Thursday, September 04, 2008

100 Greatest, Gayest Albums of All Time

Interesting list. Some of the usual suspects but still a few surprises such as the number 89 pick: Fifth Column. I had never heard of them before. Not a bad collection overall (I own about 30% of all the albums mentioned!). What do you guys think about the list? writes:
To create our list of the 100 Greatest, Gayest Albums of All Time, we polled more than 100 actors, comedians, musicians, writers, critics, performance artists, label reps, and DJs, asking each to list the 10 albums that left the most indelible impressions on their lives. After receiving responses from Boy George, Rufus Wainwright, Cyndi Lauper, the Indigo Girls’ Amy Ray, Candis Cayne, Perez Hilton, Nate Berkus, Jake Shears, John Cameron Mitchell, Wilson Cruz, Justin Bond, Darren Hayes, Junior Vasquez, Bruce Vilanch, Janis Ian, the Cliks, Ari Gold, Holly Johnson, and a slew of others, we tallied the results to determine our top-100 list.

You’ll notice we expanded the catalog to include not only records by queer musicians but also any records that have had relevance to those voting. While albums by Elton John, k.d. lang, George Michael, Pet Shop Boys, and Ani DiFranco appeared time and again on the lists, many celebrities included what they consider gay masterpieces by mostly straight acts like ABBA, Donna Summer, and, of course, Madonna. So here they are: the seminal, flamboyant, trailblazing, gender-bending, campy, theatrical, audacious, unforgettable albums that changed our lives.

The top (and bottom) 10:

1. David Bowie, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, 1972
It’s ironic that an album with an opener forecasting Earth’s expiration and a closer tackling celebrity excess and self-destruction remains one of the most liberating, uplifting records of all time -- about as ironic as a straight man topping this list. Robust, swaggering anthems “Ziggy Stardust” and “Suffragette City” prove this space odyssey is far from morbid or apocalyptic, yet it is on standouts like the languid, gender-flirting “Lady Stardust” and brash come-on “Moonage Daydream” -- in which the singer asks for a raygun to be placed to his head with almost masochistic sexual glee -- that Ziggy and his Spiders really shine. When in the grand finale, “Rock ’n’ Roll Suicide,” Bowie wails “Oh no love! You’re not alone!” over a sea of theatrical strings, you know he was singing for every exiled, dejected, sexually confused young kid who longed for a world of greater possibilities. "At a time when social and sexual taboos were just starting to break down, Bowie as Ziggy created a world where the possibilities were limitless. You could be whatever you wanted to be.” -- Boy George

2. The Smiths, The Smiths, 1984
After glam rock faded in the mid ’70s, the gay sensibility so integral to British culture was redirected to its pop and dance music. But the Smiths proved the exception to that rule, particularly on the band’s 1984 debut, with a front cover featuring Warhol hunk Joe Dallesandro. As the chiming guitars of Johnny Marr suggest both despair and its transcendence, singer Morrissey articulates alienated longings that gain extra poignancy if one understands them as queer. “You can pin and mount me like a butterfly,” he croons on “Reel Around the Fountain.” Many have dreamed variations on that theme.

3. Tracy Chapman, Tracy Chapman, 1988Announcing the arrival of an acoustic singer-songwriter defined by quiet alto anguish and lyrics that speak of social injustices from an insider’s viewpoint, Tracy Chapman’s 1988 debut is a revolution that sounds like a whisper. An eerily memorable chronicle of frustrated dreams, “Fast Car” still seems to slow life down every time it’s played, but the album’s plainspoken love songs -- particularly “Baby Can I Hold You” -- remain just as eloquent.

4. Indigo Girls, Indigo Girls, 1989

5. Judy Garland, Judy at Carnegie Hall, 1961"She is a legend for a reason. That performance, at that time, by that woman was clearly once in a lifetime. When I first heard it, I wasn't sure who needed whom more. Was it the gay men in the audience needing her, or was it her needing them?” -- Wilson Cruz, actor

6. The Smiths, The Queen is Dead, 1986
7. Elton John, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, 1973

8. Madonna, The Immaculate Collection, 1990
9. Cyndi Lauper, She's So Unusual, 1983

10. Antony and the Johnsons, I Am A Bird Now, 2005With unflinching passion, a desperate desire for human connection, and a tremulous voice redolent of Nina Simone, cherubic Antony Hegarty -- with help from Lou Reed, Rufus Wainwright, and Boy George -- delivered a sparse set of some of the saddest, rawest songs ever recorded. In I Am a Bird Now’s 10 tracks, the singer meditates on the lonesome “middle place” between life and nothingness (“Hope There’s Someone”); gender mutability (“For Today I Am a Boy”); sadomasochism (“Fistful of Love”); and, on the album’s breathtaking climax, “Bird Gerhl,” the sublime freedom of flying alone.

11. Various artists, Hedwig and the Angry Inch soundtrack, 2001

12. The Velvet Underground & Nico, The Velvet Underground & Nico, 1967
13. Ani DiFranco, Dilate, 1996“The record took me two years to digest; it overwhelmed me. Ani put words to experiences from my generation with poise and generosity I had never and still haven’t heard.” -- Melissa Ferrick, folk musician

14. Erasure, The Innocents, 1988
15. George Michael, Faith, 1987

16. Queen, A Night at the Opera, 1975
17. Lou Reed, Transformer, 1972“The gender-bending ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ is (as far as we know) the only song about transsexuals, male prostitution, and blowjobs to hit the Top 40. Bonus points for the leather hunk with a giant hard-on on the back cover.” -- queer psych-prog band Mirror Mirror

18. George Michael, Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. I, 1990
The 6 1/2-minute “Freedom ’90” was not only the first great pop song of that decade, it was George Michael’s condensed autobiography -- the true story of a boy who had painted himself into a corner but was dying to come out. So he recast himself with lip-syncing supermodels, stopped touring, and began to quietly make good on his promise to “take these lies and make them true somehow.” There are other excellent songs on Listen Without Prejudice (most notably the viciously political “Praying for Time”), but it is the gospel choir–worthy “Freedom” that will remain a queer anthem.

19. The B-52s, The B-52's, 1979“I remember auditioning for the character of Duckie in Pretty in Pink and bringing in ‘Planet Claire’ to dance to in front of the director. I still hate Jon Cryer.” -- John Cameron Mitchell

20. Queen, A Day at the Races, 1976

and the bottom 20 are:

81. Scissor Sisters, Ta-Dah, 2006
82. Cher, Believe, 1998
83. Bette Midler, The Divine Miss M, 1972

84. Cyndi Lauper, True Colors, 1986
85. Nina Simone, Anthology, 2003
86. Madonna, Madonna, 1983
"I was in love with her. I never wanted to be her but I definitely wanted to hold hands. I still have my Like A Virgin tour t-shirt. I can tell you what I wore to the concert but that might be really saying too much. One word... AWKWARD!" -- Melissa York, drummer for the Butchies and Team Dresch
87. Madonna , Confessions on a Dance Floor, 2005

88. Hüsker Dü, Zen Arcade, 1984

89. Fifth Column, To Sir With Hate, 1986
90. Kate Bush, The Kick Inside, 1978
"This is frilly and gorgeous and even new agey but for some reason also 'hip' so i was able to drench myself in it without worrying about getting beaten up." -- Nils Berstein, Matador Records
91. Grace Jones, Nightclubbing, 1981
92. Morrissey, Viva Hate, 1988

93. Sade, Lovers Rock, 2000
94. Hair original Broadway cast, Hair, 1968

95. Culture Club, Kissing to Be Clever, 1982

96. Nick Drake, Bryter Layter, 1970
97. Janis Ian, Between the Lines, 1975

98. Ferron, Testimony, 1980
99. Joni Mitchell, For the Roses, 1972 "An album to play alone in your bedroom when the phone doesn’t ring after your virginity is gone." -- Tom Kalin, director Savage Grace

100. The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967
“I couldn’t help being influenced by this truly trailblazing album by the ultimate pop group who was managed by a gay man, Brian Epstein. The world would have missed this cultural watershed without his influence.” -- Holly Johnson, Frankie Goes to Hollywood

100 Greatest, Gayest Albums of All Time full list.