When In The Record Store hosts Vince Tornero and Grant Gundlach get together to record a podcast, they usually have musicians in the studio to keep them on track.
That wasn't the case for the 89th episode, which featured a one-on-one conversation about one of music's greatest quandaries: What is the best Beatles album?
A rare occurrence for In The Record Store, the debate-styled format with a question as close to universal as one can get in the realm of music is one listeners have heard -- and probably answered -- before. Tornero and Gundlach sure have thought about it, with Tornero staking a more definitive claim than Gundlach.
Tornero's selection? "Abbey Road," the final album the Beatles recorded together, an answer that Gundlach thought was a "bold statement."
"The funny thing is about most of the Beatles records, especially the good ones, is that you could almost argue that (each one is the best) about almost any one of them from a different perspective, and that says a lot about how great what they put out was," Gundlach said.
When a band's output of studio albums during active years surpasses 20 like the Beatles, the best-album discussion becomes more crowded and subjective. A modern example of a musician who has created multiple musical universes across a vast discography is Jack White, who released, perhaps, his most audacious and experimental LP to date this year.
Regardless of whether the eccentric leap between a four-year wait stuck with fans, White discussed with Rolling Stone how he wanted to re-create himself on "Boarding House Reach." Making a connection between legends and one soon to be, Tornero found some common ground with Gundlach.
"The Beatles that you hear on 'Abbey Road' isn't the Beatles that you hear on 'Sgt. Pepper's,' " Tornero said.
And "Revolver." The White Album. "Magical Mystery Tour." The list goes on and on.
The more one ponders the question, the less secure they become with their selection. Though Tornero stands firmly by his "Abbey Road" choice, he is open to hear the opinions of others, much like those who deliberate over a New York- or Chicago-style pie.
"What constitutes good pizza and what constitutes good music is very much the same thing in that there's no hard and fast rule in the sky ... that says, 'This is the way it is,' " Tornero said.
And that's something on which the two In The Record Store hosts definitely could agree.
Zak Kolesar is executive editor for In The Record Store. ThisWeek publishes a weekly feature from the organization, which focuses on central Ohio music discovery and involvement.