NPR ignored funk dynamo Betty Davis, and thats not right.
NPR ignored funk dynamo Betty Davis, and that's not right. Light in the Attic Records

[The following post may be construed as mansplaining, but do know that I was spurred to write it after being prodded by a woman DJ/producer from Seattle. If you so wish, though, deduct points from this post due to my gender.]

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NPR's list of "Turning the Tables: The 150 Greatest Albums Made by Women" has been generating much internet chatter and many arguments, and spurred a handful of counter lists. The Stranger has a history of nitpicking about such lists, and this new one spearheaded by highly respected veteran journalist Ann Powers has also triggered our reactionary impulses. Now, NPR's feature contains many worthy entries, but it seems like a missed opportunity to expose the public to more obscure and adventurous female musicians. NPR's list—composed by several respected music journalists and radio DJs—strikes me as an attempt at canon-building and a corrective toward many media outlets' diminishment/erasure of non-male cultural creativity. But my main problem with the feature is that it comes off as the 21st-century internet equivalent of the Rolling Stone Album Guides of the '70s and '80s. Essentially, it suffers from the same pervasive conservative groupthink as those tomes.

All lists of this ilk are, of course, purely subjective and when compiled by committee, prone to hive-minded middle-of-the-roadness. That being said, NPR's list possesses several stone classics with which I agree 100 percent: Alice Coltrane's Journey in Satchidananda, the Pretenders' self-titled debut, Pauline Oliveros's Deep Listening, Slits' Cut, Raincoats' self-titled debut, Grace Jones's Nightclubbing, Diamanda Galás's Litanies of Satan, Yoko Ono's Plastic Ono Band, Laurie Anderson's Big Science, Nico's Chelsea Girls, Dusty Springfield's Dusty in Memphis, Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, the Bangles' All Over the Place, and others.

However, NPR's critical consortium largely ignored records made by avant-garde composers, electronic-music producers, and jazz musicians. Perhaps it wasn't on Powers and company's agenda to go that deep into the underground, but I think it would've been more worthwhile to spotlight artists working in these fields than to devote precious space to huge pop stars who've already accrued overwhelming mindshare.

With that concept in mind, The Stranger would like to present 70 albums made by women that we think deserve substantial listening time and, in good time, canonical status. (Fellow cis-het male Sean Nelson and Megan Mitchell, proprietor of Many Many Women [an index of over a thousand women musicians, composers, and sonic artists] also contributed to this list, which is in no particular order.)

Annette Peacock, X-Dreams (Aura, 1978)

Betty Davis, Betty Davis (Sunshine, 1973)

Jo Johnson, Weaving (Further, 2014)

Julie Tippetts, Sunset Glow (Utopia, 1975)

Maria Teresa Luciani, Sounds of the City (Finders Keepers, 2017 reissue of 1972 recordings)

Klara Lewis, Ett (Editions Mego, 2014)

Sarah Davachi, Dominions (Jaz, 2016)

Marielle V. Jakobsons, Star Core (Thrill Jockey, 2016)

Éliane Radigue, Trilogie de la Mort (XI, 1998)

Andrea Parker, Kiss My Arp (Mo Wax, 1998)

Sonny & Linda Sharrock, Paradise, (ATCO, 1975)

Dasha Rush, Sleepstep (Raster-Noton, 2015)

Madalyn Merkey, Scent (New Images, 2012)

Au Pairs, Playing with a Different Sex (Human, 1981)

Young Marble Giants, Colossal Youth (Rough Trade, 1980)

Kleenex/LiLiPut, First Songs (Kill Rock Stars/Mississippi, 2016)

Beverly Glenn-Copeland, …Keyboard Fantasies (Atlast, 1986)

Mica Levi, Under the Skin OST (Milan/Rough Trade, 2014)

Kendra Smith, Presents the Guild of Temporal Adventurers (Fiasco, 1992)

Ut, In Gut’s House, (Blast First, 1987)

Dorothy Ashby, The Rubaiyat of Dorothy Ashby (Cadet, 1970)

Tom Tom Club, Tom Tom Club (Sire, 1981)

Urszula Dudziak, Future Talk (Inner City, 1979)

Laurie Spiegel, The Expanding Universe (Philo, 1980; reissued by Unseen Worlds, 2012)

Catherine Ribeiro + Alpes, Paix (Phillips, 1972)

Gal Costa, Gal (Phillips, 1969)

Moor Mother, Fetish Bones (Don Giovanni, 2016)

Pharmakon, Abandon (Sacred Bones, 2013)

Jlin, Dark Energy (Planet Mu, 2015)

The Knife, Silent Shout (Rabid, 2006)

Wendy Carlos, Beauty in the Beast (Audion, 1986)

Phew, Phew (Pass, 1981)

Laika, Silver Apples of the Moon (Too Pure, 1994)

Valet, Naked Acid (Kranky, 2008)

Lady June, Lady June’s Linguistic Leprosy (Caroline, 1974)

Stevie Wonder Presents Syreeta, Syreeta (Motown, 1974)

Micachu, Jewellery (Rough Trade/Accidental, 2009)

Cate Le Bon, Cyrk (The Control Group, 2012)

Shop Assistants, Shop Assistants (Blue Guitar, 1986)

Delta 5, See the Whirl (PRE, 1981)

Linda Perhacs, Parallelograms (Kapp, 1970)

Throwing Muses, University (4AD, 1994)

Jessika Kenney & Eyvind Kang, The Face of the Earth (Ideologic Organ, 2012)

Mo-Dettes, The Story So Far (Deram, 1980)

Michele Mercure, Eye Chant (Quick Shower Music, 1986; reissued in 2017 by RVNG Int.)

Helena Hauff, Discreet Desires (Werk Discs, 2015)

Pylon, Gyrate Plus (DFA 2007 reissue of the 1980 original)

Teresa Rampazzi, Musica Endoscopica (Die Schachtel, 2008)

Joni Mitchell, The Hissing of Summer Lawns (Asylum, 1975)

Mavis Piggott, You Can Be Low (Flydaddy, 1996)

Sibylle Baier, Colour Green (Orange Twin, 2006)

Odetta, Sometimes I Feel Like Cryin’ (RCA Victor, 1962)

Tsunami, A Brilliant Mistake (Simple Machines, 1997)

Team Dresch, Personal Best (Chainsaw, 1995)

Kristin Hersh, Hips and Makers (4AD, 1994)

Tiger Trap, Tiger Trap (K Records, 1993)

Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Gospel Train (Mercury, 1956)

Angel Olsen, Burn Your Fire for No Witness (Jagjaguwar, 2014)

Geraldine Fibbers, Butch (Virgin, 1997)

The Dolly Mixture, The Demonstration Tapes (Royal Mint, 1983)

Grace Jones, Slave to the Rhythm (Island, 1985)

Judee Sill, Judee Sill (Asylum, 1971)

Electrelane, Axes (Too Pure, 2005)

Gossip, Movement (Kill Rock Stars, 2003)

The Delgados, The Great Eastern (Beggars Banquet, 2000)

The Feminine Complex, The Feminine Complex (Athena Records, 1969)

Siouxsie and the Banshees, Peepshow (Geffen Records, 1988)

Nina Hagen, Fearless (Koch, 1983)

Cat Power, What Would the Community Think (Matador, 1996)

Fastbacks, Answer the Phone, Dummy (Sub Pop, 1994)