Space Awesome Playlists, Judges’ Awards and Lists O’Plenty: The Road Trip! Thursday Night Bar Fight Results


Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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71 Responses

  1. Avatar Kazzy says:

    I largely stayed on the sidelines for this one because I am largely a music spaz. See, I actually WOULD enjoy Styx on a road trip, which apparently means you and I will never ride in a car together.

    I did notice the dearth of hip-hop and Motown, something I considered commenting on but realized might have undermined the effort, since it would have been baked into a broader comment on the relative “whiteness” and “maleness” of the list… not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing… just a thing. I was surprised that I saw no love for MJ in the comments I read nor in the “snub list”, though it’s very possible that he did get a nominating but failed to garner much support, an acceptable premise given that his music isn’t necessarily road-trip worthy.

    Ultimately, this was more of a learning opportunity for me. Many of the final choices are albums or artists with which I have no or just a passing familiarity with and whom I intend to listen to in the coming days.

    Kudos to Tod for not only an awesome idea but an awesome recap. A job well done, sir.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Kazzy says:

      MJ did get one nomination: Thriller. (UNless you meant Michael Jordan, in which case you are correct.)Report

    • Avatar Roger in reply to Kazzy says:

      So few of the Motown albums were consistent. They were more along the lines of the two hits and filler model. The critics exception to this would of course be Marvin Gaye’s What’s Goin’ On, but this is one of those albums which is surprisingly uninfectious.

      Stevie Wonder is the one ex Motown artist who rose beyond this. Songs in th Key of Life or Innervisions should both have been in consideration. Amazing albums.

      Prince should be near the top with Purple Rain, and MJ for Bad and Thriller. Eryka Badu’s early stuff was great too.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Roger says:

        That came from economics and wasn’t restricted to Motown. People would buy albums for the singles they liked. There was no point spending time, effort, or composer royalties on the other songs. You saw this in particular with the B-sides of singles, which were either public domain songs or written by the producer, to earn him some additional money as royalties. The biggest thing to change this was artists who wrote their own material.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Kazzy says:

      Not one album on there that ain’t.

      And about two got even nominated (will have to check to see if Murali recced anything)Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to Kim says:

        I almost added the same thing as a final paragraph. These are all artists that white audiences love. Same is true for Bob Marley. He always struggled with finding a non white audience in America (though not so in Africa). The other artist of color I wish was reflected her was Tracy Chapman. Another artist white audiences love.Report

  2. Avatar Russell M says:

    May i just say I loves the Bar fights here. less cut glass, more awesome class.

    Good Idea on the bar fights Tod.Report

  3. Avatar Roger says:

    Great summary to the best bar fight yet. Thanks Tod.

    In hindsight, how did we leave off Prince, Sinatra and The Pretenders?

    I wanted to up vote several of your “how did we forget these” choices.

    The most interesting thing though is how much better the final list is than I would have ever expected. I’d love to listen to these ten albums ( though I haven’t actually heard the Johnny Cash, I certainly want to hear it).

    The one exception is Bitches Brew. I love jazz and I love Miles (I probably own more Miles than any other artist, with Phish a close second). However, I have never been able to get into this album at all, despite being on my mp3 player continuously since I got one. It is quite possibly the most skipped album on my list. I would also say this is an album that non jazz lovers, if there are any in the car, are going to want to crawl out the window to escape.

    That said, I am going to put it on the stereo and give it another try. Maybe it is my equivalent of JBs DarkSoftMoon.Report

    • Avatar Roger in reply to Roger says:


      Best popular song ever recorded since the advent of music…the Cowboy Junkies cover of I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry on the Trinity Sessions.

      I do almost cry every time I hear this song.Report

  4. Avatar Will H. says:

    I’m thinking that if you would have worked mayonnaise into that post somehow, you could have easily got over 1500 comments.

    Cool post though.Report

  5. Well, I’m super-delighted that “Graceland” got unambiguous top honors, but not in the slightest bit surprised.

    Bummer that “Cosmic Thing” didn’t make the cut. In the hypothetical back seat of the car to Leaguefest, I will hum “Deadbeat Club” quietly to myself while some of my less favored of the winning albums play. And I can console myself that “Flood” made it.

    I am also happy to gripe about my asshole ex-boyfriends during any album selected at the request of other passengers.

    Thanks for doing this, Tod. It kicked some serious ass.Report

  6. Avatar Glyph says:

    I realized they were missing/tried to rescue the VU, but maybe Tod disallowed me swapping out one of my choices or I was too late? Guess it didn’t matter anyway, nobody seconded it…

    At least 4 of the artists on the “meh” list (Sleater-Kinney, Bjork, My Bloody Valentine, and Nick Drake) are IMO easily the equals or betters of anybody on the list; what’s FAR more depressing is that *I* downvoted two of them, and expressed reservations about MBV’s fitness, because I was attempting to accommodate my fellow passengers’ tastes and comfort.

    What this perversely teaches me is that attempts to compromise or water things down for the masses is a total fool’s game. I sold out to The Man, and now I have to listen to TMBG God knows how many times (I mean, seriously, people…TMBG is fun once in a while, but somebody’s getting an IBC bottle over the head somewhere around the 37th spin).Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

      Also, I feared the vote-splitting by album would knock the Stones out of contention, definitely disappointed about that effect (and to a lesser degree on Who, U2, and Talking Heads).

      Still, this effect did save us from BRUUUUUUUUUUCE!!! so it’s not all bad.Report

    • Avatar Russell Saunders in reply to Glyph says:

      Since I’m a TMBG partisan, hopefully my cranium would survive the blow to my noggin.

      And I meant to make note in my comment above that the Nick Drake consensus seemed to be that “Pink Moon” is a fantastic album, just not for a road trip. (I still disagree, of course. If you’re wanting a good palate cleanser after “Flood,” I think he’d be perfect. But, oh well.)Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Russell Saunders says:

        I had the s/t TMBG and Lincoln both on cassette (I never owned Flood, but didn’t need to, everyone had that one). I don’t hate TMBG by any stretch. But they are definitely a once-in-a-while thing for me. Being 1/10th of my musical diet sounds iffy.Report

  7. Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

    Maybe my nomination was disqualified for some reason, but when I look back at the thread I see:

    – 3 pts: JHG nominating only one album: 1959 film soundtrack of Porgy and Bess
    – Patrick Cahalan comments “That’s a great pick.” Not sure if this counts as an upvote.
    – Maribou upvotes
    – James Hanley upvotes
    – no downvotes

    So, that comes to either 5 or 6 votes for Porgy and Bess. However, it isn’t mentioned in the awards list. Alas.Report

  8. Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

    Both “Purple Rain” and “Heartbeat City” (Prince / The Cars) were 11 and 12 on my submissions list.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

      Oh, it’s Martyn Joseph, not Martyn Johnson.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

        And, hey, Los Lobos wasn’t snubbed! I had Kiko on my list.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

          But yeah, great work, T-bone. We’re going to have to have another bar fight with just a list of songs.

          “You need a 3 hour playlist for driving. You must state the circumstances of your drive; daytime, nighttime, working A/C, driving along a coast/through the desert/to a specific destination, etc.”Report

          • Avatar bluefoot in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

            I was just thinking this – it would interesting to see how the lists would change if one further specified the parameters of the road trip.

            The winning lists are excellent, though. (I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to particpate.) Albums that are great for driving/road trips aren’t necessarily the same as great albums to listen to in other contexts. e.g. Rush is excellent road trip music, but not something I’d normally put on at home.

            Also +1 for the Porcupine Tree mention.Report

  9. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    I had a long drive today to get to where some out-of-town depositions are planned for the next couple of days. So I actually had a road trip. On my drive here, I listened only to those albums I liked but got downvoted in the forum, like Adele’s 21 in honor of Michele, and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon in honor of Jaybird, and the Beatles’ Rubber Soul in honor of Prof. Hanley.

    (I kid, because I’m a kidder. In reality, I listened to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, Eric Clapton’s Just One Night and some Teaching Company lectures on global warming.)Report

  10. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    Ah, crap! This is what happens when I’m offline for too long- I miss these things! So, I can only assume that there was some sort of problem with picking a David Bowie album because so many of them are so great and that’s why he’s not on the list? Also, was there some sort of clause about not picking Raw Power because the mix is kind of weird and it’s too obvious a choice for a road trip? I like the picks though!Report

  11. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    The “What The Hell Is Wrong With You People?” Award

    The Grand Illusion, Styx

    Sweet! I won an award!Report

  12. Avatar Chris says:

    Tod, impressive job, putting all of this together. And I don’t say this because I got a Judges Circle Award. Well, maybe partly because of that.Report

  13. Avatar Sam says:

    1. I can’t believe the Fugees didn’t do better.
    2. I can’t believe some of the albums I forgot about – DJ Shadow’s “Endtroducing” for example.
    3. I believe I was the first to have nominated Graceland. What do I win?Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Sam says:

      I love the Fugees, I love Wyclef, and I love Lauryn Hill; I saw the Fugees live a couple times (Smokin’ Grooves Tour, anyone?), and saw Wyclef just last week, but while I think the Fugees had two great albums, there are probably a couple dozen hip hop albums I’d place in front of them, including The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (which I still listen to somewhat regularly, while I haven’t listened to either Fugees album as a whole in years).

      I think the post showed that hip hop is not one of the more popular musical genres here, even if we do have some fans, so that probably didn’t help either.

      Also, my girlfriend and I, while recovering from 5 days of way too much music, and assessing how much hearing loss we’d suffered, decided that Super Fly is probably the best road trip album of all time.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Sam says:

      I debated Entroducing, but it felt more like “home listening” than “road trip listening” to me.

      Could be associations, or maybe I just like singing in the car.Report

  14. Avatar Sam says:

    You should give The Score another shot. It’s an incredible achievement. It might suffer though because of that insane thing where hip-hop albums inexplicably require skits.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Sam says:

      Heh… I have to admit the (incredibly politically incorrect) Chinese restaurant skit still cracks me up. I can’t remember if it’s a separate track on the album, but Pandora always plays it with “The Beast.”Report

      • Avatar Sam in reply to Chris says:

        My apologies for not appropriately nesting this comment. I am an idiot.

        The album itself is very odd; there are sometimes remixes at the end, remixes that nobody anywhere asked for. It seems to me that if you dropped the skits and the remixes, you’d have an incredible thing leftover; it’s still pretty damned good though. The Fugees burned so brightly so briefly.Report

        • Avatar Chris in reply to Sam says:

          Oh I agree with you 100%. It just wouldn’t be my first pick for hip hop albums, for a road trip or any other list. I picked Illimatic for my list, because I genuinely think it’s the best hip hop album ever, and I can listen to it over and over and over almost 20 years after its release. But I thought about going with Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are Black Star, Eric B. & Rakim Paid in Full, Notorious B.I.G. Ready to Die, the aformentioned The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, or either The Low End Theory or Midnight Marauders.Report

          • Avatar Glyph in reply to Chris says:

            Paid In Full is the only EB & R I have (it is, in fact, fantastic). Are their other records worth looking into, and if so which ones would you recommend next?Report

            • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

              Oh yeah, and that Black Star album is good.Report

            • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph says:

              Follow the Leader is a lot like Paid in Full. It’s good, but it’s not great, as Paid in Full undeniably is. Then they take a somewhat different, darker turn with Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em and Don’t Sweat the Technique. I really like them both, but if I had to pick one I’d pick Don’t Sweat. From Eric B. and Rakim’s darker turn, you can move on to Gang Starr and Wu Tang.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Chris says:

                I have Full Clip, 36 Chambers and Cuban Linx for GS and W-TC.

                Maybe I’ll just go chronological and get Leader next. Reviews look pretty unanimous on that one.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

                Oh, and I saw Ghostface Killah this weekend! It was an awesome experience, because Wu Tang played a big roll in my hip hop education.

                Not that anyone asked, but as a festival that’s accurately been criticized in the past as being waaaaay to white, SXSW really brought the hip hop this year. Kendrick Lamar was everywhere, Snoop Lion (heh) was here, Ghostface Killah, Talib Kweli, and a bunch of others to go along with the up and comers who SXSW is really supposed to be about.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Chris says:

                I hope you did not try to fish with him. I have it on good authority that the Clan ain’t nothin’ ta fish wit.Report

  15. Avatar Roger says:

    Looking over the list one more time, I think we are still missing an artist who belongs on any and every road trip.

    There is only one artist who is in HEAVY rotation in the play lists of alt rock, classic rock and R&B stations. That person is Bob Marley. I hereby nominate replacing the unlistenable travesty of jazz fusion gone wrong known as Bitches Brew with any album by Bob. Exodus would be fine, though Burnin’ was IMO the most groundbreaking.

    If anybody doubts my logic, I have a challenge. Bring Bitches Brew and your favorite Bob Marley and The Wailers album on your trip to Chicago this June. If anyone prefers the Miles, I will buy them a drink.Report

  16. Avatar Pinky says:

    See that? My rescued comment was about how both Springsteen and Beethoven are vote-splitters. And who are number 1 and 2 on the vote-split list?Report

  17. Avatar zic says:

    I’m grateful that you rescued my response to Burt on Jazz.

    I think improvisational music is a different art form from composed/rehearsed music. I’ve so often been privileged to sit in a room as competent players got a lead sheet for the first time, or just jammed, and took me on a journey. This has nothing to do with playing a well-rehearsed or hyper-arranged composition; it’s the difference between performing Shakespeare and performing live improv on SCTV. Both are fine in their own right, but they not the same thing.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to zic says:

      Kanon und Novelette, from the album I recommended — it’s a composer’s duet. Check it out, I think you’d like it. (It also features impossible to play violin riffs, and is complicated enough that it literally needs to be compiled).Report

  18. Avatar NoPublic says:

    I humbly accept the The Eternal Gratitude Award(s) for Rory and June (and if you like her stuff with the Oyster Band, her solo work and her collab with Maddie Prior may also interest you. Maddie’s got some chops too come to think of it, I’m surprised I didn’t end up with one of her albums in my list).Report

  19. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    One of the problems with music in the car is dealing with the dynamic range. Especially for classical music, I used to find myself constantly fiddling with the volume control: turning up the soft passages so they could be heard over the road noise and turning down the loud passages to keep my ears happy (as I’ve gotten older, my ears have become less and less fond of loud noises of any sort). For the last several years, I’ve taken to ripping my CDs and running them through SoX to compress the dynamic range, then burning the result on a copy to keep in the car.

    Is this cheating?Report

  20. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    Sort of the opposite of selecting records for a road trip… I make an annual drive across the Great Plains from Denver to Omaha and back to spend part of a week at my Mom’s doing handyman things. One year I decided that I would spend the two driving days listening to whatever I could get on the radio. The oddest part was the hour or so that I spent in western Nebraska listening to one station that played — and there’s really no other way to describe it — late-60s and early-70s “druggie” music for as long as I could pick up the signal.

    I’ve spent most of my life around the edges of the Great Plains, and it still seems really strange to hit the “seek” button on the radio and have it skip over more than a third of the band.Report

  21. Avatar dexter says:

    Tod, Thanks for all the work. The music bar fight was a great idea and I’m sure took a fair amount of time. I don’t dislike any of the top ten and about six of them could be in my everchanging top ten. Plus there was the added bonus of hearing about groups that are new to this old guy.Report

  22. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    So glad you liked the Wailin’ Jennies!

    I was going to nominate an Ella Fitzgerald album, but then I realized all the ones I have song from are ‘Greatest Hits’ compilations.

    Don’t remember why I left off Simon & Garfunkel’s Concert in Central Park – I think it’s because Graceland already had so many votes, no reason to split things, and I wasn’t sure whether recordings of life performances counted as ‘greatest hits’.

    It was a really fun thread, thanks!Report