AM Album/Song Discrepancies

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veganvalentine
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AM Album/Song Discrepancies

Post by veganvalentine » Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:06 pm

Henry's comment about Magical Mystery Tour's unusually high showing in the AMF polls got me thinking about surprising discrepancies between the AM albums and song lists. I theorize since The Beatles only made the US LP (as opposed to the UK EP, which omitted the 1967 singles that are widely regarded as the best songs on the album) canonical in the late 80s, it's taken critics a while to accept the LP as canon. By the time most of the critics accepted it as canon (assuming most of them have), so many other Beatles albums had become set in stone as untouchable classics that there was simply no room for MMT on most lists.

If one accepts the LP as canon, then the placing of MMT may be the most bizarre of any on the AM Top 3000. In the last official update, it ranked 1029 (It jumped to 907 in the unofficial update, but I mostly referred to the official update to expedite my research.), lower than even the relatively mediocre Beatles for Sale, despite having 6 (!!!) songs in the top 6000, including 4 in the top 500 (and one of the most acclaimed songs of all time).

Having 6 songs in the top 6000 is something very few albums achieve, and even a top 50 stalwart like Joy Division's Closer has 0 songs in the top 6000, which is mind boggling. Closer's songs probably suffer because critics agree so whole heartedly that non-album track "Love Will Tear Us Apart" is one of the greatest songs of all time, so they select that song as a "representative" of that album. However, I know virtually nothing about Joy Division so I'd welcome any competing theories.

Have any of you noticed any other interesting differences between the album and song lists?

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Re: AM Album/Song Discrepancies

Post by StevieFan13 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:22 pm

Captain Beefheart. No one can think of any notable tracks from Trout Mask Replica.
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Re: AM Album/Song Discrepancies

Post by Harold » Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:23 pm

veganvalentine wrote:If one accepts the LP as canon, then the placing of MMT may be the most bizarre of any on the AM Top 3000. In the last official update, it ranked 1029 (It jumped to 907 in the unofficial update, but I mostly referred to the official update to expedite my research.), lower than even the relatively mediocre Beatles for Sale, despite having 6 (!!!) songs in the top 6000, including 4 in the top 500 (and one of the most acclaimed songs of all time).

Having 6 songs in the top 6000 is something very few albums achieve, and even a top 50 stalwart like Joy Division's Closer has 0 songs in the top 6000, which is mind boggling.
While it is indeed impressive that six songs from MMT are in the top 6000, it's slightly misleading, because as you've noted the album wasn't really made as an album; the second half of MMT collects the A&B sides of their 1967 singles except for "I Am the Walrus," which was already on the U.K. EP. The album as we know it is certainly canon now, and has been since the original Beatles CD releases in '87 (significantly, it's the only U.S.-only album version that Capitol chose to include in that "official canon"), but you're undoubtedly correct: the reason it ranks so low on AM is because critics simply didn't consider it a "real album" for a long time. (Note that MMT is a top 100 album on both BEA and RYM.)

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Re: AM Album/Song Discrepancies

Post by BleuPanda » Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:25 pm

High-ranking albums without songs such as Joy Division's Closer are easier to explain; there's something about the overall atmosphere and style of the album that makes an excellent extended statement, even if the individual parts don't necessarily stand on their own. Trout Mask Replica made this clear to me; the individual songs are grating, but taken as a whole, it creates an entirely unique experience.

I think the main thing is, listening to a full album is a different experience than listening to a single song. An album can add context to its tracks and make a grand statement. Sufjan Stevens' Illinois is a good example; there's a religious connection between each track that tells a story of discovery, disillusionment, and redemption. While "Chicago" is a great song even on its own, it takes a whole new meaning as the centerpiece of Illinois, the moment where Sufjan faces himself after much contemplation.

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Re: AM Album/Song Discrepancies

Post by BleuPanda » Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:29 pm

On Magical Mystery Tour, I just relistened to the entire Beatles canon this weekend and still don't get it. It doesn't 'feel' like an album to me like their other works do. Sure, the songs are great, but it doesn't flow as well as their other classics. Where Abbey Road has the medleys, The White Album has its extended 'anything good and bad' concept going on, and Sgt. Pepper's has this weird narrative going on, Magical Mystery Tour feels more thrown together.

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Re: AM Album/Song Discrepancies

Post by Harold » Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:32 pm

StevieFan13 wrote:Captain Beefheart. No one can think of any notable tracks from Trout Mask Replica.
As Langdon Winner points out in his essay on the album in Stranded, the only TMR track that ever got any real notice beyond the Beefheart cult was "The Blimp," mostly for its juvenile humor - far closer to the sensibility of producer Zappa than the Captain's own, which is fitting because Beefheart doesn't appear on the song and the Magic Band doesn't play on it (guitarist Jeff Cotton recited the lyrics over the phone in one take, and Zappa overlaid the "vocal" on an existing Mothers backing track).

I personally can think of many notable tracks from the album, but that's because in the radio station in my head songs like "My Human Gets Me Blues," "Moonlight on Vermont," and "The Dust Blows Forward 'N' the Dust Blows Back" are all-time classics in perpetual heavy rotation. A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast 'n' bulbous - got me?

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Re: AM Album/Song Discrepancies

Post by StevieFan13 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:51 pm

In a way, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. Aside from Layla itself, I don't believe Derek and the Dominos have any other tracks on AM.
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Re: AM Album/Song Discrepancies

Post by prosecutorgodot » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:19 pm

Harold wrote:
StevieFan13 wrote:Captain Beefheart. No one can think of any notable tracks from Trout Mask Replica.
As Langdon Winner points out in his essay on the album in Stranded, the only TMR track that ever got any real notice beyond the Beefheart cult was "The Blimp," mostly for its juvenile humor - far closer to the sensibility of producer Zappa than the Captain's own, which is fitting because Beefheart doesn't appear on the song and the Magic Band doesn't play on it (guitarist Jeff Cotton recited the lyrics over the phone in one take, and Zappa overlaid the "vocal" on an existing Mothers backing track).

I personally can think of many notable tracks from the album, but that's because in the radio station in my head songs like "My Human Gets Me Blues," "Moonlight on Vermont," and "The Dust Blows Forward 'N' the Dust Blows Back" are all-time classics in perpetual heavy rotation. A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast 'n' bulbous - got me?
Gotcha. I too was thinking that "Moonlight on Vermont" is one of the more iconic tracks on the album, one of the more clearly technically proficient songs which actually has a straight serious face on, unlike cuts like "Pena" or "The Blimp" or "Rocket Morton."

also, a tin, teardrop
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Re: AM Album/Song Discrepancies

Post by Listyguy » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:37 pm

I agree with a lot of the Magical Mystery Tour sentiment that has already been expressed here. It definitely doesn't feel like an album the way a lot of the band's other late works do, and that's because it's not really an album. It's a compilation. Half of the album is singles that didn't have an album already, and the other half, while some is good, includes the like of "Blue Jay Way".

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Re: AM Album/Song Discrepancies

Post by veganvalentine » Wed Oct 04, 2017 4:58 am

TMR is one of the only AM Top 100 albums I've never heard. Like 3 Feet High and Rising, it's not on Apple Music, but maybe it's on Spotify.

As for MMT, I think it flows pretty well because most of the songs have a psychedelic feel. (I actually find The White Album much more inconsistent.) I wouldn't be surprised if MMT continues to climb the ranks in years to come.

Regarding the Closer defense, I don't really buy the "great album but no great songs" argument. I get what you're saying about an album being more than the sum of its parts, but albums are collections of songs, and a top 50 album by nature must have at least a few great songs.

Also, I checked the 2016 update, and I did notice that Isolation cracked the top 5000, so perhaps TMR is now the highest album with no acclaimed songs, although maybe it gained some with the 10,000 song update.

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Re: AM Album/Song Discrepancies

Post by BleuPanda » Wed Oct 04, 2017 12:57 pm

veganvalentine wrote:Regarding the Closer defense, I don't really buy the "great album but no great songs" argument. I get what you're saying about an album being more than the sum of its parts, but albums are collections of songs, and a top 50 album by nature must have at least a few great songs.
Not necessarily, though I do have Isolation in my top 2000 songs. Closer is a top 50 album for me, and though I hold few of its songs up as among the greatest of all time, I can't imagine rating any of them lower than a 7.5/10 (it takes an 8 for me to rank it in my top 2000ish area). Meanwhile, even my top albums like Sound of Silver and Velvet Underground and Nico have at least one track that would fall below a 7. Every single second of Closer is strong, which is a statement that can be made about very few albums. The album as a whole also paints a very specific picture of its creator; there's a sense of despair on this album that can't be gathered in only the few minutes of a single track.

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Re: AM Album/Song Discrepancies

Post by Araluenian » Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:56 pm

A more recent example of this sort of thing that I could find was MGMT's Oracular Spectacular. It contains the third and fourth-most acclaimed songs of 2007, and "Electric Feel" also ranks highly. Yet the album itself is only ninth for 2007, and not in the top 500 of all time.

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Re: AM Album/Song Discrepancies

Post by StevieFan13 » Wed Oct 04, 2017 2:03 pm

Araluenian wrote:A more recent example of this sort of thing that I could find was MGMT's Oracular Spectacular. It contains the third and fourth-most acclaimed songs of 2007, and "Electric Feel" also ranks highly. Yet the album itself is only ninth for 2007, and not in the top 500 of all time.
That's changed with the unofficial update, but what hasn't helped is that on the all-time lists it has made (both Rolling Stone and NME had it) it's usually ranked very low.
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Re: AM Album/Song Discrepancies

Post by Nassim » Wed Oct 04, 2017 5:54 pm

StevieFan13 wrote:
Araluenian wrote:A more recent example of this sort of thing that I could find was MGMT's Oracular Spectacular. It contains the third and fourth-most acclaimed songs of 2007, and "Electric Feel" also ranks highly. Yet the album itself is only ninth for 2007, and not in the top 500 of all time.
That's changed with the unofficial update, but what hasn't helped is that on the all-time lists it has made (both Rolling Stone and NME had it) it's usually ranked very low.
If you go back to the reviews by some publications that now rank Kids and/or Time to Pretend fairly high but still never rank Oracular Spectacular, you'll see that they didn't like the album that much from the start and said that aside from 4 or 5 very good songs, the rest is pretty average (or bad, depending on the publication), and I would totally agree with them.
I actually have a bunch of songs from albums I strongly dislike in my top 200 of all time, so I don't think that's not compatible.

Also, unluckily for Oracular Spectacular, the French publication LesInrocks, who really love that album, like Congratulations even more and picked it instead for their end of decade and all time list.

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Re: AM Album/Song Discrepancies

Post by DaveC » Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:16 pm

Totally agree with BleuPanda. The way I rank albums on the overall experience, a couple of poor tracks can really hurt an album. "Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress" is a good example - imagine if tracks 2 & 3 were as good as tracks 1 & 4. I can't think of a better example than "Closer" of the opposite case, although for me Joanna Newsom's "Have One On Me" pulls off the same trick of being consistently very good without having any individual blockbuster songs.

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Re: AM Album/Song Discrepancies

Post by prosecutorgodot » Wed Oct 04, 2017 11:08 pm

Nassim wrote:Also, unluckily for Oracular Spectacular, the French publication LesInrocks, who really love that album, like Congratulations even more and picked it instead for their end of decade and all time list.
I would agree with that assessment. Congratulations is more consistent, albeit with a different genre.
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Re: AM Album/Song Discrepancies

Post by veganvalentine » Thu Oct 05, 2017 4:50 am

BleuPanda wrote: Not necessarily, though I do have Isolation in my top 2000 songs. Closer is a top 50 album for me, and though I hold few of its songs up as among the greatest of all time, I can't imagine rating any of them lower than a 7.5/10 (it takes an 8 for me to rank it in my top 2000ish area). Meanwhile, even my top albums like Sound of Silver and Velvet Underground and Nico have at least one track that would fall below a 7. Every single second of Closer is strong, which is a statement that can be made about very few albums. The album as a whole also paints a very specific picture of its creator; there's a sense of despair on this album that can't be gathered in only the few minutes of a single track.
Perhaps we're in greater agreement than we realized then. I certainly agree that most great albums have a few underwhelming songs. The difference for me is that's it's hard to feel passionate enough about an album to rank it in my top 50 if it doesn't have at least one 9. I can't really comment on Closer because I find the album sterile and mostly boring, but obviously I'm in the minority on that one.

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Re: AM Album/Song Discrepancies

Post by veganvalentine » Thu Oct 05, 2017 4:52 am

StevieFan13 wrote:In a way, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. Aside from Layla itself, I don't believe Derek and the Dominos have any other tracks on AM.
I'm surprised Bell Bottom Blues didn't make the top 6000.

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Re: AM Album/Song Discrepancies

Post by Jap123 » Mon Oct 09, 2017 6:55 pm

I think bell bottom blues and Moonlight On Vermont are both in the new update

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Re: AM Album/Song Discrepancies

Post by Henry » Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:06 pm

veganvalentine wrote:
BleuPanda wrote: Not necessarily, though I do have Isolation in my top 2000 songs. Closer is a top 50 album for me, and though I hold few of its songs up as among the greatest of all time, I can't imagine rating any of them lower than a 7.5/10 (it takes an 8 for me to rank it in my top 2000ish area). Meanwhile, even my top albums like Sound of Silver and Velvet Underground and Nico have at least one track that would fall below a 7. Every single second of Closer is strong, which is a statement that can be made about very few albums. The album as a whole also paints a very specific picture of its creator; there's a sense of despair on this album that can't be gathered in only the few minutes of a single track.
Perhaps we're in greater agreement than we realized then. I certainly agree that most great albums have a few underwhelming songs. The difference for me is that's it's hard to feel passionate enough about an album to rank it in my top 50 if it doesn't have at least one 9. I can't really comment on Closer because I find the album sterile and mostly boring, but obviously I'm in the minority on that one.
There is only one song on Closer that I find enjoyable (A Means to an End) and it would barely rate a 7/10 for me. The album doesn't rank among my top 1100 albums. I'm not claiming that it's a bad album or is deficient in any objective measure, it just doesn't work for me.

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Re: AM Album/Song Discrepancies

Post by veganvalentine » Thu Oct 12, 2017 6:34 am

Henry wrote:
veganvalentine wrote:
BleuPanda wrote: Not necessarily, though I do have Isolation in my top 2000 songs. Closer is a top 50 album for me, and though I hold few of its songs up as among the greatest of all time, I can't imagine rating any of them lower than a 7.5/10 (it takes an 8 for me to rank it in my top 2000ish area). Meanwhile, even my top albums like Sound of Silver and Velvet Underground and Nico have at least one track that would fall below a 7. Every single second of Closer is strong, which is a statement that can be made about very few albums. The album as a whole also paints a very specific picture of its creator; there's a sense of despair on this album that can't be gathered in only the few minutes of a single track.
Perhaps we're in greater agreement than we realized then. I certainly agree that most great albums have a few underwhelming songs. The difference for me is that's it's hard to feel passionate enough about an album to rank it in my top 50 if it doesn't have at least one 9. I can't really comment on Closer because I find the album sterile and mostly boring, but obviously I'm in the minority on that one.
There is only one song on Closer that I find enjoyable (A Means to an End) and it would barely rate a 7/10 for me. The album doesn't rank among my top 1100 albums. I'm not claiming that it's a bad album or is deficient in any objective measure, it just doesn't work for me.
Were you the person who liked my top 10? If so, that makes sense. For whatever reason, Closer and Unknown Pleasures are two of my least favorite albums in the AM top 100.

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