Wednesday, January 4, 2012


A couple years ago I received the book "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die" from the CNIB. I began going through the tome and compiling a list of all the albums I hadn't heard before. It came on two cds and I accidentally sent the second cd back without listening to it. Thus, I found the remainder of the list online and copied and pasted it into the file where I'd been making up the list.

There were about a hundred albums I had heard previous to receiving the book. I also cheated a bit. I looked up most of the songs on the two CCR albums on YouTube since I figured I'd heard more than enough CCR in my lifetime to know most of those songs anyway. I also did the same thing for Willie Nelson's "Redheaded Stranger" and the Emie Lou Harris album listed.

I also removed Britney Spears "Baby One More Time" since I really did not want to listen to that garbage. Besides, I looked up the track listing on the internet and realized it was basically like my sister's Backstreet Boys albums I had listened to because she gave them to me to tape over. The singles comprise the first five tracks. Most of the remaining tracks are basically worse versions of the singles and the cd ends with a lame cover of a really popular song. Personally, the only reason "Baby One More Time" should even be on that list is to show how the record industry was screwing up the concept of what albums are supposed to be and causing the album as a medium of expression to decline.

I also removed a Marilyn Manson album and an album entitled "Devotional Songs" unlistened to because as a Christian I didn't want to listen to them.

After removing all the albums I had heard before, the challenge was how was I going to listen to all the remaining titles? I would be broke if I bought all of them. I called my local library and asked if they had albums available to borrow as well as books. They had a few that were on my list, but not very many.

Recently, I came into a large collection of music. I have been able to get more albums checked off the list.

I have decided to cheat with regards to one album. On the list I found online, The Libertines self-titled album is listed. Whoever compiled the list says it was their first album. However, the album is in the part of the list featuring albums from 2004 so it must be the band's second album, which was self-titled. I only have their actual first album "Up The Bracket." Thus, I am going to substitute "Up The Bracket" for the self-titled album as an album I should hear before I die. I feel a little bit dirty about doing this, but for one thing, the album is not listed in the revised list on the official site of this book series. For another, if The Libertines spearheaded the garage rock revival in the UK, then it seems their 2002 debut would be more significant to the history of the album era than their second efert.

That brings me to what I see as the purpose for this book and this list. A lot of people, and judging by the revised list some of the contributors, think such a list should be made up of the coolest albums ever released. However, the way I see it is this series is about things to do before you die. That includes visiting the world's great travel destinations, trying exotic food and becoming familiar with the great works of literature and classical music.

Thus, the goal in the 1001 albums is to become familiar with the music of what I'll call "the album era."

Therefore, I don't agree with revising the list. First, we don't know what recent albums will prove significant decades from now. Second, the album has been in a decline in popularity over the past six years.

The White Stripes "Get Behind Me Satan" was the last album that really generated a lot of buzz as far as physical sales are concerned. In 2006, downloading really started to eclipse physical sales. Even though people still download albums, it seems like they experience them peacemeal, listening to a few songs, going off and doing something, coming back and listening to a few more songs, etc. Thus, I would advise people to stick with the first list, from Frank Sinatra "In The Wee Small Hours" to the aforementioned White Stripes album.

This post is getting long so I will end here, which as any experienced reader of blogs knows means there are a few more lines coming yet.

In part two of this post, I will talk about the 1001 series in general. In another post, I will write about the list as a narrative summation, rather than a reference book.

Click the link above to visit the official website of the 1001 series.

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