I just finished reading 100 Albums That Changed Music: And 500 Songs You Need To Hear. The easiest thing to find online is a list and it’s really easy to find a list of someone’s favorite records (even though people don’t buy them anymore) but this book is the work of some strong writers who make some compelling arguments. A lot of the usual suspects make the list Sgt. Pepper, Blonde On Blonde, Pet Sounds and there are some that surprise. Spice Girls, really? What of course is most interesting is how it’s all the 50’s-70’s until you get to number 88 on the list so basically nearly 90 percent happened before MTV launched. The list is intelligently put together and typical of most of the ones I’ve come across, which is quite a few so I don’t blame the book but I got a little depressed after I finished it. It;s great that the celebration of rock continues but it’s yet another reminder how rock and roll is about its past and not its future. The 100 Albums book was published in 2007 so according to the authors, in 37 years only about ten percent of the albums have had any influence on popular music.
Time and hindsight make it easier to have perspective and see what bands have benefited from great work but why don’t we see it in modern times? I don’t want to come up with a list of all the reasons because most of them are well discussed. I just can’t believe there hasn’t been something list worthy over such a long period of time is the music really that stale? I fully admit to being caught in the spirit of celebrating the past, I’m currently reading Mark Lewisohn’s tome on The Beatles called Tune In, and it is just part one of three. I read columns from music mags and on line posts and listen to new music on certain apps and YouTube, for example I just discovered HAIM. But I still feel disconnected with a lot of what I hear that’s new and end up going back to the tried and true albums that are like old friends at this point. Maybe I need to go on a fast and live only in the new and unfamiliar, like one of those cleanses that pop up on virtually every web page. It probably won’t get me a lot closer to newer bands and their output but it’s a step and the longest journey begins with the first step (no Journey either, have to go cold turkey to do this!) It’s an experiment that could pay dividends or I could post this go back to reading about The Beatles and tune out with the modern world all over again. This test will be trial and error, but it could be fun and beef up my limited listening habits or confirm what I already know and that is I spend too much time with the 100 and not enough time with the hundreds of new releases that are trying to get some attention.