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Saturday, 26 January 2008

The 100 Greatest Albums, Channel 4

What to say of you liked it
A cogent catalogue of the most marvellously mind-blowing music ever made.
What to say of you didn’t like it
A conceited cesspit of aural effluence which delights in its wilful obscurity and esoteric references to isolate the vast majority of Britain’s music lovers.


What was good about it?
• During the Human League interview, when one of them talked the other two would look on with an expression of bemused horror as though their band mate was admitting to an unsolved murder.
• Shaun Ryder calling Robbie Williams “the new Tom Jones”. And Williams’ former song writing partner Guy Chambers appearing on the verge of weeping when he disclosed how they are “not talking”.
• How the seemingly throwaway pop practised by Blondie and Madness hasn’t dated at all.
• Ex-Crossroads legend Gabrielle Drake’s touching memories of her late brother Nick, who only achieved widespread fame 20 years after his death.
• Quite often an album from recent times would be profiled with a simple medley of singles which saved regurgitating information everyone already knows and
left more time to explore the more obscure records on the list such as Nick Drake and Billie Holiday.
• Some new angles were found for the most cloyingly exposed of albums such as Moby’s Play. Here the focus was on how Moby sampled the collection of Alan Lomax, who collated blues and African American folk songs, and how the descendants of the original singers had hugely benefited from Play’s royalties.
• Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express and the Look Around You-esque news report on the German band which revealed how their next aim was to incorporate their instruments into their suits.
• REM’s Michael Stipe revealing the lyrics of Man On The Moon were inspired by a desire to put more “yeah”s in a song than close friend Kurt Cobain had growled in tracks like Lithium.
• Jeff Buckley’s distraught mother disclosing how she refused to believe her son had drowned and sped to the site of his demise with a bathing suit because she imagined the rescuers were “looking in the wrong place”.
• Former Factory Records boss Tony Wilson paying for the Happy Mondays to record their abortive third album in Barbados after they assured him it was free of heroin.
It was free of heroin because it was the world’s capital for crack cocaine, and the Mondays’ narcotic antics helped send Factory to the wall.
• Lauren Laverne’s amusing attempt to succinctly appraise the influence of Pixies. “Pixies started that grunge movement that led to Nirvana and, er… loads of other bands getting massive.”
• Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit about the lynching of African Americans in the Southern United States.
• Two moments of rare sagacity from Noel Gallagher where he firstly remarked: “If Never Mind The Bollocks didn’t exist, the state of British music would be quite scary.” And: “Roll With It is appalling.”
• Michael Jackson looking and sounding human on Off The Wall.
• Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back still sounds fresh and original.
• The appearance of Sergeant Pepper at only number seven shows that hardcore Beatles fans are dying out faster than Amazonian frogs.
• The countdown played out to the mournful Exit Music (For A Film) from the chart-topping OK Computer, and faded out just as Thom Yorke reached the “We hope that you choke” refrain.


What was bad about it?
• The Eagles – a band so dull Mr Sandman has hijacked Hotel California as the world of sleep’s national anthem.
• Debbie Harry’s once elastic face which has since been reduced to a barren, lethargic desert with only the animation occurring in the stark oases of her eyes and mouth.
• Joy Division’s Closer wasn’t number one (it was 34).
• Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell which indicates voting was open to air guitar-obsessed lunatics who twirl around their padded cells sweating chip pan fat.
• Simon Bates presenting Disco Dancing in the late 70s in which people who would otherwise be liquidated from the human race pranced around for their lives in a pitiful bid to demonstrate they had something to give to the world (watch Strictly Dance Fever for similar wretchedness).
• The inclusion of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Blood Sugar Sex Magick which showed voting was open to people incapable of feeling emotion.
• The matchstick beard of an American record executive which looked like a badger’s corpse hung upside down over a portcullis.
• The disturbing proportion of records in the list made by people who died early – Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Ian Curtis, Jeff Buckley, Nick Drake, Kurt Cobain and Elvis Presley.
• The way in which Everybody Hurts has become a universal theme for REM’s Automatic For The People and as such diminishes the impact of tracks like Sweetness
Follows, Drive and Try Not To Breathe.
• Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite For Destruction which indicates people who sit in their urine drenched leather trousers, smoke marijuana who spend their spare time skinning human hides were able to vote.
• Dido’s No Angel which implies short-term coma victims and people trapped in a spiral of never-ending dinner parties were allowed to vote.
• Prince’s Sign Of The Times being one of the prime antecedents of the asphyxiating plague of txtspk.
• The Libertines’ eponymous second album at number 50 which means somebody had hired an amoral people smuggler to secrete that record at a position way higher than it merited.
• Dire Straits’ Brothers In Arms at number 47 showing that corpulent marketing executives who each morning wipe their dirty shoes on the bare torso of the office
junior weren’t barred from casting a vote.
• The exhumation of the Blur v Oasis “battle”, which brought as much shame on the nation as England’s defeat to the US in the 1950 World Cup.
• Duran Duran’s Rio at 30 proving voting was open to those still trying to find their way out of a labyrinthine silken suit they first put on in 1981 voted.
• The Verve’s Urban Hymns which has rotted more rapidly than a half-eaten apple.
• Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill in the rundown exhibiting those who fly into a rage in order to attract attention to their puerile plight could vote.

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