21. Jane Siberry
The first woman on my list! No, it's really embarassing that my favorite music is pretty much all white guys from the eighties. But to make up for it, Jane is absolutely amazing. First, of all, she's Canadian. To come up with such great concept song cycles as "Map Of The World" or the jazz-influenced "Maria" is a great thing. To do it as a *Canadian* is even better. Like k.d. lang, maybe there's something in the water. Second of all, she's absolutely insane, selling everything she owned and changing her name to "Issa". It's like a feminine version of Prince. Oh wait...
Maybe you heard "Calling All Angels"... it's a perfect four minute song. I have a bad feeling that her self-produced record label "Sheeba Records" will go belly-up, and Jane/Issa will be another aging hippie chick wandering the parking lots of concerts with an acoustic guitar hoping for a "miracle". But until then, Jane makes wonderful idiosyncratic music. I still can't believe she's Canadian.
In high school, I love Duran Duran. What gay boy in the eighties didn't? They had a complete package: music, hair, videos, supermodels, drama. The band produced hit after hit, until grunge came along. In fact, I loved Duran^2 so much that I went out looking for a band that sounded exactly like them. It's a good thing Japan came along.
Even more outlandish fashion than the Duranies, and more mediocre songs. But I didn't care. Japan set such a hipster *mood*... arcane album covers and song titles. Indecipherable lyrics about communism, but the new wave movement always had stupid lyrics. David Sylvian and other band members went on to form Rain Tree Crow, but by that point, I didn't really care.
23. Jason Falkner
I bought a Jason Faulkner CD at a store for $1. I didn't expect much, so when I was hit in the face with an entire album of excellent power pop tunes, it was like a gift from heaven. Jason has flirted with greatness, but for some reason can't catch a break. He was in Jellyfish, and Prince's band The Three O'Clock. He concived a fake sequel to Logan's Run called Logan's Sanctuary, and recorded an imaginary soundtrack album. He's done two CDs of instrumental Beatles covers intended for infants, and has done studio work for Beck and Paul McCartney. But his latest solo CD was only released in Japan, and I'm worried he'll fade into obscurity and never record again. So I want every person on my LJ list to write a letter to him and... oh never mind. Maybe it will just be our little secret.
24. The Jazz Butcher
Ok, this guy actually sucks. I bought a lot of his CDs as $25 imports when I was in college, and nothing ever struck me. Then why is he on this list? Because of two songs: "Drink" and "The Devil Is My Friend". I would put both of those on every mix tape I made in the eighties, and everyone absolutely loved it. Maybe I should buy some of his other music. I liked was a bootleg cassette tape that has neer been reissued on CD, so maybe I should be content with my memories, and let it go.
25. John Oswald
I paid $80 for a CD. A single CD. And it's music that has been ripped and distributed freely on the internet. There was this weird mail service for a while where one fan in Arizona would dub the album for you for free if you sent him a blank cassette. I could get the MP3s in a few minutes now. But I wanted the original CD, and I've seen it sell for almost a thousand dollars on ebay.
Why so serious? John Oswald created one of the first examples of mashups. He called it "Plunderphonics", and spent days arcanely placing sampled instruments into an artsy wall of sound. He sampled the Grateful Dead and gave a CD called "Grayfolded" away for free in Relix. I knew Oswald as a writer for "Keyboard" magazine in the eighties, creating a column on digital music right as sampler took off.
But the CD that captured my heart (and my $80) was given away for free to various media outlets. It contained an insane version of Michael Jackson's "Bad", who promptly sued. All copied of the CD were recalled and destroyed. It was important to me to buy a copy... it's a reminder to me that art is difficult and should create effort and love and work and pain. But it also can't be stopped, and the worthwhile things in this world will always find a way. They will always find a way.