Wondering where a certain record might land in KEXP’s countdown of the top albums of the last 40 years? You’re not the only one. KEXP reached out to some of our favorite Seattle music writers and asked them to predict what records they anticipated seeing in the voter final results. These aren’t personal Top Ten or Best Of lists, but “educated guesses” based on each individual’s expertise in a certain genre as well as his or her familiarity with the musical universe of KEXP.
Today Chris Kornelis, music editor of Seattle Weekly and its Reverb music blog, weighs in on classic rock. Chris’ definition of “classic rock” turned out to be pretty elastic, and that’s cool—we certainly bend and break our share of rules here at KEXP! Chris added some editorial asides, too, in case you’re curious about why he chose the titles he did.
- Nick Drake, Pink Moon: Yes, I was one of the millions of Americans who first heard Drake via the VW commercial that spun its title track in the summer of 2000. I walked into EMP’s record store (they used to have one) and asked the clerk who sang the song, and he sold me the CD. I still have my copy. This album is also great at putting infants to bed. After my son was born, my wife and I spun this guy three or four times a day. It will be some time before I listen to it again.
- The Grateful Dead, Skeletons from the Closet: The Best of the Grateful Dead (1974): Yes, this is a greatest hits album. No, it’s not a live album—and the Dead are known to be a live band. Yes, I’m probably going to take a lot of guff for this one. No, I’m not click-baiting here. This is the album that introduced me—and a lot of people I know—to the Dead. It is a gateway drug. It got us hooked. I still listen to this album. Great sequencing, great song selection. The first time I saw Phil Lesh & Friends, I nearly lost it when they ripped through “Golden Road” in the encore. Great songs are great songs, whether they’re served up on a hits compilation or the original LP.
- Bob Dylan, Blood On the Tracks (1975): “Meet Me In the Morning” is my favorite Dylan song. Buddy Cage’s pedal steel is perfect.
- The Rolling Stones, Exile on Main St. (Deluxe Edition) (2010): OK, so, yeah, the album was perfect when it was released in 1972. Then the Stones staged a coup, and made the album better. The 2010 re-issue includes 10 new tracks, including a soul-shaking rendition of “Loving Cup,” which, if you can handle it, is better than the original. I listen to this album more than once every week.
- Jimmy Cliff, The Harder They Come (1972): My wife introduced me to this one. Not just great reggae, great pop music. “Many Rivers to Cross” is the dark horse for finest soul song of all time.
- The Presidents of the United States of America, The Presidents of the United States of America (1995): The album I’ve listened to more than any other. Another gateway drug. One of the first records I found and loved on my own.
- Beck, Odelay (1996): Probably the most important record in my life. I know that sounds hyperbolic, but I really dove head first into rock and roll when I found this album, and the milestones of my life have strangely been bookmarked by experiences listening to or seeing Beck.
- Elliott Smith, Figure 8 (2000): KEXP darling Rachel Ratner included this on her list of … what was it, top albums of the 2000s? I sent her a note at the time and told her what a cherry pick that was. I love this album, and my heart was broken (no pun intended) when Smith took his own life.
- Nirvana, the Costco box set with Nevermind (1991), Incesticide (1992), In Utero (1993), and MTV Unplugged in New York (1994): Seriously, can’t pick just one.
- Kings of Leon, Youth & Young Manhood (2003): Loooooveee ITTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Stay tuned to the KEXP Fall Fundraising Drive to see where Chris picks land in the final countdown tally. And check back in on the KEXP Blog, too: we’ve still got countdown predictions pending for Americana titles and local artists of the Pacific Northwest.