DCSIMG

No maybes about the definite bias

THE result, I guess, was almost as predictable as the now listless and formulaic twangs that the winners have taken to churning out, from the comfort of their Primrose Hill piles as they distractedly build coin castles with their earnings on the marbled living room floor.

What bothered me about the latest poll on the 'greatest album of all time' wasn't that the swaggering angst of Oasis's Definitely Maybe pipped The Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band to the top slot; as someone who has more of an affinity in age with Britpop than Beatlemania it doesn't necessarily surprise me that my generation might cast such a naive vote. What raised my ire was that something far more predictable had reared its ugly head once again. The list was definitely - no maybe about it - a reminder of just how much of a boys' club the opinion-forming forces of rock music remain.

Allow me to fling myself face first into the puddle of predictability and bang my fists while screaming "where are all the women?"

The survey, organised by the Book Of British Hit Singles And Albums and NME.com, polled 40,000 music fans. Not only that, but the organisers gave the voters a year to gather their thoughts. Given such conditions, one would imagine that the results would be reflective of a fair and varied selection of musos. So, while every boy who's ever seen Dave Gilmour reflected back at himself in the mirror was busy debating the merits of the all male, mostly white top 28 'greatest', anyone who has an ounce of level headedness about music must have been as puzzled as I when a cursory scan became a scour for the scent of a woman within the confines of the top 50.

Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks are the first to get an inclusive nod, for their substantial part in the legendary Rumours album by Fleetwood Mac, which ranked at No.29. Blondie's Parallel Lines hit No.45, which in my mind is at least 20 points lower than it should have been. Arrival by ABBA - come on, half of them were women! I'm trying to be positive here - was voted No.53. Elephant by the White Stripes - maybe Meg White can't sing, but she sure as hell can drum - was at 59. Doolittle by the Pixies, thanks in no small part to Kim Deal, was at 60.

A pretty gloomy overview of the potency of women in rock, I'm sure you'll agree. The purely solo female entrants come even later, with the bizarre inclusion of Come On Over by Shania Twain at 64 as the first solo female album listed.Hounds Of Love by Kate Bush is at 70. Ray Of Light by Madonna at 83 and Spice by the Spice Girls finishes off the farce at 89.

As a music lover who doesn't pick her headphone heroes according to politics, popular consensus or pastiche, I have to say that I didn't know whose sleeve notes to reach for first in an attempt to console myself.

Where on this list are the likes of Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Dusty Springfield? Women who not only redefined music in the times they were singing it, but have left an incredible catalogue behind them that is still pertinent and wonderful to listen to regardless of current trends.

Come on, women have provided more than barely just five of the 100 greatest albums of all time. That women perhaps didn't play much of a part in this vote might be a clearer truth about how these results were reached. Here's my advice to the collators: admit to both of these points - it would be music to a lot of people's ears, including mine.

 
 
 

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