1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, corrected.

After reading an article in the Times today noting it's been 40 years since Hendrix died and there's an onslaught of "new" and re-releases due to hit the market this year (including a Hendrix version of the "Rock Band" video game), I wanted to check out his discography. Hendrix only released three studio albums of material while he was alive- a fact that seems hard to believe, though in a recording career that lasted four years there was obviously much more recorded and posthumously released. To my mind, Hendrix is the only rock musician I would put on the same level of musical genius as Beethoven, Mozart, Ellington and Wagner. Sure, there are others who are truly great- too many to bother listing, but what Hendrix did has yet to be surpassed and his influence is equal to the musicians mentioned above. In looking at the track listings for each of the studio records I noticed all of the albums are included on a list called "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die." Something so grandiosely titled is just too tempting to pass up, so I clicked on over to the list. As a self-admitted music snob, I expected to be amused, validated, and perhaps find some fun things to quibble about to myself (as there isn't an online version where one can comment).
Now I'll be the first to admit within every genre of music I have friends possessing a deeper and richer knowledge of music than I. However, as a general music enthusiast I'll willingly go toe-to-toe with anyone who's never been employed by the music industry. This isn't bragging, really, but just confidence that I know what I'm talking about when it comes to certain things and music is one of them.
Lacking that depth, and the fact that with each passing decade my exposure to current popular music grows more and more limited as the music grows more and more varied, and precludes me from ever trying to compile such a list myself, it doesn't stop me from scoffing at one that is as ridiculous as this one.
To be fair, I'll give editor Robert Dimery his due for including some surprises deserving inclusion that could have easily been left off of a less ambitious list: the first Black Sabbath album, Maggot Brain by Funkadelic, records by Fela Kuti and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, early Kraftwerk, Sparks' Kimono My House and Malcom McLaren's Duck Rock to name a few that had me nodding in agreement. But in general, as I read the list in its chronological order, I kept saying to myself, "What? Really? I have to hear this before I die? I almost wish I never heard it the first time!"

Remember the title of the list. I didn't make it- the editor did- or whomever. That's pretty weighty stuff, wouldn't you agree? And to listen to 1001 albums is going to take some time, so they'd better be pretty damn good. Or at least of great cultural or musical significance. I think that's a reasonable criteria.

I don't want to split hairs with the large number of albums on the list by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, The Who, David Bowie or Bob Dylan. These artists evolved significantly over their careers and the albums listed were not only great, but often highly influential. But really- seven albums from Neil Young? At least four by Steely Dan? Four from the Kinks? Three by the Byrds? As much as I love Neil Young, his entire career can be summed up with Live Rust (which isn't even on the list). While I may want to listen to more of his work and he's a personal favorite, I wouldn't insist that anyone should consider Ragged Glory something their lives would be lesser for not having heard. I mean, that's what the title of the list implies, right?

Below are the inclusions, with some random comments, that made me think "WTF, this is the dumbest list ever," without focusing too much on the albums released during the 90's and 00's because I realize I fall outside the demographics defining those who are truly impacted by, and invested in, those artists and their albums. In many cases I'll list an album I believe should have been included on the list, or is at least much worthier of a listen before one dies than the one included and thus meriting my scornful derision. And know that it's really all for fun. Call this the list "The Top 30 goofs and gaffes that make the compilers of 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die look ridiculous for their efforts":
  1. One album each by Billie, Ella and Sarah Vaughn on a list that has two Rod Stewart albums but nothing by Patsy Cline, Etta James nor Rickie Lee Jones? Huh?
  2. THREE albums by Yes, which really is three too many.
  3. Two albums by Emerson, Lake and Palmer and neither one is Brain Salad Surgery, which doesn't deserve to be on such a list anyway. Pictures at an Exhibition? What on Earth for?
  4. Britney Spears is on the list. No Doubt isn't.
  5. Christina Aguilera is on the list. Shakira is not.
  6. There is one Kiss album and it's Destroyer.
  7. Frampton Comes Alive is on the list. Quadrophenia is not.
  8. Bad Co.? A serious WTF!
  9. FOUR albums by the Talking Heads, none after Remain in Light, when they did their most interesting work. Besides, David Byrne is an asshole.
  10. Dexy's Midnight Runners- not once, but twice? How does one catchy pop tune merit inclusion here when you've probably never heard Masters of Reality's Sunrise on the Sufferbus?
  11. Only one album by X and it's Wild Gift? Wrong. Fail. Where is Los Angeles or Under the Big Black Sun? Both are superior, as is More Fun in the New World.
  12. ABC's The Lexicon of Love and numerous albums by The Pet Shop Boys appear. Even Scritti Politti makes the list, but not Shriekback?
  13. The Go-Go's make it. There is no Joan Jett. But take heart, there are two albums by Hole.
  14. Aerosmith's Pump? Huh?
  15. How many Morrisey albums does one need to hear for a full musical experience during their lifetime?
  16. Both of Johnny Cash's prison recordings are on the list, but only the fourth American Recording? The first two were far superior, with CASH perhaps the best he ever made. Failure again.
  17. Not one Albert King record on the list. I guess his spot was taken by Supertramp's Crime of the Century.
  18. How can almost every REM, U2 and Elvis Costello album be on the list and there isn't a single Dead Can Dance album- I'm a particularly thinking of Toward the Within.
  19. Not one, but two each from Rush, Def Leppard and Deep Purple? Seriously? Why?
  20. No Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction, but there are albums by Neu!, Fred Neil, Pentangle, David Ackles, Faust, none of which I've ever heard of before and if the list were better I may be inspired to check them out but I can't help but be unconvinced any of their albums are better than Tattooed Beat Messiah, which really is an album everyone should hear at least once in their life.
  21. Why are there so many Elvis Costello records on this list? Costello has three or four good songs but I still think he's a racist ass, drunk or not. Besides, Joe Jackson doesn't have one album on the list and he's far more talented. Where the hell is Look Sharp!?
  22. How can bands like Can and Love be on this list yet there is not a single album from Be Bop Deluxe- especially Modern Music?
  23. There's crapload of metal/hard rock on this list that is dubious at best (see # 19) but nothing from Blue Oyster Cult. Huh?
  24. Sandinista! and Combat Rock are not on the list. I guess Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Haircut 100 got those spots.
  25. No Chuck Berry. Not one. Seriously? Did you guys grow up in Siberia?
  26. ELO's Out of this World and not A New World Record? You sniff glue, right?
  27. The first album by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers is great, but if you're only going to hear one Petty album during your lifetime it should be You're Gonna Get It, Damn the Torpedoes, or Full Moon Fever. Even better would be to take off all of those REM and Elvis Costello albums and replace them all with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.
  28. How is it that Queen Latifah is on the list and not Erik B. & Rakim?
  29. Where are Foreigner, Kansas, Styx, Toto and Asia? Just seeing if you're paying attention : )
  30. Seriously, The Monkees made the cut but Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons didn't? And Nenah Cherry?
  31. Bonus question, since #29 is a joke: No Luther Vandross? Seriously, my life would not have been the same without The Night I Fell in Love or Busy Body.

Okay, the comments section is wide open for your entertainment, rebuttals, inclusions and random witty barbs. Have at it!