Slog - The Stranger's Blog

Line Out

The Music Blog

« "Fucking Magnificient" | An Open Letter to Paul Allen »

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Top Gay Albums: “USA! USA!” Edition

Posted by on August 8 at 11:52 AM

Last week, I Slogged about Attitude magazine’s well-hyped list of the Top 50 Gay Albums of All Time.

“I think this list is interesting, but it has more of UK spin on things,” wrote Impossible Prince in the comments section of the post. “Perhaps Mr. Schmader could come up with a US version.”

One week later, Impossible Prince’s wish is my command. Having carefully weeded out the work of those great gay-music-making Brits (Pet Shop Boys, Smiths, Bowie), I compiled my list of America’s Greatest Gay Albums, which you’ll find, complete with dashed-off commentary, after the jump.

This list is in no particular order. Nevertheless, it starts with:

1. 69 Love Songs by the Magnetic Fields
Take the word "gay" out of this list's title and Stephin Merritt's brilliantly conceived and executed opus still ranks near the very top. It's a postmodern highwire act that ends up going places you never imagined. It's hilarious, heartbreaking, gorgeous, and totally soaked in gay.

2. Hedwig & the Angry Inch Original Cast Recording
A homo home run from Stephen Trask and John Cameron Mitchell. The best tracks—"Tear Me Down," "Angry Inch," "Midnight Radio"—are the most viable rock n' roll ever produced for a "rock musical," and "Origin of Love" will be a standard at alterna-weddings until the end of time.

3. Flip Your Wig by Husker Du
Between 1984 and 1988, the greatest band in the universe was Husker Du, and Husker Du was two-thirds queer. (Shockingly, the member with the big gay moustache was the only one who wasn't a cocksmoker. Go figure.) And yeah, New Day Rising and Zen Arcade are "better" records, Flip Your Wig is the first Husker Du record I ever loved, plus it has "wig" in the title, which is inherently gay.

4. Dig Me Out by Sleater-Kinney
Between 1995 and 2006, the greatest band in the universe was Sleater-Kinney, and Sleater-Kinney was two-thirds queer, at least during the recording of Dig Me Out, the popular winner for best S-K album and understandably so (although I have a permanent soft spot for the intricate experiments of The Hot Rock...)

5. Dirty Mind by Prince
The only explicitly "gay" thing about Dirty Mind is the bisexuality Prince admits to in "Sister" (it's about Prince fucking his). And while it's odd to have bisexuality placed in the same realm as compulsive incest, Dirty Mind still scored major queer points for flying its freak flag so freakishly high (Prince hits the sack with an ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend in "When You Were Mine" and retains a bride-to-be's virginity by face-fucking her in "Head"), with Prince in full faggot-flasher drag on the cover.

6. Scissor Sisters
Attitude's poll-winners, and rightly so. So gay it couldn't have existed ten years ago, and now it's critically acclaimed mainstream pop. Miraculous.

7. The Immaculate Collection by Madonna

8. Folksinger by Phranc
I first heard this self-proclaimed lesbian folksinger when she opened for the Smiths on the Queen is Dead tour, and her first album captures everything that made her great: smart, sweet, political, and funny as shit. Archness took over on all her subsequent releases, but Folksinger remains a model of self-identified lesbian music.

9. Ingenue by KD Lang
The greatest thing to happen to lesbian sex since the thigh harness.

10. Want One by Rufus Wainwright
I picked this over his debut because I like it more. He'll make even better records in the future. With the Scissor Sisters, pop music's great gay hope.

Honorable mentions:
Personal Best by Team Dresch
Transformer by Lou Reed
New York Dolls (yeah, they were all straight, but thematically, this is some of the queerest rock ever)
The B-52s
Fit to be Tied: The Best of Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
The Georgia Peach by Little Richard

CommentsRSS icon

What, no Eminem?

I considered including The Marshall Mathers LP, because it was so significantly divisive--gay men fought over whether it was okay to like this record. But then I thought, the bitch has enough accolades.

and if there's no sylvester then there is no goddess..

No Melissa Etheridge? 'Yes I Am' was a great album, besides being the anthem to so many lesbians in the 90's.

Riz, you're right. Upon finding myself stumped by how to represent disco--which is all about singles rather than albums--I ended up just giving up and hitting post...

I sense a decided lack of lesbianness on this list. Where are the Indigo Girls?

No Melissa Etheridge, no Indigo Girls.

I love the lesbians, but I also love good music. Sapphically, for me, that means the well-applied voice of k.d lang, the wit of early Phranc, I allowed to count Janis?

Also: there's the matter of Sleater-Kinney and Team Dresch.

I'm with Riz—Sylvester was one of the only openly gay music icons during a critical period in U.S. pop history. That said, his best-selling album (1978's Step II, featuring "Dance (Disco Heat)" and "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real") ain't nearly as compelling as his 1979 double live LP, Living Proof.

Apropos of representing disco on your list, I'd suggest Diana Ross' 1980 offering Diana. Her pairing with R&B innovators Chic brought out the best in both parties, and spawned the monster gay classic "I'm Coming Out" as well as "Upside Down."

And what about Lou Reed's Transformer? "Walk on the Wild Side"? "Makeup"? That one Big Gay Album.

It made the honorable mention list--is that not good enough?

P.S. "Big Gay Album" is hilarious.

where is the disco dave?

the 69 love songs is soooooo "you". but how could you not put in the classic gay disco album, " I Was Born This Way" by Rev. Carl Bean?

No Antony And The Johnsons?

Village People? Weather Girls? These may be artist you despise, but there's no discounting their popularity and impact CANNOT be overstated.

and yes i'm being serious. i concur, no Sylvester? "Do You Want To Funk"...Indeed!

very disappointed dave.

Dave i just looked at the list again. it's wayyyyyyy to personal. Phranc? hasn't been like 15 years since she's been relevant?

we want a redo. get more of the music staff involved.

doesn't sondheims follies deserve a place too? what self respecting gay man can't recite that whole musical!


Antony won the Mercury prize, which means he's technically a Brit.

The absence of disco is problematic, but this is about ALBUMS...and i don't have a single American disco album I listen to all the way through, except K-Tel singles collections.

Also, I cannot recite a word of "Follies," and I'm super gay.

And of course this list is personal! That's the only way these kind of bullshit arbitrary lists have any value! If you want a roundup of "popular" and "influential" gay acts, such as the Village People and Weather Girls, make your own goddamn list!

Love, Dave

then the list should be called:

"Super Gay Dave's Top Ten Gay USA Albums!"

just so we knew it was going to be all lesbian folk music sung by men. or women who look like men, or men who sound like women... so hard to get a name for the oeuvre you enjoy Dave. Does "whiney white people music" cut it? (yes i realize prince is there, but he is not gay, as mentioned before. neither is madonna, for all her synchophancy to the gay community.)

any suggestions anyone?

kisses, terry

I know the Scissor Sisters is an American group but from the story I herd they could not get a record deal in the US so they went to the UK to record and receive 3 brit pop awards. I know many American artists do record elsewhere but they were not really supported by record companies in the US. But then I guess it is all based upon your citizenship. So people like John Lennon should not be over looked as a US artist anymore because he was a US citizen. I guess what I am getting at is when do you classify a US artist. Is is citizenship or record contract that makes the artist US.
Also KD Lang and Rufus Weinright are Canadian. Only the Brits lump Canada and the US into one label called "Americans" (as in North Americans) but they are Canadian.

If this posts twice then I apologize (damn computers)

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 45 days old).