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33 1/3 Series


Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Albums of All Time


So we made it through December, and all of those year-end TOP lists. Yes, I know, I even mentioned one right here on this blog...

It's interesting to look at what someone in a position of authority has declared is the best of human creation for a given year.  They're invariably incomplete, but yet we're drawn to them.  When I look beyond what is omitted, I find so many things that I had completely missed (like Vampire Weekend's album last year, or Unknown Mortal Orchestra from the Paste list).

I've always had a conflicted relationship with these kinds of lists--and, more generally, popularity. Most times, when a piece of art (say, an album, movie, TV show, or novel) reaches a certain level of mass appeal, I defiantly push back and silently declare:

Well, just because it is very, very popular doesn't mean I'll like it. I have VERY sophisticated taste.

I actually do love Adele, in spite of the mass reversal of acclaim.  But you get my point.

And then, often many months later, I'll cave in and more often than not love it.

What's that all about?  I've shared this with friends, and have learned that I'm not the only one...Why do we do this?  Do you?

33 1/3 Series

For Christmas, my love gave me four books that I had asked for (all from the 33 1/3 Series):

    • Book 40: Court and Spark Joni Mitchell (1974) written by Sean Nelson
    • Book 42: Songs in the Key of Life Stevie Wonder (1976) written by Zeth Lundy
    • Book 51: Pink Moon Nick Drake (1972) written by Amanda Petrusich
    • Book 63: XO Elliott Smith (1998) written by Mathew Lemay

I finished Court and Spark the day after Christmas.  The book was so wonderfully written, and gave me so much perspective that I would have never achieved otherwise.

I am a huge Joni Mitchell fan.  Going back to my first semester at Berklee College of Music, my new friend Audie Metcalf foisted her admiration of Joni upon me.  She was dumbfounded that I wasn't familiar with Joni's work, especially the albums from her golden era:

So, being a good friend, I listened through them and Blue has remained one of my favorite records of all time (and the final track, "The Last Time I Saw Richard" remains one of my favorite songs of all time, though I can't explain why).  For some reason, I never really gave Court and Spark much of a listen until now...maybe in life we're just not ready for something, and just need to live a little more before we can really appreciate it.  Or maybe it's a testament to just how good these little books are, and how good this record is.  Either way, I've been listening to it non-stop ever since...

I started Book 42 "Songs in the Key of Life" last night, and half way through I am already appreciating another one of my all-time favorite records on a whole new level.

This inspired me to look at a definitive list of best albums of all time.  But where to turn?  Maybe it's not very imaginative on my part, but I landed on Rolling Stone's list, because, really, who is more of an authority on music since the dawn of Rock & Roll?

The Mission

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm working on recording my third album, "Held Momentarily".  To breathe continued inspiration into that process, and for further music education,  I've decided to work my way through the top 100 albums from this list during the next year.

I'll listen to two albums each week, listening at least 3 times through for each record, and then post my thoughts here on this ole blog.

I'll try to read a 33 1/3 book for any albums that have published books in the series.

First up:

100) Odyssey And Oracle - The Zombies

99) There's A Riot Goin' On - Sly & The Family Stone

I've never listened to either record before...ever.

I know.