Magazine article The Spectator

Irresistible Best List

Magazine article The Spectator

Irresistible Best List

Article excerpt

I was travelling home from work last week on what is affectionately known in our parts as the Vomit Comet - the last train, full of oafish lads and inanely cackling lasses, many of whom seem constitutionally incapable of keeping the contents of their stomachs to themselves after a night on the piss.

I found myself a safeish corner, guiltily ignored the man with the dog on a string seeking, as he invariably does, money for that night's stay in a hostel, and turned gratefully to my Q magazine. I don't usually buy Q any more - it appears to be getting depressingly yoof-oriented and morbidly fixated with Britney Spears's midriff - but the cover promised yet another of those lists which I find so irresistible, in this case the 50 Best British Albums Ever!

So I was a contented chap as I sipped my AMT latte with caramel (stronger, better and conspicuously cheaper than Starbucks) and leafed through the countdown, which, as is customary on such occasions, was printed in reverse order. It struck me as miserly that the Pet Shop Boys' Very had only made it to number 50, and did we really need Robbie Williams at number 43? And where the hell was Pink Floyd's psychedelic masterpiece, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn?

But, by and large, most of the old favourites were satisfyingly present and correct, with such unassailable classics as Van Morrison's Astral Weeks, David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust, The Smiths' The Queen is Dead and Massive Attack's Blue Lines all gratifyingly high up the list.

But then I found myself choking on my latte. The Beatles' Revolver (1966), which by immemorial and inviolable tradition is always accorded the number one spot in charts of this kind, had been demoted to number two. What could possibly have knocked it from the top? You had to turn the page to find out, so I had a few guesses before doing so. Exile on Main Street by the Stones? The Bends by Radiohead? Led Zeppelin IV? Reader, it was none of the above. It was the derivative yobbery of Oasis's Definitely Maybe (1994). I came perilously close to suffering a protein spill myself.

I listened to Definitely Maybe and Revolver back to back over the weekend. Yes, Oasis, with all the volume controls set to 11, offer an exhilarating rush of stroppy energy and anthemic choruses useful for pub singalongs. Yes, Liam Gallagher's got a marvellously sneery voice and his brother Noel pulls off a few enjoyable lead-guitar licks. …

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