MoSS? Presents… The Undisputed Top Albums Ever, #70-61

Yep, we’re making a list. Two separate lists, actually, so the above graphic is a bit misleading. Accounting for the limited overlap in Todd’s and Chris’ lists, it’s more like the top 174 or something like that.

Anyway, after months of scientific analysis, hours of listening and re-listening to albums from years gone by, we have arrived at a definitive list of the top albums ever recorded. Our research is not open to interpretation, but you’re more than welcome to complain about the fact that your favorite albums aren’t on this list; we’ll simply respond by telling you that your favorite records aren’t really all that good.

Here are some spoilers: you’re not going to find the typical hipster stuff like Neutral Milk Hotel or Slint or even stuff one/both of us actually likes such as DJ Shadow or Pavement. This isn’t Rolling Stone so you’re not going to find Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or Pet Sounds at the top. Wham’s Make It Big was snubbed.

We’re not going to roll it all out at once; no sense rushing through all this quality music! But Music or Space Shuttle? is gonna be pretty busy over the next two months.

That’s enough of an intro. Let’s get on with it…

Chris’ 70-61

(click play button below to sample these 10 albums)

70. Nick Drake, Five Leaves Left

69. Sigur Ros, Agaetis Byrjun

68. Best Coast, Crazy for You

67. Green Day, Dookie

66. M83, Saturdays=Youth

65. Frank Ocean, Nostalgia, Ultra

64. The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses

63. U2, The Joshua Tree

62. The Black Keys, thickfreakness

61. Beastie Boys, Check Your Head

A CLOSER LOOK AT…

#67: Green Day, Dookie

album cover for "dookie"A song with a killer bass line and lyrics about polishing the skin flute…that’s what piqued my interest in Green Day. Then I bought Dookie, and found myself absolutely enamored with all the simple things that make rock n roll great: an amazingly tight rhythm section, a catchy sequence of power chords, faux-British-accented vocals, lyrics about having a blast and burning out and “paradise” and wasting other people’s time and being paranoid and/or stoned and hearing someone cry aloud out all the way across town and being told to fuck off and die.

I think Dookie came along at a perfect time. Grunge was running its course, especially with the death of Kurt Cobain, but I was still interested in non-flashy guitar-driven rock. Green Day provided that. The band had matured into better songwriters and stepped up their production values after two solid albums (the debut compilation of LP and EPs, 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours, is a definite indicator of the potential, even with a lesser drummer). The glossiness of Dookie never bothered me, just like I had no reason to despise the sound of Nirvana’s Nevermind compared with the sludgy sound of the $606 production of Bleach. I was also in a new town when I started listening to Dookie in earnest. I was making new friends in Ames and enjoying life and more often than not we had songs such as “Having a Blast” on the sound system while, erm, having a blast.

I thought Green Day had additional bright moments over the years, but nothing that burned as bright as this piece of shit from 1994. From the first two touches of the high hat that kick off “Burnout” to the last quiet bits of the jokey “hidden track” that followed “F.O.D.,” this was youthful joy. I never reach for the skip button when listening to this album, and the songs have aged well over the subsequent two decades.

And if you don’t like it, you can F.O.D.

#63: U2, The Joshua Tree

joshua tree album coverMany people like to romanticize that Nirvana (more specifically, Nevermind) killed hair metal. For me, it was The Joshua Tree.

When U2’s fifth album came out in 1987, I was listening to a lot of “awesome” music; that spring, I probably played my Poison tape more than anything. Then the song “With or Without You” hit the radio and music video rotation, and I was intrigued. Then I heard the whole album, and found myself really drawn to the two songs that ended up being the next two singles, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and “Where the Streets Have No Name.” And the bombast of “Bullet the Blue Sky.” And Bono’s yowls on “Trip Through Your Wires.” And “The Edge guitar sound” on “In God’s Country.”

And the quiet hush of “Running to Stand Still,” which I included in my #61-70 sampler above. I found so much to enjoy about the lyrics:

Sweet the sin
Bitter taste in my mouth
I see seven towers
But I only see one way out

You got to cry without weeping
Talk without speaking
Scream without raising your voice

You know I took the poison
From the poison stream
Then I floated out of here

Suddenly, singing along to “‘Cause baby we’ll be at the drive-in, in the old man’s Ford, behind the bushes, ’til I’m screamin’ for more” seemed juvenile, even to a hormonal 13-year-old dude. Admittedly, it’s not like I immediately threw away my Look What the Cat Dragged In cassette after hearing The Joshua Tree. But I never bought Open Up and Say…Ahhh!; I did get Rattle and Hum when it came out and plucked War from the back catalog and started giving bands like R.E.M. a try when joining the BMG tape club.

Before The Joshua Tree, my lone exposure to U2 was watching Bono leaping down into the crowd (sort of) during the 1985 Live Aid broadcast (I was really annoyed, because I was waiting and hoping to see–surprise!–Duran Duran). I had no idea that in two years, this band of Irishmen would seriously alter the way I listened to and appreciated music. And I believe The Joshua Tree is one of those albums that is able to speak to myriad audiences. Consider life in my dorm during freshman year at the University of Northern Iowa. I lived two doors down from a couple of football players; their room was a popular hangout for a fair number of the Panthers. Whenever they got together to play Madden on the Sega Genesis, they always listened to The Joshua Tree, even though it was a good five years old by then. Not macho metal, not ridiculous rap…”Where the Streets Have No Name” and “Mothers of the Disappeared.” I always liked that…even if I could never beat those fuckers in Madden. Oh well: Tecmo Super Bowl was always my game, anyway. And I owned them in NHL ’93 the following spring…

/video game braggadocio

Todd’s 70-61

(click play button below to sample these 10 albums)

70. The Sundays, Static and Silence

69. The Ocean Blue, The Ocean Blue

68. The Breeders, Last Splash

67. Crash Test Dummies, God Shuffled His Feet

66. Oasis, What’s the Story(Morning Glory)?

65. Madonna, True Blue

64. The Jesus and Mary Chain, Stoned and Dethroned

63. Sufjan Stevens, Illinois

62. Feist, The Reminder

61. Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

A CLOSER LOOK AT…

#70. The Sundays, Static and Silence

This was the third of three stellar albums from The Sundays. After its release, lead singer Harriet Wheeler and guitarist David Gavurin quit the business to settle down and raise their kids. I have patiently waited 15 years for a fourth Sundays album. Waiting…Waiting… I’m starting to get impatient. So, in an effort to get them out of retirement, I am going to make a personal plea to The Sundays. Please, come back! Pretty please! Seriously! C’mon!

I get that you wanted to live a simpler life, have kids, and get away from the hassles of the record industry. But we live in different times now. You don’t need large record labels to record and distribute music anymore. We have a thing called “The Interwebs” now. Get a computer (heck I’ll buy you one) and record in your basement like 23 million other artists are doing now. Throw the new material up on a website (I’ll do that for you too. It would be a Music or Space Shuttle? exclusive release. I’m getting goose bumps just thinking about it.)

If it’s the money that’s holding you back, I have a plan for that as well. No one makes money doing it the old way. Unless your last name is Bieber, Swift or Gaga, you aren’t selling albums like the old days. Listen up Sundays. Here’s the new plan. And all you new bands can get in on this as well. Release your album slowly, one song a month. Stream it online and let me decide it I like it or not. If I like it, I buy it. If not, someone else does. Or doesn’t. Who cares? You have another song coming out next month. Maybe we like that song instead. I’d be way more likely to pay for a band’s music one dollar at a time than I would be to buy a whole album for $10 without hearing it. I’m sure a lot of other people would as well.

Sounds great right Harriett? Right Dave? I’m ready when you are. Just think about it.

Please come back! Pretty please?

#61. Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

I was going to music school in Minneapolis around the time The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was released. I listened to it a lot in between classes and would get different reactions.

There were a lot of guitar students in one of my music theory classes and they would give me shit for listening to it. I didn’t take it personally. Most of them were assholes and looked like rejects from a Black Sabbath cover band. One guy dressed almost exactly like Rob Zombie sans makeup. He kept trying to tell me Rob Zombie’s Hellbilly Deluxe was the greatest album of all time and Lauryn Hill was crap. Unfortunately, Hellbilly is still on my “Albums To Listen To” list so I’ll have to take his word for it. (Side Note: Zombie guy could shred on guitar. I watched him play an inspired solo during his rendition of Ozzy’s “Crazy Train.”)

My production classes were a mixed bag, half the students were into electronic and trip hop music and the other half were into rap. One trip hop guy thought he was way too cool for me because I wasn’t listening to the newest Portishead record every day like he was. I never thought that record was very good. Portishead’s first album, Dummy. Now that was good. The rap guys were way into Silkk The Shocker around that time. I had to listen to Charge It 2 Da Game several times. To this day, I still think it is one of the worst things ever recorded. If I made a list of worst albums of all time (coming Fall 2013) this would be at the top, if not #1.

In a school full of musicians and music lovers, why was the future #61 album of all time getting no love? Why did we all hate each other’s music? Why couldn’t we all just get along? Maybe I was an asshole to the guitar guys and not the other way around. Is there some long haired cover band guitarist in the Twin City area blogging about some dick from Iowa that used to say Hellbilly Deluxe was shitty? That’s too much to take in right now. Maybe I need a therapist.

Previous installments:

#100-91

#90-81

#80-71

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Eighties or Todeighties?

Quite a bit of the music I’ve been listening to over the last couple of years has had a very distinct ’80s influence. Is the ’80’s sound the reason that I like these songs? Maybe. At times, I find that I notice a new song because it sounds like an old ’80s gem. So the retro sound is certainly the reason that I kept listening. I thought it would be interesting to put together clips from some current and some ’80s songs and see if you readers can tell the difference. Some of you may find this ridiculously easy. Others may struggle a bit.  Listen to the clip and hit submit after each question to see if you were correct. Good luck!

MoSS? Madness 2012: The Elite 8 Results

The Elite 8 voting has ended and so has Pearl Jam’s improbable run to glory. The Man in Black, Johnny Cash, was the one to bring them down. What a run it was though.  In 20 years we will all remember where we were the day Pearl Jam received more votes than Elvis Presley in a completely mindless music match-up tournament.  I spoke with Eddie Vedder via phone interview to get his take on this heartbreaking turn of events.

Me: Eddie, how are you dealing with this incredibly tough loss?

Eddie: Well Todd, Rrrrrrrrrr mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble  Evenflow!!! Rrrrrrr mumble mumble mumble Aaaaahhhhh I’m Still Alive! mumble.

Me: Thanks Eddie, you are a truly gifted lyricist and vocalist.

To round out the Final Four we will have the only #1 seed left, The Beatles, going head to head with Nirvana who completely overpowered Bob Dylan in their Elite 8 match-up. The other pairing will be the previously mentioned Johnny Cash vs. Bono and The Edge of U2.

When we first started this tournament I never would have picked this Final 4. It’s been great fun. Thanks again for voting. Now back to the grind for a few more days until voting resumes again. You may be wondering,  “Will there ever be a day when I am expected to be productive at work again?”. The answer is no. Please view this YouTube clip from the kick-ass 1981 TV show The Greatest American Hero to help keep you distracted from your daily tasks.

MoSS? Madness 2012: The Elite 8

It’s down to the last 8 artists. Now it is up to you, the readers, to decide who goes to the Final Four. All four regions’ match-ups are ready to go. Please make your selections below.

MoSS? Madness 2012: The Sweet 16

The Cinderella story continues! Thanks to your votes Pearl Jam (again by a single vote) was victorious over David Bowie to move into the Sweet 16.  #15 seeds Smashing Pumpkins and The Cure also dominated in their respective match-ups to move on to the next round. The remaining #1 seeds all won their pairings and look to remain undefeated. Can Pearl Jam prolong this amazing run through to the Elite 8? Will we lose a second #1 seed? I think even Pink Floyd would vote against Pink Floyd in their upcoming match-up against The Beatles. Now it is up to you, the readers, to decide. All four regions’ match-ups are ready to go. Please make your selections below.

MoSS? Mixtape Flashback: March 1987

The MoSS? mixtape vault has finally been opened. Our dedicated staff put in hundreds of man hours cataloging overwhelming amounts of cassette tapes, compact discs and vinyl records. This month we asked our interns to dig even deeper and scavenge the darkest recesses of our music library for any references from the year 1987. What they came back with was eye-opening. I was still listening to music with a pop sensibility. Chris was just testing the waters of heavy metal and rap while still listening to Duran Duran. So check out what your favorite pubescent pair of music loving lads was listening to clear back in March 1987.

Side A : Todd’s Picks

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1. Prince, “Starfish and Coffee”

2. Peter Gabriel, “Big Time”

3. Billy Idol, “To Be A Lover”

4. Madonna, “Open Your Heart”

5. David Lee Roth,Yankee Rose”

Side B : Chris’ Picks

[audio https://musicorspaceshuttle.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/01-angel-of-death.mp3,https://musicorspaceshuttle.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/02-stryper-to-hell-with-the-devil.mp3,https://musicorspaceshuttle.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/04-posse-in-effect.mp3,https://musicorspaceshuttle.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/01-notorious.mp3,https://musicorspaceshuttle.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/05-walk-like-an-egyptian.mp3|titles=Angel of Death,To Hell With the Devil,Posse in Effect,Notorious,Walk Like an Egyptian|artists=Slayer,Stryper,Beastie Boys,Duran Duran,The Bangles||width=500]

1. Slayer, “Angel of Death”

2. Stryper, “To Hell With the Devil”

3. Beastie Boys, “Posse in Effect”

4. Duran Duran, “Notorious”

5. The Bangles, “Walk Like an Egyptian”

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MoSS? Madness 2012: The Round of 32 Results

The Cinderella story continues! Thanks to your votes Pearl Jam, again by a single vote, was victorious over David Bowie to move into the Sweet 16.  #15 seeds Smashing Pumpkins and The Cure also dominated in their respective match-ups to move on to the next round. The remaining #1 seeds all won their pairings and look to remain undefeated when the voting for the MoSS? Madness Sweet 16 begins on Thursday. Click on the bracket above to see which other artists moved on.

Again, thanks for voting. It’s been a long 4 days of basketball, brackets and ridiculous musical death matches. You may find it hard to go back to your normal lives again. Do you actually have to WORK at the office now? The answer is no. Please view this youtube clip from the movie Teen Wolf  to help keep you distracted from your daily tasks.

MoSS? Madness 2012: The Round of 32

Thanks to your votes the impossible happened. A #1 lost to a #16 in March! That’s right, by one single vote, Pearl Jam handed Elvis Presley a first round defeat. That wasn’t the only highly ranked artist to get knocked out in the first round. Much like Hampton over Iowa State (That one still stings), 2 seeds were dropping like flies. My beloved Smashing Pumpkins easily handled rock and roll legend Chuck Berry.  The Cure squeaked out a 1 vote victory over  “Soul Brother Number One” James Brown (Chris should be very pleased). Nine Inch Nails narrowly escaped their pairing with Little Richard. The only victorious #2 was guitar god Jimi Hendrix who put a beat down on Journey. I guess you can stop believin’ now Steve Perry.

The upcoming Round of 32 should be equally as exciting. There are going to be some great match-ups. Can the straight forward hard rock of Van Halen prevail over Metallica’s overpowering heavy metal? Can Pearl Jam pull off another Cinderella-style victory and beat glam rock icon David Bowie for a spot in the Sweet 16? You, the readers, will decide. All four regions’ match-ups are ready to go. Please make your selections below.

MoSS? Madness 2012: The Round of 64

The match-ups for the round of 64 are set. Dexy’s Midnight Runners survived a late rally by Right Said Fred to earn the last #16 seed. Dexy will be going up against the Beatles in the first round. Can they pull a spectacular upset over “The Fab Four”?  It won’t be easy, but your votes could move them on. All four regions’ match-ups are ready to go. Please make your selections below.

I have pretend girlfriends, and they are hot

sleigh bellsI’d like to apologize for omitting “Comeback Kid” by Sleigh Bells from the February 2012 Music or Space Shuttle? mix tape (which is still fucking awesome; listen to the whole 10-song extravaganza at bit.ly/AqO7Ou).

Here’s the thing: it was a calculated move. I didn’t want the song to dwarf the other nine inclusions on the mix tape; I wanted to devote an entire post to singing its praises…or more specifically, praising the video.

Alexis Krauss staring at me with her big-saucer eyes! Those shorts! Those jeans! (Even if they were stolen from Joe Elliott’s 1988 wardrobe!) The right amount of leg visible under that bathrobe! Those cheerleading moves! That spiky jacket! Alternating between her cool sunglasses and those sexy eyes! That longing look as the song reaches its conclusion! Did I mention those shorts?! That lucky deck chair!

Madeline Follin[Madeline Follin of Cults enters the room]

Madeline: What the heck is going on here?

Chris: Oh, hi, Madeline Follin, my rock ‘n’ roll girlfriend.

Madeline: Why is Alexis Krauss on your computer screen?

Chris: Um, I was just mentioning to the adoring Music or Space Shuttle? readership that I think this video is kinda sorta cool. I mean, it’s no “Abducted,” but it’s not bad—

Madeline: What’s so great about this video?

Chris: Derek Miller’s In Utero shirt is pretty cool. That mustard toss was pretty epic. His John Bender-esque fist pump at the end is pretty awesome.

Madeline (frowning): You’re dumping me, aren’t you?

Chris: Um, well, yes.

Madeline: Go outside.

Chris: [sigh] Great tune.

Madeline: No, get the fuck out of here.

Chris: Oh.

And so another rock ‘n’ roll relationship ends. Madeline Follin, who last summer stood just a couple feet away from me as she performed before a rapturous crowd in St. Louis, finds herself kicked to the curb in favor of another raven-haired vixen. Madeline’s got company; I’ve loved me some rock women over the years. Some have been mega-popular; some are girl-next-door types. For example…

Donna A (Brett Anderson)Donna A of the Donnas

When was this?: early 2000s

Initial appeal?: liked the Ramones-style songs in the beginning; liked her look around Get Skintight

Real encounters?: Well, sorta. When they played Gabe’s in Iowa City in 2002 or something like that, my buddy Sam and I were hanging out in back during the opener, having a brew, when Donna R (Sam’s obsession) and Donna F came by and started playing Trivia Whiz. Sam kept yelling out the answers, which may or may not have annoyed the two Donnas. So Sam did the chivalrous thing and gave them $2 worth of quarters; that way he could keep yelling out answers/flirting with Donna R with a clean conscience. At some point in this display of cerebral excellence, Donna A and Donna C came by. I went to say “hi” to Donna A and managed to get out “Durrr-ahhhh-hey!” It was magical.

How did it end?: Once the Donnas became less like the Ramones and more like butt-rock, I was done with Donna.

Janet WeissJanet Weiss of Sleater-Kinney/Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks

When was this?: mid- to late 1990s

Initial appeal?: She reminded me of Maura Tierney (what? I liked NewsRadio…)

Real encounters?: None…I never saw Sleater-Kinney live, nor did I see Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks during her tenure as timekeeper. I did have some college classes with a girl who looked a lot like Janet Weiss and played the drums. She was kinda cool. (And of course I was petrified to have anything to do with her other than bum smokes from her after class now and again.)

How did it end?: That girl from Portlandia seemed jealous.

D'Arcy WretzkyD’Arcy Wretzky of the Smashing Pumpkins

When was this?: early- to mid-1990s

Initial appeal?: A blonde, too-cool-for-school girl who was a member of one of my greatest musical obsessions…yeah, this was a no-brainer.

Real encounters?: Not really. Saw them twice in 1994; got close to the stage the first time. I remember one of my friends throwing a hotel-sized bar of soap at D’Arcy. His intent was that she would catch it/pick it up and use it as a pick, but realized the millisecond after it left his hand that she might take it as a statement of insult regarding her body odor. (No, I haven’t had a real encounter, but wanted to share the soap story.)

How did it end?: The Pumpkins started to suck after (during?) Mellon Collie, and perhaps I foresaw this image.

Gloria EstefanGloria Estefan

When was this?: mid- to late 1980s

Initial appeal?: What, you haven’t seen the video for “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You”?

Real encounters?: I was, like, 12—that would have been awkward. And I didn’t really want to have to meet the Miami Sound Machine.

How did it end?: As it turned out, the rhythm did not get me. (And I started listening to heavy metal, and, aside from an obligatory liking for Lita Ford and the ladies of Vixen, became asexual for a while.)

Madonna in the early daysMadonna

When was this?: mid 1980s

Initial appeal?: the song “Burning Up”; the videos for “Borderline” and “Lucky Star”

Real encounters?: Back then I think I saw many a teenage girl trying to look like her (and failing miserably). I also lived vicariously through that boy in the “Open Your Heart” video—does that count?

How did it end?: Who says it did? She still looks great.

If you have any quirky rock ‘n’ roll loves, tell me all about them in the comments. (Ladies, feel free to chime in, too. Perhaps you can ask my better half about her Jimi Westbrook thing.)