April 19th, 2008


The Six Degrees Of Rock N' Roll

Two posts in the same week, what is this, Communist China?

Before I tell you what I bought for $105, let me remind you that it was ALL FOR CHARITY. There, now if we can move past that, I'll tell you that my work had a silent auction on Friday. Most of the crap was geared for upscale womenfolk: perfumes, prada bags, creams, lotions, whathaveyou. There were also Seattle Mariners ticket bundles that priced me the fuck out, and a few other odds and ends.

One of the oddest things there - ergo attracting my attention - was an oddly shaped red and white lamp from Ikea. I pretty much paid face-value for the thing ($40) and didn't even have to make the drive out to Tukwila to pick the thing up.

While the lamp is pretty sweet, it's not the reason I'm here now. I'm here to discuss that other $65 I spent. There was an auction lot of 6 CDs, potentially encompassing the major genres and major eras of Rock music from the 60s to today. They are, in no particular order:

The Beatles - Rubber Soul
Marvin Gaye - What's Going On
The Eagles - Hotel California
Guns N' Roses - Appetite For Destruction
Radiohead - OK Computer
Death Cab For Cutie - Plans

First of all, I know what you're thinking. Yes, I already have five of those albums in some capacity in mp3 form (the sixth being Hotel California, an intriguing pick I wouldn't have otherwise bothered to buy, because it's the fucking Eagles man). However, I will argue that my bootleg copy of "Plans" was of inferior quality. I will also argue that "Appetite" and "OK Computer" are so good, they deserve to be owned on CD at any cost. PLUS, the whole thing averages out to slightly less than $11 per album and I defy you to find those titles for less, buying them separately.

Still, what you may not be thinking, what I plan on thinking FOR you is: are THESE albums really appropriate to try and encompass the genre of Rock from the 60s to today?

I'm sure Death Cab sticks out as a sore thumb for some of you as it does for me. However, with them releasing a new album in less than a month (a potentially landmark album that we'll be talking about for decades, if my hunch is correct), you can't deny they're at least as relevant as anybody else. Sure, you could argue for The White Stripes, maybe Modest Mouse or Coldplay or even the Arcade Fire, but it ultimately won't be decided for at least a decade or longer, who REALLY has the staying power to be mentioned in the same breath as the Beatles and Nirvana and the like.

Speaking of Nirvana, you'd be hard pressed to make any excuse for why they're not there, but then again if any band is going to take their place, Radiohead would be it. Guns N' Roses is a pretty obvious choice in that they changed the face of hard rock in the 80s forever. Gave it an edge it hadn't previously had.

No, what I'm more interested in discussing is the first three. The 60s and 70s end of things. You can't deny that the Beatles HAVE to be mentioned in this discussion, but is "Rubber Soul" really the way to go? Especially when every accredited rock critic states "Sgt. Pepper" as their best album and indeed even the greatest album of all time.

I think I can speak for many who say, "What's Going On" is definitely worthy, but is it more worthy than Michael Jackson's "Thriller"? The guy may be a whack job, but Thriller WAS the biggest selling album of all time, it inspired a gaggle of clone-spawn for the next generation, and ultimately it became the soundtrack of an entire decade. That's pretty fucking important if you ask me.

And I can only assume that album sales had to be in the discussion when The Eagles showed up to represent the 70s rock scene. After all, their Greatest Hits album is the highest selling greatest hits collection of all time. I'm sure if you wanted to delve deeper into the 70s, Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" would've been in the running. Ditto Boston's debut album, Pink Floyd's "Dark Side Of The Moon" (still selling well and charting thirty years later), Led Zeppelin's "Zoso" album, and shit even Elton John's or Billy Joel's Greatest Hits. All would be fine considerations.

But, what's really important is what I think. What are MY top 6 albums to encompass the genre of Rock from the 60s to today. Well, first of all, with apologies to Marvin Gaye, I'm eliminating Soul from the equation. Also, I'm not going to load this thing very evenly. In order of year, I'm going:

Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
Led Zeppelin - Zozo (a.k.a. IV) (1971)
Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon (1973)
Guns N' Roses - Appetite For Destruction (1987)
Nirvana - Nevermind (1991)

Dylan because he pretty much set the Singer/Songwriter template into stone the way Moses did with the commandments. The Beatles because, come on, they're the fucking Beatles. Zeppelin because, as Chuck Klosterman once said, every rock-loving male in the world at one time or another goes through an intense Zeppelin phase where Jimmy Page's soaring solos and Robert Plant's roaring vocals completely dominate our lives. The Floyd for every experimentalist in the world, from prog rockers to weed smokers. GNR because they're the most hardcore band on the planet. And Nirvana because they're the last revolution to sweep our radio airwaves. No one since has managed to put the face of popular music on its ass like Nirvana.