Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time Dept. Forthwith, for no good reason, five albums that are at least occasionally cited as "classics" of rock and roll that have aged poorly (and skipping Dylan, who is just too fat a target).

5. Who's Next, Who. When you're 14, this sure seems like the perfect album. And it is . . . for 14-year-olds. But that's about it.

4. Legend, Bob Marley. Here's an idea: Take a lot of Marley's least confrontational, least funky stuff and sell it to white folks as the "definitive" collection. It worked on me when I was a callow youth. Then I heard African Herbsman, and I realized that Legend was Marley with his balls removed.

3. Surrealistic Pillow, Jefferson Airplane. Is there anyone who doesn't snicker at these lyrics now? These were people who said "groovy" and meant it. And the self-conscious heavyness of the music? You can't play this album with a straight face.

2. The Pretender, Jackson Browne. This was the moment when the California scene began to develop what turned into an astounding case of earnest, nosy self-righteousness. Acoustic fascism.

1. London Calling, Clash. Speaking of things political. Socialism had ground England's once mighty economy into dust, Thatcher had just been elected and was about to end the dole-subsidized defeatism and nationalized mediocrity, and a poseur named Joe Strummer, who was trying to hide his posh background behind co-opted working class anger, became a poet of "the people" with this great tantrum. I do, in fact, remember how bold this seemed, and it's still a true document of its day. But, nearly thirty years on, one wonders what sadist told them they had two discs worth of saleable material here.

1 comment:

Razor said...

I never thought Jackson Browne was a good idea....

As for Marley -- well put. No one remembers that the guy styled himself a revolutionary who sang about gaining freedom from colonial powers. Sure, he loved the ganja and happy times, but he was seriously pissed off underneath all that good cheer.

But try to tell that to a 19 year old wearing a Marley shirt with Bob holding a spliff....