VERSUS: Episode 11: Rock Album Deathmatch: World Super Series Bowl Cup: We Have a Winner!!

Previously, on VERSUS . . .

The second-place albums in our previous episodes battled it out for a shot in the playoffs as wildcard entries. Two albums managed to fight their way back into the contest: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (David Bowie) and Screaming for Vengeance (Judas Priest).

Our playoff contestants now consist of the following classic rock albums:

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (The Beatles)

The Cars (The Cars)

Moving Pictures (Rush)

Screaming for Vengeance (Judas Priest)

Back in Black (AC/DC)

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (David Bowie)

Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd)

The Stranger (Billy Joel)

While I certainly could be accused of being biased towards Western rock artists, my tastes seem a bit broader than my beloved USA. Only two American acts are on the final list (Billy Joel and The Cars). The remainder of the list includes four British acts (The Beatles, Judas Priest, Pink Floyd and David Bowie), one Canadian (Rush), and one Australian (AC/DC).

I used a random number generator to determine the matchups for the first round of the playoffs.



Round One (4 bouts):

Game #1:

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (David Bowie)

Versus

Moving Pictures (Rush)

For the championship bouts, I used a twelve-point scoring system with no disproportionately weighted binary categories. This was slightly more complicated than the method I used up to now. I believe it forced me to consider aspects of each album that I may not have considered until now.

Since I am now comparing only the best-of-the-best (from my POV), every contest is a close one. Including this one.

Rush won this face-off today. But, it was a tough call.

And the Winner is . . . Moving Pictures (Rush)



Game #2:

The Stranger (Billy Joel)

Versus

Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd)

I adore both of these albums. I will continue to adore both of these albums.

However, I clearly enjoy one just slightly more than the other. I have friends who would abandon me over the choice I’m making today, but I must remain true to myself.

And the Winner is . . . The Stranger (Billy Joel)



Game #3:

Back in Black (AC/DC)

Versus

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (The Beatles)

This was closer than you might suspect. From a pure numbers-perspective, it was a dead heat. “A Day in the Life” pushed the winner over the top for me.

And the Winner is . . . Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (The Beatles)



Game #4:

The Cars (The Cars)

Versus

Screaming for Vengeance (Judas Priest)

This battle between New Wave art-rock and razor-keen British Steel was another toss-up for me. Ultimately, I had to go with my heart and choose the album I was less likely to skip tracks on. Once again, my choice tomorrow may be different.

And the Winner is . . . The Cars (The Cars)



Round Two (2 bouts):

Neither of our wildcard entries made it to the semifinal round. That feels right, somehow.

Once again, by random assignment, we get two additional matches before the Big Game.

Game #1:

The Stranger (Billy Joel)

Versus

The Cars (The Cars)

Billy Joel takes this one by a small margin, both on paper and in my mind. Both are great albums, of course. But, The Stranger is a bit more grand and ambitious when compared to the minimalist debut by the Cars.

And the Winner is . . . The Stranger (Billy Joel)



Game #2:

Moving Pictures (Rush)

Versus

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (The Beatles)

I’d put up side one of Moving Pictures against side one of any of the albums on my list, and it would stand a great chance of winning any head-to-head. However, there are two sides to any album, and Sgt. Pepper’s finishes up more strongly.

Here’s where we have to say a reluctant goodbye to our favorite Canadian power trio.

And the Winner is . . . Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (The Beatles)



World Super Series Bowl Cup: The Big Game

The Stranger (Billy Joel)

we all have a face we hide away forever
it was twenty years ago today . . .

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (The Beatles)

In some ways, it feels like we’ve come full circle. The first bout in this entire project was between the Beatles and the Beach Boys, with the Beatles winning because of my superbly subjective judging skills.

Now, we’re down to what just may be my two favorite rock albums in existence. Forcing to pick between the two is like having to pick a favorite child.

But, I’m up to the task. I have picked a favorite child.

A brief aside: if you have siblings, know that your parents also have a favorite child, regardless of what they say to you. If you don’t know which one of you is favorite, it could be you.

The winner and champion of my first—and probably last—VERSUS: Rock Album Death Match is . . .

[drum roll, please]

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

The Beatles

Full circle, indeed.

I know that not everyone will agree with my ultimate choice. I also don’t care. Post your own contest and I’ll tell you why I don’t agree with you.

The truth is, all 64 of the albums that began this contest—lovingly chosen by me—are subjectively great albums. I’ve never taken the time to choose a “favorite” album before. Honestly, if I conducted this contest again today, with the same entries, the results may be different, even though I suspect they would be similar.

The real benefit of this project is that it forced me to listen to all of the albums again and write about them when I had time to burn during our pandemic quarantine.

They are all my favorites.

Rock On, Friends.

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