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KEXP Listeners’ Top 12 Artists of All Time

KEXP Listeners’ Top 12 Artists of All Time

KEXP completed its fall pledge drive yesterday, and during the week-long drive they counted down the top 437 artists of all time as voted on by listeners. Listeners had until September 19th to cast their votes for their top twelve. I’m not sure why the final list was 437. It could be that’s the total number of different artists that were chosen by listeners, or maybe it was an air-time issue – the number of songs they could get through during the daytime pledge-drive hours. (Anybody at KEXP reading this who knows why the list was 437?)

I listened to the station during my drives to and from work during the week, and I must say the banter from Kevin Cole, Troy Nelson, and Tilly (?) during the afternoon show was pretty entertaining. I especially liked Troy’s “80’s scream”. Just thinking about trying to imitate it makes my throat hurt.

Anyway, here’s the top twelve as voted on by listeners:

1 The Beatles
2 Radiohead
3 Led Zeppelin
4 The Clash
5 Nirvana
6 Pixies
7 David Bowie
8 Bob Dylan
9 The Rolling Stones
10 Neil Young
11 R.E.M.
12 Pink Floyd

I get that a lot of people of all generations like The Beatles, and the band has had a long time to grow a fan base, but I would have flipped The Rolling Stones’ spot for The Beatles’ spot. I listen to the Stones pretty often – mostly the late sixties through mid-seventies era, and those albums still sound pretty fresh to me. As for The Beatles, I listen to them once and a while, but I’ve grown tired of them.

No surprise that Radiohead placed high on the chart, because they used to win the album-of-the-year polls every time they put out a record. Led Zeppelin ahead of The Clash? Come on! Nirvana snuck in as the only American band in the top five.

Here’s my list from a couple weeks ago with corresponding KEXP rankings:

1 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (59 – not bad, but someday the rest of you will come around.)
2 Patti Smith (67 – really? Have you seen her live?)
3 Tom Waits (35 – but he had ten albums on their list of top 903 albums of all time.)
4 Johnny Cash (13 – about where I would expect.)
5 P.J. Harvey (56 – she deserves much better than this.)
6 The Clash (4)
7 Bob Dylan (8)
8 Bruce Springsteen (43 – he’s better than this, but not a surprising ranking for KEXP)
9 The Rolling Stones (9)
10 Nirvana (4)
11 X (85 – really? John Fuckin’ Doe? Listen to their first four albums again.)
12 Bob Marley (32 – perhaps his ranking will rise now that we can buy pot legally in this state.)

But what about Sufjan Stevens? I had a beef with fellow listeners after the Top 903 albums of all time poll. His Come on Feel the Illinois ranked #15 in that one – way ahead of much more worthy albums. For this poll he came in 89th. His star has faded because he hasn’t really done anything since.

Nothing else too surprising about the results. What do you all think?

KEXP 40th Anniversary Top 40 of Past 40 Years

KEXP 40th Anniversary Top 40 of Past 40 Years

All week during KEXP’s pledge drive, they have been playing the top albums of the past 40 years as voted on by their supporters to celebrate their 40th Anniversary. The list is 650 albums long. Like me, you probably liked a lot of it, and didn’t like some of it.

You can read the whole list of 650 albums on the KEXP Top 40 of the Last 40 years here.

Here is their top 40:




RadioheadOK Computer




The ClashLondon Calling


U2The Joshua Tree


Arcade FireFuneral


David BowieThe Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust


RadioheadKid A


Pink FloydDark Side Of The Moon


WilcoYankee Hotel Foxtrot


Bob DylanBlood On The Tracks


Sex PistolsNever Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols


Beastie BoysPaul’s Boutique


The Rolling StonesExile On Mainstreet


Michael JacksonThriller


Joy DivisionUnknown Pleasures


Pearl JamTen


Prince and the RevolutionPurple Rain


The CureDisintegration


PixiesSurfer Rosa


Neutral Milk HotelIn the Aeroplane Over The Sea


RadioheadThe Bends


Talking HeadsStop Making Sense


Led ZeppelinHouses Of The Holy


Fleetwood MacRumors


R.E.M.Automatic For The People


Paul SimonGraceland


New OrderPower, Corruption and Lies


The SmithsThe Queen Is Dead


Smashing PumpkinsSiamese Dream


The Flaming LipsYoshimi vs. The Pink Robots


RadioheadIn Rainbows


Led ZeppelinPhysical Graffiti


Beastie BoysLicensed To Ill




Violent FemmesViolent Femmes


Neil YoungHarvest


Jeff BuckleyGrace


Sonic YouthDaydream Nation


Sufjan StevensIllinoise



And now you may be asking yourself why this list of the top 40 goes to number 41. Well let me tell you: In my opinion, Sufjan Stevens’ album is not worthy of being on this list and R.E.M.’s Murmur is.

Sufjan bores the hell out of me.

Placement matters. Fore example, when KEXP did their top 903 albums of all time back in 2008. Sufjan placed 15th of all time, and Patti Smith placed 104th. (Anyone that tells me that Illinoise is better than Horses I immediately dismiss as a fool). So as I am glad to see that enough people have come to their senses to drop Sufjan’s album 26 places since 2008 and move Patti Smith’s Horses up 52 spots from 104th to 52nd, I still cannot accept that Illinoise is in KEXP’s top-40 list. Again I must ask who the hell are my fellow KEXP supporters and why do they like such boring music? And I won’t go too far out on a limb to predict that, in the next multi-generational poll, the fools will all have forgotten Illinoise, and Horses will prevail.

Enough of that…

What’s most interesting about these lists besides who made it to the top ten (Congratulations to Nirvana for taking the Number One spot over Radiohead, who usually places Number One in these polls, and yes I have come to appreciate Radiohead more since the last multigenerational poll [more about that here, although I prefer The Bends over OK Computer, but nevermind]) are the albums missing from the list.

What’s missing?

Scott H. Biram – Something’s Wrong/Lost Forever

Capsula – In the Land of Silver Souls

The Duke Spirit – Cuts Across the Land

Jim White – Wrong Eyed Jesus

Nick Cave – every album except Let Love In that placed 591st.

Richard Hawley – True Love’s Gutter

Lydia Loveless – Indestructible Machine

Alejandro Escovedo – Gravity

Just to name a few…

I can’t blame KEXP for these omissions, because they play and promote all of the above artists who are missing, so all I’m left with is their listeners.

Wake up KEXP listeners! There are way better artists than many of the 650 listed, but you just aren’t paying attention. Maybe some of the ones I’ve pointed out are not in your wheelhouse. I get that, and I also get that expanding your horizons is why KEXP is so loved around the world.

So next time you hear Capsula, Jim White, The Duke Spirit, Scott H. (the “H” stands for “FUCK YOU”) Biram, Alejandro Escovedo, or Lydia Loveless – pay attention and expand your horizons. You might really like some of this stuff. You might even like it more than you think you like Sufjan Stevens!

Oh… I forgot I was done with that.

Oh well, whatever, nevermind.

Friday Night Videos – Nirvana, Jack Kerouac, Chuck Prophet

Friday Night Videos – Nirvana, Jack Kerouac, Chuck Prophet

Geffen Records released a DVD/CD of Nirvana live at Reading Festival from 1992. Here’s a bootleg video of “In Bloom” from that concert. Sub Pop also released a 20th Anniversary, remastered edition of Bleach

One Fast Move or I’m Gone– A Movie about how Jack Kerouac came to write Big Sur.  Highly Recommended!   It’s available in a DVD/CD package.  The music is by Jay Farrar and Benjamin Gibbard.  Great stuff.

A video about the recording of Chuck Prophet’s new album, ¡Let Freedom Ring!, that he recorded in Mexico.  My copy came with a souvenir swine flu surgical mask that might come in handy some day soon.

Top Ten Albums of All Time – How do You Choose?

Top Ten Albums of All Time – How do You Choose?

KEXP is having a fund drive now and during the drive they are playing the top 903 albums of all time as voted on by their listeners who submitted their lists of top-ten albums.

I meant to vote in the KEXP poll, but I agonized for so long over my list that the deadline passed before I could vote.

And you may ask yourself, what’s so difficult about naming your ten favorite albums?  Well… in many cases it’s difficult to select one album from an artists entire body of work.   What’s the best Dylan album? The best Springsteen?  The best Neil Young?  The best Nick Cave?  Should you choose more than one album from your favorite artists?  How would a list of top-ten albums of all time look if it included three from Dylan, two from Springsteen, three from Nick Cave, and two from Neil Young?  I could easily make that list.  You might be able to create a similar list from the works of your four favorite artists.

Should you stay within the realm of folk/blues/pop/rock/soul or should you include jazz and classical?  Should you care about what era the music was made?  I ask because it would be very easy for me to list the ten best albums from each decade beginning with the fifties and ending with our current decade.  So by not including something from all five decades, would you or I be ignoring great works because they are too old or too new?

Those were all difficult issues for me to resolve.  My wife said I was overthinking it.  She suggested I just go through my albums and pick my ten favorites.   Okay… but that’s a huge stack to sort through.  It would take me a whole lot longer to that than it’s taking me to write this.

So in the end what I came up with is what’s probably obvious to people who don’t dwell on these types of decisions like I do.  I started thinking of the albums that I never tire of hearing and that I listen to quite often.

Here’s the list is in alphabetical order because it’s impossible to rank them numerically:

Hector Berlioz – Symphonie Fantastique/Tristia, Cleveland Orchestra, Pierre Boulez (1997)

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Let Love In (1994)

Miles Davis – Kind of Blue (1959)

Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited (1965)

Alejandro Escovedo – Gravity (1992)

P.J. Harvey – To Bring You My Love (1995)

Nirvana – Nevermind (1991)

Patti Smith – Horses (1975)

Bruce Springsteen – Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978)

Neil Young – Rust Never Sleeps (1979)

That’s ten.  It wasn’t easy because my first draft was twice as long, so I’ve left off at least ten more really great albums that deserve to be on this list.

What albums are on your list of the Top Ten Greatest Albums of All Time?  I want to know!  Please click on “Comments” below this post heading and tell me.