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Friday, Dec 7, 2012
This week's LP is expressin' with its full capabilities. It's not livin' in correctional facilities, though, it's the 109th most acclaimed album of all time. A West Coast masterpiece is this week's Counterbalance.

Mendelsohn: Hip-hop, Klinger, hip-hop. It’s back and now that we are out of the Great List’s Top 100 and moving further away from the canonical rock ‘n’ roll entries, I expect we will be seeing more and more hip-hop as the list progresses. This week we get to talk about the seminal hip-hop group N.W.A and their ground-breaking, gangsta-rap template-creating entry, Straight Outta Compton. N.W.A helped launch the careers of Dr. Dre (famed rapper, producer, and headphone maker), Ice Cube (famed rapper, star of several slightly profitable kid-oriented movies ,and commercial shill for a bland American light beer) and Eazy-E (famed rapper?); also there was MC Ren, Arabian Prince, and DJ Yella. Between them, they single-handedly put West Coast hip-hop on the map. Maybe more importantly, the stylized content dealing with graphic scenes of hood life, the trials and tribulations of gang activity and the socio-economic impact of living in such areas become the template for what A&R folks at many major record labels would look for and actively push upon the listening public as hip-hop started to gain more market share in the mid-1990s.


There are a myriad of different directions we could take this discussion, Klinger. But I want to know where you want to start. When you pop the cassette of this album into the deck of your drop-top, ‘64 Impala, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind?


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Friday, Nov 30, 2012
In the days of my youth, I was told what it means to be a man. Now that I’ve reached my age, I’m ready to talk about Led Zeppelin’s 1969 debut, the 108th most acclaimed album of all time.

Klinger: We’ve spent a good amount of time talking about Led Zeppelin, a group that I had only recently warmed up to when we started this project. Part of the reason it took me so long was, in part, because right around the time I made my decision for rock, critics were still getting over their initial ambivalence toward the group. Here’s a curious quote from The New Rolling Stone Record Guide (and yes, I still have my copy, which I bought in 1983): “A kind of music apparently designed to be enjoyable only when the listener was drugged to the point of senselessness.” Believe it or not, the first wave of rock critics found Jimmy Page’s concept of a so-called “New Yardbirds” to be tantamount to treason, and they seemed determined to make the superhype surrounding the group an insurmountable obstacle.


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Friday, Nov 16, 2012
I bought you mail order, my plain wrapper baby. Your skin is like vinyl, the perfect companion. You're the 107th most acclaimed album of all time. Roxy Music's 1973 classic is this week's Counterbalance.

Mendelsohn: I’m completely confused by Roxy Music’s For Your Pleasure. I’m unsure how to work it in to my musical narrative, let alone placing it contextually in the canon of great albums, so I’m just going to work it out as we go. From the outset, this album seems a little off-kilter and yet so progressive and forward-thinking that it sounds a full decade ahead of its time. There are so many opposing forces working in the music that it’s hard to believe the band could make a coherent whole, and that strange dichotomy seems to be personified in the presence of Roxy’s dapper frontman Bryan Ferry and the flamboyant, oddball Brian Eno.


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Friday, Nov 9, 2012
The 106th most acclaimed album of all time saw us standing alone, without a dream in our hearts, without a love of our own. Go, cat, go read about the King’s 1956 debut album.

Klinger: So it turns out that there’s this guy, Elvis Presley, and apparently he had something to do with this whole rock and/or roll thing that we’ve been writing about for the past two-plus years. And yet, despite the fact that he’s somewhat well-regarded within this genre, this is the first time that any of his music has actually turned up on the Great List. Keep in mind, of course, that we’ve somehow managed to come across two Oasis records and an Eagles album in the time it’s taken us to get around to a fellow that some people have occasionally referred to as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. No, of course it makes perfect sense that Elvis freakin’ Presley should have to stand in line behind the Strokes. Perfect. Stinking. Sense.


OK, that’s out of my system. Sorry about that. Of course you can make the argument that Elvis is best known as a singles artist, and that a lot of his music was recorded before the primacy of the LP took hold in the artistic and critical consciousness. And it is true that Elvis has seen his artistic stock rise and fall repeatedly over the years—topics I’m sure we’ll touch upon throughout this discussion—but still, you’ve got to admit that it’s odd that it’s taken us this long to get to Elvis Presley. So admit it, Mendelsohn—admit it!


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Friday, Nov 2, 2012
In my mind my dreams are real. Are you concerned about the way I feel about the 105th most acclaimed album of all time? Too bad, because tonight I'm a rock 'n' roll star. Oasis’ 1994 debut is next.

Klinger: Mendelsohn, I don’t want to alarm you, but we’re about to spend another week discussing Oasis. I know in the past you’ve had a, shall we say, less-than-cordial relationship with the Gallagher brothers (actually as-it-turns-out pretty talented Noel and his brother Liam, the one who seems mad all the time), plus Guigsy, Bonehead, and, uh, whoever their drummer is (Drumsy?), so I’m not really sure how to broach this subject with you. But I will point out as of today, the number of Oasis albums we’ve covered now equals the number of hip-hop albums we’ve covered. Just putting that out there. The Great List that gives us our marching orders has spoken.


I am curious, though, to hear how you’re dealing with this most recent influx of Mancuniosity. After all, to our American ears, Definitely Maybe doesn’t deliver the immediate visceral reaction that we had to (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? and its many, many hit singles. Granted, a few tracks made their way into our charts here in the States, but they were the lesser-known ones like the Mainstream Rock and Modern Rock Charts. The album had nowhere near the ubiquity that their follow-up achieved, so how does that affect the way we relate to it today, nearly 20 years after the fact?


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