“Top 10 Greatest and Most Essential Lists Of All Time” is a list of lists by Craig Hlavaty (a guy who keeps popping up on my Facebook page as a person I may “know” but I don’t and I wrestle daily with whether I should via FB – ? Okay, right, whole other post). It has received three comments from people with enough time to scoff at him wasting their time by writing something he wasn’t really begging them to read. But from the one that tortures me the most (“The Uninformed Writer Seeks To Encapsulate A Whole Genre,” usually “punk” by a scribe with one too many Dashboard Confessional albums in his or her collection, which is to say, one Dashboard Confessional album in his or her collection), to the one I sort of always enjoy digging into (the “Obscure As Hell Bands And Songs That You Don’t Care About List,” though I disagree with the latter part of that sentence), I have to say FB-pal-in-the-canon CH kinda nailed it.
In any case, I liked the brief sarcastic sum up on summing up, and it was a mnemonic trigger for both banal and arcane lists of my own I wouldn’t try to get away with posting about save for the inimitable Record, where we touch the banal to one nipple and the arcane to the other, angel and devil style, like some Medieval painting about a Faustian monk-alchemist in a troubadour love song passion play.
Anyways, here’s my entries for lists I’d never bother anyone with (and yes I really thought/think about things like this):
1.) “Best Longish Penultimate Tracks And Short Album Ending Songs Right After Them On An LP’s Second Side”: A recent example would be The Shins’ “Girl Sailor” and then “A Comet Appears” on Wincing The Night Away which– hold on, the next-to-last song is 3:44 and then the final cut is 3:49. Why does the mid-tempo Smiths rip off seem so much longer than the ballad Smiths rip off? Okay, better example: A Different Kind Of Tension, where the Buzzcocks’ “I Believe” (below), which is eight existentially-tormenting new wave-defying minutes, a rant-fueled manifesto of experienced nihilism just before some weird little outro, “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays.”
2.) “Best Really Short Opening Track Kicking Off Side One Before Going Into The Album Proper”: There’s a million of ’em, the most recent example in my iTunes being the weirdly repetitive and strangely restless intro to Grimes’ debut on 4AD, Visions. (It’s also my favorite song on there, which brings up the slot just following this.) In my generation, it all kind of started with Elvis Costello’s minute-and-change “Welcome To The Working Week,” opening his debut My Two Front Teeth Have A Great Big Gap, It’s True. The National Health-goggled word-slinger then repeated this manic burst of introduction with the 121 second “No Action,” on possibly my favorite album of his, This Year’s Caustic Computer Programmer, possibly my favorite way to begin an LP. Now at the beginning of his third album, Accidents Accidents Will Happen (editor: please note the mangled title is a deep pun actually occurring in the title track’s mix), “Accidents Will Happen” is a more rock mainstream-comfy, over three minute Kraftwerkian “ballad.” What’s unique about these three consecutive album openers, if you’ve never noticed this, is that they all begin with Costello’s voice before the instruments kick in. I once explained how important this contemporaneous sense of urgency was to a lady interviewing me for Blender magazine about religion and rock music, as she stared nervously at the stacks of dead media in my abode and struggled to keep me on topic. (I would also like you to note that “I Believe” starts with the vocal before the music too, or damned near close. I don’t have a theory yet why my favorite music begins with lyrics before instruments, but among my piles of middlebrow crap I’m sure someone has extrapolated an explanation, and I will find it.)
3.) “First Sides Of LPs That Begin With Really Long Songs That Are The Best Things On The Album”: It’s not like the rest of the record is deficient, but they sort of plopped all that energy and creativity into their opening masterpiece, and then slopped around filling up the next forty minutes or so. Elton John’s Wagnerian “Love Lies Bleeding” at the top of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road seems to be an example, but fuck you man you still got that song about all the girls loving Alice and the one where he uses the word “punk.” Here’s one from an album I otherwise enjoy, but you don’t really need any other songs from Splodgenessabounds, as they put as many of their best ones into this track straightaway:
Okay, you still need to buy that album for “Whimsy Boom Boom,” “Two Pints of Lager,” “I Fell In Love With A Female Plumber,” etc. But if you’ve read this far you know I’ve been making exaggerated claims about things no one with sense will ever notice anyways.