College Countdown: CMJ Top 50 Albums of 2001, 24 and 23

24. Ladytron, 604

“Ladytron” is the second track on the 1972 self-titled debut album from Roxy Music. Written by Bryan Ferry, the song finds the singer in full-on seduction mode, which isn’t surprising considering that’s basically his default position. When a quartet of musicians got together in Liverpool in the late nineteen-nineties and started playing precious, precocious, alluring electropop, the name Ladytron clearly seemed perfect to them, combining a sort of stainless steel precision with a certain feminine turn-on connotation. After releasing a couple singles and EPs, Ladytron culled together their best material for the full-length effort 604, capturing reasonable attention in their homeland and getting a solid foothold with artfully detached, crazy catchy fare such as “He Took Her to a Movie.” As well as the record did on the charts, even greater with later albums Light & Magic, Witching Hour and Velocifero. They even got an official endorsement from no less than Brian Eno, music legend and Roxy Music band member, who termed them “the best of English pop music.”

25. New Order, Get Ready

Returning to college radio nearly a decade after my heyday gave me the odd sensation of occasionally watching (and, more accurately, listening) as the older bands tried to ease in among all the fresh-faced upstarts. There were those, such as R.E.M. and U2 (see below), that had been toiling relatively consistently the whole time. Then there were those that had been away from college radio about as long as I had. New Order hadn’t released an album of fresh material since 1993’s Republic, and it was widely assumed that the band was done for good, although I don’t know that there was ever an official announcement to that effect. Still, before they got together and started playing a few gigs in 1998, it had been five full years since the individual members of the band had even seen one another. Whatever the reason for the time apart, it allowed them to get enough distance from their own shared past that they were all ready to start revisiting it again, even digging into the songbook of their legendary former band Joy Division. That also perhaps influenced the new music they crafted for Get Ready as they embraced buzzy guitars to a degree previously unheard under the New Order moniker, even recruiting no less a heavyweight (at that time, anyway) as Billy Corgan to play on the album. The reunion may have been successful–as opposed to the material created by some other bands with a lot of rings on their trunks, Get Ready was widely praised–but it was also relatively short-lived as bassist Peter Hook started rumbling about dissatisfaction before too long, eventually quitting the band, presumably for good. New Order still plays dates with a reconstituted line-up, but it’s difficult to think of them as truly that group absent one member of the original trio.

An Introduction
50 and 49: Creeper Lagoon and Ryan Adams
48 and 47: The (International) Noise Conspiracy and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
46 and 45: Spoon and Black Box Recorder
44 and 43: Rival Schools and Aphex Twin
42 and 41: Ben Folds and Superchunk
40 and 39: The Faint and Modest Mouse
38 and 37: The Shins and R.E.M.
36 and 35: Old 97’s and Red House Painters
34 and 33: Mogwai and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
32 and 31: Death by Chocolate and PJ Harvey
30 and 29: Rocket From the Crypt and The Donnas
28 and 27: U2 and Cake
26 and 25: The Living End and Spiritualized

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