BBC Radio 2 asked listeners to vote for their favourites among its 100 most-played albums (by which I presume they mean albums from which they regularly play songs, since they don’t play albums in their entirety), and then today (Easter Monday) they broadcast the list. Coldplay’s A Rush of Blood to the Head was number one, Hopes & Fears by Keane was number two, Rio by Duran Duran was at three, Dark Side of the Moon was number four and Dido’s No Angel at five.
So yeah, this list was a little silly, a weird mix of canonical old stalwarts and flash-in-the-pan recent favourites. I’m not convinced, too, that the list was entirely genuine (only one record per act, with no exceptions – that presumably had to have been a BBC-imposed restriction) and there were some striking inclusions: sure, they’ve played the hell out of Emili Sande this last year, but is she really in their top 100 most-played already? Come to that, is Cee-Lo Green’s The Ladykiller?)
But any list that shakes up the white male thirty- to fifty-somethings’ rock album canon is probably inherently worthwhile, even if it does put Coldplay, Keane and Dido into the top five. Unintended consequences and all that. I can’t bring myself to get worked up particularly about what didn’t make the cut, either. As I tell anyone fool enough to ask, I consider the best 35 minutes of recorded music ever to be Judee Sill’s self-titled first album. It’s not particularly obscure as records go (I’ve even heard Ken Bruce play Jesus Was a Crossmaker), but it’s never going to make it on to a list like this. It’s no less a record for that, though. If I were the only person in the world who’d heard it I’d love it just as much. Same goes for John Martyn’s Inside Out, Randy Newman’s Good Old Boys, Quasi’s Featuring ‘Birds’, Blossom Dearie’s My Gentleman Friend, Belly’s Star, Gillian Welch’s Time (The Revelator) and any other record that might place highly in my own personal list but aren’t particularly widely beloved.
Hopefully, then, no one will get too het up over this list – as an insight into what the radio-listening public actually wants to hear, the list is actually pretty instructive, if not always cheering. But some other thoughts did occur: Sticky Fingers placed at number six – OK, sure Wild Horses, yes, but perhaps it’s time they gave Brown Sugar a rest. Synchronicity’s similarly high placing (13) speaks to the over-exposure of Every Breath You Take, as they sure as hell aren’t playing Mother, and King of Pain is the only other song I hear from that record regularly (either of Synchronicity I or II would make a welcome change). Flesh & Blood’s seems strange as the most-played Roxy Music record, while we’re on it, but no Roxy authority am I.
I’ll leave it there – very long working day, brain getting mushy. It may all have been an April Fool for all I know. The full list is here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/vote/top-albums/
Judee Sill, not on the list