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Music From the Edge

What Makes A Classic Album ‘Classic’?

The mythical and peerless ‘classic’ album is a term many people attribute to albums that had an impact that is still felt today, but impact can’t be the only quality that defines a ‘classic’ album, can it? Another popular term is ‘overlooked classic’. While it is possible to classify this term as a contradiction if one places a high value upon mainstream impact and cultural staying power, there are certainly many brilliant records that exist upon a golden pedestal exclusively for the obsessive and adventurous listeners; to put it more blatantly, many a great album has been released under the mainstream radar.

If we subscribe to the idea that a classic is not defined by how well known it is, the possibilities of classics are increased dramatically within each respective genre. There have been plenty of albums that received widespread critical acclaim and high sales; take for example Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’, an album that has not only remained commercially successful throughout the years, but has also cemented itself (and the artist) as a household name for a long time into the foreseeable future. Many albums by artists such as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, The Who, and The Doors have had the same effect. It is likely that no one would argue against the fact that many works from the aforementioned artists are classics, but their popularity is not necessarily what makes them classics.

For example, take Massive Attack’s debut album, ‘Blue Lines’. While the album itself was critically well-received, the highest chart position any of the singles managed to garner was 13. Oddly enough, at the time of the album’s release, there wasn’t anything else like it. With the combination of hip-hop break beats, sampling, rapping, soul hooks, and dub grooves, ‘Blue Lines’ pioneered the genre later to be tagged as “trip-hop”. As time has passed and the genre has grown and developed, many look back on the album as an overlooked classic; the likely cause of this revisionism being influence.

But still, a classic album influence alone does not make. The genre of hip-hop is one of the most confusing realms of ‘classics’ that exist. The largest problem with hip-hop and classifying particular hip-hop albums as classic is the rapid growth, progression, and development of the genre. With the steady growth of technology, hip-hop production techniques have changed dramatically and it’s quite easy to hear some of those older records and immediately think “outdated”, but at the same time one can listen to those records and hear many of the pieces of later hip-hop albums. Wasn’t it those albums that laid the foundation for all hip-hop to come? Would Jay-Z have been as successful (or successful at all) if Big Daddy Kane didn’t exist? Would Kanye have made the same chipmunk-soul beats on his early records if RZA never produced “For Heaven’s Sake”? Would Nas have released the ‘Illmatic’ that we know if Rakim didn’t pioneer internal rhymes on ‘Paid in Full’? Did Kool Keith influence MF Doom to eventually take on multiple personas? Would groups like TDE or the A$AP Mob exist without Geto Boys and N.W.A.? All of this is hard to ascertain, but one thing is certain: those older hip-hop albums played an incredibly large role in the progression of said genre. Still, it is unlikely that influence alone can determine a classic. Aesop Rock’s ‘Labor Days’ has found wide praise among fans of alternative hip-hop but its influence within the genre as a whole is markedly miniscule. Could the album still be noted as a classic despite its lack of influence?

What about rock music? As rock has been around for quite a while, its pool of classics are well in place; does rock music still have artists that drop classic albums? Throughout the decades, certainly every original idea that involves a guitar, a drum kit, a bass, and amps has been done hundreds of times over? Perhaps this is true, but that hasn’t stopped the genre’s continued success. Respected artists and groups throughout the years have never been shy in “borrowing” an idea or two from other artists; as Oscar Wilde said, “Talent borrows, genius steals.” On Nirvana’s “Come As You Are”, one can hear a slowed-down version of a riff from Killing Joke’s “Eighties”, released about six years prior. On Green Day’s “Warning”, the featured riff is a near replication of the one featured in The Kinks’ “Picture Book”. Oasis was a band that was never shy about their borrowing habits: take for example their single “Cigarettes & Alcohol” and compare it to T-Rex’s “Get It On”. Even The Smiths borrowed ideas occasionally as exemplified in the similarities between their song “Rusholme Ruffians” and the very similar rhythm in Elvis Presley’s “(Marie’s The Name) His Latest Flame”.  Do these songs and their possible derivativeness lessen the credit of the aforementioned artists? Not at all; despite similar ideas, songs (completely original or not) are all about execution. Even if an idea isn’t all original, it can still be impactful depending on the foundation of execution. As a result, one can find an “agreed-consensus” classic in the rock universe. Recently a few not-widely-disputed rock classics have been released such as The Strokes’ ‘Is This It’, Arcade Fire’s ‘Funeral’, and The National’s ‘Boxer’. All of these albums borrow elements from older works but yet they still resonate with people.

So then what is a classic? Perhaps a classic doesn’t need to contain any of the qualities I described. Perhaps a classic is undefinable. More than likely, every genre has different fans who would likely call some albums classic because of their bias (and perhaps knowledge) pertaining to the genre of that album. Different fans appreciate different qualities. To continue the hip-hop example: some hip-hop fans value lyrics/technique highly so they may appreciate an album by Chino XL more than a hip-hop fan who places high value upon beats and creative production. Are there definite qualities that characterize a ‘classic’ album? If so, do those qualities vary greatly between genres? Let me know what you guys think!

A new semester means some new shows

Thats right folks we are back and kicking all sorts of things…one of those things are getting a bunch of new shows! thats right folks we have basically filled up the night time shows so get ready for some awesome shows with some colorful people!

Our First Meeting Is Soon!

Hey everyone!

Our first planned meeting is scheduled for 9 p.m. on Wednesday, September 10th in Memorial 103. If you’ve just started college this year and have always wanted to have your own radio show or even if you’re a Senior, but have always had other obligations, now is the time to get trained out and get DJ’ing!

The Boys Are Back In Town


The boys are back! From Macrock and by god they are fired up keep an eye out for interviews and other goodies!

Want to become a DJ?


PAW Kickoff Event!!

Hey everyone!

With the 2014 PAW Kickoff Event right around the corner we’d like everyone to check out this interview WPCR conducted with Drew Guay and Edye Levin about the event. In this interview you can hear all the details about the exciting new activities at the Kickoff Event. Be sure to check it out on Friday night from 9 to 11 in the HUB. WPCR will be MCing the event, so we’ll see you all there!

DJ Noonan Last Show Ever!

Check out  A Little Bit of Everything, DJ Noonan’s last radio show at WPCR Plymouth tonight from 7-9. Tune in online at wpcr.org or on your FM dial at 91.7 Plymouth.

DJ Kent

Today is my last radio show ever from 5-7. I’ve been part of WPCR since my freshmen year. I have might a lot of great people, had awesome shows, and overall lots and lots of fun! WPCR rocks!!!!!

2013-14 WPCR Exec Board

WPCR is proud to announce our exec board for the 2013-14 school year!

The results were as followed:

General Manager – Nicholas H. “Candyman” Landry
Assistant General Manager – Miles Winzeler
Programming Director – Alexander Cushing
Training Director – Chad Johansen
Music Director – Nick Einstman
Promotional Manager #1 – J. Benjamin Chappell
Promotional Manager #2 – “Slick” Nick Clifford

Thank you to all who voted!

Spring Fling Battle of Bands

PSU’s annual Spring FLing weekend starts this Friday with Battle of Bands at 8pm!!!

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