The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has recently released its list of the â€śDefinitive 200 albumsâ€? of all time. Now of course with any list, there are going to be snubs and surprises. All Iâ€™ll say is that any list of albums that includes Journeyâ€™s Escape (#126) but doesnâ€™t include Blonde on Blonde is a little suspect. Check out the list and find the flaws.
More importantly, later in 2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 â€“ Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my best loved 30 albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. Iâ€™ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. So here goes.
1. Pretenders - Pretenders (1979)
Although this album was released in 1979, I really didnâ€™t hear it until 1981, however it came at a key point in my life. In 1981, popular music generally sucked and I was tired of the Journeys, Styx, and Bad Companys, etc., that ruled the airways. I had basically given up listening to what was popular at the time and was more interested in stuff from the 60â€™s. Then I heard Pretenders. For the first time I heard music that was really good but wasnâ€™t being played on the radio or talked about a whole lot in popular culture. Hearing this album opened my ears (and my eyes) to a whole (what was then) new subculture of cool, cool music.
The album kicks off with Precious and right from the beginning you know you are in for a thrill ride. Crissie Hynde's tough-chick-in-a-red-leather-jacket spin on the whole Madonna-Whore thing is evident throughout the album but this song just oozes sexuality. Remember this is 1981 (for me) and girls didnâ€™t sing in rock bands generally, and they sure as heck didnâ€™t say "Not me baby, I'm too precious...ah Fuck Off!" like Crissie Hynde does at the end of this song. Tattoed Love Boys and especially The Wait were also in-your-face, sexually-charged rockers. In fact The Wait still gives me goosebumps some 25 years later (although the single version is even rawer than the version found on the album).
The album wasnâ€™t just a rock fest as songs like Kid, Stop Your Sobbinâ€™ and Brass in Pocket were all pretty good songs at a slower tempo. Stop Your Sobbinâ€™ and Brass and Pocket were especially nice because the co-eds liked them too -- which is important when youâ€™re in college trying to impress the ladies with your record collection.
Musically this album is pretty advanced for a debut. James Honeyman-Scottâ€™s guitar work really anchors the album and his style is still being copied today but the star of the show was Crissie Hynde. She was tough and vulnerable: the kind of girl who could show you a thing or two in the bedroom, but also someone you could bring home to your mother on a Sunday afternoon.
This album saved me musically and without it Iâ€™d probably be into the Dave Mathews Band or be excited about the fact that Genesis is getting back together for a tour. For that reason it gets to be mentioned first in my list of my 30 best loved albums. Place on the Definitive 200: Not on the list.