My obsession with lists made me stumble upon another interesting journey. In a similar, though much less time-intensive fashion as my (Not So) Definitive 25 Scariest Novels Ever Written list, the #315Albums list is a conglomerate of the Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list, as well as the 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die book, edited by Robert Dimery. The credit for the original idea completion of this list goes to Media Diet. They did all the legwork this time around, and I just added my two cents to their work.*

As with any list, it is someone’s (or multiple people’s) opinions. I fully understand that there is no way to definitely say what is the best, scariest, or most important anything. That said, I do believe in the power of numbers. The more sources that report something as worthwhile, the more inclined I am to listen. Especially if the subject is music, and Rolling Stone has an opinion, as you generally won’t find a more knowledgeable source on the subject. Their opinions, combined with the Dimery book, though not all-inclusive, feel like a better place to start than any other I could have found, which is why I decided to use their opinions to learn more about music.

Back in January of 2017 I bought my first, modest turntable setup (a Fluance RT81, along with the Edifier R1280T powered bookshelf speakers, for the curious). A month prior, I received my very first all-in-one turntable as a Christmas gift from my wife, along with some of my first records. Most of these were movie soundtracks from Waxworks Records with incredible album artwork.

The first album I spun, however, was Hotel California from the Eagles. I was blown away. Not only did the recrod sound differently than what I was used to with all-digital music, the album itself was absolutely fantastic. I was instantly hooked on the vinyl experience, and that’s why I decided to upgrade to my Fluance. I have not regretted it one bit. It my be a starter turntable, but it’s fantastic for me. My next upgrades will come in the form of the Schiit Mani preamp, and, when I work up the nerves to attempt to install and calibrate it, the Ortofron 2M Red cartridge.

This is what lead me to the #315Albums journey. I want to have a better understanding of music, and to be a part of the conversation around what is the “best” music out there. At its best, this will expose me to the greatest music that has ever been released. Even at its worst, this will simply expose me to some of the music that the majority of experts look at as important, influential, and/or relevant, and there is nothing wrong with that. This is not all-inclusive, but a sampling of a lot of different genres, and if I pick up a new favorite or two along the way, the whole thing is worthwhile.

Of course I cannot just listen to these albums and move on, though. It’s in my DNA to think about them, talk about them, and, ultimately, review them. It’s also in my DNA to try and sort them all in my own personal list as I go through them, so I am utilizing my resources to make all of this happen.

As I randomly listen through all 315 albums over the next X number of years, I am keeping track of it all in a spreadsheet. Whenever I finish an album, I reply to ten statements about it. The answers I come up with are weighted based on how important I find them to be, and will give each album a score. I will refer to this as the Cinefessions’ #315Albums Rating. I am aware of how arbitrary this rating system is, but I’m also really proud of the effort I spent making it all work in the spreadsheet, so I am including it. In all seriousness, though, this is nothing more than my opinion on these albums at the time I listened to them. It should mean nothing more than that to anyone. I have already discovered that music, more than any other medium I have come across, is all about context. I am not getting that with this challenge, so take this final score with a huge grain of salt.

Here are the ten statements I reply to after every album, and how they’re weighted. The score totals out of 100 points, which I will mark as a percentage for ease of the reader. For each statement, I select whether I strongly agree (5 points), agree (4 points), neither agree nor disagree (3 points), disagree (2 points), or strongly disagree (1 point).

  1. I found the lyrics of this album memorable and/or powerful. (x2)
  2. I enjoyed listening to the vocals on this release. (x2)
  3. I was impressed by the instrumentals on this album. (x2)
  4. This album struck me as unique. (x1)
  5. A number of the songs on this album were catchy, or made me want to sing along. (x1)
  6. I plan on listening to this album again in the future. (x3)
  7. I found myself still thinking about this album hours after hearing it for the first time. (x3)
  8. Listening to this album had an impact on me in one way or another. (x2)
  9. This album deserves to be one of the #315Albums. (x1)
  10. Overall, I enjoyed my experience with this album. (x3)

Adding my answers together, taking into effect the weighting, equals a score anywhere from 20 (worst) to 100 (best). Again, I will display this Cinefessions’ #315Albums Rating as a percentage so it is easier for the casual reader to follow without having to do a lot of research.

Whenever I listen to a new album, I will make a new post here on Cinefessions. It will contain some facts about the release, the Cinefessions’ #315Albums Rating, plus my really short thoughts on what worked or didn’t work for me on that specific release. I am using to randomly select a number from 1-315 each time I am ready to start a new album, and have them ordered alphabetically in my spreadsheet, so 1 would represent a release from A Band Called Tribe in this instance, while 315 would represent a release from ZZ Top.

If you would like to follow along, please reach out in the comments below, or find me on twitter to let me know, and I would be happy to share my spreadsheet with you. Otherwise, look for some quick posts in the coming days. Frankly, the posts will be so short that they would likely be better off on a social media platform like Instagram, but I really want to document my way through this journey via a platform that I have more control over, rather than some social media landing page. So my posts covering #315Albums will be short, but should be easy-to-read. I’d love for them to be a catalyst for more conversation on any particular album, so please use the #315Albums hashtag when discussing this on Twitter so everyone can be a part of the conversation!

I think you know everything I do now, so let’s get this party started!

* – Due to a hardware failure, the original list was lost, and the website where the list was stored is no longer online. Therefore, I had to scour the internet to get an Excel spreadsheet of both lists, and then scrub them against each other, with plenty of editing, to bring the list back to life.

That said, the list is a bit different this time around because I could only find the most recent lists for both the 1000 Albums book, and the Rolling Stones Top 500 Albums list. The new list came out to 323 albums, but because the #315Albums hashtag already lives, I edited the list to take out the lowest rated albums that were from artists with at least one other album on the list.

This was all in an effort to restart this journey, which initially stalled due to the aforementioned hardware failure where I lost all of my work. The journey is set to restart again in late October or early November of 2019.