A couple of months back, our own Kathleen Massara celebrated the release of Peter Nadas’s weighty novel Parallel Stories with a selection of 10 epic novels that we dared you to finish. Of course, this also got us thinking about equivalents in other art forms, whether it’s film (Charlie Kaufman’s interminable Synecdoche, New York springs to mind immediately), theater… or, inevitably, music. The history of music is full of albums that are awfully difficult to sit through in their entirety, whether it’s because they’re “difficult” or just because they’re damn long. So here are 10 albums we dare you to finish. Have you got any challenges for us?
Miles Davis — Bitches Brew
Look, no one is denying that Miles Davis was a genius. And even if he wasn’t a genre-inventing, era-defining jazz legend and all that, he’d still deserve a place in history on the strength of his rejoinder to Nancy Reagan when she asked him what he’d done to warrant being asked to the White House for dinner (“Well, I’ve changed the course of music five or six times — what have you done except fuck the President?”). But here’s the thing: genius or not, Bitches Brew gives us a headache. Yes, we know it’s the one Davis album that pretty much everyone considers compulsory listening, and that it pretty much invented jazz/rock fusion, and it’s a 20th-century masterpiece, and all that. But it still gives us a headache, and we have nothing but admiration for anyone who can do it in one sitting.