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The vinyl countdown

Even media types need a holiday sometimes. But what do you do when your loyal readership demands its daily dose of desire or doom, and your destination dictates otherwise? One fail-safe is to write a "top 100". It doesn't matter what it consists of - film soundtracks, lawn dressings, sausages. A list of favourites through the ages is easy to compile in advance, leaving you free to enjoy your break with your audience none the wiser.

The list is also an online stalwart. It's common knowledge among successful bloggers that the best way to get people to read your opinion on something is to break it into numbered, headlined paragraphs and call it a list. Look up the most popular pages on the social bookmarking site Delicious on any given day, and you'll find at least half a dozen lists. However, they tend to cater for specialised tastes: top ten Internet Explorer rendering tips, nine reasons to switch to Haskell.

“Eclectic Method goes Phish" ( is an altogether different proposition. Already viewed more than 25,000 times on the video-sharing website Vimeo, this is a four-minute mashup of no less than 99 different tracks. It was commissioned for a Halloween concert by the cult band Phish, the University of Vermont's greatest export (not counting Ben Affleck), and the true heirs of the Grateful Dead.

To promote the gig, at Festival 8 in California, Phish drew up an online list of their top 99 albums of all time, to drive speculation as to what record the band would choose as their "musical costume" for the event - it's a Phish Halloween tradition of 15 years' standing to play an album by another band end to end. During the countdown to the concert, the albums on the list were axed, one by one, until only one remained. On the night, after they opened with Eclectic Method's video, they covered the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street in its entirety.

The video exists online as testimony not only to the event, but also to digital media's power to turn the old into something new. Engaging and rhythmic, it plays like the life of Phil Spector flashing before his eyes, as Bowie cuts to Cohen and images of Kiss, Metallica and the Clash strobe over a bassline provided by the Beastie Boys. As we reach the end of another decade, let's hope the editors of our weekend supplements are watching. Reminiscing doesn't get much better than this

Becky Hogge is a writer and technologist. She was formerly the technology director of award-winning current affairs website, and Executive Director of the Open Rights Group, a grassroots digital civil liberties organisation.

This article first appeared in the 16 November 2009 issue of the New Statesman, Dead End