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by Jason Mendelsohn and Eric Klinger

6 Sep 2013


Klinger: You and I have been on this crazy mission to discuss the most acclaimed albums of all time, as enumerated by the Acclaimed Music website (readers, head over there to check out his methodologies and algorithms and whatnot), for three years, and in that time we’ve only covered a handful albums released since the turn of the millennium. Some might argue that’s not enough. Others might argue that’s too many. I just shrug my shoulders and say that math is complicated. In most cases, I do suggest that many of these albums will lose their cachet over time, and they’ll likely slip down the charts as new albums are released and old albums are reassessed.

There’s something about LCD Soundsystem’s Sound of Silver, the latest post-millennial record to turn up on the Great List, that leaves me with the impression that it will somehow remain canonical, even if it did drop a bit with the Great List’s most recent update (readers, also check out the Excel spreadsheet over there to see where things are moving around. It’s really quite fascinating.) I’m not sure if I can quite yet put my finger on where I’m getting that impression, though. I’m leaning toward its overarching sense of its place in the larger rock tradition, but I’m not 100% sure. Mendelsohn, you’ve spent a good bit more time in this milieu than I have—maybe you can help?

by Jason Mendelsohn and Eric Klinger

30 Aug 2013


Mendelsohn: If there was one album that I figured we would have come across much sooner, I think it would have been Pink Floyd’s The Wall. The fact that we are well outside the Great List’s Top 100 leaves me a little shocked. As we’ve noted many times, the critics love Grand Statements. And The Wall, clocking in at 26 tracks running nearly an hour and a half, is quite possibly the grandest statement on the Great List. It’s also the most pretentious, overwrought piece of bombastic rock ‘n’ roll to ever grace the airwaves. A sort of pompous retelling of Roger Waters’ life in the most over-exaggerated way imaginable. As rock theater, there is none better.

by Jason Mendelsohn and Eric Klinger

23 Aug 2013


Mendelsohn: Because I am a child of the 1980s, David Johansen has always been—and will always be—Buster Poindexter. In my mind he’s just some weird salsa singer and trying to make him into the lead singer of one of the most influential bands to come out of New York in the 1970s is just hard, hard, hard. I know he and the New York Dolls were almost singlehandedly responsible for the music scene in New York that spawned the likes of the Ramones, Blondie, and Talking Heads—I know that, man. The Dolls’ protopunk and less-than-typical style also set the table for the punks who popped up later in the decade to the glam metal hair farmers who roamed the Sunset Strip in the 1980s. And that is quite the wide-ranging legacy, Klinger.

Listening to the New York Dolls’ self-titled debut, I get the feeling that this album is one of those important records should be revered for its influence but isn’t the type of record that invites repeated listening. But I think that is merely the downfall of being a trendsetter. These guys were way ahead of the curve—lipstick and all. The problem is, there will always be someone coming up behind you who can do what you do and do it better—or in a more interesting way. The New York Dolls did it first, but they certainly didn’t do it the best.

by Jason Mendelsohn and Eric Klinger

16 Aug 2013


Klinger: The early 1970s were, if you ask me, the Golden Age of Soul, a time when giants walked the earth (each giant larger than the last). And during this time, it became de rigeur for the R&B auteurs of the day to bring their compositional talents to the silver screen. The results were generally pretty spectacular. Isaac Hayes won an Oscar for his score for Shaft. Marvin Gaye turned the score for Trouble Man into one of the best albums of his career. Curtis Mayfield scored what may be the decisive victory, though, with his soundtrack for the 1972 Gordon Parks film Super Fly. According to the now-famous bit of music lore, Mayfield watched the film and was appalled by the actions of antihero coke dealer Youngblood Priest, who was at the film’s center. He proceeded to write a batch of songs that shed light on drug dealing’s very real repercussions, which he felt the film presented more or less without comment.

The result is an album that works on every level. As a soundtrack, it becomes an integral part of the movie, practically a character of its own as it acts as a latter-day Greek chorus. As an album, it’s a near-perfect collection of groove and soul, with elements of jazz and traditional film score orchestration. But that’s me. I’ve long been a sucker for Curtis Mayfield’s sweet voice and gift for melody, and for my money he’s one of the all-time great songwriters. (Exhibit A: “People Get Ready”, which is right up there with “Amazing Grace” as far as being a song that it’s hard to believe was written by a mortal human being who lived and breathed and watched TV and cut the cheese just like the rest of us—it’s just too freakin’ beautiful.) What’s your take, Mendelsohn?

by Jason Mendelsohn and Eric Klinger

9 Aug 2013


Mendelsohn: There are only a few albums that can drag me helplessly into the nostalgia time-hole. Those records are few and far between, mostly because the music I used to listen to is terrible and I can’t even bring myself to revisit it (looking at you Marilyn Manson). Pearl Jam’s Ten, however, is a different story. Thirteen-year-old Mendelsohn loved this record. As a result, whenever I put this album on, I get that feeling of being unsure about the world—struggling to find my footing and identity. For a teenager growing up in suburbia in the early ‘90s, this record seemed like the perfect soundtrack. It was deeper than the rest of the records coming out of the Northwest, it had a real sense of drama, unmatched musicality that still brought the hard rock, and it was even uplifting at times. Maybe uplifting is too strong a word. Pearl Jam managed to avoid the dour sound that so many grunge acts seemed to trade upon in favor of a more updated classic rock sound.

There are a lot of different talking points that go along with this record—everything from the video for “Jeremy” to the group’s eventual suing of Ticketmaster. But before we get to any of that, I need you to answer a question for me, Klinger. I can’t answer it myself and I have been grappling with it for nearly a week.

Does this record hold up?

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Moving Pixels Podcast: Unearthing the 'Charnel House'

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