People LOVE anniversaries. Paper, Aluminum, Silver, Gold, Platinum, nothing joys the human heart like celebrating the years that have passed and admitting that we are all getting horribly, horribly old. As soon as I heard Guns N' Roses' Appetite For Destruction was turning 20, I thought to myself, "I'll bet a lot of albums are turning 20 this year."
Then the Gods decided to play a mean trick and sent me a copy of the new expanded edition of Prefab Sprout's ultra-groovy Steve McQueen album to commemorate the album's 22nd anniversary! Is no math sacred? Music is all about timing. Shouldn't marketing follow? 22? Huh?
In any event, aside from realizing that Henry Rollins formed the aptly-titled Rollins Band in 1987, I began compiling a voluminous list of albums that should have received the same fanfare for reaching their 20th birthdays with their legacy intact. I know there are those of you who will argue strenuously for the inclusion of the Pixies' Come On Pilgrim or U2's The Joshua Tree but when you do the deep, complicated mathematical algorithms required to determine "IMPORTANCE," well, it gets complicated.
Here are the five albums that changed a generation and taught them how to shave.
Suzanne Vega - Solitude Standing
Remember "Luka"? Who could forget? This one song changed the fortune of young children living in second floor apartments forever. Every time one of these little scamps scrapped his or her knee, you could be practically guaranteed their parents would be carted off by social services and forced to answer tough questions. Not to mention what "Tom's Diner" did for the diner industry and guys named Tom.
Butthole Surfers - Locust Abortion Technician
Once upon a time, their name often wasn't printed and their name was deliberately misspoke. Buttonhole Surfers, anyone? This bunch of Texas rowdies knew what it took to make a hit, tho, as anyone who's hummed along with such natural mega-hit material as "Kuntz" and the mathematically-correct "22 Going On 23" can attest. Back in '87, if given a choice between Whitney Houston and these guys, could you decide? So close, so close.
Mick Jagger - Primitive Cool
It's hard to convey what Mick Jagger meant to the people back in 1987, back when the man lived on the pulsebeat of the era. When he sang a song, you found yourself involuntarily nodding along because you knew he had the TRUTH, "YES, that's EXACTLY what it's like. Oh, Mick, you've NAILED it again." Worker productivity in nearly all first-world countries went through the roof upon the release of the "Let's Work" single. And garbage receptacles overflowed with Mick's "Throwaway" single. A younger Jagger might have used his pulpit for irresponsible leadership - just imagine the horror had he recorded a song like "Public Urination" - but this older, wiser Mick Jagger dealt in social responsibility to which we are eternally grateful.
The Cure - Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me
In this CD age when ALL albums are 70 minutes and counting it doesn't seem like much of a big deal. But back in these ancient, dark days, double albums meant the 'Artist' had something significant to say. It was their modest way of ringing the bell of self-importance. I create a double album, therefore, I retail at a higher price. The first thing the Cure did with their double album was open with a guitar solo that takes the better part of an hour. From there, it's Goth-Rock for the middle class. Break out the pancake make-up. Pull down the shade. Turn on your black light and wallow in the misery of unloved adolescence. "Why Can't I Be You?" Better question: who would want to?
Prince - Sign O' the Times
Again, a DOUBLE album. And this blog will always value quantity! More, much like louder, is always better. Think of it this way. Would you like to have more or less money? Obvious, right? Once Prince realized that his movies were always going to stink, he realized he'd have to rely on music. He'd made some pretty good albums but they weren't getting him the kind of attention he wanted. He wanted more. So in order to get more, he made more. Kind of like in order to make money, you have to spend it. Since Global Warming wasn't yet a big topic, his Purple Highness focused on crack, AIDS, cross-dressing and religion. And because he was so serious and made his album so long, no one noticed he was still really short. A lesson also once learned by Paul Simon.
- Mick Jagger