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More top 10s and other pressing issues

Tom Boyd

Write a column about the valley’s dwindling water resources, or blundering public officials, or some issue that could critically change the way we live, and the public generally responds with a deafening silence.Talk smack about the Beach Boys and the whole place flies into an uproar.I haven’t seen this much mail and vitriol since I began defending decrepit ol’ chair 10 the world’s best make-out chair and location of my treasured first kiss.But allow me to chronicle my recent follies and get you up to speed.In last week’s “The top 500 albums of my time” column (read my response to a Rolling Stone article on http://www.vailtrail.com) I misnamed a Miles Davis album, broke my own rules and included a live Talking Heads album, and bagged on the Beach Boy’s “Pet Sounds” (despite the fact that I actually like that album and have listened to it many times before surfin’ the Eagle River).But, for all of you who hacked on Paul Simon’s “Graceland” and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Blood Sugar Sex Magic,” I hope you all end up locked in a closet somewhere with headphones duct-taped to your head, the volume cranked up to 11, and Whitney Houston’s “I will always love you” set on repeat. The Chili Peppers are all that, and I shouldn’t even have to defend “Graceland.”Everything else is up for debate and, as most people know, arguing about what albums are the greatest is like arguing what colors are the greatest: the best part is making fun of your friends.However, since it should be obvious to everyone that I’m hardly an expert on such matters, I brought in some of the finest musicians I know to solve some pressing musical riddles: my friend and virtuoso Matt Wasowski of the band Jaka, and Jon Kaplan of the D.C.-based band Bicycle Thieves.Matt, Jon and I used to jam in college, and now Matt’s ripping out some beautiful, complex Zimbabwean/ world-beat music with Jaka while Jon kills the East-Coast rock scene with Bicycle Thieves. We throw their discs all the time here at the office, and they lift everybody’s spirits instantly and appeal to all our different tastes.So we’ve been part of a raging e-mail debate over the greatest albums of all time, and Matt, especially, made some good points with a worldly perspective. Here’s what he had to say:Once again, Rolling Stone has written an article that is both controversial, short-sighted and ethnocentric. Rolling Stone, unlike its European competitors (MOJO and Q, for example), enjoys pretending that American and western-influenced music is the only incarnation of sound that has had a profound and positive impact on humanity.Remember, there are seven continents on planet Earth, six of which have residents who compose, perform and record original and traditional musical styles.And Matt offered this unique top-10 list (of 13 albums, notice) in no particular order:The Beatles: Rubber SoulBob Marley: UprisingThomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited: Shumba, Vital Hits of ZimbabweEmmylou Harris: Wrecking BallRolling Stones: Sticky FingersDire Straits: Dire StraitsBob Dylan: Freewheelin’ Bob DylanU2: Unforgettable FireThe Allman Brothers: Live at Fillmore EastThe Grateful Dead: Mars HotelJon Coltrane: Giant StepsMississippi Jon Hurt: Avalon BluesDennis Brown: VisionsThe thing that everyone in my magical mystery posse agreed upon is that the Rolling Stone list seemed trapped in the past. So, in order to get the word out on some newer albums, we brought in a panel of experts (all of whom own at least 200 more CDs than I do, which I suppose makes them experts, despite the fact that I only have 12 CDs). Our magical mystery panel consists of aficionados Matt Frampton, Jed Gottlieb, Margo Rosingana, Tyler Sage Kent Van Vleet, and Matt and Jon (whose latest claim to fame, by the way, is that he recorded some stuff with Jack Jonson down in Hawaii. Sounds fantastic, too.)Anyway, here’s what they came up with for, “Albums that you may or may not have heard of but that are relatively new (like 3-5 years) and everyone should be listening to.”Ted Leo and the Pharmacists “Hearts of Oak”; Arlo “Stab the Unstoppable Hero”; The latest and last Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros album (you know, from The Clash); Drums and Tuba “Mostly Ape”; Radiohead “Hail to the Thief”; Broken Social Scene “You Forgot It In People”; The Wrens “Meadowlands”; The Rosebuds “Make Out”; The Amber Smith self-titled; The Tyde “Twice”; The Shins “Chutes Too Narrow” and “Oh Inverted World”; New Pornographers “The Electric Version”; Damien Rice “O”; Death Cab for Cutie “Transatlanticism”; Spearhead “Everyone Deserves Music”; Peter Van Dyk “Reflections”; Outkast “The Love Below”; Jay-Z The Black Album; any Mason Jennings album; and of course, we love Jaka “Balance” and Bicycle Thieves “The Second Place Confession”.Find out more about Jaka at http://www.jakamusic.com and more about the Bicycle Thieves at http://www.bicyclethieves.com.Call or write Tom Boyd at (970) 390-1585 and tboyd@vailtrail.com.


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