NYCD: The Blog

Monday, February 20, 2006

WITH APOLOGIES TO WOMEN AND WANG CHUNG FANS

I'd always thought it was a girl thing.

Any time I'd ask a female born between 1970-75 what her favorite music was, the reply was always, more or less, the same -- new wave music from the '80s that was popular on MTV. Whether it was the mopeyness of the Smiths, the fluffiness of Duran Duran, the gothiness of Siouxsie & The Banshees, or the gothy-mopey-fluffiness of Depeche Mode and the Cure, it all registered to me as "music I liked when I was 14." I figured, condescendingly, that 1985 was the last time these women were really on top of what was happening in pop music, and that they cared less about it with each passing year, to the point where the occasional Sarah McLachlan CD and a box full of tapes they bought in high school was all they really needed in their music collection. Gals, I surmised, just aren't as geeky or obsessed about music as we fellas are, so their tastes calcify and they don't really want to expand their horizons.

Boy, was I wrong.

During a lull at the office the other day, the NYCD crew got a case of "High Fidelity-itis." All work was suspended as we agonizingly tried to figure out our 20 favorite albums of all time. A half hour later, we were done, and my preconceptions about the music tastes of females and males were shot to heck.

Of Sal's Top 20, no less than 13 were albums that came out, and which he bought, between the ages of 9 and 13. Virtually every album on Rob's list was released and made its way into his collection before he was 15. And my list? One album out of 20 which was released, and which I purchased, in my high school days. Not to mention 10 that came out before I was born. After asking a few other guys for their alltime faves, and getting similar answers, it became clear that this was not a gender-based thing. Damn near everyone seems to favor the music they grew up with. Except for me, the freak.

I thought back to the music I listened to in my formative pubescent years. ABC, Wang Chung, Kajagoogoo, Adam & The Ants... records that I still enjoy to this day, as long as I don't have to listen to them more than once a year. But nothing that could make me one day say to my grandchildren, "See, you little whippersnappers? Now THIS is music, not like that garbage you kids listen to nowadays."

Now, I'm not a big fan of glam, but I can sort of understand Sal's argument that Mott The Hoople have made two of the greatest records of all time. And psychedelic music doesn't turn me on, but the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane are definitely important bands in the history of rock, so Rob has nothing to be ashamed of. But the conclusion I came to was inescapable:

When I was 14, my taste in music kinda sucked.

It seemed like I was always slow on the uptake. When the Ramones and the Clash were conquering the world, I was rocking out to a 2 LP mail-order compilation of Elvis' movie themes. When Talking Heads put out "Remain In Light" and Elvis Costello released "Get Happy!!!" where was I? Buying "McCartney II,", that's where. And when my musical taste finally dovetailed with what was happening on the radio and MTV, I STILL missed the boat. I passed on R.E.M.'s "Murmur" and Hüsker Dü's "Zen Arcade" in favor of the Robert Hazard mini-LP (remember those?) Julian Lennon's "Valotte." It wasn't until years later that I got wise to all the great music that was out there, and how little of it was in my record collection.

So to all you women out there whom I've maligned for your supposedly lame taste in music, I apologize. Now let's break out those Dexy's Midnight Runners records and DANCE!

OUR TOP TWENTIES
(Printed in alphabetical order. You'll have to guess which picks belong to which NYCD-er, although you can be reasonably sure that if the artist wore a lot of makeup, it's Sal's; if they were tripping during the recording sessions, it's Rob's; and if it was recorded by someone wearing a jaunty fedora, it's Tony's.)

AEROSMITH - Rocks
HERB ALPERT & THE TIJUANA BRASS - Sounds Like
THE BAND - The Band
BEASTIE BOYS - Paul's Boutique
BEATLES - The Beatles (White Album)
BEATLES - A Hard Day's Night
BEATLES - Revolver (chosen by all three of us, so it MUST be great)
BIG BROTHER & THE HOLDING COMPANY - Cheap Thrills
BLUE CHEER - Outside Inside
BLUES PROJECT - Projections
DAVID BOWIE - Hunky Dory
DAVID BOWIE - Station To Station
JAMES BROWN - Love Power Peace: Live In Paris 1971
CHARLATANS - Charlatans
THE CLASH - The Clash (U.S. version)
ELVIS COSTELLO - Get Happy!!!
ELVIS COSTELLO - This Year's Model
COUNTRY JOE & THE FISH - Electric Music For Mind & Body
BOB DYLAN - Blood On The Tracks
BOB DYLAN - Bringing It All Back Home (chosen by two of us)
BOB DYLAN - Desire
STAN GETZ/CHARLIE BYRD - Jazz Samba
GRATEFUL DEAD - Live Dead
BUDDY GRECO - I Like It Swinging***
JIMI HENDRIX - Axis: Bold As Love
DAN HICKS - Where's The Money
INCREDIBLE STRING BAND - Wee Tam
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE - After Bathing At Baxter's
LED ZEPPELIN - I
LED ZEPPELIN - Houses Of The Holy
LED ZEPPELIN - Physical Graffiti
LOVE - Da Capo
LOVIN' SPOONFUL - Do You Believe In Magic
BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS - Catch A Fire
MOTT THE HOOPLE - All The Young Dudes
MOTT THE HOOPLE - Mott
PINK FLOYD - Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
QUEEN - Queen II
QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE - Shady Grove
R.E.M. - Lifes Rich Pageant
RAMONES - Ramones
ROLLING STONES - Between The Buttons
ROLLING STONES - Exile On Main St. (chosen by two of us)
ROLLING STONES - Let It Bleed
ROXY MUSIC - Siren
TODD RUNDGREN - Something/Anything
FRANK SINATRA - A Swingin' Affair
FRANK SINATRA - Sings For Only The Lonely
SLY & THE FAMILY STONE - Greatest Hits*
SMALL FACES - Ogden's Nut Gone Flake
TALKING HEADS - Remain In Light
VARIOUS ARTISTS - Nuggets**
THE WHO - Sell Out
ZOMBIES - Odessey & Oracle (chosen by two of us)

* Some people may see greatest hits albums as "cheating," but Sly's hits album came out in 1970, when all these songs were still pretty new, so it's not like some sort of historical anthology. And it flows as organically as any of his "real" albums.

** Compilations can also be considered "cheating," but the original 2 LP "Nuggets" is such an entity unto itself, and such an important album in the history of rock in its own right, that it's the exception to the rule.

*** Screw all you naysayers. Buddy Greco's a top man.

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