Saturday, April 1, 2017

The List of Lists 2016

Being all about economy and the environment these days, I'll recycle my introduction from last year: For the uninitiated: this is the annual post in which I dump part of my reserve of meaningless ranked lists and usually create a few new ones for the occasion. It normally is posted at the end of December but I put it off in order to stay on top of current work. These are meant to be fun and subjective and frivolous, and some are obviously more thoughtful than others, some are not particularly broad-minded, but hey, they might be a kick to peruse. In that spirit, onward.

Also want to mention that the archival yearly lists were all made in 2009 and we're reaching the point when they're less and less reflective of my current tastes, though I still sort of stand by them. I'm not changing them now because I don't want to waste the ones I haven't posted yet and would like to keep track of how my thoughts change over time. A whole new set will be crafted for the 2020s.

New list, briefly resurrecting the now-dormant CD boxed set industry to fill you in on which ones were/are actually valuable. Some are even streaming now, or at least very cheap on Amazon. This is the only "tie" you'll ever see here, much less a five-way tie, but it illustrates how confused the boxed set idea really was in the CD period. James Brown is on top because it's the best greatest hits collection you'll ever encounter and a pretty much perfect listening experience. Charlie Parker and Billie Holiday on top because they're superb archival sets of the best music ever recorded in America. Phil Spector is on top because the box fills a need never properly addressed by any other release. And the Beatles are on top because they're the Beatles, and because it's the most convenient way to hear almost their entire body of work the way it was actually heard at the time, and with very few exceptions, the way it became internationally beloved (strangely, the mono versions aren't streaming yet). There are a few big ones I haven't heard like Yoko Ono's and Roy Orbison's and the various Miles Davis session boxes; we'll tackle more of them in the Essentials posts that will resume hopefully later in the spring. A fond parting word also to the Police boxed set, Message in a Box, that I loved so much when I was 13.

1. James Brown: Star Time (Polydor 1991)
1. Charlie Parker: Complete Dial Sessions (Jazz Classics 1996)
1. Billie Holiday: Lady Day - The Master Takes and Singles (Columbia 2007)
1. Phil Spector: Back to Mono (Abkco 1991)
1. The Beatles: The Beatles in Mono (Apple 2009)
6. The Everly Brothers: Heartaches and Harmonies (Rhino 1994)
7. Howlin' Wolf: The Chess Box (MCA 1991)
8. The Carter Family: In the Shadow of Clinch Mountain (Bear Family 2000)
9. Bill Monroe and His Bluegrass Boys: The Music of Bill Monroe (MCA 1994)
10. Patsy Cline: The Patsy Cline Collection (MCA 1991)
... and the honorable mentions:
Little Richard: The Specialty Sessions (Specialty 1989)
Chuck Berry: The Chess Years (Charly 1991) [the complete UK-issued collection of his work for the label, not the more compromised Chess Box]
Charlie Parker: Complete Savoy Sessions (Savoy 1988)
Thelonious Monk: The Complete Blue Note Recordings (Blue Note 1994)
Fats Domino: Walking to New Orleans (Capitol 2002)
Frank Sinatra: Best of the Columbia Years (Columbia 1995)
The Beach Boys: Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of the Beach Boys (Capitol 1993)
The Velvet Underground: Peel Slowly and See (Polydor 1995)
Eddie Cochran: The Eddie Cochran Story (Liberty 2009)
Sam Cooke: The Man Who Invented Soul (RCA 2000)
The Beach Boys: The Pet Sounds Sessions (Capitol 1997)
Doc Watson: The Vanguard Years (Vanguard 1995)
The Velvet Underground: The Singles 1966-69 (Sundazed 2009) [vinyl only]

1956 SONGS
Brand new list for this terrific, transformative, head-spinning year; I expect in future lists we will track rock & roll history up through '61 then roll back to cover the genre's origins in the 1952-55 period. This could just as well be labeled "1956 singles" because all but two of these were 45s at some point, including the tracks noted from Elvis Presley's debut album. The sole exceptions are from Miles Davis' Relaxin' and Gene Vincent's Bluejean Bop!. To create this list I worked both from my own knowledge of rock & roll, pop, country, R&B and lounge then filled in some gaps with various historical sources and online lists, especially regarding doo wop and rockabilly. I'm sure I've missed some big titles, but I've tried to represent everything I could. (In this case "represent" is the accurate word; almost everything on the R&B charts this year was at least interesting if not outright compelling. If you go deep you'll find some ordinary records but very few bad ones.) Discovered some major stuff by doing this, which is one reason I look forward to the List of Lists every year and don't ever intend to skip it. Top forty-one songs I've listed here are all masterpieces. Maybe more than that.

Sources of mild chronological controversy: Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" (December 1955), Chuck Berry's "No Money Down" (half my sources cite 1955, the others '56, which is when it charted), Ruth Brown's "Lucky Lips" (a hell of a song but unfortunately it's from 1957, despite several lists claiming the contrary), and the Del-Vikings' or Dell Vikings' "Come Go with Me," a regional hit this year and a national one the next. I decided to let that one slide; a year later, when Paul McCartney would hear John Lennon's voice for the first time, he was covering this song.

1. Etta James "Tough Lover" (Modern)
2. Carl Perkins "Sure to Fall" (Sun)
3. Chuck Berry "Too Much Monkey Business" (Chess)
4. Little Richard "Rip It Up" (Specialty)
5. Chuck Berry "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" (Chess)
6. Gene Vincent "Who Slapped John?" (Capitol)
7. Little Richard "Slippin' and Slidin'" (Specialty)
8. Screamin' Jay Hawkins "I Put a Spell on You" (OKeh)
9. Elvis Presley "Heartbreak Hotel" (RCA)
10. Mickey & Sylvia "Love Is Strange" (Groove)
11. The Johnny Burnette Trio "The Train Kept A-Rollin'" (Coral)
12. Bo Diddley "Who Do You Love?" (Checker)
13. Ann Cole "Got My Mo-Jo Working (But It Just Won't Work on You)" (Baton)
14. Gene Vincent "Bluejean Bop" (Capitol)
15. Ray Charles "Lonely Avenue" (Atlantic)
16. Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two "There You Go" (Sun)
17. Little Willie John "Fever" (King)
18. Chuck Berry "You Can't Catch Me" (Chess)
19. Little Richard "Ready Teddy" (Specialty)
20. Elvis Presley "Don't Be Cruel" (RCA)
21. Little Richard "Long Tall Sally" (Specialty)
22. Wanda Jackson "Hot Dog! That Made Him Mad" (Capitol)
23. Sanford Clark "The Fool" (MCI)
24. Howlin' Wolf "Smokestack Lightnin'" (Chess)
25. Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two "I Walk the Line" (Sun)
26. Chuck Berry "Roll Over Beethoven" (Chess)
27. The Johnny Burnette Trio "Honey Hush" (Coral)
28. Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps "Be-Bop-A-Lula" (Capitol)
29. James Brown and the Famous Flames "Please, Please, Please" (Federal)
30. Elvis Presley "Blue Moon" (RCA)
31. Clarence "Frogman" Henry "Ain't Got No Home" (Argo)
32. Fats Domino "Blueberry Hill" (Imperial)
33. Carl Perkins "Blue Suede Shoes" (Sun)
34. Jimmy Reed "You've Got Me Dizzy" (Vee Jay)
35. Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two "Get Rhythm" (Sun)
36. Little Richard "Heeby-Jeebies" (Specialty)
37. The Staple Singers "Uncloudy Day" (Vee Jay)
38. Wanda Jackson "I Gotta Know" (Capitol)
39. The Coasters "One Kiss Led to Another" (Atco)
40. Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps "Woman Love" (Capitol)
41. Elvis Presley "Hound Dog" (RCA)
42. The Coasters "Down in Mexico" (Atco)
43. The Chips "Rubber Biscuit" (Josie)
44. Carl Perkins "Boppin' the Blues" (Sun)
45. Fats Domino "I'm in Love Again" (Imperial)
46. Elvis Presley "Tryin' to Get to You" (RCA)
47. Etta James "Good Lookin'" (Modern)
48. Frank Sinatra "Too Marvelous for Words" (Capitol)
49. Little Richard "The Girl Can't Help It" (Specialty)
50. Fats Domino "Blue Monday" (Imperial)
51. The Cadets "Stranded in the Jungle" (Modern)
52. Warren Smith "Black Jack David" (Sun)
53. Elvis Presley "My Baby Left Me" (RCA)
54. The Del-Vikings "Come Go with Me" (Dot)
55. Shirley & Lee "I Feel Good" (Aladdin)
56. Big Joe Turner "Lipstick, Powder and Paint" (Atlantic)
57. Patsy Cline "I've Loved and Lost Again" (Decca)
58. Ray Charles "Hallelujah I Love Her So" (Atlantic)
59. Howlin' Wolf "I Asked for Water" (Chess)
60. Miles Davis Quintet "If I Were a Bell" (Prestige LP)
61. Otis Rush "I Can't Quit You Baby" (Cobra)
62. Shirley and Lee "Let the Good Times Roll" (Aladdin)
63. Roy Orbison "Ooby Dooby" (Sun)
64. Bill Haley and His Comets "See You Later Alligator" (Decca)
65. Jesse Belvin "Goodnight My Love" (Modern)
66. The Cleftones "Little Girl of Mine" (Gee)
67. Bo Diddley "Diddy Wah Diddy" (Checker)
68. Barbara Pittman "I Need a Man" (Sun)
69. Valentines "The Woo Woo Train" (Rama)
70. Big Joe Turner "Corrine, Corrina" (Decca)
71. Bob "Froggy" Landers "Cherokee Dance" (Specialty)
72. Screamin' Jay Hawkins "Little Demon" (OKeh)
73. Bill Doggett "Honky Tonk" (King)
74. LaVern Baker "Jim Dandy" (Atlantic)
75. Fats Domino "My Blue Heaven" (Imperial)
76. The Five Satins "In the Still of the Night" (Ember)
77. Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" (Gee)
78. The Drifters "I Gotta Get Myself a Woman" (Atlantic)
79. Willows "Church Bells May Ring" (Melba)
80. Muddy Waters "Forty Days and Forty Nights" (Chess)
81. Carl Perkins "Matchbox" (Sun)
82. LaVern Baker "Tra La La" (Atlantic)
83. The Drifters "Ruby Baby" (Atlantic)
84. Johnny Burnette and the Rock 'n' Roll Trio "Tear It Up" (Coral)
85. Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps "Wedding Bells (Are Breaking Up That Old Gang of Mine)" (Capitol LP)
86. Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers "Who Can Explain?" (Gee)
87. Ray Charles "Drown in My Own Tears" (Atlantic)
88. Six Teens "A Casual Look" (Flip)
89. Carl Perkins "Honey Don't" (Sun)
90. Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps "Race with the Devil" (Capitol)
91. LaVern Baker "I Can't Love You Enough" (Atlantic)
92. The Platters "(You've Got) The Magic Touch" (Mercury)
93. Hal Willis "My Pink Cadillac" (Atlantic)
94. Chuck Willis "It's Too Late" (Atlantic)
95. Sonny Burgess "Red Headed Woman" (Sun)
96. The "5" Royales "I Could Love You" (King)
97. Big Maybelle "Candy" (Savoy)
98. The Moonglows "See Saw" (Chess)
99. Ray Price "Crazy Arms" (Columbia)
100. Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers "I Want You to Be My Girl" (Gee)
101. Little Richard "She's Got It" (Specialty)
102. The Flamingos "A Kiss from Your Lips" (Chess)
103. Frank Sinatra "(How Little It Matters) How Little We Know" (Capitol)
104. Earl Bostic "Harlem Nocturne" (King)
105. Elvis Presley "Blue Suede Shoes" (RCA)
106. Chuck Willis "Whatcha Gonna Do When Your Baby Leaves You" (Atlantic)
107. Muddy Waters "Don't Go No Farther" (Chess)
108. Joe Clay "Duck Tail" (Vik)
109. Fats Domino "When My Dreamboat Comes Home" (Imperial)
110. The Clovers "Love, Love, Love" (Atlantic)
111. Buddy Knox with the Rhythm Orchids "Party Doll" (Roulette)
112. Clyde McPhatter "Treasure of Love" (Atlantic)
113. The Platters "My Prayer" (Mercury)
114. Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers "I'm Not a Juvenile Delinquent" (Gee)
115. Carl Perkins "Dixie Fried" (Sun)
116. The Cleftones "Can't We Be Sweethearts" (Gee)
117. Charlie Feathers "One Hand Loose" (King)
118. Chuck Berry "Havana Moon" (Chess)
119. Les Baxter and His Chorus and Orchestra "The Poor People of Paris" (Capitol)
120. Jimmy Reed "Ain't That Lovin' You Baby" (Vee Jay)
121. Slim Rhodes "Take and Give" (Sun)
122. The Cadillacs "Betty My Love" (Josie)
123. Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers "I Promise to Remember" (Gee)
124. Smiley Lewis "One Night" (Imperial)
125. Sil Austin "Slow Walk" (Mercury)
126. The Teen Queens "Eddie My Love" (RPM)
127. Johnnie Ray "I Want to Be Loved (But Only by You)" (Columbia)
128. Clyde McPhatter "Without Love (There Is Nothing)" (Atlantic)
129. The Dells "Oh What a Nite" (Vee Jay)
130. Elvis Presley "Love Me Tender" (RCA)
131. Frank Sinatra "I've Got You Under My Skin" (Capitol)
132. Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers "The ABC's of Love" (Gee)
133. Count Basie Big Band "April in Paris" (Clef)
134. Brenda Lee "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)" (Decca)
135. The Channels "The Closer You Are" (Whrilin Disc)
136. The Clovers "Devil or Angel" (Atlantic)
137. B.B. King and His Orchestra "Sweet Little Angel" (RPM)
138. Harry Belafonte "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" (RCA)
139. Elvis Presley "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry (Over You)" (RCA)
140. Frank Sinatra "Hey! Jealous Lover" (Capitol)
Elvis Presley "Love Me" (RCA)
The Cadillacs "You Are" (Josie)
Doris Day "Que Sera, Sera" (Columbia)
Jim Lowe "The Green Door" (Dot)
Tennessee Ernie Ford "That's All" (Capitol)
Eddie Fisher "Cindy, Oh Cindy" (RCA)

Errata: One of the best album years ever obviously; though the Remains' record is an admirable example of the album as greatest hits collection, with the CD bonus tracks included (under the Barry and the Remains title), it could maybe stand to be below Redding and the Stones. Otherwise hard to argue with this. Note that I strenuously urge you to regard the vinyl version of the Monk album as just a preview for the extraordinary CD version (also streaming); for the same reason, avoid the American truncation of Revolver at all costs, especially with it now inexplicably available on CD. On the other hand I prefer the American Aftermath, though both are good; and I include both variants of the Yardbirds' album here. The Real Folk Blues is technically a compilation but many discographies file it as an album because it's the first LP appearance of nearly all of its tracks and I'm not opposed to any opportunity to bring up Howlin' Wolf, who should be everyone's introduction to the blues.

1. The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds (Capitol) A+
2. Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (Columbia) A+
3. Howlin' Wolf: The Real Folk Blues (Chess) A+
4. The Beatles: Revolver (Parlophone) A+
5. The Kinks: Face to Face (Pye) A+
6. Miles Davis: Miles Smiles (Columbia) A+
7. Bob Dylan: Blonde on Blonde (Columbia) A+
8. Love (Elektra) A
9. The Byrds: Fifth Dimension (Columbia) A
10. The Remains (Epic) A
11. The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul (Volt) A
12. The Rolling Stones: Aftermath (London) A
13. The Yardbirds: Roger the Engineer/Over Under Sideways Down (Columbia/Epic) A-
14. Buffalo Springfield (Atco) A-
15. The Exciting Wilson Pickett (Atlantic) A-
16. Them Again (Parrot) A-
17. John Lee Hooker: It Serves You Right to Suffer (Impulse!) A-
18. The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators (International Artists) A-
19. The Seeds: A Web of Sound (GNP Crescendo)
20. Hums of the Lovin' Spoonful (Kama Sutra)

Errata: I expect Station to Station isn't higher because of how much I hate "Golden Years"; damn the consensus, I Want You is a bit too low as well, but I can't argue with any of these records really, they're all terrific. The only problem with this list really is that it's much too short. Need to work harder on that backlog.

1. Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life (Tamla) A+
2. Parliament: Mothership Connection (Casablanca) A+
3. Ramones (Sire) A+
4. The Flamin' Groovies: Shake Some Action (Sire) A+
5. Patti Smith: Radio Ethiopia (Arista) A
6. Labelle: Chameleon (Epic) A
7. David Bowie: Station to Station (RCA) A
8. Funkadelic: Hardcore Jollies (Warner Bros.) A-
9. Blondie (Chrysalis) A-
10. Marvin Gaye: I Want You (Tamla) A-
Burning Spear: Man in the Hills (Island)
Parliament: Clones of Dr. Funkenstein (Casablanca)

Errata: The Smithereens and Loudon Wainwright have floated downward in my estimation since I started all this, but otherwise this looks fine to me, with Please and Control ideally in the top ten in place of Especially for You and the Mantronix album. When you really think about what Pet Shop Boys have achieved over thirty years it's staggering. Pageant is my favorite R.E.M. album these days, which is neat because my favorite R.E.M. song shows up in a different list below. Incidentally, on a recent New Order binge I realized I included Republic on these lists when I likely meant to include Low-Life, a correction I'll be sure to verify and make on the 2.0 version of all this.

1. R.E.M.: Lifes Rich Pageant (I.R.S.) A+
2. XTC: Skylarking (Geffen) A+
3. Run-DMC: Raising Hell (Profile) A+
4. The Go-Betweens: Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express (Big Time) A+
5. Peter Gabriel: So (Geffen) A
6. Depeche Mode: Black Celebration (Sire) A
7. The Smithereens: Especially for You (Engima) A-
8. New Order: Brotherhood (Qwest) A-
9. Mantronix: Music Madness (Sleeping Bag) A-
10. Paul Simon: Graceland (Warner Bros.) A-
11. Pet Shop Boys: Please (EMI America) A-
12. Janet Jackson: Control (A&M) A-
13. The Saints: All Fools Day (TVT) A-
14. Loudon Wainwright III: More Love Songs (Rounder) A-
15. Miles Davis: Tutu (Warner Bros.) A-

Errata: Uh... actually I agree with this pretty much to the letter. Switch #4 and #5 maybe? Also it remains to be seen if Eels will survive The Great 2020 Purge, I very seldom listen to them/him anymore... but who knows! Looking at Pazz & Jop to get ideas for the song list below I was thrilled to see how highly Walking Wounded placed -- it's one of those albums that sometimes makes me feel very lonely.

1. The Fugees: The Score (Columbia) A+
2. R.E.M.: New Adventures in Hi-Fi (Warner Bros.) A+
3. Pet Shop Boys: Bilingual (Atlantic) A+
4. Belle & Sebastian: If You're Feeling Sinister (Jeepster/Matador) A
5. Everything But the Girl: Walking Wounded (Atlantic) A
6. The Cardigans: First Band on the Moon (Mercury) A
7. Outkast: ATLiens (Arista) A-
8. Nas: It Was Written (Columbia) A-
9. Olivia Tremor Control: Dusk at Cubist Castle (Elephant 6) A-
10. Lightning Seeds: Dizzy Heights (Epic) A-
11. The Roots: Illadelph Halflife (Geffen) A-
12. Lou Reed: Set the Twilight Reeling (Sire) A-
13. A Tribe Called Quest: Beats, Rhymes and Life (Jive) A-
14. Patti Smith: Gone Again (Arista) A-
15. Neutral Milk Hotel: On Avery Island (Merge) A-
16. Lush: Lovelife (4AD) A-
17. eels: Beautiful Freak (Dreamworks) A-
18. De La Soul: Stakes Is High (Tommy Boy) A-
19. Asylum Street Spankers: Spanks for the Memories (Spanks-A-Lot) A-
20. Wilco: Being There (Reprise)

1996 SONGS
Brand new list, with twenty truly great songs and many other fine cuts. A combination of (a) research specifically for this post on the charts, the favorites, the big ones plus supplemental reading on electronica and trip-hop (big year for this), R&B/hip hop (great year for this) and indie/alternative (very bad year for this); and (b) what I remembered from sixth and seventh grade, a period when I had the radio on often but no cable -- which explains a few former blind spots -- and was transitioning between a love of mainstream alternative rock and Britpop into slightly older stuff, particularly U2. It also was in February or March '96 that I bought my first R.E.M. album, and while it was a few years before they became a full-on obsession, I became enough of a fan to get their tenth album as soon as it released; it took a bit to grow on me but remains a favorite, and contains my all-time favorite song of theirs (also the first single released from it), which tops this list. This also was the year I first heard Pet Shop Boys; a song from Bilingual got some airplay on the alternative station and I loved it, and loved the music video "Single-Bilingual" (issued in November; it reminded me of two other favorite clips, Radiohead's "Just" and Cake's "The Distance," which I've fallen out of love with and isn't here, but the video's still pretty great) even more. By this time my sister had temporarily moved back in with us and, bemused by my enthusiasm for what I thought was a relatively new band, showed me gobs of MTV footage from the 1986-88 period, and I was pretty quickly on board. Anyway, sorry for the tangent.

Rules for this list: If it was a single, it can be included, hence all the EBTG stuff; only one "album track" per album. Release date controversies abound in this period. I tried to treat it as if it was in real-time; if a song was originally released in 1995 but I'd have been unlikely to hear it until '96, it's here. If it was a single in 1997 but it's on a 1996 album by an artist who's important to me, here it is. Fiona Apple's 1997 singles and hits are here for this reason, and though I'm not so much into them anymore, so are Counting Crows'. Mariah Carey's "Always Be My Baby" from her '95 album Daydream should probably be 1995 by any logical measure but I'm sorry, my memories of playing Sega while listening to that song in '96 are too cherished. OMC and Spice Girls didn't make it to America in 1996 but it would seem a bit gauche to retroactively ignore their two great singles here for this reason. (Other Spice Girls hits would count for the following year.) But that still leaves several borderline selections that I'll mention here in case I forget someday when I do this for the years on either side: Alanis Morrissette's "Head Over Feet," "Ironic" and "You Learn"; Michael Jackson's "Stranger in Moscow" (probably in the top five if I felt it qualified, but the album was '95 and the U.S. single was '97) and "They Don't Care About Us"; Blur's "Charmless Man"; Pulp's "Common People"; and R.E.M.'s masterful cover of "Wall of Death," a b-side this summer but actually issued on a Richard Thompson tribute album two years earlier.

1. R.E.M. ft. Patti Smith "E-Bow the Letter" [New Adventures in Hi-Fi + single]
2. Everything But the Girl "Mirrorball" [Walking Wounded]
3. Nas ft. Lauryn Hill "If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)" [It Was Written + single]
4. The Fugees "Killing Me Softly" {Roberta Flack cover} [The Score + single]
5. Keith Sweat "Twisted" [s/t]
6. Pet Shop Boys "A Red Letter Day" [Bilingual + '97 single]
7. Ginuwine "Pony" [The Bachelor]
8. En Vogue "Don't Let Go (Love)" [EV3]
9. The Cardigans "Lovefool" [First Band on the Moon + single]
10. The Fugees "Ready or Not" [The Score + single]
11. Everything But the Girl "Single" [Walking Wounded + single]
12. R.E.M. "Electrolite" [New Adventures in Hi-Fi + '97 single]
13. Mariah Carey "Always Be My Baby" [Daydream]
14. Outkast "ATLiens" [ATLiens + single]
15. The Fugees "Fu-Gee-La" [The Score + single]
16. Pet Shop Boys "Up Against It" [Bilingual]
17. The Chemical Brothers ft. Noel Gallagher "Setting Sun" [Dig Your Own Hole (1997)]
18. Belle & Sebastian "If You're Feeling Sinister" [If You're Feeling Sinister]
19. R.E.M. "Leave" [New Adventures in Hi-Fi]
20. Everything But the Girl "Wrong" [Walking Wounded + single]
21. Busta Rhymes "Woo-Hah!! Got You All in Check" [The Coming]
22. Everything But the Girl "Before Today" [Walking Wounded + '97 single]
23. Autechre "We R Are Why" [mail-order 12"]
24. Aaliyah ft. Timbaland, Missy Elliott and Ginuwine "One in a Million" {remix} [12" single]
25. Duncan Sheik "Barely Breathing" [s/t]
26. Beck "Where It's At" [Odelay + single]
27. OMC "How Bizarre" [How Bizarre]
28. Spice Girls "Wannabe" [Spice + single]
29. Primitive Radio Gods "Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand" [Rocket]
30. Tracy Chapman "Give Me One Reason" [New Beginning]
31. Jewel "You Were Meant for Me" [Pieces of You (1995)]
32. Aphex Twin "Girl/Boy" [The Richard D. James Album]
33. The Roots ft. Raphael Saadiq "What They Do" [Illadelph Halflife + single]
34. Nas "I Gave You Power" [It Was Written]
35. Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony "Tha Crossroads" [E. 1999 Eternal]
36. Orbital "The Box Parts I & II" [In Sides]
37. La Bouche "Sweet Dreams" [Sweet Dreams]
38. Fiona Apple "Sleep to Dream" [Tidal + single]
39. Pet Shop Boys "Se A Vida E (That's the Way Life Is)" [Bilingual + single]
40. LL Cool J "Doin' It" [Mr. Smith]
41. Keith Sweat ft. Athena Cage "Nobody" [s/t]
42. DJ Shadow "Stem" [Endtroducing...]
43. Stone Temple Pilots "Lady Picture Show" [Tiny Music]
44. Neutral Milk Hotel "Naomi" [On Avery Island]
45. Lightning Seeds "Imaginary Friends" [Dizzy Heights]
46. The Fugees "How Many Mics" [The Score]
47. Thievery Corporation "The Foundation" [Sounds from the Thievery Hi-Fi]
48. Sneaker Pimps "6 Underground" [Becoming X]
49. Outkast "Elevators (Me & You)" [ATLiens + single]
50. De La Soul "Stakes Is High" [Stakes Is High]
51. Pet Shop Boys "Single" [Bilingual + single]
52. Fiona Apple "Shadowboxer" [Tidal + single]
53. Brandy "Sittin' Up in My Room" [Waiting to Exhale OST]
54. The Charlatans UK "One to Another" [Tellin' Stories]
55. A Tribe Called Quest "Motivators" [Beats, Rhymes & Life]
56. The Fugees "No Woman, No Cry" {Bob Marley & the Wailers cover} [The Score + single]
57. Olivia Tremor Control "No Growing (Exegesis)" [Dusk at Cubist Castle]
58. The Roots "Clones" [Illadelph Halflife]
59. Quad City DJs "C'mon N Ride It (The Train)" [Get on Up and Dance]
60. Hooverphonic "2 Wicky" [A New Stereophonic Sound Spectacular (1997)]
61. Lush "Ladykillers" [LoveLife + single]
62. Lightning Seeds "Ready or Not" [Dizzy Heights + single]
63. The Cardigans "Your New Cuckoo" [First Band on the Moon]
64. Pet Shop Boys "Before" [Bilingual + single]
65. Fiona Apple "Criminal" [Tidal + '97 single]
66. Everything But the Girl "Walking Wounded" [Walking Wounded + single]
67. Toni Braxton "You're Makin' Me High" [Secrets]
68. Outkast "Two Dope Boyz (In a Cadillac)" [ATLiens]
69. Alice in Chains "Heaven Beside You" [s/t + single]
70. Beck "Jack-ass" [Odelay]
71. Wilco "Far, Far Away" [Being There]
72. Pet Shop Boys "How I Learned to Hate Rock & Roll" [b-side]
73. Lush "Runaway" [LoveLife]
74. Belle & Sebastian "The State I Am In" [Tigermilk]
75. D'Angelo "Lady" [Brown Sugar]
76. Boards of Canada "Chinook" [Boc Maxima]
77. Asylum Street Spankers "Shave 'Em Dry" {Lucille Bogan cover} [Spanks for the Memories]
78. Maxwell "Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder)" [Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite]
79. Radiohead "Talk Show Host" [b-side + Romeo + Juliet OST]
80. Yo La Tengo "Blue-Green Arrow" [non-album single]
81. Jodeci "Get on Up" [The Show, the After Party, the Hotel]
82. Backstreet Boys "Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)" [s/t]
83. Counting Crows "Monkey" [Recovering the Satellites]
84. Lightning Seeds "You Showed Me" {Turtles cover} [Dizzy Heights + '97 single]
85. Lou Reed "NYC Man" [Set the Twilight Reeling]
86. R.E.M. "Bittersweet Me" [New Adventures in Hi-Fi + single]
87. The Bluetones "Slight Return" [Expecting to Fly + single]
88. My Bloody Valentine "Map Ref 41°N 93°W" {Wire cover} [Whore: Various Artists Play Wire]
89. *NSYNC "I Want You Back" [s/t]
90. eels "Novocaine for the Soul" [Beautiful Freak + single]
91. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds ft. PJ Harvey "Henry Lee" [Murder Ballads]
92. Gin Blossoms "Follow You Down" [Congratulations, I'm Sorry]
93. Counting Crows "A Long December" [Recovering the Satellites + '97 single]
94. Patti Smith "Summer Cannibals" [Gone Again]
95. eels "Not Ready Yet" [Beautiful Freak]
96. Fiona Apple "Never Is a Promise" [Tidal]
97. The Cardigans "Been It" [First Band on the Moon + single]
98. Nas "Street Dreams" [It Was Written + single]
99. A Tribe Called Quest ft. Tammy Lucas "1nce Again" [Beats, Rhymes & Life + single]
100. My Bloody Valentine "Incidental One" [Offbeat: A Red Hot Soundtrip]
Lightning Seeds "What If..." [Dizzy Heights + single]
Garbage "#1 Crush" [Romeo + Juliet OST]
Alice in Chains "Over Now" [s/t + single]
Lightning Seeds "Sugar Coated Iceberg" [Dizzy Heights + '97 single]
Yo La Tengo "Wig Out with Charlie Dapper" [b-side]

Errata: Actually not unhappy with this. The J. Dilla and Kaki King albums I didn't discover until running this blog so their placement is a best guess. The YLT is one of the few albums of modern vintage I knew was a masterpiece pretty much right away. Joanna Newsom should obviously be above the Decemberists, and Hot Chip probably should be as well, with both Mates of State and Lupe Fiasco needing to be moved several spaces lower. The top six are all wonderful records I still listen to regularly and I believe they have aged extremely well. A Hundred Miles Off is one of the most underrated rock albums of the last ten years. I even stand by the Muse album as being a genuine blast, even though it's now been a long time since I was able to listen to them without chuckling. (They are, like Ben Folds Five, a leftover passion from high school.) Finally, seeing Get Lonely reminds me that it and Heretic Pride, two of the first Mountain Goats releases I heard in full, belong on these lists far less than All Hail West Texas (2002) and We Shall All Be Healed (2003), neither of which are currently on my countdowns for those years, a problem I'll correct in the next run. My excuse is that I was only just learning about Darnielle when I made these lists. For the record my '06 top ten in "real time" (it's dated April 2007, so I guess my new habits are old) was YLT, TVOTR, Cat Power, Walkmen, Roots, Mates of State, Lupe, Muse, B&S, and a Madonna album from 2005 that I apparently thought was newer. (Concurrent singles list reminds me that I called it early on Rihanna being awesome.)

1. Yo La Tengo: I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass (Matador) A+
2. J Dilla: Donuts (Stones Throw) A+
3. TV on the Radio: Return to Cookie Mountain (Interscope) A
4. Belle & Sebastian: The Life Pursuit (Matador) A
5. Cat Power: The Greatest (Matador) A
6. Camera Obscura: Let's Get Out of This Country (Merge) A
7. The Decemberists: The Crane Wife (Capitol) A-
8. Mates of State: Bring It Back (Barsuk) A-
9. The Roots: Game Theory (Def Jam) A-
10. Lupe Fiasco: Food & Liquor (Atlantic) A-
11. Joanna Newsom: Ys (Drag City) A-
12. Hot Chip: The Warning (astralwerks) A-
13. Kaki King: ...Until We Felt Red (Velour) A-
14. Casiotone for the Painfully Alone: Etiquette (Tomlab) A-
15. M. Ward: Post-War (Merge) A-
16. Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Show Your Bones (Interscope) A-
17. The Walkmen: A Hundred Miles Off (Record Collection) A-
18. Alexi Murdoch: Time Without Consequence (Zero Summer) A-
19. The Mountain Goats: Get Lonely (4AD) A-
20. Muse: Black Holes and Revelations (Warner Bros.) A-
Old Crow Medicine Show: Big Iron World (Nettwerk)
Gossip: Standing in the Way of Control (Kill Rock Stars)


I hope you've enjoyed another year of intense if succinct and perpetually late coverage of new music. How the timeline for 2017 works depends on how quickly I'm able to make up lost time, but once everything's running properly I should be able to integrate supplemental projects with my regular work here much more capably than I did in '16. Hoping to get Beatles and possibly Dylan explored here before snow hits the ground again, but no promises.

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