A Rolling Stone Writer Gathers No Good EDM

9 August 2012 | 10:29 am | Kris Swales

Rolling Stone chose their top dance albums of all time, Kris Swales reckons they got it all wrong.

Rolling Stone's 30 Greatest EDM Albums Of All Time: a rebuttal by Kris Swales.

The good thing about Best Albums Of All Time lists is that they can send readers down a rabbit hole of musical discovery that will open their ears to hidden gems. Without them – and specifically Mojo magazine's from some time in the mid-'90s – I wouldn't have spent the past 15 years banging on to anyone unfortunate enough to be in earshot about how Talk Talk's 1988 magnum opus Spirit Of Eden was the precursor for the post-rock of Mogwai, Sigur Rós, et al, and the best album they've never heard.

The bad thing about Best Albums lists is that if the list makers quite clearly have no fucking idea what they're talking about, the shit storm of indignation will rain long and hard into the night – and well it might. Sadly for US Rolling Stone, their 'The 30 Greatest EDM Albums Of All Time' list posted online earlier this week has more head-scratching decisions than a jaded ex-raver can point a tattered 12-inch of Euphoria's Love You Right at.

Compiled by RS contributors Jon Dolan and Michaelangelo Matos, it's a short-sighted selection that reveals a limited grasp on the full depth and breadth of electronic dance music – otherwise known by lazy journalists (but not this jaded ex-raver) as 'EDM'.

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Where to begin? Let's start at the obvious point – Skrillex. No hate for the man here – he's the champion of a new sonic movement after all, and does his thing better than most – but including an EP on a list of albums is Credibility Fail number one. If the writers really felt they had to represent brostep with an EP, then surely two-step's finest (only?) moment should have been recognised with a nod to the Artful Dodger's 1999 single Re-Rewind. Who doesn't love Craig David?

Secondly, selecting compilations for Orbital, Underworld and The Orb instead of albums proper is like being unable to choose between Abbey Road and The Beatles so just running with 1967-1970 instead.

FACT: Orbital are arguably the most consistent 'artist album' electronic act of them all.

FACT: 1994-2002 era Underworld aren't far behind.

FACT: The Orb's Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld should be an automatic Top 10 inclusion in any such list.

FACT: Ditto for Leftfield's Leftism.

I mean, really? No Leftism? It's the dance music equivalent of rock writers overlooking Exile On Main Street, or putting Madonna's Ray Of Light in any list of the best anything ever. Oh, wait…

What else? Entire musical movements represented by obscure compilations (2010's Kings of Drum + Bass over any mid-90s jungle long-players), other musical movements completely ignored (obviously the disco slow burn of Donna Summer & Giorgio Moroder's Love To Love You Baby didn't get to 'the drop' quickly enough) – even the most commercially successful work from black American pioneers (Paradise from Kevin Saunderson's 'Second Summer Of Love' era Inner City, for example) doesn't rate a mention.

And if you're going to slot the (admittedly very deserving) As Heard On Radio Soulwax Pt. 2 from 2 Many DJs in there, why not Sasha's even more innovative DJ-mix-as-remix-album Involver? Richie Hawtin's game-changing Decks, EFX & 909? Not enough familiar guitar tracks getting mashed up in there for you, team Rolling Stone?

To be fair, Messrs Dolan and Matos do get half of the list kind of right – Burial's Untrue, The Prodigy's Music For The Jilted Generation, and The Chemical Brothers' Dig Your Own Hole were all era definers that stand the test of time and deserve their place at the pointy end of proceedings.

But they stumble again at the final hurdle by putting Homework – which isn't even the best Daft Punk album – at the top of the pops. In the end, I guess we should just be thankful that they didn't give the gong to Human After All and get on with our lives.

And yep, you knew it was coming – here's 15 albums (compilations weren't considered) that a jaded ex-raver thinks could've made the cut, in chronological order because it's too hard to colour code them by album cover. Hopefully you find a rabbit hole or two worth exploring.

The Orb – The Orb's Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld (Big Life, 1991)

Orbital – Orbital 2 (aka Brown Album) (FFRR, 1993)

Leftfield – Leftism (Columbia, 1995)

Goldie – Timeless (FFRR, 1995)

Orbital – In Sides (FFRR, 1996)

Roni Size/Reprazent – New Forms (Mercury Records, 1997)

BT – Movement In Still Life (Embrace The Future, 1999)

PNAU – Sambanova (Peking Duck, 1999)

St Germain – Tourist (Blue Note, 2000)

Underworld – A Hundred Days Off (V2 Records, 2002)

Plump DJs – Eargasm (Finger Lickin' Records, 2003)

Ils – Bohemia (Distinct'ive Records, 2005)

Booka Shade – Movements (Get Physical, 2006)

Lindstm – Where You Go I Go Too (Smalltown Supersound, 2008)

Mount Kimbie – Crooks & Lovers (Hotflush Recordings, 2010)