Locals weigh in on the Greatest Year in Music

The theme for WXPN’s annual countdown this year is The Greatest Year In Music, and WXPN invites you to vote on what you think was the greatest year (or years) were in music.

Polls for XPN’s Greatest Year in Music close tomorrow – Monday, October 26th – and if you’re still on the fence about what to vote for, read through some cases we gathered from local musicians and writers. Below, check out snippets from Ben Vaughn (1964), Tara Murtha (1989), Aaron Parnell Brown (1971) and more. Then vote for your favorite year in music here and listen back to winners during the Greatest Year In Music countdown starting Monday, November 2nd.

Ben Vaughn – 1964

Much has been written about the impact the Beatles, the British Invasion and Motown had on pop music in 1964 and it’s undeniable. They ruled. But in between those new sounds and the ones they were replacing was an interesting mix that Americans went for in a big way. Commercial radio was truly alive with change. Imagine ska and bossa nova co-mingling with folk, rock, country and soul and you get the idea. (read more)

Tara Murtha – 1989

REM and the Throwing Muses play at the Mann Center

Were you there? Was it amazing?

In this clip, the Throwing Muses play “Dizzy” from their 1989 recordHunkpapa after an interview that sounds painfully familiar. “It seems like women are obviously redefining themselves and we come from I guess a post-feminist generation,” says Kristin Hersh. “There are all these women that keep saying, ‘Well I’m not feminist or anything’ and I’m like, well what are you? You don’t like women? You don’t think we should be anything?” (read more)

Ben Arnold – 1969

“The Greatest”?? Who knows!?

All I can say is, in 1969, when I was still a very young kid, I was fully aware of what came blasting out of my then teenage sister’s blacklight poster covered bedroom. The list of hits and near hits and deep album cuts continues to permeate every playlist of every classic music station on the waves and on the net today. Including WXPN. It’s simply endless and undeniable. The songs of the Woodstock generation crossed ethnic and genre borders, helped close the door on some of the hippie values of the day, opened some for the more electric, eclectic and controversial artists of the time and brought young people of different ethnic and socio-political backgrounds together. At least, to party. (read more)

Aaron Parnell Brown – 1971

What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye

In my opinion, the Classic Songs are “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology),” “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler),” “Wholy Holy.” This record is the crown jewel of 1971 albums. From front to back this is a masterpiece! (read more)

Joey Sweeney – 1972

The family lore had informed me from an early age that, indeed, I had seen the legendarily decadent and infamous Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street tour when it hit Philadelphia. Well, “seen” would not be the right word — rather, that I would have been present but in point of fact in utero; there, but otherwise engaged. There enough, though, to feel the rumblings, to sense that, on the other side of the wall, there was the chasing of shadows and moonlight mysteries. (read more)

W.C. Lindsay – 2002

Original Pirate Material – The Streets

Late in the summer of 2002, my mom impulsively purchased heavily discounted plane tickets for a last minute trip to England. I had just turned 11 and my hope was to spend the entire trip at the Bay Sixty 6 Skatepark in West London. I was far more interested in the character cast of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater than the Royal Family.

A few days into the trip we wandered into Virgin Records and I found my way to an endcap set aside for “Employee Favorites.” I asked an employee which CD he had chosen for the rack and he picked up a copy of Original Pirate Material by The Streets. It was Mike Skinner’s debut and had come out a few months prior. I bought it without a second thought (thanks mom), and tossed it into my Discman. (read more)

The Districts’ Rob Grote – 1977

Punk exploded in 1977, but did anything else happen? Before you get defensive, I agree that the seminal punk albums of that year are incredibly important albums. But I think ’77 doesn’t get enough credit for its other merits. Countless other influential albums were released that are often overshadowed by the great Ramones, Sex Pistols, the Clash, and the Damned records. (read more)

Nicky Devine – 1952

Nestled between the establishment of a prolific record label (Chess, 1951) and the swiveling hips of Elvis Presley (1954), the year 1952 stands out as a fortifying time for recorded music – and a quiet precursor to the cultural zeitgeist the world will come to know as ‘The 60s.’

The linchpin for 1952? It doesn’t sound like much – ironically, not music at all – a composition first performed in an upstate New York town called Woodstock (heard of it? No? You will – by the end of 1969). There’s musicians but none of them actually play. There’s sheet music but no notes. For argument’s sake I’m going to call it music. (Don’t believe me? Well, you can buy it on iTunes). Know it? It’s called 4’33”. (read more)

Steven Urgo – 1972

My approach for choosing the Greatest Year in Music was straightforward: Find the years that my favorite bands released records, then weigh those years based on both the quality and the quantity of their records. 1972 definitely came through in spades on both accounts, and I loved how many different genres the records encompassed.

Let’s start with my ultimate heavy hitter from ’72: Exile on Main Street by The Rolling Stones. When I started writing this, I immediately looked up Exile‘s release date. This is the consummate rock band releasing the consummate rock record, it takes every core element of the genre and weaves them together perfectly. I love its duality. It’s raw, yet the production is flawless. It’s stripped down of any fluff, yet it’s incredibly well-arranged and layered. Nothing is superfluous and nothing is lacking. (read more)

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