Sunday, 20 January 2008

What Was It Anyway?

There's a new link on my Broon's Bosses section on the left (that is the publications I write for).

What Was It Anyway? is a new blog inspired by the 'On Second Thought' column at Stylus Magazine. After Stylus closed, some of the writers expressed their particular sadness that we would never be able to do On Second Thought again, because it was a valuable part of the online music community's continuing effort to refine and re-orientate the established music canon.

The website acclaimed music is a great resource for checking out the canon as it stands, but the entirely subjective nature of music appreciation is contrary to the very idea. That site has Pet Sounds as the greatest ('most acclaimed') album of all-time, and you can probably guess the rest of the top 10 or 20 off the top of your head. But a great deal of that list is influenced by the handful of early music writers who emerged in the late 60s around Rolling Stone and Creem magazines, which is exactly why the late 60s and early 70s has the most acclaimed albums. Those writers are still writing and influencing new generations to venerate albums of that generation as benchmarks to compare everything else again: hence the views of critics like Ian MacDonald that the Beatles were the unsurpassable height of human achievement. In truth, every single album made by anyone (even Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jongs!) is comparable on the same plain to every other album (be it Pet Sounds or Sgt. Pepper or any other canon fixture), so it is a duty of younger music critics to continually re-evaluate what is 'established', giving credit where it is due to lesser-loved records, and knocking over-rated albums off their pedestal.

Personally, I can give or take Pet Sounds, but I won't hear a bad word against another canon favourite, What's Going On. Everyone has their opinions on these records, and even if you don't agree with them, it's always healthy to read different perspectives. So far on the blog, we've seen Rock-n-Rolla editor Scott McKeating take a shot at Loveless, Stylus and Village Voice writer Ian Mathers take issue with 2007's consensus-pick Sound of Silver, and Styluser Jonathan Bradley on two undervalued Everclear albums. Next week, my spew against the Flaming Lips' Soft Bulletin. Checkit!

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