Sunday, 7 October 2012

Are Classic albums really Classics?

As per usual I have been reading a collection of music lists online over the break, and my curiosity was drawn to a rather interesting list over at the Faster Louder website called The Most Overrated Albums of All Time. Clearly this was a list designed to be contentious and outrageous all in one go, but I did find it rather thought provoking.

It says in the disclaimer of the list that
Your favourite album may appear here.


Sure enough, a few of mine did. To be objective, on some albums they made a valid case that the greatness is overstated, such as Metallica's Black album, the Chili Peppers' "Californication" and anything by Bon Iver. I'm also glad that somebody agrees with me that Kanye's "Dark Twisted Fantasy", anything by Silverchair and U2's Joshua Tree (while a good record, it's not a great one) are so overrated that it's beyond a joke.

However, this is not an article to discuss the pors and cons of the choices on this list. One point, made by Darren Levin in his critique of The Clash's "London Calling" LP (a sacred cow of a lot of rock critics) caught my eye and I thought it was worth discussing:

...is something really such a classic if you're constantly hitting skip? – Darren Levin

Think about how many albums you have listened to in your time. Think about your favourites, your desert island discs, if you will. While they may contain some stellar music, how often do you skip over tracks? How often do you listen to most of the album and then turn it off halfway through side 2?

I confess there are many of my favourite albums where I find a few flat spots that I skip, but does that make them any less classic?

I must confess that while I regularly cite The Beatles "White Album" as a favourite of mine, I also have a habit of playing the LP all the way through and then turning it off in the middle of side 4...funnily enough that's right about the time "Revolution 9" starts.

Still, I reckon it's a classic. I just don't necessarily like Ringo's custom written lullaby at the end, nor John's most pretentious attempt at musique concrete. (I prefer Frank Zappa's attempts on "Freak Out!" and "We're Only In It For The Money"). That leaves me with 28 out of 30 songs that are killer tunes. That's enough in my opinion to justify it a classic.

Often times, we get bored, so we move on to a new album quickly. Sometimes, in our opinion, the band makes a call to include a track that disrupts the flow of the album, like on "Return To Earth" by Tumbleweed, when track 8 "Meanwhile" throws the entire album off course. Or when "Free Form Guitar" turns up in the middle of the first Chicago LP - they're interesting diversions, but were they really necessary?

What albums can you listen to from start to finish without reaching for the skip button? Add a comment below or Tweet me @sound_fury_pod.

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