Some of my neighbors like to listen them some radio, and while I’m not sure if the relationship is correlative or causal, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Classic Rock is pretty tightly bound to a whole slew of other poor life decisions.
Friends don’t let friends, etcetera.
A little while ago I was going through some of the swing music I collected when it enjoyed that brief, possibly-Gap-commercial-driven resurgence, and I’m just stunned at how poorly that stuff has aged; clearly this is some sign of encroaching senility, but I can’t remember an entire branch of my music collection going from being novel and fun to being comprehensively tiresome in such a short time. Big Boring Voodoo Daddy, for sure.
Spurred by that, I’m going through my collection now trying to find music from at least a decade ago that has stood up to the cruel vagaries of passing time. And I’m not particularly surprised at, though I have to say a little hurt by, how much of what I still enjoy listening to has found its way into the self-described “classic” space.
Which is to say, none.
I virtually never hear any of this music anywhere outside of those circumstances under my immediate auditory control. The word “classic” seems to be inextricably associated with shitty white-guy bar-rock, and there don’t seem to be any other broadcasters around willing admit that before last year, the world contained bands and albums and everything. Merely aging well doesn’t seem to be enough.
So, yeah. Hoye’s Reasons To Not Listen To The Radio, number three hundred and ninety-eight in an ongoing series that everyone finds totally enthralling.
Here’s my list. This is going to be a little incomplete, but these are some albums that fit the aged-well bill, that are on my iPod right now.
- Funkdoobiest – Brothas Doobie
Occasionally over-the-top and cartoonish, this is high-grade old-school hiphop nonetheless. Highlights including “Lost In Thought”, “Rock On” and “Dedicated”. Good, head-nodding stuff, good for driving, good for porch-sitting.
- Public Enemy – Fear Of A Black Planet
Remember when rap was something that you took seriously? No? When rims, grills and bitches were less important than, say, pervasive racism, oppression and social inequality? Probably not, but this album might be the high-water mark of that era. Just by its own bad self, “Fight The Power” makes this album worth having, and it’s not the only gem there. In a just world Fred Durst would cry himself to sleep every night listening to Public Enemy, knowing that on his best day he’ll never be worth a tenth of P.E.’s weakest work.
- Harvey Danger – Where Have All The Merrymakers Gone
Yeah, I feel pretty bad putting this album right next to Public Enemy like that, but there you go. It’s a lot artier and a lot whiter, and you’ve probably heard their single “Flagpole Sitta” and though to yourself, that’s cute, next. But that’s by far the weakest song on the album, and Sean Nelson (who’s also worked with Death Cab For Cutie) just sings his nerdy arts-major heart out; “Carlotta Valdez” and “Jack The Lion” are standouts, and I have to admit that I still have a soft spot for “Flagpole”.
- INXS – Kick
Ignore their current incarnation. Just don’t even bother. “Listen Like Thieves” was a good album, but Kick, released in 1987, is iconic. “Guns In The Sky”, “Need You Tonight” and the title track in particular are pop rock of the highest caliber.
- Joe Satriani – The Extremist
This is one of the first pure guitar-rock no-vocals albums I can remember hearing, and it is still one of the very best. If you’re of a mind to drive ever-so-slightly faster than the speed limit, perhaps on a long stretch of slowly winding highway on a warm evening, “Friends”, “Summer Song”, “Motorcycle Driver” and the title track are must-haves. Ambiance is important, obviously, and I should tell you that these songs are certainly just a bit better if you can arrange to have some sunlit, forested scenery blowing by you at a hundred and sixty kilometer per hour, but even without that they’re still good.
- U2 – Achtung Baby
This is the album with “One” and “Until The End Of The World” on it. They’re on the same album as “The Fly”, “Mysterious Ways” and “Acrobat”, if you can believe that, and I’m not even sure that this is U2’s best album. You probably know, but let me remind you, that this album is just monstrously good.
- The Cure – Galore
I loves that layered, multi-instrumental sound, loves it to death. Some of the roots of what I guess people are calling “nu metal” these days are in here, but there’s way too much going on here to pigeonhole this album. “Just Like Heaven” is great, “Lovesong” is great, and “Friday I’m In Love” has a legitimate shot at being the single greatest pop song ever recorded.
- The Pogues – If I Should Fall From Grace With God
If you’re looking for frenetic, aggro-celt drinking songs, this album will stop your heart. Shane MacGowan’s got the voice of a man who’s been smoking unfiltered tobacco and washing it down with Jamesons’ since he was three years old, which I believe is actually the case, and the central conceit of this album seems to be that everything is more awesome if it’s done twice as fast and yelled, and Celtic music is already awesome, so if we we play Celtic music twice as fast and Shane yells the lyrics, the result will be an avalanche of raw whiskey-sodden genius. And it is, it really is. The title track and “Bottle Of Smoke” are great, as is “Sit Down By The Fire” are entirely worth your snarling, drunken while.
- Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral
This wasn’t the first industrial album in the world, but it’s definitely the first one that most people heard. And that’s entirely deserved, because it’s a powerful album, crunchy, brooding and vicious throughout. Hard to actually recommend this album to anyone, though; if this sort of thing grabs you at all, you almost certainly already own this album, and if it doesn’t there’s no point to even trying. “Mr. Self Destruct” and “Closer” are standouts, and this is where “Hurt”, the song that Johnny Cash eventually appropriated, was first released.
Like I say, this is just what’s in front of me. I’ve got more, really! But my collection needs some serious triage right now, so forgive me. But now, readership, it is your turn; what are you listening to now, that you’ve been listening to for years? And why?