Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Festivus: Sam’s Airing of Grievances

Editor’s note: Remember that guy who wrote about Kiss? Sam’s back with some Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musings. I think this guy is passing the audition. Mainly because he mentioned the Cure again, which keeps him in my good graces. Plus, he writes one fucking thing and sets a one-day high in Music or Space Shuttle? traffic! This tells me that Sam has awesome friends who click stuff he shares on Facebook, AND that Todd and I need better, more-likely-to-click-our-links Facebook friends. (By the way, you can find all MoSS? posts at our Facebook page. Click the “Like” button on the right side of the page.) –Chris

rock and roll hall of fame exterior

I’m obsessed with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Actually, I’m obsessed with all Hall of Fames in general, I guess. I pissed and moaned for days a few months ago when my main Houston Astro, Craig Biggio, missed induction. You see, it takes 75 percent of the votes to earn induction. He got 74.8 percent. They don’t round up. So after the number of ballots cast was made public, it was determined that he missed the cut by two votes.


One Hall voter came out and said he left his ballot completely empty except for a vote for ’80s pitching ace Jack Morris, justifying his refusal to vote for anybody who played during the “steroid era.” Jack Morris, who pitched in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. In the American League. Which means he pitched, at some point in time, to Jose Canseco, the only guy proud to admit before Congress that he willingly took steroids. Take a bow, genius.

Even more insane, every fall, I spend a crazy amount of time obsessing over a thing called the Survivor Hall of Fame. Yes, a Hall of Fame for the CBS reality game show. For weeks, I solicit (they would probably say troll) the hell out of former players on Twitter. I argue about it on message boards. I’ve even had my own personal rules for induction criteria published. However, there’s no physical building or artifacts. No pilgrimage to see your favorite players enshrined. Really, the Survivor Hall of Fame is essentially just a blog, with a few photos and some online interviews. You know what? I don’t care. I love Survivor so I want it done right. I care. WAAAAYYYYY too much. Sorry, Gordon.

But there’s nothing that saps my time and energy like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In fact, I’m a little embarrassed by how much it matters to me. But it does. And it’s never mattered more to me than this year, because the first truly revolutionary band (Nirvana) of the generation that defines my age group (Generation X) came up for induction and got in on the first ballot. Even more significantly, after years of crying to my poor, poor friends and colleagues about the injustice of the snub, the band that helped shape my pop cultural existence (Kiss) finally got in after having to wait for 14 years. The ceremony was a couple of weeks ago now, and it’s still all I think about. I really need a life.

I engaged in plenty of back and forth on social media this season, and was fortunate to gain lots of insight from a few people much more informed than I am (check out Brian Ives, Tom Lane, and the endless resource that is Future Rock Legends, for starters). Plus, after the illuminating blog by Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz, I feel like I understand better how much politics can ruin something that represents an entity that’s supposed to be about rebellion like rock and roll.

So, in the wake of all that, the following diatribe may read like a butthurt plea supporting some of my favorite bands that don’t have a chance in hell of ever being inducted (hell, even a few I don’t really care about at all but still appreciate their significance). But the time has come for the airing of grievances … and I got a lot of problems with all of you.


MC5 shirtless

MC5, also known as T-Shirt Zero

For me, maybe the hardest thing to reconcile with that institution are the bands that get inducted because of how “important” or “influential” they are. It can become very hypocritical (and I admit, I love most of bands that qualify in this rant) to declare something “adored but never accepted by the masses.” The Sex Pistols had one album. One. Their entire existence is one album and a tour. They imploded within two years. So where is the MC5? They had THREE albums, they had the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and many knowledgeable people would say they’re amongst the godfathers of both punk AND metal.

Also, bands like the Velvet Underground and the Stooges are in, some might say because their frontmen (Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, respectively) became rock legends later down the road. But both of those bands, when they were actually happening, never sold any records and never had any hits. But everyone who did like them started their own bands (I know, this is not an original thought, but it’s true).

runaways group photoOK, so by that rationale, who fits the bill? The Runaways. No one, and I do mean NO ONE, bought their records (except for Japanese teenagers), but …  a frontwoman who went on to greater fame solo (Joan Jett)? Check. (Not to mention Lita Ford, often considered the first lady of heavy metal). How many all-girl rock bands formed in their wake? How many of the ‘90s riot grrrl bands cite them as primary influences? Plus, “Cherry Bomb” is more recognizable than any song the Stooges ever put out (I love the Stooges, by the way). And OK, “Cherry Bomb” is one song. But my two-word rebuttal: Percy Sledge.

There’s been a lot of talk about Joan Jett going in solo (or with the Blackhearts) and the other night – fronting a reunited version of Nirvana at both the ceremony and the soon-to-be-legendary secret show they played afterward at an underground Brooklyn metal club – did a TON to help her cause. But like Linda Ronstadt, Jett’s biggest songs are cover tunes. I’d still rather see her go in with the Runaways. It will never happen, though. They’ll forever be seen as a gimmick and I don’t think they can ever get out from under that. But they belong in the argument.

And while we’re talking about influences … with all the Seattle bands coming up for induction, Motorhead should be considered. Black Flag should be considered. The Melvins should absolutely be considered. Watch some documentaries and listen to the words coming from the musicians themselves: Who introduced Dave Grohl to Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic? The Melvins. Who invented that mud tone that became grunge? The Melvins. If some of these other bands get considered for trivial reasons, so should they. They’ve been around for over 30 years now. But will they get in? Absolutely not. I think the closest they’ll come is frontman Buzz Osbourne getting namedropped by Novoselic and drummer Dale Crover getting praised by Grohl during Nirvana’s induction (it must be noted that Crover played on enough songs that ended up on both Bleach and Incesticide to be considered one of the band’s pre-Grohl drummers, but he, like Chad Channing, gets left out in the cold. More on this later …)

go-go's on rolling stone coverTWO:

Women are shamefully underrepresented in the Hall. I was worried about a lot of the divas getting the shaft…that is, up until the induction of Donna Summer. Her induction opened the doors for Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey in a huge way (all three are ridiculously talented singers with mountains of No. 1 singles, but who write little and play nothing). But if those two DON’T get in, you can absolutely forget about the likes of, say, Britney Spears (hey, stop laughing…I’m just trying to think of big stars down the road). Will Mary J. Blige or Missy Elliott be there? Is Carly Simon worthy? Because she’s not in.

The Go-Go’s or the Bangles should get a fair look, but they won’t…either not enough big hits or they weren’t together long enough.

BenatarBut the Go-Go’s do have historical significance on their side—the first all-female band that wrote and performed their own material to have a No. 1 album. They deserve a shot, because without one, will other critically adored all-girl bands such as Sleater-Kinney have a chance?

And you know who should be in the talk, especially now that Ronstadt got in? Pat Benatar. People forget just how huge she was in the late ’70s and early ’80s. The hits, the massive exposure at the dawn of MTV, the multi-platinum records and Grammys…they speak for themselves.


The bias against hard rock and metal drives me insane. Off the top of my head, the only bands identified as heavy rock or metal that are currently in are Black Sabbath, Van Halen, AC/DC, Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, and now Kiss. OK, maybe Aerosmith and Alice Cooper, too (sorry, I don’t count Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix or the Who).

Maybe I’m just annoyed that rap seems to get preferential treatment.­ To me growing up, rap and metal were truly kindred spirits—the extreme branches on the rock and roll tree, so much so that they merited their own specialty shows on MTV, metal being the extreme offshoot of rock, rap the extreme offshoot of R&B/soul. So why is one more important than the other? Look, I love Run-DMC, the Beastie Boys, and Public Enemy as much as the next guy. Love them. They absolutely deserve to be in. But why is it that the rap groups always get in on the first ballot, but a groundbreaking band like Sabbath—who invented an entire genre of music—had to wait 10 years? It’s disrespectful.

Paul Stanley really hit the nail on the head in his induction speech: fandom means nothing to these people. All that matters, it appears, is critical acclaim, something metal rarely gets.

The British godfathers of metal (Sabbath—in, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Motorhead) and the Big 4 of American thrash (Metallica—in , Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax) deserve consideration. And I’ll say it again: Deep Purple on the outside looking in is a joke.


Speaking of Deep Purple, let’s pretend they get in next year. Who’s getting inducted? Will it only be the Mark II version of the band, the version behind “Smoke on the Water,” “Highway Star,” “Speed King,” Space Truckin’,” and “Woman From Tokyo”? (Seriously, how are the fuck are they NOT in already?) Because I think they’re up to at least Mark VIII or IX by now, right? That’s a lot of guys over 40+ years.

That seems to be the big controversy (and rightfully so). Who decides who’s getting in? Why did Parliament-Funkadelic get all 957 of its members inducted, but Kiss had to settle for the four original members, even though they had at least four other guys with decade-plus stints consisting of multiple gold albums and world tours? Both bands were garish theatrical groups on the Casablanca label in the ‘70s. Is it because Parliament got sampled on lots of g-funk rap albums in the ’90s? Who knows?

But there needs to be some consistency. Sammy Hagar gets inducted for his stint fronting Van Halen, but Ronnie James Dio can’t get the same for his time reinventing Black Sabbath? (I think this stinks of Sharon Osbourne, but that’s just a hunch.) Rob Trujillo (one album in a five-year stint at the time) gets to go in with Metallica, and 32-year-old Josh Klinghoffer, who had been in the band for about two-plus years and had played on exactly one album, gets to go in with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. But a guy like Gilby Clarke, who made significant contributions to Guns N’ Roses, gets left out? (After reading the Frantz blog, it’s much more clear: where the Talking Heads had Seymour Stein, Metallica and the Chili Peppers had Cliff Burnstein (he manages both AND sits on the nominating committee).

Chad Channing played drums on Nirvana’s debut album, as well as several other b-sides and live cuts. He did the early gigs and tours. He participated in the early sessions for Nevermind and wrote several drum parts that Dave Grohl willingly admitted that he just copied in the final product (kudos to Grohl for saying this during his actual Hall induction speech, by the way). Oh, and he actually IS on Nevermind, albeit in a minor role (and especially now that the early demo sessions recorded by Butch Vig have been released on the album’s anniversary deluxe edition). He didn’t get in. Yet every drummer who ever played with the Red Hot Chili Peppers got in (obviously, I think the Red Hot Chili Peppers broke the Hall of Fame). I can’t wait to see how they handle the Pearl Jam drummer situation. Jesus…


Finally a few passing thoughts: Woefully missing are the alt-rock and new wave bands of the early ’80s. To name but a few … The Smiths, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Joy Division/New Order, The Cars, Duran Duran, The Replacements, Sonic Youth, Husker Du. As for rap, I don’t really care…and I’ll tell you why: Eventually that’s the stuff that gonna take over this thing. Eminem. Kanye. Jay-Z. It’s coming. They’re the biggest rock stars of the post-Napster era when the record companies started losing a little bit of their influence (I mean, we’ve got a LONG time before the White Stripes and bands like Arcade Fire become eligible). With that in mind, just give me NWA, A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang Clan, 2Pac, and Biggie. Those were the rappers and crews that shaped my era. After they get in, I don’t care.

As far as my best guess for the bands of my generation…I personally don’t think a band like, say, Motley Crue has a prayer. Even with solid membership, lots of legitimate hits, a strong touring history, and the greatest story ever told, I think they’re immune even if believers in poptimism gain more influence in the nominating committee.

motley crue all glammed out

A lot of girls from Chris’ hometown looked a lot like Vince Neil does in this photo.

But you know what…says who? Motley Crue doesn’t have a shot because Rolling Stone doesn’t like them? A band shouldn’t base their legacy solely on a handful of critics with too much influence and power telling them how awesome they were. Isn’t that kind of what killed Kurt Cobain? Pretty sure he hated what that did to his band. I’m not advocating their enshrinement, but one thing everybody should respect about a band like Motley Crue—even if you think their music is either awesome or shit—is that they have no fucks to give when it comes to what anyone says about them on a critical level. It hasn’t stopped them from their decades of sold-out shows and platinum records.

(I’m well aware that someone somewhere will say the same thing about Nickelback in 20 years, but that becomes a question of eras…you know what: I’ll deal with that when it happens …)

But a band from that era that should get considered is Def Leppard, the rare band from the ‘80s glam metal period that garnered critical acclaim on top of massive commercial success.

Nick Drake holding guitar

Nick Drake, true artist. Way more acclaim after death.

As for the ’90s, come on. Pearl Jam is a mortal lock (I can’t believe they haven’t had their eligibility period waved). Radiohead is a lock. Beck is a lock. Green Day is a lock (eligible next year, actually, and I’ll be stunned if they have to wait). I have a hunch Rage Against the Machine is a lock. Eventually, Nine Inch Nails, Jane’s Addiction, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, and Smashing Pumpkins are all major contenders and all will be there over time. And I think Oasis has the most obvious shot of representing Britpop. And I keep reading about people saying bands like Blur and Pavement, for example, are shoo-ins, but I don’t know, I gotta see it first before I believe it.

And finally, my own personal snubs…well, now that Kiss is FINALLY in, I’m going with Deep Purple (too many anthems to ignore), Chicago (Jann Wenner reportedly is to them what Dave Marsh was to Kiss), Nick Drake (maybe the most perfect discography of all time) and the MC5 (seriously, the Stooges are in and they are NOT? Come on. “Kick Out The Jams” is bigger and certainly more iconic than ANYTHING the Stooges did. They are the first band associated with the sound that is considered punk rock) …

Sheesh, I feel like a battered wife after that. Why do you hate me, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, when I want to love you so much?


MoSS? Madness 2014. Best “Side One, Track One” Song: The Final Results

moss-mad-16 2014 finals

I can hardly believe it! I sat down to write a post about another Guns N Roses MoSS? Madness Championship. A victory that looked like a sure thing after checking the voting status last night. A victory that would have been heralded through all the land.  But I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. Today, while checking the final voting numbers, I discovered a massive influx of votes for Nirvana.  With 61% of the vote, this late run of support pushed “Smells Like Teen Spirit” into the lead for Nirvana’s first MoSS? Madness Championship!

Help us celebrate Nirvana’s win by watching the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video below and remembering just how kick-ass it really is as your favorite “Side One, Track One.”

Thank you all for voting. Unfortunately, now it’s back to the daily grind. Back to work with no silly competitions or brackets to distract us. You may be wondering,  “What will my bosses think when I’m all of the sudden productive at work again?”   I have the solution. If you feel as though you are doing too much work or maybe going above and beyond your normal daily tasks, stop what you are doing and watch this awesome shot-for-shot remake of the Bosom Buddies opening credits featuring Paul Rudd and Adam Scott. See you all next year!

MoSS? Madness 2014. Best “Side One, Track One” Song: The Finals

moss-mad-16 2014 finals

The Final 4 votes have been tallied and we are down to the last two songs! Neither of the match-ups were particularly close. Both winning songs collected roughly 75% of the votes. In the final round, Guns N Roses, “Welcome to the Jungle”  will match-up against Nirvana, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Wow. This is going to be a tough decision.

Final round voting is now open. If you need a little help getting in the competitive spirit, watch this inspirational video from the movie Over the Top.  In this clip, formerly deadbeat father Sly Stallone competes for his son’s love and arm wresting glory in a tournament where “Winner Takes It All.” Don’t forget to vote after…

MoSS? Madness 2014. Best “Side One, Track One” Song: The Final 4

moss-mad-16 2014

The Elite 8 votes have been tallied and we are down to the Final 4 songs. We lost another #1 seed as #2 Rolling Stones bumped off Jimi Hendrix in the closest voting of the round. They will go up against Nirvana, who handily won their match-up against Led Zeppelin.  On the other side of the bracket, Prince advanced in yet another close match-up as he narrowly beat The Doors. He will go head to head with Guns n Roses in his bid to advance to the finals.

Final 4 voting is now open. If you need a little help getting in the competitive spirit, watch this inspirational video from the movie Bloodsport  in which a bevy of bloodthirsty martial artists  “Fight to Survive” the illegal underground tournament known as “The Kumite.” Look for cameos from Ogre, Forest Whitaker and the Jean Claude Van Damme testes squashing split. Don’t forget to vote after…

MoSS? Madness 2014. Best “Side One, Track One” Song: The Elite 8

moss-mad-16 2014

The votes are in and we only had one #1 seed get knocked off! The Beatles “A Hard Days Night” was beaten by The Doors “Break On Through” by one single vote. Wowzer. I know I was shocked. Many of the match-ups were quite close. Prince narrowly defeated The Smashing Pumpkins by 2 votes and Beck squeaked past The Ramones by just a few ballots.  You can see how valuable your votes are so keep it up and invite your friends to participate too.

If you thought the Sweet 16 round choices were difficult you will find the Elite 8 next to impossible. I think I am most looking forward to the match-up between last round’s two biggest vote getters, Nirvana’s  “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.”  It took me quite awhile to pick one. My advice to you, sit back, relax, listen to both songs with a cocktail and vote with your gut. Remember, there is no wrong choice (unless you pick opposite me.)

Elite 8 voting is now open. If you need a little help getting in the competitive spirit, watch this inspirational video from the movie Teen Wolf  in which a 5′ 2″ Michael J. Fox proves that he and his ragtag basketball team can “Win in the End” with suspect defensive skills and without special werewolf powers. Don’t forget to vote after…

MoSS? Madness 2014: Best “Side One, Track One” Song

moss-mad-16 2014

It’s time again baby! That’s right, the most exciting event since the invention of the bracket, MoSS? Madness 2014. This year we are keeping with the Sweet 16 model from last year. Why only 16? Well, many reasons. First, no early round snoozer match-ups. Who wants to sit through a bunch of blow outs before we get into the good stuff? Second, I’m lazy. I can only spend so much time at my PC using Google Docs and MS Paint for this stuff. Third, what’s with all the questions? Just go with it and mind your business.

This year you are going to be voting for your favorite “Side One, Track One” song. Not familiar with the term “Side One, Track One?” Remember back in the old days when we had to listen to albums and tapes? We’re talking about the rare instance when an artist or band kicks off side one of their album with a particularly great song. Most times (not all the time) this turns out to be the start of an excellent album as a whole. Others times the artist blows their wad right away and the rest of the album is,well, a turd.

With only 16 songs in the competition, many songs didn’t make the cut. Some of your favorites may not be on the mix. Can’t wait to hear about the ones we should have included. Really. Give us hell in the comments. You may be wondering, “How can one choose between such beloved classics as “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit?” A difficult task no doubt. You’ll have to figure that out if you want to help us crown the MoSS? Madness 2014 Champion.

Also, everyone should send their condolences to Chris. His Iowa Hawkeyes lost in their bid to get into the NCAA round of 64 last night. Valiant effort though boys. Now I expect you all to be cheering for my #3 seeded Iowa State Cyclones. Let’s go Clones! First things first, vote below!

MoSS? Monthly Mixtape: September 2013


Side A : Todd’s‘ Picks

Side B : Chris’ Picks

MoSS? Presents… The Undisputed Top Albums Ever, #6

Yep, we’ve made 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.

We’ve reached the really good stuff: our top 10s. We’ll roll these out one per day (Monday-Friday) over the next two weeks, reaching #1 on Friday, Dec. 14. The following week, we’ll unveil our favorite music from 2012.

Let’s get on with it…

Chris’ and Todd’s #6: Nirvana, Nevermind

(click play button below to sample this album)

nevermind coverThat’s right. Chris and Todd both had Nevermind ranked #6. This was not planned. Each of us was tasked to make a top 100 list and Nevermind was the only one that landed in the same spot on both lists. The International Blogging Syndicate, or I.B.S., which governs the content of all blog entries, found out about our happy coincidence and decided to investigate our lists and ask a few questions about Nevermind‘s influence in our lives. Here is the transcript of that interview.

I.B.S.: You both had Nevermind at #6. Where there any other albums that came close to the same spot? Any near misses if you will?

MoSS? Chris: Surfer Rosa and Violator were one spot away on our lists. Unrelated: Surfer Rosa has boobs on the cover.

I.B.S.: How many albums actually appear on both lists?

MoSS? Todd: 26…and while we had one match and some near misses, a couple of them had a pretty wide gulf between them. Tricky’s Maxinquaye made both lists, but 72 spots apart. You’ll see another 72-spot gap before this countdown is over.

I.B.S.: What were your requirements for inclusion in the list?

MoSS? Chris: Stuff had to be awesome and/or sweet. Or Counting Crows! Ha ha, Todd!

MoSS? Todd: (Points at Chris) He really is a dick.

I.B.S.: So why not just have 10 Cure or Prince albums listed and call it good?

MoSS? Todd: We limited the number of albums per artist at five. Chris took The Cure to the limit with five inclusions. I wanted to list all five Pixies albums but felt inclusion of other artists was more important, I ultimately went with my favorite three. Same with Prince: I chose only four in order to get more variety in my list.

MoSS? Chris: I did hit my five with The Cure; I did not have a sixth in my 100, though. And yeah, my top 25 is pretty Cure-heavy, but they don’t show up again until #92.

I.B.S.: Any albums you were surprised were not included on the other’s list?

MoSS? Chris: I don’t know…kinda surprised by the absence of anything by Take That and/or Bros.

MoSS? Todd: I was certain there would be at least one Journey album on Chris’ list. I think he has a man crush on Steve Perry.

I.B.S.: Any inclusions you wish you could change?

MoSS? Todd: That Bjork selection is looking a bit suspect right now. I never listen to that record anymore.

MoSS? Chris: I probably low-balled Sigur Ros’ ( ) at #16, to be honest. The Joshua Tree probably should have been higher too. The Hooray for Earth album probably is overrated in the top 100.

I.B.S.: Is it easier to write about an album you love or album you hate?

MoSS? Todd: It depends on the level of hatred I have for the record. If the album has Don Henley involved in any way shape or form, I can barf out insults all day long. If the record is only slightly annoying, like say Boston, I’d have a harder time. On the other hand, I can love a record but have nothing to say about it other than it sounds real real good.

MoSS? Chris: The ones you hate. The ones you love, you want to respect the shit out of them, so it’s harder to get the words just right, to get them to convey your true admiration. But anyone can write “Linkin Park? More like Stinkin’ Park!!!” and get his point across. (Makes note on legal pad to recycle that Stinkin’ Park bit in a future rant)

I.B.S.: So Nevermind. What is the first memory you have of that record?

MoSS? Chris: Listening to it with my friend Jeff and practically bouncing off the walls with excitement. Looking at the CD booklet photos and seeing some scurvy dude flipping me off, and some dude who looks like Andy Kaufman. I really liked “On a Plain” a lot on first listen. I put this album on one side of a blank tape and Smashing Pumpkins’ Gish on the other. It was the best tape ever. I suppose that was more than one memory…

MoSS? Todd: Some friends and I were hanging out and we were watching a vhs recording of the past weeks episode of 120 Minutes, an MTV show that played alternative music videos. The “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video came on and everyone just sort of stopped and stared. I think we rewound that tape six or seven times. It’s the first time I remember being in a group of people and everyone being agreement that we were witnessing something special.

I.B.S.: Had you heard of Nirvana before “Teen Spirit”?

MoSS? Todd: Other than searching for my own form of “sexual nirvana”, no.

MoSS? Chris: Manic Nirvana by Robert Plant. “Tie Dye on the Highway”!

I.B.S.: Favorite song?

MoSS? Chris: “In Bloom”

MoSS? Todd: “Lounge Act”

I.B.S.: Worst thing about the album?

MoSS? Todd: I fucking hate the lead- in to “Territorial Pissings.”

MoSS? Chris: It only had one follow-up album. 😦

Previous installments:















MoSS? Presents… The Undisputed Top Albums Ever, #30-21

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’ #30-21

(click play button below to sample these 10 albums)

30. Interpol, Antics

29. School of Seven Bells, Alpinisms

28. Vampire Weekend, Contra

27. Prince and the Revolution, Purple Rain

26. The White Stripes, Elephant

25. The Cure, The Head on the Door

24. Nirvana, In Utero

23. The Radio Dept., Pet Grief

22. Crystal Castles, Crystal Castles (a.k.a. II)

21. Pink Floyd, The Wall


#27: Prince & the Revolution, Purple Rain

cover for Purple RainCan you recite the opening lines of “Let’s Go Crazy”?

Of course you can. My co-worker Tom (the one who writes) prides himself on it. Every now and then we’ll talk about music and somehow, either through my prompt or his way of steering the conversation, he’ll rattle them off (often double-timing it just to show how awesome he is):

Dearly beloved
We are gathered here today to get through this thing called “life”
Electric word, life; that means forever and that’s a mighty long time
But I’m here to tell ya, there’s something else:
The afterworld
A world of neverending happiness
You can always see the sun
Or night
So when you call up that shrink in Beverly Hills
You know the one
Dr. Everything’ll Be All Right
Instead of asking him how much of your time is left
Ask him how much of your mind, baby
Cause in this life, things are much harder than the afterworld
This life…you’re on your own

(I realized after I typed that up that I didn’t use the letter “U” every time the word “you” is used. Or the numeral 2 instead of the word “to.” An oversight for which I have no apology.)

If John Lennon had been alive in 1984 and heard this opening track, he would have turned to Yoko and said, “Did you hear the way that guy in purple started off his new album? Much cooler than ‘I dig a pygmy by Charles Hawtrey and the Deaf-Aids! Phase one, in which Doris gets her oats,’ innit?”

“Let’s Go Crazy” is one of the three 45RPM records I have from Purple Rain; I didn’t even own the album in its entirety for probably two years after its release. I had a third of it already, along with the sweet b-sides like “Erotic City” (they say “fuck” on that one, Tipper!). I also had “When Doves Cry,” the song that occasionally prompts a re-enactment of the video in my office to the chagrin of my officemate. (I’ve got that crawling-across-the-floor move down.) And he might refute it now, but I clearly remember my dad coming downstairs while I was listening to my records and asking, “What Prince songs do you have?” I showed him Doves and Crazy, he frowned, then said, “So you don’t have the ‘Purple Rain’ song?” After my next trip to Pamida, I did. “Purple Rain”: kid tested, dad approved.

I really had no interest in getting the album as a whole until I heard about “Darling Nikki” and all its lyrical glory. Not from my friends or the older kids in the neighborhood or at school; no, I read a big article in the Des Moines Register about the PMRC and Tipper Gore and the attempts to keep the smut out of the hands of kids. All because Tipper heard the “masturbating with a magazine” line in “Nikki” and lost her shit. Before long, Washington wives were making a list of the “Filthy Fifteen” (which included “She Bop” by Cyndi Lauper*) and dudes like Dee Snider and Frank Zappa were testifying before Congress. But it was John Denver who put it best in his testimony: “That which is denied becomes that which is most desired, and that which is hidden becomes that which is most interesting. Consequently, a great deal of time and energy is spent trying to get at what is being kept from you.” Yep, as soon as I read about all of this nonsense, I couldn’t wait to get the whole album.

And it was a good thing, as I discovered a treasure trove of later singles that I hadn’t bought on 45 like “Take Me With U” and great album cuts like “Baby I’m A Star.” And much to Tipper’s disappointment, I never became a depraved sex fiend after hearing “Darling Nikki” and I didn’t join the occult after listening to Slayer and I didn’t kill myself after listening to Suicide and I didn’t kill any cops after listening to Body Count or Ice-T or N.W.A.

But I loved this Prince album. Still do.

(* – “She Bop” was flagged for masturbation references. Masturbation was the furthest thing from my mind whenever I heard/saw Cyndi Lauper.)

#22: Crystal Castles, II

album cover for Crystal Castles IITwo years ago, I came down with some strain of flu (avian, swine, whatever) and found myself lying listless for about a week straight. I was too tired to read, too woozy to get out and about…I couldn’t even play video games, which was a red flag that something was definitely wrong.

So how did I spend all that recovery time? Listening to an album with songs called “Fainting Spells,” “Suffocation,” “Violent Dreams,” and “Pap Smear.” And finding my favorite album of 2010 in the process.

The band that had the coolest 8-bit sound around, quite evident on the eponymous debut that came out two years previous, suddenly decided to take the tunes in a shoegaze direction (with an electronic twinge, of course). And it was beautiful. Songs like “Celestica” and “Suffocation” (despite the gloomy title) soared thanks to Alice Glass’ actual singing (!!!) and the keyboard chords created by Ethan Kath. No longer were these two relying solely on piercing, mutated screams and Donkey Kong samples to create art. (Although that was cool too.)

Whether it was the thumping beat and impassioned howls of “Baptism” or the shrewd use of a Sigur Ros sample in “Year of Silence” or the whirling whiplash of “Pap Smear” (I know, these aren’t the most appetizing titles, but the songs themselves aren’t 1/1000th as nauseating as songs bearing benign titles like “Moves Like Jagger” or whatever geeks like One Direction call their songs) or the brilliant use of Robert Smith vocals on “Not in Love.” For people yearning for the chaos of the first album, there are cuts like “Doe Deer” and “Fainting Spells.” “Intimate” provides the dance-floor crowd something to devour, and, um, weirdos everywhere could rally around the generally spaced-out “I Am Made of Chalk.”

There’s something sinister about each of these songs; sometimes it’s evident, sometimes not. Even the gorgeous “Celestica” has a dark side: the song was inspired by an incident at a Celestica plant (it’s a plastics company in Canada, apparently) where an employee fell into a boiling vat and died.

On that note, I hope you all catch swine flu and spend a week listening to this masterpiece.

Todd’s #30-21

(click play button below to sample these 10 albums)

30. Jane’s Addiction, Nothing’s Shocking

29. Arcade Fire, The Suburbs

28. Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti

27. Smashing Pumpkins, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

26. Prince and the Revolution, Parade

25. Beastie Boys, Check Your Head

24. Pixies, Trompe le Monde

23. The Shins, Chutes Too Narrow

22. The Flaming Lips, The Soft Bulletin

21. Depeche Mode, Violator


#26. Prince and the Revolution, Parade

This was the first Prince album that I ever got. Not to say it was the first I’d ever listened to. I had dubbed copies of other Prince albums from my older brother who was a big fan. Parade was the first one that I actually went to the store and picked out. My parents let my brother and me each pick out something from the music section at the local Target store. This was a rare occasion so I took a rather long time deliberating over many options. I believe at one point I had three tapes picked out and had the plastic security doohickeys around my wrist.

Remember those things? So many times I remember perusing the music bins of Musicland or Disc Jockey spinning one of those around my wrist as I looked. I sort of miss going to record stores. It made the album selection process more important. If you were going to leave the house, find a record store and then plop down the majority of your hard earned cash on an album, you wanted it to be good. Not just one or two songs good and the rest crap. Believe me, I bought a ton of those over the years.

I’m pretty sure my brother picked his tape right off. He chose INXS, Listen Like Thieves. (In itself a great album that I briefly considered putting on this list. Unfortunately, it did not meet all the strict requirements to make the final cut) Based upon his aggravated looks and comments, I’m sure my brother was getting pretty annoyed with me because I couldn’t make up my mind. Around my wrist I had:

Peter Gabriel, So. (Great album that made this list at #37)

Pet Shop Boys, Please (Good album but never considered for this list)

Prince and the Revolution, Parade (So incredibly good that it should be on everyone’s list)

Apparently, I was shopping exclusively in the P’s section of the store. After flip flopping on my decision for twenty minutes or so, my brother made the decision easy. He looked at my selections and said “It’s not that hard. That’s dumb (Peter Gabriel), that’s stupid (Pet Shop Boys), and that’s Prince. Put that other shit back and let’s go.” So that’s what I did. I just needed a little push in any direction. If he would have said Peter Gabriel was the better choice I probably would have taken that one home.

Prince turned out to be the right choice as I learned later. I ended up getting both of those other tapes at subsequent visits to the store. Parade got way more plays on my boombox. Is there a lesson here? Yes. Two lessons.

Lesson 1: Listen to your older siblings. They may seem like they’re being jerks sometimes but they are actually secretly looking out for you.

Lesson 2: “That’s dumb, that’s stupid, that’s Prince.” Words to live by.

#24. Pixies, Trompe le Monde

Back when I was in high school, I would spend my Sunday nights not going to bed early and preparing for a new week at school, but instead staying up late listening to a radio station broadcasting from the middle of a corn field near Muscatine, Iowa. Specifically, a show called “Off the Beaten Track.” They played all kinds of early alternative and college rock. I heard many of my all time favorite bands for the first time listening to that show. The DJs were Mary of the Heartland and some dude named Roberto. (Roberto will come into play in some of the upcoming album blurbs.) I used to put a fresh cassette tape in my radio/tape player/CD player and listen as long as I could until I fell asleep. The next day I would rewind the tape and listen to what I missed.

After the show, they would premiere a newly released record in its entirety. I could catch most of that on the same tape if I stayed up late enough to flip it over. It was a great way to get a new album for free if you had the time and a crap ton of blank tapes. On one of those nights, they played The Pixies, Trompe le Monde. It was the first Pixies album that I’d ever heard. From the start of the title track I was confused and blown away at the same time. Was it punk? Was it surfer rock? The next song “Planet of Sound” played more like a metal song with Black Francis’ screaming vocals. The next song, “Alec Eiffel”, went back to surfer-punk, well kind of, because they sneak in a keyboard part at the end. Then, they really confused me by throwing in a cover of The Jesus and Mary Chain song “Head On.”  They were all over the map and I loved it. And I didn’t even have to buy it!

I still have a weird reaction when I listen to the last song “The Navajo Know.”  My tape cut off right in the middle.

Upon construction
there is the Mohawk
his way of walking
quite high above the ground
fearless of looking down
some people say that

Years later, I bought Trompe le Monde on CD. For quite awhile, I would still expect the song to end at that point. It took me a long time not to anticipate the abrupt ending. At least I finally got to hear the last of the lyrics and learn “what some people say.”

some people say that…

the Navajo know
a way of walking
quite high above the ground
fearless of looking down
oh no.

Previous installments:








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Some content on this page was disabled on May 7, 2016 as a result of a DMCA takedown notice from PRS for Music. You can learn more about the DMCA here:

Memories of… “Deep Shag”

Few things can trigger a long lost memory like music. It can happen anywhere.  For me it usually happens in the car. The other day, I was driving to work and flipping channels on the satellite radio. I stopped on Lithium the 90’s alt-rock channel. They were playing a cool old song from the early 90’s that I had forgotten all about, Luscious Jackson’s “Deep Shag”.

I was quickly taken back to Fall 1994. I was driving around smoking Camel Lights and listening to Nine Inch Nails when I decided to stop off at a friends house for a bit. I pulled up to the house and noticed hanging out front was the same group of dopy 15 year old skateboarders I saw every time I stopped there. They always asked me for some smokes. I always answered back (usually with one dangling from my lip) “No, that shit will kill you”. They would grumble something back and that was the extent of our relationship. My vehicle had an alarm system but for some reason I didn’t turn it on. I must have thought my little buddies out front would keep an eye on things.

So I went into my friend’s place and we hung out for a couple of hours. When it was time to go I hopped in my car and drove off sensing something was amiss. Nine Inch Nails “Head Like a Hole” was still playing and I decided to change CDs in my super high tech Discman. On the floor of my car I had a small 10 CD case in which I kept my go-to music of the week. I reached for it and to my surprise there was no case! My heart skipped several beats. Back then the thing I valued the most in life was my music collection. I was 19 and had a crappy part time job. Replacing 10 CD’s would be next to impossible.

In a panic, I pulled over to calm down and search my vehicle. Easy Todd, maybe you just misplaced the CDs. Maybe you left them at home. After a quick search, I realized they were definitely gone. I had been burgled. This was a travesty! Who would do such a thing to me? I reached in the console between the seats for a delicious and calming Camel Light, but hey were gone too! Who would take my CDs and my smokes?………….Those little fuckers! Now I was more pissed knowing that I had been burned by that group of prepubescent criminals. I was sure they were laughing it up. Listening to my music and smoking my smokes. Bastards.

I drove back to see if I could find the little bastards but it was late and no one was around anymore. The next few times I went back over to my friend’s place I tried to find the culprits but I never saw them again and I didn’t have much proof even if I had found them.

The real problem came after the fact.  What do I do about replacing these CDs? As already referenced, I had a crappy part time gig and couldn’t afford to replace them all right away. There was also new music coming out all the time that needed purchasing. So I had to prioritize. I organized the lost CDs into tiers of importance.

Tier 1: You Fucking Assholes. I Love That CD and I Must Sell Blood, Semen or Organs to Get the Money to Replace It.

Smashing Pumpkins, Gish

Songs of note: Well, all of them, but “Bury Me” may be my favorite today.

Replacement Status: Repurchased 1 week after incident at full price. I have purchased this album in every available audio format over the years. Cassette, CD (twice) and digital download.


The Jesus and Mary Chain, Stoned and Dethroned

Song of note: “Sometimes Always”

Replacement Status: Repurchased 2 weeks after incident at full price.



Beastie Boys , Ill Communication

Songs of note: “Sure Shot”, “Root Down”

Replacement Status: Repurchased one month after incident at full price.



Tier 2: Awe man, that sucks. I’ll have to get that back when I get the chance.

Luscious Jackson, Natural Ingredients

Song of note: “Deep Shag”

Replacement Status: Not replaced yet. Will be scouring the inter-webs for a suitable torrent as soon as I am done with this post.



Weezer, The Blue Album

Songs of note: “Say it Ain’t So”, “Undone – The Sweater Song”

Replacement Status: Not replaced yet. Napster-ized a few of the key singles on this release but have not as of yet replaced.



The Sugarcubes, Stick Around for Joy

Songs of note: “Gold”, “Hit”.

Replacement Status: Repurchased summer of 1997 for $1 at CD Xchange. What a bargain!



Tier 3: You can have it. I won’t be buying that one twice.

Helmet, Betty

Song of note: “Milquetoast”

Replacement Status: A friend recommended it. Never liked it. Never considered replacing it.



Medicine, The Buried Life

Songs of note: “The Pink” ”She Knows Everything”

Replacement Status: Liked the record but never really considered replacing it. Also had other releases by Medicine to help fill the gap. Medicine is a bit different.  I wish I could have seen the look on those little assholes faces when they first heard this one.


Various Artists, DGC Rarities Vol. 1

Songs of note: Counting Crows, “Einstein on the Beach (For an Eggman)”  Nirvana, “Pay to Play”

Status: I Napstered the crap out of the Counting Crows song but the rest was of little interest to me. Never considered replacing.

I can’t believe it’s been nearly 20 years now since that Luscious Jackson CD was taken. I also can’t believe I had forgotten all about it until they played it on the radio.  Is there a moral here? Probably not. I did learn that you can’t trust a pack a 15 year old skateboarders unless you give them cigarettes upfront. And hey, things could have been worse.  They could have found the 3 cases of Milwaukee’s Best in the back seat.