You see: All those 89.3 the Current listeners aren’t too cool for school.
The Twin Cities’ public modern-rock station wound down its 893 Essential Albums countdown on Thursday at 7 p.m. after what felt like a month-long reveal (it actually only lasted as long as one of Mark Wheat’s favorite soccer matches; a week). Instead of on-air favorites like Alt-J and Bon Iver dominating the list -- voted on by the station’s listeners -- the top 20 looks a lot like a standard best-albums list you might see in Rolling Stone, with just a little Pitchfork-ized modernization.
Among the top 20 are four Beatles records (“Abbey Road” at No. 3, “The White Album” No. 9, "Revolver" No. 12 and "Sgt. Pepper's" No. 18) and other widely recognized landmark LPs like “Pet Sounds” (No. 15), "Exile on Main Street" (No. 14), “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust” (No. 8), “Dark Side of the Moon” (No. 5) and “London Calling” (No. 2). The Current's audience even gave a high slot to a mega-album often looked down upon by rock's most hipster listeners, Fleetwood Mac's "Rumors" (No. 13). Conversely, no Velvet Underground album is in the top 20.
Listeners voted on the 893 poll by entering their own personal top 10 lists. Per stats provided by Minnesota Public Radio publicist Jen Keavy, the artist who landed the most albums on the full list was David Bowie with 13, followed by the Beatles and R.E.M., both with 10.
Three Minnesota acts landed in the top 20, none a surprise: The Replacements at No. 20 with “Let It Be,” Bob Dylan at No. 7 with “Blood on the Tracks,” and Prince at No. 4 with “Purple Rain.” Voting ended before Prince's death, so it wasn't just sentimental value that landed him seven albums total on the full 893 tally, one behind Dylan's total (though "Blood on the Tracks" is Bob's only true Minnesota-made record). Three other Minnesota acts wound up with five records on the big list: Hüsker Dü, the Replacements and Cloud Cult, the latter of whom has risen concurrently with the station's 11-year run. Bob Mould of Hüsker Dü actually is on the list eight times if you also count his Sugar and solo albums.
Two other key picks in the top 20 support the idea that the Current’s audience is not as uppity and hipster-y as is often accused: Radiohead’s accessible and just plain better “OK Computer” came in at No. 6 over the art-farty Pitchfork favorite “Kid A” (No. 38). And then the No. 1 entrant for the whole shebang was Nirvana’s “Nevermind,” a record that would also likely top out a 93X-FM listeners poll and at this point is as American as America beer (aka Budweiser).
Here's the top 20 of the Current's 893 Essential Albums list below, along with a good reminder of why Nirvana's 1991 classic deserves the top spot. See the full list of 893 records over at TheCurrent.org. The poll ran concurrently with the public station's spring membership drive.
OK, now back to our regularly scheduled Alt-J.
- Nirvana - Nevermind
- The Clash - London Calling
- The Beatles - Abbey Road
- Prince - Purple Rain
- Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon
- Radiohead - OK Computer
- Bob Dylan - Blood on the Tracks
- David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
- The Beatles - White Album
- U2 - The Joshua Tree
- Miles Davis - Kind Of Blue
- The Beatles - Revolver
- Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
- The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main Street
- The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
- Led Zeppelin - IV
- Michael Jackson - Thriller
- The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
- Pearl Jam - Ten
- The Replacements - Let It Be