Wilson helps kick off retail campaign

Brian Wilson sang three songs from the Beach Boys’ classic album “Pet Sounds” Wednesday morning at Capitol Records to kick off a retail campaign to get CD buyers to fill in holes in their music collections.

The National Assn. of Record Merchandisers and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame unveiled a list of 200 albums that belong in everybody’s CD collection titled the Definitive 200 that will be used as a marketing tool at big box outlets (Wal-Mart, K mart, Best Buy), chain music shops (Virgin, Trans World outlets), indie CD stores (Cheap Thrills in new Brunswick, N.J., J&R in New Yok, Newbury Comics in Boston, Zia in Phoenix, Ariz., and Waterloo in Austin, Texas) and online sites (Amazon, Overstock). Campaign is starting with 75 retailers signed up.

The list has the usual suspects — the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side Of The Moon” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” are the top three — but unlike most album lists, this one was compiled by retailers.

The goal, NARM president Jim Donio said at the ceremony in Capitol studio A, was “to highlight music that has enduring popularity among fans. This is to celebrate the album” in an era when downloads and sales of singles are beginning to decimate the classic album. (For the full list go to http://www.definitive200.com.)

Unlike lists compiled by critics, musicians, magazines or Web sites, the Definitive 200 is full of albums everyone has heard of and, instead of showing a historical bias, 81 of the discs were released between 1990 and 2004. (While they did not include any greatest hits albums, they did list a collection of Elvis Presley Sun recordings from the 1950s as a 2004 release. That’s sort of dicey, considering those sides have been compiled over and over since the mid-1970s).

The ’70s was the decade that fared best with 58 titles, followed by 54 from the ’90s, 40 from the 1980s, 27 from 2000-2004, a mere 17 from the ’60s and four from the 1950s. The most recent titles all come from 2004: Green Day’s “American Idiot,” Usher’s “Confessions” and Andrea Bocelli’s “Andrea.” Oldest of the bunch is Frank Sinatra’s 1954 classic collection of melancholic ballads, “In the Wee Small Hours.”

Eight soundtracks appear on the list: “Grease,” “Saturday Night Fever,” “Dirty Dancing,” “Titanic,” “Top Gun,” “Footloose,” “Forrest Gump” and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

Naturally, the Beatles had the most albums on the list, five, but they were tied for the lead with Led Zeppelin. The Rolling Stones and Metallica placed four. With three each, were Prince, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, U2 and, surprisingly, the Dixie Chicks.

Top 10 is rounded out by “Led Zeppelin IV,” U2’s “Joshua Tree,” the Rolling Stones’ “Exile On Main Street,” Carole King’s “Tapestry,” Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited,” “Pet Sounds” and Nirvana’s “Nevermind.”

Ironically, the launch event concluded with Wilson and his band — with fellow Beach Boy Al Jardine — performing a fine version of “Good Vibrations,” a legendary single that does not appear on any album in the Definitive 200 nor the upcoming Beach Boys compilation.

Capitol/EMI used the event to announce the May 15 release of “The Warmth of the Sun,” a compilation of 28 Beach Boys songs selected and sequenced by Wilson, Jardine, Mike Love and Bruce Johnston. The first compilation since 2004’s “Sights and Sounds of Summer,” disc features a healthy dose of tracks from the early ’70s period of “Sunflower,” “Surf’s Up,” “Carl and the Passions” and “Holland.”

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