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50 discs

by Rob Friesel

Dystopian Ethic poses one of those questions…:

…Suppose you were given 50 blank CDs by someone who had little to no knowledge of popular music, either comtemporarily or historically….

1) How would you divide up the 50 discs? By genre? By theme? By chronology? By influence?

2) What are your “Don’t tell anyone you don’t own Blonde on Blonde. It’s gonna be okay” albums? That is, regardless of genre, what are the 10 essential albums? What are the 10 albums someone absolutely, positively must own in order to understand life on this planet during the second half of the first decade of the 21st millennium? Please justify your answer with a brief response to each one.

re: #1:

Everyone knows this question is bullshit. There’s only one way to divide up music. And that’s by the format of its original release. Or maybe genre. Except genre is bullshit, too. Ever since they started crossing over drum-beating with chanting they paved the way for muddying all those waters. That leaves us with only one way to organize these tunes: chronologically, using influence as a segue from one track to the next. Only problem there is that now you need to set up a network of stereos to queue each other and then draw you back and around and up and back down the branches of this tree.

It makes the head spin.

re: #2:

  1. a disc-ful of Beethoven sonatas — piano
  2. The Clash “London Calling” — everything rock needed to be (then, now, and forever)
  3. The Smiths “The Smiths” — rock’s potential (anti-music cum music)
  4. Underworld “Second Toughest In The Infants” — tough call between this and “dubnobasswithmyheadman” but ultimately wins out due to its sheet hypnotic power — so stark and yet so complex and yet so simple and yet so epochal
  5. Miles Davis “Kind of Blue” — as if this needed an explanation; fucking genius
  6. KMFDM “Angst” — prime example of edgy industrial music while still being accessible enough for non-rivetheads to dive into it
  7. A Tribe Called Quest “Midnight Marauders” — some nice chill hip hop to get down to
  8. Pink Floyd “Wish You Were Here” — crucial prog rock that influences just about everything after it (and some would argue influences things before it); the proto-Mogwai album (“Dark Side of the Moon”, begone from my sight)
  9. Tricky “Maxinquaye” — heady [tr/h]ip hop beat-tastic goodness of the lyrically well-informed variety
  10. any Melt Banana 7″ — because no one else can fit 30 songs on a 7″ except for a small crew of psycho Japanese women

Oh, and to make sure I had one from the 21st millennium:

  • Shammalammaboblamatrizon and the Prevaricators “Lost In The Tender Crab Hole Nebula’s Vapor Emissions” — when you get to be 18,026 years old, you’ll understand why this is on here…

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night; weekend homebrewer. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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