This is the first post of several reviewing what Spin thinks should be the best albums of the last 20 years. And what I think about what they think. Brit pop is up first because that's where spin placed the #1 record. (boy was I surprised)
The top spot goes to Radiohead. 1997's OK Computer, according to Spin, is the best offering in the last 20 years. And they're not joking. They received another entry on the list with 2000's Kid A at #48. I have a slight problem with this. There are plenty other album much more deserving of #1, Why OK Computer? It's not a terrible album but definitely not as good as Kid A and far from their best. The song Karma Police was an aggravating single, like fingernails scratching a chalk board everytime it came over the radio. Howie Day did a much better rendition of the song acoustically, without the endless droning feedback. What Radiohead was trying to do on OK Computer was accomplished on Kid A and therefore Kid A deserves a higher ranking, however both albums feel overly ambitious and will prove vocalist Thom Yorke's need for therapy once the novelty wears off. Both are good, but not great, and neither compare to their first record.
The Smiths showed up at #5 with The Queen is Dead from 1988. Not as good as Louder than Bombs from a year earlier but still a worthy entry. The Smiths were an essential part of the 80's musical landscape. Along with The Cure, they made passionate laments that would have sounded like whining if done by any other band. Morressy's continued success post Smiths testifies to to the power of their music.
Next up is Oasis's 1994 offering Definitely Maybe at #28. Why Spin chose this instead of 1995's (What's the Story) Morning Glory defies logic. The latter of the two was the breakout album that gave the Gallagher brothers worldwide recognition. These two albums are the only ones in Oasis's history that mattered, Liam and Noel's constant fighting overshadowed their next album Be Here Now and every release since has been nothing but lackluster. While Definitely Maybe's songs are not as memorable as Morning Glory's, it did open the door to a flood of artists from the UK and renewed American interests in British music.
Pulp hit # 73 with 1995's Different Class. One of their better albums, though not their most popular. The band has been around forever, well since the late 70's, and they never seem to go away. Frontman Jarvis Cocker often dances that fine line between genius and insanity. I'm not much of a fan, but the do make great music.
Next up is Stone Rose's self titled 1989 debut at #78. Don't have a lot to say about them, their only lasting impact is the other bands they influenced, i.e. Charlatans UK, Oasis, Blur, etc. Those bands have achieved greater success and will have a more lasting impression, but owe part of their identity to Stone Roses.
After listening to the eclectic trip-hop band Gorillaz it is hard to imagine the groups creator Damon Albarn fronting a successful rock band, especially one like Blur. Blur's 1994 breakthough album Parklife, #87 of Spin's top 100, garnered moderate attention here in the states, but it was their 1997 album, Blur, that everyone began to take serious notice. By '97 inescapable tracks like Song 2 would take you by surprise and hit you over the head with a 2x4. Blur's punkish leanings were a brash contrast to the poppier tunes from their British peers. After that Blur got artsy and faded to obscurity. Now we have the indescribable Gorillaz.
Conershop finishes today's list the Brit pop from Spin's 100 best. This one truly puzzles me as they were nothing more than a one hit wonder, and not even a good one. If there was a need for a British one hit wonder, I would have gone with Space Monkey's Sugarcane, but I don't work for Spin. Brimful of Asha was the only single from 1997's When I was Born for the 7th Time (#98). The song did not make any sense, less when reading the lyrics. The rest of the album was equally confusing, sonicly bland and filled with eastern religion and reverse racial ideology. The only rational conclusion I can find to put this horrible album on the list of best albums from the last 20 years is that Spin was bored. You will find this to be an ongoing theme as I put out more posts. If Cornershop is the best we have to offer, we live in a sad world.
Tomorrow we will look at rock, or maybe punk. We'll see.