Top albums list more debatable than definitive

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I usually find “definitive” lists of anything – televisioncharacters, movies, sexiest women or men, whatever – to be eitheramusing, annoying or more often than not, aggravating.

The latest be-all and end-all list to catch my attention comesfrom the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) andthe Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which have compiled a list of 200albums that would make up the “definitive” collection. The list canbe viewed at

Likely to few people’s surprise, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely HeartsClub Band” from the Beatles placed first. It was followed by PinkFloyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon,” Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” LedZeppelin’s “IV” album and U2’s “Joshua Tree.”

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No artists’ “Greatest Hits” albums are included on the list, butit does contain several soundtracks to popular movies. Thehighest-ranking of those is “Grease” at No. 37.

While I may not particularly care for some of the top-rankingartists, I don’t have a problem with where they placed on the list.Nirvana is just noise to my aging ears, but I guess I understandwhy “Nevermind” ranked 10th.

The difficulty I have in accepting the list is further down inthe ranking of newer acts in comparison to those of yesteryear.

Because they are simply too new, I honestly don’t believeanything from this century should have been included. Yet, 25 ofthe albums on the list were released in 2000 or later.

One exception to that would be “Elvis At Sun,” a reworked 2004collection of songs from his early days at the Memphis studio. Ofcourse, the Tupelo native was around long before 2004 and died (atleast we think so) years before the “Sun” record was released.

I have a good friend who says Elvis can’t be dead enough.Perhaps, but I have a really hard time accepting Presley’s “Sun” -or any of his other work – placing no higher than No. 53 whilesomething called “Dookie” from Green Day came in at No. 50.

Worse yet – and I’m going to get political here – is the Trio ofAshamed Texas Singers having their album, “Wide Open Spaces,” place33rd. In fact, their “Home” placed 100th and “Fly” was 113th on thelist.

I’m ashamed to say all three are among the eight albums from mycollection that made the Definitive 200 list. Let me also say theywere bought before the little singer with the big mouth opened itto criticize President Bush in 2003, and they haven’t been listenedto since.

My music collection consists mainly of contemporary Christian,country and some “Greatest Hits” selections from the likes of JamesTaylor, Jimmy Buffett, Credence Clearwater Revival, the DoobieBrothers, Billy Joel and Elton John. The first category’srepresentation is non-existent on the definitive list while therepresentation of artists from the other categories is woefullylacking or placed way too far down the list.

Although I think she belongs near the top of any sexiest list,Shania Twain’s “Come On Over” doesn’t belong at No. 21. I’m glad tohave it in my collection, but the 21st most definitive album it’snot.

Here’s another thing. Any time I look over a list and say “Who”while not referring to the classic rock band, there’s a problem. Idid that when I got to No. 123 with something called “Lateralus”from Tool and a couple of others further down the list.

The best function of “Definitive” or “All-Time Best” lists isthe conversations they generate around the water cooler at theoffice, or in my case the column fodder they provide. Artists’inclusion, rankings and other pros and cons can always bedebated.

Similar to the classic phrase about beauty, I guess, good musicis in the ear of the listener. But if this list contains the bestalbums in the last 50 years of modern popular music, I think I’llsettle for being tone deaf.

Write to Matthew Coleman at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven MS39602, or send e-mail to