Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pope Pop

There must be some classic rock fan at the Vatican. Their paper, L’ Osservatore Romano, published a guide to the top ten rock and pop albums of all time.

The choices: The Beatles' Revolver (at the top), Pink Floyd's The Dark Side Of The Moon, Oasis' (What's the Story) Morning Glory?, Michael Jackson's Thriller, U2's Achtung Baby, Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, Donald Fagen's The Nightfly, Carlos Santana's Supernatural, Paul Simon's Graceland and David Crosby's If I Could Only Remember My Name.

They say they left out Dylan because he paved the way for so many bad singer-songwriters.

A few comments. First, these are the usual suspects. Mostly pretty good stuff, but generally not too adventurous. Eight of these albums are blockbusters, sales-wise.

Looking at the particular choices, though, there are some surprising picks. For instance, Revolver. I guess it's finally replaced Sgt. Pepper as The Beatles' go-to album.

Then there's Oasis, whose inclusion may seem weird to Americans, but they're huge overseas--almost the second coming of The Beatles.

If they were going to pick anything from U2 (and they didn't need to), I'm glad they chose Achtung Baby. The band had been getting grander and more boring for a while (and they started out fairly boring), and Achtung Baby was them simplifying their sound, while letting their hair down a bit.

The oddest choice may be The Nightfly. It's certainly a fine album, and a rare concept piece that holds together. But it's not really that well known--if you're gonna go with Fagen, why not pick some Steely Dan?

Graceland was the Paul Simon solo album that made the most waves, but still, maybe a bit odd they chose it over Simon and Garfunkel.

Finally, the Crosby album. Huh? I mean, no CSNY on the list, fine with me, but if you're going to pick something from someone in the group, what's wrong with Neil Young?

Anyway, the Vatican's finally caught up to the 70s and 80s, but we might need another generation before they start picking hip-hop or punk (though would it be too much to ask for Nevermind.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does the Vatican feel about all the accompanying marijuana?

9:15 AM, February 18, 2010  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

The first thing that I always feel about such media coverage is, "Oh, no, the media will again treat the newspaper of Vatican City as an official pronouncement of the Catholic Church." Thus the WSJ says that "The Vatican has previously denounced rock music as the devil’s work" but now "the Vatican" is endorsing this music.

I bet the person who is most annoyed by this is the music critic for the Salt Lake Tribune. When he reviews an album, the Wall Street Journal never says "the Mormons have endorsed the new U2 album".

On the merits -- Joshua Tree is clearly the pinnacle of U2. Revolver is groundbreaking, and set the stage for the later Beatles (which of course I prefer to the earlier Beatles, unlike LA Guy), but it's difficult to argue that it really succeeds as an album. It's more like a rough draft. Thriller, Rumours, and Dark Side were obvious picks, and probably necessary -- a top ten list has to have at least a few obvious choices or no one will pay attention to it. The Crosby choice is absurd by any measure, as LA Guy points out.

12:07 PM, February 18, 2010  
Blogger LAGuy said...

U2 said Achtung Baby was the sound of four men chopping down a Joshua Tree, and that's a good thing. The change probably saved their careers.

Revolver is about as good as any album. This list isn't the first to place it above Sgt. Pepper--in fact, my point is by the time it makes it to this particular journal, it must be conventional wisdom. Revolver was groundbreaking, but so was almost every Beatles album. Their first officially "groundbreaking" album pointing the way to a new "maturity" was Rubber Soul, by the way. Perhaps Revolver doesn't succeed as an album, but it succeeds as a collection of great songs, which is better.

12:38 PM, February 18, 2010  
Blogger New England Guy said...

No "Imagine"?

1:27 PM, February 18, 2010  

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