Sky Arts 1 – classic albums

Sky Arts 1 is a TV channel available on the Sky network. For some inexplicable reason I am able to get this channel here in Warsaw, even though you can’t get Sky in Poland. Strange that.

It is a very dangerous channel because it forces you to stay up way past your bedtime by using alien powers of hypnotism. You switch to Sky Arts 1 at say 22:00 and before you know it it’s 01:00 and you have to take Zosia to school in the morning! Take the other night for example, they had the audacity to show a very interesting documentary about the nothing if not controversial artist, Damien Hirst, followed immediately by an equally fascinating documentary in their Classic Albums series on Rumours by Fleetwood Mac and then, just when you think it’s safe to go to bed they broadcast David Gilmour: Live at the Albert Hall. That’s just one example, it seems like every time I tune it it’s the same story one great programme after another. Bastards! Leave me alone, I need sleep!

As I also consider Rumours to be a classic, I thought I’d check the full list of albums they are highlighting in the Classic Albums series. The programmes take an in depth look at the album tracks as well as everything that was going on in and around the artist/band at the time. Here’s the list (in order of date of original broadcast, I think) with some comments of my own:

    1. Queen – A Night At the Opera – Got it & like it but those who got into Queen earlier would definitely put Sheer Heart Attack ahead of this one. Been to the gig.
    2. Motorhead – Ace of Spades –Not got it and although I have fond memories of Lemmy’s performances of the title track I’m not sure I’d call it a classic.
    3. Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon – Got it & agree with ‘classic’ status although Wish You Were Here runs it close. Been to the gig.
    4. U2 – The Joshua Tree –  Got it & agree with ‘classic’ status. Been to the gig.
    5. Deep Purple – Machine Head – Got it but found myself listening to the compilation 24 Carat Purple far more often. Been to the gig.
    6. Phil Collins – Face Value – Got it, enjoyed it at the time but it now annoys the holy bejezus out of me! Been to the gig.
    7. The Who – Who’s Next – Have not got it. Can see attraction of The Who as a classic band but don’t know enough about the album to comment too much. It does contain my fave Who track, Won’t Get Fooled Again. Saw parts of it live at Charlton football ground.
    8. Elvis Presley – Elvis Presley – Don’t have it but I suppose it has plenty of reasons to be called a classic.
    9. Fleetwood Mac – Rumours – Got it & agree with ‘classic’ status. Amazing achievement given the turmoul the band was in at the time. Been to the gig.
    10. Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks – Got it, or best to say had it because it got lost along with a lot of other vinyl years ago. Understand why it is on the list but from a musical viewpoint London Calling by The Clash would be a better choice even though released 2 years later. Never saw them live, but was very close to doing so.
    11. Bob Marley and the Wailers – Catch a Fire – Have not got it and always listen to the posthumous compilation Legend. This album put Marley on the map so may justify classic status just for that. Never been to a Wailers gig.
    12. Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland – Have not got it and no matter how hard I try I cannot get into Hendrix, undoubted genius that he was. He died when I was eleven.
    13. Meatloaf – Bat out of Hell – Got it and agree with classic status. Been to the gig and boy was it loud!
    14. The Band – The Band – Who? You see that’s the problem here. I keep hearing about these guys but I know nothing about them and when I do catch a track I’m not all that impressed. I suppose you had to be there.
    15. Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Got it and agree with classic status. There are only two Elton albums worth getting, this one and Captain Fantastic. Been to the gig.
    16. Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life – Got it and agree with classic status. Superb and I think very underrated album, artist even. Been to the gig.
    17. Metallica – Metallica – I call this the Black Album. Got it and it probably is a classic but only bought it recently, not when released in ’91. No gig.
    18. Nirvana – Nevermind – Got it & without doubt a classic. Defined the grunge genre. No gig.
    19. Steely Dan – AJA – I really like Steely Dan but not deeply enough to listen to anything more than a Greatest Hits. No gig.
    20. Def Leppard – Hysteria – Got it and really like it. Not sure I’d call it a classic but it’s close. No one-armed drumming gig.
    21. Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast – Not got it. No gig and no idea about this band. They completely passed me by, which is surprising really. No gig.
    22. Lou Reed – Transformer – Had it, now lost. Produced by Bowie and Ronson, which has something to do with why I liked it so much. Not sure if it warrants being a classic although as embryonic glam rock and with the fading whiff of the velvent underground it might be excused. No gig but plenty of Bowie ones.
    23. Paul Simon – Graceland – Got it and undoubtedly an excellent album but not sure it’s a classic. If it is for encompassing World Music then there are probably better choices even if less commercial. I prefer Still Crazy to this. No gig.
    24. Grateful Dead – From “Anthem” to “Beauty” – Covers a total of five albums. Another one like The Band. I think you have to be born in San Francisco. No doubt a classic band but not with me. No gig.
    25. Judas Priest – British Steel – I’ve got this and have been listening to it recently as it also appeared on a list of best ever British albums. No question it is classic rock and was influential in defining heavy metal but I’m not sure I want to listen to it all that often. No gig.
    26. John Lennon – Plastic Ono Band – Haven’t got it. While I think he was the most talented one, I’d prefer to see a Beatles album here. No gig.
    27. Frank Zappa – Over-nite Sensation & Apostrophe (!)Two albums from over 30 by the Salvador Dali of music! Have not got these but have fond memories of tracks like Don’t eat the yellow snow and Stink-Foot. The guy’s a nutter with a twist of genius. Are they classic? No gig.
    28. The Doors – The Doors – These guys are a bit like Hendrix for me, I know there’s something there but I can’t quite come to love it. Would they both be so popular without the drug induced early deaths? Both Hendrix & Morrisson were 27 when they died in 1970 & 71 respectively. No gig but I’ve done the grave!
    29. Jay Z – reasonable Doubt – Not a bloody clue! No gig.
    30. Duran Duran – Rio – Popular band at the time but there were many others in the new-wave era I liked better. No gig.

Judging by how reasonably in tune I am with the list I can only assume the compiler is a relatively old fart , possibly American or at least trying to be nice to Americans looking at some choices.

Just from my own collection there are a number of albums that I would place in the list ahead some of those listed above.

Anything you’d like to add or subtract from that list yourselves?

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17 thoughts on “Sky Arts 1 – classic albums

  1. 29. Jay who? Classic, as in what McDonald’s serves after breakfast “Breakfast menu / Classic menu”.

    But indeed – where’s the proto-rap? Where’s Grandmaster Flash and the Wheels of Steel or Afrika Bambaata and the Soul Sonic Force? Soul and Funk – a token S. Wonder tossed in (indeed a great one) – but where’s Mr James Brown?

    Agree that London Calling merits classic status, but they should have stripped out the weaker tracks, released it as a single album and it’d be up there with Never Mind The Bollocks. And Nevermind by Nirvana?

    This thread should run and run!

  2. I’m in my seventies, so it can be taken for granted that I haven’t the faintest understanding of pop music. But for what little it’s worth, Scatts, I agree that Rumours is a classic. There’s not much else in your list that I’d listen to. I’d add Simon and Garfunkel and the Beach Boys.

    A week or so ago, my son and daughter (in their forties) went to see Neil Diamond at the O2 arena. General verdict: favourable. We also saw him at the Rose Bowl here in Hampshire three years ago. Which prompted a discussion: who are today’s mega stars? Daughter clearly disconnected as she mentioned Rod Stewart, at which point I had to say ‘international’, not just here at home. Then they both shocked me by mentioning Elton John, to which my response was ‘You must be joking’, but they insist they weren’t. Wife then added to my embarrassment by mentioning Phil Collins. Pur-leaze!

    Luckily, all were agreed that Bono is a grade-one shit.

    For me, the people I’d almost die to see have all gone or stopped touring: Sinatra, Presley (yes, I know – but that voice), or, second only to Frankie, the Everly Brothers.

    Today? Can’t think of anyone other than Brian Ferry that I’d cross the road for.

  3. I don’t really know a whole lot about music, but out of the non-compilation albums I have and which haven’t been mentioned here, these would definitely make it into the hall of fame:

    * Pink Floyd – The Wall, Meddle
    * Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – The Boatman’s Call, No More Shall We Part
    * Dire Straits – Brothers In Arms, On Every Street
    * Queen – Innuendo
    * King Crimson – In The Court Of The Crimson King
    * Michael Jackson – Thriller

    Apart from Cave, Gilmour and Knopfler, all of them veterans, no one has produced any album in the last decade that I would consider worth a damn. It looks like I only have 5 songs from other artists released since 2000.

    To most of my friends, I’m an ultra-conservative curmudgeon as far as music is concerned. That’s true. Normally I’m not the nostalgic type, nor one to moan about today’s youth going to the dogs, but when it comes to music… Either I’m hopelessly backward or creativity and talent have gone out the window in this generation. :-/

  4. So this is why you disappeared off the face of the planet. I thought you might have been on vacation all the time you were not heard from.

    Good taste in music. I have quite a few of the same. If not in a CD then probably the original format they came out on so some I can play and some not. I use to be an Elvis fan bigtime in my teens so have most albums. Had front row center seat for his concert and he dies on me 2 days before.(Lp’s, cassettes. 8 tracks yes I am aging myself)BTW…have you heard of TIVO. You’ll get some shut eye if you have it. :)

  5. Coincidentally, I had lunch this week with Brian Ferry’s ex-driver. I wasn’t told this until after the event so had no chance to question him about it but there you go. He’s nothing like a pop star driver these days.

    Roxy Music would be one I’d add to the list, hard to know which album to choose – Stranded, Country Life, Avalon?

  6. It is noticeable on whichever list you care to look at how much of what is considered good music comes from “my generation” or very slightly before or after.

    Thriller for sure should be on the list, best selling album of all time by quite a margin.

  7. Holiday is coming up soon, Chris, but depending on technology it is usually a good time for the blog as I actually have time to write. This year I may not do the blog-as-you-go thing because I don’t think we have web access but will have the laptop and so might be able to crank out a good list of drafts for posting later.

    Not heard of TIVO.

  8. Of course if we really are talking about classic albums, any list must include Songs for Swinging Lovers (Sinatra), Sergeant Pepper and The Beatles (White Album). They’re old? Of course they are. That’s what classic means – having stood the test of time. The phrase ‘a modern classic’ is just marketing-speak.

  9. OK, I’m guessing the list is more about the show’s producers, rather than a consistent idea of what constitutes a classic – what music can we get rights to without spending a fortune? What clips do we already have so we don’t have to produce new material? How else to explain so much heavy metal, and the Paul Simon choice? Scatts, you’ve got it right – there are much better world music paragons out there, so why not “Bridge Over Troubled Water” instead?

    Seriously – no Bowie? I’d go for either “Station to Station” or one of the Low/Heroes/Lodger.

    Jay-Z is one of the better rappers out there (no one hit albums with crap filling up the rest that happens so often in rap/hip-hop). I prefer Michael’s suggestions. One I think is even better: Gil Scott-Heron – “The Revolution WIll Not Be Televised”, even though it’s a “pseudo album” – a record company concoction that they chose to release in place of the complete, original albums (ugh!). His music was definitely a game changer. He sings as well as raps, and it’s an awesome bite of the 1970s that still sounds fresh to me.

    I second about the Roxy. Then I start thinking about Bauhaus, The Smiths, and I’ll take The The “Soul Mining” over Duran Duran. Where to stop?

    “It is noticeable on whichever list you care to look at how much of what is considered good music comes from “my generation” or very slightly before or after.” Amen. I can’t figure out whether current pop music is not that exciting anymore, I just don’t know how to find the good stuff being produced today, or whether I’m just getting old and cranky.

  10. TIVo…digital video recorder… I assumed everyone has one or access to it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TiVo

    I never really watch all the things I have recorded. Still sitting there waiting. Who has time enough to watch tv let alone recorded versions. :) I remember once ages ago when I got cable and they had free month. I got every single station. I tried to watch them all and recorded what I didn’t watch while watching live. Humanly impossible.

  11. Roxy Music? Only two albums even come into the frame – the eponymous first album and For Your Pleasure. The two with Brian Eno’s left-field weirdness counterpointing Bryan Ferry lounge-lizard persona. The result – paragons of the sublime aesthetic. The rest? Pleasant, that’s all.

  12. Ciekawe – There must be a long list but just a few that quickly come to mind –

    1. Simon and Garfunkle’s ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ – If that’s not a classic of classics then I don’t know what planet I’m on.

    2. Billy Joel – The Stranger (album)

    3. Prince – Purple Rain or Sign o’ the Times

    4. Madness – One step beyond :)

    5. The Cure – bloomin heck, so much brilliant stuff up to Disintigration and after too – but you can’t fit all thier best stuff on 1 album.

    In fact once you start thinking about it it’s hard to stop……

  13. Scatts – couldn’t agree more with most, if not all of your thoughts on these classic albums and I’m not an old fart! Who are “The Band”??! Haven’t read the other replies and forgive me if I’m going over old ground here but…

    I think I’d have Cream – Disraeli Gears – in there. Got it. been to the gig and sat next to Brian Ferry!

    Quite shocked there is no Beatles in there…! White Album? Abbey Road? Revolver?

    Also a massive outsider for old rockers… Argus, by Wishbone Ash. Been to many of these gigs in the last decade, they still rock!

  14. Also a HUGE Leonard Cohen fan but I appreciate he isn’t for everyone! Went to the gig at the O2 a few years ago. phenomenal!

  15. Hi James!

    Well, The Band are constantly being referred to by other musicians so you have to assume there’s something good about them even though I have yet to find anyone who has their records or has even heard of them. I may have to buy some just to see what all the fuss is about.

    Agree with all your other suggestions.

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