Friday, November 27, 2009

Worst Rock Albums Ever!

Here in roughly Dscending order is my list of the Bottom-20 Worst Rock Albums Ever....
I admit I didn't Xactly wrack my brain 2 get these, & I reserve the right 2 add more later. But these stomach-turners will do til something else even worse occurs 2 me.
I've tried 2 restrict this list 2 albums I've actually bn able 2 get all the way thru (I think). I've not included Really Badly-Constructed greatest-hits packages (tho U should take a look at Warner Bros' Really Horrifyingly Bad best-of 4 Manfred Mann's Earth Band sometime -- if U dare!!), & I included no untalented clueless acts I merely wanted 2 take a cheap shot at (this is known as the Whitney Houston Rule). In fact, some of my absolute all-time faves R included here....
Some albums didn't make it 2 this list 4 some fairly subtle reasons. Coldplay's A RUSH OF BLOOD TO THE HEAD doesn't make it Bcos as Really Bad (or 4gettable) as 90% of it is, "Clocks" is REALLY GOOD. Queen's JAZZ doesn't make it Bcos it includes sevral Guilty Pleasures -- "Fat Bottomed Girls," "Bicycle Race," "Don't Stop Me Now," "Mustapha," etc. Pink Floyd's THE FINAL CUT doesn't make it cos the title track is pretty moving, & the overall production & presentation works -- even tho it's pretty freakin grim. U thot ANIMALS was dark? (Oh, & "Not Now John" is a pretty good joke.) Camel's STATIONARY TRAVELER doesn't make the list cos it includes a coupla pretty-good songs ("West Berlin" is best), & 1 rather nice instrumental. Gong's spacey, goofy hippie/psychedelic YOU doesn't make the list Bcos it includes 2 pretty-Dcent freakout instrumentals, "Master Builder" & "A Sprinkling of Clouds."
But 1 good track doesn't save some of the others on this list.... Onward.
#20 -- Keane: UNDER THE IRON SEA. Based on how good some of the songs were on Keane's debut HOPES AND FEARS (the gorgeous "Bend and Break," "Somewhere Only We Know," "This is the Last Time," "Your Eyes Open"), I had really high hopes 4 the 2nd album by this keyboard-based pop band. But Btween the 2 albums, Keane apparently Dcided 2 Bcome art-rockers. This sure wasn't pop. The opener & hit "Is It Any Wonder?" was over way 2 soon & wasn't enuf 2 save the rest. Messy, unfocused, bloated, lyrically pretensious, capital-A "Art" w/ Xtra added guitar that wasn't needed on the 1st album. I want the cute little classically-influenced pop band back....
#19 -- Beach Boys: FRIENDS. Celebrating the Maharishi, TM & all U'd ever need back in 1968, I still think this is the Boys' laziest, worst album ever. The best thing on it is the wordless roller-skating-rink theme "Passing By." Dennis Wilson's fragments "Be Still" & "Little Bird" R pleasant, but at under 2 mins each U can't Xactly call them songs. Summa the rest is harmless: "Meant for You" has nice vocals, "Anna Lee the Healer" is pleasant. But "Transcendental Meditation" & "Diamond Head" both suck. Mosta the rest is just clueless & 4gettable. & meanwhile Brian was practicing w/ the rather nice "Can't Wait Too Long" & the lame "Busy Doin' Nothin'." Luckily, the Boys would sorta pull it back 2gether w/ parts of 20/20, SUNFLOWER & SURF'S UP.
#18 -- Eagles: THE LONG RUN. It was packaged 2 look like a funeral. & it was. 1 OK Joe Walsh solo track, "In the City." 1 OK Poco-soundalike by former Poco member Tim Schmit, "I Can't Tell You Why." 1 pretty-good joke, "The Greeks Don't Want No Freaks." & that's all. They did 1 good song after this, on their LIVE album: "Seven Bridges Road." Ghod, I wish I could rank this LOWER....
#17 -- Yes: TALES FROM TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS. Merely boring. Or if U prefer: Tranquil, placid, quiet, meditative. & let's not 4get long-winded. I THINK I made it all the way thru this. I KNOW I made it all the way thru "Ritual," tho I don't remember Alan White's drum solo that I thot was sposta B in there. I actually thot "Ritual" was sorta pleasant, while Jon Anderson was singing. The rest I don't remember at all.... Intresting how this is all placid & subdued, & the next album, RELAYER, is all chaotic & fiery...? I'll get back 2 these guys....
#16 -- Fleetwood Mac: BEHIND THE MASK. Speaking of placid.... Lindsey Buckingham left B4 this, replaced by Billy Burnette & Rick Vito. The songs R all boring, Xcept 4 the rather creepy & effective "In the Back of My Mind," which U can also find on their box set 25 YEARS/THE CHAIN -- that's where I tripped over it....
#15/14 -- Gong: EXPRESSO & EXPRESSO II. This is a hippie/psychedelic band trying 2 morph in2 a jazz-rock group. But there's no center 2 the compositions. EXPRESSO is muddy & virtually unlistenable. II is just dull -- song titles include "Boring" & "Sleepy." The band -- who R all Xcellent players -- draft in special guests like Steve Winwood, Mick Taylor, Alan Holdsworth & 4mer member Steve Hillage 2 try 2 give this background music a 4ground. & it doesn't work. But they got a little better later as drummer Pierre Moerlen took full control & the composing got stronger....
#13/12 -- Caravan: BETTER BY FAR & THE ALBUM. After the brilliance of FOR GIRLS WHO GROW PLUMP IN THE NIGHT, a rather good LIVE album, the at-times marvelous BLIND DOG AT ST. DUNSTAN'S, & even the 1/2-REALLY-disappointing CUNNING STUNTS, I was hoping 4 still more magic from these guys. But the magic was already gone. Keyboardist Dave Sinclair left after CUNNING STUNTS, leaving guitarist/singer Pye Hastings 2 write 95% of the songs -- & tho Pye was mostly up 2 it on BLIND DOG, after that his inspiration Cmd 2 run dry. BETTER BY FAR opens w/ the usual 1/2-smutty-1/2-jokey "Give Me More" (with some pretty-good group vocals), but the rest of the album flatlines under Tony Visconti's streamlined production. (Visconti Cmd 2 B smoothing-out lotsa people in the late '70s & early '80s, C the Moody Blues....) Tho Sinclair returned 2 yrs later, THE ALBUM is even flatter -- lifeless, boring songs, not 1 memrable 4 NE reason; they could B NE1. Even the album cover artwork reflects this, showing a monolith falling apart in drab grays & greens. Caravan tried 1 more album then went on a 20-yr vacation....
#11 -- Miles Davis: LIVE EVIL. A list of Really Bad jazz-rock albums ... would probly B a pretty long list. But I'm sure this'd B on it. There is no center 2 these aimless jams, either. There's nothing funky going on here, just A LOT of aimless noodling. The guy making snurfling-dog noises on the saxophone is kinda cool -- 4 awhile, & the only reason NEbody should listen more than 1nce. Miles Davis was Ghod?
#10/9 -- Jethro Tull: A PASSION PLAY and A. Ahhh, now we're REALLY getting in2 the bad stuff. A PASSION PLAY is stupefyingly boring, 2 full sides of music not unlike the earlier THICK AS A BRICK, only w/ a little story/play in the middle 2 break things up. The "Overseer" Theme near the Nd (ID'd as "Passion Play Edit #9" on Tull's M.U./BEST OF) is the only thing here worth hearing, the only thing the slightest bit catchy or involving. & I useta LOVE these guys! Eddie Jobson, 4merly of Roxy Music, U.K. & Curved Air, helps out w/ keyboards & electric violin on A, & it doesn't help. I was stunned how nondescript, uneventful, BORING this album was. Earlier Tull useta B irritating at times, but they were never boring....
#8 -- Yes: TORMATO. Totally goofy! After the upbeat, revitalizing GOING FOR THE ONE, the guys rush THIS out a yr later?! I was actually Xcited til I saw the cover -- Hipgnosis musta heard the album 2, cos they splattered tomatoes all over it.... What kinda drugz were Yes on? "Release, Release" would almost B good if it wasn't done so FAST, w/ Jon Anderson rushing 2 cram-in lines like "Show some signs of appreciated loyalties...."(?) Dspite that, the choruses almost work. But the rest just sorta floats away.... Net reviewer Captain Ryan Atkinson 1nce called this "Comedy Album of the Year," but if U ever took these guys Seriously, this was at least ... Not Funny. With this, Yes went from something kinda mysterious & other-worldly 2 just another drugged-out crazy-ass British prog band. They got a little bit of the mystery back on DRAMA....
#7 -- Barclay James Harvest: OCTOBERON. BJH was always wildly uneven, but this 1976 release plunged way down in2 unlistenableness. Nothing was memrable Xcept the worst thing on it, the Ndless, notorious "Suicide?" in which -- after a LONG buildup -- a guy throws himself off the top of a building -- & then the whole track is repeated again (sorta a "lowlights" version) at 2wice the normal speed. Compared 2 this, the 1/2way Dcent 1977 follow-up GONE TO EARTH sounds brilliant....
#6/5 -- Knack: GET THE KNACK & ...BUT THE LITTLE GIRLS UNDERSTAND. As much as I wanna rate this lower, some Really Bad Stuff lurks below. So, permit me 2 sum up: With their smarmy, sexist lyrics, their whiny singing, their riding-the-New-Wave approach, the intentional packaging of their 1st album by Capitol Records in order 2 make them look like The New Beatles, the fact that the words 2 "Good Girls Don't" hadta B censored 2 get NE radio airplay, that "Baby Talks Dirty" was even worse, that this band had NO redeeming factors -- they earned their 15 mins of fame followed by an immediate-backlash trip 2 instant obscurity. People have bought millions of copies of even-worse stuff. Who cares about the guitar riff on "My Sharona"...?
#4 -- Emerson, Lake & Palmer: TARKUS. I'm not sure I got thru the 2nd side, but I know I got thru the 1st 1, 22+ mins about some kinda battle-tank/armadillo that's born in a volcanic eruption, fights battles, & heads off on a search 2 find itself -- along w/ summa the stupidest lyrics & ugliest keyboard sounds ever. Moronic, pretentious, bombastic, self-absorbed, every minute screaming "Ego!" -- could it all have bn a joke? MayB I was 2 stupid, pretentious & self-absorbed 2 Get It....
#3 -- Genesis: DUKE. I had hopes 4 this after AND THEN THERE WERE THREE, which I liked, & I was a big fan of their Middle Period after Peter Gabriel left but B4 they Bcame big stars (TRICK OF THE TALE, WIND AND WUTHERING, SECONDS OUT, THREE SIDES LIVE, etc.). But I wasn't prepared 4 this 50-min sludgefest. True, "Turn It On Again" is here, & it's not bad. But the rest is more like "Misunderstanding" -- only even slower & more ponderous. Like TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS broken up in2 4-min segments. NONE of it works, none of it jumps out at U, U can't tell 1 song from the next, & when the guys throw in a long instrumental bit at the Nd, it doesn't work either. Amazing that they recovered from this lifeless disaster 2 release the spirited & at least 1/2 successful ABACAB a yr later....
#2 -- Rolling Stones: EMOTIONAL RESCUE. Even muddier than EXILE ON MAIN STREET. Pure sludge, 50 mins worth! Jagger's Arnold-Schwarzenegger-like monologue on the title track about how "Like a knight in shining armor on a white charger I am coming to your emotional rescue" is funny 1nce or 2wice (Do U Xpect me 2 quote this verbatim? I haven't heard this in 30 yrs), but none of the rest works, & some of it's offensively bad. ("She's Hot" is an OK overdone joke, I guess....) Hard 2 Blieve the story that their later 1/2way Dcent TATTOO YOU came from outtakes from THIS....
#1 -- Moody Blues: KEYS OF THE KINGDOM. SUR LA MER, STRANGE TIMES & OTHER SIDE OF LIFE may all B weak, but they all have something worth hearing on them. This has NOTHING. Nothing reaches out 2 grab U. It's all smooth & faceless -- they could B NE1! This came out in 1991 when I was in Turkey & coulda used a lift on the level of their earlier THE PRESENT -- but this wasn't even up 2 the level of SUR LA MER (2 good songs, + 1 of the Bottom 3 most Mbarrassing trax they've ever released, "Deep"). I've read reviews that say Ray Thomas's "Celtic Sonant," buried near the Nd of the album, is the best thing here. But it's possible I was asleep B4 I got 2 it. In terms of what they'd done B4, this is Mbarrassingly flat & lifeless. They sound old, tired, bored w/ their own music. They shoulda retired w/ THE PRESENT....
Other Dishonorable Mentions -- Doobie Brothers: ONE STEP CLOSER....
Now U can all join in! Add yr own suggestions 4 REALLY BAD rock albums, from NE time period. At least we'll all know what 2 avoid 4 Xmas, right? Unless it's so bad it's almost sorta GOOD....

3 comments:

rastronomicals said...

Don't have too many nominees for a list of this sort. Back in the days when my per capita music expenditures were a lot greater than they are now, I had a sort of zero tolerance policy for stinkers. If I liked your band, I'd buy everything you put out. . . . UNTIL you stole my money. Then I was moving on, not to return.

Some albums that ended the love affair were
Kansas' Audiovisions, Yes' 90125, Iron Maiden's Somewhere In Time, Metallica's Black Album (though I would break down and buy St. Anger 13 years later) and Sonic Youth's Washing Machine.

There's really only one contender for Worst Album, Where I Actually Bought the Next One, and that would be Asia. They had me hypnotized or something.

OK, a lot of people have Tormato all wrong. It probably IS the weakest effort of their classic period, but remember, weak Yes is strong by any other band's standards. What fucks people up is that Tormato DOES contain "Circus of Heaven," which I will say, despite never having heard Big Generator all the way through, has got to be the most inane thing they ever performed, and should be on lists of the most inane things ever performed by anyone, anywhere.

But <heh heh> try to get past it. Because there are good tunes on that record. Though lyrically "Arriving UFO" is kind of silly, too, Howe's guitar work is sick. "On the Silent Wings of Freedom" contains some of Chris Squire's best playing. "Future Times" rocks; "Rejoice" is beautiful.

I won't go into the Tarkus thing that much except to say that you're insane. One day when I was bored at work I was reading this silly Battle of Prog Albums this guy put together somewhere on the Intertubes.

And I was so psyched (well not really but you know what I mean) because guess what record won? That's right, Tarkus. I LOVE the armadillo/tank thing. LOVE it. Although I think you have to be willing to look the other way sometimes with prog lyrics, Tarkus' have never seemed that bad to me. But even if you think they sucked, with balls to the wall playing like this, it shouldn't matter to you.

You know, that same site that named Tarkus Grand Champion of their Battle Royale, took some time to consider it, and came to the conclusion that ELP's Love Beach actually represented the Death of Prog. But even if you're not willing to go that far, how could you possible include Tarkus on your list without including Love Beach?

Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving Tad.

tad said...

R: Thanx 4 the comments, I appreciate yr continued support.
U could B right about TORMATO. I still think "Release, Release" is ... almost listenable. MayB I could get over the goofiness factor if I tried the album again -- tho I can't remember the last time I saw a copy....
On ELP -- mayB I didn't hear TARKUS when I was young enuf & coulda just gotten off on the flashy stuff & not minded the lyrics & overall package so much. When I did finally hear it (around '92), it just struck me as the epitome of bad, stupid prog. I've actually Cn a used copy or 2 since -- this might B another 1 I should try again.
On LOVE BEACH: Can't rate it cos I've never heard a note, I pretty-much stopped listening 2 ELP after WORKS II (was only able 2 take about 1/2 of WORKS I, tho there's some great stuff there: "Fanfare," Emerson's "Piano Concerto") -- but the reviews were Byond bad, & reading that the 2nd side of LB was like a longer repeat of WORKS' "Pirates" was about all I needed 2 know.
...I don't think prog's dead, even now. (King Crimson's still around, sorta.) I just think a lot of REALLY BAD stuff got released. I'd like 2 C a prog band that keeps the grandiosity & hugeness, the show-offy but melodic instrumental work, & adds some grown-up lyrics, dealing a little more w/ Real Life & a little less w/ fantasy. SOME of Crimson's better, darker lyrics do this, but definitely not all. No question that Pink Floyd's lyrics got more&more concrete, harder, more painful, more Real as they went, but un4tun8ly the music also got grimmer & ... flatter. Grim I can take -- flat, no.
& I never got past Asia's 1st album. I think I got all the way thru it 1nce. But tho I was disappointed, there were others that bummed me a lot more.... -- TAD.

R Smith said...

My thoughts.

You don't need to hear Love Beach TAD. I had it once and played it once and wondered WTF these guys were on. The Songs were all throwaways and the second side was some shitty suite that I fell asleep on. There's a reason why there's 10 copies in the buck bins at the Salvation Army.

I did buy The Asia albums (all of them) and still find the 1st album to be listenable and parts of the second album is pretty good although The Smile Has Left Your Eyes would have been better served for Air Supply. Although John Payne may have been a better team player than John Wetton, Payne's Asia albums were pretty damn pompous and forgettible. Nobody really needs to hear Payne's version of the hits. Perhaps I gave too much space on that so moving on.

Emotional Rescue is spotty but I did enjoy the singalong She's So Cold more than the answer to the Bee Gees Emotional Rescue to which I've never cared for Jagger's high whine. Summer Romance and Where The Boys Go may have been The Stones attempt to go punk but I find those to be a guilty pleasure. But I think the overplayed Start Me Up ruined Tattoo You for good, though I did like that song, hearing it time and time ago on NFL games makes me rather never hearing it again. The Stones biggest turd is either Undercover or Bridges To Babylon. The Stones were so bankrupt for ideas on Undercover that they recycled the riff on Soul Survivor for It Must Be Hell, and it was hell trying to listen to Undercover again.