Billy Joel, Supremes, Metallica Make National Recording Registry - Rolling Stone
Home Culture Culture News

Billy Joel, Supremes, Metallica Make National Recording Registry

Library of Congress also inducts recordings by Santana, Gloria Gaynor, Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane, George Carlin

Supremes; Billy Joel; Metallica; Library of CongressSupremes; Billy Joel; Metallica; Library of Congress

Billy Joel, the Supremes, Metallica and Santana highlight the 2015 inductions into the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry

Nicholas Hunt/Getty, RB/Getty

Billy Joel‘s “Piano Man,” the Supremes‘ “Where Did Our Love Go,” Metallica‘s Master of Puppets and Santana‘s Abraxas highlight the 25 recordings newly inducted into the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry. John Coltrane’s jazz classic A Love Supreme, Gloria Gaynor’s disco anthem “I Will Survive,” George Carlin’s acclaimed comedy LP Class Clown and two versions of Kurt Weill’s ballad “Mack the Knife” (by Louis Armstrong and Bobby Darin) also made the 2015 class.

Each year, the Registry collects 25 sound recordings which are recognized for their “cultural, artistic and/or historical significance to American society and the national’s aural legacy” and are at least 10 years old. The Registry now features 450 recordings, a small portion of the Library’s sound collection of over 3 million items. 

“‘I Will Survive’ is my mantra, the core of my God-given purpose,” Gaynor said of her induction. “It is my privilege and honor to use it to inspire people around the world of every nationality, race, creed, color and age group to join me as I sing and live the words: ‘I Will Survive.'”

The 2015 class spans seminal blues (Blind Willie McTell’s 1928 performance of “Statesboro Blues”), sports (a recording of the fourth quarter of Wilt Chamberlain’s legendary 100-point game), radio shows (1940s program Destination Freedom, which “attacked racial prejudice”) and speeches (George Marshall’s 1947 “Marshall Plan,” outlining steps to restore Europe following World War II). 

The oldest recording is a 1911 Columbia Quartette rendition of Tin Pal Alley staple “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” written by Leo Friedman and Beth Slater Whitson. While the 2014 class included material as fresh as the 1990s, including Radiohead and Lauryn Hill, the newest 2015 entry is Metallica’s 1986 metal masterpiece, Master of Puppets. The Library of Congress writes that the album “shows the group moving away from its thrash metal history and reputation and exploring new ideas.”

“Thrash, a reaction against the pop metal of the early 1980s, aimed to renew metal by emphasizing speed and aggression,” their description continues. “For example, the song ‘Battery’ on this album – with rhythm guitarist James Hetfield’s galloping power chords, Lars Ulrich’s machine-gun drumming, and lead guitarist Kirk Hammett’s blinding tapped leads – is as rousing an example of the sub-genre as one could find and the technical proficiency is astonishing. However, other songs on the record break free of thrash orthodoxy.”

“Who would’ve ever thought that Master of Puppets, a record made by a band hovering way left of the mainstream in 1986, would be granted the honor of being added to the Registry of the Library of Congress?” Ulrich said in a statement. “Metallica is proud and humbled to join such icons as John Coltrane, Merle Haggard, Santana and George Carlin, among others, in this pantheon of American recordings as 2016 inductees. Master of Puppets is a collection of songs that we consider a defining moment in our formative years and the honor bestowed upon this album is beyond thrilling.”

Of the Supremes’ 1964 Motown staple “Where Did Our Love Go,” the Library wrote, “When [Diana] Ross sang in the lower register, she found a distinctive and mature tone that set her apart from other female singers, and when [Mary] Wilson and [Florence] Ballard had mastered the behind-the-beat timing of their parts, the group’s performance revealed a depth of longing in the lyrics that made the song stand out.”

The Library praised Santana’s eclectic 1970 LP, Abraxas, writing that it “consolidated the group’s position as purveyors of a unique blend of Latin music, rock, blues and modal jazz … Carlos Santana’s signature guitar tone, with its nearly infinite sustain, and his lyrical melodies have proven highly compelling to this day.”

Explore the full list of inductees at the Library of Congress website


Powered by
Arrow Created with Sketch. Calendar Created with Sketch. Path Created with Sketch. Shape Created with Sketch. Plus Created with Sketch. minus Created with Sketch.