I’ve decided to begin listening to the number one album from 30 years ago each week and then write a little bit about it here. Why isn’t terribly important, other than it will hopefully be mostly entertaining, always enlightening, and occasionally fruitful. However, here are a few reasons. I recently had my 31st birthday, and birthdays are always opportunities to ponder the passage of time. Presumably, I should have then decided to look back 31 years, but that makes the math harder (and thinking hurts) so I’ll keep it at 30 years. Looking at the current top list of albums, much of it is stuff I definitely wouldn’t listen to on my own volition. I doubt that in 30 years it will be judged to be any higher quality. In this sense, I could do this exercise with current music. But by going back in time I’m, exposing myself to new music that isn’t currently on the radio (for the most part), so it has extra novelty. I already know the general direction of popular music over the last 30 years, so it will be interesting to see the progression in more detail with this foreknowledge.
I haven’t fully fleshed out the rules of this. For example, if an album is number one for more than one week, I think I’ll drop down to the second place album, or beyond. There will be other rules about if I’ve already listened to an album (for example if it oscillates up and down from number one).
This week I listened to Barbra Streisand – Guilty. The fact that this is the first album in this experiment made it very difficult to begin. I was not a fan of her work, and my opinion hasn’t been improved.
First some observations about this album. The cover shows Barbra with Barry Gibb, of the Bee Gees. They sing duets on two of the nine of the tracks, which seems to be an awfully low ratio for him to be featured on the cover*. Also, he doesn’t really sing in his trademarked joyful falsetto, which is more false advertising. To me, that’s 100% of his appeal, so without it, who cares? Furthermore, I’m not clear what anyone is guilty of in this album, besides being boring and uninspiring.
A few of songs have enough to them that the could serve as adequate background music during a Roger Moore Bond film, but certainly not during the introduction to a Bond movie. Most songs are Celine Dion-esque and are about strong women looking for love, but probably only appeal to women that are nothing like that. I’m missing the genetics and personality to appreciate it.
I’m planning on at least making a real effort to see this idea through for a while, but this is an inauspicious beginning.
(* – Ok, apparently Barry Gibb wrote all of the songs, so his contribution is greater than 2/9ths.)
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