Klinger: You know something, Mendelsohn, I think it’s been quite a while since we had a record that seemed to be drawing a line in the sand. We had a lot of them up there in the early goings of the Great List—it seemed just about every album we covered up there was one that sounded the clarion call that things were going to be quite different. Here in the mid-100s of the Acclaimed Music list (our Swedish overlord’s mathematical analysis of the most critically acclaimed records of all time, for those just tuning in), though, the albums are often solid and certainly well regarded, but they don’t necessarily seem to be addressing their peers and the overall pop music culture like their predecessors. Metallica‘s Master of Puppets, though, feels like just that sort of album.
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Mendelsohn: Coming of age in the 1990s was great for someone like me because electronic music was really starting to come into its own as a wide variety of artists began to take advantage of the emerging technologies to create new and interesting soundscapes. A few of those artists, your Fatboy Slims (coming in at No. 494 on the Great List) and Mobys (No. 366), even managed to achieve mainstream success. But the group that picked up the most critical acclaim from that time period was the Parisian duo of Air, Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunkel, and their 1998 effort Moon Safari.
Klinger: Do you realize that when Pulp’s Different Class came out in 1995, the group had been toiling away as an underground band in various incarnations for over 15 years? Were you aware that prior to being embraced by the emerging Britpop explosion, Jarvis Cocker and company had far more in common with the Sheffield sound of the 1980s? Or that Different Class actually debuted at No. 1 on the UK album chart?
Mendelsohn: It’s funny how time flies, Klinger. It has been just over 100 entries on the Great List since we last talked about Sly and the Family Stone. (How long have we been doing this? Don’t answer. I’m just waxing rhetorical.) The first Sly album we had the pleasure of tackling was There’s a Riot Goin’ On, the dark, cocaine-fueled funk odyssey that was light years away from the “Everyday People” and the psychedelic soul that is all-around smooth as silk and meticulously put together. But then Sly got himself a nasty cocaine habit and everything got weird—it was great for a while, but really, really weird.
On Stand! we get to see the Family Stone firing on all cylinders, really hitting the groove at every possible point, and it is a sight to behold. Makes me wonder what could have been? Or maybe what the world would have missed out upon if Sly had never taken a ride on the white horse?
Klinger: Over the last three years, I think I have pretty established myself as someone who has virtually no nostalgia for the 1990s. Maybe it’s because they remind me of my post-college years of uncertainty, poverty, and abject slackerdom. Maybe it’s because I was in a band of my own, and while I was on the road I heard every permutation of “alternative” music played by great, near-great, OK, and downright awful bands throughout the region. Maybe it’s just because I was a cranky young man. But even as I listen to artists I enjoy, it’s always tempered with memories of vomit-colored cardigans and thrift-store shoes. And somehow Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream exemplifies all of that in one 60-minute package.