Choosing Just One Year

It is a question that is ultimately pointless but nevertheless fun to consider. If you could only listen to album released from a single year, which year would you choose and why. The more I asked people about it, the more I realized how much thought was going into the answers. With that in mind, I invited music writer Aurora Montgomery back to Daily Duranie to debate which year we would choose as explained in eleven albums. Why eleven? Because Spinal Tap. And we’re off!

The Case For 1979

As I contemplated the death of Andy Gill from Gang of Four a few weeks ago, I started to think about 1979, the year the band’s astounding debut Entertainment! came out. Post-punk has come to mean a lot of things in retrospect but, ultimately, it was a wonderfully creative period that built upon the punk manifesto that anyone could do it and added the idea that anyone could do it anyway they wanted to. Gang of Four did just that, creating politically charged music that fearlessly meshed funk, disco, punk, and rock into their own powder keg of a concoction. Then, I looked at the other albums that arrived in 1979 and I realized that I knew my answer to the question.

I always assumed that, if forced to choose albums from only one year to listen to forever, that I would probably pick either 1982 or 1983. Those were the years when I fell in love with music and when Duran Duran ruled the world. As a ten-year old, the videos on MTV were a window into a world I would someday, hopefully, get to see. With Seven & the Ragged Tiger leading the way, 1983 still seems like a huge year. The Police’s Synchronicity, Bowie’s Let’s Dance, Men At Work’s Cargo, and Quiet Riot’s Metal Health were all massive. However, they don’t hold a candle to the class of 1979. 

Check this out (in no particular order).

  • Gang of Four – Entertainment!
  • The Cure – Three Imaginary Boys
  • Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures
  • Japan – Quiet Life
  • The Clash – London Calling
  • Pink Floyd – The Wall
  • Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Damn The Torpedoes 
  • David Bowie – Lodger
  • The Slits – Cut
  • Blondie – Eat To The Beat
  • Public Image Ltd. – Metal Box

How About 1971?

When this question was posed to me I didn’t think it would actually be possible to commit to a single year of music. I think my first official answer to the question was, “I can’t; it’s impossible.” There are hundreds of years of incredible music to choose from – so how could anyone possibly distill it all down to one year? In order to start the process, I had to imagine myself in one of those desert island scenarios – why else would you limit yourself like that? I also had to take into account that the variety of music that became available in the 20th century is astounding. From there I was at least able to work within the span of 100 years. 

1971 is the year I would choose to get stuck in musically, because there were so many different genres, and because it was the most difficult to choose only eleven albums to represent it. In addition to the great rock and folk albums being made, there were also some incredible minimalist compositions being released in the classical music world. Ultimately it is kind of cheating, because there is a little bit of everything available within this year. Here is the list of albums that I chose, which was extremely hard to narrow down. Ultimately I had to boot Johnny Cash in favor of a second Alice Cooper album, which felt like a real “Sophie’s Choice” ordeal, but as a whole the Cooper album is just better. 

Here are the eleven I ended up with (in no particular order):

  • Alice Cooper – Love It To Death
  • Genesis – Nursery Cryme
  • David Bowie  – Hunky Dory
  • T. Rex – Electric Warrior
  • The Who – Who’s Next
  • Yes – The Yes Album
  • Carole King – Tapestry
  • Elton John – Madman Across the Water
  • Joni Mitchell – Blue
  • Alice Cooper – Killer
  • Leonard Cohen – Songs of Love and Hate

So, which year would YOU choose????

T. Rex 1971
The Clash 1979

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