By user12609677 on Jun 20, 2005
My web surfing tonight has gotten me to revisit a previous blog entry. Spin Magazine just came out with their top 100 album list from the last 20 years. They selected PE's 2nd album from 1988 "It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back" as number 2 on the list - quite an achievement given the competition over the last 17 years.
I found Spin's take on the "freshness" of the album interesting and deserving of a little commentary from the cheap seats.
Each album on the list finds a sweet spot between artistic brilliance, stylistic innovation, and cultural relevance. You could listen to the Smiths' The Queen Is Dead hiding under a pillow fort in your bedroom (as Morrissey would no doubt prefer), or it could blow your mind in a crowded bar. Why? Because it pushes a unique vision from the margins to the mainstream (or the margins of the mainstream), reshaping both. Until someone new (a Wu-Tang Clan or White Stripes) emerges to redraw the margins all over again. These records tell us something different with every listen; even at their tiniest, they make private epiphanies feel like public events.
This explains why we picked Radiohead's OK Computer as our No. 1 album over Nirvana's Nevermind and Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. Between Thom Yorke's orange-alert worldview and the band's meld of epic guitar rock and electronic glitch, it not only forcast a decade of music but uncannily predicted our global culture of communal distress. Nevermind and Nation of Millions, while changing their moments irrevocably, seem less open-ended now, a little more "resolved."
Resolved? Maybe on the surface to the untrained or uncaring eye but peak under the covers and the issues mentioned on the album are still with us today. I won't dive into this complex problem here - one only has to look for 5 seconds to know things are far from resolved - but rest assured just looking at this one arena there isn't a large segment of black people in this industry (in leadership or as individual contributors) and it's an issue that has got to change for the better as we make our way through the 21st century.
In any case here's the top 10 from Spin's list:
- Radiohead - OK Computer
- Public Enemy - It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back
- Nirvana - Nevermind
- Pavement - Slanted And Enchanted
- The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead
- Pixies - Surfer Rosa
- De La Soul - 3 Feet High And Rising
- Prince - Sign O' The Times
- PJ Harvey - Rid Of Me
- NWA - Straight Outta Compton