Friday, February 20, 2004

The Perfect Album

I'm a huge Billy Murray fan, and when Lost in Translation came out in the theaters last year, I knew I had to see it. Little did I know that it would turn out to be arguably my personal favorite movie...perhaps ever. Its story of a new friendship and deep romantic connection mixed with a sexual tension that shouldn't and isn't crossed along with disillusionment with one's life is something I can understand completely, and I wish I wrote the script. I'm simultaneously envious of Sofia Coppola and a great admirer of hers. I get the same feelings watching this movie as I do listening to Cat Power.

Okay, enough of this touchy-feely shit. The reason I bring up Lost in Translation is that I just saw it again on DVD, which my sister bought for me for my birthday last month. Kevin Shields (of My Bloody Valentine fame) contributes four new songs and his first real material since the days of MBV. Also on the soundtrack is MBV's "Sometimes" from Loveless. So this past week I've been getting back into My Bloody Valentine, listening to Loveless nonstop in my car to and from work all week, including today. As I listened today to the whole thing, I started thinking of perfect albums, albums that have absolutely no weak tracks or songs I (almost) always skip over when listening to them, are in perfect order, and starting from the first track, I don't want to stop until the album is done. In that sense, Loveless is perfect.

I started thinking of other "perfect" albums, not including "Best of's", compilations, and live albums. And I had a lot of trouble thinking of them...which was surprising because I could name hundreds of albums at the top of my head that I absolutely love, but most have one or more songs I almost always skip over. (Another thing, I believe you *cannot* or *should not* use the same criteria for different genres of music. For example, in my opinion you can't use the same criteria to judge a hip hop album that you do for a rock album. That's why I think that a person who's exclusively into rock music or whatever has a difficult time appreciating the absolute brilliance of someone like Jay-Z, and conversely, someone who's exclusively into hip hop may have a difficult time appreciating the beautiful noise of Wolf Eyes. But all this is another story.)

Anyway, here's a short and incomplete list of "perfect" albums to me: obviously Loveless, the first two Velvet Underground records, Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy, Dr. Dré's The Chronic, Miles Davis' Kind of Blue, The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, Gilberto Gil's 1969 self-titled album, Gang Starr's Daily Operation, John Coltrane's Giant Steps, Beefheart's Lick My Decals Off, Baby, numerous Bob Dylan albums, Can's Tago Mago, PiL's Second Album/Metal Box, Nas' Illmatic, and many more...I'm getting tired of thinking about this shit. There are albums that I don't consider "perfect" that I probably enjoy listening to as much as, if not more than some of those listed above...but if not for those songs I don't care for...

Okay, I promise I won't write about music next time, unless it's putting up a playlist from my radio show.


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