Has rock music aged gracefully? What was the best single year in rock history? What was the best record of 1966? Was there any good music in the 70s? Questions like these are of course a matter of taste. But we wanted to at least set the record straight on what we think, so here we present a year-by-year statistical summary of our ratings, with links to what we think the best records in each year were.
How do the rankings work? Well, it's really pretty nightmarish. Ultimately, the scores are percentages scaled between the best year and the worst, and they depend on a sum of all the scores we handed out for each individual year. However, the intermediate steps in the calculation are pretty brutal, so you can skip reading them if you want. Here they are:
You'll notice two important things about the scores. First, there are cycles that last about six years. We think these cycles relate to the invention of major new movements like "classic" 60s rock; soft rock and glam rock; funk, disco, and punk; "alternative" rock; and so on. Second, we do not think modern popular music is getting any better. In fact, we think the mid-80s and early 90s really sucked. Fortunately, things have picked up again lately with the death of 80s synth pop and the rebirth of traditional rock music under the alias of "grunge" and "Britpop."
Some of the overall trends might merely reflect our own biases, but the cycles are probably as "real" as any cultural phenomenon can be - we had no idea we were going to find them when we did this analysis. And even more surprisingly, we found the periodic peaks in both of our ratings, despite the fact that Alroy is crazy about the early 80s and Wilson likes the 70s a whole heck of a lot more.
And the best year in rock ever? 1966 - we haven't reviewed quite so many records from that year, but it was a damned good one. (JA)
Psst! Hey, buddy: wanna see all our five-star ratings in one big inchoate mass? (DBW)
Year - Rating - Best Album(s)
1963 - 17%
1983 - 44%
Wow, this is the worst web page of 1998. Get me outta here...