The Rules: Try and listen to all the albums on the Rolling Stone top 500 albums of all time. No vetoes. I’m not even allowed to veto things on the grounds that they contain Ian Brown, even though he’s the most wretched musician in the history of everything.
My Progress: 500-475
500 OutKast – Aquemini: Okay, so let’s start things off with some underwhelming hip-hop. That sounds like a good idea. This is much more 'gangsta' than I’d expected from that band what did that song about apologising too much, but otherwise, it's pretty bland. An inauspicious start.
499 B.B. King – Live In Cook County Jail: Delightful blues from the age when every blues song had to have ‘blues’ in the title to qualify. Blues.
498 The Stone Roses – S/T: Already I’m sensing this whole adventure might be a terrible, terrible idea. On some level, I understand that there must be something to redeem this hideously bland indie tripe because so many people regard it so highly. But I cannot lie, it makes me want to douse myself in paraffin and walk towards an open flame so that I don’t have to listen to Ian Brown and his stupid face-sounds any more. This is less a listening experience and more a battle of wills.
497 The White Stripes – White Blood Cells: I’ve got a lot of time for the White Stripes, partly because I’ve always been slightly fixated on Meg White. So... yeah. I like this.
496 Boz Scaggs – S/T: Soul. I’m actually listening to it, right now, as I type this and I’ve already forgotten it. Tedious.
495 Bonnie Raitt – Give It Up: Ah, now this is rather lovely! Or at least it is in places. As with all country music there’s a slightly inherent awfulness when the tempo drops and it gets all maudlin, but the upbeat stuff is rather tremendous whisky-soaked bluesy country-rock with some lovely jazz flourishes. When it is good, it is very good. Also I accidentally hit shuffle about halfway through and then listened to it for another hour without realising so it can’t be bad.
494 MGMT – Oracular Spectacular: If I was feeling uncharitable I’d say this is The Scissor Sisters for hipsters. I’m feeling uncharitable.
493 Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot: Nice enough lo-fi indie that has instantly exited my brain as soon as I’ve heard it.
492 Eurythmics – Touch: I hate the 1980s so much. Why did everything sound like that, so tinny and awful? Was there some kind of general strike called by the Union of Sound Engineers? Did Margaret Thatcher ruin music too?
491 Albert King – Born Under A Bad Sign: Now this was what I was looking for, an excellent slab of blues with some lovely guitar licks. First album on the list to have me reaching for Wikipedia to find out more.
490 ZZ Top – Tres Hombres: My main memory of ZZ Top is of those dreadful videos they made in the 1980s with their accompanying dreadful generic 1980s rock. This, however, is amazing 1970s blues-rock. Who knew?
489 Kiss – Destroyer: I've always wondered whether I could get into Kiss. They look fun, and they’ve got a few good tunes. After listening to this, I’d rather drink turps and piss on a fire. Awful, awful music.
488 Husker Du – New Day Rising: If this was 1985 and I was 17, this would likely be the most incendiary thing I’d ever heard. Unfortunately it’s 2013, I’m in my 30s, and I’ve spent twenty years listening to bands who were influenced by Husker Du. This isn’t their fault of course, but it doesn’t really hold up to fresh ears.
487 Cyndi Lauper – She’s So Unusual: Jesus wept. Why the hell am I doing this? This is just stupid. The stupidest challenge ever. This list is awful. All the albums that could have gone on this list and I’m listening to this.
486 Earth, Wind & Fire – That’s The Way Of The World: Sure, I could go on about the godawful cringe-worthy lyrics, but I’m too busy dancing. Oh god, I’m somehow actually enjoying myself. I don’t like it.
485 Pearl Jam – Vitalogy: One of my favourite albums of all time, by one of my favourite bands. 'Nuff said, really. Fifteen albums in and the best album so far is one I already know. Does this mean I have better taste than Rolling Stone magazine? I’m going to go with 'almost certainly'.
484 Mott the Hoople – All The Young Dudes: I went in expecting Bowie-lite, and that’s pretty much what this is, with a bit of Stones thrown in for good measure.
483 Gang of Four – Entertainment!: Well this is a delight. It's like someone took The Jam and knocked all the dreadful out of them and then added a whole dollop of feisty funk. So that’s 2 albums so far, balancing out all the dreadful ones.
482 Steve Earle – Guitar Town: From the sublime to the dreadful. Bland, awful country music that makes me want to punch everyone from Nashville square in the face. I haven’t been this angry about an album since that Kiss one a few albums back.
481 D’Angelo – Voodoo: This is apparently the blueprint for modern R&B, so should probably be viewed as a dreadful thing, but after the crushing hideousness of that Steve Earle album, this sounds halfway okay, like a really stoned Princealbum, replete with vaguely annoying nasal falsetto.
480 Raekwon – Only Built 4 Cuban Linx: I always meant to get round to listening to some of the Wu-Tang solo stuff, but whenever I looked, it seemed there were about 700 albums and I had no idea where to start. So it’s nice to get a prompt. This doesn’t really add anything to the Wu Tang template. It’s essentially an offcut of Forever except with just one of the voices. Except, in places, some of the others do turn up: So it’s basically a very Raekwon heavy Wu Tang album. Not really a bad thing, but it doesn’t exactly set my world afire.
479 Funkadelic – Maggot Brain: Quite understandably, I went into this one expecting funk. Instead, this is a brilliant slice of psychedelic rock. Absolutely brilliant.
478 Loretta Lynn – All Time Greatest Hits: Okay. So firstly, I’m a bit narked off that there are massive Greatest Hits albums allowed on this list. It’s supposed to be a 'best album' list, and I don’t think stocking stuffer compilation records best suited for your mum's Christmas present should count. Secondly, every time I come across a country album on this list it makes me want to give up the whole bloody thing. This is yet more dreadful old school country, replete with gender politics so utterly horrible they make my skin crawl. If anyone wants to hear what the opposite of feminism is, listen to this. If not, avoid like the plague.
477 Merle Haggard – Down Every Road 1962-1994: What the fuck Rolling Stone. What in the living fuck. A four-CD career retrospective? That’s an album now, is it? Rules are rules, and the rules say no skipping. Four CDs. Just shy of 100 songs. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was actually good music, but this is just about the worst thing I’ve ever heard. Redneck country with all the personality of a concrete load bearing member in a mid-60s office block. By the end of disc one, the will to live is gone. Halfway through the second disc I think I might actually be enjoying myself, but it turns out I’ve developed Stockholm Syndrome. Somewhere around the third time Merle refers to hippies and longhairs or the fifth time he says men cheating is the fault of women, I start to weep openly. By the end of the fourth disc I’ve decided that this is not actually a list of best albums but actually, it's a personal slight against me; a vendetta from people I’ve never met, probably because I don't music journalise by their rules. Maybe the next album will be better...?
476 The Notorious B.I.G. – Life After Death: Or maybe not. I’ve always credited Biggie and Tupac with ushering in the death of decent hip-hop, with their over-produced, bland R&B-inflected awfulness. I did this without really giving either of them a proper listen. And it turns out my ignorance was the correct stance: This is every bit as dreadful as I anticipated.
475 Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Armed Forces: The entire length of this album had me thinking about secret lemonade drinkers. Costello is quite the creator of pop ditties, but it lasts about as long as a glass of R White's Lemona-a-hade. You will not get this joke if you are under the age of 30.
I have to stop now, or something regrettable is going to happen. As if this wasn't already regrettable enough.
That's it for now. Frankly, I think that's enough for anyone. But we refuse to stop. Join us next time for more of this tedious drudgery. Bye!