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Old 04-21-2009, 05:40 PM   #1
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Albums that have aged exceptionally well

After perusing this thread, it occurred to me that it might be interesting to discuss what albums would sound as fresh being released today as they did upon their original release. There are multiple factors that affect how an album ages, whether it be the musical trends of years to come, the artists it inspires, or the aging of the instrumentation used. All of these were favorable towards my top 5, which are as follows, in chronological order:


The Sonics - Here Are The Sonics (1965)

Regardless of how you feel about the garage rock revival of the early '00s (I, for one, am not favorably disposed to it, although I feel a handful of great records were spawned from it), it is undeniable that bands like The Hives basically copped their entire sound from this record. And thanks to them and their contemporaries, this record still sounds remarkably fresh. It's also important to note that brash intensity and minimalistic production never really goes out of style.

Compare and contrast:

YouTube - The Sonics - Strychnine

YouTube - The Hives - Tick Tick Boom: Video


Bruce Springsteen - Born To Run (1975)

Despite some occasional signs of pseudo-pretentious '70s bloat in spots (not to mention the synth overload of the otherwise superb She's The One), very few records manage to balance studio gloss and intensity like Born To Run. It channels the youthful freedom of '60s rock n roll with a world-weary, do-or-die feel that, in hindsight, we realize only a "broken hero on a last chance power drive" like Bruce could have provided at that time. Listen to albums like The Killers' Sam's Town and Arcade Fire's Neon Bible and tell me that artists since haven't been just as appreciative.


Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures (1979)

In a time where punk was about to cross over into new-wave thanks to artists like Blondie and Elvis Costello, Joy Division created their own little world where light couldn't penetrate, but emotion and intensity certainly could. It would be dubbed "post-punk" in the years to come, as it channeled the intensity of punk rock with a greater emphasis on atmosphere, but it's quite clear upon listening to this record that it was not an intended hybrid. This is an accidental masterpiece, one that would be dissected and applied to other, lesser works in years to come, and has proven to be highly influential. Without it, who knows, maybe U2 wouldn't be the band they are today.


R.E.M. - Murmur (1983)

Assuming one hadn't heard of R.E.M. before, would it be possible for them to guess the date of this album's release within, let's say, 5 years? I would say it would be a great challenge, as I have not, before or since, heard anything that sounds like this in my entire life. It channels Byrdsian guitar jangle while also picking up the atmosphere and rawness of post-punk, but neither properly describes the sound of Murmur. It stands out of time, like an insect in amber, and hundreds of bands have since listened in wonder, contemplating how the fuck this could have happened, and what they can do to replicate it. I'm still waiting.


Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique (1989)

Forget everything you know about the Beastie Boys. Forget Licensed To Ill. Forget every hip-hop album you've ever heard. Paul's Boutique is like nothing else you'll ever hear. The record is a labyrinth of samples, pop culture references, and witty asides that is as absorbing as it is impenetrable and beguiling. Nearly every song builds on the one that precedes it, leading up to an epic 12 minute mindfuck of a finale that brings the album full circle. Because it references just about every piece of pop culture one could think of in decades prior, it never focuses on one period, and feels completely unique and not of its time...again, because it's of every time. No one could simulate this record because, frankly, it would just be far too much work. Plus, on a more practical level, clearing this many samples would be a impossible task. Paul's Boutique had its 20th anniversary this year, and if it was simply puzzling in 1989, it's simply astounding in 2009. Maybe it'll feel dated upon its 40th anniversary, but at the halfway mark, it's doing just fine.
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Old 04-21-2009, 05:46 PM   #2
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London Calling is a great example of this, I reckon.
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Old 04-21-2009, 06:02 PM   #3
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The first time I heard a song from Gang of Four's 'Entertainment!' I thought I was hearing something new from Bloc Party or Franz Ferdinand. I'd say it still sounds pretty fresh.
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Old 04-21-2009, 06:18 PM   #4
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Spot-on, re: Gang of Four.

I have to disagree with the naming of both Paul's Boutique and Murmur. Actually, I also disagree on Unknown Pleasures. Do I think that the songs have aged poorly? No, not at all. I never liked Paul's Boutique and I still don't, so even those have held steady. Instead, I would argue that none of these records have aged "exceptionally well" because, when I listen to them, I cannot forget them as part of an era. Now, I wasn't actively listening to music when any of these records came out, so it has nothing to do with my being unable to forget my own experiences with the music.

What I mean is that when I listen to Murmur, I think, "Jesus...this sounds REALLY dated. Awesome, yes. The songs still own. But dated. Very dated." That's what I mean.

I'm not a big Go4 fan, but if Entertainment dropped today, I think that people would still be losing their minds. I think that Loveless, by My Bloody Valentine, has also aged exceptionally well. I would say the same of the first few Pavement records, as well as (yes) U2's Pop. Springsteen's Nebraska also refuses to date, as does a great deal of modestly produced folk music.

Literally hundreds of possibilities, but there're a few, off the top of me head.
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Old 04-21-2009, 06:30 PM   #5
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In Rainbows has aged exceptionally well.
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Old 04-21-2009, 06:39 PM   #6
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How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb sounds just as silly today as it did when it was released.

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Old 04-21-2009, 07:38 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LemonMelon View Post


Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures (1979)

In a time where punk was about to cross over into new-wave thanks to artists like Blondie and Elvis Costello, Joy Division created their own little world where light couldn't penetrate, but emotion and intensity certainly could. It would be dubbed "post-punk" in the years to come, as it channeled the intensity of punk rock with a greater emphasis on atmosphere, but it's quite clear upon listening to this record that it was not an intended hybrid. This is an accidental masterpiece, one that would be dissected and applied to other, lesser works in years to come, and has proven to be highly influential. Without it, who knows, maybe U2 wouldn't be the band they are today.

.
I agree with this, the influence of this album is immense, you can hear JD in everything now....and listening to this album with what has been, I suppose, an album that "renews" Joy Division for the 21st Century, Interpol's Turn On The Bright Lights, Unknown Pleasures still sounds very contemporary, despite how much music production has changed since it's release, like it could have been written this very decade. Staggering achievement.

The Joshua Tree has aged especially well I think, the album doesnt really have a time, it's just existed, and always sounded invigorating, no matter they year. Would have stuck out like a sore thumb in the 80s, because it doesn't sound like it's from the 80's. For me it is more "timeless" than anything, and what also helps is the downright crackingness of the songs.
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Old 04-21-2009, 08:19 PM   #8
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Allow me to add Their Satanic Majesties Second Request, by The Brian Jonestown Massacre, to this list. Heard it playing at a record shop, this afternoon, as was awed by how "timeless" it does indeed still feel.
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Old 04-21-2009, 08:57 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by If you shout... View Post
I think that Loveless, by My Bloody Valentine, has also aged exceptionally well.
I adore Loveless, but your argument for why Paul's Boutique and Murmur haven't aged all that well is the very reason why I didn't use it as an example...I associate Loveless with a specific era, as it ushered in a sound that was only relevant during that specific era. There are some shoegaze acts still hanging around, but I can't help but think early '90s when I play the album. I don't feel that way about Murmur, because it's so unique, and it sounds so much unlike most of its contemporaries. You could say the same about Joshua Tree, I suppose, even if, say, the keyboards at the end of Trip Through Your Wires, or One Tree Hill as a whole sound pretty damn '80s to me.
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Old 04-21-2009, 09:11 PM   #10
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Great thread.



It amazes me that this was released in 1968.
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Old 04-21-2009, 10:14 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by u2popmofo View Post
How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb sounds just as silly today as it did when it was released.

Does that mean U2 hate ALL their old stuff?
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Old 04-22-2009, 12:47 AM   #12
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I guess I'll go with the most unoriginal answer imaginable, despite its being remarkably true:



Honestly, every time I listen to it my brain shuts down from disbelief. I still can't wrap my head around how they managed to record and mix something that sounds so brilliantly perfect given the technology at the time. As far as pure sonics are concerned it nearly puts to complete shame everything that came before and after.
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Old 04-22-2009, 04:37 AM   #13
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Abbey Road sounds a bit dated to me because of the Moog stuff. Great album, but aged well? It was a classic already when it was released.

The White Album is probably the least-dated of the Beatles albums. It just sounds SO damn clean.
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Old 04-22-2009, 05:16 AM   #14
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and





Dark Side because I'm one of the few of the opinion that it really does live up to the hype, the music still sounds fantastic today, and from the start of Us and Them onwards it's utterly flawless.

And Quadrophenia because, well, look at my thread.
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Old 04-22-2009, 01:31 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lazarus View Post
Abbey Road sounds a bit dated to me because of the Moog stuff. Great album, but aged well? It was a classic already when it was released.

The White Album is probably the least-dated of the Beatles albums. It just sounds SO damn clean.
I support this post. Albums like Abbey Road and Innervisions, amazing though they may be, suffer from the moog synthesizers. Not the music itself so much, but you can easily peg them as late '60s, early '70s.

The White Album, though I am not its biggest fan, still sounds great as ever.
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