bob Marley and the Wailers “No Woman No Cry (live)”

Honorable mentions: The other stuff they mentioned. For the record, I'm only judging these years by the good music they contained. The fact that Hanson, Matchbox 20, and similar song terrorists existed was simply ignored.

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