As this is nearing the end of the year, I started thinking about all of those lists that are now coming out regarding the 10 Best Whatevers of the Year. These lists will include such things as recordings that are considered to be vital, essential, fundamental and otherwise it. People may dispute an entry here or there, may proffer up alternatives, may be both dismissive and supportive. The conclusion that can be drawn, though, is that this stuff Matters. Which got me to thinking about what really lasts, what really matters, in this world of rock and roll. And, in some regards, it is almost ephemeral. Almost.
Instead of looking back over this past year, I decided to take a look at a decade ago. And rather than look at what, say, Rolling Stone’s lists for 1992 were, I looked at Melody Maker, the music magazine that Mattered in the U.K.—until December, 2000, when, after 73 years, its owner (which also publishes NME) pulled the plug.
On the list* of the albums of the year for 1992, there were some names that are still familiar, like REM (Automatic for the People), Sonic Youth (Dirty), Pearl Jam (Ten) and The Flaming Lips (Hit to Death in the Future Head). There were names that are no longer with us but which, at the time, seemed essential: Throwing Muses (Red Heaven). But by and large, there was nothing on the list that seems essential, nothing that’s the proverbial Desert Island Disc (although nowadays, desert islands are overrun with either film crews or people practicing for the next Survivor).
And so I wonder: What will this year’s lists be like 10 years hence, and which things that seem so, well, plinth-like be a memory?
*In addition to the titles named, the others are Slanted and Enchanted, Pavement; Hypocrisy Is the Greatest Luxury, Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy; Eleven:Eleven, Come; Dry, P.J. Harvey; Henry’s Dream, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds; Down Colourful Hill, Red House Painters; UF Orb, The Orb; Lazer Guided Melodies, Spiritualized; Let Me Come Over, Buffalo Tom; Fontanelle, Babes in Toyland; Rockin’ the Forest, Sebadoh; 3 Years, 5 Months, 2 Days…, Arrested Development; Copper Blue, Sugar; Praise, Inner City; Hollywood Town Hall, The Jayhawks; It’s a Shame About Ray, The Lemonheads; Valhalla Avenue, Fatima Mansions; Accelerator, Future Sound of London; Psalm 69: How to Succeed & Suck Eggs, Ministry; Back in Denim, Denim; Congregation, Afghan Whigs; Barely Real, Codeine; Double Dare Ya, Bikini Kill; . . .Well?, Swell; Nurse, Therapy?
More Top Ten lists from those wacky Brits available here.
One thought on “Whatever Matters”
I read about a fanzine that released 26 issues, A through Z, each one reviewing only bands whose names started with that letter of the alphabet, thereby eliminating critical response based exclusively on hype… I love that.