This past week, Spin released an audacious list of “the Best 125 Albums of the Past 25 Years” to commemorate its 25 years of existence. Upon reading through the list, I was pleasantly surprised by the selections on the list. Flaming Lips, The Hives, Beck, Fugazi, Pavement, Against Me! and Nirvana all rightfully made the list (and sometimes more than once). There were a few head-scratchers on the list (especially the number one album, U2’s Achtung Baby), but for the most part, I agreed with the albums on the list either because I personally liked them (like The Pogues’ Rum, Sodomy and the Lash) or because I simply appreciated their importance (Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot).
So, while there were only one or two albums that I would remove from the list, there are definitely more than a few that the dudes at Spin overlooked.
For starters, how could the welter-weight hipsters at Spin ignore Neutral Milk Hotel’s phenomenal 1998 albumIn the Aeroplane Over the Sea? Seriously, the absence of this album alone makes me question the entire list. A lot of the albums on the freakin’ list wouldn’t have even existed if it weren’t for the influence of ItAOtS (I’m looking at you, Arcade Fire). C’mon now!
And then there’s Weezer. Sure, their track record has been ruined by their last decade of releases, but there is no denying the genius and importance of their self-titled debut (“The Blue Album”) and its soul-bearing follow-up, Pinkerton. Along with Green Day and Nirvana, Weezer helped re-introduce the youth of America to punk rock. And I’ll be damed if every last editor at Spin didn’t find themselves sobbing along to “Across The Sea” at some point in their high school careers.
To represent the punk ghetto, Spin found it sufficient enough to merely include Green Day’s Dookie. Bullshit! 1994 was a huge year for punk rock both in the mainstream and in the underground, and not just because of Dookie and Smash. NOFX ‘s Punk In Drublic and Rancid’s ...and Out Come The Wolves stood alongside Green Day and The Offspring as the four horsemen of the apocalypse in 1994. To forget Rancid and NOFX is to fail.
And then there’s poor, poor hardcore. With the exception of Fugazi’s 13 Songs, there is nothing hardcore about Spin’s massive list. Most hardcore is, after all, unlistenable and uninteresting, but two hardcore records immediately come to mind as being unmistakably influential: At The Drive-In’s epic, career-ending Relationship of Command (2000) and Refused’s equally epic and equally career-ending The Shape of Punk to Come (1998). The energy, integrity and innovation of those two records helped, for better or for worse, to push hardcore music into the spotlight. Both records still stand today as loud, heavy masterpieces. I would gladly have Achtung Baby removed from the list entirely and replaced with The shape of Punk to Come.
It’s kind of silly to post lists like this because they are always going to upset readers. But oh well. If Spin didn’t know what they were doing, they wouldn’t have been been in print for as long as they have been. But U2, seriously? Yikes...