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No, not THAT 'The Wire', for once.
September 16, 2012 6:40 PM   Subscribe

The Wire's "100 Records That Set The World On Fire (While No One Was Listening) + extra 30 Records"

From September 1998's issue of The Wire.

The source for the other 30.
posted by unSane (78 comments total) 77 users marked this as a favorite

 
Some good records there, but The Wire always makes me smile due to the distance they will go to be elitist, snobby know-it-alls. You can tell that in many cases they tried very hard not to list the really groundbreaking (but still largely unheard) records from a specific artist or genre, just so they could confound everyone.

If any of that stuff sounds wonderful to you, you should ask someone whether there is a better choice just like it. Because there invariably is one.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 6:57 PM on September 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's all in the game, Dee.
posted by box at 6:59 PM on September 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


I have to say, for the result of a readers poll that's a really interesting set of music. Most publications I'd dread to see what they;d come up with if they asked their readership the same question.
posted by Artw at 7:15 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just want to say that "On the Corner" is the best thing ever.
posted by swift at 7:19 PM on September 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


That Esquivel album was like the soundtrack for every super hip lounge bar for about two years right about the time that list came out. The only thing more popular at lounge bars was probably Serge Gainsbourg(Ford Mustang) and that one Brazilian song, Aquas de Marco, but the Cibo Matto cover. I'm not sure if it was before or after everyone was into swing music, but probably before. Makes me want to drink a burbon and soda, smoke a parliament light, and make out with a girl wearing a fur vest and go-go boots.

Man, I don't know if the 90s were really stupid or really awesome.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:21 PM on September 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


Awesome. At least for rap. I don't know why PE is on there, if this is a list of music nobody was listening to.
posted by cashman at 7:25 PM on September 16, 2012


great list
posted by facetious at 7:31 PM on September 16, 2012


I can't say Apocalypse 91 is the first thing I think of when I think PE though... probably as the article says Fear Of A Black Planet or It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back - Black Steel being one of the best songs of all time - Apocalypse 91 I mainly know from an Anthrax B side.
posted by Artw at 7:32 PM on September 16, 2012


Man, Modern Lovers. So right.
posted by dobie at 7:32 PM on September 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Interesting list. I barely know any of these albums, but the few that I do recognize are certifiably awesome.

First Utterance by Comus is pretty damn amazing - transcendently wigged-out psychedelia. If you like that one, you should check out Ultrasonic Seraphim by Sand. Great headphones record.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:33 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Love love love Paris 1919. (This video of John Cale performing the song with an orchestra is utterly beguiling.) I have this theory that if Cale had retired from music for a decade or so after releasing it, it would be seen in a much more flattering light. His 1970s flameout is rather painful.
posted by pxe2000 at 7:36 PM on September 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have to say, for the result of a readers poll that's a really interesting set of music. Most publications I'd dread to see what they;d come up with if they asked their readership the same question.

Does it actually say it's a readers' poll? Because there's no way I would ever believe that.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 7:36 PM on September 16, 2012


From the follow up:

In The Wire 175, we polled our writers to nominate records that should have ignited the world's imagination - but somehow got forgotten along the way. What follows is not that list, but 30 runners-up that we had to leave out of the original article.

So more reader nomination than a poll, I guess.
posted by Artw at 7:39 PM on September 16, 2012


Maybe they just have 130 readers with really awesome and ecclectic taste.
posted by Artw at 7:40 PM on September 16, 2012


Er – doesn't that say it's a writers poll? That would somehow make more sense than a readers poll.
posted by koeselitz at 7:41 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Duh. I'm an eejit, never mind.
posted by Artw at 7:42 PM on September 16, 2012


Ad hominem: Man, I don't know if the 90s were really stupid or really awesome.

In the world of 1990s lounge revival, there was the Ultra-Lounge Sampler in a fuzzy leopard print sleeve.

And if we're talking about interesting Esquivel albums, there's Latin-esque, which AllMusic writer Tony Wilds credits to the Esquivel revival in the 1990s. It was scored for stereo, and not like the silly way like 3D movies were with someone's hand shooting forward for the audience to go "whoa, 3D!" Well, not completely silly. According to the AllMusic article"
Latin-Esque was the first album recorded with total stereo separation -- two separate orchestras in two separate studios performed, connected by headphones.
Though, if you were stuck with a monaural system, there was a mono edition also released.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:57 PM on September 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Surprisingly, this list was actually not dumb as shit.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 8:02 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


They have The Last Poets, if not rap it is certainly proto-rap.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:05 PM on September 16, 2012


I think it's a list of records suggested by readers and then edited by editors - just a curated guide.

I ignored a lot of music I couldn't recall from my head, but I made a sublist from their main list. It's CD-oriented. A lot of their list is out-of-print or never on CD, but some of those releases have superior CD versions, since the list seems to be based on original releases.

Top-rate stuff:
John Cale - Paris 1919
Comus - First Utterance
Dr John The Night Tripper - Gris-Gris
Pearls Before Swine - Balaklava

William S Burroughs - Call Me Burroughs
Arthur Russell - World Of Echo

Mark Stewart & The Maffia - To Cope With Cowardice

The Last Poets - The Last Poets

Esquivel And His Orchestra - Other Worlds Other Sounds

Louis & Bebe Barron - Forbidden Planet OST

Great, but:
The Electric Eels - Cyclotron / Agitated 7" - their various compilation CDs include this
Pere Ubu - 30 Seconds Over Tokyo - you need the box set or "Terminal Tower" CD
The Homosexuals' Record - their 3xCD set includes all of this (some in slightly different versions)
Fire Engines - Get Up And Use Me - all on the "Hungry Beat" CD, plus crucial 7" tracks
Family Fodder - Monkey Banana Kitchen (not on CD, but a single and double CD compilation are)

The Human League - Being Boiled (the CD of their first album adds this and other cool stuff)

Good, but they have better stuff available:
The Staple Singers - Uncloudy Day
Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band - Bat Chain Puller
The Blue Men (Joe Meek) - I Hear A New World
Al Green - The Belle Album

Lee Perry - Revolution Dub

Sun Ra - Strange Strings

Kevin Ayers & The Whole World - Shooting At The Moon
King Sunny Ade - Ju-Ju Music
Phil Ochs - Rehearsals For Retirement
Silver Apples - Contact


I find these rated too highly:
Lou Reed - Metal Machine Music

Alexander 'Skip' Spence - Oar

The United States Of America - The United States Of America

posted by Dee Xtrovert at 8:07 PM on September 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


Heh. I find the things Americans had time for revivals of in the 90s, like Swing and Ska, really amusing. I wouldn't think either of those is remotely considered a 90s thing in the UK, we were too busy having raves and britpop and stuff.
posted by Artw at 8:08 PM on September 16, 2012


Yeah, I've always been baffled that nobody (apart from true audiophiles like myself) appreciates Metal Machine Music, that it has never had "a true critical appraisal."
posted by Flashman at 8:19 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the world of 1990s lounge revival, there was the Ultra-Lounge Sampler in a fuzzy leopard print sleeve.

yeah, for about 6 months everything was "space age" this and "bachelor pad" that. I guess the whole "swank" thing could have been a direct response to grunge.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:22 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Some good records there, but The Wire always makes me smile...

The Wire: What is this thing you humans call 'smile'?
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:23 PM on September 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm with Dee ...

To which I would add, the missing word here seems to be DIFFICULT. There is virtually nothing on the list that I recognize that I wouldn't term DIFFICULT. That is, music which can be almost be categorized by the degree to which it challenges/threatens/provokes the norm.

And then they toss in something like King Sunny Ade's Ju Ju Music which is nothing if not a delight to listen to. Strange to my northern ears, and exotic, but still damned easy to listen to.

So whatever. It's a list. It's got us talking. It's fourteen years old.
posted by philip-random at 8:24 PM on September 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


That is by far the most *interesting* list I've seen in a while, old or no. Including Apocalypse 91 is a neat choice, too---that's a great, underrated record, and "By The TIme I Get To Arizona" is a track that sounds awesomer than maybe anything since ever. Even if Muse-Sick-In-Our-Mess-Age is their *best*.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:38 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the point about the list is that we already know the 'better' stuff and this is a list of stuff we might not know.

Some of us like our music difficult.
posted by unSane at 8:38 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Surprisingly, this list was actually not dumb as shit.

I'm kinda a snob myself, but still even kinda impressed by the picks here...

ah, Oar...
posted by ovvl at 8:43 PM on September 16, 2012


Fuck.

Fuck?

Motherfucker.
posted by Sebmojo at 8:45 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


No room for Big Star on that list?
posted by schmod at 8:57 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


To which I would add, the missing word here seems to be DIFFICULT. There is virtually nothing on the list that I recognize that I wouldn't term DIFFICULT. That is, music which can be almost be categorized by the degree to which it challenges/threatens/provokes the norm.

That's a pretty incisive take. The only album on that list I've spent a lot of time with is Fripp's Exposure, and "difficult" is the best one-word review that album could have. It sounds glued together with Elmer's in places, like it was made from magazine cut outs of disparate ideas. It was meant to serve as one part of a trilogy of sorts with Gabriel's second solo album, which Fripp produced, and Daryl Hall's Sacred Songs, and the whole thing just confuses and confounds, despite sublime moments. The re-recording of Here Comes The Flood may be my personal favorite moment from Gabriel's entire career, and on the flip side, the same core group gave us White Shadow on Gabriel II... They might have done better in retrospect, to have just partnered as Fripp/ Gabriel and made a double album out of the two. I don't even know what to think of Sacred Songs.

All three were certainly criminally neglected at the time.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:05 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I find Faust to be very difficult.
posted by parki at 9:07 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't decide how I should feel about the fact that I own none of the 100 records and only one of the 30 (the Dead Can Dance, call me a goth poser). Probably I'm not sophisticated/deep enough into any one sort of music to get the more difficult stuff. Although a friend of mine whose opinion of my taste I trust has just been all over Twitter talking about Paris 1919, so maybe I should ask him whether it's for me.
posted by immlass at 9:11 PM on September 16, 2012


I just want to say that "On the Corner" is the best thing ever.

I allow myself one album per paycheck, and as Get Up With It is currently my favorite Miles album, I'm thinking I shall fill this hole this week.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:11 PM on September 16, 2012


Apocalypse 91 wasn't exactly underplayed in the 90s, well I guess it was compared to their first two albums. There was the semi awkward split with Terminator X, which started everyone waiting for Terminator X's album, which I cant even remeber the name of.If they had tossed some Terminator X and the Valley of the Jeep Beats on the list, that would have been cool. ( remember when rappers name dropped cars like Jeeps and Geo Trackers?)
posted by Ad hominem at 9:23 PM on September 16, 2012


This is a great list. I have a Metal Machine Music anecdote.

I used to mix bands, and one band used to play a chunk of MMM before going on stage. The requirements was that it started down low and got progressively louder for the five minutes or so before the band climbed on stage. The cassette tape they gave me was a mix tape, with the relevant part of MMM taking up the last 20 minutes or so.

So it was a Friday night and a good crowd. I started the tape and slowly built up the volume. I realised that I hadn't got myself a couple of beers for the show. So I left the tape running and ran to the bar. Unfortunately there was quite a crowd, and I had to wait in queue.

All of a sudden the "music" stopped. At first I didn't know what was going on, and I assumed that the tape had played beyond a point, but it was soon apparent that we were all listening to very loud sounds of two people making loud grunting love. I turned to the mixing desk, pondering if I should leave the queue and rescue the situation when I saw the lead guitarist bolt off stage and weave his way through the crowd to the desk. All the while the taped love making was becoming wilder. He arrived at the desk, couldn't see me, had no idea of how to stop the sexy noise crescendo.

At that moment I was served, got my beers and started back towards the desk when this voice - quite clearly the lead guitarists - boomed over the PA - "So was that any better from behind?"

---

Apparently he and his girl had been listening to the mix tape while making love, when Metal Machine Music started playing (not great love making music I suppose) he attempted to play the other side of the tape (being one of those swank cassette payers that plays the other side with a button push) but instead of switching sides - he had hit the record button, then got carried away in the moment, and several hundred people heard them orgasm.

True story.
posted by mattoxic at 9:23 PM on September 16, 2012 [23 favorites]


I defy anyone (including Lou) to listen to five minutes of Metal Machine Music. It is an exercise in auditory torture that Reed issued to give the finger to his record company.
posted by birdhaus at 9:30 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Betty Davis, from sweet and sexy to raunchy to dirty.

I know a bunch on the list and I agree, many of them are challenging. That's not where my tastes go these days, I don't have the luxury of time to take it in. Maybe one day.
posted by ashbury at 9:30 PM on September 16, 2012


The thing about Metal Machine Music is that it isn't even original. John Cale did an album of raw guitar feedback looped on itself half a decade before. But then, he doesn't have Lou Reed's brand recognition, so it makes sense that nobody noticed.
posted by koeselitz at 9:42 PM on September 16, 2012


The Silver Apples do not have a better album than Contact.

That's all I have the energy to add to this thread right now, as I've just watched Swans put on a typically difficult show - which is to say it was one of the better shows I've seen in the past half decade. No Swans on that list, though The Seer just came out maybe last week, so I'll cut the rag some slack.
posted by item at 9:57 PM on September 16, 2012


item, you're right about the Silver Apples, but you'll probably not be happy to learn that I meant to put it in the "overrated" part of the list!
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 10:13 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I defy anyone (including Lou) to listen to five minutes of Metal Machine Music. It is an exercise in auditory torture that Reed issued to give the finger to his record company.
I'm twelve minutes in, and see no reason to stop.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:22 PM on September 16, 2012


I am very sympathetic to this list, many of my favorite albums are here.
maybe I missed it, but I think that My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts Eno/Byrne 1981
belongs on it.
posted by quazichimp at 10:29 PM on September 16, 2012


I just want to pop in here and stan for Half Machine Lip Moves and that Rachel record from the theater piece about Egon Schiller... come to think of it the non-jazz parts of this list look suspiciously like a Touch and Go catalog, plus Jesse Bernstein for Sub Pop, but lacks DC bands for the whole "holy trinity " effect. Cool post, gotta dig some of this stuff out..
posted by chaff at 10:29 PM on September 16, 2012


That Monoton record was just reissued. It's pretty fantastic.

I like a whole lot of records on that list, but Exposure is always a transcendent experience. It's amazing how different a listen it is in all of its different issues. Different vocal takes and Frippertronics edits abound. I completely agree about 'Here Comes The Flood.' Breathtaking.

(On preview - yup, chaff. RIP Jason. That Egon Schiele record is a shiver and a sigh.)
posted by mintcake! at 10:36 PM on September 16, 2012


Hmm. #27: Dr John, the Night Tripper - "Gris-Gris".

I pulled this one off the net a year or two ago. It's become one of my favorite albums. I didn't know it was undergoing a revival among music people; honestly for me it's as much of a nostalgia thing as anything else - I grew up in New Orleans in the 70s, and the swirling voodoo psychedelia pastiche of Mac Rebennack's musical persona was everywhere.

Close my eyes and it's like a warm, damp blanket of home wrapping me up. Maybe it's a little clammy and moist here and there but hey, that's what home is to me.

My interest in his albums drops off sharply once he drops the "Night Tripper" sobriquet and starts recording old standards instead of producing these incredibly bizarre musical gumbos.

Here, have a listen to it if you haven't before. Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya-Ya Danse Kalinda Ba Doom* Mama Roux Danse Fambeaux Croker Courtbullion Jump Sturdy Guilded Splinters

* my favorite song on the album

(or here's the whole album in one go)


#54: Ken Ishii - "Garden on the Palm".

I have this because of Rez. Maybe I should try to give it a Serious, Close Listening at some point.


#101: Arcane Device - "Engines of Myth".

I don't have this, but I have "Trout". I checked out his work because he showed up as a villain in a few issues of Savage Henry. I'm a dork. I find I really have to be in the right space to listen to Arcane Device, and it doesn't happen anywhere near as much as it used to.
posted by egypturnash at 11:03 PM on September 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


I find these rated too highly:
Lou Reed - Metal Machine Music

Alexander 'Skip' Spence - Oar


Agreed on Metal Machine Music, but no nay never on Skip Spence. Oar is a great album.


In case anyone cares the Isadorady approves list here: King Sunny Ade Ju-Ju Music ,The Art Ensemble Of Chicago Fanfare For The Warriors,Lowell Davidson Lowell Davidson Trio,Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet Golden Gate Gospel Train,Howlin' Wolf The Howlin' Wolf Album ,Willie Mae Thornton Hound Dog,Kevin Ayers & The Whole World - Shooting At The Moon,Bad Brains - Bad Brains,Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band - Bat Chain Puller,John Cale - Paris 1919( maybe the best on the list),Ornette Coleman - Dancing In Your Head,Dr John The Night Tripper - Gris-Gris,Robert Fripp - Exposure,Glenn Gould - The Solitude Trilogy,Henry Cow - Concerts,Son House - The Original Delta Blues,Alvin Lucier - I Am Sitting In A Room,The Modern Lovers - The Original Modem Lovers,Phil Ochs - Rehearsals For Retirement,Pere Ubu - 30 Seconds Over Tokyo( just listened to this today for the nthing time),The Residents - Satisfaction,Buffy Sainte-Marie - Illuminations,Alexander 'Skip' Spence - Oar. A lot of the artists on the list had better albums per me.

One of the worst things about breakups is the division of records. I fear I lost several of these in custody battles.
posted by Isadorady at 11:41 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


The thing about Metal Machine Music is that it isn't even original. John Cale did an album of raw guitar feedback looped on itself half a decade before. But then, he doesn't have Lou Reed's brand recognition, so it makes sense that nobody noticed.

There is a Velvet Underground piece called Loop which is probably prototypical
posted by mattoxic at 11:50 PM on September 16, 2012


Whoever it is, I prefer their earlier stuff.
posted by ciderwoman at 1:13 AM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Loop by The Velvet Underground, its way better than MMM, any side you chose.

And having PE's "Apocalypse 91" and not "Fear of a Black Planet" is ridiculous.
posted by marienbad at 2:16 AM on September 17, 2012


Well, of course Nurse With Wound is there.

I can't take lists like this that seriously if I didn't write them. But my personal rule is that any list without Lard and/or Lycia in the L section isn't worth the pixels.
posted by Mezentian at 2:41 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


That was a more interesting list than I was expecting. While I agree that a lot of it is 'difficult' it really isn't all of it - Dr John's Night-Tripper is just a flat-out fantastic listen in any context, for example. It's one of the staples of 'people are visiting' background music in my house.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a big list of things to listen to that I'll be getting on with...
posted by Dysk at 2:53 AM on September 17, 2012


I wouldn't think either of those is remotely considered a 90s thing in the UK, we were too busy having raves and britpop and stuff.

I.e., the Second Summer of Love and the second Mod revival, respectively.
posted by acb at 3:33 AM on September 17, 2012


Just to update the list, the "real" version of Beefheart's Bat Chain Puller was finally officially released earlier this year.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:51 AM on September 17, 2012


Lots of great stuff on this list, but I was especially pleased to see that Bad Brains album (aka "The Yellow Tape") so high on the list. Though it was not "ineptly recorded"-- the raw lo-finess of the recording matches the aesthetic of the music perfectly. You try getting a locomotive having a temper tantrum to behave itself in some fancy studio!
posted by Rykey at 3:59 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not sure wht The Faust Tapes qualifies as "no-one was listening", given that it was a certifiable chart hit in the UK (mostly thanks to the budget 49p price-point), but overall it's a great list of stuff that never normally appears on 'best of' lists.
And that Jesse Bernstein LP deserves more props all over the place - it's stunning start to finish.
posted by anagrama at 5:33 AM on September 17, 2012


Given how much I like the albums I know on the list, this gives me a bunch of things to check out.
Not sure about the Bad Brains tape being in the category of "no one listening." Every punk I knew worshiped it. I think Throbbing Gristle's 2nd Annual Report should have been included.
posted by williampratt at 5:41 AM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Neat, thanks for posting this.
posted by carter at 5:44 AM on September 17, 2012


After reading Lou's comment that anyone who makes it through Side 4 of MMM is even stupider than he is, I played all 4 sides in a row. I no longer remember what point I thought I was making. Maybe I was just being stupid.

In any case, like fasting, it gets considerably easier after the early unpleasantness. The pretty-much-all-the-same-ness of it makes it fairly easy to tune out.
posted by Egg Shen at 5:48 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is an amazingly intriguing list of music, despite any perceived flaws.
I've at most half of them, and knowing the ones I do know well, I am super excited to hear the rest.
posted by Theta States at 6:35 AM on September 17, 2012


I was struck by the lack of Big Star, but this is from 1998. Anybody who had read an interview with REM would know who they were and that "Third/Sister Lovers" was awesome, at least one of their songs got radio play ("September Gurls") and, starting the month before this article made it to print, Cheap Trick's version of "In The Street" would be played over and over again as That 70s Show's theme song.

If you're tastes are more like mine and you think that the author of this article sometimes confuses the quality of "terrible, self-indulgent solipsism that sounds like getting punched in the face over and over for 40 minutes or longer" with "difficulty" or "challenge" then I hope you will check out Al Green's Belle Album with the incredible Chariots of Fire and J.B. Lenoir's Alabama Blues with Alabama March.
posted by Luminiferous Ether at 7:32 AM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


And no Tiny Tim. That's a goddamned oversight.
posted by philip-random at 8:47 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


So glad they picked On The Corner over Bitches Brew. Because On The Corner has "Black Satin" and no other album does.

Those handclaps.
posted by sourwookie at 8:58 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I usually hate these but I'm impressed.

I have simply never heard of over half of these. I'm only familiar with about 20% of them - but the 20% I do know are excellent, timeless albums.

I'm going to start picking these up...!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:47 AM on September 17, 2012


Having looked through the rest of the list:

-Trapdoor Fucking Exit is the closest I've ever come to actually being physically sedated by a record. In a good way.

-Twin Infinitives was actually kind of a big deal in certain circles, and is probably the best remembered Royal Trux album. The Royal Trux album that failed to set the world on fire and should have was the second self-titled one, with the skulls on the cover.

-The only thing I'd say is outright missing from this list based on my experience is Mary Margaret O'Hara's Miss America, but that's kind of not The Wire's wheelhouse maybe.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:49 AM on September 17, 2012


OK, my radio station just popped up "Vox Balinae (Voice of the Whale)" and I'd now say, "Where's the George Crumb in this list?" :-) but it's still a really good list.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:49 AM on September 17, 2012


> Those handclaps.

I actually learned handclapping because on that album. As a musician, I find I end up using it surprisingly a lot.

Funny story about one of these albums...

Way back in the day, I was tripping every weekend, and I had a 100-CD changer (foreshadowing the "shuffle").

A song came on the CD player... with sitar, an electronic (non-keyboard) synth, and strange percussion... and I couldn't work out what it was. I knew it well, but it didn't seem to fit into any genre I could figure out. (And getting up to check it out would have been cheating...)

After about a minute it launched into a serious funk groove and I mentally slapped myself upside the head... On The Corner!

Which wasn't particularly weird - except the very next weekend exactly the same thing happened, and this time I even remembered the previous weekend - except that I couldn't remember what music it was.

On The Corner is really unlike any other album made. The reviews it got were crushing... from memory:

"Nameless, faceless gogo music." "An insult to the intellect of the people." "I'd like to think that no one could be so easily pleased as to dig this record to the slightest extent."

To be fair, the mix on the LP is simply atrocious - I have no idea what Columbia was thinking with it - and the CD actually lets you hear what's going on - but even the crappy LP mix is an amazing piece of music!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:56 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


What, no Matt Bianco?
posted by fordiebianco at 9:57 AM on September 17, 2012


Here's another version of the list from rateyourmusic.com. I find it easier to read than the Discographies list.
posted by jonp72 at 10:00 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's at times like this that I curse the fact that the record industry has its head so firmly up its ass as regarding digital audio.

If I could spend some reasonable amount of money and acquire the digital audio for all these albums as a package, I'd definitely do so. But in fact there is NO amount of money that will let me legally acquire all of these, and if I prepared a digital download that contained all of these albums, there's no way I could ever legally distribute it.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:05 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I could spend some reasonable amount of money and acquire the digital audio for all these albums as a package, I'd definitely do so. But in fact there is NO amount of money that will let me legally acquire all of these, and if I prepared a digital download that contained all of these albums, there's no way I could ever legally distribute it.

It's a few streets down from what you're describing, but so far I'm finding a surprising number of these on Spotify. Not everything by any means, and doesn't help with the pointlessly out of print ones where nobody is clear on the rights, but quite a few of them can be had for no money, but with ad breaks, or a relatively small amount of money (if $9.95 per month counts as small).
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:15 AM on September 17, 2012


Good list! Nurse W Wound, Oval (and that's my favorite album), and especially "I am Sitting in a Room" ... Tried playing MMM on my college radio show (KJHK 90.7!); the faculty station manager called in after 4 or 5 minutes to ask me to stop. Anyway, good stuff here that I know and love, but lots more that I don't yet...

It is too bad that we can't have one song to listen to from each album, Spotify sounds like the way to go, maybe someone nice can put together a playlist.
posted by J0 at 10:23 AM on September 17, 2012


I don't have Spotify on this machine so I cannot check them but quick googling does turn up two playlists made from this list.

I will almost certainly make my own anyway, going through the 130 albums I culled out the 10 I'm most interested in plus 35 more I want to check out.


I like the fact that this list is 14 years old but still just as relevant/useful/reasonable today.
posted by mountmccabe at 10:47 AM on September 17, 2012


So we obviously have quite a number of people in this thread who are exactly the right audience for this list.

Since it is fairly old, how would you update it? What are your choices for more recent stuff that's in the "difficult" or "challenging" category but that you're very glad you know about and that you think will keep hanging in there, never getting mass popularity but continuing to influence people over the long term just because it's good?
posted by jfuller at 11:13 AM on September 17, 2012


What are your choices for more recent stuff that's in the "difficult" or "challenging" category

Most/all of Mike Keneally's catalog.
Monstrance.
Tomahawk's Anonymous
Kaviar
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:33 AM on September 17, 2012


I've listened to around half of these, a lot because I made a half-assed foray through the Nurse With Wound list a couple years ago.

There's a lot on there that I just have to admit that I don't like, a decent amount that I could do with another listen (sometimes it takes a few years) and a handful that are out-and-out brilliant. I dunno about the "nobody was listening to" or the "set the world on fire" stuff, that seems too tied to popular reaction.

It is kinda funny to see a bunch of the music listed is stuff that I put on a mix for Monkeyfilter some, what, seven years ago before I got onto MeFi. I started with Khalid of Space (pt 1) from Larry Young, went through I Have Known Love from the Silver Apples, had Hearts In Exile from the Homosexuals… In fact, the second mix I made had a bunch of this stuff on there too, with Last Poets, Lee Perry, USA, and Betty Davis (whose first album's better than this one — her Anti-Love Song has one of the best basslines in all of Western music).

That Dr. John album is killer — I used it for my close listening assignments in my audio production class, and it was just fantastically mixed and dubbed. It's got a great sense of space, and there's a lot more depth there in the instrumentation than you'd initially think, just listening to how many voices come in.

But I gotta admit, I always thought that Bad Brains album was over-rated (Pay To Cum is about the only thing I think is essential from them), and I don't think I've listened to Chrome or Henry Cow in years.
posted by klangklangston at 3:56 PM on September 17, 2012


What are your choices for more recent stuff that's in the "difficult" or "challenging" category?

I don't know that I, personally, listen to enough "out there" stuff anymore, at least not consistently (to contribute expertly enough for such a list and, also, in general, I don't listen to enough challenging noise). I'd love to see an both updated list AND a list since 1998, from MFers and from The Wire Mag folks.

Some ideas:
I know that Fennesz 'Endless Summer' always shows up on best-of lists but I don't think it can be appreciated enough
Dorinne Muraille's 'Mani' never got much pub, undeservedly so
Sunn O))) (any album, probably, but especially Live White or whatever) did/does get love but could be included on this kind of list
Gal 'Bestimmung' is an album that never left my mind and could be on a list like this
Lo-lite 'Sidekicks'
Army of Pharoahs 'The Torture Papers'
Burial 'Untrue'
if James Blake ever releases a live album, then it
Clicks and Cuts (Volume 3, maybe)
Pan Sonic 'A' or their live album w HainoKeiji
posted by J0 at 4:35 PM on September 18, 2012


What are your choices for more recent stuff that's in the "difficult" or "challenging" category
First, I don't think that most of this list is really difficult, maybe "challenging" at first, but if it was too difficult I probably would have thrown on some of my favorite power pop or funk and let it go. Second, the older I get the more I get, I don't know, maybe lazier about music, and go for the visceral instead of the intellectual. So I guess you need younger minds for an answer to that question. As an old music listener person I pass the torch.
posted by Isadorady at 1:26 AM on September 19, 2012


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