Albums That Changed Everything versus Albums That You Can Still Listen To

Jaybird

Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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35 Responses

  1. Doctor Jay
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    Works of art that changed everything seldom seem as good 30 years later because, well, you’ve been living that change for 30 years now. I mean A New Hope is fun, but not eye-popping the way it was when I was 21, and standing in line an hour to see it.

    I’m not a Xer. I wasn’t that young when Nevermind came out, and I didn’t pay much attention at the time. It didn’t change my life.

    SO, when I finally started listening (because my daughter did), I came to recognize just how powerful Cobain’s singing (and playing) is. Just as Kashmir is a musical expression of anxiety, this music is depression and despair. That’s not stuff adults want to spend a lot of time around, but it doesn’t make it not brilliant.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Doctor Jay
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      Interesting. I’ve noticed that I rate Nirvana higher than I used to, too. Partly because I’m beginning to realize how many of the minor grunge songs I liked were theirs. But I also suspect that the sense of poignancy plays a role (as does my annoyance at Eddie Vedder).Report

    • John Puccio in reply to Doctor Jay
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      It had been years since I had heard “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” from Unplugged, recorded a few months before his suicide. You know what he’s singing about and who he’s singing it to – and the end of the song still strikes your spine like a bolt of lightning.

      I was in college for the entire short arc of grunge – Nevermind to Cobain’s death – so my emotional attachment to the music makes me biased, however, I do think most “rock” may sound dated simply because guitar driven rock is essentially dead.Report

    • oh-nevermind in reply to Doctor Jay
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      says:

      I’m with Doctor Jay on that one.Report

  2. dhex
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    says:

    pitchfork has always been ridiculous, so not surprised they’re keeping up appearances and trying to memory hole 20 year old reviews.

    i did lol @ chris, but bleach is good. nevermind holds up, though.

    music has the right to children by boards of canada is 23 years old and still sounds timeless as heck, despite the legions of imitators.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to dhex
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      says:

      Pitchfork’s ridiculousness is a very particular kind of ridiculous.

      I discovered Aesop Rock because of them. I roll my eyes at them a lot more often than I say “huh, I need that album” but I do say “I need that album” from time to time.Report

  3. Andrew Donaldson
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    says:

    Semi-Off topic but being a big Black Crows fans I’ve always wondered how many takes it took to get the cut shot of legendarily stoic (except when fighting with his brother Chris) Rich Robinson smiling ever-so-slightly at the 2:55 point.

    I’m completely with Jay here. Growing up in that time period, grunge hasn’t aged well as a whole, not as well as the “bad” music is replaced on the charts which was at least fun. There are certain works that wind up being timeless, and I think this illistrates the point well.Report

  4. Pinky
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    says:

    This isn’t an easy topic for me, because I still go through music phases (something I thought would stop in my mid-20’s). But I’ve never felt called back to Talking Heads or The Police’s early stuff, which I liked at the time.Report

  5. Marchmaine
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    says:

    Isn’t that Nirvana just a Foo Fighters origin story?

    Sorry, I skipped the 90s… in fact, as you note above, it reminded me too much of the 70s, but *not* in the good way.Report

  6. InMD
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    says:

    Interestingly I believe it was Dave Grohl who said that he only really understood that Nirvana had ‘made it’ when the Weird Al parody came out.Report

  7. Rufus F.
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    My problem with Smells Like Teen Spirit- and, look, I’ve had plenty of guitarists explain why I’m wrong here- is I can’t listening to those opening chords without jumping in with:

    Well a Louie Louie, Oh baby, we gotta go. Wah wah wah wah…Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to Rufus F.
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      says:

      But, as I was saying last night via email, for some reason, there was simultaneous hype about the anniversary of Nevermind and the anniversary of Appetite for Destruction, and so I listened to both all the way through in the record store, fully expecting the hair-heads to lose, but…

      The Guns’n’Roses album is pretty much solid all the way through, although I sort of joke that I liked them better when they were the New York Dolls.

      The Nirvana album has 2 or 3 strong songs and mostly filler.

      (And Louie Louie was a more punk song)Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Rufus F.
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        says:

        Yeah, I listened to Appetite the other day and, holy crap, you jump from awesome song to awesome song on there. Even the songs that I’m not particularly fond of (can’t abide “My Michelle”) are songs that I admit kick butt (but they’re not to my taste).

        Even Welcome to the Jungle doesn’t sound like a period piece. (Granted, “Sweet Child O’ Mine” does.)Report

        • Pinky in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          I’ve heard acoustic / folk / country versions of Sweet Child O’ Mine that are hauntingly beautiful.

          I think Guns N Roses doesn’t sound dated to me because Axl Rose’s vocal style is so peculiar. It doesn’t sound like something you’d hear in the 80’s or 90’s, or really anywhere but maybe the veterinarian’s office. Or maybe I’m just as dated as the songs I like.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Pinky
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            says:

            I still have mixed feelings about Chinese Democracy.

            It felt like something that made me think that I saw what he was failing to do.

            Not that I’ve listened to the album since it came out (though I have listened to the three songs that weren’t disappointments).Report

          • Kolohe in reply to Pinky
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            says:

            One of the singular features of Guns N’ Roses was having all the style and culture and trapings of the Hair Band era, but transcending that genre thru talent & artistic choices.Report

        • Rufus F. in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          I’ve heard the theory that Izzy Stradlin was a more important songwriter than people realize because he wasn’t as flashy as Slash or Axl, and there’s probably something to be said for that.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Rufus F.
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            says:

            When I heard that Izzy wrote (or co-wrote) Welcome to the Jungle, Paradise City, Mr. Brownstone, Sweet Child O’ Mine, and Patience.

            AMONG OTHERS!!!

            I thought “how in the hell did Axl let him get away?”

            And then I saw Axl in the wild.

            “Oh.”Report

  8. Jaybird
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    I submit: A 10/10 Album that you’re not likely to ever listen to again when given the opportunity is not a 10/10 Album.Report

  9. Kolohe
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    says:

    I want to say even at the time Black Crowes was regarded as something as a ‘throwback’, particularly with one of their big hits being the Too Hard to Handle cover.

    Though looking it up, that was from the previous album. Though again, Too Hard to Handle was indeed their breakthru hit single.Report

  10. Mike Schilling
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    says:

    Sergeant Pepper changes everything because rock had now caught up with classical music, and it was a single work, not just a collection of songs, and popular music had gotten beyond silly love songs, and lot of other things that weren’t remotely true.

    But you can still listen to it.Report

  11. Fish
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    says:

    Much like the spoon, when it comes to music it’s important to realize the truth: It is not the music that gets rescored. It is you.

    _Shake Your Money Maker_ is a great example of this. I bought that album because of “She Talks to Angels” and “Hard To Handle.” Both solid pieces, surely. As I’ve aged and “rescored” over the years “Hard To Handle” has fallen. The first five tracks on that album are all better songs. “Angels” still holds up, though.

    Mötley Crüe’s first (best) album, _Shout At the Devil_, is another one. I wanted that one for “Shout at the Devil” and “Looks That Kill.” Both rock-solid metal songs that still deserve to be cranked when they come on…but “Too Young To Fall In Love” is the real gem here (and their cover of “Helter Skelter” is a banger).

    Most everything in my music collection has a time and place (not you, Brett Michaels. Sit down). It all just depends on the mood I’m in or the vibe I’m trying to create. I even broke out the country playlist for a bit yesterday. And I’ll often find myself “rediscovering” music in my collection.

    I tend to agree with what Dave Grohl said here as well–if Weird Al is parodying you, you’ve made it.Report

  12. Chris
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    says:

    Coincidentally, earlier this year I went through Black Crows first few albums and was amazed at how good they still seem. At the time, I thought of them as a sort of guilty pleasure.

    I’m trying to think of other albums like that. Badmotorfinger, maybe.Report

  13. Burt Likko
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    says:

    90’s albums that both “changed everything” and you can still listen to today? Garbage’s eponymous first album “Garbage.” (Garbage “Version 2.0” is still amazing too.)Report

  14. oh-nevermind
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    says:

    I don’t feel like you do about Nirvana’s material at all. Classic, and still classic, forever classic. It hasn’t aged, in the same way that the Beatles haven’t aged.

    I don’t listen to it very often, because I’m not inclined to revisit albums I’ve already listened to hundreds of times. I’m always looking for new music.

    The music is fine. Its you who’ve changed.Report

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