The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in conjunction with (scoff, scoff) the National Association of Recording Merchandisers, released its list of the definitive 200 albums this week. You've got to admire their chutzpah -- there's little attempt to hide that this list is little more than a marketing tool. Aside from reminding you that the list consists of the top 200 albums "everyone should own" and imploring you to "complete your collection!" the official Web page has a link detailing the "participating retailers." In Variety, NARM president Jim Donio is quoted as saying that the goal of the list was to "celebrate the album" at a time when they're being depreciated by an increased focus on downloads and singles. Tell 'em, Jim! The conceptual clarity and thematic rigor of the "Footloose" soundtrack (No. 134) are lost unless you buy the whole album.
Marketing aside, the HOF/NARM list is nicely catholic in its taste, with albums by artists ranging from Metallica to Andrea Bocelli, but as you might expect for a list expressly designed as a buyers guide, the list shakes out as basically a rundown of the biggest sellers of the past 50 years. You'll find the usual suspects ("Sgt. Pepper" at No. 1, "Born to Run" at No. 15), but then, especially toward the lower reaches, there are the albums whose presence on the list is comprehensible only if understood in sales terms. Faith Hill's "Breathe" at No. 76; Celine Dion's "Falling Into You" at No. 97; Kenny G's "Breathless" at No. 107. I repeat, Kenny G's "Breathless" at No. 107.
But the truth is, we're music fans, which means we love lists, no matter how poorly conceived. So let's take this D-list list as an opportunity to show them how it's done. Use the comments section to post your list of the top 10 albums that weren't included on the HOF/NARM list. Here's mine:
1. "Weezer (Blue Album)," Weezer
2. "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere," Neil Young
3. "Raw Power," the Stooges
4. "Electric Ladyland," Jimi Hendrix
5. "Stankonia," Outkast
6. "You Forgot It in People," Broken Social Scene
7. "Swordfishtrombones," Tom Waits
8. "Darkness on the Edge of Town," Bruce Springsteen
9. "Loaded," the Velvet Underground
10. "Wowee Zowee," Pavement
-- David Marchese