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All-time greatest records: Who's got the right answer?

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Monday, Nov 27, 2006

As with any other top 100-10-1000 or one million list of best albums in the universe, there is plenty to argue about on
The All-Time 100 Albums.  No knock against Josh Tyrangiel or Alan Light here- both are fine writers (though I notice that there seems to be a surplus of Christgau one-liners popping up in their reviews).  A few observations though…
  
- These kind of things are always obviously subjective.
It’s only definitive until the next list comes along and every writer has their own prejudices and leanings.


- These kind of lists date very quickly.
Compare a similar list from say 1996 or 1986 and you’ll find that they miss not just subsequent albums but there’s also some rethinking that goes on of older albums.  Compare a list in 2016 and any one that comes out now will look antiquated.


- Things are always left out.
Even if you do a list of say 1000 albums, things are going to slip through the cracks, be forgotten, get dissed, etc..


- What is “greatest” and what’s “historic”?
It’s not always same thing- any writer has some personal faves that aren’t “all time greatest” so how does that stack up?  Which criteria is more important?


- Who are these lists written for?
The audience for a publication where such a list appears is going to effect what you see in the list.  If Relix or The Source or The Wire did their own list of greats, rest assured that it wouldn’t look the same.


- As the Time article says, it becomes a parlor game but unless you like the game, it gets boring.
Lists, lists, lists.  They’re everywhere.  It makes it easier to categorize info and they’re addictive.  Long before the Lad mags figured this out, there was popular series The Book of Lists and even The Book of Rock Lists from 1982 (which I used to love to read).  Which leads to…


- We need some alternative suggestions
Do we have to keep fighting it out about which are really the best albums?  How about the best unknown classics, best music to get you laid, most confusing albums…?

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